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.

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.