Hello all, welcome to my online poker blog.

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

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

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

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

Monday, 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!