Hello all, welcome to my online poker blog.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Sessions Improving + Research

So over the last few sessions I've tightened up somewhat. Basically, I think that the run bad has affected my game and so many of the marginal hands probably became losers. I also noticed that I was leaking money when raising utg and utg+1. At the micros everyone loves to 3-bet bluff and I wasn't willing to stack off with anything less than JJ or AK, plus I didn't feel happy with a large bluffing range in those spots in case my opponents were just getting good hands. This meant that I was super exploitable to 3-bets when I was raising in those positions. I don't believe my opponents were consciously exploiting me, but the aggressive fish that propagate this limit were definitely making money when they re-raised. So I have adapted my ranges so that my CO through SB ranges are just a little tighter but my UTG and UTG+1 ranges would be described as pretty nitty by any regulars. I'll see how it goes!

Results have picked up, although I expected they would eventually. There's no way (even as a losing player) that I should have dropped so many buy-ins in so few hands so a correction was due.

I have just bought my Fiancees old laptop off of her and after a day of ram clogging program deletions and msconfig/service adjustments I've got it running reasonably again. After a further frustrating couple of hours struggling to install hold'em manager I can now play poker on it!. This may or may not help with volume...

Anyway, mindless update over. Will blog again with something more interesting at some point perhaps. But if not, Merry Christmas!!!

EDIT: In order to get a better understanding of the games and a knowledge of what the winning players are doing I've paid for some premium content on poker table ratings. I will use the information I glean to further fine tune my strategy.
I have already noticed some interesting things; the most intriguing being that there is a wide variety of styles that can do really well, from tight to loose and all between.

The most useful thing that I've learned is that - at least preflop - I don't think I'm doing too much wrong. If I can cut out the post flop mistakes that characterise my play I think that I can make some decent money still. But of course I need volume.


In an effort to try and get more volume in I'm going to (try to) learn to stack tables. I definitely think it will take me time to adjust to this new method, and I've come across a potential problem so far too; without investing in table ninja if I time out during a decision there's no Stars' function to sit back in automatically. There's also no way to bring those tables where I'm sat out back to the top so that I can sit back in manually, so I have to either move the tables aside (obviously an atrocious solution) or click through the table names at the foot of the desktop (only a slightly less atrocious solution). Perhaps cascading is a better way of doing things, maybe I'll try that as this would allow me to bring up the offending tables more easily.

Which ever method I decide to begin to use, I think that it's essential for my volume to increase. Even if I cannot manage more than 6-8 tables at a time I'm currently doing about 10-15k hands a month which isn't nearly as much as I want to be putting in. The last three weeks I have played around 150 hours on skyrim. Using this time for poker could have allowed me to play about 75k hands - this is how often I would like to be playing the game in the next few months.

I played a session today and made two or three big river mistakes - calls with bluff catchers. I've blogged about this before, sometimes I have something like trips or two pair. Good hands, but in terms of the board texture they are at the very bottom of the strong hand range. In instances like this, and facing a bet I tend to think like: "I can't fold trips because... it's a good hand!" which is horrible thinking. Unless I can curb this fishy way of thinking then I'll not improve. So I'll be looking for spots like this and trying to smother the calling station in me from now on.

Monday, 12 December 2011

The Final Effort

This year's poker has been pretty average to say the least. Most of the money that I won (around $1500 I suppose) was taken when Full Tilt went insolvent. In other words I have finished the year break even which is really disappointing.

It has really been a story of two large down swings. I'm at the bottom of one currently (and God only knows when it will end) and I went through another during my play on Full Tilt itself in the Rush games. This tells me a lot about my game really, that I'm not as competent as I once thought; that despite a pretty good knowledge of expected value and maths I make too many mistakes during play. I don't believe that I'm beyond hope and that I can continue to improve and remove these errors from my game and that is how I'm going to approach the next year.

The games seem to be increasingly full of competent players but I do still think that money can be made. I don't believe that poker will always be profitable in it's current format (rake must eventually be revised for the good of the game in my opinion).

This coming year is going to be my final effort to make money from the game. If I come out at the end break even again then I'll likely end my poker playing days and pursue other hobbies and income sources.

So, wish me luck. Once more to the breach! GL

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Quads over Quads, Big Down Swing

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#70323306587

sc0uzer ($8.75)
zodimar ($25.55)
Hero ($32.29)
SofiStar87 ($11.25)
abra1985 ($25.75)
Guti2010 ($49.87)

sc0uzer posts (SB) $0.10
zodimar posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero Qs Qd
Hero raises to $0.75
fold, fold,
Guti2010 calls $0.75
zodimar calls $0.50
FLOP ($2.35) 6h 6c Qh
zodimar checks
Hero bets $1.45
Guti2010 folds
zodimar calls $1.45
TURN ($5.25) 6h 6c Qh Qc
zodimar checks
Hero checks

Cross my fingers and hope for a river bluff.

RIVER ($5.25) 6h 6c Qh Qc 2c
zodimar bets $6.25
Hero raises to $30.09 (AI)

At the time I didn't think any 6x hand would likely over bet the river like this and just assumed he had 99% bluffs and a very very rare second nuts. Perhaps if he puts me on some hand that's trying to see a showdown (KK+, JJ, TT) and he thinks I'm a calling station (true) then the over bet makes more sense. In that case I could have extracted a little more value with a small raise that a 6x hand would call with.

zodimar calls $17.10 (AI)
zodimar shows 6d 6s
(Pre 19%, Flop 95.6%, Turn 0.0%)

Hero shows Qs Qd
(Pre 81%, Flop 4.4%, Turn 100.0%)

Hero wins $49.95

Anyway, apart from this small ray of light things are going terribly. I'm about 18 buy-ins down over 14k hands at the 6-max games. This is 6 buy-ins below all-in EV so my net expected won is actually negative 12 buy-ins.

It would be very hard for me to sell myself as even a break even player now that I've divulged this information, so I shall not. I played very poorly over the first 2/3 of this sample and made a number of equity mistakes. More recently I've been table selecting better and really slowed down my decision making and managed to improve in this regard.

I can only continue to look for good tables, and try not to fuck up too much. I've made moves in the right direction but I absolutely must continue to play in this vein.

I ran a few simulations over at evplusplus.com and it made me realise how large the down swings can be in 6-max with a small win rate. So I have to try and play my A-game 90% of the time if I can, and continue to table select well. I'll blog again with further updates at some point, but Skyrim is released tomorrow and that will likely get some of my poker time unfortunately. But until I blog again, GL.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Short Update

Hi, so I've played a few more hands this week and I'm sure now that I'm not going to be a long term winner in this format if I continue to make as many mistakes as I am currently. These aren't tilt induced mistakes, they are a consequence of not having sufficient knowledge of the flop and turn equities in different spots. This is good and bad.

Bad because I'm no longer beating the games (in all likelihood). How can it be good? Well it confirms my suspicion that if I merely continue to play full ring then I'm auto-piloting and not improving my game at a sufficient rate. Making all of these mistakes in the 6-max games will - over time - almost certainly improve my play in every department because I'll have a much greater knowledge of the necessary equities. Most of the mistakes are flop and turn all-in calls where I should probably be folding instead.

I think so far my mistakes might well have cost 2-3 buy-ins over around 8k hands, which is a significant amount. So I will continue to play and work hard to improve my knowledge. Eventually the losing/break even curve should begin to turn back into a nice upward line.

I don't think I'll be blogging as much from now onwards, but that doesn't mean I'm not still playing. Just that instead of blogging, I'll be using that valuable time to study instead. GL

Edit: Have just bought Ed Miller's new e-book on hand reading and will put up a review at some point.

Saturday, 22 October 2011


Well I'm beginning to settle in a bit better into this format but I'm still making too many mistakes. My non - showdown curve has improved to around half a buy-in loss per 1000 hands which is more in line with what I achieve in full ring. Unfortunately I have also lost money at showdown over the sample so the sum is a total 4.5 buy-ins of loss. I'd expect that if I improve my play and start running better that I could probably beat these games. It depends on how much money can typically be made at showdown; in full ring I was earning about a buy-in per 1k hands (giving me $12.5 'profit' per 1k hands). I'm going to need a much bigger sample (and to run better) before I know for sure though so I'll keep plugging away.

The games are very aggressive, and in many instances recklessly aggressive. For someone who relies on showdown winnings for profit, it's quite difficult to play against these fish sometimes because they just blindly bet away. But with each session I'm seeing tons more interesting spots than I was at full ring so I'm definitely enjoying the change. I think that I'll need to work hard to eradicate leaks from my game to make it work.

I'll try and play a long session tomorrow and perhaps dig out some hand histories where I messed up (there'll be several I imagine). Until then, GL

Thursday, 20 October 2011

I think I suck at 6-max!

Yeah made a few more mistakes yesterday, and I plan to put in another session later. The question is whether to go back to full ring where my strategy is clearly profitable or to try and develop a winning one for this format. There are advantages and disadvantages of both: I can grow my bankroll taking one path and yet I won't be growing my game; the other path could potentially make me a much better player.

The problem I see at the moment is that I'm losing much more money to the red line (albeit small sample size) than at full ring. Whether this is typical or not I'm yet to find out for sure, but at full ring I lose about half a buy-in every thousand hands which makes it ludicrously easy to make a profit - going to showdown and winning a buy-in per thousand hands or more is pretty easy at full ring cash.

Well my current desire is to continue with 6-max. I may end up banging my head against a brick wall and just giving up and going back to FR but I think I need to try and make the correct adjustments to win. So I need a proper sample size really. Over the weekend I'll get my second monitor set back up and set the other up for a ten table layout (that should get me back to 1k hands per hour). Then I should quickly clock up a reasonable sample size. I somehow think that this isn't going to be easy :S!

I had a huge suck out yesterday. A loose aggressive cut off opens and I 3-bet with AKs. We are both 150bb deep and he 4-bets to about $6. I expected to get almost his whole range to fold to a shove so that's what I did. However he snap calls with AA. The flop gives me just a back door flush draw which miraculously comes in by the river. Thinking about my play in the hand in general, it seems quite a risky strategy to 5-bet shove AKs for 150bb. But if he's only calling with {KK+} - probably a reasonable assumption then there are only 6 combos of those hands in total. I probably need about half of his range to fold to make a profit (a pure bluff would need 80% folds but when I'm called by KK+ I win 23% of the time) which means I need a further 6 combinations of hands to fold. This definitely seems reasonable. But perhaps flat calling preflop is better when we're this deep.

Oh well, for the time being I'll continue to donate to the 6-max games and blog some more about the experience at some point over the weekend. GL

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

More 6-Max

Haven't had much time to play over the last few days but just put in a quick session. I definitely feel that I'm not as good at this format as full ring, but there is also tons more post flop play so in the long run I think that I'll be able to improve more by sticking to 6-max over full ring.

There were two spots where I think that I made big mistakes. One hand I floated a CO c-bet on the button with A6dd on a JJ3r (back door flush draw) but didn't realise that the pot was multi way (two over callers). It's possible that I can win the pot later in the hand some of the time being that I'm in position on all of the other players but I'm sure it's a -EV call. The bigger mistake came on the turn when villain double barrelled a Kd. Sure I have the flush draw, but many of his big hands don't care about the flush or indeed many of the flush cards that may come out. Plus, I doubt my ace outs are any good against a double barrel range on that board texture. My equity (unless villain was a total spewtard) was probably around 10-15% and I needed 28% or better.

The second hand was a bit more tricky, and could possibly be chalked down as a cooler. I turned trips with AT on a AJxA after check calling a loose CO range on the flop (from the big blind). So I donk led for quite a small bet, thinking that weaker could call or I might get bluff raised. Villain raises so I call (I def think calling one street here is fine as my opponent was quite aggressive and may think I'm FOS). On the river (a king - and there are no flushes out there) I checked and villain bet just under pot. I just felt that folding would be a bit weak. However it seems a stretch that any player at these stakes would bluff 30% of the time on that board. I think that I should have folded.

So I need to make sure I continue to do plenty of hand reviews after each session, and perhaps eventually I'll become a winner - because frankly, I don't think I'm playing well enough to be one currently. GL

Friday, 14 October 2011

$25NL 6-Max

So the last couple of nights I haven't felt sharp enough to play the higher limit so I played some 6-max $25NL. This is a fairly new experience for me, I haven't played six-max games for a couple of years. But I think that it would be really good for my game to play more of the format in general as I'm playing more hands and more flops. I haven't had a very good start, ran 3 buy-ins below EV tonight but I think that I largely played decently (except for one spaz call in an all-in pot where my odds weren't as good as I thought they were, meh).

I'll likely play a few thousand six max hands now, and as ever I'll post a few interesting ones here. I'm reasonably confident I can beat the 6-max games as I'll be playing so much post flop poker, but until I've played more volume I'll not know for sure.

I played 6 tables at a time, and there were instances where I found it difficult to keep up. God knows how Nanonoko does 24 at once for hours a day (and still annihilates the games). On the other hand though, I was playing more hands per hour compared to Full Ring so if I can make it work, I'll likely have a better hourly rate.

Anyway, GL.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

First $50NL Full Ring Session, plus Hands

So I played the first session this afternoon. I'm going to stick to playing at those stakes when I'm not feeling tired and when other outside influences are not involved (alcohol, noisy house, bad mood e.t.c). The rest of the time I'll still be at 25NL so this will be a gradual move which I think should enable it to go more smoothly. There were plenty of fish that I found at my tables, so with a little selection I'm really confident that I can make it work there.

I'm going to try very hard to ignore my results. I have enough 'roll that I should never need to reload so I just plan to play a bunch and just look at individual hands and try and find mistakes and improve my play including bet sizing and overall hand reading ability. I will keep half an eye on my overall bankroll balance because I plan to move up if I reach $5k. I don't imagine that will happen until the spring at the very best though (if it even happens at all). So consequently I'll do a lot of hand discussion on this blog but there won't be any results until I have a meaningful sample.

Some Hands

NL Holdem $0.50(BB) Replayer Game#68911228241

uneedwater ($50)
petka000 ($40)
tenyente ($50.25)
Sh1ft0r ($54.30)
Hero ($51)
Argon81 ($39.25)
B__hnemaker ($50)

uneedwater posts (SB) $0.25
petka000 posts (BB) $0.50

Dealt to Hero Jh Jd
fold, fold,
Hero raises to $1.50
Argon81 calls $1.50
fold, fold, fold,
FLOP ($3.75) Ah Th As
Hero bets $2.50

Villain was not playing fully stacked and although I didn't have any stats in the HUD I assumed he'd be a weaker player as a result. When out of position on the flop I prefer to bet a merged range, even though this bet doesn't fit the typical value betting axiom. There are still Tx hands plus draws that could call though.

Argon81 calls $2.50
TURN ($8.75) Ah Th As 6d
Hero checks

I think betting has now become too thin, and check calling would likely be a better play which is what I had planned.

Argon81 checks
RIVER ($8.75) Ah Th As 6d 8d
Hero checks
Argon81 bets $8.50

Now I think I make a mistake. I'd expect most players to bet trips on the turn, but some would 'trap'. The bet sizing indicates a big hand, although there are plenty of aggro villains that would bet big to try and make me fold. Given that I knew nothing of villain (who later turned out to be loose passive) and that he'd checked back the turn I don't hate my call, but I think I prefer a fold.

Hero calls $8.50
Hero shows Jh Jd
(Pre 71%, Flop 12.5%, Turn 0.0%)

Argon81 shows Ac 6s
(Pre 29%, Flop 87.5%, Turn 100.0%)

Argon81 wins $24.50

NL Holdem $0.50(BB) Replayer Game#68914382385

Guliver1983 ($20.25)
funex700 ($50)
Kuzya85 ($55.15)
dosases ($40.85)
mecha0117 ($50)
Katochek88 ($19.25)
Sappuku ($92.05)
Hero ($123)

Guliver1983 posts (SB) $0.25
funex700 posts (BB) $0.50

Dealt to Hero Ad Ts
dosases calls $0.50
fold, fold, fold,
Hero raises to $2

villain is loose passive, so this is pretty standard isolation raise in my opinion.

fold, fold,
dosases calls $1.50
FLOP ($4.75) 4d 6c 3d
dosases checks
Hero bets $3

At this stage villain had folded to bets on the flop every time he'd seen one so far, so I thought that betting was going to be immediately profitable.

dosases calls $3
TURN ($10.75) 4d 6c 3d Kc
dosases checks
Hero bets $7

A good scare card to double barrel, even against a loose passive player.

dosases calls $7
RIVER ($24.75) 4d 6c 3d Kc Kh
dosases checks
Hero checks

I think that I should bet this river again. Against a player who knows combinations theory (in other words a good reg) this would not be a great third barrel card as they'd consider it unlikely that I actually had a king in my hand now that the second one has appeared on the board. However against a loose passive player who is likely to have plenty of random draws in his range I think that it would have made an excellent card to bet again. I'm certain that it's profitable, and I'm also certain that it would have worked in this hand too.

dosases shows 2s 2d
(Pre 51%, Flop 71.8%, Turn 86.4%)

Hero shows Ad Ts
(Pre 49%, Flop 28.2%, Turn 13.6%)

dosases wins $23.55

Final interesting hand, I'm very pleased with the way I played it. I extracted every last ounce of value. Again, villain is loose passive.

NL Holdem $0.50(BB) Replayer Game#68913143058

sven1969 ($65.80)
Hero ($75.65)
RigaStyle ($52.55)
Kanycmo4ka ($15.85)
KotSk8er ($19.25)
witka10 ($52.80)
Kobern ($24.95)
Japaneko ($34.75)
89rhino89 ($50.80)

sven1969 posts (SB) $0.25
Hero posts (BB) $0.50

Dealt to Hero 7d 7h
Kanycmo4ka raises to $1.50
fold, fold, fold, fold, fold,
sven1969 calls $1.25
Hero calls $1

Calling seemed correct given the weaker player in the hand. If he had not called in the small blind, I'd have folded 77 here.

FLOP ($4.50) 7s 8c 8h
sven1969 checks
Hero checks

BAAAAAM! That's the way to smash a flop. I think checking is OK, I'm targeting the times that the pre flop raiser has an over pair and will likely call a check raise. If I lead, I might induce a raise from the pre flop raiser if he has a good over pair (QQ+) but otherwise he might call with 99-JJ, and fold all else. I think that getting 99+ and air to bet first (plus the small blind calling with a wide range) gets me more money in the long run.

Kanycmo4ka checks
TURN ($4.50) 7s 8c 8h Kd
sven1969 bets $3

Unfortunately the flop gets checked through, but a great result when the loose passive player bets. There are plenty of 8x and Kx combinations that I'd expect him to have so raising is mandatory. The pre flop raiser has so little money behind that I don't expect a raise here to scare away any hand he might have with a King in it so I don't think calling has any merit at all in this situation.

Hero raises to $11.50

I think that I should perhaps bet a little more here, maybe $13 - $14. It makes it easier to extract value on the river.

Kanycmo4ka folds
sven1969 calls $8.50
RIVER ($27.50) 7s 8c 8h Kd 3s
sven1969 checks
Hero bets $62.65 (AI)

My best play of the night. Villain's stats are 40/10 pre flop, so he likes calling to see flops. On the flop he only folds to c-bets 30% of the time, and he never folds to 3-bets after raising pre. In other words, he loves calling. So I maximise expected value on this river by betting all-in, even though it's a huge over bet.

sven1969 calls $52.80 (AI)
sven1969 shows 4s 8s
(Pre 33%, Flop 23.0%, Turn 15.9%)

Hero shows 7d 7h
(Pre 67%, Flop 77.0%, Turn 84.1%)

Hero wins $130

I think this hand shows how important bet sizing can be. If I'd have taken a standard 3/4 pot bet size, I'd have missed out on half a buy-in. This makes a huge difference in the grand scheme of things and it's the area that I'm working on improving the most at the moment.

Right, so a good start so far and my play is improving steadily. I think that I'll end up beating this limit, but to be sure I need volume. Will post some more hand histories once I've played another session or two. GL

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Back! Ready for some Poker

Had a pretty awesome couple of weeks, Sis back from Canada and a short holiday to the South coast. So now it's back to the life grind (crappy job) and the struggle to make a second income with poker.

On the first subject, I've decided to invest in training of some form in an effort to get a better job. I'll probably look at some Microsoft certification or perhaps doing some lower level accounts course. In the current climate I don't think it will be easy, but it makes sense to me to invest my money in something since it is just losing value sat in a bank account making nominal interest. And since the stock markets and banks are currently a shitty investment I can't think of any better alternative than this.

On the second subject I'll play a few thousand hands of 25nl to get back into the swing of it and then try playing some hands at the next limit. I'm really beginning to wonder if this game continues to be worth this time and effort. Sure if I can improve to a level where I can make $5k or more per year as additional income I think that it is. But currently scratching around at 25NL is not where I'd hoped to be by now. Well, I'll give it another year. If I can honestly say (come summer '12) that I'm not beating the games for a sufficient second income then I'll gracefully retire and focus instead on self improvement and career development. Wish me luck!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Interesting Full Tilt Poker News

So there's some promising news on FTP. We know who the investors are - a successful and serious group. They are now in talks with the US DOJ in an attempt to reach a fair settlement. For the first time in many months it seems that perhaps FTP can be redeemed.

50NL Work
So shortly I will be making the next limit my new home. I'm away for a week but when I get back I intend to deposit some funds and move up. I've looked at a few players recently who have displayed a pretty large drop in win rate after moving up from 25NL. I've also heard that it's a more difficult limit to beat (while intuitively this makes sense, I wouldn't expect a great difference in the decent player/bad player ratio - and the rake is better).
So as well as the work I continue to do on ranges and expected value I'm going to re-evaluate my ranges from each position, putting my overall style a little tighter than it is currently. The reason for this is that I expect to face more aggressive 3-betting at the next limit and at the moment I only 4-bet around 12% of the time on average. I'd prefer this to be more like 20% and tightening my early and mid position opening ranges a little will help with this.
I also intend to try to spaz out a little less with the thin bluffs (a couple of which I described last post) and stick to the very obvious ones and to continue to improve the value part of my game. I think there are areas where I can play more aggressively for value (check raising top pair good kicker versus short stackers for example). And as I've repeatedly said before, my bet sizing leaves a lot to be desired.
You'll be glad to know then, that this will be my last post for a while (unless there are serious Full Tilt Poker developments I guess). So, GL!

Thursday, 29 September 2011


I forgot how frustrating a down swing could be, had another bad session today that was compounded by a couple of iffy decisions on my part. One hand I check raised a paired turn on a dry board versus a passive pre/aggressive post kind of player expecting to get enough folds to make it worthwhile (plus two over cards as outs if not) and ran into an over pair; I also got check min - raised by a passive player and I have top pair top kicker on a dry board. If he had more money behind then I could have found a fold but he only had a small amount left so I stuck him in and was drawing almost dead to a set. I think that a better player than me could have found a fold there.

Well, I don't think I'm playing my A-game and things are going poorly too. I have a week away from Monday and a busy weekend coming up so I expect that after today I'll not play at all until a week Friday. Perhaps I can come back refreshed and resolve to play well until the run bad is over. Until then, GL.


Just played another session, it was a winning one but only because I won a couple of flips. I think that perhaps I'm trying to be too aggressive in my approach to this limit, and I also think that I need to improve my play against loose aggressive opponents. Lots to think about but here's a couple of hand histories.

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#68230261939

exdaboo ($9.75)
Hero ($25)
AceDiva ($23.34)
@Sub555Zero# ($26.93)
saneksanek86 ($11.45)
QuanBabe ($27.03)
longbreath ($26.25)
changsheng ($10.05)
bentiann ($14.91)

exdaboo posts (SB) $0.10
Hero posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero Js Ks
AceDiva raises to $0.70
fold, fold, fold, fold, fold,
fold, fold,
Hero calls $0.45

AceDiva is playing 30% of hands and raising first in about 20% of the time (and he's not positionally aware; raising the same numbers despite his seat), which makes calling with KJs here fine in my opinion.

FLOP ($1.50) 9d 3s Ts
Hero bets $0.75
AceDiva raises to $2.20
Hero calls $1.45

It's the sort of flop that will get checked back a fair bit; villain's post flop tendencies were on the passive calling station side. I expected a bet to get some folds though, and I have equity if he calls. When he raises I don't think I have any fold equity left (i.e he's never bluff raising) but I'm getting plenty good enough odds to draw to a flush or straight on the turn.

TURN ($5.90) 9d 3s Ts 7d
Hero checks
AceDiva bets $4.40
Hero calls $4.40

Well, now I have three extra outs to go with my others so I think check calling is correct (my equity is probably around 30% which is more or less what I'm getting from the pot and given that I'd expect to get paid on the river when a draw comes in this becomes a profitable call). Again I don't think I'll ever get enough folds if I bet or raise, I need a draw to come in on the river.

RIVER ($14.70) 9d 3s Ts 7d Qs
Hero bets $17.70 (AI)

I open shoved the river because I think he's calling with his whole range (given his tendencies) which makes it a mandatory value bet. Unfortunately for me...

AceDiva calls $16.04 (AI)
Hero shows Js Ks
(Pre 42%, Flop 29.2%, Turn 27.3%)

AceDiva shows As 6s
(Pre 58%, Flop 70.8%, Turn 72.7%)

AceDiva wins $44.78

This is the sort of hand that makes me look like an idiot, but I don't think that I messed it up too much. I had no idea a hand as weak as A6s was in his UTG raising range, I only put one or two combos of flushes (AQs or A9s at a stretch) in his range and tons more over pair/set combos can call me on that river. Just seems like a cooler to me, but if I'm wrong then perhaps I'm the fish?

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#68231158949

Hero ($39.12)
hhlle ($10.10)

hhlle posts (SB) $0.10
Hero posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero Qs Jc
hhlle raises to $0.75
Hero calls $0.50
FLOP ($1.50) 6d Tc 2h
Hero checks
hhlle bets $1
Hero raises to $3
hhlle calls $2

So far I think this is fine, he raises half of buttons and c-bets like 90% of the time or something ridiculous so I have to defend very wide. Two over cards and back door straight draws on a dry board is plenty good enough to check raise in my opinion.

TURN ($7.50) 6d Tc 2h 9c
Hero bets $6.50

I think this is a mistake. I should get enough folds on the flop to make that raise profitable, but when he calls his range is probably top pair + and my equity against that range is probably around 25% or so when the 9 comes off. I only need a tiny number of folds to make this bet profitable (I only need 31% equity to make it a mandatory bet), but if he's calling with his whole range then it's a bad bet (albeit a small mistake).

hhlle calls $6.35 (AI)
RIVER ($20.20) 6d Tc 2h 9c 7d
hhlle shows Ts Jh
(Pre 26%, Flop 82.7%, Turn 75.0%)

Hero shows Qs Jc
(Pre 74%, Flop 17.3%, Turn 25.0%)

hhlle wins $19.70

The story of the last 2-3k hands is a little like this; a handful of quite close decisions where I think I've erred on the wrong side.

Ah well, that's run bad for you. I shall not get another chance to play poker in all likelihood before the end of next week now. Most of my problems recently have come against opponents who play very passively pre flop but very aggressively post flop. Those who's figures look like 50/10/2.0 or similar. So they see tons of flops and always go crazy. I find it really hard to decide what to do. When I flop a good hand it's easy, but most of the time I struggle to get to showdown with a suitable range so I think I need to spend some time looking through hand histories versus this type of villain. GL

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Run Bad

Long overdue, I'm sure. Dropped three buy-ins today alone, but I felt that I controlled tilt pretty well and didn't lose much more than I should have. My win rate for the last 50k hands or so is higher than the typical winning reg at this limit so I had been waiting for some run bad to bring it in line. At least it has happened right now, just on the verge of my leap to the next limit so that I can have more realistic expectations once I win back enough money to move up.

I feel that I'm having to table select pretty hard at the moment, I'm a big believer that in full ring games having fish at the table is essential for profit. But there seems to be less than there was in the past. Perhaps the bad press poker has received recently is scaring the bad players away? I may have to begin mixing some 6 max tables in so that I'm giving myself the best opportunity to find good tables.

There are quite a few regs who 3-bet relentlessly in position. I think I'm going to have to adjust my 4-betting ranges. Perhaps to go to showdown with {JJ+, AK} and having a handful of bluff 4-bet hands to balance with. Any player who is 3-betting more often than they should (and I'd guess 5% average to be somewhat optimal) is forced to showdown AK. So JJ has 36% equity against {AK, QQ+}, and I should probably be 4-betting it instead of folding against these aggressive opponents.

Anyway, I'll continue to crunch some volume and try hard to control my emotions until the down swing is over.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

A Realisation

Among the many blog posts that I have written, I have often spoke of the 'red line' and the 'blue line'. The red line is money won or lost without going to showdown. The blue line is money won or lost when going to showdown.

There is an important link between the two lines and the profit we make; it is that to be profitable, it is necessary for opponents to fold more often than they should and call more often than they should. Profit is merely a result of making the best play at the time and opponents making a mistake. I think I spend too much time worrying about what my red line is doing when in reality it is irrelevant. The only relevancy is making the best possible play. Profit should be the only indicator of a strategy's value.

For a long time now I've strived to improve the red line. But improving the red line has an impact on the blue line and vice versa. It is perfectly correct to allow a red line loss if on average it results in a larger blue line gain. And this is what I'm trying to get at: I should merely be concerned with profit. Trying to be more aggressive where it is not necessary might improve the red line, but in the big picture it is costing money because there was a better option that benefited the blue line.

I feel that I'm kind of rambling now, but I hope that I got my message across. In future I shall not study the red/blue graph because I think it has a negative impact on my approach to the game. GL

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Full Tilt Developments

So it turns out that FTP was insolvent before Black Friday. {For all of the updates please click on the Subject Poker link at the top right of the blog} Despite this they continued to pay the owners of the company vast sums of money using funds that should have been secured to pay out player withdrawals. As I've said before I have great sympathy for all of the players who have likely lost significant sums of money as a result of this criminal behaviour.

News has just surfaced of further investors that are interested in buying FTP (and in the process paying back all of the money that is owed). That seems like a gamble considering that the reputation of the business has been destroyed, but it's understandable. FTP assets are clearly worth something in the long run, and if everyone was paid back and the new investors demonstrated future responsibility (such as segregating player funds) then I see no reason why they could not potentially make the money back within a few years as the site returned to health.

Personally I have written my money off as gone for good, and it wasn't a large amount (~$1300). However if I was ever able to see that money again, it would be a very nice surprise. I'd withdraw the funds immediately and wait to see if FTP had a future before ever considering playing there again, especially as I heard a rumour that Poker Stars are developing a form of fast full ring poker [disclaimer: read this at the back of a dying thread on 2+2... Might be a complete fabrication]. For the immediate future I feel that my money is safest on Poker Stars and that's where I'll continue to play.

So I'll continue to wait and see, and I hope that everyone gets their money back and that the future of FTP is secured.

As for my play, after I've cashed in my VIP points I will have 40 buy-ins for $50NL. With the money I have saved up lately and my playing bankroll, I easily have enough money to make that limit my new home and that's what I'll do (although 25NL will be my let off steam/too tired/playing badly/beating on the fish limit). GL

Monday, 19 September 2011

Almost There...

Another good session tonight, another two buy-ins won over 1k hands. Games are really really fishy, but obviously I'm still running great. I did butcher a couple of hands and I'll post them at the end just for interest's sake.

So I'm very close to moving up now. I've been wondering how I should settle in at the new limit. I think that I'll begin by playing four tables at a time and looking for the best possible opponents (table selecting). I'm not averse to playing against regulars, but while I'm bedding in at the new limit I will settle much more comfortably if I'm giving myself a definite 2 or 3 bb/100 edge per table or more for the first 20 - 30k hands or so. I will also continue to play 25NL if I'm at all tired and not thinking clearly (and if I have a rough session at the higher limit).

Eventually if I manage to win a few buy-ins I will make 50NL my new home. As I've said before, I expect to have to work hard on my game to continue to make money. But that's all I've ever done and all I will continue to do while I still have the capacity to learn. I think that I will likely be a small winner at my current standard, but I'd like to be a solid winner if I can achieve it.

Right, the two hands.

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#67746404031

Zwidawurzn ($7.95)
Joke160 ($20)
nubson ($10.62)
laiaaba ($10.75)
Hero ($43.02)
McloverC ($10.35)
kriis2489 ($19.93)
exeterjackal ($13.55)

Zwidawurzn posts (SB) $0.10
Joke160 posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero Ah Ks
fold, fold,
Hero raises to $0.75
fold, fold,
exeterjackal calls $0.75
fold, fold,
FLOP ($1.85) Td Jc Ad
Hero bets $1.14
exeterjackal calls $1.14
TURN ($4.13) Td Jc Ad Ts
Hero checks

This should be a bet every single time. Villain is a nitty reg, so his pre-flop calling range might typically include AQ, AJs, JJ and TT. Even supposing he slow plays his good hands (and he'd probably raise them some of the time) there are eight combinations of AQ left in his range, one two pair combo (with AsJs) and four set combos. It's a clear value bet.

exeterjackal bets $2.50
Hero calls $2.50
RIVER ($9.13) Td Jc Ad Ts 5h
Hero checks
exeterjackal checks
Hero shows Ah Ks
(Pre 71%, Flop 85.2%, Turn 89.8%)

exeterjackal shows As Qs
(Pre 29%, Flop 14.8%, Turn 10.2%)

Hero wins $8.69

So whereas I could have got three streets of value from his hand, I only got two by checking the turn. It's only a small mistake, and it seems a little lame to put this hand up to be honest. But I believe the players that make the most money are those that are never happy with even the smallest mistake. I'm a perfectionist and I like to play as well as I can, and in this hand I did not.

The next hand I well and truly annihilated. Villain was a maniac, but over the sample that I saw he was not a good one.

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#67744195432

hero ($36.99)
miener ($18.57)
onlyelf ($20.45)
RUS)Timur ($27.11)
andriuspok3r ($26.53)
anh.nv ($35.39)
Schnuffler ($27.99)

hero posts (SB) $0.10
miener posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to hero 5c 5s
fold, fold, fold,
anh.nv calls $0.25
hero calls $0.15
miener checks
FLOP ($0.75) 2c 4c 5h
hero bets $0.50
miener folds
anh.nv calls $0.50
TURN ($1.75) 2c 4c 5h 8s
hero bets $1.08
anh.nv raises to $2.16
hero calls $1.08

WTF am I doing? I should always raise here against a player who is playing half of the hands in the deck and constantly bluffing and raising post flop. There are so many combos of hands that he'd likely call with that I'd have to write a fucking essay to include them here. If he has a straight or 88, that's life.

RIVER ($6.07) 2c 4c 5h 8s Tc
hero checks

I'm not sure about this, I think it's OK to check and induce because he'd probably bluff a very very wide range at this river. Check raising might be OK too, even with the flush out there.

anh.nv bets $0.25
hero raises to $4.50
anh.nv raises to $8.75

I don't like this min bet - min 3-bet line, it looks exactly like a flush; but against a player like this I can't fold for 4.25 more so I look him up.

hero calls $4.25
hero shows 5c 5s
(Pre 53%, Flop 73.7%, Turn 81.8%)

anh.nv shows 8c Kc
(Pre 47%, Flop 26.3%, Turn 18.2%)

anh.nv wins $22.41

While in some respects I can count myself lucky because there's every chance I'd have lost my stack by 3-betting big on the turn (and possibly getting the money in), it was the best play from an EV perspective. Very disappointed with the way I played this one.

Right, well I'll play some more 25NL this week, and unless I drop a few buy-ins I'll likely play some 50NL too. GL

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Decent Session Today

Played about 2.5k hands and won a couple of buy-ins overall. It was strange though, I lost tons of money on bluffs that didn't work out, but got paid off loads when I had made hands.

I filtered my database for times that I have four-bet bluffed, and was surprised to see that I've lost a couple of buy-ins overall across the database. Perhaps I need to be more careful when I look for spots to attack 3-bets, or perhaps it's just variance as it's only a handful of pots? I'll look into this further in the future.

A sign of my improvement is that my blind losses now total around 51bb/100. This is still higher than I'd like; ideally I'd like my losses from the blinds to be under 45bb/100. I think that this is achievable and I continue to work on my out of position play in order to make this possible. I'd really start making good money then I think.

Well, I'll play some this week and likely blog again towards the weekend. I'm getting close to moving up now, so that's an exciting development. If I don't have a major down swing then perhaps I'll be playing there in a couple of weeks. GL

Thursday, 15 September 2011

49k Hands Update

OK, so I haven't quite got there yet (50k hands) but will likely complete it later on tonight. In truth I got caught up in other things this afternoon when I had planned to play the hands. I thought I'd make this post now as I have 20-30 minutes spare.

Well it's gone really well over this small sample of hands. I certainly think that I've run above expectation so my win rate is higher than it should realistically be. I'm not sure how much higher though, as I'm also pretty sure that I'm beating the games. The reason for this is that I'm getting loads of value from my made hands, and I'm also controlling my losses when I don't go to showdown. Both of these things are indicators of a winning player. First up, the graph. You can see the insane heater that lasted between hands 20k and 37k.

So I'm really pleased with this, although obviously that must be tempered by the fact that my boom switch has been permanently pressed. There will be meagre times at some point in the future for sure. As for moving up to 50NL, I decided to put it off until I'd played more hands (see previous post) but I will reach my threshold for moving up with another 7 buy-ins of winnings.

I've read a couple of posts lately that suggest that it's a pretty big step up to 50NL from the fishy 25NL limit. If this is true then I expect that I'll have to work pretty hard to improve my game when I'm there. However with a little bit of table selection I don't expect to have too much trouble bedding in. All I expect is that I won't get my way so easily and that fewer hands will get paid off - a diminished return but not a negative one.

General Thoughts on Beating 25NL Full Ring

I'd say that the key points for beating 25NL would be to learn how to value bet and value bet size properly. The open raise and c-betting set up alone should win enough dead money to compensate for a good chunk of blind losses, so profit comes from value at this limit.

According to poker table ratings I'm playing a little more aggressively at every point in the hand (preflop, flop, turn and river) than the biggest winners are at this limit. All I'm doing extra is bluffing a little when I've got equity. The people who are making money here are using value to make their profits; no more, no less.

I'd also encourage players to try and learn to play the correct ranges from each position. For example, there are some fairly decent regulars who are folding a vast number of hands from the big blind when I open raise from the small blind. It's a situation where they could play any two cards given their odds, position and my range - but they're just letting me steal the dead money.

Finally, other than the most obvious spots (c-betting) players generally only bet or raise with big hands. So it's possible to make some pretty sick lay downs. If you have a bluff catching hand alone and are facing heat, there's nearly never enough bluff combinations in most players' ranges to call. I learned this lesson the hard way. If you can maximise value from your best hands and fold good but not great hands when facing heat, you'll make a shed load of money when you go to showdown.

Some Other Stats

I've opened up since my Rush days, 18/15 is quite a loose style for full ring. Again, according to poker table ratings it's a little looser than the bigger winners at this limit (by around 10% or so). My 3-bet stat is quite low at 3.7 and I'd prefer it to be higher than this and while I look for good spots, there are a lot of players who just will not fold preflop and so I usually concentrate on 3-betting for value. I also think that players are prone to turning hands into bluffs preflop where they are better served by calling with them (TT vs UTG, for example). I think that I go to showdown a little more than I should too, and I'm yet to decipher why this is. Perhaps the fact that I don't c-bet as much as most players has an effect.

Well, 50k hands since June is not enough to make me an expert so take my advice as you will. But given the information that I have and what I've seen, I think it's pretty sound. I will continue to try and play my best over the next 50k hands, for better or for worse and do another update at the end. I'd expect - barring some serious run bad - that some of them will be played at 50NL. GL

Bet Sizing

An area where I feel I need to improve is when sizing bets. My intuition is getting better for sure but I think I need to set aside some study time where I can investigate some situations to improve my feel. I played two hands today where I think that an over bet was in order (villains were loose passive). On both occasions the bets worked but I get the feeling that they'd have called a 2.5 x pot or 3 x pot bet too (and my bets were both approx 1.5x pot).

I'll run some sims in the near future. I really feel like bet sizing is one area where most regs tend to just auto pilot, but that's kind of missing out on a really interesting game dynamic imo. I'm always trying to push myself so I'll be trying stuff out in the games, and if anything interesting comes up I'll post it here.

Later today I should reach 50k hands since moving to Stars at the end of June. Kind of disappointed with the volume I've played so that's something I'll have to rectify. But I'll post results and some general thoughts on how I can improve and about the games in general.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Hand Analysis plus Thinking about Bluffing

Hand Analysis
Played a hand yesterday, and the river decision interested me. Here's the hand history, first:

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#67215616617

Hero ($27.40)
pacs9 ($24.75)
Zhelya ($9.65)
carpfish ($8.16)
Swings_LOL ($63.21)
Helgutsa ($19.84)
FlowerQ ($11.86)
WuFm ($14.50)
B1GF1SH_1 ($15.26)

Hero posts (SB) $0.10
pacs9 posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero Js Qc
fold, fold, fold, fold,
FlowerQ calls $0.25
WuFm calls $0.25
Hero raises to $1.25
pacs9 calls $1
FlowerQ calls $1
WuFm calls $1
FLOP ($5) Ac Jc 8c
Hero bets $3
pacs9 raises to $6
FlowerQ folds
WuFm folds
Hero calls $3

I decided to call this small raise with second pair plus second nut draw. With all of the broad way flush cards I can see, made opponent flush hands are rare so I thought I had enough equity to make the call.

TURN ($17) Ac Jc 8c Jh
Hero checks
pacs9 checks
RIVER ($17) Ac Jc 8c Jh 4s
Hero bets $9.50
pacs9 raises to $17.50 (AI)

Basically on the river I bet believing that he would have hands weaker than trips that would call a river bet. His style is pretty loose passive so I can discount many bluffs. Let's create a range of hands that he might play this way. I've gone for {JJ, 88, AJ, A8s, AdKc, AhKc, AsKc, KcJd, KcJh, KcJs, KcTc, Kc9c, Tc9c}. The outcome of this analysis is so critical on that range given, and I'm pretty sure that it's reasonable. Without more reads on the opponent (I only had a few dozen hands on him) this seems fair. I'll assume he shoves on the river with flushes or better in this spot, and calls with all of the one pair and trips hands.

If he shoves over my bet and I feel pot stuck and decide to call the approx EV for betting is ~ -$0.70. So bet/calling is bad, but not a huge spew. If I can find a fold on the river despite getting 5-1 my EV improves to ~ $3.9. I think this is reasonable because I wouldn't expect any passive player at these stakes to ever bluff on that river.

If I decide to check instead and fold to a large bet (again assuming he'll check back his whole range except flushes or better) my EV is ~ $6.4. So in this instance it looks like I was better off check folding on this river (because he'll check back hands weaker than mine and allow me to win at showdown some of the time). This is known as checking equity.

In the actual hand I bet expecting to get called by worse but when villain shoved I felt completely pot committed and called to see Kc9c. Of the three options I could have chosen, my equity from checking was the best followed by bet/folding. I picked the worst choice and therefore I suck!

But this has taught me a valuable lesson on the merits of checking in this kind of situation.

To Float or To Bluff?

Just recently I've made one or two flop bluff raises in situations where I think my hand had enough equity to just call instead. The prime example I can think of is when an opponent c-bet into a three way pot on a 456r and I had Ac7c with backdoor flush draw. Any trey, eight, club or ace improves my hand which is 11 outs and 8 half outs. At the time I saw all of the excellent turn cards and decided to raise the c-bet. Perhaps, though, it is more technically correct to just call instead.

Then again, there are many advantages to raising on the flop. We have a good semi bluffing hand - and my previous work on bluffing with equity shows it doesn't have to work very often to be profitable. If an out does not come in, we're better off in this situation because of the extra fold equity.

But yet at higher stakes, continually raising in these situations is going to allow opponents to 3-bet a high % of flop raises where we're then pot committed to felting ace high.

It's a dilemma to be sure, and fortunately for me I doubt I'll ever have to truly find an answer as the mid stakes games are a million worlds away from my current ones. Raising is likely best at the micros, so I'll persevere with that approach.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Table Selection FTW

Table selection is frowned upon by many players. In some respects I can sympathise, I actually enjoy playing against good players too. But in full ring games if you are relentlessly getting 3-bet, or if your blinds are consistently getting stolen it really eats into profit. This is why I tilt when it happens.

As part of my pre flop development I have built ranges that should be well defended against 3-betting. But unfortunately this is a defensive strategy and it just allows you to keep your share of the pre flop money. The real money is made from playing post flop, so I absolutely 100% believe that if you are forever getting 3-bet from the two positions to your left, you need a very big reason not to move tables. Similarly if there are aggressive stealers to your right.

A key component of playing poker well is avoiding tilt. I don't mind my blinds being stolen so much, but getting 3-bet a lot winds me up. From now on, my key table selection criteria is avoiding aggressive 3-bettors to my left.

Pretty happy with my play tonight despite having another losing session. I managed to get some sleep after work so played refreshed and at no point felt like I was tilting. I put my chat comment from yesterday entirely down to tiredness. When I'm tired I can still play reasonably well, but I tilt much more easily than normal. It also helped with the added table selection. Sitting at a bunch of tables with nits to my left who never 3-bet adds up to easy money tbh.

So far, then, during this down swing I've managed it pretty well. I've made technical mistakes in difficult spots, but I don't believe that I could have done much better to minimise losses so far. Each and every session that I come out of feeling that I played well is adding to my confidence. Long may it continue. GL

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Down Swing Begins

Two and a half buy-in losses for the session today; the last week and a half it's not been going so well. However I don't think I have played poorly, and so far I think I've restricted my losses to what I would have lost had I been playing well. In other words, I haven't gone on major tilt (yet).

I did tilt earlier just after losing two pots against whales where I'd got half of the money in good and they'd sucked out, at this point I typed 'fish' in the chat box and knew I had to sit out - which I did. I'm furious whenever anyone berates the bad players, and for a brief instant I lost my emotional control and did it myself. Disappointed with that but pleased that I sat out because I was calm when I began to play again.

So, the most important thing when going through a bad stretch is to keep control and make sure that all of the losses are as small as you can possibly make them. So to this end I'm going to table select very very carefully for the next few sessions until it comes around again. One thing that tilts me immensely is getting frequently 3-bet from the two or three positions to my immediate left. It just robs me of my profit and winds me up. So not only am I going to look for good tables, I'm also going to make sure that the 3 positions to my left are not aggressive players. I'm also going to watch my tilt very carefully and try not to play if I'm tired.

I'll let you know how I get on and if and when it begins to go well again. GL

Monday, 5 September 2011

Recent Sessions

Just quickly, I blogged that I was going to really try and play more carefully post flop; that is, bluff catch less often and bluff less often (except in obvious spots where we have good equity). The last five results I average going to showdown around 22% of the time, which is a step in the right direction in my opinion. 28% average over my sample leads me to believe that I was spewing by calling on rivers too often.

I will continue in this vain for the forseeable future and hopefully it will contribute to a healthy win rate! GL

Mistake Hand (but got lucky)

A few posts ago I put a little equation up for pot sized all-in bluffs with equity. Well I went back to the original EV equations and rearranged for a more general result. When risking r to win a reward w (the pot)and estimating your equity against his calling range to be q, then shoving is a profitable play if opponent folds x% of the time such that
x > (r*(1-2*q) - q*w)/(r*(1-2*q) + w*(1-q))
My maths isn't that great, so hopefully I haven't made errors in rearranging the sums but I've put some results in (including the pot sized bet numbers I had) and it seems to work so far.

What usually happens after I work things out and see how little villain's need to fold to make bluffs with equity work is that I play a session and try it out. And often until I get a proper feel for these things I make mistakes, and I think I made one yesterday.

Firstly villain was 18/17 and had raised 3/4 times from the small blind so far. He didn't seem completely retarded, but was over the top aggressive post flop imo.

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#67004399592

joshil3 ($23.70)
Hero ($29.10)
hfly0313 ($10)
Ragham87 ($52.97)
capa_audaz ($25.65)
CrisDark19 ($25)

joshil3 posts (SB) $0.10
Hero posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero Ac 2c
fold, fold, fold, fold, fold,
joshil3 raises to $0.75
Hero calls $0.50
FLOP ($1.50) 7h 3d 5c
joshil3 bets $1
Hero raises to $3.75
joshil3 raises to $8

Firstly I like the flop raise initially, I have a gut shot and back door flush draw plus in all probability any ace for outs giving me probably around 28% equity versus his calling range. When he re raises I just thought he'd be bluffing some of the time. The question is how often. Putting the numbers into my little equation (we risk $19 to win $13 with equity of ~28% against a calling range) and it comes out that he needs to fold a quarter of the time to make a shove profitable. At the time I estimated that I needed less folds, maybe 15-20% so I think I was being optimistic. I certainly believe he's bluffing some of the time here intending to fold, but perhaps not as often as 26%.

Hero raises to $28.35 (AI)
joshil3 calls $14.95 (AI)
TURN ($47.40) 7h 3d 5c 9h
RIVER ($47.40) 7h 3d 5c 9h 4s
joshil3 shows Qs Qh
(Pre 68%, Flop 68.6%, Turn 84.1%)

Hero shows Ac 2c
(Pre 32%, Flop 31.4%, Turn 15.9%)

Hero wins $45.40

I get lucky and run above EV.

The important thing is that I'm still improving, and every time I start to try out new things it takes me a while (and a few mistakes) to get it right. But this work is part of a general strategy to become a little less passive and a little more aggressive so that when I reach the higher limits I'm a more difficult opponent.

What this also goes to show is that in general, if you're only betting/raising or barrelling post flop with hands that have some sort of equity against a calling range it's never likely to be a big mistake. Doing so without equity is a lot more difficult to get right. Consider the hand from last time where opponent barrels off with JJ on an AQ3Q. He had two outs on that turn so needed me to fold nearly half of the time to make it work. Perhaps this is true, but it's generally a big ask on that sort of board at this limit.

EDIT: Just ran a simulation of this hand and the fold % requirement seems a little higher at about 30%, perhaps there's an error in the equation. It's not far out though, I will re work the next time I have some time off (next weekend) and check it.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Interesting (if brutal) Session

Right, got a couple of hand histories to fit in here. I thought I played reasonably well, and somehow managed to come out break even. I guess that's how soft the games are on Stars. I'll exclude one hand where I sucked out on the turn with AQ; opponent was very aggressive so I 3-bet his flop raise (on an Axx rainbow) expecting to see weaker aces a lot and then I turned a Q when he actually had AK - oops!

Hand 1:

Villain is a 15/13 reg, with the quirks of playing passively post flop and also rarely folding to 3-bets.

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#66911735168

Hero ($43.16)
The Draytone ($25)
lokhed ($11.01)
aldor500 ($26.96)
edupoker13 ($11)
EggMayo ($35.54)

Hero posts (SB) $0.10
The Draytone posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero Kc Kh
fold, fold,
edupoker13 calls $0.25
EggMayo raises to $1
Hero raises to $2.75

I think I should have raised to $3 or $3.25, villain only folds to c-bets a fraction of the time so I certainly get more value by betting bigger preflop.

fold, fold,
EggMayo calls $1.75
FLOP ($6) Jh Kd 3s
Hero bets $2.85

I flop the utter nuts but forget that we are slightly deep and that half pot bets will no longer get us all in by the river. Additionally, given villain's post flop passiveness I think that I could easily have got more value here. I bet too little, and by some distance imo.

EggMayo calls $2.85
TURN ($11.70) Jh Kd 3s 6h
Hero checks

I think I made a mistake here; against a more aggressive villain then a turn check on this blank is pretty good against a positional float. I assumed he'd bet his whole range here and I'd be able to check raise, but he doesn't.

EggMayo checks
RIVER ($11.70) Jh Kd 3s 6h As
Hero bets $6.50
EggMayo raises to $29.94 (AI)

Puke splatters the keyboard, monitor and walls. Firstly, I immediately rule out JJ, 33 and 66 - I think he plays these hands much more aggressively before the river. At the time I called pretty quickly assuming that two pair hands would be in his range. If that is true (including AJ and AK in his preflop flatting range) then we easily have enough equity to call. However, given his overall passiveness I'm beginning to wonder if - stupid though this may sound - I should have folded. If he's just calling with AJ and only shipping AK then we no longer have enough equity to call (and I'm assuming 0% bluffs). The one thing going for me is that I don't thing any single player would fold this hand at this limit in this spot. But I honestly think that perhaps it's correct to do so... Meh.

Hero calls $23.44
EggMayo shows Ts Qh
(Pre 14%, Flop 25.9%, Turn 18.2%)

Hero shows Kc Kh
(Pre 86%, Flop 74.1%, Turn 81.8%)

EggMayo wins $69.58

Hand 2:

Villain is a reg playing 17/12, and he is pretty aggressive post flop.

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#66914620922

mrpoka112 ($33.03)
fps_fabio ($12.38)
world153 ($25)
pityesz901 ($23.50)
GiovannyTH ($4.33)
Hero ($30.94)
karimhk ($28.54)

mrpoka112 posts (SB) $0.10
fps_fabio posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero 3h 3d
fold, fold,
GiovannyTH calls $0.25
Hero raises to $1
fold, fold,
mrpoka112 calls $0.90
GiovannyTH calls $0.75
FLOP ($3.25) Ah 3s Qs
mrpoka112 checks
GiovannyTH checks
Hero bets $1.54
mrpoka112 calls $1.54
GiovannyTH folds
TURN ($6.33) Ah 3s Qs Qc
mrpoka112 checks
Hero bets $3.01
mrpoka112 raises to $8.75

I'm sure he's 3-betting aces and queens preflop. But something about the speed at which he called my bet on the flop and the lack of obvious bluffing hands on the turn really made me fear AQ. If he check raises another trip queen hand it's hard to see me bluff catching with many Ax hands, but I can't completely rule that sort of play out. At the time something was screaming AQ at me.

Hero calls $5.74
RIVER ($23.83) Ah 3s Qs Qc 7h
mrpoka112 bets $21.74 (AI)

At this point I very nearly folded (such a monsters under the bed nit). I quickly checked his post flop play and noticed that he'd been playing very aggressively on turns and rivers; as if he seemed to understand the concept of diminishing equity and turning hands into bluffs on later streets. Given this insight I made a crying call expecting to see the hand I feared. What he showed up with surprised me a lot. The fact that I was considering folding a set here would probably make a lot of players laugh. Meh, again.

Hero calls $19.65 (AI)
Hero shows 3h 3d
(Pre 19%, Flop 85.7%, Turn 90.9%)

mrpoka112 shows Jd Js
(Pre 81%, Flop 14.3%, Turn 9.1%)

Hero wins $61.13

GL all.

Accidental Slow Roll with Quads

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#66862721359

TaiJiang ($24.75)
JtotheBnr1 ($31.15)
MadMoses13 ($24.80)
knappebelg ($24.27)
~NK-228~ ($13.72)
Leonn_by ($10.13)
AcelessVoid ($29.04)
Me ($25)

TaiJiang posts (SB) $0.10
JtotheBnr1 posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Me Ac Ad
fold, fold,
~NK-228~ raises to $0.75
fold, fold,
Me raises to $2.50
fold, fold,
~NK-228~ calls $1.75
FLOP ($5.35) As Ah Qs
~NK-228~ bets $2.25
Me calls $2.25
TURN ($9.85) As Ah Qs Td
~NK-228~ bets $8.97 (AI)

At this point another couple of tables popped up and the decisions took me probably around 20 seconds or so; when I returned to this table the time bank had activated. I laughed at the time, but it's pretty rough when someone tank calls with quads. NK-288, I apologise for the unintentional slow roll.

Me calls $8.97
RIVER ($27.79) As Ah Qs Td 5c
~NK-228~ shows 6h 6d
(Pre 20%, Flop 0.0%, Turn 0.0%)

Me shows Ac Ad
(Pre 80%, Flop 100.0%, Turn 100.0%)

Me wins $26.43

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Vid Check Up; Increasing Tables; Stars' Deal Times etc

I hadn't watched any pro videos for a while; I like watching good players play as it often refocusses my strategy so today I watched the D_Smith 50NL series at Cardrunners (or at least the episodes so far).

One thing that I consistently do is go to showdown too often. I don't think it's a serious leak (prob around 3% higher than optimal) but it's a leak none the less. One thing that struck me about the video is that Duncan (EDIT: I should at least get the first name right!) was very careful post flop, and I did not see many attempts to bluff catch. If he makes a mistake it's usually only when deciding whether to bet or not (and therefore often only a small mistake if that). So I took extra care in my session this afternoon and really only put money in when I was quite sure. As a result there were no 'Oh God I could have saved myself a bet on that river' spots. I think that I can do better by making a potential small mistake by folding rather than a potential large mistake by calling in these spots and this is what I'll endeavour to do from now on.

The session this afternoon was played on 8 tables as opposed to my usual 6. I want to try and increase playing volume so this is a step I thought was going to be necessary eventually. I don't think it will effect my strategy as much as I'll gain from the increased volume although I'm getting close now. I think 10-12 would currently be my limit without there being serious degradation in my play. So eventually 12 tables is what I'll strive to play at once but for now I'll play 8.

This kind of links in with the Stars' changes to deal times. This is a great change in my opinion, it really felt like we were getting through more hands as a result, and my database confirms that over 2hrs I played 1100 hands and this is certainly more than I would have before. Nice work Poker Stars! I should easily be able to play 15-20k hands per week now.

I'll finish with a hand history. Villain is fairly loose aggressive, but the difference with this player is that I believe he is a reasonable hand reader (rare at this limit imo). He c-bets an insane amount of the time over my sample but I guess he believes he'll play turns better than his opponents. His under the gun range is pretty wide at 15% PFR.

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#66854740387

ikspert 34ru ($24.71)
Kobern ($10)
anaclaraaren ($25)
EduardoR9' ($27.50)
vladts ($14.15)
Moi ($40.07)
manyee ($10)
isaveflu ($9.91)

ikspert 34ru posts (SB) $0.10
Kobern posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Moi Js Ad
anaclaraaren raises to $0.88
fold, fold,
Moi calls $0.88
fold, fold, fold, fold,
FLOP ($2.11) Ks Qh 4c
anaclaraaren bets $1.40

I have no reason to believe he's c-betting any less than 100% of his range on this board. That's a range that has every pocket pair and most broadways. I'm representing a pretty narrow range by raising this flop, and at the time I almost folded. But I guessed that if I were to raise and if he were to 3-bet me, it would be a bluff pretty often. I figured he'd call with the top of his range in all likeliness at least some of the time.

Moi raises to $4.25
anaclaraaren raises to $8

So he does 3-bet, and as you can probably tell I'd already planned to shove over one. Basically my equity is probably around 15% (assuming he calls with one pair type hands - and he might not). So I need him to fold just 35% of the time or more for this to be profitable. It's probably pretty close but I'm fairly certain that this is true. It might be a thin bluff, but I think it's a profitable one.

Moi raises to $39.19 (AI)
anaclaraaren folds
Moi shows Js Ad

Moi wins $17.21

He folded rather quickly so in this instance, I think all of my thinking was correct. I wouldn't bluff for stacks like this very often.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Cash Plan

I almost jumped into some 50Nl today, but it still feels like I'm taking too big of a risk. There are a couple of things holding me back. 1/ I'm due a decent downswing. The last 10+ buy in depression seems some time ago now. 2/ My hand sample at 25Nl is still small on this site. I did mediocre at best in the Rush games at this limit, which is evidence that I'm just running well despite improving my game somewhat.

So what I'm going to do is wait until I've won enough to bring the bankroll to $2k and then I'll spend my whole time at the next limit. 40 buy ins is not enough to remove my risk of ruin, but I could endure a 20 BI downswing and only have lost half of the 'roll. This might sound a little nitty, but I'm not quite convinced by the numbers so far. I only need to win 16 buy-ins more. Meanwhile I'll continue to work on my game in preparation.

Just played a session that kind of vindicates this decision, made some horrible plays and also didn't notice an obvious bet sizing tell in one particular villain which meant I called with second pair on two seperate occasions on the river where the bet was nearly pot sized (a size he only ever used with a good hand during the session). I think overall I left about $15 on the table through mistakes, and I CANNOT afford to keep doing this. I'd been playing some really disciplined poker lately, but this session reminds me that I can still play really poorly sometimes.

If I hadn't made those obvious mistakes I'd have come out break even. Anyway I'll review the hands again tomorrow to double check that I'm not being too critical and try and remember similar spots so that I don't make the same mistakes again. GL

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Analysing Bluffs with Equity

I did some analysis today looking at bluffing at pots on the flop or turn with a pot sized bet left behind and with a variety of hands which will win some % of the time at showdown. I thought I'd share some of it with you, because it really shows how powerful bluffs with equity (also known as semi-bluffs) really are.

When bluffing with no chance of winning at showdown (a pure bluff) we risk a pot sized bet to win the pot so to break even on our bet our opponent must fold 50% of the time.
[risk/(risk + reward) => 1/(1+1) = 0.5] If he folds more often than that we obviously profit.

When bluffing with equity our break even point comes at x = -1/(3Eq - 2) {Eq = the equity of our hand versus villain's calling range}. To get this I just created the EV equation, set it equal to zero and rearranged for x which is the indifference point. If our hand has 25% equity then x = -1/(3*0.25 - 2) so we break even when our opponent folds just 20% of the time. This is a huge difference considering our hand only wins at showdown a quarter of the time villain calls. If our hand has 33% equity against villain's calling range (think flush or straight draws on the flop) then we should bet all-in every time because any time villain folds we profit, and when he doesn't we own too big of a share of that pot to fold.

To demonstrate with a graph, the following shows our indifference points for a given equity between 0 and 50%.

Any time our indifference point is greater than 1 betting all-in is mandatory.

In conclusion, I hope it's easy to see that in a situation where your opponent will fold some of the time and you have a pot sized bet left semi - bluffs are usually very profitable.

Hand Analysis, River Mistake

I sometimes tend to look too much at mistakes I make in hands that I lose, but in this instance I made a mistake in a hand that I ended up winning.

A little history on the villain; he'd been playing like a maniac. Like a 50% vp$ip and PFR of 30%. On two occasions I'd called preflop with a middle pair and been blown off of my hand by the river by his aggressive bet sizing on boards with over cards.

{Moi is not my screen name :P}

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#66620504943

Vinni9711 ($28.65)
lccxjcxj ($33.26)
dominicmn ($16.80)
Kusker ($5.15)
pipiop ($44.62)
Moi ($25)
Rockstarhobb ($12.88)
SK717 ($26.96)
slscoelho ($10.99)

Vinni9711 posts (SB) $0.10
lccxjcxj posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Moi Kc Qc
fold, fold,
pipiop raises to $1
Moi raises to $3

There are hardly ever any instances where I'd 3-bet KQs for value against an early position raiser (especially from middle position), but this is definitely one of them. He wasn't folding preflop once he'd put money in so I can get called by tons of weaker stuff, plus it allows me to create a more favourable stack to pot ratio in case I flop something worthwhile.

fold, fold, fold, fold, fold,
pipiop calls $2
FLOP ($6.35) 4s Ks 3h
pipiop checks
Moi bets $3.50
pipiop calls $3.50
TURN ($13.35) 4s Ks 3h 4c
pipiop bets $3.25

This is where my thinking got a little screwed. I'd so rarely raise top pair good kicker on a board like this and I think I just auto pilot called using the usual logic (don't want to fold out his bluffs, not called by weaker often enough). But the truth is I think I get called by plenty of stuff that's weaker. I think I need to raise this turn and then jam/call a jam on any river.

Moi calls $3.25
RIVER ($19.85) 4s Ks 3h 4c 6s
pipiop bets $4.25
Moi calls $4.25

So if the turn was a mistake, not shoving this river was too. Yes there are certainly flushes, trips and weird two pairs and straights in his range. But there are more combos of random king pair weaker kickers I think. Not shoving this river probably cost me about $7 (~60% * $11).

pipiop shows Kd 7c
(Pre 25%, Flop 15.6%, Turn 14.8%)

Moi shows Kc Qc
(Pre 75%, Flop 84.4%, Turn 85.2%)

Moi wins $26.99

This is the sort of situation I've found myself in a couple of times lately. Spots where opponents' range is very wide and I've not been sure if there's enough weaker combinations of hands that would call a raise for it to be worthwhile. I'm leaving money on the table and that doesn't make me happy :).

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Recent Play

I haven't started playing the $15s yet, I need to improve my daily schedule so that I don't waste so much playing time. I've played some cash the last couple of days which has gone so so, made some mistakes as per usual.

Tonight though, I played some $7 9-man turbos to sound the games out. Initial thoughts are that they are definitely soft enough to be beatable for a decent clip. Unfortunately my ICM knowledge needs to improve a lot I think.

So I face a decision, whether to go back to cash and concentrate on improving enough to beat the small stakes games OR I take my decent cash game into the SNGs and spend a lot of time crunching ICM situations so that I play short stacks very well. I'm kind of torn. I love cash, post flop poker is more interesting than pre flop poker; but part of me has this urge to try and crush the 9 man SNGs as they were my first game. I think that hourly will likely be better in the 9 mans so that is another thing they have going for them. Or I could just continue to play a mix of both, constantly reviewing my overall play in cash games and learning ICM well for the SNGs. Yeah, perhaps that is the way to go?

At the end of the day, playing volume is key. I might well end up just returning to cash since it's the one format that I can just get on and play within what ever time constraints I find myself under. Plus there's no extra knowledge needed to play reasonably well. But if I challenged myself to get to a decent standard at the 9-mans then perhaps this would help my overall game if I should ever decide to enter tournaments. Anyway, I'm totally rambling tonight. That's four 4am alarms in a row for you. GL

Just played some more cash today, felt really good. Made a couple of folds on the river that I might not if I was playing my b-game... So was pleased with that. I'm going to play a session at 50NL tomorrow so I'll post the results of that here, hopefully it goes OK and I don't immediately drop a buy-in and have to move back down. Either way, from now on I'll be playing a mix of both limits and hopefully make 50 my permanent home before too long.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Just Research So Far

So I spent this afternoon finding out the excellent book 'kill everyone'. It has a very unfortunate name for a poker book, but I really believe it is the absolute best NLHE tournament book that has ever been written, period. All of the mathematics is covered and there's plenty of charts and data to demonstrate the theory.

So the first part of my foray into 9 man SNG was to get the book out and remind myself of a few of the risk/reward considerations when playing. I think I have to slightly adjust my previous assertion about strategy. I still believe that playing a semi loose strategy is the best way to go, but actually when starting a SNG we have slightly more risk than an absolute cash model but only somewhere around 1.23 (or 23% more risk in stacking off). {This number, known as 'bubble factor' is a ratio that represents the increased risk of losing your tournament life at that stage in the tournament. In a tournament doubling up does NOT double your equity in the game, so we have to be more careful in all-in pots}. Basically there's no reason why we cannot use our skill advantage post flop but we must be a little more cautious when putting chips in the middle. This will likely equate to betting less often on each street and being careful to call less often (in other words adjusting the pot odds using the bubble factor).

The next step is to begin to play games and study some of those situations. A long time ago I invested in the tool 'the SitnGo Wizard' which I have used in my tournament forays recently (remember the great run I had in the 90-man tournaments on Full Tilt that made me a few hundred quid? - SNGWiz played a big part in that). I feel pretty tired today so I don't think I'll play any games but I'll begin to put a few situations into the hand quiz on the tool and begin to attempt to get a feel for the push fold situations. Then all that's left is to play and learn, then play again.

I think at the micro stakes buy-ins (likely full of fish I'd guess) 10% should be a realistic goal for ROI. If I 6 table these games with an average running time of 30 mins that's 12 per hour so an hourly return of $12-$18 is possible if I play well. That's a better return than the cash games I was playing in, so if I can make it work it could be a better situation. Time will tell. GL

Monday, 22 August 2011

100 $15 9-Man SNGs

I just opened a couple of these tournaments up and the first couple of rounds everyone folded! I remember these games being nit fests back in the day, now they appear to be even tighter. Jesus, I know we have to be more careful about stacking off due to ICM but not THAT much more careful. I'm pretty sure that anyone going in with a semi loose aggressive strategy - as long as they play well post flop - could do really well in these games. Simply because they'd win so much preflop dead money before the bubble kicks in.

It really looks like too many players have adopted the 'play like a nit early on then play like a maniac on the bubble' strategy. This was sound back in the day when the games were full of fish that would never fold, but now that the games are full of nitty regulars I think ideal strategy should focus on getting a chip advantage early on through stealing blind money. I'd bet quite a large sum that the biggest winners in these games are playing a solid semi loose (or perhaps completely loose) aggressive cash strategy early game and winning a lot of dead money then playing good ICM on the bubble. This is what I intend to do.

So to the title of the post. I'm going to try out these tournaments the next few days. In fact I'm going to play 100 of them. IF they go OK (and it could well be a big if since I haven't played them for so long) then I may extend this stretch but we'll see.

I'll need to do two things:
1/ Dig out 'Kill Everyone' again, I can't find that book anywhere but I'll need to remind myself about some of the risk reward maths for these games
2/ Use SNGWiz to quiz myself on different situations.

My strategy is going to revolve around exploiting the players who are just waiting for the bubble by stealing a lot of blind money and then playing good ICM when I get to the bubble itself. As always, I'll post the results right here.

The Mistake Hand

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#66348451013

Im MrCharles ($35.63)
Djapko ($15.78)
raudtee(EST) ($26.73)
Hero ($33.30)
zkskogi3 ($10.35)
woodrow004 ($41.78)
unicornfarts ($25)
tom41k ($10)
ddrruugg ($25.25)

Im MrCharles posts (SB) $0.10
Djapko posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero 3s 3h
Hero raises to $0.75
fold, fold, fold, fold,
ddrruugg calls $0.75
fold, fold,
FLOP ($1.85) Js 7h 3d
Hero bets $1.14
ddrruugg calls $1.14
TURN ($4.13) Js 7h 3d 5c
Hero bets $3
ddrruugg raises to $8.50

I have to value bet the turn, but then things get nasty. My opponent is pretty aggressive, but I wouldn't say 'bad' aggressive. I'd expect him to bluff with hands that it makes sense to bluff with rather than turn AJ into a bluff here (as some players would). The problem is, what hands call the flop with equity and then turn into a bluff on a 5c turn? If it was me, I might have floated the flop with a gut shot straight draw plus back door flush draw intending to raise on any flush card or if a card paired me up and made the board dangerous or if my straight came in. In this instance something like 5s6s. But I can't assume my opponents would play any hands in this way at this limit. Much more likely is he'll call the flop with all jacks and sets, perhaps 88-TT and 78s, 67s. None of these hands raises the turn except sets. He'd have to be turning some of those pairs into bluffs and I just don't see it.

Hero calls $5.50
RIVER ($21.13) Js 7h 3d 5c 9d
Hero checks
ddrruugg bets $14.86 (AI)
Hero calls $14.86
ddrruugg shows Jh Jd
(Pre 81%, Flop 95.7%, Turn 97.7%)

Hero shows 3s 3h
(Pre 19%, Flop 4.3%, Turn 2.3%)

ddrruugg wins $48.85

All I have is a bluff catcher on that river. My hand has the same value as AA despite being a set. To call or not depends upon how often he is bluffing. Is he bluffing more than 29% of the time? - I'm almost certain that he is not. He might not be betting any bluffs on that river for all I know.

There's a concept that I've heard in the forums called something like reciprocity. Every poker player is faced with exactly the same situations. But by playing them better than your opponents you make more money than them. In this situation, at this limit, I doubt there are many players who would fold a set in this spot. Normally, I would but on this occasion I did not. I can kind of forgive myself knowing that I'm getting villain's stack every time I have the better set but I strive to be better than my competitors and so I'm very disappointed here.

Learning Something About KO Tournaments
I don't know if you remember me blogging earlier in the year when I played a bunch of KO tournaments using my default tournament strategy but didn't get on very well. Thanks to Collin Moshmann and his excellent article I now realise why. Like a proper school boy I had not figured the bounty equity into the ICM calculations. I was likely folding in tons of spots where I should have called with the extra bounty equity. I'll stay away from these tourneys in future.

9-Man SNG
Occasionally I stray from the cash format if I feel I'm getting stale. When I first started playing I used to play the 9-man single table tourneys. But I was terribad in them days; sure I did the ICM stuff pretty well but I was so scared at playing post flop poker I used to fold pretty much every hand until the bubble. Now that I've played so much cash and my post flop equity knowledge has improved a great deal, I think that I could do pretty well at these. I might give them a try for a few hundred games or so. I'm 'rolled for the $15 turbos and if I can achieve $1.5 profit per game then perhaps I can make a quick $1500 by tearing through 1000 games as quickly as possible. I'll play a few this week to sound them out. GL

Sunday, 21 August 2011

So So Poker

Just played a couple of hours, really felt I played well except for two pots. One where I stacked off with AKs in a situation where I could possibly have found a fold but ran into AA and another where I couldn't let go of my bottom set on a dryish board against a semi aggressive opponent. I think I should have found a fold on the turn because there wasn't really many hands that could float the flop with equity and then turn into a bluff on the turn (which is where the raise came).

So I'm really disappointed. I could have played a perfect session but ruined it with two pretty large mistakes. Sigh. This is why I'll never be a poker great. I still (and probably always will) make too many mistakes! GL

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


Things continue to go reasonably well, although they've slowed a little the last 5k hands or so. However, I'm still making tons of mistakes and I'm certain that I'm running well over my true win rate so I'm expecting a large down swing any time now. But before that happens I thought I'd post my graph before it's ruined (lol). In fact, after a few sessions that haven't gone so well lately I've braced myself for the inevitable but then next session it's gone great again.

What this has led to is a sustained period of bankroll growth and as I touched upon last time, I'm at my threshold for moving up to $50NL. This is pretty good timing. If I can continue to run well for the next month of play at that limit I'll get great value from the platinum star status that I recently earned during the VIP club promo. If I don't, well at least the added rake back will help to soften the blow!

I'll play a full day tomorrow. If it goes well I'll have a sample of hands for $50NL. If not, I'll have a ton of tilt influenced garbage that I can post on here for amusement purposes. The thing I love about this game is that I have absolutely no idea what will happen. I just believe that in the long run my strategy is better than break even at this limit (but I could be wrong). GL

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Hero Calls on the River

Well I've created some filters for this specific situation in my database so that I can monitor how I'm getting on. I've felt just lately that I might have been spewing a little in these spots, especially when I hero call with weak pairs and ace high.

I think it's very important to stress that in situations where you're hero calling on the river, you should be losing money in these hands on average. [ Edit: I need to emphasise that this is for the hand overall, not the street we're playing. In a vacuum our river calls should be making us money. ] This might appear to be a really dumb thing to say but let me explain.

When we face a river bet it's almost always less than a pot sized bet. That means that in general we only need to be correct around a third of the time (and often less if villain bets small). In these instances if we were playing perfectly and calling exactly the correct % of the time given our pot odds then we'd actually be losing money overall because we'd be winning at showdown only around a third of the time. That doesn't mean that the river call was unprofitable, the effect of playing the river well in this situation is to minimise the losses from the hand. Folding too much or calling too much would lead to even bigger losses.

If anyone is reading this and thinks I'm mad, let me know in the comments and I'll do an example that demonstrates this concept.

Hero Calls with Top Pair or an Over Pair

In situations where I have top pair or better and hero call on the river, I'm winning at showdown a little over half of the time at the moment. This could mean that I'm folding a little too often on the river with a good hand, but I don't in general fold hands like this facing a river bet. I think it's more likely that my opponents are betting too much junk into this range come the river. Perhaps I'm not raising the river enough with these hands too?

Hero Calls with Weak Pairs

This is where things get a little more interesting. I'm winning at showdown in these spots around a third of the time so it looks like I'm doing a mixture of calling and folding and (so far) winning at around the right sort of %. If this number was to move sharply in one direction or the other I think I'd have a clear leak, but it looks like I'm doing OK.

Hero Calls with High Cards

Here it looks like I may have a problem. I'm only winning at showdown around 20% of the time when I call on the river with high cards. For this to be OK our opponent needs to be betting a third of a pot sized bet or less on average. Looking through my database this is actually generally true, so perhaps I'm not spewing here as much as I thought.

So far I've been doing OK in the hero calls stakes but I need to be very careful in these situations that I don't start giving money away. My sample sizes are very small at the moment but now that I'm more aware of what numbers I should be looking for, I should be able to spot a leak should one develop.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Still Running Well

I'm closing in on my target for 50NL. Just two buy-ins away now, although I've had such a strong heater lately that I expect to have a pretty big down swing at some stage soon. The positive thing is that I'm winning so much when I see the flop. This means that the more common down swings should hopefully be less pronounced than I was used to at the 'other' site (perhaps 8-9 buy-ins rather than 12-14). I'm prepared for it when it happens.

Today went well, I made some mistakes for sure but I don't think any of them were huge ones. A couple of thin ace high calls versus loose aggressive players that didn't work out; I always find those spots difficult because I will usually always assign them enough 'junk' that the calls should be profitable but perhaps I'm being too optimistic. Overall though, my opponents are making many more mistakes than me. But I won't rest on my laurels, I'm actively reviewing every session now using poker stove and HEM and it's helping me to estimate equity better.

If there's one area that I worry about a little, it's that my 3-bet % has converged on around 3.8% and I think I must be missing out on some profitable spots. I'd expect closer to 5% to be more optimal so I'll look to improve my strategy in this regard. It could be that I'm just flatting some hands that opponents are 3-betting where the equity between both decisions is close. For example I expect most of my opponents to be 3-betting AK and QQ versus EP and MP opens, whereas I will usually flat with those hands. Perhaps I'm better served by 3-betting them?

The reason I flat them is because against an early position show down range of {QQ+, AK} then the only hands that can be felted for value (that is taken to showdown with more than 50% equity) are KK+. However, if an opponent is capable of 4-bet bluffing some of the time then 3-betting and calling the 4-bet with AK and QQ becomes fine. It's also fine if villain doesn't like folding. I'll keep an open mind about this and blog again in future.

So it could be that in the coming week I begin to take my first bow at 50NL full ring. I think it would be naive to 6 table (as I do currently at this limit) so I'll begin by four tabling and will keep a very close eye on my balance and make sure I move down if I drop below the threshold. So I expect I'll be playing a mix of the two limits for a while if and when I get there. GL