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.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Horrible session

but I really felt I didn't tilt at all and played pretty well throughout. Made one v. loose call but the rest of the time felt alright. Didn't win hardly any flips at high blinds, this can be crucial for a session if the all-ins don't go your way. I felt I deserved at least a breakeven afternoon based on my play but as it is I lost most matches, but that's poker. Fucking frustrating game sometimes. But it's not about individual results it's about playing our A game across a high number of matches. So I'll stifle the depression, I felt I played well. As long as we keep doing this the results will come around. GL
Edit: One thing I have just noticed is that I was less aggressive than normal. Looking back over the hands, when I c-bet or stab I like the boards to be dry and give us representability - in other words high card/ low card/ low card boards; or for us to have equity or backdoor draws giving us turn cards to fire more barrels on. Over such a small sample it could be that I was just not flopping well. And since I'm running terribly at the moment this would certainly correlate with that. But I'll keep an eye on this, it could be that I'm no longer picking up enough dead money on flops and turns and this might be affecting my results. I'll post again if this begins to become a trend.

Something that really bugs me....

is the people who use the term bumhunter. I've posted before about this. Don't these people understand that winning at poker is about making the highest EV play? This does not just mean during a game, it should also apply in a macro sense too. Table selection is just making the best macro play available to you. It can be measured in EV just like play during a hand can. I can certainly understand the argument that if you want to be considered the best player you need to beat the best. Most of the targets of the bumhunter abuse are not in this category, they are just in poker for the right reason - to make money! Rant over, I guess I should be grateful that this sort of thinking exists in poker... it shows that there are still people out there who don't get it.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Good Evening

I performed a little autopsy on my play last night. The opponent that I struggled against didn't like to fold but wasn't afraid to throw in large raises either. I didn't flop very well at all, probably less than 10% of the time for top pair+. I did try and win some pots by other means but you can't bluff someone who is folding less than 20% of the time!! This is the sort of opponent we need to hit hands against, and I didn't. But I also think I could have adjusted better; limped alot more often, limp reraised with better hands, even 3-bet committed with many hands that would fair well versus his ATC range. Two buy-ins I threw away basically through tilt. This is terrible. So the 3 loss stop rule versus a villain should work well I feel. I think I will really try and concentrate on adjusting better instead of just using route one poker - where I raise and c-bet my entire range. I think I need to be hero calling less too; this is something that should be done sometimes so that we aren't just bluffed away but I think I am becoming a little bit of a calling station. A point of difference between the better players and the weaker players at these limits is that we can fold and they can't in many spots. USE THIS!! Finally I'll try and regain some perspective in my play, I've always been very good with variance as I understand the maths. But for some reason - maybe tiredness - I just lost it yesterday. Anyway, GL I'll keep playing on...

Monday, 29 March 2010

What do you do?

Frustrating few games. About break even, last player was a massive fish but I got pwned over four matches. So frustrating at the time. I found myself getting wound up, which is not a good state of mind to be in. 5 mins after the games and I'm fine, but I just didn't want to let the fish go as I felt I had an edge. The trouble is, the more I got beat on the less optimally I played so the truth is I prob didn't have an edge by the 4th match, I should have left after the third loss. So let this be a lesson... if I ever lose 3 matches versus a villain and feel it's making me play less than my A game I need to refuse a rematch. It wasn't like his style was easy to play against either, every bet was pot or more and he was so aggressive. Every time I decided to play bluff catcher I was wrong. My feeling is that he was a calling station that was on a heater; whereas I couldn't hit the floor if I fell over. Sigh. Still, we didn't lose on the session so I shouldn't worry too much. And I've created a villain stop loss rule that shouldn't handicap me at these stakes where there are plenty more fish to choose from. Tilt control is one of my stronger points but frustration gets the better of me sometimes. GL

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Three cheers for the aggro calling station...

Do you know the sort of player I mean? They never fold, but the minute they sense weakness they mash the pot button. This sort of player is rife in these games I'm playing at the moment. It's so profitable. I don't think the human brain is very good at seeing the difference between alot of aggression in small pots and the same in big pots. My style is fairly aggressive, I'm often stabbing on dry boards and c-betting; as well as firing at scare cards and such. So I often have a high % of bluffs in the smaller pots. But I rarely bluff in the big pots, and this is where so many villains make huge mistakes. Anyway, I was thinking about hourly winrate; I'm undecided on picking the turbos or regular speeds as a way to make money. We can get through tons of games in a very short time with the turbos but our ROI is likely to be alot less. It will come down to hourly rate ultimately. So I think I'm going to continue to play the regular speed $5s until I've got through a bigger sample of games. After this, I'll have a better idea of my hourly rate and ROI. Then I'll try and play a few hundred turbos and compare the results. All the while I'll continue to two table and see how we get on :-)
I managed to move over the money from Absolute to FTP using a website called www.sendmychips.com. Unfortunately it cost me 5% of the total but it was going to cost me that much to cash out anyway. As a result though I'm now way over - rolled for the $5s. So I don't want to leave it too long before moving up, but I'll play on for a while yet. The positive thing is that I can forget about individual results. Even a 10-15 BI downswing would not dent my roll much. OK, enough talk - I must play on. GL

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Played some HUSNGs

I began the evening with 3 FRSNGs and didn't cash, although I think my ICM decisions were mostly good. After that I fancied playing some post flop poker so I started two tabling HUSNG and continued to play for 5 or so hours. I finished with ROI of 5% over the session and I'm pleased with that result. I played some hands horribly, but some hands pretty well too. I was suprised to see that I played 48 games. This has to be the most I've ever played in a day by far! I didn't know how I'd cope with two tables - this is the first time I've tried - but I think I did well overall and don't think it affected my overall play too much. So from now on I'll play two tables as a minimum. If I can start playing 250+ games a week then I'll soon start clocking some serious mileage in terms of volume. For this reason I think that I'll return to playing HUSNG for a while. I still harbour ambitions of crushing FRSNG, but since HUSNG ROI is generally higher and games per hour much higher I think I should concentrate on these for now. If I target 1000 matches/month then if I can achieve somewhere between 50c - $1.00 per game then I'll be making some good money.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Improving my SNG play

I still want my primary form of poker to be HUSNG (at least until I'm rolled to play HU cash - which will likely never happen truthfully) but while playing those games t'other night it really annoyed me how poorly I played and whenever that happens I usually put some study into improving that facet of my game. Continuing study of HU play should keep my post flop game decent so that providing I play solid starting hands but increase my risk aversion in FRSNG I should be able to earn chips at low blinds. It's the high blinds where I think I struggle the most though. So I'm going to use the cardrunners discount and join stoxpoker for a while because they have a sng course which I'd like to make use of. I have a book "secrets of sit'n'gos" by Phil Shaw which I can read and then use as a reference; and I have also found a free ICM quiz called ICM Trainer (that is apparently more helpful than the one in sngwiz - which I already own). You can find it over at www.pokerstrategy.com. The reason it is supposed to be more helpful is that it uses approximated equilibrium results. It makes so much sense to me to start by getting a really good feel of semi-optimal strategy and only then deviate according to villain tendencies. Learn to walk before we run...
I'm aware that this goes against my previous assertion that I was going to specialise in HUSNG only but I didn't mean I want to play these games exclusively. I'd love to be able to turn some positive ROI in micro stakes stts and sngmtts - because I enjoy playing them! So I'll try and maintain HUSNG as my bread and butter game and finish this mini course on the side so that I can autopilot sngs in the background when I have my two monitors set up. Wish me luck, ICM is not easy to calculate during play so I need to do a lot of hard work to improve my feel for it. GL all

EDIT: Just spent 30mins or so with ICM Trainer - awesome free tool!! It's very customizable. At first I just started doing random situations, much like real life. I don't think this is the optimal way to use the tool. I think we should practise different specific situations with enough variation to allow the mind to pick up patterns. Once we've learned enough of these, and the sorts of ranges people should be using in these situations we can broaden our approach. Anyway, I think with a practise routine and using this for 20-30 mins most days for a few months my ICM should easily then be good enough for the micros.

Monday, 22 March 2010


played like an idiot tonight. I should have stopped playing sooner... The unfortunate part of my life is that I can only play poker generally after I've done a full days work, often after having my alarm sound at 4.15am. I really feel this destroys alot of the edge that I have in most games unless I single table. On top of this, I feel that I ran beneath expectation - this was coming tbh with my recent results and I was expecting it. Also, poker tracker (and hence my HUD) was not working properly and I was too lazy to reboot so I was multitabling without reads on any villain and too tired to figure out how they were playing. Autopiloting while playing level one poker - fkng awful. I wasn't playing HU exclusively though, and while I think I played the mtts pretty well overall I'm not used to the low ITM % and this probably tilted me a little towards the end. So I need to decide whether or not to continue playing those games. I think that maybe for a week or two I'll go back to HU only and then if I can turn the results around pick up with the mtts again next week - I def want to continue playing some of these. I think I need to have a rethink about optimal strategy at these stakes, I'm certain I bluff too much. I'll try and review as many of the losing hands that I can and see if I could have played them any differently. Finally, don't be suprised if I don't blog for a while. I really feel that I need to put in study and volume for a bit without being results - oriented. I think a player's mindset gravitates that way after a run of good results. I need to completely divorce myself from the results and concentrate on the only thing that matters in poker - making the play with highest expected value.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Poker Tracker

For anyone who uses this excellent app, I had no idea how customizable it is. To help me when I multitable I've been able to create a statistic that guages how 'deep' we are in a tourney. You might know this as your 'M' number or chip stack index. It's the size of your stack divided by the cost per round of play. This will be really useful when I have more than one tournament going and saves having to do the (admittedly simple) calculation in my head. I also found a great statistics profile and heads up display (HUD) that I will trial. It looks really cool and will further help with decisions in the mtts that I play. GL all. PS Not played at all this weekend was away paintballing and drinking for a stag do. Wicked fun but I hurt inside and out now. Might have a game tonight though.

Friday, 19 March 2010

$5s so far

Away all weekend so no posting for a few days I expect. So here's the graph of the $5s so far since I moved over to Full Tilt just over a week ago. As I only single table the volume isn't spectacular, and I'm sure I'm running above expectation currently. But it's moving in the right direction. Been watching some videos by a mid/high stakes cash game HU player called LJJones. He explains thoughts very well and I'm learning alot currently. A while ago I spoke about merging common 3-bet hands into my blind defense range, but LJ explained pretty well why it's good to develop a solid 3-bet strategy. The main reasons being:
1/ Players tend to make poor decisions preflop when deciding whether to reraise again, flat or fold. Typically they polarise between one or the other. The players that call are just asking to be value bet with big hands; the players that fold are allowing us to reraise ATC profitably. 4-bettors are trickier.
2/ Players mostly play awfully post flop in 3-bet pots (after calling the 3-bet)
3/ It's great to create an aggressive image
So I think I'll move back to 3-betting a decent range of hands but still mix in some calls with strong hands some of the time in order to balance my calling range somewhat. Finally, I thought I'd post a pretty funny hand that I played in an MTT. I didn't cash but it turns out I overbet shoved ace high for value against a loose aggressive player. I thought I'd have loads of fold equity shoving the flop but I think it's pretty thin. In fact, if I'd known he was calling that lightly, and putting him on a fairly tight 3-bet range, it was probably pretty bad. Probably a mistake calling in the first place. But getting great pot odds and with the stack sizes allowing me to shove over a c-bet often with draws and on dry boards I felt it was OK at the time. Most players would fold the non pair hands to a shove, that was my reason for doing it at the time.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Good Evening

HU matches been going well today. Unfortunately I didn't cash in any mtts. To begin with, I made a couple of loose plays, a hang over from my long run of HU play I think. But later on my cash game schooling kicked in and my play improved. The players are so bad in these $2 mtts. I quickly realised that playing a nitty style would be the way to maximise expectation. In other words, play tight out of position and a little looser in position but not too much. Oh yeah, for those that have read my recent posts where I talked about position I just want to clarify this: I was talking about HU in those discussions. As far as table position in FR goes, I think it's supremely important. Maybe I didn't explain myself well enough. In FR you have to use hand ranges that fare well versus the likely combination of hand ranges you run into. Raising any two cards under the gun is awful because there's a very high probability that you'll run into a strong distribution of hands from one of the players in front of you. In heads-up it's vastly different because you're pitting your hand against a random one. I'll likely continue with the mtts as I'm only risking $2 a time and I can basically autopilot a tight aggressive style and that should be enough.

Good Morning.

While looking for that low blinds push/fold table I spoke about previously I managed to dig out my copy of "Kill Everyone" by Nelson, Streib and Lee. It's a brilliant book. Here's why:
1/ While reading on the bus I was able to discretely flash the book title every time someone got on and managed to have the seat to myself for the entire journey.
2/ It's got to be the best damn tournament book ever written. I really can't see how any other book could even come close. It's comprehensive... Not only did I succeed in finding the (far from the money, or chip EV stage of the tournament) push fold charts I spoke about yesterday, I found some unexploitable 3-bet shove charts - how did I miss these first time through?!? And some charts to help with calling all-ins. It also has the most comprehensive section on tournament bubble equities and strategy adjustments I've seen in print. I think I must have had my head in the clouds the last time I read this book. Why it doesn't have a permanent place on my desk is way beyond me. Well, at least I've just rectified that. Please buy this book, just take a leap faith - it's only $30.
Right, random plug over. Going to watch a couple HU videos this morning then leap into some HU games and have an MTT or two running in the background. I need to adjust my HUD so hope that doesn't take too long. I am currently using specialist stats for HU games. In an MTT I'm not sure I really want to know how often someone is raising my limp from the BB. OK, GL all.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Absolute Cashout

Right, I wasn't going to post but once again the cash is available to use in the Absolute client which means they won't send me my money by mail either. So there's three or four more options I need to try now. This is beginning to frustrate as I would really like to put in some volume at the $10 level. Nevermind, I'll continue to pursue that and it looks like I'll have to use some wages until the cashout is resolved. I watched some videos at cardrunners, they really do have high quality content. Watching a HU cash pro talk through his decisions, I actually understand much of his logic now whereas a year or two ago I may have watched but certainly wouldn't have understood. I'll try and tap this resource as much as possible (while trying not to diminish playing volume too much). Anyway, that's all. GIVE ME MY MONEY ABSOLUTE!! Please? :))

Capped Multis

As well as continuing my HU volume was thinking about adding in a few capped mtts as well so that I improve this part of my game. My post flop play is improving but at FR I still spew in far too many spots. Plus recently I've seen some very positive results from regular players in these games. No idea on bankroll requirements though, I guess if I use 100 buy-ins that should be enough. That means that I can play up to $5 mtts so I'll probably settle for the $2.25 180 man tourneys on Full Tilt. Got a day off tomorrow so will likely play a few and see how I get on. If I two table I should be able to keep up a HU game and have one or two 180s going in the background. Will aim for 20-30% ROI in these but this may be optimistic as I suck at poker. Will post again tomorrow evening with the results from the day's play. I must also dig out a table I found once, which had some equilibrium push fold solution for a FR table based on chip EV. I think that for EP or MP at least it's probably close to the best strategy to use at low stacks/high blinds. In late position we can use player reads to guesstimate good ranges but before that, the data becomes a little large and it's probably best just to play nash. Ok, GL, and wish me luck in these donkaments.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


If anyone is thinking about subscribing to HUSNG.com I definitely recommend it. All players are proven winners in the highest stakes. All instructors convey their thought processes very well during the videos, I just wish there was more conceptual stuff like the powerpoint vids on cardrunners. It looks like they reserve that for their coaching sessions, which is fair enough I guess. But for the money I spent on 3 months I certainly got loads out of it. In a prev post I said I was going to renew. Well tonight I remembered that I'm still subscribed to cardrunners so I think I'll watch all of the HU vids on that site before subbing to HUSNG again later this year or maybe next Jan. I think that with the ball dropping in many aspects of poker for me the cardrunners HU cash vids will be really helpful at this time. Plus it's a big waste of such a great resource (that I'm paying for!) if I'm not using the CR instruction. Most of the HU instruction on CR is cash, but the great thing is that HUSNGs are a chip EV game and therefore correlate closely to HU cash. I'll just miss out on short stacked stuff which I'm pretty good on anyway

Monday, 15 March 2010

Two statistics I find useful

I have used PokerTracker for nearly a year now. During my time in cash, there were two stats that interested me. The first was "% hands won at showdown" (%wsd). The other was "% hands won when saw flop" (%wwsf). These stats tell us how well we play poker. Different styles will lead to different figures but comparing the two should give us an idea about a players profitability. Consider a maniac. His %wwsf figure would be huge, he's betting at so many pots villains will fold alot. But his %wsd figure would very likely be low (he'd be seeing showdown with too many weak hands). Consider a weak player. He'd be the opposite, and likely have a very high %wsd figure but a very low %wwsf figure. Over 30k or so hands, my %wsd was about 55% and my %wwsf about 46%, so I tended towards the weaker side. I think a good measure is the sum of these two figures. If the sum is more than 100% then we should be profitable. Now, my 'sum' would be 101% so you'd think I wouldn't have won much at all. But when I was seeing showdown I was often getting great value from my made hands. These were likely big pots, so that's where my profit came from, so in this sense we should probably weight the sum towards the %wsd figure. Anyway, the point is that so far in all the HUSNGs I've played at Absolute and Full Tilt combined my %wsd is almost 55% but not only that, the %wwsf has been over 50%. No wonder these games are so profitable! Now obv they're only microstakes matches, this isn't a big deal. But I think for any microstakes grinder out there, the best investment I've yet found is these HUSNGs. Certainly better than cash, probably better than FR SNG (although this is a game I've little experience in). I think when we're looking for the best investment in poker these two stats can tell us alot about a game's profitability. HUSNGs (at least at the micros) are obv a very good investment.
EDIT: I just had a thought, these stats are closely related to style so HUSNGs might not be the game for everyone. But for me certainly, they are working better than cash did. Gl

Saturday, 13 March 2010

More thoughts on out of position (OOP) strategy...

Disclaimer: this post is about HU play, in respects it might be relevant to other structures of poker but be aware that this is what Im referring to.
This is the last time Ill talk about this subject I promise :) I suspect that a game theory optimal BB strategy for HU poker (versus a button raise) would contain some percentage of folds, calls and reraises - with some element of mixing to give it balance. An example of mixing would be to reraise with aces most of the time but call occasionally. Were mixing the betting lines we take with the same hand. Ok, now in real life NLHE games currently, I believe that one particular imbalance has given us an option for the BB. Firstly, it has become the norm in NLHE games to continuation bet most flops. This trend has come about because of the imbalance of players folding too much to this bet. I dont think I can remember a player recently who has not c-bet well over half the time. So the original imbalance (players folding too much to c-bets) has created a situation where players will c-bet very often. This is exploitive play, and it works. But exploitive play can be counter exploited because it is not optimal. If we have a strategy where we 3-bet our great hands along with some garbage as bluffs, and call with some percentage of our mediocre hands I think were asking for major trouble. When we call were out of position against a range that - while possibly weaker overall - contains all of our villains strong hands. Instead, suppose we dont 3-bet at all. Were sacrificing value from our strong hands, yes. But were also playing a range that is more closely matched with villain, and it is allowing us to get great value when villain c-bets any two cards and we have a hand like an overpair. Consider the metagame too, if we showdown AA after flatting from the BB, how confident will villain be the next time he c-bets? Chances are well get to see showdown much more cheaply. Just thoughts...

New things learned.

Firstly, I must thank Meteoric poker (follow the link down the side to his blog) for making me look into this further. I found an awesome thread on 2p2 link: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/15/poker-theory/simplified-heads-up-nlhe-toy-game-617129/ discussing game theory and the value of toy poker games particularly regarding jam or fold games sub ten big blinds. The last time I browsed 2p2 the discussion wasn't particularly interesting but if they've got research like this in there I clearly don't read that forum enough! Firstly, I assumed that the nash tables created and published in 'the mathematics of poker' were optimal. They're only close to being optimal in real life. The SB actually has a game value which is small -ev. Why? Because the BB gets to act second - in other words he has the preflop positional advantage. I don't remember ever seeing position being quantified mathematically before, but now I have. Firstly, if this is true at small stacks, this edge must be more significant for deep play. Another interesting thing is that although the jam fold stuff isn't optimal - it's close. So I still believe, that while it's impossible to beat position we can definitely negate some of the edge it grants by attempting to play a more balanced out of position strategy. Again, this might only gain us some small portion of equity back, but it is likely some improvement from not playing oop at all. I guess this is the future of NLHE, the game will eventually converge upon the game theoretical solution.
So what have I learned? 1/ That position is a mathematical edge, not just a conceptual one - as I'd stupidly thought. 2/ That we should be able to improve our oop play to negate some of this edge - although this is going to be hard to do. I intend to try none the less.
I discovered something else at the same time. That it's possible to make a bluff catching type hand indifferent to calling down three pot sized bets on three streets versus a range of hands that has mostly bluffs but a few very strong hands. Even an imbalance like 70% bluff, 30% made hands. I've never seen a situation where the bluff range has been larger than the value bet range and still been OK. This explains alot of things from my time in cash; why those players who always 'float' and then beat the hell out of you in position actually do OK and don't spew as much as I thought. Anyway, so many thoughts swirling around at the minute, there's so much I need to learn. Let's get to it. Thanks again to Meteoric, and also to Adam (poker-for-fishes, link on right) for pointing him in this direction. My poker knowledge is moving in the right direction. GL all :)

Friday, 12 March 2010

This greyhound is f*cking the hare, not chasing it...

yeah Im running pretty good at the minute. 5/6 wins tonight. Opposition was weak but still, hitting outs left right and centre. Its great at the time, but you just know the trough is around the corner. Sigh. Still, Ill ride the wave with pleasure until it crashes like, ummm, Lloyds bank. And this is the weirdest hand I ever played. We had a bit of history by now, and he was very bluffy, very spewey, and tended to overbet his weakest hands and bet smaller with his made ones. It was pretty rare for him not to bet a flop. So in this hand, I reraised to an amount that tempted him to shove over the top. I was never folding second pair to this villain, even with the deuce kicker. Without seeing the history this probably looks the fishiest hand ever played. But there was good logic behind it at the time lol :)

Anyway, I had no intention of posting for a couple of days but I plan to play maybe 40 matches over the weekend, and Ill post at the end and let you know how it goes. Still no sign of the cheque from Absolute. This is kind of annoying, I want to play the tens. Nevermind. Sorry for swearing in the title. GL :)

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

There are really some pretty bad HU players

Which is great for us really. $5s are going pretty well so far. Havent played a great deal as Im still single tabling but most players are pretty crushable. The Absolute cash out is taking some time. After weighing the options Ive had to get them to send me the money in the post by cheque. Hopefully that will come soon and I can cash that in. Fortunately this month I get a bonus from work so if the cheque hasnt cashed by payday in two weeks time Ill use some of that money to top up to $500so I can move to the tens. After that its grind time. Trying to think of some goals that I can aim for to ensure I put in the hours. I still think I can play around 6 per day while single tabling so Id have to aim for 40-50 games per week with 40 the bare minimum. This way at least Ill clock nearly 200 per month and when I begin to feel comfortable add in the second table and double this figure. I dont see the tens being much different from the fives so hopefully if we can achieve ROI somewhere around 10% that will earn us a couple hundred a month and I can move to the 20s by the end of the summer. By similar logic I want a 50 buy-in roll for the $30s by Christmas. If I can achieve this Ill be playing at a limit where earning will be comparable to my current wage so I think Ill get much more out of it. Once again, I have no intention of cashing out anything until Ive grown some money (or not, lol) so Ill continue to update with the bankroll progress. Ill also buy another 3 months with HUSNG, the original sub is nearly expired but theres vids I havent watched and I def want to give them something back for all that Ive taken out of it (which is tons). Ive earned the fee in winnings since being a member anyway.
Finally, I was reading about calling to reevaluate. Its something Ive heard many players say during vids and Ive also read in lots of places that its a horrible way to play poker. Im kind of mixed about this. The more information we get to see, the better we can refine our estimate of villains range. Therefore calling to reevaluate seems perfectly reasonable. On many flops our equity is going to be pretty close to villains so I believe we can call or float with a fairly wide range (as long as our hand often has some showdown value). But on the other hand we dont have a plan for the hand when we do this. Its true that calling a street and folding on the next with a high frequency when villain fires again is bad play - its as bad as calling preflop with a wide range and folding to most c-bets. But as long as were prepared to call down light against the most aggressive of villains I dont see this as being much of a problem. Anyway, Ill probably post again about this subject in the distant future if I begin to lean one way or the other. GL

Monday, 8 March 2010


My poker understanding seems to be improving all the time, and I was just thinking about the stigma surrounding passive play. Its a fact in NLHE that the majority of the time the EV of betting or raising is better than that of checking or calling due to the effect of folding equity. But this does not mean that calling is a bad play. I played two games tonight where my overall aggression frequency was less than a third. I was playing like a total calling station. During the match I knew that I was playing like it but since villain was bluffing alot and also not giving me much value when I raised, it was the most exploitive way to play. One mistake I think low stakes players make is that they read somewhere that you HAVE to be aggressive; you HAVE to be loose/tight; you HAVE to play style A or style B. This is a fallacy. The only time you have to play one way is if youre opponent plays optimally and you must also play optimally to maximise expectation. Exploit!!. Calling stations dont actually do that terribly typically in holdem games. This is because theyre not making the bigger error of folding too much. They usually lose money by not knowing how to get the best value from their made hands. Their money comes from opponents who dont cut out their bluffs. The reason the lags have made so much money for so long is because players fold too much.
What Im trying to get at is this:
Do not play one dimensionally.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Pot Odds - the EV way

Just learned a useful EV calculation for pot odds.
( PotSizeAfterCall * EquityShare ) - BetToCall
This is just another way of thinking about it - and I prefer it to the traditional way of expressing them eg "getting 2/1 to call, I'm good better than a third of the time so I do". This way we can actually find a good estimate of our actual EV from calling. Consider the following example. Blinds are 10/20, we are playing HU poker with 2000 chip stacks. Opponent is aggressive and has been continuation betting on every flop. We have {AsQh} in the blind. Villain raises his button and we decide to call since many of his hands will be dominated by ours. The flop comes {9d9c5s}. We check and opponent fires out his typical continuation bet of 80 into 120. Calculating some equities in pokerstove, if he's raising preflop with the top 20% or so of hands and c-betting with every one of them our equity is very nearly 50%. Using the equation our EV is
EVcall = 280 * 0.5 - 80 = 60
The EV of folding is always 0 so calling here is clearly better than folding (discounting continued aggression on further streets of course). Raising could be better than calling but that is opponent dependent and more difficult to work out. The point is, how many of us would auto muck here? Probably most... The majority of villains will too which is why betting these boards is so profitable. Players fold when they have a significant equity share in the pot. Now, calling here and then folding on a further street is very exploitable but my point was to show you that a play considered standard by many amateurs is actually a huge leak. So this is why top players sometimes make weird plays like calling down with king high or bottom pair. Look for videos of Patrik Antonius and you'll see what I mean. They calculate their likely equity % based on opponent's range and then make a decision based on expected value of each play.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Two Examples of Multiple Level Thinking

Getting it Wrong
Played this villain last night. Second game in, he was adapting to my play and therefore I tagged him thinking player. In this pot, I get pwned. First the hand:

Firstly, what hands is he likely to be doing this with? I just didnt think that two pair or a set would play the hand this quickly. An overbet shove at these stakes usually wants a fold. So with this in mind I thought flush draw, combo draw or straight draws would make up a huge part of his range. Id expect the monsters to raise smaller or flat for deception. So he basically figured me for a jack and assumed that Id call thinking him likely to have a draw. So I was beaten, fair and square.
Getting it Right

Similar sort of situation. Another large overbet shove. But this time I didnt think my opponent was very good. Ive taken a weak looking line and I dont think villain would ever play a made hand this way (hed previously showndown with a turned flush trying to slow play and missed two streets value). So I correctly interpreted this as an effort to blow me out of the pot with a weak hand.
This is the part of the game that I love, but Im still a rank beginner. But its fun getting involved and I love being right. Just a shame there are better thinkers out there... I must work on outthinking the thinkers :) GL

Thursday, 4 March 2010

A few games today

My first effort at cashing out from Absolute via moneybookers failed, so Im running on $70 bankroll on FT currently. Until those funds have cleared and since I dont want to burn through that roll and have to deposit some more, this week (or until I have that money in FT) Im going to stick to the $5s. Im still single tabling while I get used to the site and my new strategy which is based on creating a good pot size preflop. At the first two levels I like to play deep stacked poker in order to get good value from made hands when we flop or turn them. So I mostly limp. But at the third level (20/40) we can raise 2x, 2.5x or 3x the BB and post flop we can easily commit our stack pretty often with decent hands and not be making a large mathematical mistake when we do, as long as we have the sort of villain that will get it in light (common at low stakes HUSNGs). So well often limp first two levels then suddenly ramp up the aggression, which aside from winning plenty of pots when the blinds are large enough that they matter will also often throw opponents totally off guard. I really like the style and think this will work the best for me once Ive mastered it. You can really make alot of chips in the middle levels this way ready for the end game.
The only mistakes I made really today came in pots where I deviated from the above strategy by limping at the third level, flopping top pair and playing too big a pot against a better hand. The style I describe minimizes the number of times this happens. However, great hand readers could prob have got away from these spots anyway but I couldnt find the fold button at the time. Im such a calling station.
Anyway, played 11 won 7 at the fives so far. Will continue to let you know how it goes. GL
By the way... the rematch option is brilliant. Really helps you to begin to work your villain out so we can make the best decision.