Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Andrew Brokos Webinar

Andrew Brokos
As part of my preparation for the 2013 World Series of Poker, I signed up for a two hour web-based seminar/coaching-session held by Andrew Brokos. Long-time readers of this blog know that I listen regularly to a couple of weekly poker podcasts, and Andrew's "Thinking Poker" series is one of these. Andrew also writes a very solid blog on poker, plus he writes regular columns for poker forums and magazines. He's also a video instructor at Tournament Poker Edge and coaches privately. Perhaps most importantly, he is a winning cash and MTT player, with a very strong record of top 100 finishes in the WSOP main event. He's a highly analytic, thinking poker player, and his style of play and analysis resonates with me. (You can find Andrew through his Thinking Poker website - click here.)

Anyway, Andrew posted on his blog recently that he was going to hold a 2-hour session on preparing the WSOP. The cost was $150, and he was limiting participation to just five students. I jumped at the chance, and I was one of the lucky five he selected. The chance to listen to an expert MTT player talk about the very tournament series I'm playing in four short weeks was an opportunity not to be lost. Ergo, I sent off my paypal payment, and then spent a few hours the other day holed up with my headphones on and computer booted up, watching a really informative set of powerpoint slides that Andrew put together and presented via software. The other four participants who sat in were all strong, seasoned amateur players (e.g., one of them won a $1K bracelet in the 2011 WSOP), and their questions were insightful and sparked some good discussion among the group and Andrew.

The bad news is that Andrew wasn't able to get through all of his slides in the allotted 2-hour window. He did give us an extra 30 minutes, but it still wasn't enough to get through all the material in sufficient detail.

The good news is that what we did manage to get through was truly an excellent pseudo coaching session. Andrew covered a wide range of topics, ranging from big picture topics like shifting gears through a tournament and how to target (and avoid) different types of players, to more specific advice, such as how to size up your table, keep track of your own image, and how to play individual hands in different situations, to mundane (but important) thoughts on food, drink, and even potty breaks during an MTT. While the presentation was geared primarily for the $10K main event, it was also applicable to smaller buy-in prelim events, like the one I'll be playing in.

I won't cover all the info I learned here, but a couple of things are worth mentioning:
  • Ask yourself where the chips are going to come from (and who to avoid). This was really good stuff, with solid advice on assessing weaker players, identifying their weaknesses, and then exploiting them. He also talked about isolating these kinds of players, putting them on ranges, and actively planning how to exploit them. Similarly, there as a section presented on identifying "threats" at your table, and how to avoid (or deal) with these players.For example, Andrew's advice on playing against professionals is to not waste a lot of time putting them on hand ranges; they're too good, and your mental energies are better spent on other, weaker opponents.
  • Expect bad things- and prepare for them. Andrew talked at length about how you need to plan for mistakes and problems. Over a long, multi-day tournament, you should expect to make mistakes, to lose pots, to be short stacked, etc. In fact, you should expect to lose the tournament. Accept these things, and therefore plan for them before they happen-- so that you're prepared for them. For example don't think "Oh no, I’m getting short stacked." Instead, if you've pre-planned this kind of scenario, you can/should say instead, "Okay, I'm now short stacked. Therefore I need to adjust my strategy by doing X, Y, and Z."
The other really useful part was the individual hand examples, none of which had clearly obvious answers. For instance, imagine you're dealt 99 UTG in the early stages of a big, multi-day MTT. The table is made up of loose-passive players and the blinds are low. What do you do? What if the table had a couple of tough pro's at it?  What do you want to do with those nines now, and, more importantly, why? Okay, imagine the flop comes out J-high with two under cards, and it's 3-way and you're first to act. What do you do? And why?

Or: you're dealt K5s in the early stages of a tournament. You're in the cut-off and it folds to you. The button is a tough pro. What do you do? What if the SB is a loose-passive? What happens if you raise, but get re-popped by the SB? What if the blinds were bigger? And so on.

Sadly, about a half-dozen of these hand example slides had to be skipped over due to time constraints. On the other hand, Andrew said he videoed the session, and would send the full vid and the slides to us five participants later this week. I"m looking forward to working through the hand example that we skipped.

Anyway, this was really good, timely info. Cool beans.

All-in for now...

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