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, 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