Hello all, welcome to my online poker blog.

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

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

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

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

Monday, 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

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Coming Back Strongly

So Sunday I played pretty awfully, but I took a break for a day or so and since then I think I've played very very well. There was a single instance tonight where I foolishly auto bet 2/3 pot in a spot where villain's calling range was totally inelastic (I should have ridiculously over bet shoved for sure) but that's about all I can think of. I made a couple of pretty big lay downs and got great value from my made hands.

The last 25k hands or so I've been on a huge heater. I don't want to put too big of a negative slant on my results because I think I'm certainly beating this limit for a decent clip, but I don't honestly think my current win rate is sustainable (for me at least). Still, I'm thoroughly enjoying going to showdown and winning some nice pots. I've said it before and I'll reiterate - at 25NL the Stars' games are as juicy as a pint on a Saturday night. I'm looking forward to moving up because I wouldn't expect a massive difference at the next limit. Some more good players for sure, but not a big improvement in the playing skill.

If (and it's obviously a big if) I see the same indicators at the next limit that the games are very beatable then I may take a risk and go straight to 100NL. I have disposable income at the moment, and also a little money saved away. If I combined all of this I definitely have enough bankroll to play that limit without a large risk of ruin, and if I don't move up then I'm potentially hurting my earnings in the long run. But plenty more hands to play before I need to make that sort of decision so I'll post again about that in the future.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Tonight, I Was Crap.

Played really really poorly tonight. I made a few mistakes but somehow came out break even. I should really have won another buy-in or more if I'd found the folds/calls/bets where I believe I should have. Pretty tilting to be fair, and I'll do a more thorough analysis in the morning. I'm just lucky that these Stars' games are so forgiving because I still won plenty of pots despite my mistakes.

So yeah, tomorrow I'll write some more and possibly post some of my terrible play. I think I need to continue to do a lot of post flop equity work because while I think that I pick value spots fairly well I'm still a pretty awful bluffer.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Quick Update

Experiencing a good little heater at the moment. It appears that my showdown winnings are correcting a little towards numbers that I'd expect to be more realistic for this limit. If this good stretch continues then I'll soon reach my 50NL threshold for moving up which is pretty cool. I'm not going to rest on my laurels though as I still have tons of room for improvement.

I'm not quite ready to post my results so far since moving to Stars, I'll do so once I get to 50k hands or so.

Hand versus Regular

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#65614413988

getnavi ($39.66)
Hero ($25)
Big_Jayyy10 ($29.01)
NomaNesca ($33.46)
loslokosP ($9.65)
reyjeff ($49.40)
jayc24062406 ($25)
iDdQd88 ($11.25)
GoldAngel77 ($23.72)

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

Dealt to Hero Qs Kc
fold, fold, fold, fold, fold,
fold, fold,
getnavi raises to $0.75
Hero calls $0.50
FLOP ($1.50) 2h 3h 8c
getnavi bets $1.07
Hero calls $1.07

This might seem like a pretty thin call, but getnavi steals half of the time in the small blind so there's likely to be plenty of junk in his range that I beat. If he's betting his entire range on the flop (not an unreasonable assumption to assign an aggressive player in a heads-up pot) then my equity according to pokerstove is 40%.

TURN ($3.64) 2h 3h 8c Qd
getnavi checks
Hero bets $2.50
getnavi raises to $8.01

Ouch. The turn card is obviously awesome for my hand so it's a clear value bet. When he check raises I'm not liking my hand so much. But there were a couple of things on my side. First, he's played very aggressively over the small sample of hands that I have so I certainly believe he can bluff this spot. Secondly this seems like a very strange way to play any value hand. Taking a turn check raise line on a dry board where I'm often checking back hands with good showdown value (99-JJ, 98, T8, A8 etc) looks designed to push out my random floats. I'm pretty sure he'd just keep betting if he had the top of his range. Lastly was the bet timing. Everything was super fast; he didn't seem to be considering his options but was following a premeditated plan. All of these things combined made this a snap call.

Hero calls $5.51
RIVER ($19.66) 2h 3h 8c Qd Ts
getnavi bets $29.83 (AI)
Hero calls $15.17 (AI)

I actually tanked and took a little longer with this decision than I should have really. I just wanted to make sure my reasoning was sound. On the river he bet all-in very quickly, following my earlier read about premeditation. At this point I think he's got the nuts or nothing. Let's assume first that he really is doing this with his value hands too so a range like {QQ+, 88, 33-22}; he needs at least 12 combos of bluffs for me to be able to call profitably and I think this is 100% true. Plus I don't actually believe he'd play all (if any) of his value hands this way either. I made a meal of an easy decision really didn't I?

getnavi shows 5c As
(Pre 58%, Flop 79.1%, Turn 15.9%)

Hero shows Qs Kc
(Pre 42%, Flop 20.9%, Turn 84.1%)

Hero wins $48

Confirming my earlier assertion that I felt there were enough combinations of bluffs in villain's range to call, there are exactly 12 combos of A5o. Against getnavi I will be stacking off super light from now on.

Four Betting Parameters

The Rush games were super nitty for getting all-in preflop. I think over 200k hands or so the vast majority of the time I saw the money going in was with {KK+}. These Stars' games are a different story completely. I'm now totally happy stacking with AK and QQ facing a 3-bet which is great because it means that I don't have to create bluff heavy 4-bet ranges. I can just get the money in with the top 20% of my range, no problem and this makes things much easier. One villain 5-bet bluffed me with KJo yesterday. I don't have a problem with him using that hand as a bluff but it means I can felt {99+, AQ} all day and all week long.

Right, I will probably play some cash later and maybe some tournaments too. Perhaps I can bink a couple hundred $ or something. Mind you, I've won the last 5 sessions so I'm expecting to drop a buy-in or two pretty soon. GL

Friday, 5 August 2011

NLHE Blind vs. Blind: A Unique Situation

A good deal of my time at the moment is being spent working on this situation. It should be a battle that I look forward to, as I can utilise my skill advantage over the majority of my opponents and look to claw some valuable blind money back. Unfortunately so far in my poker career, I've tended to continue to use the 'play less in the blinds' philosophy even in this unique spot. When it is folded to me in the small blind I'm only opening 39% of the time. I think that this should be more like half of the time. Similarly in the big blind I'm playing only 38% of hands facing a raise and I should be playing a lot more than this given my positional advantage.

I'm hoping that by playing more hands in this situation I can improve my losses from the blinds which at the moment continues to be a concern.

Small Blind Opening Range

Given that the big blind has a random hand, I think it is reasonable that I should open any hand that has greater than 50% equity versus a random hand. Using HoldemViewer gives me the following range that has better than 50% equity versus a random hand.

It turns out that this works out at 49.3% which seems a very reasonable standard stealing range when it's folded to me in the small blind. In order to defend against liberal 3-bettors I need to be comfortable felting 18% of this range (and of course bluffing a further 12% so we're 4-betting 30% of the time in total). The top 18% of my opening range looks something like {AT+, 66+} which again seems fine. I could alter this strategy by mixing in a calling range too, but according to Matthew Janda at Cardrunners in situations where we're out of position it's likely to be optimal (or close to it) to 4-bet or fold and this feels intuitively correct. Incidentally I must credit some of the maths in this post to the quoted instructor, in my opinion anything he ever posts/produces is gold.

Big Blind Playing Range

When facing a pot sized small blind open, the pot odds we are getting works out at 35%. We are in position which likely gives us a little extra equity. That means that facing the above opening range (rarely likely to be this loose) I can probably call with almost any two cards. Since we are playing heads-up in position then even against a very tight 10% open I can likely play somewhere around half of the hands in the deck. I've settled on the following (60.5%) as a standard range for playing in the big blind facing a small blind steal.

Against a very tight raiser (<15%) I can fold a few of the marginals and against a liberal stealer I can widen this range considerably. As far as 3-betting is concerned I'm pretty sure I can felt something like {TT+, AK} and use some of the lower off suit kings and queens as my bluffing balance hands.


I will trial the new strategy over the next couple of hundred thousand hands. As a big disclaimer, I don't intend this post to be instructional. If anyone get's something out of it, fine. But it's primarily just a post describing how I'm trying to improve my own play in blind versus blind situations. I expect much of my reasoning to be sound but I could be way off; take anything from this post with a big pinch of salt. GL

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Multi-tabling vs Improvement

Just played a session 9 tabling and did OK but there were a few spots where the rush of decisions caused me to make a small mistake. I have decided for a while to reign in and concentrate on 6 at a time. This seems to be the ideal number for me where I have plenty of time to think things through and where I'd likely be playing as well as if I were only playing one table at a time.

The reason I'm doing this is that I feel that I'm still developing my preflop game and until I'm settled on a strategy that is pretty well memorised then it's better if I play less tables. For example one area that I'm currently developing is my play in the big blind facing a small blind steal. This is a situation where we're getting great pot odds and we have position post flop so even facing a tight range we can play a huge % of hands profitably. At the moment I only play around 38% of hands and I should be playing around 60% on average in my opinion.

The down side to this is that I play less hands per hour. However until I have a good sample of hands (100k+) with a win rate that I feel is large enough to manage the few extra mistakes I'm likely to make, it feels like this the right approach.

So how long do I think this preflop strategy work will take? Well I feel like I've covered most situations in my equity + pot odds work now so I think I'm nearly there. As soon as I feel that I have a good intuitive 'feel' for what the ranges look like in different situations and my win rate is looking healthy then I'll begin to increase the number of tables. But I doubt that will happen before Christmas at least.

Won a really nice pot this afternoon, I'll put it up. Not much to say other than the limper was really passive so I felt that I could call the flop all-in raise from the big blind player plus the over-call and easily see two cards to draw to my flush when the turn was checked through 99% of the time. When I hit my ace - also due to the limper's calling station tendencies - I felt it was a really easy value shove.

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#65514426573

Hero ($29.19)
Fosca1 ($9.87)
pito4ka ($9.65)
QQcik ($25.22)
GaryHolmec ($30.71)
ps9bobo ($25.35)
lizf001 ($14.21)
pitti7 ($25)
URRICANE4219 ($27.57)

Hero posts (SB) $0.10
Fosca1 posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero 3c Ac
fold, fold, fold, fold, fold,
URRICANE4219 calls $0.25
Hero raises to $1
Fosca1 calls $0.75
URRICANE4219 calls $0.75
FLOP ($3) 6s 9c Tc
Hero bets $1.85
Fosca1 raises to $8.87 (AI)
URRICANE4219 calls $8.87
Hero calls $7.02
TURN ($29.61) 6s 9c Tc As
Hero bets $19.32 (AI)
URRICANE4219 calls $17.70 (AI)
RIVER ($65.01) 6s 9c Tc As Jh
URRICANE4219 shows Kd Td
(Pre 38%, Flop 51.8%, Turn 9.5%)

Hero shows 3c Ac
(Pre 46%, Flop 40.0%, Turn 85.7%)

Fosca1 shows 6c Kc
(Pre 17%, Flop 8.3%, Turn 4.8%)

Hero wins $63.01

Game of Skill? + Other Stuff

French Tribunal Ruling

In my opinion it is essential for the long term future of NLHE that it is recognised as a game of skill rather than chance. This is only a single court ruling that may well be overturned by the Supreme Court. But this article gives me optimism that given the correct presentation of evidence, the message can get through to the people that matter. UK Gov, I hope you are listening.

So the cash games on Stars are even juicier at the moment; the VIP club promotion seems to be drawing in the recreational players trying to earn their 'Platinum Star' badge. For this month at least, I expect it to get a little easier to go to showdown with the best hand.

As far as my results go, I had a short down swing which has now corrected; the long and short of it is that I've made no more money over the last 6k hands or so. My red line, or the money I win without seeing a show down remains break even after 21k hands. This has surprised me to be honest but it kind of makes sense now that I've had chance to digest it. I'm raising more hands and therefore stand to win more dead money on average, both preflop when I win the blinds and post flop when I win the loose passive limp money by c-betting. The flip side is that I go to showdown with a weaker range than before which should hurt my showdown winnings a little. So my profitability is going to come down to getting the showdown winnings rising as steeply as possible.

Yesterday I made two mistakes that affected my showdown curve. It's critical that I make as few as possible and this is what I'll be focussing on for the foreseeable future. Here are the hands:

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#65475513084

Hero ($25.60)
mudzin85 ($25)
2_Twink_2 ($25.35)
Strannik rus ($9.95)
kalmuka ($40.93)

Hero posts (SB) $0.10
mudzin85 posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero 5d Ad
Strannik rus raises to $0.50
Hero calls $0.40

Good pot odds with a playable hand versus an erratic player.

FLOP ($1.25) 2c Td As
Hero checks
Strannik rus bets $0.25
Hero raises to $0.75
Strannik rus calls $0.50

I decided to raise small to get his tens to call. If I raise much more his tens will begin to fold some of the time and I'd be value cutting myself versus better aces.

TURN ($2.75) 2c Td As Ah
Hero checks

Now that my fold equity has sky rocketed (unless he has another ace) I think I have to let him bluff with what ever his range is. If I check raise this causes problems because I don't think I'd get called by worse. So I have to check call.

Strannik rus bets $0.50
Hero calls $0.50
RIVER ($3.75) 2c Td As Ah 9s
Hero checks
Strannik rus bets $3.57

At this stage I neglected to notice that my opponent only had around $4 left. Convinced that I was facing either a complete bluff (that would fold to any raise) or a hand better than my own I quickly called. However, with so little money left behind I'm certain that he'd have called some % of the time with his Tx and 9x hands. For this reason I'm pretty sure I missed out on clear value by not raising all in in this spot.

Hero calls $3.57
Strannik rus shows Kh 9h
(Pre 42%, Flop 2.9%, Turn 0.0%)

Hero shows 5d Ad
(Pre 58%, Flop 97.1%, Turn 100.0%)

Hero wins $10.36

OK that was likely a pretty small mistake in the grand scheme of things, the next hand was a bigger error.

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#65475102488

Hero ($25)
patiq12 ($19.14)
Maladou_89 ($22.74)
dipolis ($21.82)
zickzack73 ($23.25)
cuba7676 ($16.11)
registr24 ($22.40)

Hero posts (SB) $0.10
patiq12 posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to Hero Th Qd
fold, fold, fold, fold, fold,
Hero raises to $0.75
patiq12 calls $0.50
FLOP ($1.50) 8s Td 9d
Hero bets $0.92
patiq12 calls $0.92
TURN ($3.34) 8s Td 9d 6c
Hero bets $2
patiq12 calls $2
RIVER ($7.34) 8s Td 9d 6c Qs

This river brings up the concept of relative hand strength. All play so far in the hand is standard in my opinion, betting my hand for value against ranges that include draws. The river card gives me two pair. It also completes the vast bulk of my opponent's draws. So while my absolute hand strength has improved, all I have on this river is a bluff catcher: My river two pair is weaker than my turn top pair good kicker. So I'm definitely 100% checking this river. The question is whether to call a bet or not.

Hero checks
patiq12 bets $5.75

There are 16 combinations of KJ and 16 combinations of AJ my opponent could have. Given the pot odds my hand must be good 30.5% of the time. So I need to put at least 14 combinations of bluffs in villain's river betting range to call. My opponent was pretty passive, and I can't think of enough missed flush draws that might bet here. In my opinion this is a clear fold. In reality though, I called.

Hero calls $5.75
Hero shows Th Qd
(Pre 39%, Flop 65.7%, Turn 77.3%)

patiq12 shows Js Ah
(Pre 61%, Flop 34.3%, Turn 22.7%)

patiq12 wins $17.92

Going to play a mix of cash and tournaments this afternoon. Hopefully I can play well and win some $.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Poker Stars' VIP Club Promotion

Wow, there were TONS of games going on tonight; the reason must surely be the August VIP club promotion that they've just announced. I will very probably be a Platinum Star by the end of the month as a result of it and this should offer me a great opportunity to earn good rake back for a few weeks. I'm going to have to grind as much as I can for a while, but this is not a problem since I'm really enjoying the game at the moment and feel like I'm playing well despite some mediocre results.

I was looking through the VIP store, and I think the best use for my FPPs is the Amazon UK £50 gift certificates. Using the current exchange rate it is much better value than the cash bonuses. I buy tons of stuff off of Amazon so it would be a really good way to cash in my FPPs IMO. Every time I purchase one I could deposit £50 in my account so that it is equivalent to rake back.

I mentioned last night that I found it hard to calculate stack size ratios sometimes when playing tournaments, well I just realised that there's a HUD stat in Hold'em Manager that will calculate it for me so that will help me out tons on those nights where I decide to play MTTs instead of cash games. Awesome!

Right so I'm going to be playing tons of hands the next few weeks so expect a LOT of posts in here. GL