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, 1 November 2012

Welcome back FTP!

I will be honest, I never ever thought I'd see the day.

FTP is back! Thank you Poker Stars you legends!

My $1.2k balance and 96k FTP points are restored, and I've just paired my account with the Stars one so that I can have liquid cash movement between the platforms depending on my mood. 

Can't believe I'm so happy about this, but it's really weird using the old software again. I love Stars but opening FTP back up is like meeting back up with an old friend who I haven't seen for years. 

Good luck at the tables!


So I've played a few hands there now and I think I may move back. I don't want to sound sour because it's been great playing on Stars, but I think that I'll get a better rake back deal on FTP. I don't think it would take too much work to maintain Platinum Edge status, which amounts to 20%. Plus you get FTPs so combined I think I could get about 25% rakeback on FTP compared to probably under 20% on Stars. At the end of the day, I'm only talking a handful of dollars but if anyone has read my previous post on compound interest you'll know that these small numbers can make a big difference over time.

In order to make this easier, I may actually move to 100NL. I will likely need work on my game to become a winner there, but I doubt that there is too much difference between that limit and 50NL plus the better rake  and rake back will probably enable me to at least break even until my game improves.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Savings and Compound Interest (Not a Poker Post)

I've been very foolish over the years when it comes to money. The number of pointless things that I've wasted it on is just unbelievable. This is just a short post encouraging anyone who reads not to make the same mistakes that I did.

Since I left school at 18 I've spent most of my time getting into debt and then repaying it; a cycle that I'm only just breaking.

Before I go any further, I'd like to draw your attention to a mathematics article that explains the value of saving and compound interest:

My girlfriend and I have begun to discuss mortgages. The problem is we have jack shit in savings so we are going to have to wait until such time that we can afford a deposit. If I hadn't been such a pleb when I was younger and had put up say, £1000 a year for the last ten then using the equation from the article I'd have about £12.5k (assuming I had invested wisely enough to get 4% interest on average), nearly enough to pay for a mortgage deposit. If I'd put up £2000 per year I'd now have £25k, more than enough.

And just to demonstrate how much my hapless spending may have cost me, consider the following two scenarios. 
1/ I started saving £2000 a year when I was 20, and managed to get 4% annual interest; and I continued until I retired at 70 (assuming retirement ages have risen by that stage). I'd have £317,547.53.

Note that only £100k of that is savings, the rest is compound interest!

2/ I started saving at 33 years old and put up £2000 a year and managed to get 4% annual interest; and I continued until I retired at 70. I'd have £169,940.67. About half of what I could have saved. 

These are very reasonable assumptions. I have probably cost myself a six figure sum in interest earnings through pure foolishness!

If you are in your early twenties, I encourage you not to fall into the same pitfalls of spending that I did and to try and invest for your future. If you are older like me, then we must make the best use of the time we have left. I estimate that I can still just about double my savings through compound interest in the remainder of my working life (providing interest rates climb again in the near future), and I'm going to strive hard to make sure I don't return to my old ways. Good luck!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Opportunity Knocks


I may have mentioned before but I'm currently studying accounting and I'm working in an accounting assistant position. The course that I've been doing thus far is the AAT certificate, and the plan had been to finish and then begin the ACCA chartered accountant training next year. However an opportunity has arisen and I might be starting with ACCA immediately.

If I do, and as a condition of the opportunity that I have been offered I will need to pass the exams in quite a short space of time. Maybe within 3 years. The down side of this is that for the next three years I'm going to have to work really hard. The up side is that I could probably expect to add 10k to my yearly earnings for the next 25 years or more if I qualify. So essentially the rewards are huge for this work investment.

The other down side is that those spare periods of time when I'd often play cards will likely be very few and far between. I will always enjoy playing and I'll strive to fit in the odd session but this post is mainly a message that blog posts are likely to be pretty rare from now on.

So that's where I'm heading, and I feel very lucky that in the current climate these opportunities are being presented to me. I always was a bit of a luck box.

This isn't the end, but until I blog again good luck!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Good Evening

Hi there.

I've played nearly 5k hands at 50NL Zoom so far and I feel like I've settled in now. In truth it plays very similarly to 25NL (or at least it has over that very small sample). There are plenty of fish, and a range of regulars from decent to terrible.

I played just two tables for a while, but have now increased it to four. I'm really pleased with how I've adjusted to the new limit. I began by making a couple of mistakes but now I feel that I'm playing as well as I was at 25NL. With the larger bet sizes I was concerned that the increased risk might make me play sub-par but that hasn't happened at all. Although I suppose it's easy when you flop quads in three bet pots.

So yeah, I've had a bit of a heater today. I dropped a handful of buy-ins in the first 3-4k hands but have more or less made that back now. It's obviously very early days and over the next few weeks I'll find out if I've really got what it takes to beat this limit too. Pleased so far though.

Among the changes I've made to my game recently is an effort to fold very marginal pre-flop spots rather than open raise, or to raise rather than call in places where the EV is close. I mentioned this a long time ago in the Rush days, but it's pointless wasting time in close to neutral EV spots because folding actually has some equity... This is hard to explain but the easiest way is that you could get dealt aces in the same time span that you just wasted raising QJo UTG and seeing three streets to showdown. Obviously this equity is offset somewhat by paying the blinds tax but I definitely think that the time factor should lead to a different style of play. I believe that it enhances fold equity; calling adds more time to the hand (on average) and therefore in close spots I believe that the more aggressive option should always be taken.

But this is just a belief, and I have no proof mathematical or otherwise. I just think that time should be a consideration when playing this format of poker.

Right, I think I've waffled enough. I'm shattered (who'd think that the weekend has finished?!) so I'm going to pop a tinny and head to bed. GL all!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Time for a Riskier Approach?

I've been thinking lately that it might be time to adjust my obscenely nitty bankroll strategy and bring a greater element of risk into my global poker strategy. If I include the money that is returning from Full Tilt's reopening then my 'roll stands at around $4000 and I'm still playing $25NL. 160 buy-ins seems very over the top to me for these limits. If you consider that I'd likely move down to 10NL if I ever dropped below $1k, this gives me a total of 220 buy-ins.


At one point (I'll admit it) I harboured ambitions of turning poker into a profession and leaving the world of real work behind. That was back when I earned less and had no real career to speak of. Now that I do have a fledgling career, and now that I'm undertaking professional training that may increase my earning capability beyond what poker can currently offer I don't think that I need to be so risk averse with my bankroll.

I also think that I'm ready for a bigger challenge. I think it is time that I tried conquering the small stakes limits.

How Much Risk?

Providing that I'm happy to move up and down limits (and I believe that I would be based on my history) then I wouldn't be taking on too much extra risk by moving to a mixture of 50NL and 100NL from now on.

I've also considered returning to HUSNG as returns in that field still look good. The problem is that I'd need a lot of game work to get my self into winning shape at that format. However the potential hourly would be better than I expect at cash despite it being my strongest area. I could perhaps begin at the $50s and see how I get on.

The long and short of it is that I feel that I should take slightly bigger risks in order to allow myself the potential for some bigger rewards. I'm happy to move back down limits if it doesn't go well. So wish me luck!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Progress (plus Zoom graph)

Hi there. Apols for the lack of recent blog updates, the new job and other life changes are not leaving me too much time for poker any more and when I do get a moment I prefer to use it playing! Never the less, I'm long over due a detailed post so I'll provide one in the near future.

The purpose of this was just to give a little update as to where I am with my game and my recent results. I've just come through a rather nice heater but that seems to have ended now (dropped 5 buy-ins yesterday). But I'm not bothered, the great thing about getting towards a million life time hands is that variance affects me less and less as I can just look at my life time graph and know that it is almost certain that I'm beating the micros - even though my win rate doesn't seem that impressive (a little under 3bb/100).

In general I feel like my game is improving a lot. The most recent progress I've made is to be cold calling less in the blinds; and by this I mean that in situations where it's probably close between a call and a 3-bet I'm tending to favour the 3-bet a little more - especially in the small blind. I think that this is the best approach even though in pure game theoretical terms it means I'm probably a little unbalanced. I'm also squeezing a lot more than I used to. I don't think I truly ever comprehended how profitable a play it can be and I'm certain it has got me winning more dead money.

I think that I've also improved my play in those situations where I do cold call out of position. I used to play the check/call/check line almost exclusively, but there are so much more effective lines available. Donking against players who rarely c-bet should be routine strategy but was never part of my arsenal before, and the check/call/donk line is perhaps the most under-rated line I've come across in my poker life time.

But I must also mention areas where I think I could improve. I've obviously worked on my OOP play quite a lot this year, but I don't make enough money on the button. My winnings hover around 22-23 bb/100 and I think that this number should be in the high twenties at least. So this is where I'm going to focus my study for the forseeable future. I'll work on my opening, 3-betting and flatting ranges as well as which boards smash my range versus blind callers (because I don't double barrel nearly often enough). If I can move this win rate up I think it will have a really positive affect on my game.

Finally, I deposited a little money in order to take advantage of the recent Stars bonus and so my bankroll is currently large enough to move to 50NL which is something that I haven't done yet. I'm working on clearing the bonus, which I'll best acheive four tabling 25NL Zoom in my opinion but as soon as it is cleared I'll be mixing in some 50NL tables and hopefully make that limit my new home by Christmas.

I hope you're all running well. GL


P.S. I've played over 100k hands at Zoom poker now, and I do believe it to be beatable (graph included). This isn't an especially brag worthy graph, but I think it's semi decent evidence to back up my claim.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Intriguing Hand

Apologies for no updates for a while, I've actually been playing quite a bit but just not got around to posting. I'm trying to clear the WCOOP bonus at the mo so I doubt I'll post much for a bit as I'll be busy playing but I thought I'd post an interesting hand. I actually time out folded on the river so unfortunately we'll never know what villain had.

NL Holdem $0.25(BB) Replayer Game#85795121236

mag2012P$ ($33.57)
Genius4832 ($27.53)
Recazy ($26.25)
Stolarr ($25)
BOGEC73 ($35.16)
BankoBet ($47.98)
Mr.KALABS ($38.07)
Szwejoslaw ($25)
Dzhigurda ($32.64)

mag2012P$ posts (SB) $0.10
Genius4832 posts (BB) $0.25

Dealt to BankoBet Qh  Th
fold, fold,
BOGEC73 calls $0.25
BankoBet raises to $1
Mr.KALABS calls $1
fold, fold, fold, fold, fold,
FLOP ($2.60) Js  Kc  As
BankoBet bets $1.75
Mr.KALABS calls $1.75
TURN ($6.10) Js  Kc  As  Qs
BankoBet bets $4
Mr.KALABS raises to $8.25

Villain's stats are 14/12/5. When he raised it really suprised me because I can't think of any hands that would do this... think about it. Villains with stats like those will not often call with much other than pairs and good broadways pre-flop. I think raising JJ here is too thin; I think he has to have a flush or maybe a straight (if he's not full of shit). But what flush hand calls in MP? KTs gives him the royal flush.... Maybe some weird suited connector? TT with a spade?

If he'd been a bigger fish I'd have called down but I just got the impression from his bet timing that he was really serious about his hand. I soooo wanted to call on the river, just because I couldn't think of hardly any hands that would play it this way.

BankoBet calls $4.25
RIVER ($22.60) Js  Kc  As  Qs  9c
BankoBet checks
Mr.KALABS bets $14.25
BankoBet folds
Mr.KALABS wins $21.58

Meh we'll never know. If his stats suddenly converge on 57/37 I'll be kicking myself.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Double Barrelling. Edited 27/08

Edit: I've been thinking further about this, and I think some things need clarifying and a more thorough and well written blog post should be provided and I'll do that in due course.

My main concern is that I didn't stress that the flop bet was negative EV. The turn bet was profitable which is what made the play +EV overall. Anyway I'll do a thorough post on double barrelling and update within the next fortnight. Hopefully that will make things much clearer. GL!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Good Evening

Hi there, apologies for the lack of an update for a while. I just haven't been playing.

Basically when I haven't been working or fulfilling other commitments I've been building a website for Dad who was made redundant recently. He wants to do freelance work if he can find it so I offered (perhaps unwisely) to do a site for him.

I did plenty of programming during my degree but hardly any in the 6 years since. I'm very rusty to say the least, even in the basic html/css. I had a lot of trouble over the weekend just trying to get the tabs to function properly. Some old code that I used in the past doesn't seem to work any more so I resorted to a simple jquery function and it seems to have finally done the job. Next I want to build in an email form and the ability for web visitors to download his portfolio so wish me luck. But I'm going to hold off on that for a bit; he's got a functioning website now and I really need to catch up with my accountancy study which I'm way behind on. Plus I'm missing playing poker!

On to poker then, and as I said I've hardly played recently. But I loaded up some full ring tables tonight and it went well. After playing 70-80k hands of Zoom I was surprised at how much softer the games seemed on the normal tables. I think I'll probably play a mixture from now on. It's a fine balance as it's dead easy to play 1000 hands per hour at Zoom, but I don't think my ability would net me much more than 1.5bb/100 in those games and I think that I could earn twice or even three times as much playing the normal tables. But then of course my volume suffers. Still, I enjoyed the session so I'll stick with it for a while. It's awesome being able to table select.

Right I feel like I'm rambling now but I wanted to post something. I'll likely get chance to play a few hands this week now that I've finished the web site project so I'll post again in the near future. GL

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Poker Stars buys Full Tilt Poker

Diamond Flush Poker News has all of the details.
NVG (2+2) has a lot of happy people.

Personally, I'm chuffed. I thought that I'd lost my money forever. It's not a life changing amount, but it is almost like another months salary. It will enable me to play the next limit comfortably (although whether I will or not I'm not sure, I think I'll play a little at 50NL but most of my hands at 25NL while I continue to leak fix).

To Poker Stars, I thank you. May the integrity that you continue to show bring you the rewards you obviously deserve.

To any other readers of this blog, if you EVER catch me playing somewhere other than Stars or Full Tilt in the future, then I deserve to be severely reprimanded.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Time is once again mine!

Good evening! From a negative post to a positive one! I passed my driving test yesterday with one minor, so all that hard work ended up paying off. It's such a relief that it's over, and all the stress was worth it for the elation I felt when told that I'd passed. And now that it's done, I've now got time free again! Which means poker.


It's great to be able to play again. To get in from work and have a free evening, or have a weekend day to myself without the need to spend 3 hours driving. It's also an amazing thing to be able to drive with the added freedom that I feel that I have now. It was worth all of the hassle for me.

I have put in a  few hours this week. I'm about 15k hands away from the 50k hand mark at 25NL Zoom. Once I've got there I'll put up my rather mediocre results and then perhaps consider moving to 50NL.

In an effort to improve my win rates, I've begun to consider taking some more creative lines to extract more value. One line I have taken once or twice is checking great hands out of position rather than auto c-bet. Nearly every regular at these limits - and many fish too - will just bet if checked to. Earlier today I flopped top set on an AT3r. This is the sort of flop that villains are going to fold on a ton when facing a c-bet. So in situations like this I can perhaps check to induce a bluff, then pick it off and lead the turn.

Rumours are flying around that Poker Stars have completed the purchase of Full Tilt Poker. I have no idea how credible these rumours are, but if it's true that would be a good result for all of those players who had funds trapped there (including my ~$1500). I'm not going to jump on the "OMGz Monopolisation..." bandwagon; at the end of the day whatever Stars' motivation is it looks like they're putting hands into their own pockets to return funds to the poker playing masses. Fair play.

Anyway I'm going to get back to the tables and play some more! GL

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

A Backseat Hobby

So little time to play lately. I had a few hands tonight, just because I wanted to play but I was so tired I made a stupid call with a straight when someone overbet shoved 10000000000000000000000000000 times pot with the obvious full house. I didn't even think about the awful risk - reward ratio, I just called "cos I got a pwetty straight".

Until I get more time to play (to make myself game sharp again) and until I don't feel so damn tired all of the time I might just cash out. And leave myself a few pennies to play with. It's just life isn't giving me much time to play poker any more, and without that constant grind I just get too rusty. My age probably affects it too; my mind needs to play often to keep my decision making sharp. Unfortunately I cannot do that currently and so I think I'm likely presently a losing player. So it's not worth the money investment and I'm better off spending my $1500 on something else.

I'll sleep on it though. I think that learning to drive is stressing me out because I'm approaching my test and doing 3hrs per day practise on top of my job. As soon as that weight is off my shoulders I may be able to give poker more time again.

But whatever, it's a pretty meagre message I'm giving out tonight. Apologies for that, and hopefully I'll be more positive in my next post. GL

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Quick update...

Just a quick post as I haven't done so for a while. New job is going well so far, I'm learning a lot. The thing is, if I progress down this route and gain qualifications and this job continues to go well then in a couple of years time I'll be in a great place. The down side is that a lot of my time is going to be used up with studying for accounting qualifications so my poker is going to suffer. I love the game and I'll never stop playing but I think that I'll just get a few hours to play per week from now on. On the other side of the coin, if my earnings increase then I'll be able to play higher stakes to challenge myself which I'm looking forward to.

As well as the new job and studying I'm learning to drive and have my test coming up in a months time. I'm so busy it's stressing me out. But once I begin to achieve these goals then my life will have taken a huge step forward compared to where I was at Christmas. My first target is to pass the driving test and get through my work probation period then I can relax and look forward to my September holiday.

As for poker, I'm mentoring a promising young player at the moment. I don't qualify as a coach as I'm hardly beating the games but I do know rather a lot about poker so I'm trying to pass on as much as I can. He's got a maths degree and seems to have an ability to learn quickly so I'm sure it will not be long before he's better than I am. It's amazing to see someone figure things out that took me much much longer.

Right I think that's it, a bit off topic from my usual posts. Unfortunately I think that this is how it's going to be for a while. Come September things should quieten and I'll get time back to play more poker. I can't wait! Until then though, I wish you good luck at the tables!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Improving My Understanding

Having a great month so far, it's great to wipe out a downswing and make a few buy-ins on top in just a few days of play. A while ago I wondered about the profitability of Zoom poker but I think that I'd just encountered some rough variance because at the moment it just seems like fish want to play pots with me.

I believe that I've managed to increase my winning margin by increasing my 3-betting frequency. Back when I played Rush poker on Full Tilt I had a small frequency, somewhere around 3%. The reason that it converged to such a small number is because I was actually using a specific range of bluff hands that balanced the value hands quite nicely. The problem with this approach though is that you ignore too many profitable spots. The opposite approach would be to 3-bet with a random hand any time you find yourself in a profitable spot. But I don't think this is optimal either because you'd end up re-raising too much in my opinion. The compromise that I've come to is to have a bluffing range of hands that include blockers and equity when called but it's much wider than the old set of hands that I used. The last few sessions on average I've 3-bet more like 5.5 - 6.0% of the time which has allowed me to win more dead money than before, perhaps as much as a bb/100 extra. Hopefully this will continue.

I've also corrected what I believe was an error in my thinking. When calculating hands that I can reasonably 3-bet for value I've always used absolute equity versus a calling range. What I hadn't been accounting for is future equity or skill equity. In other words say I've got ATs and a really loose fish has raised before me. My default play would have been to always call in the past, simply because even against the looser calling ranges AT is not usually an absolute favourite. But it doesn't need to be if I'm making that equity back on average by playing better post flop! So I could perhaps be re-raising hands with 45% equity for value in this spot. The recent change in thinking has had me 3-betting much thinner for value in the games as well as my extra bluffing so it has balanced itself nicely.

This month I've also faced a load of implied odds decisions and I've made a couple of mistakes so this has allowed me to refresh my knowledge of that side of things nicely. So many players at these limits don't size their bets large enough. They want to 'suck you in' and then when you are sucked in and suck out, they pay you off anyway. It's great!

Right, that post was quite technical and probably a little boring but I haven't put anything up for ages so I thought I would. Next post will be better, I promise. GL

Saturday, 2 June 2012

New job, plus working on my game.

Have been offered a new job in an accounts office so looking forward to getting stuck in. The hours and pay is better than I've ever had before, so as long as I don't mess up during probation my life should settle down again. I'm also working on an accounting qualification (AAT) and will probably go on and attempt to do a chartered accounting qualification too, which will be very very +EV if I manage to pull it off. Even if I don't I'll get tons of cool things to put on my CV.

As for poker, I've been working hard on my OOP play without the initiative. There are quite a few very good strategy posts up on twoplustwo that have been helping me a ton. Look here if you're interested.

A lot of my strategy playing in the blinds involves flatting pre-flop with the hands that are not good enough to 3-bet but are too good to fold (66-TT, AJ-AQ, KQo, ATs). Then I usually check-call pretty often on good boards, I very occasionally check raise bluff or for value and fold the rest of the time. It's a very passive mediocre way of playing. But I'll explain briefly why my strategy has evolved this way.

The check raise is a very strong move (from villain's perspective). In optimal play our strategy should be such that our opponent has equal expected value from calling down with his bluff catchers and folding. I'll not do the maths here but watch Matthew Janda videos at cardrunners.com if you'd like to know more. When we check raise and then bet turn and bet river it turns out that our opponent only needs to bluff catch optimally with a very small range. So as a result of this our actual value check-raise range is going to be very small too. So if we check-raise with any sort of high frequency (more than 30%, say) then our range is either vastly weighted towards bluffs or we're value cutting the bottom of our check-raise value range because there aren't enough weaker hands calling down to showdown. We obviously want some sort of check raise range but I'd imagine an optimal figure to be somewhere between 10 and 20%.

That leaves check - calling and donk betting. Donk betting or leading is something that I want to work into my game. Grabbing back initiative when our range is likely ahead of villains is going to be super profitable. The trouble is, on so many boards our line makes very little sense. Say we have JJ on A92r. If we ever have Ax or 99 or 22 here then I'll never ever be leading because it's far superior to let villain bluff with his entire range after we check to him. So if I'm never value bet leading here, then I can't realistically bluff (although I know that there are villains who will fold too much in these spots). If I'm the preflop raiser and someone donks on a board like this then I'm raising back 100% of the time for this reason. The ideal situation to donk bet is where we're facing someone who doesn't c-bet very often and we can then reasonably begin to think about value betting three streets with a fairly wide range. Like JJ on a T72 with a flush draw (against a button range, I'd be check-calling an UTG nit). This is something that I do not do enough but I'm working on it.

Lastly I come to my main move, the check-call. It's such a passive way of playing and it's the main reason that I have performed so badly in the past when cold calling in the blinds. The trouble is it's the move that makes the most sense the most often after the check-fold.

A practical solution? A line that I've begun to take regularly is the check-call-lead line. Going back to the example with JJ on the A92r. I'll never be donk betting that flop for the reasons I discussed, but I'll often want to bet the turn with a hand like AQ because I don't want villain to check back weaker hands that might call. So with a pretty wide check-call-lead value range I can now take this line as a bluff too. Whether JJ is the best hand to do this with is open to debate but we should certainly have a check-call-lead bluffing range. A little maths. Assume our hand has no equity at all, and we check call a 0.7PSB on the flop and lead the turn for 0.7*turn pot. Then our bluff must work more than 58% of the time to be profitable. But we'll nearly always have some equity when we make this play. It's my opinion that this is a very underused line but also a line that's very credible. A further benefit is that villains play very honestly against it. A turn raise is almost always the nuts. A turn call is almost always a capped range containing good pairs and draws.

So my OOP strategy is evolving. If I call pre-flop in the blinds in future I'll be looking to do one of four things. Against most regs who c-bet too much I'll immediately be planning a check-call-lead line or a check-raise depending on board texture and hand strength. I'll hardly ever check-call-check against these villains because with marginal hands it's probably at least as good to just check-fold. Slow playing absolute monsters in this way would be a good exploit though. Against a more passive opponent who doesn't c-bet very often I'll be donk-betting pretty wide both for value and as a bluff. I'm going to reserve the check-call-check line for monster hands or when I'm facing villains who play very one and done poker.

In the future I may return to this topic with some results from my database. It could turn out that the adjustment doesn't make a big difference to my OOP strategy, but I suspect that it will do nice things for my win rate. GL

Monday, 21 May 2012

Downswing Blues

I'm in the beginning throes of a downswing. I've been breaking even for the first few thousand hands at 25NL but now the common indicators of run bad are emerging.

It's funny how you subconsciously know you're running poorly. All of the terrible passive players start min raising frequently; the value bets start running into the top of villain's range every time - well you know how it is. You're poker players after all, just like me.

So far (touch wood) I've only made one large mistake when I stacked off versus an unknown player in a 3-bet pot with top pair top kicker. I believe that I was a little deep to just auto stack off (effective 140bb stacks), even against an unknown Zoom player. I think that in the vast majority of situations like that with those stack sizes and with his obvious bet sizing tells my hand was doing very poorly. I still fall into the trap sometimes of using anecdotes while I'm playing which leads to poor decisions. Things like "Oh, it's a 3-bet pot versus a random unknown. ALL-IN!" or "I can't fold, it's too da one!". But there were two clues that he might have had some knowledge of poker which were his stack size and also the bet sizing pattern which was very typical of a monster hand at these stakes.

By the way, on the subject of that "2/1, never fold" rule that I've seen in a lot of literature there are theoretical reasons against thinking opponents why it makes sense. But when a 60/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/ (that's pretty passive don't you think?) raises you on the river, even getting 4/1 it's probably a fold unless you've got a damn good hand yourself.

Anyway, apart from that big pot mistake, I made a couple of pretty nitty folds just now in my last session but I'm sure that it has saved me a buy-in or so. That's the difference between my play now and that of 600k hands ago. The extra experience has made me read situations better and I know for a fact that I lose less money in my downswings and make more when things go well.

I still have tons of leaks however. If I can get regular work again soon then I plan to make use of twoplustwo legend mpethybridge's database review service so that I can begin to fix my biggest leaks. But I want to be able to give him a decent hand sample first so I'll be putting in some volume in order to do so. I think 50k hands should be enough.

Right, I doubt I'll update for a while as my mood usually sours as downswings stretch on and I made a promise that I wouldn't go back to that sort of blog post. I'll try and hold to my word! GL

Friday, 18 May 2012

Some Insight on Big Blind Loss

I was doing some stats work and thought this information might be of use to someone. Sorry about all of the maths.

As part of my ongoing work on improving my blind play I decided to quickly deduce where the number comes from, and why my losses normally converge on somewhere around -52 bb/100 (which is terrible, imo).

Theoretically if I was to fold every single big blind (including those times that it was a limped pot and I chose to fold instead of checking to see a flop) and I also gave back my walk money because I didn't want it (bear with me a second) then I'd lose 100 bb/100 hands when I was sitting in that position. Pretty obvious.

In reality of course, I do get walks some of the time and I get to see flops for free some of the time too. When I filter my entire playing history (more than 500k hands) for every single hand where I did NOT voluntarily put money in the flop - which includes folding to a raise - then I actually lose about 68 bb/100 hands. This would probably get worse at higher stakes where aggression is more common, but for now I'm going to treat this as a constant in any equations I use.

Big blind losses therefore come from the following equation where VPIP means 'Voluntarily Put money In Pot' which is a percentage:

Big Blind Losses = (VPIP)*(Winnings when VPIP) + (1 - VPIP)*(-68)

Solving that equation isn't too useful yet, it's necessary to further break down the 'Winnings when VPIP' part first. There are two instances that are quite drastically different in terms of win rate (actually three but I'm not going to go into this that deeply). One is when I contribute money pre-flop by raising and the other is when I don't raise (and just flat call). The Raise part includes both the times that I 3-bet and also the times that I raise limpers. So the Big Blind Losses equation is now

 Big Blind Losses = (% Raise)*(Winnings when Raise) + (% Flat)*(Winnings when Flat) + (1-VPIP)*(-68)

I have extracted the relevant numbers from my database. I raised in the big blind 6% of the time for a win rate of 167 bb/100. I flat called in the big blind 5% of the time for a win rate of -47 bb/100 (yeah, I know). Here is the equation using those numbers:

{0.06*167 + 0.05*(-47)} + 0.89*(-68) = -52.9

I'd never done this calculation before but now my mediocre win rate makes much more sense to me. 
What it tells me is that I need to do a lot better when I flat call and probably better when I raise too. 

If I was to improve my losses when I flat call to break even then my overall losses would improve to -50.5 bb/100. 

If I was to increase the raise winnings to 200 bb/100 and also break even when flat calling, then my losses would improve to -48.5. That would really add up to a lot of extra money over any large sample of hands. 

The target I mentioned in my last post was -45 bb/100. I'll now explore a few numbers that would get me to that total. Imagine again that I'm breaking even when I flat call about 5% of the time but now I'm raising (either raising limpers or 3-betting) 8% of the time at 200 bb/100. 

0.08*200 + 0.05*0 + 0.87*(-68) = -43.16

It should be becoming clear now that significant improvement is going to be required in all areas for me to get to where I'd like to be. This will be improving my 3-betting strategy, flat calling strategy (more aggression required) and making sure that I'm not raising limpers with too loose a range. 

That was a lot of numbers, I'm off for a lie down. GL

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Zoom poker results so far

Hello, here is the results post that I've been promising. I haven't quite got to 50k hands yet but I feel like I've played enough at 10NL now and I want to test myself at 25NL as that used to be my limit at Full Tilt. I believe that I have sufficient bankroll for that limit with 50 buy-ins. Even if I'm close to breaking even in those games, that should be enough to cope with normal standard deviation and I can always move back down if it goes badly.

The first graph below is my results from all ring game hands (including Zoom hands and a mix of both 10NL and 25NL) since I moved to Poker Stars last June displayed in terms of big blinds won. Volume is poor unfortunately; I had a tough winter in my old job and didn't play a great deal. The second graph is just Zoom hands played in the last 6 weeks or so.

I have included both images because I feel that it is useful to see the bigger picture when dealing with sample sizes as small as 50k hands.

It looks like I'm beating micro full ring in general for a small win rate, and Zoom poker in particular with a smaller win rate than the normal games. This is logical as I practiced table selection principles when playing normal full ring games.

The following picture shows a break down in my positional win rates playing Zoom and the EV adjusted numbers as well. 

I'm happy with many of those numbers, but I'd really like to be performing better, particularly in the blinds. I'm currently improving my strategy in the small blind when I see a flop and I believe that I will eventually bring this number down to around 15-16 bb/100 losses which I would be very happy with. The big blind losses are where I'm going to have to work hard to improve. I think that 45 bb/100 losses should be my target, but the question is how I'm going to get there.

I didn't want to give away too much about my strategy, but know this: I'm voluntarily putting money in the pot when in the big blind about 13% of the time and I'm raising about 6% of the time that I do so. I think that I can profitably play more hands. When I filter the graph for VPIP from the big blind, it shows a steep upwards trend. This leads me to believe that I'm perhaps playing too tightly and that I can afford to loosen up a little. At the end of the day, all we need to do in the big blind with a given hand is to lose less than we would if we just folded. It's a delicate balancing act. Expect me to do a lot of work on playing the big blind over the next 50k hands or so.

2.9 bb/100 is not a great win rate, but to be beating the games at all is some achievement in itself. I must continue to try and fix my leaks because I'd bet that there are players doing much better in micro Zoom than I am.

Hopefully this post has been insightful and shows where I'm at currently with my game. Much room for improvement is the typical verdict with me, and it's the same when it comes to poker. GL

After reading this post on two plus two by the uNL legend mpethybridge, I think that I should be thinking in terms of improving the way that I'm playing the group of hands that I am currently rather than loosening up even more. I'll give it time. Perhaps in the future I'll think about playing more loosely, but right now I'm going to try and play better and perhaps get my losses down under 50 bb/100. I think it would help if I did some work on blocker betting theory. Leading the turn can function as a useful tool in many different ways including as a blocker bet.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Short Update and Daniel Negreanu Youtube Rant

Ok, so I'll get the update over quickly as the meat of this post is the vBlog that Mr Negreanu has put on Youtube. More on that in a second. As far as my play goes, I'm coming up to 50k hands at 10NL and I'm going to move up to 25NL as soon as I've got there (barring a huuuuuge downswong). My reaction over the first 20k hands was to wonder about the profit in Zoom poker, but I've ran well since that break even spell and I do now believe (at least at the micros) that this is a profitable game type. I'll put up a detailed blog post once I reach that milestone, and then get on with grinding the next limit.

Right, I thought I'd share this which I found courtesy of www.flopturnriver.com. It made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions but what's more, I agree with all that he says. The best bit starts at around 5:50. I'm beginning to become a DN fan you know.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Improving this Blog

After my hiatus at the end of last year (when I rage quit the game for a few weeks :P) I made a resolution to improve the standard of my blog posts. I think that there are a few that fit the bill, but most are still just results orientated mental spews.

After scarily discovering my blog on the second page of a Google search, it's now become clear to me that I really should devote some time to make the content a little better. Judging by my audience in the blog dashboard, there are people that have viewed this blog from all around the world. That's seriously scary.

So from now on, I'll try to stay away from short term trends and focus on leak fixing (like the small blind strategy post earlier this week, which is the sort of thing that I think will be worth coming to from the web for the average enthusiast) or hand analysis. Graph posts usually generate interest too as long as I've got sufficient volume to make them useful.

So I'll try not to put up any more "I suck, I can't beat 0.00000000000001c/0.0000000000000000002c any more WAAAAAAAAAAH!" type nonsense to make this blog a little more readable.

Good luck at the tables!

A couple of things, I think someone must have read my late night tilt rant who has influence at Pokerstars as I've recently won 12 buy-ins in 2000 hands. Will post more details once I've got to 50k hands total played at the Zoom tables.

Also testing out various means of posting hand histories in something other than text format. Have removed the Boom! player now, I think the flopturnriver converter might be a better solution. Here's me running well:

PokerStars Zoom No-Limit Hold'em, $0.10 BB (9 handed) - PokerStars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com

Button ($32.96)
Hero (SB) ($10.29)
BB ($5)
UTG ($11.30)
UTG+1 ($8.26)
MP1 ($10.23)
MP2 ($15.91)
MP3 ($5.17)
CO ($9.83)

Preflop: Hero is SB with J, J
6 folds, Button bets $0.30, Hero raises to $1.10, 1 fold, Button calls $0.80

Flop: ($2.30) J, J, 2 (2 players)
Hero checks, Button checks

Turn: ($2.30) K (2 players)
Hero bets $1.40, Button calls $1.40

River: ($5.10) 7 (2 players)
Hero bets $3.70, Button raises to $8, Hero calls $4.09 (All-In)

Total pot: $20.68 | Rake: $0.93

Button had 4, 4 (two pair, Jacks and fours).
Hero had J, J (four of a kind, Jacks).
Outcome: Hero won $19.75

Monday, 30 April 2012

Small Blind Strategy

I have not played a large sample of hands at Zoom yet (25k) but I'm performing dreadfully in the small blind. I've done a little analysis and thought that I'd share that insight here. First thing I'll say is that over such a small sample I'm certainly running poorly.

To Steal or Not to Steal?
Over the sample I've decided to attempt to steal around half of the time it is folded to me. This seems high, and was the first thing that I investigated when I noticed how poorly I was doing from this position. However it turns out that the steals are working 71% of the time in this situation.
When we raise to steal the big blind at 10NL we are risking 0.25c to win 0.15c so it must work 0.25/0.4= 62.5% of the time for us to make an immediate profit. Therefore, my pre-flop stealing strategy is working well (despite the fact that I'm opening so widely when given the chance).

However, despite knowing that I should be making tons of money from the pre-flop raises alone I'm actually losing money in this situation. So I must be losing money once my pre-flop raise has been called. In other words, I must be putting my money in poorly post-flop.

Examining Post-Flop Play
So the obvious next port of call is c-bet %. Well, it turns out that I'm only c-betting half of the time. This is particularly low for that statistic, and the reason is because I know that this situation is usually one where the big blind - having called pre-flop - does not like to let their hand go. So I'm c-betting whenever I have equity or a made hand.
Despite the low c-bet frequency in this situation, the bet is only working 32% of the time! I think that this is related somewhat to variance but over the much larger sample of hands that I've played it's not that much higher. So in other words I should probably tighten my c-betting range even further, perhaps concentrating on those times when I've likely got 6 outs or better or a made hand that I'm betting for value. Or hands where I've got a damn good chance to double barrel bluff.

Sample Size?
It's hard to draw firm conclusions from just 25k hands of play. But as I mentioned, I've seen a similar story from my other databases. For whatever reason, players don't like to fold their big blind once they've called a small blind steal. This is likely due to the fact that they are calling with a pretty strong range in general, coupled with positional advantage.

So I'm really going to be careful with the money that I put in post-flop over the next few thousand hands when caught on a steal by the big blind. I'll just be looking for really good equity spots or solid value betting opportunities, and the rest of the time giving up. Perhaps if I can get that c-bet % down to 45% or so I'll see an improvement (and maybe start running better too).

Hope that's of some use to any of you that try their hand at ring games in the near future. GL

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Full Ring vs 6-Max Recent Results

I thought I'd post my two graphs for 6-max and Full Ring encompassing around 6 months worth of play with a mixture of 10NL and 25NL (yeah, poor volume I know). I think that they are trying to tell me something... That I should probably stick to my strengths which in this case is full ring poker. That's why I'm currently sticking to the zoom full ring format.

The thing is, these graphs were generated using table selection at normal tables which is impossible to do in Zoom. I believe that there is enough dead money to make a profit, but until I've got 50k+ hands I'll not know for sure.

I'm surprised at how quickly the vpps rack up in Zoom, I think that playing decent volume in a month could get me Gold star and a bunch of fpps.

There's not much brag worthy in these graphs, just to demonstrate that I'm probably a small winner. Better win rates are certainly possible and I need to work hard to eradicate some leaks to push my win rate up over 5bb/100 which should be attainable.

I have managed around 3k hands per day on average over the last week or so in the Zoom games. When I get to 50k (in a couple of weeks time hopefully) I'll put up some statistics as promised.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Zoom is hard.

I'm about 12k hands in now, and my strategy is settling down. I seem to be spewing a little less in a few spots. I'm about break even overall though so no serious damage done.

This limit - much like Rush - seems very nitty. This has up and downsides of course; it means that I can loosen up in late position and make tons of money stealing the blinds but also means that my showdown winnings will suffer. I have no idea if I'll be able to make money at this format, but I'll put in 50-100k hands and see what conclusions I can draw from that sample.

I think that my ability to make a decent win rate will come down to hand reading basically. Being able to fold some rather good hands in big pots once in a while (which I haven't managed yet, other than folding KK preflop). There just doesn't seem to be enough fish ready to pay off and a ton of players playing less than ten % of hands. My non - showdown winnings are not out of line so it will all boil down to how much money I make when we flip the cards over. Folding one pair hands to post flop aggression is easy (unless it's a 4-bet pot and some whale has called me out of position and flopped a boat). It's the times when I have 88 on 984r and get min check raised on a T turn by a nit. I find it hard to let go of sets in that sort of spot (and that's an actual example from my play so far).

In other words to cut out the jargon, I'll need to play very mathematically accurately. I'm happy with my preflop ranges, it's the post flop pots that will separate me from the rest.

Once I've played 50k hands I'll put the graph up along with some detailed statistics.

For now if you're curious about these things, I'm playing 15/12 with 3.5% 3-bet which are pretty standard TAG stats for full ring.


PS Did you ever river a straight and shove believing it to be the nuts and then realise the board is paired and get snapped off by a boat? Just me? Yeah thought so, sigh. Been playing so well the last 6/7 thousand hands too. Time to take a break, perhaps my concentration was off. To be fair the way the hand played I think there were some weaker hands that would call, but it was definitely a bad value bet.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Poker Stars buys FTP?!?

2+2 thread containing this mad rumour, lots of credible posters weighing in. Looks like it could be true... If so I'll get my money back. WEEEEEEEEEE!

Plus, in other breaking news....

Played another 2-3k hands today. Twice I think I put in more money than I should when I was beat. I realise that we're supposed to pay off better hands sometimes; it's also true that I have hardly any reads on any opponents at this format yet. So should I still be paying them off? When an unknown villain minraises the turn and then shoves the river this is almost always a super strong hand. But this is 10NL, and they could be a whale (I have seen some dumb stuff at these stakes). Sigh.

Once I've put in some volume I'll put the hands in question up on one of the forums (cardrunners or deuces cracked perhaps). Just to see if any of my fellow players could have found folds. The thing is, if I had managed folds in the hands in question I'd have a very healthy win rate right now. But since I spewed my stack off in every case I'm a solid loser (very small sample size).

Well I'm not going to worry too much until I've got maybe 50k hands or so. Then I'll do a thorough leak analysis. Other than the big pot mistakes I think I'm playing very solidly. I'll just have to wait and see if the numbers converge and confirm my suspicions.


Monday, 23 April 2012

Some Zoom Too!

As well as the SNGs (which I'm still enjoying very much) I'm still getting my hands dirty in the zoom games. I played 3000 hands today, which is obviously awesome. I haven't put much volume into zoom yet, but I'll rectify this over the next few days. I think that I should be able to play 50k hands in quite a short space of time and if I'm beating 10NL still then I'll move up to 25.

Putting in this volume has reminded me of a handful of leaks that I still have. One is folding too much in the blinds, another is not 3-betting enough. The biggest and most important leak is that I make too many mistakes in big pots.

One thing that I learned at Cardrunners from players such as Verneer is that at microstakes, a players winnings closely correlates to how well they do in big pots. I have this devil sat on my shoulder that tells me that I've put in too much money and cannot fold getting 2/1 even though I know villain (who has raised once in a bazillion hands) has the utter jewels. For example: (Once again I've adopted the hero name fishy_blogger)

http://www.holdemmanager.net NL Holdem $0.10(BB)
Replayer Game#79335802639
Lioznov ($5) DarkHappy ($10.92) fisika ($3.30) higurian ($10.45) Fishy_Blogger ($23.26) dwanenoh ($11.06) S.K.S.1977 ($7.36) MaKi2k11 ($10.58) Burnin__ Hand ($10.06)
Lioznov posts (SB) $0.05
DarkHappy posts (BB) $0.10
Dealt to Fishy_Blogger Jd Kd
fold, fold,
Fishy_Blogger raises to $0.25
dwanenoh calls $0.25
S.K.S.1977 calls $0.25
fold, fold, fold, fold,
FLOP ($0.90) Ts Qh Ad
Fishy_Blogger bets $0.50
dwanenoh raises to $1.50
S.K.S.1977 calls $1.50
It's a beautiful situation. My reads so far are that the cold caller is a whale, and the player that raised me is a tight reg. So at this moment I'm thinking the player that I'm worried about has AQ or TT (assuming QQ and AA raise) and I don't care what the whale has because I'm never folding against him no matter how the board plays out.
Fishy_Blogger raises to $3.50
dwanenoh calls $2
S.K.S.1977 calls $2
TURN ($11.40) Ts Qh Ad Qs
Obviously, one of the worst possible cards. At this point, I think that I should seriously consider a check fold (not versus the whale). Even if I include ATs and KJs in the competent villain's range I'm not getting enough odds to call (should he shove) and I'm never getting value by shoving. At the time I think I was tilting a little and just made an "oh I'm pot committed so I'll jam" jam. Terrible poker. Fishy_Blogger bets $10.89
dwanenoh calls $7.31 (AI)
S.K.S.1977 folds
RIVER ($26.02) Ts Qh Ad Qs Kh
Fishy_Blogger shows Jd Kd (Pre 47%, Flop 65.2%, Turn 0.0%)
dwanenoh shows Tc Th (Pre 53%, Flop 34.8%, Turn 100.0%)
dwanenoh wins $24.85

Yep, so he turns up with one of the hands that I knew that he had. Basically, this hand (and another I played yesterday when I raised with KK on a TTx flop and got three bet and couldn't fold/got it in versus trips) and many others I butchered when I played a ton at Full Tilt is the reason why my win rate isn't bigger than it is. I must do better in big pots. It's absolutely OK to fold getting 2/1 or 3/1 or more if we know enough about villain to know we're beat. Why I cannot adopt this mindset while playing I'll never know; but unless I do I'll forever be a 1bb/100 winner at 10NL.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Man, I SUCK at SNGs! (But I'm working hard at getting better)

Just this session tonight, I made 4 or 5 calls near the bubble that I thought were close, but they weren't even remotely close.
The problem is that as I'm getting short I don't want to be left too short stacked. So when I see a hand like ATo or A7s and I'm 5 or 6bb deep I'm talking myself into calling and based on the models I've created in SNGWiz, I should be folding these hands.
So while I continue to play these games I'm going to work hard on my calling ranges primarily. This is all I'm going to work on for the next few weeks.
I honestly don't think that I'll end up beating these in the long run if I continue to make this many mistakes. I need my calling ICM knowledge to be my strongest suit currently in my opinion because shoving mistakes aren't usually nearly as large.
So, lots of work but it's good to know that I have so much to learn, it makes the game more interesting when I review sessions at the end.
Perhaps I'll put up some of my more 'interesting' hands when I've got a moment at the weekend. GL

OK so I've got a couple of hours before a job interview so I thought I'd post two hands that I obliterated along with some of the associated maths and then a generic calling range chart that I'm going to attempt to stick to for the next couple of hundred games or more. For the purposes of my little analysis my screen name has been adjusted to Fishy_Blogger. If such a player does exist then apologies for adopting your excellent choice.
Hand #1
NL Holdem $200(BB) Replayer Game#79069680644

hamelin_s ($1,377)
xzy111211 ($2,140)
matjouz ($4,040)
Fishy_Blogger ($3,829)
Doublehappys ($2,114)

xzy111211 antes $25
matjouz antes $25
Fishy_Blogger antes $25
Doublehappys antes $25
hamelin_s antes $25
hamelin_s posts (SB) $100
xzy111211 posts (BB) $200

Dealt to Fishy_Blogger Ac Qc
matjouz raises to $600
Fishy_Blogger raises to $3,804 (AI)
fold, fold, fold,
matjouz calls $3,204
FLOP ($8,033) 8d 5c Js
TURN ($8,033) 8d 5c Js Kd
RIVER ($8,033) 8d 5c Js Kd 8h
matjouz shows Ah Ad
(Pre 88%, Flop 92.1%, Turn 90.9%)

Fishy_Blogger shows Ac Qc
(Pre 12%, Flop 7.9%, Turn 9.1%)

matjouz wins $8,033
OK, so at the time I figured that AQs (being such a pwetty hand) would be a call. The problem is my current equity is about 26% of the prize pool, which is great equity when 5-handed. Moreover, the initial raiser has me covered so this is basically a shove for my tourney life because I wouldn't expect him to fold nearly enough for a shove here to work as a bluff. My bubble factor is something around 2, which means I have to be quite risk averse.
If I was playing a cash game, my chip odds would require my equity to be better than 47% against the initial range and I could call with AQs facing a range of approximately 9%. In this instance I think I'd be correct to call with AQs. But if I factor in the ICM tax, which ICM Explorer estimates to be about 19% equity then I now need my hand to have 66% equity against the initial raiser's range which happens when I face around 75% of hands! If I give my opponent a pretty conservative range of 15% for an UTG raise when 5-handed then I'd be correct to shove with {QQ+} alone. That's it!
SNGWiz estimates that this push cost me 4% of the prize pool, a huge mistake.

OK, for whatever reason I can't seem to find the other hand that I wanted to show, but it follows similar principles to this one. I had a pretty hand, but not nearly enough equity against the shovers range to make the call.

As it happens, providing the shover has a tournament 'M' (ratio of stack to preflop pot including antes) of between 3 and 7 the chip odds fall between 43 and 47%. Also, as a medium stack or larger stack facing a stack that has us covered usually gives an ICM tax somewhere between 15 and 25%. So very often in these situations we will be needing about 65% equity to call with a given hand versus an opponents range.

Putting a bunch of ranges into HoldemViewer with the Settings>Equity minimum set to 65% gives us the following generic calling ranges when facing a shove from a medium or large stack who has you covered (and of course we're a medium to large stack ourself). The first % is the first raiser/shover's range.

10%-- { QQ+ }
15%-- { QQ+ }
20%-- { JJ+ }
30%-- { JJ+,AKs }
50%-- { TT+,AQs+,AKo }
ATC-- { 77+,AJs+,AKo }

Notice how nitty these ranges are for calling shoves with a medium stack (and also how few opponents adhere to these ranges).

I'd imagine if I stuck to these ranges on the bubble that there would be times when I'd pass up small +EV calls occasionally. But the alternative is to make horrendous calls with AQs when it's a clear fold!

Eventually, I intend to memorise ranges with 55% and 60% equity too for those situations where the risk is a little less severe. The calling ranges are a fair bit broader for those situations.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sunday Tournaments LIVE

As I mentioned yesterday, for the next few hours (and possibly more) I'll be playing tournaments on PokerStars. I'll put all updates on my progress here.

Note: I'll not be playing as many as I indicated yesterday as I don't think I'd play very well with any more than around 6 tables going. If I bust out of any of these I'll load up a couple of $4.50 180-man tournaments to keep going.

Currently registered for the following tournaments:
17.00 Bigger $22 (Satellite entry)- Busted for no cash
17.00 $3.30 NLHE- Busted, cashed ~$5
18.00 $5.50 NLHE- Busted, no cash
18.30 Sunday Storm- Busted, no cash
19.00 $3.30 NLHE- Busted, no cash
19.00 The Bigger $11 (Satellite entry)
$4.40 NLHE- Busted, no cash

I was cold decked in the $22, and had an opportunity to jam in three way pot with aces and the other all-in player spiked a set of treys on the flop. It was cashonly25, a player with over $1m life time earnings so I was clearly losing that showdown!

Ran OK in the $3.30 until 88 called by AJo in the sb and lost the flip.

Ran pretty poorly in the Storm until I picked up AJs and shoved over a loose CO opener who called and flipped 44 (to be fair he was pot committed but I thought I was comfortably ahead of his range).

In the $5.50 I reshoved over an early/middle position raiser on the button with TT. I'm not sure if this was right or not; against a calling range of {99+, AQ} I'm 44% and I was about 10bb deep. I needed to make a move, but this might have been a small mistake. Anyway he flipped AA.

Lost standard flip in the other $3.30 with AKs vs 99.

Just got the Bigger $11 to go, but I'm short stacked with 12000 players left so I'd guess at an early bust in this one too.

Overall I'm pleased with the way I played, but with large field tourneys like this a lot of volume is required to find true win rate. I enjoyed the evening's play, and will do it again at some point in the future. But for now I'm going to stick with SNGs as I'm learning tons of cool stuff at the moment.

Good luck!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Sunday Tournaments

This Sunday PokerStars have a great offer; they're giving away free tickets to the $1m guaranteed Sunday Storm with a $50 deposit. Naturally, I couldn't very well give up the chance to play what is essentially a freeroll with a great prize pool. So since I have ring fenced tomorrow evening for this tournament I thought it would be a good idea to play a bunch of MTTs and see how I get on. I will be playing the following tournaments that register between 17:00 and 20:00 WET:

17.00 $3.30 NLHE
17.15 $8.80 NLHE
18.00 $5.50 NLHE
18.15 $8.80 NLHE
18.30 $11 Sunday Storm $1m Guaranteed
18.45 $3.30 NLHE
19.00 $3.30 NLHE
19.15 $4.40 NLHE
19.45 $4.40 NLHE
20.00 $5.50 NLHE
Total Investment: $47.3

Additionally I will attempt to satellite into the following 'red' tourneys:
17.00 The Bigger $22
17.30 The Hotter $11
18.30 The Hotter $16.50
19.00 The Bigger $11

I'll provide a full tournament summary on Monday (or if I bust early on Sunday night). Wish me luck!

Change in Bankroll Management (boring maths, tl;dr)
Also, I'm going to begin to start mixing up buy-ins for the SNGs I play. At the moment my bankroll strategy involves playing a limit until I reach x sum, then I move up a stake. However, I'm going to begin to use an average buy-in that will roll up and down depending upon my bankroll at that moment. For example, at the moment I've got $950 in my Stars' account. This will allow me to play 3 $7 SNGs and 1 $15 SNG with a 100 buy-in rule because the average buy-in for the three tourneys is $9. Once I get to $1000 I can begin to play 1 $15 tourney for every 2 $7 SNGs I play; at $1100 I can play 50% at one limit and 50% at the next. This way my growth is more fluid, and I can control my losses much more effectively.
If I have decent results I'll bring down the 100 buy-in requirement and begin to use a number of buy-ins more in line with Kelly theory. Somewhere between 30 - 50 buy-ins.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Sit 'n Go God Mode Toggle: ON

Disclaimer: These results are not sustainable in the long run. But I'm not complaining, the more buy-ins I can win before the inevitable downswing or break even stretch the less it will affect me emotionally when it hits.

Basically in the last 40 games I've played (lol at volume) I've won 33 buy-ins as the graph demonstrates.

Overall standard in theses $3.50 buy-in tournaments is pretty bad. There's a handful of regs that look like they're competent (but a pretty small % of the playing field), one or two nits and a heap load of loose passive and loose aggressive fish. All of this means that a TAG strategy with knowledge of ICM push/fold should crush in the long run, but not at the rate I'm currently achieving. I expect that 15-20% ROI is definitely sustainable though which is very good. For this reason I am going to stay with these games for a while.

I can comfortably play about 8 games per hour so I could potentially make about $5 per hour which I'm happy with currently (and this exceeds my projected cash game hourly).

It's been a while since I've enjoyed a good heater so I'm making the most of it. However, knowing that 20-30 buy-in downswings can be common for SNGs I'm not resting on my laurels and I'm reviewing my short stack play after every tournament. Luckily, the ICM is not too difficult in these (although some of the players are terribad e.g calling another big stack in the CO with 22 on the bubble).

When I've got some more meaningful volume then I'll put up my positional statistics in terms of chips won as I think that can provide a good insight into how profitable a game is. Currently I'm running at 15 bb/100. Again, in this day and age I don't think that that's a remotely sustainable chip win rate (especially in a game where there are close push fold decisions) but given the standard of playing field I'd expect 5 or a little higher to be possible.

Right, back to it. GL

I didn't feel that I had enough to say to justify a new post but thought I'd add a couple of things. Results have settled on the 18-man tourney front and the ITM numbers are trending towards some more realistic numbers. They're still clearly skewed upwards thanks to the recent heater though.

I did a little research about the relevance of the chip bb/100 stat in tournament play, and there were mixed opinions. All of the top players who expressed views on this (that I found at least) were winning players in terms of chips accumulated on average. However they also mostly agreed that in many cases the best chip EV play was different from the correct tournament equity play. So while it does give some clue as to a player's profitability it should be viewed as an indicator only.

I have now used up my fpps in the 6-man hyper turbo satellites. They were a lot of fun and I ran well too so I got back a great return for my points. I've used the $T to invest in the 18-man tourneys and so my actual rakeback is really good for my stakes. I highly recommend that good players use this method for spending their fpps. I also looked into perhaps grinding the storm hyper satellites that have an actual $ buy-in because I had so much fun with them. It does appear that it's possible to eek out a small profit (~3% ROI) but with downswings common and large I'm not sure I could manage the emotional rollercoster, even being able to play 50-100 per hour. Still, perhaps I can use them as a recreational alternative to the 18-mans if I ever don't fancy a proper grind.

Finally, on a whim I just bought the e-book Crushing Online Sit-and-Go's by Greg "zerosum79" Jones and I'm very impressed so far. It seems like quite a large initial outlay, but I think the sum of resources and information definitely justifies the price. I don't think I've necessarily learned anything new, just had some familiar concepts presented in a new way. And also been given a great tool for helping to learn ICM for different games. Recommended!

Think that's it, GL!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Playing some SNGs

Just lately as well as playing some Zoom I've been in the tournament mood, and have been playing some SNGs ($3.50 18 man games). Now that I've cashed out most of my bankroll the micro level sit n go tournaments seem like a pretty good bankroll builder judging by the sharkscope graphs and the general playing standard that I've come up against.

The positional stats page in HEM shows that I'm making a lot more money (in terms of bb/100) from each position than I do at cash and I think that this is a combination of the weaker standard and a good slice of run good. I actually believe that I could end up with a win rate somewhere between 5 and 10bb/100 (chip equity of course) in these games which should get me a decent ROI. Of course ICM is more important, but it's much less easy to judge how I'm doing in terms of tournament expected value. However I am checking my hands after each session and I don't think I'm making nearly as many mistakes as my opponents, which is all I need to do at these stakes.

Right now (over a very small sample size) I'm cashing in each of the money places around 7.9% of the time which would net me about 30% ROI if these figures were sustainable but I don't think that they are. The following chart shows the projected ROIs for a few of these different frequencies (note that this isn't the total ITM frequency but the average frequency for each of the four cash positions).

Avg Cash Place % ; ROI ; $/Tourney
6 ; -1.8 ; -0.06
6.5 ; 6.4 ; 0.22
7 ; 14.6 ; 0.51
7.5 ; 22.7 ; 0.79
8 ; 30.9 ; 1.08

I don't think much over 8% or 30% ROI is possible (although I'd love someone to prove me wrong) but I think around 7% should be sustainable over a large sample size. Given that I play around 9 per hour this results in a potential earn of around $4.5 per hour not including rake back. I think that this is better than I could achieve at penny stakes cash (even in Zoom) so I'm planning to get through some decent volume at this format and I'll put up a thorough stats post once I've played like 500 or something. Hopefully my guestimates are somewhat accurate because that's not a bad return given the tiny investment.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Back to Full Ring

Well since around October I've been playing mainly 6-max poker on and off because I wanted to try and improve my game. However now that Zoom has arrived, I'm going to go back to the full ring tables. I'll try and explain why briefly now.

Over the sample of hands I played at 6-max since October, I've lost money. It's only 44k hands but quite a few buy-ins (18 or 12 with all-in EV adjustment). I've played nowhere near the number of hands I need to find my true win rate at that format but never the less the signs aren't promising.

Full ring standard deviation is smaller than at 6-max. If you've followed my blog at all, you'll know that downswings affect me emotionally. Any steps that I can take to soften that blow is going to be very helpful because in Zoom I'm going to be playing more hands and thus, downswings are going to happen more often.

Finally, whenever I look on poker table ratings at the bigger winners the majority seem to make their money at full ring tables. I'm not sure why this is. Perhaps, since the training material out there is mainly focussed on 6-max those games have become tougher than full ring. Or perhaps it is because full ring is raked less than 6-max (go to buyhands.com and look at the daily or monthly rake graphs). PTR released a report last year that showed that the distribution of winners at 6-max was smaller than at full ring.

I do have unfinished business at 6-max still, and when I'm employed again perhaps I'll have another go. But for now I'm going to go back to the format where I've made money in the past and try and continue to do so. GL

Friday, 16 March 2012


So I'm going to be a card playing degen again. Just burned through 1500 hands in about an hour, similar to the rate I was achieving on FTP. I didn't run that great, but there were enough people donating that I still made a decent profit for the session.

Cutting out all of the waiting time is of such huge benefit, that's why I used to play so much Rush. You can really focus on playing strategically well. I find that I enjoy playing normal tables, but it just seems to take so long to get a decent sample of hands. And every time I try and 10+ table to try and get more hands/hour I find that my decision making is affected too much.

There are no HUD displays currently. This is having the effect of making me tighten right up and focussing on strict value. I'm very reluctant to 3-bet people with no reads unless there are indicators of a weak player (less than full stacked bronze star, eg). Hopefully HEM1 will get an update very soon because I'd rather play with a HUD just to make the reg battles a little easier.

I noticed that I earned quite a few FPP points during the session. I wonder what sort of VIP level I can reasonably attain in a month now - Gold star may be within my reach. I anticipate that once this format is rolled out for higher stakes there will be more players attaining supernova elite and supernova in a calender year. Also I should be able to get a few more milestone bonuses this year which is obviously great.

OK, so until HEM1 or PT3 get an update that at least allow the import of played hands I'll likely stick to normal games (although I'm itching to get back in the playing pool already LOL). And once HUDs are available I'll be putting in a lot more volume again. Then perhaps I can set myself some reasonable goals in terms of the number of milestones I'd like to achieve this year, and a suitable limit to grind (probably 10NL to begin with).

I can't wait for it all to settle down. I've clearly missed the Rush games!

Edit: Looks like PT3 have their import/HUD working for Zoom now. I have seen no information about HEM1, but the developers mentioned they're testing for HEM2. Luckily for me I used PT3 back in the days of FTP so I do have a HUD solution. Zoom FTW!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

FPPs burning a hole in my pocket... BlackRain79 e-book

I've been wondering for a while what I should do with the 17k of FPPs that I've got in my Stars account. Well, today I did a little research and found an excellent article by the player BlackRain79. Basically recommending the 235fpp 6-man hyper turbos as a very good way of converting them to cash for micro stakes players. Assuming a near even playing field (reasonable since they are hyper turbo tournaments) the value per fpp is $22/6/235 = 0.0156 which is an excellent conversion rate.

The potential downside to this is that the money is provided in tournament $ or T$. Apparently it's possible to exchange T$ for cash at 99.5%. But I don't have an account on 2+2 so a better option for me is probably to play micro stakes tournaments. I should at least be average standard in any that I play and so it's quite possible that I will do very well out of the FPPs. I haven't yet picked the tournaments that I want to grind, probably specific small field SNGs where I can easily learn the necessary ICM.

Also while doing this research I came across BlackRain's e-book (follow the link above). It looks quite good and is being sold for a very reasonable price. I may just get it. If I do then I'll provide some more feedback on it's quality.

OK that's it, just thought I'd put up what I'd found in case any readers had spare FPP to spend. GL

ZOOOOOOOOOOM! Play money only currently but soon to be 2NL. I expect my playing volume to increase significantly once the problems are ironed out and the HUDs begin to work again. Plus positive rumours about FTP are surfacing, so perhaps online poker isn't quite dead just yet.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Entire Full Tilt Playing History

Hi, after the last blog I decided to import all of the hands that I played at Full Tilt into my current database so that I had a realistic idea of my long term results. The graph is below. It does show that I was beating those games for a small win rate (1.8bb/100)over a pretty significant sample of hands (400k).
I actually won $768 (NOT including rakeback) in a pretty even mix of 10NL and 25NL.

I've looked at the maths, and there's about a 97% chance that this means I'm a long term winner. Unfortunately it also means I'm likely only just beating the games. This would explain the fact that I go through some quite severe variance sometimes. In truth, I'd not expected the combined results to be this good and it's given me some confidence to begin to put in some more volume, starting from now. This will be easier once FTP reopens and Stars releases Zoom and I can get back to easily doing 1k hands per hour as I was before.

Disclaimers must come of course, these hands were played from approximately the summer of 2010 up to Black Friday last year. The games are likely to have changed somewhat since then. But with some table selection, I don't see a reason why I can't continue to win at 2bb/100 over a similar sample.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Life Changes

Hi there. I haven't had a great deal of time for poker lately. My regular life is in a little bit of turmoil right now as I'm out of work (it's a long story, I resigned from my last position).

I've played a few thousand hands at 10NL 6-max and it's gone better than 25NL so far. I've been sitting on only 4 or 5 tables at a time and just playing what I'd call ABC poker (concentrating strictly on value and not running many bluffs, plus not hero calling turns and rivers very often). I've only won two or three buy-ins but I'm actually a further ten buy-ins under all-in expected value so in reality if the all-ins had been going my way it would certainly class as a heater.

My goal for this limit is to try and get through 100-200k hands and then reassess my game. Unfortunately due to the current employment situation, there is likely to come a time in the next couple of months where I'll have to cash out almost everything (I've already taken out $1k) and move right down to 0.01/0.02. So I'll try and play as many hands as I can (in between driving lessons) before then.

Part of me honestly considered trying to make a little money from poker to tide me by for a while, but that is a pretty considerable risk given my recent results. Furthermore, my family has been hugely supportive so far and are supporting me until I find more work. If I start playing poker endlessly I think the good will would soon run out. If things were different and I could have shown them considerable volume as a winner then perhaps I could have made a case, but sadly I cannot.

So until things smooth out I'll definitely play some poker but I'm not sure how much will be possible. As a result, I wouldn't expect an update for some time. Perhaps when I'm a 2NL reg I'll find something to put up, but until then good luck!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Revising Expectations, A New Beginning

An Admission
I have been operating under the false belief that I was a winning poker player, but I am not. Over the first large block of hands that I played I was fortunate enough to benefit from some positive variance and this pushed up my expectations. More recently I have broke even in the games over quite a significant sample now. I believe that this in itself is an achievement since it means that I'd be beating a rake free game for about 10bb/100, but I had believed that I was better than this - that I had been beating the rake too.

After my last post (that I have now removed) I did some soul searching with regards to poker. What do I really want out of the game? I had once harboured half dreams that some day it could become a meaningful source of extra income per month. I don't think that this is the best way to frame poker in my life any more because it detracts from the enjoyment I get from purely playing cards.

I have come to the realisation that I don't want to stop playing poker. But from now on I'm going to treat the game as a hobby; something to work on and improve just so that I can challenge my competitors better. I'm back at the 10NL 6 max games and I'm just going to attempt to improve my understanding of the game and my ability to hand read. I will remove all indicators of win rate from my database windows because this has certainly affected my decision making in the past. I will periodically still check these numbers as a measure of my current skill level, but only after I've completed a significant sample of hands - 100k seems reasonable.

As for blogging, I've put up some real garbage over my time on here. I think that I'll start posting again but create some rules which will limit my output to fewer but hopefully higher quality blogs.

So this is a new beginning for me as a recreational poker player, and hopefully my blogs will positively reflect my new outlook on the game.

Stars Rake Changes

It's a good time to start playing again. Poker Stars are about to reduce the ring game rake in the games, which is a great move. Hopefully they'll benefit from increased traffic as a result.

Good luck at the tables

Edit: 23/02/2012

Haven't played much volume; now that I'm playing more recreationally I'm just tending to play when I feel like it and this isn't very often after all of the hours I put in last year. I guess I'm a bit burned out with it. However there are two events coming up that should stir me into playing a bit more regularly.
1/ Full Tilt Mk II opening for business. I intend to cash out $1200 or so and leave myself a handful of buy-ins for grinding in the Rush games.
2/ Stars launch their own version of Rush called Zoom (rumoured to be very close to launch).
This will have the effect of doubling my playing volume and if it's anything like before Black Friday I will want to play a lot more (because it's just so easy to get through a ton of hands at once). I really hope it has the same effect on me as I'd like to play some 6-max over a big sample to have a better idea of where my leaks are at the moment.

I just got the Poker Stars iPhone client and I'm very impressed. Even over my usually dodgy 3G network signal I've been able to play without a problem. My only annoyances at the moment are no colour coding or note taking options (and obv there's no HUD so I have to use my memory which sucks).

Finally I just bought the 'Building a Bankroll' book by Pawel 'Verneer' Nasarewicz (of Cardrunners fame) and I'm really enjoying that at the moment. It's well written and produced (although some reg knowledge is necessary due to all of the database based explanations and analysis). There was also a hand written good luck note from Pawel at the front which is pretty awesome!

Anyway, once I'm able to quick fold everything but aces again and put in some decent volume I'll try and think up a decent post. Until then, GL.