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.

Monday, 31 May 2010

The Amazing Invention of RUSH

Of course, Full Tilt invented the game so that they could get more rake from the punters. However, for those of us with limited time but enthusiasm for the game I think that Rush is an unbelievably powerful invention. Last month I played 50000 hands. This is as much experience as I'd gained over 6 months of playing cash games last year. It has transformed my outlook. We all know that the little 5K - 10K hand downswings happen pretty often; In the past I'd be pretty demoralised after playing for a month and being break even or worse. Now I can just get my head down and play through the smaller swings within a day. So when I posted previously about spewing four buy-ins, I just played 2K more hands yesterday and won it all back. This morning I've made a nice 10 bucks profit. Rush has made winning money at poker a possibility for me. Once we get to decent stakes I'm not that sure how profitable it will be with all the regulars, but I know for certain that at micro stakes games Rush is the place that every new player should begin. I don't know why but I always feel motivated with putting in volume at Rush, this has never been the case with other game formats before.
This morning for what ever reason I played a little looser than usual. I ran at about 15/13 which is standard TAG stats for full ring. Usually I play on the nitty side at around 12/11. Still, I felt I played really well. My showdown number is still hovering around 27% but I really have trouble folding in some spots. Often I'm right and I've read the hand correctly but there are still occasions where I think, d'oh that was obv a fold. More work needed, but I think I'll get there.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

I anger myself sometimes...

Just lost four buy-ins, two below expectation but in the largest pots I made two loose river calls. I'm beginning to identify the biggest leak in my game: I'm going to showdown much too often. In Rush full ring poker, I think I'm way over estimating peoples bluffing frequencies (maybe a hangover from HU play). I'm seeing showdown nearly 30% of the time which is on the 'calling station' side of things. I'm a station, I admit it :). The biggest winners at these limits have numbers between 20 and 25%. I'm really going to tighten up over the next few thousand hands. As my showdowns decrease my range when I get there should get much stronger and therefore I should begin to see bigger showdown winnings. As an example of my leak, I just flopped middle set on a monotone board and fired two barrels which villain called. I would expect him to raise a flush at some point during the hand so I decided to check the river and allow the busted draws a chance to bet at the pot. With little info on villain I checked and then called a pot sized bet. But this is only profitable if villain is bluffing here more than a third of the time, and I'm not sure this would be the case. Most draws would likely raise the flop. Sigh, I'm frustrating myself at the moment. I need to become more nitty against random players in this format, so I'll really try and achieve this over the next few sessions.
Goals for the next 30K hands:
1/ C-bet less often and more selectively
2/ Cut my showdown % from 28 to below 25
Of course, at the end of the week I'll update on my progress

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Getting it in too light?

I'm beginning to use more features of poker tracker 3 to try and improve my game. One way is that I'm now using a more advanced HUD. Another way is by using the filters to closely analyse my play. I've just looked at hands where I got it all-in preflop. There are three hands which are profitable {QQ, KK, AA}. The biggest losers? {AKs, AKo}. In my recent poker history I'd been getting these hands in as standard. I don't have a huge sample so maybe I'm just not hitting many flops with them. However, I've had a growing feeling recently that getting it in with AK is a bit light at these limits. We're almost never being called by worse, and often players have such a tight 3-bet or 4-bet range that we're not getting many folds either. So I'm going to start playing it a little weaker; I'll certainly 3-bet it, but fold to 4-bets. Just for a few thousand hands and see if my win rate improves with this hand. If I find someone who is 3-betting light then I'll have to adapt, but to be honest running into a light 3-bettor seems rare at the moment so I'm sure it's not costing me much equity. And without a few thousand hands on a villain it's hard to be sure that they really are 3-betting lightly or have just picked up some nice hands when I'm in the pot.
I've also discovered that my win rate for c-bets isn't as high as it should be. Neither is my win rate for double barrels; I think the main reason is that I'm still c-betting too much. It's come down to just under 70% but I think that I still qualify as a quantity c-bettor rather than a quality c-bettor. I think that an ideal range for c-betting and double barreling is prob approx 55-60% flop c-bets and 45-50%turn c-bets. It's hard to see most villains being able to exploit these sorts of numbers since there is so much value in those ranges. So the key for me is being alot more selective about c-betting boards. For example at the moment I like to barrel when I have two broadways and there's a third on the board. This way I can barrel any turn broadway which should at least give me a gutshot. But perhaps I need to wait for backdoor flush draws as well so that I'm not always barrelling a pretty dry J63r with KTs for example. Anyway, still plenty of things to work on.
My goal? To become the toughest microstakes 13/12 you ever played against :P! GL

Friday, 28 May 2010

A Good Dollop of Run Good

Had a good session, won about $30 over 1K hands; but I'm so tired I have decided not to play on. Instead of sleeping this afternoon there was some test cricket on television unfortunately :). Anyway, what this means is that this month I've now played nearly 50000 hands at almost 3 ptBB/100. 50K hands is unbelievable volume in a month for me, in the old days I was happy with 5-10K! Mathematically it's 99% certain I'm beating this format and I'm personally 100% confident that I am. So the only thing holding me back is bankroll. I have $800 currently and I'd like to have $1250 before moving to 25NLR. The only problem with waiting is that it will likely take me another month or two to reach that threshold. Nothing wrong with that of course, I would have another 50K hands experience under my belt ready for 25NLR. I just feel that I could be making more moneys at a higher limit. But you know what, I think I'll wait it out. Next week I have some days off so I'll try and grind as much as possible and try and get close to that move up figure. Once I get there I will feel alot of satisfaction with my performance. It will be like I've earned it, so that's what I'll do. Then I can leave behind 10NL forever safe in the knowledge that I won my way out of that limit ;)
The Value of 2+2
For a couple of years now I have not browsed the forums because I felt that there was alot of nastiness inherent there. Too many egos trying to fit within one forum. However, I think I may have been insulating myself from a very useful learning tool. In the last few days I've been reading (and rereading) the archived posts by respected members. There is so much knowledge there that I'd never found before. I am going to prepare a large folder and print as much of the more advanced stuff off as I can and spend some time studying it. It's great to have such a resource on the net. I feel terrible that I did not give it enough time in the past; I have much ground to make up on! GL

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

25NL Rush... close to moving up...

Ok my figures at full ring Rush 10NL so far are 40k hands at nearly 3 ptbb/100 with a standard deviation of 25. This means that I'm 98% confident that I'm a winner in these games. What this means is that I'm considering moving to 25NLR in the near future. I don't think I'm beating 10NL as much as I should be, but all the same I'm pretty confident that I'm a winner now at this limit. I have two options:
1/ Play on and wait until I've achieved the required bankroll ($1250 - I like to have 50 buy-ins)
2/ Move up immediately and have a higher risk of ruin.
There is good and bad about each approach; Rake is better at 25NL and we'll also find iron man status easier to achieve. But we'll also find a better player pool. I'll probably make a decision in the next couple of days as I have a few days off next week. I could potentially take a shot and try and play 30k hands at the new limit. I'd have to move back down at some point if it went badly, maybe if I dropped 4 buy-ins at the switch point or lost $100. Anyway, GL

Monday, 24 May 2010

Playing when tired vs. experience gained from 4k hands....

Just finished 4k hands; I made a few mistakes due to being tired and unfocused. It's obviously not profitable in real terms to play when feeling like this, but I'd still rather play than not. The reason is that I think 4k extra hands experience will add profit in the long run. I think I left about $20 - $30 in the middle tonight due to taking spewey lines or making hero calls where the calling price was clearly wrong. Never the less I think I learned enough to compensate for this and in the end I didn't lose any money on the evening so I won't complain too much. One thing I've noticed is that when I make mistakes I get annoyed and end up playing a more aggressive style. I don't think I start to make ridiculous plays but in those spots where I'd be like: 'well I think he's bluffing but I'll let him have it'; instead I'll have the attitude: 'you are so full of crap and this pot is MIIIIINNNNEEE.'. It's suprising how often my redline rockets when I'm in that kind of mood lol. (EDIT: Tilt is not profitable!) Anyway, what's clear is that I still have a large number of leaks that need work.
Expected Value and Betting
I heard the great Brian Townsend discussing four bets the other night and it got me thinking. The main point was that we can make a play with a made hand that is still profitable despite that we're never called by worse. Basically this defines 'turning a hand into a bluff'. When we four bet someone who is 3-betting liberally then we are turning our hand into a bluff if we do not stand to get called by weaker hands. For example if we four bet TT. The reason aggressive play like this is profitable is that people fold too much. This is the only justification for turning any hand into a bluff. I didn't explain any of that very well, but I may spend a few days with the EV tools I have and clarify my understanding of a few points. I feel like I'm so close to understanding poker equities and their relation to betting.
Not resting on One's laurels
OK, so while I may be close to getting the EV side of poker, there's still a load of strategy advice that I need to digest. So I'm going to make a point of:
1/ Reading as much as I can on 2+2
2/ Watching as many Cardrunners vids as I can fit into my spare time
3/ Doing much more analysis using pokerazor/stoxEV or other similar tools
The road to good play is a long one, but with my maths background I don't feel that there are any great pitfalls ahead; my only enemy is complacency.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Dealing With A Short Stacker

OK I just played a hand and was made to look a little foolish and thought that I'd do some analysis on 40 bb stacks in Rush poker. The villain was raising 60% hands from the steal positions and folding 95% of the time to 3-bets over several hundred hands. This is a very leaky strategy IMO. Here's the hand:

This made me look like a fool but I'm sure my play is OK and I decided to check it using pokerazor. Firstly the top 30% of hands has better than even equity versus a 60% range, so ATo is easily good enough to 3-bet, it's whether we are risking too much by betting all-in with 40bb effective stacks. OK the results are just as I expected, this is a profitable shove with any two cards given that the initial assumptions on his ranges are correct. Therefore ATo is a clear shove here. I tested an alternative strategy where we 3-bet to a dollar and fold to a four bet shove. I made his range for this the same as his shove calling range. This strategy showed an increase in expectation. On the flip side we could then open ourselves up to a four-bet bluff shove strategy which would likely negate this extra edge. Don't underestimate the importance of the first - in vigourish.
My opponent is a regular in these games so I will test both strategies over the next few thousand hands and see if I can exploit enough to turn a profit.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Early Position Small Pocket Pair Strategy

Ok I ran a few simulations using pokerazor, I'm now convinced that we cannot raise the small pocket pairs in early position with the intention of using a 'bet a set, check fold the rest' mentality. We must be able to win the pot more often. The sim I ran used the following assumptions:
1/ We raise 22 under the gun
2/ The button calls with a range that excludes {QQ+, AK} but has all other broadways, pairs and no gap suited connectors.
3/ We only bet sets on the flop and always get our stack in
4/ Our opponent only bets (and stacks off) with top pair or better
This strategy has a global expectation of a small loss comparable to losing a small blind each time. This might not seem like a big loss but remember, we've assumed that villain will stack off with top pair which is unrealistic. The actual EV is probably much worse. So what if we try and win the pot in other ways? Well, alot of the time we'll have a multiway pot so trying to bluff the pot is not going to be profitable. When we do get heads up we'll often have flops that are terrible for c-betting. So in my humble opinion and using the analysis of the very powerful pokerazor application raising the small pocket pairs in early position (at least at micro limits) is not going to be very profitable, and may actually be a strategy leak. Of course I may have made a fundamental mistake in my analysis, and I hope you'll show me if this is true.
The sims I ran where we call in position showed a set mining profit assuming the initial raiser will liberally stack off with top pair +.
I'm not trying to beat on the set mine strategy, but I do wonder whether the games have adapted now so that this edge has diminished. Certainly in my recent experience I have achieved better win rates by purely playing hand ranges that fare well against my opponents' (being more conservative with our estimation of the implied odds). Anyway, this is a steep learning curve for me and if I'm wrong I'll be the first to post about it. Hope the cards are falling your way, GL.

Playing the small pockets

Today I played 5000 hands. I altered my strategy a little bit, I normally fold the smaller pocket pairs to a raise but after reading a little strategy advice I decided to call with them in position. I also began playing them for a raise from early position. The problem with doing this is that it impacts the red line or non showdown winnings. We must sacrifice red in order to gain showdown winnings. It's true that I won a couple of big pots from sets today but overall the red line cost me over fourty dollars whereas for the past 20k hands or so I'd been break even. I think I'll return to the previous strategy that was netting me 3BB/100 on average. Whether I'm sacrificing equity by folding 22-66 in early position is very hard to measure. We suffer in numerous ways:
1/ If we're 3-bet we usually have to fold. I don't believe calling off 10% and set mining is profitable (although I may check this with pokerazor)
2/ We often get multiple callers so we must play fit or fold on the flop and we only hit 11% of the time so often we're losing a 30c bet
3/ When we do get multiple callers they often have weak ranges that will not pay off two streets of value once we do hit our set
4/ The sorts of calling hands we see will often include better pairs and so there's a chance we may run into a better set
The truth is that we must get paid 9*30c = $2.70 on average when we hit a set (assuming a fit or fold mentality) to make these plays profitable. Rush poker seems so nitty that I'm really not sure this is actually going to happen. So it was a nice experiment but I'll return to my tight range based style.

Just been one of those kind of days...

It was the 3rd time the whale had 3-bet shoved on me. I snap called, but J3o > 99 unfortunately. At least this made me happy:

Always nice when someone feels like stacking off 150BB with top pair top kicker!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Good Session Tonight

Just finished 3K hands that I managed to beat for $60 dollars so really pleased with that result. I ran with expectation tonight which is nice considering the last couple of days where my luck was shite. My rakeback site also tells me I earned $44 rakeback last week and that's due tomorrow so my bankroll is now showing steady growth thanks to the wonder of Rush poker. I think I'll probably move to 25NL Rush in a couple of weeks time. I have a week off coming up so I'll try and do 30K hands that week at the new limit and see how I get on.
Here is a hand I think I played poorly tonight:

Firstly, the reason I 3-bet was that the initial raiser was stealing liberally. I base my 3-bet range entirely on two statistics from the poker tracker HUD. The first is PFR (preflop raise %) and the second is steal %. Using both of these stats I infer an approximate range that the player is raising from that position and then base my 3-bet range upon that estimation. I believed that 88 was good enough to reraise using this strategy. I'm not really sure what the cold call range could be; AA, KK? AQ? JJ, TT, AK? - But what's clear is that for any of those given hands calling and letting him bet the turn is clearly the better play over shoving. I got stuck for a moment in 100BB stack mentality, where this would be a clear shove because he's pot committed. I didn't take enough notice of the effective stacks and as a result I think I lost a few dollars of equity. Sigh.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Two hands I recently played pretty poorly

He had very loose aggressive stats so I thought that JJ was strong enough to four bet get it in versus his 3-bet range. On the flop I'm pot committed but my shove is a critical mistake; with two aces on the board and figuring him for plenty of air type hands that don't have an ace in them I decided to shove. Basically the fact that there are two aces out there makes it less likely that he has one. However, if he's bluff shoving some of those hands on the turn it is much, much better (EV wise) to check back and call a shove on the turn. When I started thinking about what hands he'd float my four bet out of position with I just couldn't figure out an appropriate range. If he's calling with AQ then it may include hands like pocket pairs but our flop shove is only good if he's actually going to call with some of those. In reality he was pretty loose so he may have made a call with 99 or TT but we can't be sure. So yeah, in the heat of the moment I took the incorrect line. Either way I'd have stacked off but in EV terms the line I took was inferior to checking back and calling a turn shove.

This hand played absolutely fine until the turn. Flopzilla tells me that the kind of hands that would float the flop c-bet (I used the range AQ, JJ, TT, KQ, AJs) would hit that flop and beat my hand 22% of the time. I think I certainly should be value betting the flop. The turn ace however hits every single one of those hands I mentioned and we are beating none of them. So check call should have been check fold. In truth I think I was tilting a little after the first hand. Being unlucky doesn't tilt me, playing poorly does!! I guess this is a good thing though because it keeps me trying to improve. GL

Dealing With Bad Variance

Hi, certain types of 'variance' can be difficult to quantify. Your villains might be hitting certain board textures a larger amount of the time than is statistically likely, for example. However, one type of variance (or what should really be called standard deviation) that we can calculate is how we are faring in the all-in pots that go to showdown with more cards left to be dealt. Poker Tracker calculates this 'all-in EV' for you and you can display it on your profit graph to see how you've been getting on. If you look at my graph above the gold line is what I should have won if I'd realised my true expectation in these all-in pots during the last two days. The green line is what I have actually won. I'm down around about 10.5 buy-ins. So I'm certainly experiencing a bad downswing in the biggest pots currently. The good news is that statistically this is certain to rebalance with volume. So I just have to take no notice and keep playing and look forward to the heater. So far I've been unaffected but let's hope that 10 doesn't become 20... Or 30...
Another thing to notice about the graph is that I'm still flatlining the red line. For those who don't know what this is it's the money that we win or lose when we don't go to showdown. Some players break even or lose money because they are giving up too much to the red line. This in turn eats away their showdown winnings leading to negligable or losing win rates. Causes for this can include playing too many weak hands (and not playing them aggressively enough post flop) and also money posted in the blinds (when we end up folding). I believe that maximising red line winnings is crucial to beating the games these days (at least for a decent winrate and reduced variance). Aggression is critical to achieving this. Every player should aim to have the ratio of showdown winnings to no - showdown losses at at least 2:1 IMO. Any worse than that and I'd argue they have too many strategy leaks or they are playing in games that are too tough. A good red line also helps when suffering from bad luck. If I'd lost 50-60 bucks extra from no showdown losses on top of the bad variance then I'm certain I would be struggling with confidence and my game would definitely take a turn for the worse. As it is, I'm committed to just riding the waves and hopefully I'll get a nice little heater in the next two to three weeks. GL

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Losing Session

I ran 5.5 buy-ins (or $55) beneath expectation in all-in pots this evening which was kind of frustrating. There were some pretty ridiculous suckouts. But I didn't tilt at all. I'm really suprised by this; I wonder if the fact that I'm getting through so many hands is beginning to insulate me from individual hands and results. I hope so! The session overall lost me $18 over 3K hands so maybe the fact I'd lost so little helped with the tilt management. But then I also had quads three times at showdown which is kind of cool. Now, due to this session my overall win rate has dropped to a more realistic 4 BB/100 over 21K hands. The good thing is I'm burning through about 20K hands per week currently which is more volume than I ever thought possible for my limited poker playing time. Rush poker didn't immediately appeal to me, but now that I've discovered it's immense advantages I'm not sure I'll ever go back to the normal cash games. It may even keep me from other poker games that I enjoy... at least for now. Tomorrow I get an early finish from work so I'll try and do another 2K hands and post more about it afterwards. Plus I feel it's time I dug out some of the biggest and most interesting hands I've been involved in over the sample I've played in the last two weeks or so. Anyway, GL!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Thinking a little more clearly

It's easy in the heat of the moment after a great session to proclaim that the world's problems have been solved and we'll all live happily ever after. I beat 10k hands for 5 BB/100 which is an excellent result for me and my bankroll looks much healthier for it. However, I think that I should temper my excitement until I've got through a much bigger sample - probably 100k hands which I'll likely achieve in a month if I play as much as I can. I ran the mathematics and while it's now 93% likely that my strategy is a winning one, there are still negative win rates within my desired 99% confidence interval. The plus points are that I've won money from the redline over the 10000 hands which I'm thrilled to bits with. This money has come from playing tighter in general and playing a more robust preflop strategy. My post flop play has been pretty good - confidence helps here. So I'm very happy with the way it has gone but I'll not make any wild claims until I've got through more hands. The brilliant thing about Rush poker is the volume we can get through. I did 10k hands over two days so if I put my mind to it I could probably play 100k hands per month. This should almost always result in a profitable month if I can indeed find a robust winning strategy.
When to move up?
Well I'd be hurting my winnings if I verified that my strategy was profitable but if I stayed at 10NL. So if I can (99%) guarantee myself using statistics that I'm beating 10NL then providing I can win enough to bankroll myself for the higher limit I'll move up to 25NL. I'll iterate this process until such time that the statistics tell me that I'm hurting my win rates at a certain limit. In other words I need to find the profit saturation point (I made that up if it doesn't make sense, lol). Let me explain, as we rise in limits the number of good players rises exponentially. At some given stake, it is probably true that given your ability your hourly win rate at one limit will be approximately equal to that at the limit below it. At this point it would no longer make sense to play any higher than the limit below the point that you've discovered that this is true. So I'll keep going until I can find this point. It may be 10NL; it may be 50NL or higher but whatever happens it will all be posted here. Wish me luck :)
A little bit about my style
I am using a tight aggressive style for these games. My preflop stats would look extremely nitty to anyone with a hud, I'm playing about 12% of hands on average. Post flop though, I'm playing very aggressively both with or without a made hand. Because my range is in general pretty strong there's not much my opponents can do about it. Anyway, GL.
PS I haven't given up on HUSNG, I have unfinished business in HU poker but right now it makes more sense to volume slog Rush.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Further leak analysis

I actually got through 5k hands today at FR Rush. I didn't make any money but I'm still happy with the way things are going. I'm closing in on a winning strategy and the fact that I broke even over those 5000 hands means I'm almost there. Now, I found a terrific article on the 2+2 forums and I was able to identify further leaks in my game. Basically it looks like I'm losing far too much money from the small blind and big blind. My statistics show that I'm losing 0.3 BB per hand from the big blind and 0.16 BB per hand from the small blind. I need to be targeting about half of those numbers, so 0.15 for the bb and 0.8 for sb. How do I intend to go about this? Well, studying other winning players from these limits, they are playing a very small number of hands from the blinds - less than me. The problem I have is that often if I see someone has min raised I think about calling to try and drill two pair or better since it's costing so little. What I think happens though is that I get the illusion of implied odds where there aren't any. I'll rarely get paid on one of those boards anyway, and will be stuck playing crappy hands out of position. So from now on I'm going to tighten up considerably and just play strong hands hard from those spots. Maybe use a strategy of {99+, AQ+} which I'll 3-bet every time or raise with limpers and fold everything else. I can complete in the SB with the low pocket pairs and maybe call a small raise from each position with them (pps) if a tight player has raised from early position. The other places at the table seem to be generating a nice profit for me so I'm not going to change much else. Expect all the work I do for the next few thousand hands to be bringing down the money I lose in the blinds. Once this has happened I anticipate that I'll begin to win money. If I can then verify that this is true I'll move to 25NL.

And the motto is... Don't play a fixed strategy!

So I've now played over 2k hands with the new style and I've lost hardly any money to the redline yet. This is an amazing result, and must be entirely due to the two leaks that I spotted and talked about in a previous blog post. That is, c-betting too much and putting in too much money with the low pocket pairs in early position. In any game, if we can arrest the non showdown winnings (that comes mainly from losing blind money) then we should be supremely confident of making good money because in these games we'll win so much overall from the hands that we showdown. The great thing about Rush is that I am happy to tell everyone exactly how I'm playing. I probably wouldn't do this if I was grinding 200NL but at micro stakes - and probably up to 50NL there are going to be enough fish playing these games that the regs who know your strategy will not be sitting with you enough to exploit. So we can play a completely unbalanced strat and make good money from it. I think that eventually I'd like to be playing 50NL as a regular and this would be a great money earner. Obv I'd love to shoot higher but I just don't have enough money to bankroll myself. But at 50NL we'd be earning about $13 an hour by rakeback alone. If we assume we can play around 1000 hands/hour and make around $10 on average per 1000 hands then we'd be making $23 an hour; and also be Iron Man every month therefore eventually getting us even more money through fpps and IM medals. That's my goal. I'll play another 10k hands at 10NL and then move to 25NL. I'm a little underolled for that limit but I think I'm hurting my winnings if I stay at 10NL. GL

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Only 1100 hands but....

Toning down with the c-betting has really improved my redline in these FR games so far. I'm pretty much break even. If I hadn't spewed money by getting it in with pocket tens versus aces I'd actually have won a session for a change lol! I've also begun to min raise low pocket pairs from EP (22-99) because these raises often get multiple callers and this saves us money because most of the time we'll be giving up post flop. When we do hit a set I think we'll often get pretty much the same pay off that we would anyway so each time we're saving ten cents. Also, when we get 3-bet it's usually to like 80c or sometimes less so we're always getting terrific implied odds to set bash. When I've hit I go for a check raise and this usually gets us paid off versus the strong part of their range. Playing hands super straight forwardly is making me money. I'm one street bluffing in small pots on dry flops and stealing blinds where I can; the rest of the time looking to get value from good hands. I also think it's critical to use the gap concept. I'll call in LP with implied odds hands like pairs and SCs to an EP raise but otherwise, to an UTG raise and I have ATo, I think it's important we fold. These hands rarely make great hands and we'll have a nightmare on Axx/Txx flops. I plan to play a couple of thousand more hands tomorrow and I'll continue to update as my strategy evolves and hopefully becomes a winning one. It's also important to note that I'm earning about $2.7 in rakeback every 1000 hands (about an hours play). It's also so easy to rack up fpps; just play for 2hrs a day for 25 days in a month and we qualify for Iron man status. How sick is that? I'm playing 0.05/0.1 (10NL) FFS!!! Next month I may try and achieve Iron man, as it would be a good motivator to put in volume. If I did achieve that then I'd have played around 50000 hands which is quite alot, you know. This would also give me 5000fpps and 100 Iron man medals so I'd have to do a little research to find out the best way of reinvesting these VIP perks to get some more money back. If I can find a winning strategy the bankroll should then begin to grow quite quickly I feel. Anyway, must stop rambling. GL

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Examining my Leaky FR game

I've not been doing particularly well in the FR Rush games. It's only 5K hands so far which is a very small sample, but I clearly have a number of leaks in my game that I need to address.
Showdown Results
I don't think I've been extracting enough value from made hands or giving up on single pair hands as often as I should. I've lost a fair bit of money to turn raises which I've often called and then felt compelled to call a smallish river bet with overpair/top pair type hands. Every single time I've been facing two pair/sets or better. So I need to understand that against a random player, turn bluff raises are very rare and that a single pair type hand is likely doing very badly against this line. I've also typically taken passive lines with these hands in order to allow opponents to bluff. But they don't seem to do so very often. There seems to be a showdown sort of culture in these FR games. So I need to try and extract more value on turns by betting more often with hands. Draws also benefit the most (equity wise) if the money goes in on the flop (providing we're the aggressor). I think I've been playing them too passively.
Non Showdown Results
While I've been keen to loosen a little and steal a little more, I think I've been continuation betting alot in unprofitable spots. I'll raise UTG and on a 862 board fire out a mandatory c-bet against two IP callers. I don't think this is profitable. Their ranges are heavily weighted towards low pocket pairs and maybe some suited connectors and weak broadways. This range likes that board a lot of the time so check folding something like AQo is probably the best play in that situation. I remember learning to c-bet being a watershed moment for me in poker, but I think I now need to learn to reign it in. 70% or more in these games is def not going to be optimal. I think we should generally (given these opponents don't know our games and will presumably never see our c-bet %) just bet those flops we can generally rep something (your classic A93 type of board) or those times we have equity (gutshot+). I've also been barrelling pretty often. This is something I've worked on doing more often but I'm not sure it's optimal in games like these once our flop c-bet is called. Often we'll actually be called by a hand that will also call a second barrel so bluffing in these spots is not going to be very profitable. I think that against the random villains we should use a turn barrel range of entirely value hands or where we have good equity (8 outs or more).
In conclusion, I believe that I am bluffing too much in bad spots; and not value betting enough in good spots. The difference is where my losses are coming from. Wish me luck over the next 5000 hands and I'll look to do another leak spotting post at the end to see if I've improved or if I just fall back into old (bad) habits. GL

Friday, 7 May 2010

A much better RUSH session

Just played a few hundred hands today but won about $27. This undoes the bad bluff I ran last night, and just goes to show that one big mistake can really affect a player's profit. In future I'm going to have to be super careful in big pots. If I'm going to make a mistake, make sure I do it in the little ones. One thing I've noticed in these Rush micro 6-max games so far is that there is very little check raising going on. So we can make tons of money by c-betting almost every flop. Players play their hands on absolute strength. If they pair, they call. If not, they fold. Some of them will even fold anything but top pair +. This has allowed me to arrest the non showdown losses somewhat - which is mainly caused by the blinds. FR is an easier cash game because the blinds do not eat up so much of your winnings. In 6 max, we are always having to play loosely in late position to win some of this blind money back - thievery basically. This is why multitabling 6-max can be so difficult, it's hard to play a wide range well when we're concentrating on other things. The rest of our profit comes from hand reading well and trying to get as much value as possible while making big laydowns and bluff catching well. I think I did this effectively today but there was one hand which I messed up.
Basically due to his raise size and bet timing I thought he had a really strong range. Something like {JJ+, AK}, which led me to flat call in a spot where I'd usually 3-bet. On the flop I took some time to decide what to do, but in hind sight I think I should check raise all - in. A flop donk lead might have been a good line too. I remember thinking that I'd try and let him bluff off his stack on the turn with his unpaired range and also thought he'd likely value bet the rest of his range - as well as for protection. When he checks behind though I should at least have tried to get him to hero call me on the river by leading. I just hoped he'd stab the river if I checked. So I missed out on several dollars of value which tilted me for a couple of hands. In poker it's critical we maximise our showdown winnings by eeking out every last piece of value we can. Here I got it all wrong.
The great thing about Rush is the volume we can play. Eventually I'd like to be able to play four tables of FR to get through 800 or so hands per hour and 20k or so per month. The way I see it, the more hands I play the better I'll get. Of course I'll play HUSNGs too, they're still a better money maker IMO.
EDIT: Just played some FR Rush, and I think I'll stick with that as a cash option as it seems easier than 6-max. We can be tighter without worrying about the blinds eating us alive. Plus it exaggerates our edge versus players who are clueless about position and 3-bet your UTG raise and get it in with 99. I was also able to four table without too many problems so I should really be able to churn through thousands of hands very quickly which is obviously a really good result. I figure 800 hands per hour is possible this way. So I could potentially do 16k hands a week if I really put my mind to it. That is awesome! I'd learn so much. Anyway long post over, GL.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

More Rush - I'm a donk for sure! Lol

Played prob 1500 hands tonight. Some hands I felt I played as well as any expert. Most hands I played like a beginner. Hold'em manager had me at around a buy-in down EV wise, but I lost a couple of all-in flips so I'm actually three buy-ins down. This is obv really insignificant in the grand scheme of things but I bluffed off a 150BB stack in a really stupid pot and without this I would have had much better results. Overall I felt that I didn't tilt alot, even after I lost the money; but my play is still too inaccurate to be profitable. I can play absolutely brilliantly one hand but like a novice the next. I'm honestly not sure I'll ever be able to eradicate the inconsistency from my game. So I'll just continue to be an enthusiastic amateur with the potential to play a good hand. At least I'm playing at stakes where burning off a few buy-ins is not really relevant. I may try and play 5000 hands tomorrow, and post some hand histories for review. I'll add those hands I had intended to put up today. Anyway, I suck at poker, but it's fun. Meh

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Early Results

Rush games are sooo much fun. I just played two tables tonight and made a small profit; there were a few interesting hands which I may upload and talk about tomorrow. Overall I feel that the HU games have improved my post flop play immensely. I used to play so fit or fold because I viewed hands in absolute terms; if I didn't have a pair or strong draw I'd fold. Now I can see alternative lines much more clearly. Not only that, I have polarised my ranges for UTG and the Button much more than I used to. Tonight, I played 7% of hands UTG (6 max - which is obv pretty tight) but 47% on the button. Whether this is optimal I'm not sure. But I know for sure that the suited connectors I used to open UTG could not have been a profitable hand from that position. Poker is all about fixing leaks and taking advantage of your opponents', and I feel that I've now fixed a couple. Anyway, I'll post the hands tomorrow. Gd night, and GL

Rush Poker

According to Hold'em manager I am running below EV in these turbo HUSNGs so far. Last night I had a pretty bad session, my play was not from my top drawer I must say. But I lost some all - ins with good equity and otherwise ran fairly poorly. I will return to the HU games soon as it pisses me off that I'm only breaking even in them so far. I have been a long time member of Cardrunners - excellent site by the way - and they have a good forum which includes a section on Rush. The posters were all discussing how easy it was to play 5k+ hands a day and it made me recall having to put in so much more time to get through that volume before. So I'll try and see what I can achieve. I used to four table 6 max at micros and was a small winner but really I'm not sure if I was a winner, that could just be good variance (albeit 30k hands). I'll try and do 20k hands I think. Alot of the losing players I see have fastly descending 'red lines' - non showdown losses. What this means is that they are getting value from the made hands but giving too much money away otherwise (mainly blind money). I think we can rectify this some what by 3-betting lightly in position and stealing blinds more often than we are giving them up. Once I've done the 'time' so to speak I'll post my graph and talk about this among other things. GL

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Link to a HUSNG Website : www.riskoriented.com

I have just spent the last couple of hours browsing this site and I believe this is an exceptional resource for HUSNG players. The exploitive short stack push fold stuff should be published in a book or something. There is also a useful kelly bankroll calculator and endless articles that will keep me absorbed for hours.
click here

Monday, 3 May 2010


Exploitation is at the core of winning poker. A pretty obvious statement, but in recent weeks I've begun to find a lot more vulnerabilities in opponent play. A vulnerability is the name I give to an exploitable imbalance in villain's strategy. For example a calling station that will call down with too much of his range. Or the opposite, a weak player who will fold all but the top of his range. In both of these instances we can exploit by polarizing our decisions in each situation. We value bet, or we bluff. These are the classic things that every player should know by now. But I've just recently begun spotting the more subtle weaknesses. A great trick in the micro stakes HUSNGs is to 3-bet shove circa 20BB deep with a wide range. Often opponents will raise to 3x with maybe 50% of hands and then fold all but the good hands. This is an old trick - and I hope you are using it - but I've not seen any player adapt well to it yet. They typically tighten up giving us tons of blind money, or don't adjust at all. They just wait for a hand and then go schizo when they finally call with 60% equity and we drill a trey to win at showdown. A less common leak is a player who will reraise (3-bet) you with a wide range but fold everything but the very best hands to a 4-bet shove. We could probably four bet our entire range against someone who is doing this. I think I finally understand how I should be making chips at poker. Of course doing it during play is trickier. Having a good database and HUD helps alot; to anyone out there that does not use poker tracker or hold 'em manager I think you're missing out on a crucial learning tool. Not only can you use it to help to find vulnerability in villain strategy, but also to fix weaknesses in your own game. Having poker tracker (and recently Hold 'em manager too due to the great apps developed to run with it) has easily improved my game by probably 100-200% and it paid for itself long ago. GL