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.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Hand Reading

An area of the game where I believe I am getting better. I think I played the following hand pretty well, if you disagree please comment as I'm not an expert.

Quickly about the hand, opponent was a very loose aggressive player. Given that I'd expect him to reraise QQ preflop every single time and sometimes the lower pockets as well, I figured that unless he was making a very thin value check raise with a queen (that I considered unlikely) then he was bluffing almost all of the time. I was planning to shove on ANY SINGLE TURN CARD. The queen was the dream card for me really, as my play looked exactly like queen x kicker. I may have got a hero call on a few other turns, but despite this I think shoving our entire range on the turn versus this type of villain is going to show higher expectation than folding to the second barrel.

Quick note... I was trying to find two other check raise pots that I thought were interesting, one I played well and one I totally butchered but I can't find them. I'll search them out tomorrow and finish this post then; my eyes are heavy and I need sleep!

To Be Continued...........

Quick Update

Things going OK. Overall win rate is now 1.2 BB/100 and according to the EV line should be around 2, which is pretty good for an amateur player in today's games. I have been introducing a little bit more flexibility back into my play; for a while I was being very specific with picking out hands to raise or check raise or double barrel. Instead I'm focussing on villain's range more, and using a wider array of hands to bluff with. Not overdoing it, but injecting a few more percent of aggression into my style. I'll dig out some examples from recent play in a future post but I'm very happy with my game at the moment. I have got the red line shrinking just a little less as a result of the added aggression and this should help my winrate to stay at a good clip. I haven't played as many hands as I wanted this week, which is a shame. But I'll try and at least do a minimum of 10k hands per week - a target that I have maintained since the start of the year. GL

Saturday, 19 February 2011

A Road to Higher Limits

So things seem to have picked up the last few sessions, people have decided to start giving me money when I have the nuts which is quite nice. Example earlier... Some lovely chap decided to check raise me and 5 bet all-in with KK when I have T8 on 976. SWEET!

Right, I'm convinced that I am beating this limit pretty comfortably now. Taking my expected winnings as a guideline (noob mistake I know) I should be 24 buy-ins to the good. So what I'm going to do is up my minimum hands per week to 15k from now on and then I'll move to $0.25/$0.50 (providing I'm still doing well) at 200k hands. I'm currently at 65000 so that means I have 9 weeks to go until I can say hi to a new limit and some better players. I'm also going to start protecting my bankroll somewhat and I'll cash out some of the money I have in Full Tilt at the moment and keep it in a fast access savings account so that I can redeposit quickly if needed. I do not take money out of my bankroll currently (I'll be unable to use the savings money for personal use, only poker). This is a deliberate policy to enable my 'roll to grow as quickly as possible.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

To Bet or Not to Bet?

When I first started playing on-line poker, c-betting was all the rage. So I mimicked this habit and was probably betting around 100% of flops. Needless to say I did terribly. First came the epiphany that c-bets rarely worked in multi-way pots and so I adjusted to a value heavy range in those spots (or what I used to perceive as a value heavy range). In the middle of last year after watching a few videos and mucking about with EV software a little I started to understand the difference between value betting and bluffing a lot more. But this started causing me a problem, should we be betting JJ on a Q94r when the vast majority of times we are called we are beaten?

The last few months I have been polarizing my range on the flop. That is, I would c-bet my air (usually with some sort of equity) and also my big hands. I would check my mediocre hands (example above). This has been a moderately succesful approach for me, as most villains at this stake will play very straightforwardly giving me easy decisions on later streets. But if I begin to start playing against good hand readers (and this is my ambition obviously when I move up stakes) this approach is going to do dreadfully. I now think (despite it's disadvantages) that c-betting the whole of your continuing range plus bluffs (a merged range) on the flop is a better approach.

Firstly, if we check and call a hand like JJ on a Q94r against a decent player then we will likely face multiple barrels since our hand is face up at this point. So it's unclear whether that play will show a positive expectation. But against the vast majority of players c-betting on that board will definitely show positive EV no matter what our hand is. So it's a case of choosing the most reliable option. [Credit must go to Citizenwind for this point which he explained in one of the YouTube videos]. The second point is that once we begin to play two distinct subsets of hands in a different way in one spot we must face the problem of trying to balance those ranges so that we're not completely transparent.

This is probably all really obvious but I think that this approach will serve me better in the long run than my current one.

My double barrel frequency has never been as high as I'd have liked. I generally choose to continuation bet bluff on the flop with hands with equity and I have been reserving the double barrels for times when my equity has improved (i.e. a flush or straight draw turns). But this still puts my double barrel frequency at around 40% and I'd like it to be closer to 50%. But picking the right cards to bet again on is not easy and an area that I must do more work on in the next few weeks. I think generally I'm just going to double barrel if I think that I can get a decent amount of folds no matter my cards. Over time I should learn which are the better spots by experience.

GL at the tables.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

I currently suck balls at poker.

And added to this I'm running badly, I've updated the graph to include all-in EV and I'm 11 buy-ins below expected winnings now this year. Fortunately though I have a week off and will use this opportunity to do maybe 2-3 hours per day of work on my game. It's certainly leak ridden and I intend to fix a couple of them by next weekend. GL!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Study Week

Hey, I'm not intending to play tonight; I just feel too tired and would tilt/spew. I may not play tomorrow either as I have Valentines stuff to do. However, I'm three thousand hands up on my weekly target and I can play 3k or so on Saturday.

Following this week I have a week off and amongst other things I intend to do a lot of work on my poker game. There are a few recent Cardrunners videos that I think will help me to achieve this. I'll try and break the day into a couple of hours of study and follow it with a couple of hours (minimum) of play. I believe there is tons of room in my game to get better. In particular there are loads of betting lines that I use as standard where I think that they are not necessarily optimal. A big example I can think of is blind defence where I check call the flop after hitting << something >> and then check the turn. With my value hands in a spot where a lot of opponents will check back a lot of their range it is much better to lead (or donk). This is a line that I saw Markuis use in Heads-Up poker last year and I've no idea why I have not utilised it more. The kind of players that will raise a turn lead here are likely to be a very small minority and the few that are capable of bluff raising here I should have tagged as tough reg already. But this is just one example of a spot that I think I could improve my expectation in. I'm thoroughly looking forward to the next part of my journey. GL!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Link and Quick Update

Citizenwind (Alvin Lau) teaches poker on Youtube
Hey, I've mentioned this before but just to reiterate... CW is not working for Cardrunners any more but is still putting out videos via Youtube. Having watched a few of them, they are not for beginners. To understand the concepts he talks about will need a lot of reading and research in books or on the twoplustwo poker forums (google search). HOWEVER, if you can learn the necessary language and concepts enough to understand these videos then they are pure gold. In my opinion, he thinks about the game on a very high level with a very sound knowledge of the maths involved. He's also giving out coaching free of charge in these vids. I have no idea why, but for God's sake if you want to improve at poker watch them! - I am. Repeatedly.

About my poker, I haven't updated the graph yet as out of time but it's still around the same profit marker after another few thousand hands. I am now running 9 buy-ins under expectation and really feel I'm doing pretty poorly at the moment. Still, I had these stretches at 10NL and so I'm just going to keep putting in the volume and hopefully I'll make some money :) GL all!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Rough(ish) stretch

Break even week, haven't lost a great deal but rather annoying as I had a couple of more big pots lost while a large favourite in the hand:

I think my game is coming on loads. The more hands I play the more things seem to make sense. Earlier today in a session I had a regular call in the BB and check raise me on the flop. Now, against most players I'm folding a vast majority of my range in that spot but this opponent had been mixing things up and playing pretty aggressively post flop to the extent that I'd tagged him a tough opponent. Against someone like this, then, you need to have a bluff catching range versus check raises. I had top pair medium kicker so I decided to call him down. He shut down on the river allowing me to check behind and sure enough he had ace high. Players like this are rare in 25NL FRR and a check raise is normally very strong. It's important to spot if you need a bluff catching range versus a villain or not. The same applies to positional raises. Some villains will always raise sets on draw heavy boards in position but play everything else super passively. You don't need a bluff catching range against this villain, any pair is a fold versus a raise in this situation.

So far my expected winnings at this limit is $500 and actual winnings around $350. But this is still around $12 an hour (inc rakeback) which is a very fine income for playing a game on the internet IMO. GL

Friday, 4 February 2011

Rush is Awesome.

Here is definitive proof, Marc Karam (hope the spelling is right) making $14500 IN A SINGLE DAY. Pretty awesome.

As far as my own game goes, I've started thinking about what would happen/ how depressed I'd be if online poker ever disappeared. There is a chance - maybe only a small one - that it could happen. So I really need to get up off my lazy backside and play as much as possible in case it does. So I'm going to begin to push myself a little harder to get through some more volume in the next few weeks. The sooner I can move up the better. GL

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Poor Session

So it looks like my heater my have ended now, had one of those sessions where I seemed to be running into the top end of villains' ranges all of the time. Insane the number of times I was played back at post flop. To top it off I flopped the nut straight, managed to get the money in on the turn versus top two pair and lose to the four outer on the river. I then think I played around 1000 hands straight away without a break and was beginning to tilt; I made two or three particularly suspicious tilt-induced river calls which probably cost me the best part of a buy-in too. Disappointed I let it affect me in this way I'm usually pretty good but I was tired and so it was bound to be negative if things didn't go my way.

I have decided to do some more work on my game. I should easily get enough time to do this and still maintain the 10k hands per week. Specifically I'll be looking at improving my red line a little by 3-betting more often and also focussing on my blind play. I'm also going to be studying the recent Rush video content released on Cardrunners and Youtube (Citizenwind) closely. I feel that my post flop play (when I'm playing well) is pretty good. But I need to refine certain elements of my strategy. Just a few smallish leaks that should move my win rate up above 2 ptbb/100 for the first time.