So the 2010 WSOP is now underway… the best way I can describe how it feels is that it’s kind of like the feeling I used to get on the first couple of days of going back to elementary school after a long summer. I’m 0/2 so far… played the first day of the $1k NL rebuy until level 6 and then Monday’s $1500 NL event until level 8. Both times I rocked the table early and built a nice stack, and then ran smack into the unfocus wall and forgot that folding top pair is an option. I need to work on my laydowns because that is one of the weaker aspects of my game.
Here are the three most important skills I think you need to master in order to win a no-limit world championship, ranked in order of importance :
#1 : The ability to steal blinds
This really is the most important skill in my opinion. If you want to know how to win a no-limit poker tournament, the answer is simple… you have to steal it. You have to be able to see which blinds you can steal, which blinds are off limits, and most importantly you have to train yourself to pull the trigger when you know it’s a good steal spot even when you look down and see garbage.
#2 : The ability to resteal blinds
This is the second most important skill because it’s kind of the counter to the #1 skill. It’s a much different skill, though, because now instead of focusing on which blinds to steal and going after the weaker players, now you’re focusing on the raiser and you can only resteal from a player who is stealing to begin with… which means that you’re up against a higher caliber of player. But when you succeed in the resteal, the rewards are greater because the pot is bigger. If you can master these two skills, I’m convinced that you can win every single NL tournament you play without ever seeing a flop.
#3 : Getting away from your hand
I’m putting this as the third most important skill, because this is what you have to master when something goes wrong with skill #1 or #2… and it’s also how I personally (and I think most better than average players) usually end up getting knocked out. Here is how it typically goes. I “steal” with KQs from utg… I get called in two spots… I flop the top pair on a QJ7 board. I value-bet and raised or check-raised or called and raised on the turn. For some reason, I think there is some chance that top pair is good enough and I make the hero call… followed by the hero exit. I keep forgetting that the average donkey in the early stages of a WSOP event doesn’t have the moves in their playbook to raise your bet as a bluff after missing the flop, or to float the flop and steal on the turn. They are playing their hands pretty straight forward… slowplaying a set is about as tricky as it’s going to get.
Think about how you get knocked out of tournaments… and I don’t mean the very last hand, how you got your 5BBs in really good with QQs and then had them cracked by the joker in the BB who instacalled with AJo! I mean the whole tournament and what went wrong… how did you get to the point where the other guy had more chips than you to start that last hand? It is likely either because you get blinded out for not stealing blinds with a high enough frequency, because you tried to bluff the wrong person (both donkey and pro are bad candidates for very different reasons), or because you make a bad call with a hand that can’t be good.
That’s why I bust out of tournaments. I steal blinds great. FACT: Nobody looks at aces the same way they look at rags. God help you if you lack the patience in the big blind to wait until it’s your turn to look at your holecards, because the snap of your hand hitting the felt will tell me all I need to know. It’s the post-flop laydowns that keep giving me trouble. It always feels wrong to fold.
Ok, off to bed. Got a tournament to play in 9 hours. Going to try to get a little morning jog in before I head to the Rio to meet up with the SMD bagman and buy-in to the noon event. Before I sign off, though… just watched the movie Invictus with Michele and Tepen. Few thoughts:
- Eastwood is a hell of a director (even though his score always sucks). Come on, Mr. Eastwood! It’s not a home movie…
- Mikey McDermott (aka Matt Damon) is the biggest badass in all of Hollywood. I’m not an expert on accents, but his South African sounded pretty true.
- The toast that Damon gives to “the taste of defeat” should be memorized by every poker player out there to use the next time you bustout and decide to try to chase away your sorrows with a shot. You can see ithere. Classic!
- I’ve decided to give up poker after the series to become a professional rugby player. And I’m also going to try to learn to speak with a South African accent.