Hello all, welcome to my online poker blog.

I've been playing on and off for a decade after being introduced by a friend.

I played regularly for a few years during the poker boom and had a decent record at the micros, particularly Rush and Zoom No Limit Hold'em games (here's one of my graphs).

Around 2012 I began a new career which involved immersing myself completely in study in my spare time, so I had little to no time for poker. However recently this burden has eased and so I have been gradually dipping back in.

I'm an amateur player who still hopes to some day beat the rake.

Friday, 31 December 2010

2010 Round Up and Goals for Next Year

In terms of my playing time so far, this year has been a reasonably profitable one. My entire playing bankroll (as I don't withdraw funds) is now at $2000 and two thirds of this was won this year. I have put graphs elsewhere in this blog so I will not reprint them here but I'm very happy with the year's profit. There have been ups and downs (of course) but to end the year with well over $1k profit over 200k hands of cash and a few hundred tournaments represents a good return for me.
Finding the Rush games was the biggest plus this year. For the first time I was able to put in decent and necessary volume at the micros, gaining necessary experience. Most of my profit came from Rush 10NL full ring and I also won three Rush tournaments recently which pushed my tournament profit back into the black after having a torrid few months previously in the tourney format.

2011 - What Next?
I have recently been playing quite a few Rush tournaments. The standard of opposition on average is very poor, and so in terms of softness micro and small stake tournaments seem to be better than cash games. However they require a time commitment. Even Rush tournaments can take up to two hours at a time. I also struggle to play more than two tourneys currently as I don't find many decisions automatic as I do in cash. So for this reason my playing volume is only a maximum of maybe 10 tourneys a day at the moment and I don't believe this is enough. So should I return to Rush cash games? Well, I think this is the most likely course for me in the coming months. But Full Tilt changed the rake structure recently and this has taken away a significant portion of rake back profit; something that has made those games less inviting to me. I will need to make an important decision in the next couple of days. The one goal that I do have is to achieve consistent and high volume of play. If I go the cash game route I'd like to play 500000 hands next year and if I choose the tournament route at least 6000.
To any and all who read or have ever read or will ever stumble across this blog, I hope you all have a very happy new year!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Two Final Tables

Boosted the roll by about $50 in total, disappointed to bust without making the top five spots where all the money is but meh. Going to make a lot of money from these, I'm sure. In a normal tournament playing T4s is a mistake. In a Rush tourney, it is a massive mistake as you're using up time when you could be being dealt the hands that make the most money (i.e. the top 10% or so). Yet this is one of the hands I saw an opponent play today. And many many more ridiculous hands like it. I'm beginning to up my estimate on potential ROI in these now that I've seen this. I think I should be aiming for about a third. Opponents are that terrible. Just now an opponent who had around 5xM open limped in the CO then tank called my shove from the SB with ATo. I'll be here all day if I recount the massive mathematical mistakes villains are making. Beating these should be trivially easy. Once again though, I need the volume to prove it. So if I can achieve my ROI of 33% over the thousand games then I should make around $1500 by the end. Good money that, so back to the grind. GL

Monday, 27 December 2010

$4 Rush On Demand

Hey. I'm going to keep you updated on my progress in the $4 Rush On Demand tourneys that usually run with around 250 players. So far my progress has been very good, but I have certainly ran well recently. I would expect a barren stretch to be around the corner, although so much villain play is truly dreadful so cashing is not that difficult. I'm going to try and play as much as I can until I reach a decent sample size; 1000 games I guess. This will probably take 2-3 months of playing. I have much more bankroll than I probably need for these games but since I consider myself a novice tournament player I think that this is necessary until I prove myself here - like I did at 10NL. I'll likely spend a little time at the Rush cash tables too, but these games seem at least as profitable currently and deserve some time IMO.
As for the few games tonight, I made one bad call but otherwise think I played OK. The most recent tourney I busted in 11th against a good player who reshoved on the final table bubble against my AA button raise and his A9 smacked trips on the flop. Disappointing since that double up would have put me in the top three with a great chance for a good finish. Never mind, that's tournament poker. I feel that there is a huge room for improvement in my tournament game and I look forward to putting in some hours. Hopefully after another 950 games the graph will still be in profit! GL

A Couple of Tourneys Tonight...

Will update later on. But been so busy the last week it's nice to finally get some time back for poker. GL

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Frustrating day, but not a bad one...

Played tons of tourneys today, maybe 20-30. I didn't final table a single one, yet I finished 15-30 a huge percentage of the time - so much so that I think I actually broke even on the day. The frustrating thing was that I got to those positions so many times and then on the single flip I needed to final table I ran into a big hand, or I didn't win the race. Never mind, this is the nature of tournament play. Overall I'm pretty happy with my play. One thing I've noticed is that I seem to be falling behind the average stack somewhat once we get under 50 players. This might be because I was pretty card dead, or it might be that I'm not shoving widely enough from each position once I get short. It could also be down to my reshove weakness. I'm not afraid to get it in, but given a pfr % I find it hard to know which hands I should be reshoving for value and also which I should be adding as bluffs. I've never had a problem shoving any two cards to win the blinds but once someone has shown an interest I am very cautious about putting chips in. Oh well, more work to do. That is something that has never feared me, and I still think I'm better than 98% of players in these tourneys, so the money will come my way ;)

Rush On Demand Tourney Session

Played a few of these this afternoon. So far made one goofy shove when about 5M deep in the cut off with 32s, I should have picked a better hand I think given that the blinds were pretty loose. Oh well, I have to learn to concentrate harder, I find it easy to auto pilot in these and just see all the chips in the middle and just shove too wide. I think it's better to be too aggressive than too passive though so meh.
These tournaments are terrific, the quality of opponent is dreadful overall. There are just tons of LAG wannabes (40% vpip+ 35% pfr) - and providing we know our ranges we can reshove for value really widely, eg {66+, KTs+, KJo+, A5s+, A9o+} - that sort of range. Unfortunately this afternoon I found I was often in situations where I had little fold equity and was not getting many of those hands so probably got run over a bit in the blinds. But I never let myself get much shorter than 5M without making a move to try and double up or win the blinds. I think this is really important. Try and stay in the game where possible even if it means risking a gamble. Going to have a break now and poss play a few more in a bit. Would be nice to make a final table today but given that most of these have 200-300 runners in now by the end of reg that's expecting a lot I guess. By the way, if these start to go the way of the regular tourneys and numbers increase beyond 500 it may discourage me from playing them, but on the flip side a win is a bigger deal then.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

December Update

Hey, played basically zero poker in the last couple of weeks. My sister lives in Canada and has been visiting so I've used the time as a vacation. She sadly leaves tomorrow but after the weekend I've got a really busy week up to Christmas day so I don't think I'll be consistently playing poker until the end of the month when I should get some free days to put in some volume. My heart is in the Rush tournaments at the moment so I intend to try and play as many as possible in the new year. If I could play 1000 @ $4 and 25% ROI that will be a nice return and I should be able to achieve that in a couple of months I believe. If I can - and I often set goals that I don't see through - then I'll probably try the same thing with the $11 tournaments. At this point there's potential for good income so I could possibly make a few grand next year if things go my way. As always, you'll read about it here.

Just a note on my other thinking hobby - chess - after a long time out from playing I have realised just how poor I am now. After spending some time learning a little on opening play it's pretty clear that tactics (move trees that lead to positional or material gain) are my biggest weakness and so as long as I continue to play I think that that is where I'll be focussing all of my training. I'm using the tactics trainer at chess.com. Before I join the local club again I need to get better. Currently any decent club player would shit all over me, basically. So if poker doesn't take up all of my time in the next few months I'll hopefully be ready to play some over the board games by next Autumn when the season begins. GL

Thursday, 9 December 2010

US Legislation

I do not know an awful lot about this subject; just that a bill may shortly be passed which means the US poker players would face an internet poker blackout for 15 months, followed by taxed and regulated games along the lines of pokerstars.FR. I'm English but I'm worried about online poker. I have read some unfortunate brags on the twoplustwo forum boards from English players along the lines of : "we're not affected, we don't care, hahahah". I do not share this view and am very concerned about the future of this game. The way I see it there are two roads that poker could go down:
1/ The bill is not passed and the US Feds continue to squeeze the life out of US online poker until there is no longer US involvement with the online game. As the country that gave the game to the world this would be a huge blow. And what if the Feds somehow targeted Full Tilt and PokerStars resources such that player's deposit money suddenly became insecure - these companies would not be bailed out by the government but they'd face similar panic to the banks (mass withdrawal) and probably go under. This is a huge threat to the online game's very existence.
2/ The bill goes through - this appears to be the slightly better choice if it secures the legality of the two biggest internet providers. However, the world loses the US players indefinitely. US players, good and bad make up a third of the online poker player pool apparently (source twoplustwo - accuracy unreliable lol). I don't believe it would be good for the game to lose their participation.

twoplustwo legislation threads

Two dark paths ahead for online poker IMO. I'll be watching developments closely.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A Lesson in Patience

Hey, this post is an update on my overall recent multi-table tournament play (since my huge improvement at the end of last year). A few posts ago I was playing quite a few of the 90 man KO tournaments and felt I was running terribly; but knowing how much ROI is influenced by tournament wins I said at the time that I would keep the faith and hopefully the results would come around. The first pic on the right is how I had been doing in those KOs at that point. The second picture is after the recent three wins that I have been lucky enough to have. It just goes to show the huge difference in results that can occur very quickly over small tournament sample sizes. I would totally expect given that my database has me winning around 4 BB/100 in tournament chips overall that I am a winning tournament player and I may try and expend some energy playing more volume to provide more evidence of this. And hell, winning tournaments is fun!

Monday, 6 December 2010

I am a luckbox.

Just won another tournament for $150 so the bankroll just took another healthy injection. But seriously, I'm running so well in them at the moment it's ridiculous. Although before this heater I had a dismal 800 tournament stretch so maybe it's just balancing out? At one point I sucked out on someone and for the next few hands I played with them there was a pause before they made their move. I didn't have chat on so couldn't see what was up but pretty sure I was copping some abuse lol. LOVE IT!

The tournaments I played tonight were the On Demand Rush tournaments. Everything about these games ticks the profit boxes. They have good prize money and attract poor players. They have late registration - I can't see the advantage in buying into an event with a smaller than average stack. They are Rush, so we can pick our spots better than in a normal tournament format. Going to play a lot of these in the future!

Cleared $50 for Rush week too by four tabling 25NL for an hour a day this week, so that's cool. Played OK, I think my micro cash strategy is a steady earner now so I should really put in more volume - my biggest weakness is laziness.

OK so a slightly short slightly drunk update. Hope you run as well as me :)

Friday, 3 December 2010

Turn Check Raises are Awesome!

Hey, I've been trying to develop my flop and turn strategy to get more aggressive and balanced. When out of position check raises on the turn are a really underused weapon at these stakes. One statistic that stands out from my database is that once villains call a flop c-bet they only fold the turn about a third of the time. I also suspect (although I don't have the stat to hand) that with most of their range they will bet the turn when checked to. So... Turn check raises are therefore awesome! We can make their life hell with hands that they don't want to fold. I have stacked two to three players now with sets after check raising the turn. Of course if opponents are going to start check back pot controlling the turn we'll need to start over-betting the river but this is another story... Try it, I like to balance the check raises with spots where I have 17-20% equity like with flush draws and straight draws. I think this should prevent villains getting an easy ride. GL!

5/7 days Rush week completed so far...

Should earn the $50 reward on Sunday which is very nice, ship the free two buy-ins. I'm aware that the recent rake change has cut my rakeback pretty significantly; hopefully they plan to give out more bonuses as some sort of compensation.

I just went back and looked at some of my old archives from the middle of last year. I think I was six tabling double or nothing tournaments back then. How completely and utterly boring that must have been! Then I discovered HUSNG.com and playing heads up tournaments leading up to Christmas last year led to a huge improvement in my post flop hand reading skills. This year though was the year I took a huge step forward, and I have Rush poker to thank for it all. What a brilliant invention, and for me and probably many others it has changed online poker for good. I really cannot believe why Stars didn't take up the idea when it was offered to them. I hope that other sites adopt this format because FT could use it's monopoly to relentlessly squeeze more money out of it's clients until it becomes questionably profitable. Until then and while it's still super juicy, I'm loving every hand (and so is the bankroll)!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Run Bad and Turn Barrelling

Just lost the last couple of sessions for 2.5 buy-ins. Basically coolers mostly where I was sucked out on and then villain hit when I had too much money in the pot to fold, except for one hand where I saved myself $12 as it was absolutely clear I was dead in the water, even though I was getting 4/1 or something. Oh well, I will continue to play and hopefully things will go good again.

I need to work on my turn barrels. I am trying to pick those spots where my equity improves, but I just don't feel that I'm betting the turn often enough after c-betting so I need to work on my game and do some study to improve my frequency here. Anyway, run good for me!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Shortish Session

Just over 1000 hands played for a buy-in return. Played pretty well overall but butchered one hand:
Full Tilt - $0.25 NL RUSH - Holdem - 9 players
Hand converted by PokerTracker 3: http://www.pokertracker.com

BB: $25.00
UTG: $14.67
UTG+1: $31.89
MP: $36.17
MP+1: $32.44
Hero (LP): $27.49
CO: $29.17
BTN: $29.23
SB: $27.80

SB posts SB $0.10, BB posts BB $0.25

Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero has Ac 3c

fold, fold, fold, fold, Hero raises to $0.75, CO calls $0.75, BTN calls $0.75, SB calls $0.65, BB calls $0.50

Flop: ($3.75, 5 players) Tc 4c Th
SB checks, BB checks, Hero checks, CO bets $1.50, fold, SB calls $1.50, fold, Hero calls $1.50

Turn: ($8.25, 3 players) 2c
SB bets $4.30, Hero calls $4.30, fold

River: ($16.85, 2 players) 8s
SB bets $9.10, Hero calls $9.10

SB shows 9c Jc (Flush, Jack High)
Hero shows Ac 3c (Flush, Ace High)
Hero wins $33.30
Yeah, basically super nitty call on the river; while my opponent was playing around a third of hands pretty passively he would only conceivably continue on the flop with TT or 44 or random flush draws. Those random suited connector type flush draws make up a far larger percentage of combos than TT or 44 so I should have shipped immediately on the river. At the time when I was thinking about the combos I included 22 or 88 which would actually be really unlikely holdings. So I missed out on around 2/3 of $11 worth of money :(
So, I'm playing pretty well but still making mistakes. However I feel that every session improves me as I see and play more and more hands so my confidence is growing pretty quickly. In just over a year I've grown my bankroll considerably, and I think that I should be ready to play some hands at 0.25/0.50 FRNL Rush in the spring. Really looking forward to that, and hopefully my development does not plateau. GL!

Rush Week

Just logged in to get some hands in for Rush week. Player pools seem to have increased by around 20% on normal across the limits for Rush poker cash games, and from my first 100-200 hands the games appear to be really juicy. Just a quick heads up, moneyz to be made! GL

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Posting sooner than expected...

...because I just won an $11 Rush tournament for $423!! Awesome result, awesome feeling. I think that could be the best I've ever played in a tournament, not just because of the result but I won some big pots by hand reading as well as I have ever done. I think I timed my gear switches to perfection too; when I was short on the money bubble I managed to stay alive stack wise by picking my spots; doubled up a couple of times until I had a way better than average stack and by this stage we were on the final table bubble. This was when I started opening every hand that was folded to me and re-stealing in good spots; I must have grown my stack by over 100% during this stage and then was chip leader at the final table. The table conditions were not too great to be honest, most of the chips were sat in the two spots to my immediate left. But luckily those players were much too passive and by the time a couple of levels had passed the situation wasn't as bad and I was able to switch gears and loosen up again. When it got short handed the players were not adjusting either so I returned to a loose aggressive style. Overall, I can't think of any spot I messed up. Very happy, since that result has increased my bankroll by about a quarter! I may get addicted to tournaments if this run good continues...! Here are two pots that I played (pokerhandreplays seems to be broke, sorry):

Full Tilt - $11+$1|1000/2000 NL RUSH - Holdem - 8 players
Hand converted by PokerTracker 3: http://www.pokertracker.com

BTN: 9,076.00
SB: 14,758.00
BB: 54,837.00
UTG: 23,770.00
UTG+1: 26,021.00
Hero (MP): 60,561.00
MP+1: 36,360.00
CO: 44,617.00

BTN posts ante 250.00, SB posts ante 250.00, BB posts ante 250.00, UTG posts ante 250.00, UTG+1 posts ante 250.00, Hero posts ante 250.00, MP+1 posts ante 250.00, CO posts ante 250.00, SB posts SB 1,000.00, BB posts BB 2,000.00

Pre Flop: (5000.00) Hero has Ks Qd

fold, fold, Hero raises to 5,000.00, fold, fold, fold, fold, BB calls 3,000.00

Flop: (13000.00, 2 players) 6d 6s As
BB checks, Hero checks

Turn: (13000.00, 2 players) 2c
BB bets 2,000.00, Hero calls 2,000.00

River: (17000.00, 2 players) Qc
BB bets 6,000.00, Hero calls 6,000.00

BB shows 5s 2s (Two Pair, Sixes and Twos)
Hero shows Ks Qd (Two Pair, Queens and Sixes)
Hero wins 29,000.00
Not much difficult here, I have the best unpaired hand and his turn bet sizing makes calling mandatory. Similar story on the river.
Full Tilt - $11+$1|3000/6000 NL RUSH - Holdem - 3 players
Hand converted by PokerTracker 3: http://www.pokertracker.com

SB: 78,238.00
BB: 122,909.00
Hero (BTN): 68,853.00

SB posts ante 750.00, BB posts ante 750.00, Hero posts ante 750.00, SB posts SB 3,000.00, BB posts BB 6,000.00

Pre Flop: (11250.00) Hero has 5c 4c

Hero raises to 12,000.00, fold, BB calls 6,000.00

Flop: (29250.00, 2 players) 7c Qc Jh
BB checks, Hero checks

Turn: (29250.00, 2 players) 9s
BB bets 18,000.00, Hero calls 18,000.00

River: (65250.00, 2 players) Qd
BB checks, Hero bets 38,103.00 and is all-in, fold

Hero wins 65,250.00
In this hand I didn't want to be check shoved on, so I decided to see if I could realise my equity by taking a free card. Villains' turn bet just seemed weak by the size and timing. I wonder if raising all-in might have been better than flatting... I might have folded a few hands that had decent equity. However calling getting obvious odds to draw to the flush and then he quickly checks the river. I'm now convinced he has nothing so an obvious shove.

Well chuffed, GL all!

PS just started following James Atkins' blog, and he posted a brilliant spoof video that made me cry with laughter (not sure who the original creator is):

Free Moneyz at Full Tilt

Should play a few thousand hands this week, I'll be attempting to manage 100 ftps per day from Monday to Sunday so that I can get free $50 cash. The promotion is called Rush week, and I like free money. Might try and play a few Rush tourneys as well if I get free time. Will post more later in the week.

Monday, 22 November 2010

I must have pleased someone today...

Just a quick session, and a very quick four buy-ins won. Sick hand coming...

Actually pokerhandreplays reminded me that I had non trivial equity in this hand because aces were outs too, but still. Nice suckout, huh? It wasn't until I just reviewed the hand that I also realised villain open raised to 8bb. The flop shove was a ridiculously large overbet as well, and I can't ever fold trips top kicker in that spot. So looks like I may be enjoying a heater for the first time in a couple of months so I need to play as much as possible and enjoy it while it lasts! GL

Sunday, 21 November 2010

EEEEEgggh - OOOOOORrrgh - Donk Betting Tilts Me

So just played another couple of tournaments after that horrible play I made, and again I raise from the button get flatted and quickly donked into and I have top pair. Now I know there's only a pot sized bet left so decided that I'd let him donk off with his entire range on the turn. The board was AQ9r and the turn was an innocuous 5. So I snap called the turn and he had pocket 55. WTF????!!!! I seriously need to develop a sound strategy for donk betting, it tilts the hell out of me.
OK, so how does a fish think when he sees a flop and decides to donk? Well, either he thinks his hand is good - no matter what it is - or he thinks making you fold is the way to win at poker. He is not sophisticated enough to know that it's better to let his opponent bet a wide range by checking. On the flip side, there is very very rarely ever a fish that will also donk his strong hands - they love to slow play - so we can almost always put only pairs and bluffs and draws in his donking range, which gives us a capped range. In this instance it makes sense to bluff raise often when we have equity. If we do not have equity it is difficult because if he thinks his hand is good he will not fold. This includes draws. In the final table instance earlier my raise was bad because I was bluffing against a big stack that had me covered and I was risking too much by shipping (by ICM maths) given I only had 25% equity or so when called. It would have made more sense to float and get the money in if I hit on the turn.
I think it is also useful to evaluate donk betting using timing. If a habitual donk bettor thinks before betting I find that it's usually a made pair or draw type hand and the very quick bets is often a pure bluff (a premeditated action) or sometimes a low pocket pair that is being turned into a bluff.

Raise or fold with nothing - tend to raise if his preflop calling range is wide
Raise with big hands - make him pay for draws or get value from pairs that won't fold
Raise with good draws - fold out his random shit and build a big pot for when we hit
Call with medium hands (inc. implied odds draws like the final table hand) - let him continue to fire with his whole range, and raise when we hit

Anyway, sorry for the rambling strategy post, this was more to do with getting some tilt off of my chest rather than a proper strategy article. But if you are struggling against donk bettors post a comment with your observations. GL

Some Goals for the Week

Going to try and play ~100 games of Rush MTT this week at $4.40 a go. Simply as an exercise to see how I get on. I'll post a graph at the end unless I run horribly and give up like I normally do on a challenge I set myself! Seriously though, if I just concentrate on numbers and don't look at results I should be able to get to 100 no problem at all by 4-6 tabling. This is a really small sample size in truth so providing it doesn't go terribly I may extend the run to Christmas and try and do five hundred or so. I've seen some good ROIs on the forums so if I can somehow make $1 a game that will be a nice increase to the bankroll. In those times when I don't have a spare hour and a half I'll still play some 25NL cash to keep myself warm to those games too. Hand histories? Oh, go on I might do that too.

Edit: I think I just made a pretty big final table mistake with seven runners left. I was second in chips and there were two very short stacks, so I should just have tightened up and waited for them to bust and move up in cash spots. The ICM didn't justify me taking any risk at all given how much equity I had locked up. But this player kept calling my raises and donking half pot every single flop. I had folded until the incident but then got a rainbow board with two overcards and gutshot and shipped over his donk. This time, he had an overpair and it held up. I think I let tilt and recklessness get the better of me. Pretty disappointing. Must take more care in final table spots!!!

Rush Tournaments versus 90 man KO

Hey, just played another session of Rush tourneys. The most striking thing to me is that there is so much money at the final table. All it takes is one FT finish per session to break even whereas in the KO tournaments money is taken out for the bounties and consequently ROI is determined with wins being the predominant factor. This tells me that variance is likely to be higher in the KOs. So I will continue to play these for a while. They seem pretty simple, just playing a tight aggressive game with a focus on stealing later on. There seem to be a ton of players who donate money early on to the prize pool and also contribute dead money when the blinds get higher by limp folding a wide range. Standard tournament fishiness. Hopefully if the good cards continue and my strategy is sound - as I have always believed it would be in these weak player infested SNGs - then I can bring my sharkscope record back into profit over the course of a couple hundred of these tournaments. Wish me luck and I'll post a graph once I've played a decent sample. GL!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Rush Poker MTT SNG Win

Played a few of these this afternoon, they look really really terrific in terms of profitability; added to this is the fact that you can play so many hands and it's a win - win situation. I quickly played several tournaments within the space of two to three hours and ended up cashing in two, winning one. I adopted my standard full ring cash preflop strategy, although I think in future when multitabling I can afford to play like a mega nit raising like 7% of hands and opening up and stealing from CO through SB. Then as soon as the antes come in it's time to up the aggression and steal like a maniac. These tournaments do not look quite as soft as the 90 man KOs but are still much weaker than the typical Rush cash games. IMO these micro Rush tournaments are probably at least comparable to cash. So I may invest some time into these now while the full ring cash is going poorly. That cash boost for such little investment has propelled my bankroll back up very nicely.
All that is left for me to do is tidy up my HUD as it's messy at the moment and I also need to sort out tableNinja as half way through the session I had aces but when the mouse hovered over the table the betting slider spazzed out and didn't allow me to bet. So while the time was ticking down I had to quickly turn it off so I didn't fold. After I've fixed this I will six to eight table for four to six hours at a time and see how I get on. I played 14 tourneys in the space of 2.5 hours including the win which was an hour and 40 minutes long.
So let's assume a lower end estimate of 20% ROI so 44c per tourney plus 11c rake back then if I can play ten tourneys on average per hour the hourly is about $5.50. Doesn't sound like much but I'm very confident that we can do better than that ROI at this limit... Anyway, ramble over, check these games out - they're good! GL


So, a little off subject I know. I think the coming Ashes series could be really competitive and close - but if it is, then I cant see me getting much sleep lol. I think our squad looks at least equal to the Australian team but home advantage must still make them favourite. Come on England!

Watched a mate DRAskew final table the $5 rebuy yesterday where he finished eighth, and it reminded me that I miss that aspect of tournament play. The final table and playing for big money for first place... I'm going to need to slip in some tournaments I think among my schedule and see if I can't drop a big score. GL!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

My Humegamungous Leak

Hey, the games I am playing in at the moment are a complete and total push over. The vast majority of players are playing a complete fit or fold strategy. However, one thing that I keep doing time and time again is becoming suspicious against aggression. It might be the first time I have been raised in a few hundred hands but Ill still bluff catch to showdown. This is a huge leak, my opponents show big hands the vast vast majority of the time in this spot. Tonight a tight regular over a couple hundred hands called my UTG raise, check called my c-bet on a 654 then donked pot on the A turn and again on a random river. I should immediately have identified this line as one that someone with a set would take given that the A is a scare card and I would likely check back hands that would also call a bet. But instead I thought that the line looked really bluffy so I called down. If I had paid attention and not been so suspicious then you can see that its an easy fold. Making these sorts of lay-downs are critical for improving my win rate at this limit. My leak is suspicion.
Bets are very rarely raised at all at this limit. So when we are raised and end up folding, we are not being exploited. If we were we would need to defend our range. But in spots where we are not being exploited, we can just play our hand face up. Over the next few thousand hands I am really going to play extra cautiously in spots where opponents are not regularly exploiting me. In fact, I can currently only think of three spots where villains are printing money against me.
1/ Stealing my blinds
2/ 3 betting my wide late position opens
3/ C - betting against me a ton
In any other spots, my actions should be polarised based on my hand strength I think. Anyhow, rant over and good luck at the tables!
PS update your blog Mr Askew - good to see you back in the games!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Good Evening

Just finished a pretty long session, think it was around 3 hrs. No results as I am no longer checking them in order to protect myself from short termism. As a guess Id say it was probably break even at best. But this is a good thing, as I am increasingly sure that this is actually where my ability puts me. I am enjoying the sessions more now that I am just concentrating on the individual hands and not worrying about whether or not I finish in profit. Tonight, there were three spots where I played for stacks with good equity and my hands did not hold so I'm sure I ran beneath expectation. Will play some more tomorrow I expect.

Have begun to play a little Chess again for the first time in years. I used to be semi-obsessed (but rubbish) at the game when I was a young teen but when I headed off to uni I stopped playing completely. Well, I discovered the online resource www.chess.com the other day (God if only I had had this when I was younger) which is a brilliant website for Chess enthusiasts and it has rekindled a small flame in me. Knowing how little I know about the game, I'm realistic and Ill never be a good player but I may start playing again so that I can get a bit of competition going in my life. There is a certain beauty in Chess; in its endless patterns and symmetries.

Finally, onto music. There are two records that have dominated my play time recently and they are:
Foals - Total Life Forever
The National - High Violet
Two brilliant albums that I haven't been able to get enough of. I got the Foals record after their Mercury nomination and then found The National album on iTunes while browsing randomly.

Thursday, 11 November 2010


Really enjoying the 25NL Full Ring Rush now that I've settled in. Not recovered my losses but holding my own better than before. I am still two tabling and just making sure I make my decisions as good as possible and continue to make copious notes. I think this is a good thing because when I was playing four tables at once note taking was something that often made me time out and as a consequence I rarely would. Every time I make notes on a hand I feel it helps me to internalise that situation and it's outcome making me a better player. The more hands I play the better I feel about my game. I really have come a long way in just a few months. I just need the results to demonstrate the truth in this!

It seems that the WSOP coverage has padded the playing pool with fishier players; seriously though, I am not sure why I was ever scared of playing this limit. There are only maybe a couple of players I have played pots with that I would consider competent post flop players. There are plenty of TAGs who play fine preflop but then just have no clue about post flop concepts. Evidence that I should make money... I just need to log the hands. Two tabling gets me through about 600 hands per hour so hopefully by Christmas Ill have a decent sample to show you all.

Someone told me that the biggest jump in standard at micro/small stakes is at 50NL. If I am not deluding myself about my ability in comparison to the competition at my current limit then hopefully I will have enough bankroll to move up come spring time and then it will likely take me another few months to adapt to that limit. If there is a significant jump in playing quality I may consider getting coaching for the first time. I think that I should now always have an edge on level one and sometimes level two thinking players but would get destroyed by any deeper thinkers than this, so that would be where coaching comes in I guess. Anyway, hopefully in the not too distant future I can post a winnings curve and silence my self doubts once and for all. GL

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Less Hands/Hour

- I've made the decision to play two tables and make a lot of notes instead of playing four and getting hurried with decisions sometimes. This is basically decreasing my hourly win rate but I think that the fact that I will improve quicker will compensate for this in the long run. I can really try and decipher ranges and then when I'm wrong learn better from my mistakes. This measure is only going to happen while I am still very unsure about my win rate at this limit. If I can get to a stage - like in 10NL - where I have very strong evidence of winning over 100k hands or more then I'll begin to four table again until such time that I decide to move to 50NL. Of course this is speculation and I may actually lose my poker bankroll. But after a couple of good sessions and the utter belief that this limit plays no better than 10NL I truly think that I will make money here. And after a couple of good sessions I'm wondering if I'm now on my way out of my recent down swing. Only time will tell! GL

Saturday, 6 November 2010

No Results, just Play Time!

Hey, well the last couple of days I have completely ignored session results and just focused on trying to play as well as I can. I really like this disassociation as its helping me to play better and not tilt if I have a couple of losing sessions in a row. As it stands, most of the time I'm not sure if I finish the session up or down and that's a good thing - because it doesn't matter what results are like in the short run! I can then objectively look at a few hands from the session and decide if I played them as well as I can. But on the other hand I do need to check my bankroll occasionally. So, I will try and check my balance just once per week and providing it's not dwindling alarmingly do a full analysis of my play at the end of the month. So I will never know how well I've got on until that time. Hopefully Ill have a reasonable sample of hands then to have a look at and the individual session results will become meaningless. I can just concentrate on playing as well as I can on a hand by hand and street by street level. GL

Friday, 5 November 2010


The last couple of sessions I've made some mistakes. I had a critical look back and while overall my play was pretty sound there were a couple of spots where I ignored Baluga theorem and therefore cost myself the best part of a buy-in over 2000 hands. This is extremely significant in terms of profit. {Baluga theorem says that turn raises from straight forward players mean hands better than a pair}. There was also a spot where I called down a donk bettor on a paired board because the betting didn't make sense with any hand but the player had trips. Not sure if I could have found a fold here, maybe. Anyway the overall point is that I am still making significant mistakes and that I must begin to iron these leaks from my game if I ever want to beat this limit.

I intend to stay at 25NL now; while I may occasionally drop back to 10NL for various reasons my main game will be Rush 10/25c Full Ring and all the work I undertake in the next year will be with the goal of finding a winning strategy for this limit. Of course I open up the possibility of burning through my entire existing bankroll. This is no small sum to me, a few hundred English pounds. But I believe this is a risk worth taking. There is little point in continuing to smash 10NL as the hourly is very small and while the extra money would be significant by the end of the year, it will take a lot of man hours to earn that cash. GL

Thursday, 4 November 2010


Haven't played much at all, but when I have it hasn't been winning poker. The problem with having tons of losing sessions in a row is it seriously de-motivates you from playing. Fortunately I've still managed to learn a few things in the last couple of weeks despite the lack of serious play. Today for example I was reminded of how we make money at poker; the concept of reciprocality. I am 110% confident that I am playing situations better than most of my opponents at 25NL are, so therefore (given sufficient volume) I will beat this limit - just as I beat 10NL. At least, this is what I keep telling myself. My hand sample is still ridiculously low but if I get to a point where serious questions are being asked about my ability then I will either:
1/ Get coaching
2/ Quit for good
At the moment I'd still back myself (maybe 1~2) to pull the results around but those odds will change fast with every extra losing session. GL

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Poker Mindset

Well this weekend I've been working a lot and also playing Fallout: New Vegas quite a bit - awesome game by the way. As a result though I have not played many hands. But I did have a kind of revelation earlier and I think I've been approaching poker with the wrong mindset. If I have a losing session I'm usually distraught, if I have a winner I'm over the moon. But we all know that poker isn't a hand by hand, session by session game it's a long term endeavour; a marathon and not a mile. So I intend to approach poker differently from now on. Of course, I will have to occasionally check my balance to see if I have enough money to be bankrolled for the limit I plan to play. But I will try and ignore the individual session results from now on and not look at my game stats until I've played a significant sample of hands - let's say 100k. This way hopefully I can just concentrate on each individual play and get that right and the results will not affect me emotionally. I will continue with the challenge sessions as I think it makes for a more interesting blog but I'll try and keep away from the "woe is me" sentiment if I happen to lose a buy-in or two. I'm convinced my strategy is robust and will lead to profit. I try and do three things:
1/ Play a clearly superior range versus my opponents' when out of position and a break even range versus my opponents' when in position.
2/ Use position
3/ Play as well as I can post flop
Doing these things made me money at 10NL and I'm still utterly convinced the same will happen at this limit if I give myself enough time and hands. GL!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Challenge Session #2

21:17 Session Started.

Results and Commentary
I am running horribly now, it is going to take every last bit of my mental strength to see this through.

I think I could have found nitty folds a few times tonight and saved myself maybe a buy-in. But even having said this, I have only gone to showdown 23% of the time as it is. Truly frustrating. I will have to begin to think about setting a total losses threshold, because this year I won around $700 at 10NL and I do not want to burn all of that away. Oh well, so far only around 6 buy-ins down and considering that I had a 15 BI down-swing at 10NL I just need to keep the faith. The decisions I'm making are logical and based upon the right variables. Anyway, hope your luck is better than mine.

Challenge Session #1

And so, it begins. Just a couple of notes, again these are going to be 2k hand sessions which I will play in one sitting with the following exception: if at any time I lose more than 3 buy-ins I will stop playing for 15 minutes and then return and complete the session. After the session is finished I will put the graph in this post along with any hands I thought were worth a look. Right, Ill post again in a couple of hours!

Result and Commentary
Ran pretty poorly. Not really sure how well I played, I'm thinking that I didnt play my best, certain stats were pretty far out of my ideal range. For example, c-betting was just under 50% which is very low for me. I was trying to pick the best boards to bet on versus the correct ranges, but I just didn't flop that well unfortunately. Also, there were two or three spots where I 3-bet and was called by the button, and without any reads about what sort of hands they were calling with I was check folding on some pretty ugly boards. I'm assuming their calling ranges are pretty strong but this is one particular situation in which I need to improve. Looking at the graph I have posted, you'll notice that the session would have been much better but for one big pot. Here it is:

I felt that my hand was good enough to 3-bet versus these two fishy players and the flop was basically the nuts for my hand. I decided to check / call the turn because I correctly guessed that he would be turning tons of weak hands into bluffs if I did. Unfortunately the three outer came in. So, not the best of starts then.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Personal Challenge, and a Little on Ranges

Well, I'm really not playing much at the moment, for various reasons. Particularly work being pretty rubbish and leading to a state of mind where I don't want to grind. However, by the new year Id like to play 100k or more hands of 25NL FR Rush. This is so that I can objectively assess my game at this new level. If I'm winning, great - that should be a nice new year bonus. If not, I can decide what I should do next to better myself as a poker player enough to beat what should be a very beatable micro stakes playing field. So I'm going to document those hands in this blog. I am going to break the 100k hands into 50 X 2k hand blocks that I will need to play in one sitting (each 2k). Basically while I may have a few small 30-60 minute sessions, the challenge sessions must comprise of a 2k hand sitting and to give credibility to them I will post before I begin a block and also a graph once I have done. This will encourage me to play my best. So the 50 session challenge begins now, and Ill play the first session in the next couple of days.

Recently I have learned about range defence; that in order to prevent exploitation in a situation we cannot fold too much and thus allow opponents to profitably bet any two cards. But on the flip side, there are plenty of situations where our range differs from our opponents significantly in terms of equity. In certain spots trying to defend our range would lose us more money than before because our opponent can just play very aggressively knowing that in the long run he has a big equity edge. The point of this is that the scale of our range defence should be guided by the strength of our range versus villains. This is really best explained by example. In an extreme case, it is folded to us in the small blind. We raise as a steal and our opponent calls. Suppose we have played a million hands against this player and he has folded 95% of the time to small blind steals. Knowing how much he folds, our range is any two cards. Now poker stove tells me that our equity against his calling range is only 27%. Now we are very exploitable if we check fold every time we are called. We are not defending our range enough, so villain can just bet every single time we check. But if we fight back and try and defend, we are putting money in consistently as an underdog and this is bad. In conclusion, if our range does very well against our opponents, we should always give him HELL because the equity allows us this pleasure. If we have neutral equity, we should not fold too easily but equally not become outrageously aggressive unless villain is weak and folds too much. If our equity is very poor we should only continue when we have decent or better equity - so in the example check folding without at least a good draw is correct. Hope some of this made sense, it does to me lol! GL

Friday, 22 October 2010

Quiz Hand

So, the feel of 10c/25c full ring Rush is different to 5c/10c. I cant really explain it, it's more aggressive I guess, but the aggression doesn't seem to be very purposeful. I haven't spotted many players using it correctly anyway. But then at a limit that is generally weak tight I guess there doesn't need to be correct aggression, it usually just works anyway. My own strategy has been using selective aggression, and it is not currently working. But until I reach 150k hands I'm just going to carry on and then Ill address the leaks at that stage.

Well, I have a day off tomorrow and no plans until the evening so I will probably try and get through a good sample of hands. If anything interesting crops up, Ill post it here so that all of you thousands of (imagined) readers can have a good old read. GL!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

0.10c/0.25c FR Rush Update

Hey all. I have not put in as much volume as I would have liked lately, but as evidenced by my last post I have done a little work on my game. The first few thousand hands at this limit have not gone terribly well, I'm about six buy-ins down. But I'm not going to return to the lower limit unless something unforeseen happens with regards to my financial situation. Basically, I feel that I'm playing as well as I have ever done; whether this makes me good enough to beat this limit however - only time will tell. My style has changed a little, I have begun to include more hands that I call with so that I don't unnecessarily turn hands into bluffs; but this requires me to play as well post flop as I can, and I think that these hands can easily become spews. Maybe they are removing my edge, but this is why I'm trying to learn at the moment - so that I can play better. I also toyed with the idea of removing 22-55 from my preflop (out of position) range as their profitability is dubious in nitty Rush. However, I don't think that playing these hands strays far from break-even and for this reason Id prefer to keep them so that sets are always definitely part of my range. I think that it is better for meta game if your range is as wide as is still profitably possible as this gives you the most opportunity for value with your best hands as well as fold equity from your worst. Anyway, short update over. After I've played a significant sample of hands I'll post a graph. GL!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

It's all in the Continuing Range!

A HUGE subject that I've come across in research over and over again is continuing ranges (I think I've heard them called continuance ranges too). Especially recently, this concept has been aired time and time again, and I've only just come to realise it's importance.
For those among you who may be unaware, I'll try and explain the concepts' significance in the next paragraph.
A continuing range is the range of hands that your opponent will continue with after you bet or raise. Hands that we raise for value in any situation should have good equity against an opponents' continuing range. If we bluff, we should pick hands that are too weak to call (given pot odds) but whose equity isn't terrible. It is currently considered optimal to raise gutshots, overcards, back door draws and combinations of these and other weak draws when we bluff on the flop. This is because they typically have around 25% equity with two cards to come.
When one bets or raises, according to the standard risk reward equation a bet can often (in NLHE) be profitable no matter what the cards are if villain folds too much. In this situation we should often be bluffing. When we do bluff however, we can improve our expected value on the play by picking the best hands to do it with. What we need is for our hands to have decent equity when we are called. Here's a common example: MP (solid reg) opens and we have AJo on the button. 3-betting here is usually going to show a positive expected value, so why not? Because when villain continues there are not many hands that we beat up on and our equity is generally poor. AJo is good enough to play, so call and 3-bet something that is a more marginal call but will play decently post flop - T9s?
Anyway the purpose of this post is not to cover tons of situations, but just to make anyone who isn't already aware of the concept that it exists and that it is worth further research. GL!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Some Stars Stuff (fail the first attempt at this post)

played a little on stars tonight as some friends were playing tourneys there. I joined a few 25NL cash games, and really enjoyed the battle with familiar players and building table dynams etc. It's been a long time since I've played that sort of environment and it was fun! Might drop in again if the Rush games get tiresome. GL!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

My Biggest Leak

Hey, well tonight I got frustrated and I made a play against a player who looked like a drooler (over the 50 or so hand sample). I had JJ in the sb and this player who was playing a lot of hands raised from middle position. I 3-bet and he called and the flop ran Kxx. I c-bet and the fishy player raised quite large. Now, against a reg I know that this would be a committing raise and as a result Id have instantly mucked. But given the stats I had on this villain, I honestly thought that this could mean absolutely anything, and that a lot of weaker hands than good second pair would call given his previous tendencies, and some of his hands would even fold. So I shipped and he calls with QQ. Now, its quite possible that this player was not as loose as I had pegged him and maybe I should have given more credit on the flop. But as I said I was frustrated and tired of being pushed around and this brings me to the topic of this post.
The thing that makes me tilt the most is when I feel that I am playing well but things are not going my way in the short term; the c-bets do not work, I get 3-bet a ton; No value bets seem to be getting called, we keep getting coolered etc. I seem to adopt the psychology that the players are somehow conspiring against me but this is never ever true! I let it build up and eventually start tilting and end up stacking off light in a situation where it may have been unnecessary - like the example above.
In the short term if it ever appears that we are getting our way less than usual; if things are not working, then it is most likely just a case of a number of specific independent events occurring together and not a drastic change in game conditions.
Until I completely distance myself from the individual results and thus cure this leak I dont think Ill ever reach the level that I want. This is my biggest leak and my biggest challenge so far. I have at least managed to identify the leak; the first step in finding a cure. GL!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Two New Concepts Learned

They are kind of obvious now that I've heard them explained but thought I'd post them here.

1/ Balance where necessary, no more
Recently I've learned so much about the theory of the game and balancing lines but I have been making the mistake of trying to balance in spots where it is not necessary because villain's ranges are either value heavy or bluff heavy. In these cases we must also play a polar range and not worry about balance. For example, when playing against c-bets (which are almost always very bluff heavy) we should not be folding too often.

2/ Don't telegraph your strength unless it's entirely necessary
If we're in a spot where we are unlikely to be bluff raising very often we should tend to flat our entire range as we will get extra value from playing later streets rather than have our opponent fold knowing that we must be very strong. For example, we open in middle position with KK and the small blind - a pretty tight regular - 3-bets us. We are pretty much never bluff 4-bet raising in that situation so it is better to call with our hand (and the rest of the range we intend to play).

Yikes. God, sometimes I horrify myself. Tired and a little tilted after losing two stacks to set over set I was in a four way pot and the board ran out 999KK. Everything had limped around all the way down so I overbet shoved with 44 deciding that everyone was splitting but that if anyone folded Id be getting free money. Betting as much as I did was totally unnecessary and when I was snap called by a slow played king I just cried. I dont mind my thinking, and a 1.5 or 2x overbet would probably have been profitable in most situations like this. Betting what I did is just a massive spew. It will take me a lot of hands to claw that back now. Sigh, I really cant believe I could have made such a ridiculous and fundamental mistake. My understanding of the game is prob better than 95% of 25NL players and yet I still behave like one of the 95%. Anyone else ever just spazzed out randomly as if you totally lost your mind? No more play today, I need a breather after that calamity.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

First Blood

Hey, well I have begun the 25NL grind. I could and should have played more this weekend but Friday I was mucking about in my other hobby as a musician and on Saturday I was hungover and had no wish to face 3-bets from an aggressive lag. Today I felt better (despite the bingey second night out) but chose to destroy a few empires at Civ V instead. This is obviously terrible considering my ambitions to improve at this game but sometimes you just need time off from it, you know? Anyway for the first 30k hands or so I'm just going to 2 table and try and play as well as I can. This should insulate me in case the poker Gods decide to throw some run bad my way, and Ill likely lose less than I would otherwise. The other thing Im going to do is a lot more hand analysis. I have reached a level of understanding where with a little bit of work after sessions I could begin to play extremely solidly post flop. This will obv lead to a ton of small stakes profit and I think it will be necessary (if not for this limit then definitely for 50NL).
The rake-back changes on Full Tilt have cut back my Rush earnings. I can understand that the new method is fairer on all of the players, but its hard not to be cynical and see that this is just a way for them to get out of paying so much. In truth I think that it will hurt them in the long run judging by the criticism received on 2+2 but time will tell. Anyway, GL!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Moving Up!!

After my first 200k hands of Rush (there's a graph in a previous post) I decided to start a new database. 50k hands in, this is how things are going. I played nearly 50k hands - as you can see - and was slightly less than break even. At the time I was pretty down on myself about the game and how I was playing. But it just goes to show that if you are patient and keep playing solidly that the results will come around. In only 5000 hands I've gone from being a marginal loser to a 1 ptbb/100 winner over this sample - a huge turn around.
I really feel that the time has come to give 25NL a sustained assault. I've proved to myself that I can beat 10NL (rush fr) and while I was toying with staying for a while longer, I think that I'm being overly cautious now and need to bite the bullet. Here goes, wish me luck :)

Patience; Addressing an imbalance

I think that during my Rush play so far I have always been too impatient; I wanted to win more than my fair share of pots - to win more money than I was due. But I came to a realisation yesterday; to win at 2ptbb/100 we only need to be winning, on average, 40c per table during those 100 hands. During play I find that I very often work up this sort of profit very easily. Where I'm losing it most often is running elaborate bluffs (which are not necessary at micro stakes because players are so stubborn with their hands) and making hero calls. Again, hero calling is only necessary against players who bluff too much. The vast majority of full ring Rush opponents fall on the other end of the spectrum. In essence I'm making the game much more complicated than it needs to be. I could make more money by just bluffing occasionally with equity and value betting exclusively the rest of the time. Of course Ill need to win my share of the blind money from the steal positions but at all other times, NO FANCY PLAY SYNDROME! - time to listen to Miss Obrestad methinks.

There are a couple of villains that I regularly play against that float me an awful lot. I have spoken before about check raising on the turn as a defence against this but I think the big problem that I have is that I barrel out of position on the turn with a decent range but every time I check I always have crap. I think that it is necessary that I include some very strong hands in my checking range to defend against floating, maybe any time I have a set with a heart in it or a flush or well hidden straight. Ill just begin to look for more hands to include in that checking range. Its certainly true that there is no finesse in villain betting, if I check the turn after a c-bet and call villains seem to bet their entire range there. So it may actually be profitable to check my entire range on the turn rather than double barrel oop... Ill do some work tomorrow and let you know the conclusion.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

pros and cons of 6 tables...

for a while Im going to use the six table set up but have two 5NL tables as the extra because its taking me a while to get used to it as I have had to change the tableninja settings somewhat. Briefly, I had been using the mouse hover feature while four tabling which allowed me to just move around at will and play what I felt were the most important hands first. I could do this because I could see exactly what each situation was. I might still be able to do this by utilizing my second monitor but Ill need to experiment to find out if I can make it work. Playing six tables meant that two of them were always blocked from view and this led to me timing out once or twice. The last session I just had the tables pop to the front when required. This meant that I could no longer quick fold using the space key - a useful shortcut - because FT is liable to pop up another table so Id end up sending the fold instruction to a screen that didnt warrant it. On the flip side though, because I had to be careful not to fold good hands I was having to make quick decisions so ended up taking the more cautious line which is probably a good thing at micro stakes, as a raise is usually what it says it is. Anyway, Ill continue to experiment to find the best set up. I didnt struggle to keep up with the six tables which is the most important thing, I just need to tweak until Ive found a set up Im comfortable with. GL

Monday, 4 October 2010

More Volume Desired...

Hey, haven't played much the last week or so as I was away and then haven't really felt like playing. What I want to begin to do is to increase volume by playing more tables of Rush. My bankroll currently stands at $1300 so I'm going to begin to play two extra tables of 25NL Rush on top of my four 10NL ones. This should enable me to increase volume and I don't think it should affect my win rate too much now that I'm using tableNinjaFT. Eventually I may move to 8 tables but I'll see how the initial experiment goes, I'm certainly comfortable with four now and don't ever really feel rushed (no pun). I'd like to set myself a goal every month of playing 100000 hands. This is a significant amount, and if I improve to a level where I'm beating the micro game for 2ptbb/100 or more - certainly possible IMO - then I should win money the vast majority of months that I play. Add to this all of the experience I will gather along the way, it sounds like a good plan for the future. 1m hands in a year is nothing to be sniggered at, even at micro stakes.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Deep Analysis of a Hand (tl;dr)

Going to try something different and do a combination analysis of a hand. Hand reviews like this are something that I intend to start doing regularly so I may as well post them on here so that anyone who reads can pick apart my play. This will be fairly deep and maths intensive so sorry about that, tl;dr

Initial notes: I don't believe my preflop 3-bet was big enough, and allowed villain to profitably set mine against my very tight UTG+1 3-bet range. Villain is an unknown but over ten hands had only played one, so I'm assuming a fairly tight player. So now I'm going to put his range for calling the 3-bet as a pretty loose {99-KK, AQs+, AKo} which is 50 combinations (since I have two aces). Given this range, it should be pretty easy to work out the correct play in this hand, which was my intention in this first analysis.

I think that the vast majority of villains would just call with their entire continuing range on this board; to slow play their strong hands and to play it safe with the marginal AK. So when he does call, I need to refine my view of his range. Villain could certainly flat a single street with TT-QQ but given how strong my range is it's probably safer to fold the flop with the king out there so I'll rule those hands out. That leaves {99, KK, AK} for a total of 12 combinations. The value bet on the turn is actually indifferent. Since we're way ahead (six AK combs) half of the time or way behind (six set combs) half of the time we don't get any value by betting against this specific continuing range. So I think it would have been better to check back. As played, when he raises it's a case of which hands he'd do this with and the pot odds we're getting:
If I assume his raise is all-in (with only $3 behind this is pretty safe) then to call I risk $5.55 to win $(3.95+2.55+8.1)= $14.6 and must be good 28% of the time to justify the call. So he needs to be doing this with at least 3 combinations of AK for calling to be better than folding. I don't think that your average micro player would be turning AK into a bluff here, although some might. This player had given some evidence of tight tendencies so I think that the fold was a good one. An expert player could exploit me in this spot by shoving his entire range, fwiw.

Sorry for this long and heavy blog post, I'll try and tidy the next one up and structure it a little better as that was messy to say the least!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

If Only...

... poker was this easy all of the time. After a 48k hand break even stretch, finally a little heater. But it was worth the wait!

Finding an excellent post

blind defence
This just reminded me of the need to continue to play tightly from the blinds. I guess just getting better at poker will improve my win rates there. One other thing I need to do is win more from the button. I think I'm a bit of a push over when the blinds re-steal so I must begin to make their lives hell. On with the next few thousand hands, then.

Friday, 1 October 2010


Hi, I've been away this week on a short break which was awesome - except for the screen on my iphone breaking which made me cry. The first time I have ever thanked the Lord for fucking insurance. Anyway now I'm back I thought I should out my shocking play during the last 50k hands. This is probably around a months play and I have not played very well. I have highlighted what I believe to be my biggest leak currently which is my blind play. My goal for these positions is -0.15 and -0.1 for the big blind and small blind respectively and I'm falling way short of my target. I think there may be some variance affecting these numbers somewhat but also some bad play. Work to do!

While away I spent some time thinking about poker and what I may be doing wrong currently. I think that I have a leak where I'm blindly betting in situations where villains have a stronger range than me. The key example is where I raise in the small blind as a steal and the nitty big blind calls. My range here is very wide whereas his is generally pretty damn strong. Add to this his positional advantage and the fact that he will generally be equal to me in skill then this is not a very good situation. So while the preflop raise will be profitable on its own, once we are called putting in any more money - given the above factors - should be bad unless we have a hand on the flop. So c-betting should be fit or fold pretty much in this situation. Certainly c-betting 75% of the time will be a clear leak. This got me thinking more about range vs range situations. I think that it is probably true that if we have a situation where our range is strong compared to our opponent's then we should be bluffing a very large percentage of the time. Conversely, if our range is very weak compared to villain's range we should very rarely bluff. On the back of this light bulb I just had a good session where I was very careful to taylor my value/bluff ratios to the strength of my range versus my opponents and it seemed to work pretty well. I'll let you know how it continues! GL

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Heater; Concentrating on Fat Value

Currently enjoying a very nice little heater. At the moment I'm really trying to concentrate on value betting my strong hands and not bluffing much; I'm also playing a bit tighter than I was. I've cut certain hands from my button steal range so that I'm not stealing quite so often. I'm sacrificing a little bit of edge but should see more hands which will balance this out. Also out of the blinds I'm playing very few hands, a range tighter even than my UTG raising range. A range like {99+, AQ+}. These are things that I've had to do as I feel that I was spewing by playing too many hands. So my VP$IP has dropped from around 14-15 to around 12%. I don't see this as affecting my hourly significantly though and makes post flop play much easier overall. I can just autobot a profit, very nice thank you. One thing Id recommend is really focusing on what your opponents ranges are preflop. I have two standards of play; when I'm tired I tend to just play level one, and bet if I have a hand and fold if I don't. But when I'm playing my best poker I'm thinking: "Given my relative hand strength and villains range what is my best play?" - and this improves my decision making no end. There is a clear correlation between winning and losing sessions and thinking in one way or the other. Anyway just a quick update on my progress and adjustments that I'm making. GL

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Cardrunners, TableninjaFT

Hey, well the grind continues. Cardrunners have really been churning out some good videos lately. It seems that my knowledge is expanding all the time which can only be good. I also think that playing loads of hands is improving me too as I see so many situations patterns become discernible. Certain flops make more sense than they did before and so forth. So I cant wait for my next heater basically, should be fun :)

I've just purchased the AHK program tableninjaFT which I'm using to help me multi-table faster. Basically I just played a 40 min session at a rate of 1200 hands per hour and I think that on average it will be between 1100 and 1200. This is an increase of about 10% which doesn't sound a lot but any time we can increase volume and therefore return on investment by 10% it's a good thing. I think I need to be aiming to play 50000 hands per month in future as a minimum. If I can return to winning ways (around 2BB/100) this would translate as $200 per month and then adding in rake-back I should push earnings of $300. Doesn't sound like much but this would allow me to comfortably play 25NL in no time at all. I'm still worried about taking shots as a down-swing of several buy-ins would really hurt at that limit. If I had another $1000 to play with though I think it would just feel like 10NL. And $600 a month extra income would be awesome if I could somehow beat that limit too. Anyway, this is all speculation, I must grind on. GL!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Rush Update

Going to delay the strategy post I spoke about as got a busy few weeks and Id rather spend the time grinding. Im not really qualified to post strategy anyway, lol.

Right, played over 35k hands more or less (since my Rush renaissance) and roughly break even now (excluding bonuses and rakeback which puts me in profit); I think that the break in (Rush) play that I had has made me rusty but the last few sessions Ive felt good again. Tonight though I made a horrendous mistake and that turned a potentially good session into a break even one. At my best Im sure Im beating this limit for a decent clip but the odd big mistake is really hurting me. I guess that my profitability will ultimately hinge on whether I can cut these errors from my game.

Every now and then I hear someone talk about poker and feel totally outclassed. This happened again today when I watched a video on Cardrunners by a pro (alias ronfar3 - worth a PTR lookup). He spoke of many things that I now have a fair grasp of, but then when talking through hands I realised that there were many spots where Id assume one play when there were better alternatives. I intend to watch that video again to try and learn some more. Its good to have a new ceiling to strive to reach. Gl all

Monday, 20 September 2010

Link Post

... check out this variance sim, and there seems to be other tools on the site - some downloadable - that look good too, haven't had chance to check them all out but looks promising. GL

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Solid Session

Just played a good session, felt that I played very solidly without any huge mistakes. The last few times I've played I've made a concerted effort to focus entirely on my opponent's range at each stage in the hand. For a while I was trying too hard to balance my own actions. Unfortunately this sometimes meant that I was thinking too much about my own hand strength rather than villain's range, leading to bluffing in spots that were probably not good for doing so and betting in spots where there was no value (thereby unnecessarily turning my hand into a bluff at times). Now that I've returned focus to range reading, things have started going pretty well. That isn't to say that I'm not doing things to improve my balance in certain situations, I'll sometimes see spots that look good for a raise with hands that are slightly too weak to call and this has been going well. But overall my strategy has returned to a more fundamental outlook and it's helped me to play better.

I've been a member of Cardrunners for a long time and learned a lot from the videos there. A Rush player called Alvin Lau has been doing some research using a large database of players. It appears from his research that the most optimal style in Full Ring Rush poker has a VP$IP of around 10-13%. That is not to say it's impossible to make other styles work if you're good but I was pleased to hear this evidence being a player myself who sits around 13%. His philosophy is that its not wrong to be a nit if you're a good one. He has a Rush win rate of 3BB/100 over 300k hands at $1/$2 playing 12% of hands so he should know!

For my next post Im going to do something a bit different I think and try and do a little bit of a strategy post on river play. Until this year I always had trouble distinguishing between a value bet and a bluff and bluff catchers but now it makes complete sense for some reason. I'm going to dig out some hands from my database and be very critical of my river play and try and explain the difference between bluffing and value betting and see where I got it right and wrong.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Good Volume Today...

but it was a losing day. I didnt lose a huge number of buyins but enough that its affecting my confidence. Looking back through the session, I think I made some really good folds and picked my c-bet and turn barrel spots well but nothing seemed to come off. Ive been through downswings before and so Im not going to worry until Ive played a lot more volume but the seeds of doubt have been sewn. I made some mistakes today, I stacked off twice preflop against two very loose players and ran into big hands; I also ran a couple of ambitious bluffs that didnt come off (although I think given my thought processes that they should have been profitable). However what I will likely do is cut out the fancy play stuff for a few thousand hands. Give up a couple more pots on the flop in exchange for some more value hopefully. Anyway, it felt great to play loads of hands again so Im not going to stop playing Rush any time soon. I had a few interesting spots, and Ill try and dig them out and post them tomorrow but until then, gd night and good luck!

Tough Start

20K hands, about 4 buy-ins down. This has been absorbed by the fast $50 bonus that I earned very quickly but still I'm not happy with things. I've been looking at my game and I'm not doing much differently to before so I'll continue to play and re-evaluate after 50k hands or so. It could just be a downswing but it feels like there is a lot more aggression than I found previously, even players just turning weak pairs into bluffs. There seems to be pretty liberal floating going on too; I know my strategy is deliberately very one barrel heavy so I'll need to defend against floats on boards where it looks like villain is FOS. The best way is probably to check raise bluff now and then. For example this hand:

In a game that is so nitty, win rates are likely to be very small. Hopefully this is just a downswing and Ill return to winning ways before the end of the month. GL

Monday, 13 September 2010

Coming to a Realisation

When I started grinding a lot of Rush back in the spring I played a lot of hours in the space of a couple of months. 200 odd hours for a return of about 700 bucks. This isn't very impressive in terms of win rate and such, but what is significant is that since that time I've played very little Rush with the bankroll staying completely stagnant. If instead, I'd have just played another couple hundred hours I could be $700 richer by now. I'm not knocking the games I have played, they should be profitable in their own right but with (full ring) Rush the standard deviation and therefore variance is very low at around 30 BB/100. I still want to become a very good tournament player and so I will continue to play a few here and there. But my primary goal in this endeavour is to earn as much money as I possibly can to supplement my daily income, not to worry about people sniggering at my sharkscope graph. So I really must play more hours of Rush; as much as I can, really. I owe it to myself. Starting from now. GL

Saturday, 11 September 2010

tilt scream....


I'm so fed up of how I'm running in the 90 mans. I'm playing a solid strategy and everyone else is playing like they don't know which button is which. But despite this, I just cannot seem to get a hand to hold especially when we get to the deeper blind levels. It's begun to drive me completely mad now. I thought I'd illustrate with a picture. At those deeper levels it's pretty much push fold all the time, and I'd expect (since villains call so widely) that my wsd numbers (won at showdown) would converge upon around 50%. As you can see, the vast majority of those numbers are below 50, some way below 50%. I included the vpip figures just to illustrate how we need to loosen up once the antes kick in. Again, I'm winning hardly any of these all-ins come that stage. I don't know whether I should just stop playing tourneys or just play as many as it takes until these numbers begin to converge more realistically. Full Tilt need to press my boomswitch soon as I'm getting seriously fed up!
In case you were wondering about the earlier blind levels, the numbers are pretty standard like my cash game stats. I'm usually going to showdown after post flop play as a favourite and the numbers reflect that. But as soon as I reach the level shown in the pic... DOOOOOM

Friday, 10 September 2010

Good Session; Three Leaks

Hey, just had a great session. It started poorly, it was one of those periods of play where villains just played back every hand. I was probably just running into hands. Normally though, this tilts me and I end up playing back when I shouldn't but tonight I was pretty disciplined. I didn't play really well but decently enough. Then all of a sudden I had a bit of a rush and won a couple of buy-ins including the following hand which I was very proud of:

Basically 150bb deep I hate the flop reraise. But the board was really dry and it didn't make a lot of sense for someone to raise a set on that board unless they think I get really sticky with the better pairs in my range. Given that I have top pair and therefore blockers to set combinations I decided to call and I was planning to blocker bet the turn and fold to a reraise on that street. When the turn paired the board though I became more confident with my hand. Now with only 5 set or quad combinations and very little draws I decided that I was probably good enough of the time to check call both the turn and river. Luckily it turned out this time :)

I think that there are three particular areas of my game that I can improve:
1/ C-betting too much on the turn. Over the last 15K hands the pattern has continued that opponents fold way too much on the flop but once they've called the flop, rarely give up on the turn. This is a sign that players only continue on the flop with a pretty strong range. Unfortunately I think that I barrel the turn too often. If my opponents rarely fold the turn after floating the flop then I really need to ONLY be betting for value on that street. I'm currently doing it more often than this.
2/ I don't think I raise c-bets enough. The vast majority of players at these limits c-bet most flops with their entire range. They don't look at texture, they just blast away blindly. So it stands to reason that raising c-bets should be insanely profitable.
3/ Defending my range. My fold to flop c-bet has come down from around 48% to 45% which is a good adjustment but I'd still prefer it to be a little nearer 40% so I need to find more places to defend my range. I've already mentioned raising c-bets but this includes flop calls.

Anyway, the work continues and I'm enjoying the game more than I ever did. GL!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Refocusing and Tonight's Play

Hi all. Recently I feel that my knowledge has expanded to a new level, but unfortunately I haven't really played enough to verify that this has actually improved my play or not. So to find out I'm not going to do any more learning for a while and just grind grind grind. Tonight I played a session of cash (10NL Rush) as well as a few of the 90 man KO tournaments. I really thought I played well despite finishing down. I was focused, and felt like I was playing game A. Just unfortunate that this didn't translate into winnings.
I'm about to set up a second monitor. When I play the tournaments I find 6 tabling to be very easy so I'd like to try and ten or twelve table and see how I get on. I need to maximise my volume to smooth out the very high variance. I've been looking at a few high volume MTT players on sharkscope and a 100 or so game downswing is pretty common so I'm not at all disheartened; if my current strategy can make me 2BB/100 in nitty full ring Rush I expect a similar strategy - and a good knowledge of push fold maths - will translate into bigger profit in micro (donk filled) MTTs.

Recently I've been working really hard on defending my range more so that I'm not such a fit or fold weak pushovertard. I've learned a lot from my study but tonight I went back to just concentrating very hard on refining my opponent's hand range and basing my play on that. There were plenty of spots where I was able to use my new found knowledge but I wasn't spending the whole time looking for excuses to play back. All of a sudden the good spots stood out while the rest of the time I could just play ABC. Only time will tell but I expect that playing in this vane will get me a good win rate in both of my current chosen games. Hopefully time and volume will verify this. GL!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Leaky Improvement?

Well I'm back in Rush and clearing the bonus and I'm noticing some improvements in my game. Firstly over the last 8k hands I've been break-even unfortunately and this is probably a result of not having played much Rush for a while. As a consequence (and to verify that adjustments in my game have not contributed more leaks than they've fixed) I intend to really grind for a while. Not just to clear bonus but to play a meaningful sample of hands again. After this I'll be able to objectively analyse my game and decide on the next step to higher stakes. I believe that I've improved my thought process during a hand. Instead of looking purely at my two cards I'm thinking about it as part of a range. This may not seem like much but it's leading me to play less weakly post flop. Occasionally it is tricky to balance the need to play strongly and not give villains too much value when they have the top of their range and this is possibly a leak I have created from beginning to play back more. However I'm now winning just over 49% of hands after seeing a flop and this is an excellent result. If I can keep this up then I'd expect my win rate to rise. Only volume will verify this of course.
AS for the tournaments I will continue to play them when I have a spare 3-4 hours. I ran deep a couple of times in the last session and this has clawed back some of my losses. Still a long way to go though, and I'm beginning to realise how much volume is needed in MTTs to actually get a realistic ROI: I'm guessing that you probably need hundreds of final table finishes. Still, I'm determined to regain some sharkscope dignity (lol) so I'll continue to play these games which seem so so soft.

Friday, 3 September 2010

FT Bonus

OK so FT just waved $50 at me so I'm going to have to play less tournaments and grind some Rush again in order to clear it by the 24th. I haven't actually played for a few days I think I needed a break as tourneys still going pretty badly. I think I probably need to adjust strategy somewhat and definitely burn through more volume but for now - back to a game that I can beat. I'll play mainly 10NL Rush and mix in a little 25NL occasionally for a laugh. As soon as the bonus is cleared I'll be back at the tourneys. Since I'll be playing a fair bit again unfortunately that means that I'll probably be blogging random crap. I'll prob pick a few hands and do detailed analysis on them and may even talk about them on here which could be fun as my fishiness is outed for the world to see. Ah well, until then GL!
EDIT: Well, it only took me 1200 hands (or a little over an hour) to clear the first $5. Easy money huh? Just play 12k hands they give you $50. It's a hit on the rakeback, sure, but it's a better deal so you should always take it. I found that I've loosened a little as my confidence has grown and I've found a lot more spots to float/raise lately since doing the hand analysis. Suddenly spots where I just folded before have started to look juicy for a raise even after studying only maybe 20 hands. So I shall continue with the study as it's obv making a big difference to my play.

Thursday, 2 September 2010


I have reached a point in poker now where I'm coming across ideas that seem to contradict things that I've learned before. In the past I learned about pot odds. If we are not getting odds from the pot that our equity requires then we should fold. But recently the Janda video along with some more equity work I've undertaken has shown me that to be unexploitable, we need to defend with a range that often contains hands that do not conform to the pot odds axiom. In other words despite the pot odds we need to be playing a certain amount of our range regardless, even when the equity is insufficient for certain hands. This is causing me a lot of problems currently and may eventually stall my poker development. In particular I studied a couple of hands where each player's ranges were so weak on average by the turn that in order to defend against exploitation each opponent had to include some combinations of ace high in their calling ranges over two streets to showdown. I've seen videos of the great players and there's a recent Jungleman vid that has possibly the best hand I've ever seen played at poker. But during play I find it almost impossible to bring myself to make such thin calls. A lingering habit of my fit or fold days? Or a poker ceiling that I may never cross? Who knows, but the next few weeks may make or break me as a poker player. Just as I'm beginning to realise the true depth and beauty of poker I have also just realised that my eyes may never be good enough to truly appreciate it.

By the way, that link is seriously worth watching. My jaw never fails to hit the floor. Good luck Durrrr, because Jungleman can play. No shit!