All sit, no go

Having just bought Cloutier/McEvoy's Championship Hold 'Em, I figured I'd play a series of sit'n'go's to apply what I've learned. The general impression I had on my first read-through is that TJ & Tom had written a book designed to ensure that anyone who read it never, ever actually played a hand in a tournament, except for aces, possibly kings or queens, and once in a while ace-king (but never after a less-than-perfect flop). Which strategy the ten-minute rounds on PokerRoom renders decidedly -EV. So I had to loosen up a little bit - still, I was dutifully passing KQo and low pocket pairs in early position, even ATo once when I knew I'd be faced with a short-but-not-that-short-stack's all-in raise. What I've found is that the strategy works remarkably well against good players - not so well against the bad, lucky ones. At one table I was crippled when one guy (not even in the blind) called my good-sized, KK-inspired UTG raise with J6o, hit the flop for two pair, called my pot-sized bet on the flop, and then bizarrely checked the turn and river when no likely draws or overcards came. I guess I should be thankful he didn't bet out at me, or that my table image saved me a bet I would likely have called, but man. After the hand I chatted "J6o?" and then "wacky." and got a chorus of "lol"s. What's humbling about losing early in a SNG is that it seems you inevitably lose to someone who's playing a hand you wouldn't consider playing. My current bugbear is the "any ace" beat - people calling all-in raises and reraises with A7o, A9o, that kind of thing, when it should be obvious to anyone who's paying the least amount of attention that I'm not in there with anything they can beat - the best they can hope for is a coin flip to a low pocket pair, and there's a strong possibility that they're dominated. It takes a lot of discipline to stick to your game plan when you're continually being outflopped in these situations. But stick to it I have. And it's begun to work admirably well. The only problem I'm noticing is that I get into trouble when I'm situationally card-dead - getting marginal hands like KJo or J9s in early position, getting 92o and other junk in late position and in the blinds. But in the last 5 SNG's in which I've made it to the money, I've won 4 (and been short-stacked coming into the money in 3 of those). The only one I lost came against a guy who picked up pocket aces against my KQh, and then two hands later pocket aces again against my JJ. I feel no shame in losing to that, and I'm now very comfortable once I get down to two- or three-handed, where I used to be overly cautious. Usually the last few players in a SNG are pretty decent unless a lucky maniac has made it to the money, but even the decent players seem to get shaken up by my gear changes. One limp with a high pocket pair that makes it to showdown tends to throw off any read they might have made and from there mostly I can pound them into submission. The hold 'em cash games have handed me some pretty brutal beats in the last few days (an AA vs. KK cap-fest with a K on the river, a guy who capped against my top two pair only to spike a friggin' 3 for trips on the river), but PLO has been kind to me - hitting draws, flopping the nuts against LAGs and having it hold up. The Stud games on PokerRoom have quieted down significantly as of late so I haven't been playing them that often but they're usually good for 3-4BB an hour or more when they get going, so I keep an eye on them. All in all I'm down about $150 from my peak but still pretty optimistic. I'm a far, far better player than I was even last week, finishing much more consistently and profitably in the SNG's, and that ain't all bad.


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