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.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Making a read and sticking with it!

OK, this player had some really weird tendencies. He wasn't getting hardly any value from his made hands but was going pretty crazy with second / bottom pair. His donk leads were always weak hands like this and he wasn't afraid of turning hands into bluffs, despite the fact that he was slow playing his monsters and thus polarizing his ranges every time he took a line. He was also playing draws passively. Given all of this information, the hand probably looks easy to play and it was. His flop donk range given my reads was tens and eights exclusively. I'm certain he'd have called a raise, but then probably checked the hand down without improvement. My thought was that if I just flatted he would stack off with any ten or eight and that I'd max my EV by calling down. I have two blockers to any straight draw he might have and also thought he'd probably check if any flush cards come in allowing me to check back for a street of pot control. Fairly pleased with the result. I'd never have called down a few months back so I have definitely improved my play and look forward to getting even better in future.
A little trick that I've started using...
Watching a strong mid stakes HU cash player talking about his thoughts during play has taught me alot about how I should be thinking about a hand. He breaks his opponents hand ranges up into:
1/ Strong made hands
2/ Weak made hands
3/ Draws
4/ Air (bluffs)
- and then weights each subset according to villain's actions.
If we can ascertain what our opponents like to do with each of these subsets then it's easy (providing villain isn't playing in a balanced way) to decide which line to take to maximise our EV. In the hand above, I had narrowed villain's range to mostly subset 2, and my hand beat that part of his range. I also knew he'd 3 barrel that part of his range but slow down to a raise. So the best line was obv a call down. Now, sometimes it can be tricky to do this and I'll get better with experience but I'm sure I'm thinking about hands in the right way now. Hopefully over a few hundred HUSNGs I'll get really good at this process.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

New Personal Goals for Poker

I came to a mini revelation recently. Competition is very fierce in NLHE these days, and there are alot of knowledgable people out there who are doing no better than beating the rake. I honestly don't believe I am good enough - or intelligent enough - to do better than these people, yet I do not want to give up playing altogether. It's fun!
I'm not saying that 'there is no money in heads-up, everyone's solid'; there is. I'm just not good enough to be a winner. So I need to re-evaluate my poker goals and come up with a reason to play that does not require winning. Currently, I've always harboured ambitions about earning enough money so that I can quit my mundane day job. This is grossly unrealistic and over - ambitious for someone of my poker standard and intelligence. So what should I be aiming for? Well I think that from now on I'll just try and improve my accuracy on every street. Instead of the goal of making good money, I'll just aim to play as well as my ability and comprehension allows. I can use StoxEV or a coach to help. To this end, from now on I will try as much as possible to ignore results in my posts; I am no longer expecting to make money so therefore results are irrelevant. The only relevancy - given my new goal - is the accuracy of my play. Once I've purchased StoxEV I'll begin to filter out hands that caused me difficulty and post them here with my thoughts. Honestly, releasing myself from this burden of profitability is an immense relief. I can now just play without worrying about results; I just need to think about the mistakes I have made during a session and what I could have done differently for the better. You have no idea how liberating this currently feels!
Anyway, good luck at the tables. Simon
PS If anyone is interested in sharing hands and StoxEV analysis I'd love to hear from you as my play has hit a little blocker lately.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Analysis of my game in the turbo HUSNGs

Hey all, not played much lately due to various factors but played a few turbo HUSNGs two evenings ago and thought I'd analyse my play a little over the 80 or so tournaments so far. Here's the graph. Sample size is seriously small, but notice the 12 buy in downswing in the middle. In these turbos variance should be larger than the regulars but I can get through about ten matches per hour which should enable me to play through this (if I put my mind to playing some volume of course). And if my game is not of a high enough standard to win money, then I'll need to do more work but this should become clear in the next couple of months. As far as detailed player stats go, I'm winning 51.5% of the time we see a flop and 54% of the time we see a showdown. These stats mean that I really ought to be a winning player I feel. Looking at detailed stats based on blind levels, I've easily made the most chips at 15/30 which I'd hope to be true since this is where the real 'poker' is played, and I'm winning a gross 60% hands at showdown (unsustainable IMO) and also winning 53% of the time I see a flop over 651 hands. When the blinds increase however I've obviously got a few leaks that need sorting. For starters, I seem to tighten my VP$IP (the number of hands that I play) from 50% to 45% as blinds move up to 50/100 before becoming more loose at 60/120 and beyond. I can understand this to an extent due to the reduced implied odds available with higher blinds, but I don't think I should be tightening up at all and maybe even playing looser. I'll work to rectify this. The most chips I've lost is at 50/100. The number of hands is very small but after 111 my won at showdown stat is 16% which is bloody awful and impossible to put down to anything other than running below expectation. So overall I'm really happy with my game, it just looks like I'm running below average expectation in the all-in pots - this should just even itself out with volume and the good work I'm putting in at those early levels will hopefully turn itself into $ soon.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

New Subscription

My poker taste changes very frequently and at the moment I'm enjoying playing the 18-27 man sngs on FT. Although I feel my strategy is OK in these my results haven't been great so far so I wanted to watch some proven winners play to look for leaks in my game. For this reason I subscribed to sitngogrinders.com and will spend the next three months studying some videos and continue to mix in some small MTTs with my HU games. Unfortunately in these games there is very little post flop play, but on the flip side it's dead easy to multi table and ROI can potentially be alot higher since MTT fields are usually very weak. All of the coaches on the website have made shitloads of money in SNGs so I'm confident that I can learn a lot there.
Anyway, I'll be putting in some volume this week so wish me luck. GL
PS I learned about snggrinders from Adam (poker-for-fishes). If you still read this Adam, hope all is well. I was sorry that you took your blog down.

Friday, 9 April 2010

More $27s and thoughts about 'pot sweetening'

Played some more tonight and ran well for a change. I was concentrating hard on making good decisions, and I was paying attention to stack sizes a little more and also position at the table in relation to the tighter players. Since my understanding has improved I've also started getting my stack in lighter versus villains with weak ranges. I'm intending to blog a bit about the maths of shoving into a raiser and a caller or two sub 20bb blinds even if we don't think the initial raiser will fold much. Basically the callers will fold most of the time leading to a great position where both you and the initial raiser can play a profitable all-in pot because all of the extra dead money gives both players positive chip equity. We can even get away with doing it pretty lightly providing the initial raiser isn't playing a tight range to start with. I think we can really exploit these high blind callers in this way. Anyway, I'll post more on this in the future once I've sorted a spreadsheet out and run some numbers.
Pot Sweeteners
Just a thought, when playing these games we often get multiple callers when we raise small pocket pairs and then we're in hell post flop. Shoving them 20bb+ isn't good play so how about just min raising and bloating the pot a little then playing fit or fold for made hands like sets? I think in these games where so much money goes in post flop we can really use these little bets to make some chips. Anyway, GL

Thursday, 8 April 2010

More 27s

Played a few more and will continue to do so for a while. It's a challenge since so far I haven't finished ITM as often as I would have liked. I really feel that I'm making good decisions but so far not enough equity has been going my way for me to cash for a profit. It's still a really small sample of games though. The fields are so weak in these games that I'm sure I can make some money I just need to get through volume and fine tune strategy now, which is why I'm just trying to play as much as possible.
Overall Results
My results indicate that I'm not a winning player, which is very likely probably. I won at a small rate in the cash games at micro level but tournament poker is a whole new animal and it would be foolish to suggest that I could beat these games too. But there's tons that I still need to learn, so I'll keep going. Plus the sample of tourneys is only ~300. I wonder whether I should concentrate on HUSNG only. I have learned so much about post flop poker recently and it's basically redundant in FRSNGs as the vast majority of decisions are preflop ones. This is difficult because despite the results I'm enjoying the tournaments. Well I've a weekend off coming up so I'll try and play a mixture of both. I need to ensure that I keep playing HU so that I don't become rusty, but I'd also like to play some more of the 27s. Anyway I'm really tired and already rambling so I'll post over the weekend with a few results and maybe some tricky hands. GL

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

A Couple of Tricky Hands

Starting out preflop, both blinds were very loose. I feel I should have raised a little more since they were calling with a very wide range. 2x is my standard bet size sub 20BB stack in a tournament so my decision to make the preflop raise this size was autopilot really. On the flop, against many players I wouldn't be committing but versus two loose players it's v. conceivable that I'm up against a weaker pair/flush draw combo so I think I need to be committing. So I sized my bet on the flop so that I could shove for value on the turn and get weaker pairs/flush draws to call. Unfortunately he flopped the straight flush. I don't think my play is terrible, I do think that there are weaker hands that will call my turn bet. Next hand I'm less sure about:

Again beginning preflop, it's actually +EV chip equity wise to shove here (even with 20BB stack) because both my villains were seeing around 30% of flops. I'm beginning to think that against two players who were limp calling standard raises with such a huge range that it would be better than seeing a flop where we'll always be facing way ahead way behind decisions like this one. When we get to the flop we have to feel we have the best hand most of the time. So what's our best line? I'm really not sure, this villain was just aggressive enough that I fancied he could reraise my bet with draws since I'd been c-betting with a high frequency. I also thought that weaker pairs might just shove here occasionally. Betting a little smaller and folding may have been better - some villains would only ever raise trips given that it looks like I'm not folding. I could also check call two streets and allow draws and air to bet or check call and check fold on the turn. Really this is quite a tricky situation, and the more I think about it the more I wish I'd just shoved pre. Of course I hate that I get it in drawing to two outs on the flop. Sigh, more improvement needed. Any thoughts would be welcome.
EDIT: Right, I've made my mind up. Versus two wide limping ranges that do not include the top few hands SNGWiz thinks we can shove {44+, A9+, KQ} for an avg. of around 400 chips profit each time. A better result I think than having to play difficult flops out of position versus two very loose players. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Difficulty in playing short stack poker

Just played two final tables. On both tables there were alot of fish limping a v. wide range of hands. Not only this, they were rarely folding to any action. ICM suggests that you need to be shoving a really tight range against multiple limpers on the bubble. Now, if this is happening every hand, how are we supposed to win chips? We just cannot let the blinds eat away our equity, so at some point we need to just take a stand with a hand that fares OK versus their range IMO. Let's think about it a little... 20% of the time at a full final table we'll be in the blinds. If we always wait for a top 5% hand or top 10% hand we'll just be pissing away equity, will we not? Is this right do you think? Just now I shoved KJ from the BB (with about 5BB stack) into three players who were limping most of the time. I'm assuming I'll get called here, and often be in reasonable shape (since most hands that dominate mine will raise preflop). Plus if any of those players fold there's a heap of extra dead money that we can pick up should we win against a range where our equity is likely to be reasonably close. The only other option is to lose equity to the blinds and hope to pick up a top 5% hand. I'd rather have a little bit of gamble at this point and try and double + dead money up. ICM has this as being wrong, but then again it doesn't account for the general play of the table (which is loose and bad) or the future equity lost to blinds. This is probably where I need to get a little coaching. Overall my bubble play is reasonable, but being v. short at a loose table is a spot that causes me alot of difficulty.

EDIT: Ok, I played around with the KJo hand in sngwiz and adjusted the standard opponent model for each villain to something more realistic. It turns out that according to ICM pushing there is actually OK given a few things (like we're not including the top few hands in their limp calling range). So maybe my thinking wasn't too far off after all. I'll continue to look for situations like this and put them through this tool and hopefully this will improve my final table play.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Played some MTTs Today

I don't often play large field tournaments, mainly due to time constraints. But I do like the 2-20 table SNGs. There's a lot of players making good money in these. I do not know correct strategy but from what I've seen during play it seems to pay to just play tight poker and value bet made hands. According to my HUD I was playing a 16/13 style which is pretty nitty. But in games where there is little steal equity this is correct. Villains just don't seem to like folding. Anyway I just fancied a break from HU for an evening, and they're quite easy to play as most decisions are automatic. Since I'm trying to improve my all round game I might try and look for some vids on correct strategy and play a few hundred on top of my HUSNG schedule. I'm really hoping my results improve soon but I know I've still got loads to learn. By the way, if anyone has any links or advice on these games I'd be v. interested to hear it. Thanks, and GL

EDIT: Really enjoyed playing this evening. I was concentrating on playing the $2.25 27 man SNGs. I'm pretty overrolled for these but I've decided to be extra cautious with my bankroll while on the downswing. Anyway, I particularly enjoy these games because we can final table nearly 40% of the time by my estimation. So we'll often have some really interesting bubble spots where our maths knowledge should give us a massive edge. I was four tabling and much of the time didn't have many decisions to make so I reckon I could sneak in two more tables without compromising my play too much. Overall I don't think hourly is going to be as good as HUSNG but right now I'm just interested in becoming a winning player so that's not so important to me. I just learned a pretty important concept too:
Players tend to have a bluff frequency in terms of streets. Some players only ever one street bluff; in fact most players probably. This is why floating is so profitable. Other players often barrel twice and then give up - you usually find these types of player playing the small to mid stakes games. Then you have the super aggressive players who are not afraid of bluffing three streets. The point is, at micro stakes we can often float a street or two with marginal hands and then our opponent will pretty much tell us what they have by their play on later streets. If a villain makes a stab at a really dry board and we have overcards, say; don't be afraid of calling to see what he does next. Often he'll just be full of shit and he'll check the next street allowing us to take the pot. It's rare at microstakes for any player to three street bluff. I can't believe it's taken me three years to learn this to be honest as it's pretty fucking obvious lol. Anyway, GL

Friday, 2 April 2010

Good for the Soul

I'm studying my bollocks off (when not working) but the shove fold stuff is still not going my way and I had another poor session. However, for some reason I don't feel at all bad about this. It's a fact that the very best players learn to become completely detached from the variance swings. So in going through this bad run of results I am testing my psychological ability to cope with playing poker in the long run. So far, so good.
One thing that I'm a little gutted about is that there's no HU cash below $50NL. I'm not rolled enough to play those games which is a shame. Basically as I've said before, post flop poker is my love and playing HU cash would be better than HUSNG as there wouldn't be any high blinds nash stuff which is basically just reading from a chart. I prefer to decipher opponents and work out hands and then find the best play based on that estimation. This is where the real fun in poker is for me, and until I have more money this is somewhat limited. I may occasionally sit in a $50 HU cash game just to take a shot. Anyway, hope you are realising more equity than I am currently :)

Thursday, 1 April 2010

It's official!!!

I'm on my very first big downswing. I won't go into "woe is me" mode, as I feel I'm still playing well. Looking at the stats I lost an awful lot of all-ins when the equities were close, and several where I had a big chip lead. I must ride it out basically. I might move back into the regular speed games for a while where there's not so much coin flipping involved. This way I might actually convert a couple of these chips leads into victories, which would be nice lol. Basically, looking at the maths it's not that unlikely that I should be this many buy-ins down over such a small sample so I'm not feeling tilted or anything like that. I knew I'd face a down turn at some point so I'm glad it's come at a point where I feel that I'm learning so much. This way I can invest time into getting better and then when the heater comes I'll be playing at my best and thus make the most of it.
I'll analyse my session tomorrow after work and see what mistakes I made. But overall, I felt I played pretty well. Of course, without any prior knowledge of how solid my game is (in other words no large game sample size outside micro stakes cash) it could be that I'm actually terrible at HUSNG. My feeling is that with my understanding of the game and hand ranges etc I should be the equal of these players at the minimum but my confidence is obv pretty low at the moment. The good thing for me is that whenever I feel like this I work hard at my game and this will lead to better times ahead hopefully. Sorry to any readers who are getting fed up with my results oriented posts; I like 'outing' my frustration on a medium like this because it helps me to get it off my chest. If it makes the blog less valuable then I'm sorry, I only ever created it as a vehicle for recording poker thoughts anyway. GL