Thursday 4/2/15 time 2:43 PM - PokerHelena
Recently I got a good laugh again at a poker table when one of my opponents realized that there is a woman playing against him. So guys, what's up with that?
I played in two tables during the same tournament.
At the first table my opponents were so convinced that as I am a woman I must be a very tight player. As they were commenting my possible holdings out loud after the situation was over they were convinced that I had the best possible hand. Well... I didn't. And at that situation it was great, because my semi-bluff worked awesomely!
At another table another guy kept raising me over big time when I was on blinds. That was until I reraised him all-in. He looked at me like I was the most horrible person in the world and then started cursing about how women want equal rights and how my behavior doesn't support that. He was convinced that I was too aggressive for a woman.
Oh well, again that was my win.
Guys, give us a break. There is a lady at the table. Your testosterone level is understandable, but it's just a game ;)
Thursday 2/26/15 time 10:17 PM - PokerHelena
Last weekend I visited Tallinn to attend Olybet Kings of Tallinn poker festival. I only participated in the Ladies Event, but it was great to meet the local ladies and get a small part of the tournament vibe.
Before going there I had never played in a Ladies Event before. Therefore I didn't quite know what to expect. I somehow thought that there would be many women from different levels - those who have been playing regularly, but also beginners who haven't played much yet.
Apparently I was quite wrong, as the players were all experienced players who often played together. There were only 15 participants and the atmosphere was more like local ladies gathering on a Friday evening than a serious poker tournament. It was pretty relaxed, although got more serious towards the end when the prize was more reachable.
The starting stack was 7000 and there were 20 minute levels. 20 minutes is quite a turbo tournament and I definitely would have liked to have the levels a bit longer. The blinds increased very fast and when antes kicked in it became quite a push/fold luck game. So I dropped out when put all in with A-x and unfortunately ran into A-Q of another player.
The pain of folding pair of kings
There was also one very awesome hand where I was forced to fold K-K. It was awesome, because I don't think I would have been able to fold pair of kings before and it also paid off.
So I had K-K and raised around three times big blind from beginning of the round. I got two callers. The flop was x-7-8 (x was 3 or 4). I was the first to go, so I bet around half the pot, which was 400. The second player reraised to 1000. The third player reraised all in (few thousands).
If I read this case from a poker book I would know what it said, but it is so bloody difficult to think straight at a poker tournament table. Sometimes you go through the whole tournament without getting a single pair in your hand. So how can you fold this pair of kings?
So all those thoughts went through my head. What does she have? Why did they call before flow, but reraise it now? How have they raised before and what kind of cards they have shown? Eventually I was pretty sure she had 8-8 and a set. It was bloody difficult, but I folded the hand.
The second player called the all in. She had pair of sevens and the all in reraiser had a pair of eights. You would think that the drama ended there, but no. Seven fell on the river and the 2nd player won with four sevens!
Monday 2/9/15 time 8:46 PM - PokerHelena
I signed up for Olybet Kings Of Tallinn Ladies Event on 20.2.2015! I have never played in a ladies event before, so it's going to be interesting. At the same time I don't expect it to differ much from general games.
I have asked some of my friends about how women play differently. Their response was that generally women tend to be play more carefully and tighter. So it might be that more aggressive game might be better at ladies event.
Why ladies event this time? As I go to Tallinn only for the weekend this was the only No Limit Hold'em event that can be played during one day, is not turbo and has right buy-in level for me. So I think I have given myself the best chances to succeed. Wish me good luck! ;)
Sunday 2/8/15 time 7:53 PM - PokerHelena
For the past couple of weeks I have been crafting the tournament plan for 2015. As I didn't manage to win anything last year I have put a lot of thought into what I should change in my approach. As a result I have come up with few things.
1. I choose tournaments that emphasize on my strenghts
I live in Helsinki and Helsinki Casino is the only place where you can play poker for money. Unfortunately the casino doesn't make it very easy for newcomers to succeed. The rake is high compared to the tournament buy-in, all the weekly tournaments are turbo and the tournaments are full of regular players (as it is the only place they can play).
So I decided that to succeed I have to play more abroad and online. That's why my tournament plan includes now tournaments like Olybet Kings of Tallinn in couple of weeks, Estonian Championship in April and regular poker tournaments in Tallinn casinos.
I haven't been very successful in turbo tournaments, so I make sure that I won't get into any of those. That's why I chose Ladies Event over Turbo Freezeout event at Kings of Tallinn (main event was not an option due to too high buy-in).
2. I go for tournaments that are on the right level for me
As much as I would like to go to WSOP main event I don't think this $10,000 will be very well invested. So I have chosen more carefully which tournaments I should go to by considering what kind of crowd it will attract.
My tournament calendar has some regular weekly games, as well as bigger annual games. However, I have ensure that all of them give me a challenge that I believe I can meet.
3. Proper preparation and reporting
As I select the tournaments beforehand I will have time to prepare for them in a better way. For example, I can play some smaller sit&go's that help me to develop some parts of the game I believe will help me in the bigger tournament.
I have also promised myself and friends to report all the games, which forces me to analyse what went well and what didn't go that well. Putting a conscious effort into every game differentiates it from "I'll just go and see what happens" approach.
The next tournaments that I want to participate are the Olybet Kings Of Tallinn in couple of weeks and Estonian Championship in April. In March and May I will concentrate on more regular games in both casinos and online.
What do you think about my approach? Let me know in case there are some games I should consider or make changes to my apprach to my tournament plan!
Wednesday 2/4/15 time 11:51 PM - PokerHelena
The first poker book of the year is “Winning Poker Tournament One Hand At A Time, volume 3”. I haven’t read the first two books from the same series, but based on the description thought that this is exactly what I need.
The book is essentially analysis of different hands from real tournaments by three professional players – Eric “Rizen” Lynch, Jon “Apestyles” van Fleet and Jon “PearlJammer” Turner. The pros give awesome comments on what they would do in those situations, why they did it like that and what would be their reaction if certain actions happened after their turn.
From hand to hand there are some key lessons I have learned and additionally I can recognize some of the situations, as have been in similar positions myself. At times I have got the “oh, of course, why on earth didn't I think about that?!” feeling, so it has been definitely a great and helpful read.
Here are main things that I have learned.
1. Don’t think about only your next step (will I call/fold/raise?) but what you will do after that (what is he will reraise?).
Whereas I have got to the level of thinking “what might my opponent have?” I still haven’t managed to think much further from my next action. But actually it’s not that hard. From hand to hand the three pros show how you can easily make a decision about your next move based on what might happen in the hand overall.
Never bet if you don’t know why you do it and what you expect to happen as a result of that. What will you do if he checks/calls/raises? Do you expect the result of the hand to be? These are the questions I am forcing myself to think about now.
2. Expect to end up all in with around 20 big blinds left
From the Harrington’s book I learned to count M’s – the rounds I have left at the table before my blinds run out. However, I never thought about how far I have to be ready to go in the hand overall when I have certain amount of blinds left.
So now I remember that I should put more thought into entering a pot with 20 blinds or less. When to think about it, it’s quite logical. If you raise to 3 big blinds, someone three-bets you to 5,5 big blinds and you call, you are left with 14,5 big blinds. By that time there are around 12-13 big blinds in the pot, which doesn’t leave you much room for you to fold.
Thinking about it consciously helps to plan the hands better in long run and essentially follow my previous learning point.
Rizen also mentions several times that he has a rule that he never calls a bet that is more than 5% of his stack without a very specific purpose for doing so. That was a pretty good (and simple) guideline to remember as well. I think the book has improved my thinking of bet sizes compared to my stacks and to my opponents' stacks overall.
3. There is not always right or wrong ways to play a hand.
Whereas in many hands the pros would have played the hand in similar way there were some big differences in some hands. They admitted that it quite often depends on the read you have from the other players and the situation. Are they tight or loose players? Have you won many pots without anyone willing to respond to your raises? Do players defend their blinds aggressively? How high was the buy-in? Are we at the beginning or end of the tournament?
So staying alert and following your opponents is a super important part every tournament. It’s quite basics, but it's something that tends to forget easily. And it became quite clear through the actual hands from the book.