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, 30 April 2011

35k hands into new database

I'll post a graph at 50k but things are going well so far. I have only run slightly under EV so hopefully that's the run bad over (as far as all-in pots go). Win rate is good. Obviously I'm not getting through that many hands at the moment which is a concern. But I've been sorting tons of things out lately and I owe it to myself to spend some serious hours playing over the next few weeks. I cannot make a consistent return from poker unless I put in some volume and I resolve to do this from here on.

The work I did on my game has allowed me to step up aggression in a few spots which has had a positive effect. There are still a few leaks I have, I think that I'm defending flops too widely. I've noticed some regs are hardly c-betting me any more, but this is good because when ever they check I just assume the pot is mine. I'm four-betting more too, there are a few players who 3-bet way too much at this limit. Against someone who folds too much this is fine, but I'm pretty pleased that my strategy now has a balanced range to fight back with.

So overall my strategy is more aggressive and a little more balanced - in other words I think I have a few less leaks than before and hopefully this will make my win rate more consistent over time. The cost of this increase in aggression is a little bit of showdown money but I think that it is worth it to have a more effective strategy. I'll continue to update as I work to improve my preflop game and become a consistent uNL and SSNL winner.

Full Tilt poker are to release a statement this week regarding the return of player's funds. There is a lot of negative speculation on forums that the lack of any communication is a sign of the worse. However, I remain optimistic that things will return to normal and players will be able to once again deposit, withdraw and enjoy the games on the site. If things do go belly up then I can always go over to pokerstars who seem to be liquid enough to fund cashout requests. It's not that big of a deal to me losing the money that is currently in Full Tilt, it would hurt for sure but luckily I cashed out 2/3 of my bankroll before the Black Friday events and so most of my winnings for the last year are secure. I'll continue to play there unless there is some very bad news. I'd miss the Rush games a lot if it were to happen, which is why I have every finger crossed that things will work out OK. GL at the tables

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Shot taking

Hey, well I've decided I'm going to begin the transition to $50NL from now by mixing in some sessions two tabling the higher limit on days where I feel good and confident. I haven't got enough data to say for sure that I'm beating the current limit but I think it's time that I had a go. A couple of players (Citizenwind and Verneer) have said that a winning strategy at 25NL = a winning strategy at 50NL so hopefully the games will not seem to play very differently. If I can beat the games then the potential hourly could be as much as $20-$30 which would be a nice second income. This is of course all speculation and I'm realistic enough to know that I'll need to keep working on my game to reach this goal.

Depending on how it goes to begin with, I may finish playing 25NL after another 20k hands or so. I think that I need to try and move up the limits more quickly than I am currently - bringing my hand requirement down to 100k as a winner maybe. Because it's affecting my earning potential. Anyway, gl all.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Thoughts and Study

Hey, well when I logged in to Full Tilt just now I was offered a $50 bonus including ring game tickets and there has also been a press release assuring US players that their funds will be returned. I see these things as being hugely positive; a company that is struggling would surely not be able to do these things. It's possible that the bonus offer is the last throw of the dice, but I don't think so. So my initial pessimism seems to be unfounded. Losing the US players is certainly a blow for poker, but it appears that the game will not disappear from the internet and this is great news for me :) (much happiness).

This week I have not played much, I have had a busy few days in my job and also was waiting on developments at the sites. However I have spent a few hours watching the Janda flop play videos over at Cardrunners. I'm currently making detailed notes and learning the theory off by heart. My goal - as I've said before - is to create a very fundamentally sound preflop and postflop strategy based upon game theory ideas. While I still need to learn loads of the preflop ranges (instead of having charts sat around my desk, lol) I wanted to watch the flop play videos too. My next step is to learn all the preflop stuff by heart, and then analyse tons and tons of flops - maybe 20-30 per day before playing - so that merely looking at one will tell me what I should be doing with my hand. Whether or not I take that action will obviously depend upon my opponent.

Anyway, thought I'd blog quickly about my poker activities this week. I feel that I'm very close to being a rather good small stakes player. I'm really excited about poker and what I could learn in the next few weeks. I also have a week off coming up so I will consolidate my knowledge, learn the ranges and then all that's left is volume. 70k hands before I move to 50NL. GL

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Poker World has Changed

So, last night after a few beers I posted on here. After reading again this morning I thought I'd take it down as much of it was written while I was pretty emotional. Just a couple of things:

Firstly, I have great sympathy for all of the players affected by this ludicrous action. I truly hope that this is resolved as quickly as possible for the sake of you and your families. I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to be robbed of your income by a nanny state obsessed with controlling how you must spend your money. Good luck to all of you over the next few months.

A few posters that I respect are calling for calm. I think this is correct. It could be that in a few months things resolve for the benefit of everyone, and this is my hope. I'm personally grateful that both PokerStars and Full Tilt remain open for business to me - based in the UK - but I'd rather be facing a player pool that contains the whole market instead of one that has been robbed of a large proportion of the best players. I suspect that I will do better without the US players. But then, what motivation do I have to continue learning and striving for improvement?

I enjoy playing the American players and look forward to playing again in a climate in which they are again involved in the poker games; I look forward to playing again in a world where poker is recognised as a fun social skilful game. One where players of any nationality can join in. GL all

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Cutting out the FPS (again)

Hey, another day and a chance to think things through. Whenever I go through a good run of hands I get very confident; in fact I get over confident. I start believing that I somehow have a right to win every pot. Which is obviously a ridiculous and dangerous mindset to have. Here are the facts:

1/ My databases consistently show that I win around 46% - 47% of the time when I see a flop. I think at the micro stakes this is a good number. But notice - this is less than half of the time!

2/ My database consistently shows that when I see a showdown I win around 52% of the time. Again from experience and reading forums this is pretty good. Maybe even a little low - possibly as a result of my slight calling station tendencies. I've always cited suspiciousness as a flaw in my personality and it carries over into poker. Anyway the point is that this is only slightly more than half of the time!

I think this may be the second post I've made about this if I recall, but I think it's worth reiterating. So after running well for a while I've contracted what the message boards know as fancy play syndrome (FPS). But poker at the micros is all about big fat value. Betting when you have the goods and bluffing aggressively when the pot is small to create the illusion that you're also bluffing when the pot is large. This is how to win at these stakes, and for a minute there I lost myself.

Until higher stakes I'm just going to start giving check raises (previous post) a lot more credit. Yes they're often full of crap - but I'm then forced to play a large pot with the potential to make a big mistake. Check raises are probably the least faced move at 25NL full ring rush. It's probably only happened like twice in the last twenty thousand hands or something. Folding to them will not make a jot of difference to my win rate and will prevent me making the sort of mistake that I did yesterday. Right, I must play some hands. GL

Monday, 11 April 2011

Tonight I sucked... BIG TIME

I can't remember a time in recent memory when I think I've played quite so fishily. I was BAD. I'm spotting a pattern here too, I played tonight out of necessity because I want the free buy-in that Full Tilt are offering with the Take 2 promotion and a requirement is to earn 50 playing points on 9/10 days. However when I play after a long day with an 8pm finish I always play poorly. So this is the last time I do it - with the exception of further take 2 promos.

So, here I am outing my horrible play for the WORLD to see.
I'm a fish example ONE:
NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#29821721102

ChrizT ($9.75)
Jiggystyler ($25.89)
David Schlager ($26.79)
hjelmedl ($21.65)
stoney4201982 ($24.75)
Hero ($25)
ilpadr1no ($14.46)
New_Cortez ($9)
ullid34 ($30)

ChrizT posts (SB) $0.10
Jiggystyler posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero Jh Jc
fold, fold, fold,
Hero raises to $0.75
ilpadr1no raises to $1.75
fold, fold, fold, fold,
Hero calls $1
FLOP ($3.85) 8c Tc 6h
Hero checks
ilpadr1no bets $1.75
Hero calls $1.75
TURN ($7.35) 8c Tc 6h Qc
Hero checks
ilpadr1no bets $3
Hero calls $3
RIVER ($13.35) 8c Tc 6h Qc Qs
Hero checks
ilpadr1no bets $7.96 (AI)
Hero calls $7.96
Hero shows Jh Jc
(Pre 19%, Flop 15.9%, Turn 31.8%)

ilpadr1no shows Ah Ad
(Pre 81%, Flop 84.1%, Turn 68.2%)

ilpadr1no wins $27.81

Right my opponent had been playing and reraising tons of hands and I thought he could easily be reraising preflop with a range wide enough to bluff catch with JJ. Flop is great for my hand given the range I'd assigned preflop and so calling the c-bet is OK. But as soon as he fired turn and river my calls become much more dubious. The river queen meant that there were less combinations of better pairs than mine and trips or quads is very unlikely. So essentially I thought that I was either up against AA, KK or complete garbage. But I should probably have weighted it heavily enough to those two hands that the fold was mandatory. Also the hand sample I had was pretty small and so I should also have given him more credit than I did.
Mistake: Trusting my HUD stats without a large enough sample of hands

I'm a fish example TWO:
NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#29821433265

Hejkosport ($60.54)
liondani ($25.44)
PokerEsel ($15)
arsabg01 ($25.45)
DVolodya7 ($36.18)
Hero ($25)
Grand Ravin ($22.11)
MEgBEDb ($42.95)
slam878 ($25)

Hejkosport posts (SB) $0.10
liondani posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero Qs Ks
fold, fold, fold,
Hero raises to $0.75
fold, fold, fold, fold,
liondani calls $0.50
FLOP ($1.60) 4h 7d Js
liondani checks
Hero bets $1
liondani raises to $2.53
Hero calls $1.53
TURN ($6.66) 4h 7d Js 3s
liondani bets $3.66
Hero calls $3.66
RIVER ($13.98) 4h 7d Js 3s 7s
liondani bets $18.50 (AI)
Hero calls $18.06 (AI)
Hero shows Qs Ks
(Pre 46%, Flop 5.9%, Turn 15.9%)

liondani shows Jc Jd
(Pre 54%, Flop 94.1%, Turn 84.1%)

liondani wins $47.60

I played this hand terribly. Now, against the sort of aggressive villain who is calling reasonably often in the blinds I don't mind the flop call so much because most players will check call with a set on this dry uncoordinated board. So in a situation when a player such as that check raises, it's very often a bluff heavy range so making a float play is fine. But THIS opponent had given NO evidence of those traits. I let suspicion get the better of me. So the flop call is bad, the turn call is fine given the tons of implied odds I was getting at the time. The river call is AWFUL. Wow, the more I look at the hand the worse it looks.... This is a great example of how NOT to play NLHE.
Mistake: Making the decision to play poker tonight.

I'm a WHALE:
NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#29822332209

Vova Vard ($9.55)
Wahoo_JJ ($25.35)
Hero ($28.80)
11Cart ($26.64)
Salesman2010 ($30.27)
tobi812 ($22.98)
Tigg666gger ($84.20)
josh1881 ($21.26)
Bulldogao ($9.78)

Vova Vard posts (SB) $0.10
Wahoo_JJ posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero Qc Kc
Hero raises to $0.75
11Cart calls $0.75
Salesman2010 calls $0.75
fold, fold, fold, fold, fold,
FLOP ($2.60) As 2c Ac
Hero bets $1.50
11Cart folds
Salesman2010 raises to $3
Hero calls $1.50
TURN ($8.60) As 2c Ac 7d
Hero checks
Salesman2010 bets $1.50
Hero calls $1.50
RIVER ($11.60) As 2c Ac 7d Jc
Hero bets $9.30
Salesman2010 raises to $25.02 (AI)
Hero calls $14.25 (AI)
Hero shows Qc Kc
(Pre 42%, Flop 24.7%, Turn 15.9%)

Salesman2010 shows Ad Jd
(Pre 58%, Flop 75.3%, Turn 84.1%)

Salesman2010 wins $55.77

Actually, I think technically this wasn't too terrible; my opponent was betting so small on the flop and turn it just looked exactly like a trips hand trying to get value from a large part of my range. So I definitely had the odds to draw to my flush. When it comes in, and knowing that AJ is the only hand I should be scared of betting big makes a lot of sense. I don't think he'd ever fold AK or AQ on that river. When he shoves though, calling becomes a case of whether he'd ever do that with AK trying to get value from weaker aces. A better player might do, but at these stakes I think any trips hand would just call my bet. In that case, even given how much money was in the pot - I think folding was the best play on the river. Although it's not a huge mistake in the long run since he'll call with weaker trips hands a ton of the time on that river in my opinion.

Anyway, long post and rant over. I must play better. These $15-$25 pots make a huge difference and I think a better player would prob be $50 better off tonight. GL

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The Next Step Part 3

Hi, I'm really enjoying this rebuilding work and I'm learning a lot about preflop hand ranges. However I've come to the conclusion that creating a new preflop strategy is going to be a slow process. I have so many different ranges swimming around my head at the moment it's a little over whelming.

The first part of the new strategy for me to learn is the opening ranges for each position. To begin with I'm going to play a four-bet or fold range defence and gradually add in calling ranges over time. The advantage to this is that I'll be defending my ranges enough against liberal 3-bettors while keeping the initiative in the pots. The disadvantage is that I'll be turning hands into bluffs where they'd realise more EV by calling. Of course range defence is only necessary where opponents are 3-betting too often. But there are a few regs who certainly are and up until now I've only been playing back with KK+ which means they can reraise profitably with any two cards. I cannot allow this to continue and the new ranges are designed with a polarized four bet range and a good frequency of value hands to bluff hands.

I'm also going to start playing a wider range of hands in the blinds versus a steal. I currently fold almost 90% of the time to a steal attempt which is unbelievably tight and certainly a leak. The Janda video series on preflop play has a blind defence range of around 17% of hands which has about 12% 3-bet and the rest calls versus a standard button steal. I intend to adopt this range to begin with and I'm hoping it should bring my fold to steal % down towards 85% which must be better.

Finally I'll create a strategy for playing versus a single raiser as this should be a spot where I'm 3-betting more often than I am currently. I think I'm missing out on a lot of dead money - especially in games where it's so rare to see anyone showdown less than kings preflop.

I'm not sure how interesting these posts are but this will be the last one for a while on this strategy work. I think it will take me a few weeks until I'm happy but I'm going to be back at the tables now as there's a new Take 2 promotion on Full Tilt and I want my free buy-in!

So my quest for a super solid preflop strategy is a work in progress, but when I finally get there I anticipate an improvement in my win rate. Probably not a significant one, but I'll be earning more with a little less variance which is certainly a goal worth the effort. GL at the tables!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Next Step 2

Last blog post I spoke about a video series over at Cardrunners that used to be up on Stox poker by a theorist called Matthew Janda. He has released several series now and in my humble opinion they are world class. Maths oriented maybe, but very important for understanding range based concepts. Anyway, the preflop material is no less awesome than the other videos I have watched in the last year. Get a subscription if you want to improve - I have no affiliation and gain nothing by this plug.

Some of the leaks that are now glaringly obvious in my game:
- I do not defend my opening ranges enough versus 3-bets (kind of knew this anyway but didn't realise quite how much I should have been playing back versus the aggro regs who have been exploiting me)
- Knowing how much an opener must defend his range and also that 99% of players at the micros do not defend enough means that I'm not 3-betting nearly enough from each and every position - 3-betting prints money!
- I'm playing way too nittily in the blinds versus loose CO and button opens
This is not all, but I think these three are the biggest. These things may not make much sense but it's all explained in the videos I plugged earlier if curiosity gets the better of you.

I don't think I'm going to play any hands until Sunday. I'm going to use the time I have between now and then to begin to reconstruct my preflop strategy using my new knowledge. I anticipate that these changes - much like a change in swing in golf or a bowling action in cricket - will take time to get used to. Given that post flop play is crucial I'm likely to suffer in win rate at first because I'll be playing more hands without the initiative. However, in the long run I think I'll have built a much stronger sturdier preflop strategy; one that should cope with the increased aggression that I'll surely face once I get to the higher limits. I'm really excited about poker again, for the first time in a few months. Like a kid with a new toy. GL!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

The Next Step....

I'm going to spend some time studying over the next few days. Matthew Janda created a video series on playing optimally preflop and on the flop. These vids look very detailed and I think they will teach me a great deal about playing poker and hopefully improve my win rate ready for my move to $50NL FR which should happen in the summer.

I think the most important thing for any poker player to do is become super proficient at preflop and flop play. A poker strategy can be thought of as a very large and complex decision tree with each branch having an expected value and probability. It should be obvious that the EV at the very top of the tree (preflop and flop play) has a much larger bearing on the global profitability of the strategy than the branches at the bottom. I intend to refine my preflop play to such a degree that I will not have to adjust a great deal from now on as I move up the limits.

Poker is going well at the moment, I'll hopefully do 10k hands this week as hours and things have returned to some normality now. GL