I abandoned MTS and just went for broke at APL Club Willoughby last night. Now I remember what it was that got me to the final table so often – when the hole cards are good, Casino Malaysia hard. Aggressive raises pre and post flop with hole cards that can take it feels so much better than limping too.

I had a rush of good hands that held up, so many in fact that I felt like I needed to show some of them because it was improbable to get that many. Doing that also allowed me to raise aggressively with not so good hands from position, and push people off maybe better hands. The large chip stack I accumulated didn’t hurt either.

I went to the break with 5,500 chips. With the 1,000 break add-on and 1,000 for the spend card, I started level 4 with a very healthy 7,500.

The flush of early success possibly contributed to some recklessness as another table was broken up and an new player with 6,500 chips took the seat on my left. With A 9 spades in the cutoff and two limpers I raised 4 x BB plus the calls – a sizable, and I hoped scary, bet for most people to call. The new player to my left called and everyone else folded. The flop came 3 3 9 two spades, no danger there, I had top pair, top kicker and a draw to the nut flush, with only a possible overpair to worry about (quad threes being too remote to factor in). I put in a 1/3 pot continuation bet figuring it would most likely be called if he had an overpair to the board, or, had been playing a similar hand to mine and paired the 9.

He called and the turn was an eight, no flush. I checked and he bet out 1,100, about 1/4 of the pot and almost half his remaining chips. I figured him for pocket tens or jacks, and so I was behind, but had the right odds to call and chase my flush draw. I called and the river was an ace. Very nice. I figured if I bet the river, he may well put me on an ace and fold, but if I checked, he would most likely bet, either thinking he was ahead or bluffing to represent the ace.

I checked and he pushed in his last 1,500. I thought for a while, and observed him to see if I could get a read. Even though I was pretty sure I was ahead, you never know. He looked impatient, and also was showing some aggression – the type of tell I would put down to trying to ‘strong is weak’. My opinion that I was ahead to his pocket pair was further enhanced by what I read as a possible stone cold bluff.

I had him covered by 1,100 and I called.

He proudly turned over 9 3, and had flopped the nuts.

‘Wow, nice hand’ I managed. Because of course, everyone should nearly pot commit themselves pre flop with 9 3. That sure is solid play. Well, you were too good for me mate, I certainly didn’t see it coming. A guy to my right piped up with ‘yeah, I put you on trip 3’s at least’. Oh, really genius? Trip threes at least? So what did you think he was calling that pre flop raise with, 3 what exactly? Obviously that guy was in the same league as the 9 3 guy, both players of skill and subtly well beyond my meager comprehension.

On a side note, I believe the tell he gave off was an excellent example of a deliberate reverse tell. Which will work exactly once.

My fortune didn’t improve much after that. With the blinds at 200/400 I pushed all in with J 10. The three callers was good, but the flop wasn’t and that was me done for the night.

I am now forming the opinion that MTS works best when:

– there are lots of lose, bad players

– stack size is at least 20 x BB

– situations where bad beats and draw outs are more likely

And tight aggressive play, with calculated bluffing works best when:

– there are better players involved

– blinds are higher

– after a rush when the table is intimidated

Since both situations can be often seen in the same tournament, the ability to switch instantly from one to the other should be an optimal strategy.