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.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Poker Mindset

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

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Challenge Session #2

21:17 Session Started.

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

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

Challenge Session #1

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

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

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

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Personal Challenge, and a Little on Ranges

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

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

Friday, 22 October 2010

Quiz Hand

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

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

Thursday, 21 October 2010

0.10c/0.25c FR Rush Update

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

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

It's all in the Continuing Range!

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

Sunday, 17 October 2010

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

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

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

My Biggest Leak

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

Monday, 11 October 2010

Two New Concepts Learned

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 10 October 2010

First Blood

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

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Moving Up!!

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

Patience; Addressing an imbalance

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

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

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

pros and cons of 6 tables...

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

Monday, 4 October 2010

More Volume Desired...

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

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Deep Analysis of a Hand (tl;dr)

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 2 October 2010

If Only...

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

Finding an excellent post

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

Friday, 1 October 2010


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

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