John Tabatabai

Heads Up on Aussie Experience

News RSS / John Tabatabai / 05 February 2009 / 1 Comments

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Seems only a few days ago that I was wishing everyone a Happy New Year and already one month has gone. Well, I have been pretty fortunate to have spent that last month in Australia partaking in the Aussie Millions which is just truly, an amazing event.

"As every hand gets played I re-evalutated my thinking and tried to adapt my strategy if need be to suit"

Firstly, it is set in Melbourne which is a beautiful city and runs during the same time as the Australian Open (tennis) which is one of the few sports I enjoy watching. The weather is perhaps a bit too hot, mostly over 40°C whilst I was there and the people are very relaxed, chilled and always willing to help.

The tournament itself is set in a spacious home game style setting, unlike the WSOP warehouse feeling you get. There were many lead up events including $1,000 NLHE freezeout, $1k NLHE rebuy, $3k PLO rebuy, $1k HORSE, $2k team event, $1k turbo, $10k HORSE, $1k Mixed games and a $1k limit tournament.

The main event was a $10,000 buyin with a first prize of $2,000,000. Not a bad pay for a week's work! My Main Event didn't go too well unfortunately, on my starting table I had Annette on my immediate left, my friend and Betfair Poker qualifier Richard Mace on my right, and to his right another Betfair qualifier Annika Ivert who turned out to be chip leader after day 2, with Annette in 2nd position!! I struggled the whole day, never got above my starting stack and eventually bust after around 12 hours of prolonged ill health.

For me, this turned out to be a blessing as I entered the $5,000 Heads Up tournament the following day and although in my first round I drew NBC HU champion Chris "jesus" Ferguson it turned out that my destiny was written and after a grueling day of HU matches I was through to the semi finals the following day.

How did I get there?

The same way I approach HU online, I approached it live. What do I know about my opponent, what does he know about me, what does he think I think about him and how will he expect me to react to this. Basically a long list of psychological assumptions based on perceptions. As every hand gets played I re-evalutated my thinking and tried to adapt my strategy if need be to suit. My strategy v Ferguson was actually quite simple, I knew he was going to give off hardly any tells and most likely none that I would be able to pick, he may pick up tells off me and that he is an exceptionally good player with very few weaknesses. Given this, I decided to not talk at all throughout the match, not play with my chips, make every single decision in the same manner, using the same chip denominations if possible and keep my timing as close as possible as to other times.

The first 20 minutes was a lot of buttons opening and bb folding, then he started to play a bit out of position but just flat calling preflop and ch f flops. Then he started to 3bet me, at which point, incorrectly I thought he was fed up of my constant button opens and I 4bet him with AJo. Unfortunately he moved all in so I knew I was behind but given the format of the tournament which was 3k starting chips and 20min live clock I had no choice but to call. He had QQ however, as I said earlier, it was written in destiny and I hit a miraculous ace.

The 2nd match (the tournament was in a best of 3 format for each round) was very similar but this time I was ahead with AK v his A3, my AK held and I was through to the 2nd round.

I had to wait approximately 3 hours for my second round opponent to finish his first round match, but once we began I quickly saw why. He played hardly ever out of position and only on the button. There wasn't really much I could do unless I wanted to play from the big blind which normally I do in cash HU but I just wasn't that comfortable doing it here in this format, with so few chips, one single mistake and I lose a match, something which is easy to do OOP. I decided to build a tight image (LOL) and exploit it soon as the blinds became considerable in later levels by 3b and 4b him hard. This plan worked and I won this round also 2-0.

My third round match was against my first aggressive opponent and although I don't remember any of the hands I do remember getting quite short a few times as I was taken back by his aggression which my former opponents hadn't really shown. Again, once I picked up on this I changed my strategy, stopped raising 3x from the button and adjusted to min raising and limp trapping with top x % of hands and again it worked. It's such a great feeling when a plan comes togetherJ I won both matches again with dropping a game so another 2-0 victory.

My fourth round was against a local high stakes Australian player and I wish this match was recorded. It was pretty exciting if I may say so myself. After winning the first match, the 2nd took nearly 2 hours with around 15 called all ins, the shortest stack won eveytime! It was amazing, truly amazing. I lost my first match when I got caught with my hands in the gold pot with 83o and he had AA. I just couldn't quite get there that time, it hurt, but that's poker. Can't always get there J

Now, getting to the fourth round was my first goal as now we were in the money, we were guaranteed $20,000. However, this was the first time I was playing in a tie breaker scenario so I felt the pressure and I was actually nervous. I didn't want to have come all this way to only min cash, especially as winning this match would secure my place in the semi finals. So, I tried to block out everything else and concentrate fully. Constantly trying to get into my opponents head, what does he think I'm thinking, the last hand that got shown down, how did it get played and how is he going to think im going to react and change as a result of that hand being shown down the way it did. It gets pretty difficult and confusing writing down my HU thought process, perhaps ill spend more time later to better explain myself. Sorry for the confusion.

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to pick up QQ in the BB when he did his standard raise from the button, I hadn't 3bet that much this match especially as the blinds weren't that big yet, however, my image from the previous match was pretty insane and I thought that may still be fresh in his head. I'm still not sure if 3b is the optimal play, I think I prefer flat calling with the QQ, disguising my hand, keeping in his trash and hopefully letting him hit a pair and fall in love with it. Anyway, at the time I had a slight chip deficit and decided I wouldn't get cute and risk being outplayed or outflopped and 3bet him my standard amount I had done in previous matches. Much to my surprise he instantly moved all in. I was pretty happy to see this and didn't conceive that AA or KK would ever play it in that manner so I made a delayed snap call and was ecstatic when my QQ held against his 88. This gave me approximately 19,000 chips to his 1,000 chips and I think it was all over within a couple of hands from there.

Through to the semi finals, guaranteed $40,000. Pretty good day!

My opponent in the semi finals was fellow UK player David Gent who I have played a lot with on another site and I knew that this was going to be a true test as he is one of the best players on that site and knows my game very well.

I'm late for my train so I'm going to have to leave it there for the time being, will finish it off within the next couple of days. This is my weak attempt at creating a teaser or cliff hanger if that's what they are called lol.

Good luck all,


Part Two v David Gent

Catch John on the Betfair Cash Tables

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    Comments (1)

    1. Barry | 07 February 2009

      John, congrats again on the HU match, you deserved it. Especially after donking 20k off to me in cash when I called you down with ace high! lol. Always a pleasure to play with you and I will look forward to the WSOP and giving you a fair shot at your sweet, sweet pound sterling!
      BTW, sorry I missed Rhino with you guys.

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