Welcome

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, 18 May 2017

Updates

Going to try something a little different, and instead of spouting over a number of individual blog posts, I'll collate my small uninteresting updates into a single blog between the more detailed ones.

Early Zoom Thoughts 18/05/2017

It feels like the games have changed in some ways since my days as a regular a few years back, but there is definitely enough poor play on show to feel that I can win with a little practise.

I have encountered a lot of pre-flop aggression and fewer loose passive players which is a shame, as this cuts down on available post flop value. I can't really comment on the standard of the regulars at this stage as I have too few hands, but one or two players look competent. It also seems that there are fewer short stackers - which is good news for someone who likes to play 100bb.

Early results? I'm two buy-ins down, KK v AA in one pot and then variance.

It looks like I'm controlling the 'red line' or non-showdown winnings well, so it remains to be seen if I can still craft enough value in the big pots to make up the difference and earn some profit.

Another point to note is the card match feature, which adds a nice little side game while you play.

Overall I've been enjoying playing some post flop poker again. GL!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

50 Tournament Update


If you have not been following my blog recently, I have been playing 6 man Sit n’ Go tournaments at Poker Stars because I had some tournament currency on the site that I wanted to convert to actual $ that I could take to cash games, which are historically my strongest area. To anyone unfamiliar with Poker Stars, tournament currency is earned by qualifying through satellites but then unregistering from the tournament in question (a way of ensuring that the value is returned to Poker Stars).  

As mentioned, SNGs are not my strongest area because they require knowledge of the Independent Chip Model to play short stacked poker well and my ICM is limited. There are plenty of resources out there for those that wish to get to grips with ICM and tournament poker maths but I’d recommend beginning with the excellent book ‘Kill Everyone’ by Nelson, Streib and Lee. So my objective wasn’t really to beat the games, but to break even.


Happily, I can report that I have more or less achieved that goal; that my T$ are all converted and that I didn’t lose a great deal in the process, and I have a bankroll of a few hundred $ to play cash games. I intend to continue to play these tournaments now and again as I have learned a little ICM through the process and it would be foolish to waste an opportunity to gain an additional string to the poker bow.

 

The Results

 

First, sample size. This is a woefully inadequate number of tournaments to glean a meaningful insight into if I’m doing anything right or wrong. Still, I feel that I play better than the average player in the early stages of these games and I probably do well enough at short stacked play, though I believe I could have done better.
 
One of the main reasons why the graph doesn’t look positive is that I’ve lost most of the heads-up battles I’ve played, so this is definitely an area where I need to improve. Having said that, variance is very likely to be playing a part and I’ve only felt out of depth against a single opponent – who happens also to be on a certain SNG leader board!

 
I had planned to go into more detail with specific stats, but to be honest I have such a small sample size that it seems like a waste of time at this stage. Perhaps I’ll do so once I have more games to look at. My basic numbers are:
VPIP  28%
PFR   28% (I seem to be calling a very low % of the time which looks like a leak, though it could reflect in part the lower average pre-flop implied odds, will talk more if this trend continues).
Total AF 3.30 (Nice and high, influenced by the second stat above)

 BB/100 -0.5 (All-in Adjusted 1.2, primarily down to my poor record when heads-up though I'm probably not beating the games in reality)

Bad Beat Corner

Finally a bit of fun, everyone loves a bad beat story so from time to time I’ll divulge the sickest hand from my recent database history. Here I’m a huge favourite on flop and turn but villain catches a minor miracle on the river. Enjoy my misery!
http://www.pokerhandreplays.com/view.php/id/8278524 

Future Plans

So now it’s back to cash / Zoom poker. I intend to play a few thousand hands at Full Ring Zoom 25NL in the near future so I’ll see how that goes. It’s easy to forget how quickly the hands accumulate and patterns begin to emerge, so perhaps I can reassess if I’m still in front of the field. I have databases that suggest I beat Zoom at 10NL/25NL at a low rate over several hundred thousand hands but the hands were played a number of years ago when the games were probably juicier.

 

Good luck at the tables!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Zoom Poker hand (any thoughts?)

Don't worry, I still intend to write a long post about my SNG results but in the meantime I thought I'd share a large pot I played in Zoom which I may have misplayed. My thoughts are below the hand history but feel free to add yours to the comments.




Hand Information
Game: No Limit
Blind: $0.10/ $0.25
Hand History converter courtesy of pokerhandreplays.com

Table Information
Seat1:   Player 1   ($24.65)Dealer
Seat2:   Player 2   ($47.10)Small Blind
Seat3:   Player 3   ($37.31)Big Blind
Seat4:   Player 4   ($28.47)
Seat5:   Player 5   ($27.36)
Seat6:   Player 6   ($23.80)
Seat7:   Player 7   ($32.29)
Seat8:   Player 8   ($12.50)
Seat9:   Hero   ($51.03)
Dealt to Hero

Preflop (Pot:0.35)
Player 4   FOLD    
Player 5   RAISE    $0.62
Player 6   CALL    $0.62
Player 7   FOLD    
Player 8   FOLD    
Hero   CALL    $0.62
Player 1   FOLD    
Player 2   CALL    $0.52
Player 3   CALL    $0.37

Flop   (Pot: $3.10)

Player 2   CHECK    
Player 3   CHECK    
Player 5   CHECK    
Player 6   CHECK    
Hero   BET    $1.98
Player 2   RAISE    $4.50
Player 3   CALL    $4.50
Player 5   FOLD    
Player 6   FOLD    
Hero   CALL    $2.52

Turn   (Pot: $16.60)

Player 2   BET    $13
Player 3   FOLD    
Hero   CALL    $13

River   (Pot: $42.60)

Player 2   ALL-IN    $28.98
Hero   CALL    $28.98

Showdown:

Player 2  SHOWS
Hero  SHOWS
Hero  wins the pot: $42.60

I'm sitting on a 204BB stack w 44, so I think the pre-flop call is fine.

Hand is checked around to me and I bet for value, but the check raise into multiple players shows huge strength from my opponent. I have removed KK from the villain's range as most players would usually 3-bet that hand pre-flop so I'm staring down 88 or a good flush or maybe a strong draw. With his bet sizing though, I have enough direct odds to call and hope the board pairs on the turn beating the larger portion of his range. The board pairs about 18% of the time on the turn and about 25% of the time on the river, or 38% over both streets. I'm getting 18% from the pot plus some implied odds so I think calling is OK.

On the turn though I'm getting 31% from his bet sizing so I need sufficient implied odds to make up the gap from 25% (% of the time board pairs on the river). However the water is muddied because I could quite easily be behind to two combinations of 88.

My opponent has about $29 behind so I'm getting 18% from an implied perspective but taking into account the times I lose I need my opponent to have a flush at least 18%/25% (% of time I need to win to make call profitable divided by odds of river pairing the board) = 72% of the time. If this doesn't make sense think of it another way, 72% x 25% = 18% so if opponent has a flush more than 72% of the time we'll win more than 18% of the time and our call is OK. Now, there are 2 combinations of 88 in his range so there must be at least 6 combinations of flushes. I think it's reasonable to consider that this might be the case (AQs, AJs, ATs, QJs, QTs, JTs, etc.).

The biggest question mark in this hand is probably my river play. Villain very quickly shoves all-in. I know for a fact some opponents would check-call here with a flush but would also almost always shove 88. Given this kind of weighting and I'm getting 29% from the pot what do you think of the call?

If I was my opponent against an unknown (we have no history) I might light value bet the river with a good flush expecting some kings to call. Again it comes down to combinations, I need my opponents on average to have at least 1 flush combination for the call to be profitable. The $50 question!

Friday, 28 April 2017

SNGs (more to follow!)

Update: Short vacation arrived just before I completed my post. Will follow shortly!

I've been playing $7 6-max SNGs for a while and studying a bit of ICM. Really been enjoying getting to grips with a format I have limited knowledge of, and I'm surprised at how much I've been keen to play - reminds me of the mid 'noughties' again.

My decision to choose the 6-max format comes from the ICM being about as easy as it comes outside of straight-forward chip equity. Coming from a cash game background I though it would be beneficial to start out simple and learn to play short-handed thoroughly before progressing to larger tournaments.

Anyway, to the point. I will shortly post my most recent 50 6-max SNG results and pick out a few hands and do a little stat analysis. I would like to improve the content of my blog, so I hope it will be interesting.

My initial goal in playing SNGs was to convert my pool of tournament $ into cash so that I have a decent bankroll to hit the Zoom tables again. However despite the hourly being lower, I've been enjoying the tournaments so much I am planning to continue after my tournament $s are gone. If I can play reasonably and get together a decent sample size perhaps I'll be able to add another game to the 'can beat' list.

Next post to follow over the weekend!

GL

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Careless ICM Mistakes

I just played a couple of SNGs off the back of some Spin&Gos, didn't run great but didn't tilt and played some decent poker overall.

However after playing the Spin&Gos I failed to switch mentality from chip accumulation (these tournaments are winner takes all so no ICM comes into it). So I made a couple of pretty basic (though I guess forgivable) ICM mistakes.

First mistake I called a Small Blind shove with A6o. The SB had a big stack of 7246 (after blinds) and I have 818 left with the folded Button on 876. Now I know the SB has a wide range here, but roughly speaking my risk factor is about 2.2 due to there being another short stack in the game so my pot odds translate from 1.6 to 0.7/1 so I need to be a 58% favourite and I don't have those odds even against a 100% SB shoving range with A6o unfortunately.

A little later and my situation has improved, this time I have the button with 1576 and the SB is sitting very short with 296 and the BB has 6828 (all after blinds are posted). The presence of the micro stack makes my risk factor very high against the big stack, so I need to be careful. I pick up QQ and I should just shove as I have a 10bb stack and this would be ICM correct. However - still thinking in terms of chips - I decide to min raise to try and induce something silly from the BB who obliges by shoving. I quickly call and he shows 45s, but I'm knocked out on the river - gifting my equity to the tight and rather patient SB.

My pot odds were 1.6/1 pre-flop, but my risk factor was a huge 4. So pot odds become 0.4/1 so I need 71% equity against the BB shoving range. With QQ I don't think I ever have that, even knowing he has hands like 45s in his range!

This is just a reminder that ICM decisions can be difficult and while I continue to play SNGs I need to be better in extreme situations like these.

GL

Friday, 24 March 2017

Spin & Gos

I was awarded a handful of Spin & Go tickets as a deposit bonus, it's been a bit of fun playing short handed in these and I managed to cash a few too. Always nice to get free ROI from depositing money!

Now when these first came out I instantly dismissed them as being a business cash generating exercise to exploit gambling and that there would be no value there, but I think I was wrong.

On first glance, you have three players that sit down and put in, say, $1 each and then play for a $2 prize pool most of the time. Which just seems like an easy way to lose money quickly. However the prize structure is actually equitable, 8% rake is taxed from the buy-in but thereafter all prize money is distributed fairly, as the following table illustrates. Sum up the third column and you get the contributions of the players for a single Spin & Go (less rake of course).

I've used prizes from the $1 Spin & Go games here but it looks like they just scale with buy-in, so this should be equally true for other stakes. 
Probability
Prize
Prob x Prize
0.000001100000.01
0.000032000.006
0.0000751000.0075
0.001250.025
0.005100.05
0.07560.45
0.18450640.738024
0.73438821.468776
Win %
40%1.06272
 
It's also tempting to think "well surely in order to get full ROI from these games we need to cash big sometimes, and 1,000,000 to 1 doesn't look like great odds to me". Well this is partly true, and there may well be better uses for one's investment if we can't put in the hours or play the number of tables required to pick up the larger prizes.
 
However these games may have more recreational players than others; those gambling for a big payday. Referring back to the table above, 99% of the time we'll be playing for $2, $4 or $6 at these stakes. If we can cash 40% of the time then we can make 6% ROI without even taking the larger prizes into account!
 
CAVEAT(S):
It is certain that good regulars will have looked at the maths and will know all of this, so it's likely that there are Spin & Go specialists playing these games.
 
I'm not sure what win %s are realistic in 3-handed Hypers though I saw a HUSNG professional do very well in Heads-Up Hypers a few years back. I suspect 40% is manageable at the lower buy-in Spin & Gos but this would require quality short handed and heads-up play.
 
Anyway, I was foolish to dismiss these out of hand, and as I'm only a recreational player these days, I might play a few for fun!

Edit:
This link explains it all much better than I did!
 
GL


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Sunday Storm & Other

Played in the $1m Sunday Storm on Stars, lost a couple of medium pots before getting the chips in as favourite but losing my stack well away from the money.

Stars seemed to be teeming with players of all standards, I hope the game has reached some kind of equilibrium after the boom during the last decade and decline following the US federal action against the online games.

Meanwhile I'm playing a few SNGs now and then to convert some T$ I had accrued in Full Tilt and build up my cash bankroll. I may begin to sit into the Zoom games again at 25NL Full Ring when I've done this, though it would be interesting to know if anyone continues to beat them at a decent rate.

Assuming I more or less break even in the SNGs (where my ICM knowledge is limited) I should have about $750 to invest in Zoom or around 30 buy-ins. This offers enough cover should I drop a few buy-ins off the bat. I'm bound to be rusty.

I'll also try and watch my stack size carefully. When I dipped back into Zoom last year I made a mistake in a big pot which crushed my confidence for a while though I'd been playing well to that point.

Will try and make my next post a little more interesting and include a hand history or two.

GL

Friday, 10 March 2017

Micro Time Tourneys

Hi all,

Just playing a few tournaments at the moment and trying my hand at the PokerStars 'Time Tourneys'.

It seems to me that these attract a large number of gamblers and casual players given the number of bizarre hands people are getting all-in with before the time runs out.

Given that the equity is shared out to the remaining players based on stack size should it not work like the bubble of a tournament when time gets short? Unless I'm missing some obvious mathematics, if you have a strategy that is chip winning on average and you obey basic bubble risk management I'd be surprised if this didn't equate to a nice ROI.

Of course at higher stakes I imagine these are full of ICM experts but at the Micros should be solid money here. Not to mention these are pretty damn fun to play!

If anyone else has thoughts on these or if my maths is way out please post below!

GL

Edit:

I've had a chance to look at these more closely, and actually, I was making a foolish mathematical mistake as it seems that the ICM isn't required at all and time is only relevant when thinking in terms of 'hourly' win rates.

The prize money is distributed calculated on your % of chips as a % of total chips in play. So it's just a cash game dressed as a tournament. I can demonstrate the maths with a simple hand that I misplayed just now.

PokerStars Hand #167394871397: Tournament #1843138363, $2.00+$0.20 USD Hold'em No Limit - Level III (300/600) - 2017/03/10 19:32:44 WET [2017/03/10 14:32:44 ET]
Table '1843138363 7' 9-max Seat #3 is the button
Seat 1: MrSmacks (2560 in chips)
Seat 2: AlwaysFoldAc (13020 in chips)
Seat 3: seikopiet (10180 in chips)
Seat 4: kushnerev A. (9240 in chips) is sitting out
Seat 5: BankoBet (2900 in chips)
Seat 6: pedrojam (6200 in chips)
Seat 7: ShellShark1 (2380 in chips)
Seat 8: vestjyden54 (8540 in chips)
Seat 9: pavlovsdoc (15820 in chips)
MrSmacks: posts the ante 60
AlwaysFoldAc: posts the ante 60
seikopiet: posts the ante 60
kushnerev A.: posts the ante 60
BankoBet: posts the ante 60
pedrojam: posts the ante 60
ShellShark1: posts the ante 60
vestjyden54: posts the ante 60
pavlovsdoc: posts the ante 60
kushnerev A.: posts small blind 300
BankoBet: posts big blind 600
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to BankoBet [8d 8s]
pedrojam: folds
kushnerev A. has returned
ShellShark1: folds
vestjyden54: folds
pavlovsdoc: folds
MrSmacks: folds
AlwaysFoldAc: raises 1200 to 1800
seikopiet: calls 1800
kushnerev A.: calls 1500
BankoBet has timed out
BankoBet: folds
*** FLOP *** [5c 4d Js]
BankoBet is sitting out
BankoBet has returned
kushnerev A.: checks
AlwaysFoldAc: bets 11160 and is all-in
seikopiet: folds
kushnerev A.: folds
Uncalled bet (11160) returned to AlwaysFoldAc
AlwaysFoldAc collected 6540 from pot
AlwaysFoldAc: doesn't show hand
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 6540 | Rake 0
Board [5c 4d Js]
Seat 1: MrSmacks folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 2: AlwaysFoldAc collected (6540)
Seat 3: seikopiet (button) folded on the Flop
Seat 4: kushnerev A. (small blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 5: BankoBet (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 6: pedrojam folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: ShellShark1 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: vestjyden54 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: pavlovsdoc folded before Flop (didn't bet)
I'll give you a moment to stop laughing at my fold...

So giving some rough ranges to my opponents and assuming a call puts me all-in (which it effectively does) lets assign me 30% equity in a four-way pot. The prize pool is $522 and there were 261 players hence 783,000 total chips in play. At the start of the tournament each player's stack has equity of 3000/783000 x $522 = $2 or $0.0007 per chip.

In the hand, my expected value if I fold is (2240/783000) x $522 = $1.49 and $0.0007 per chip.
If I call, it is 30% x ((1440 + 8960)/783000) x $522 = $2.079 so it's a very easy call in reality.
The $6.93 stack if I won would be worth $0.0007 per chip.

Chip value never changes so it's essentially a cash game with loose players.

As a caveat though, rake is steep at 10% in these tournaments so whether the general looseness compensates for the high tax I'm not sure.

But I enjoyed being able to play for a fixed time, so I might dip into these again. Anyone with a decent understanding of pot odds should do OK.

*************************************

As a general update, I don't play much any more, just when I feel like it. So I'm certainly not a winner any more, but it's kind of refreshing to play for fun (as I did once long ago) without putting loads of pressure on myself to play mistake free poker.