Thursday, July 30, 2015

Again... trying new things at the table

I've been posting some oddities / things I'm doing off-norm to experiment with live play and see where it takes me.  Last week, I posted a hand where I decided to flop / squeeze a wet board with blanks, into what seemed like a weak cbet, scared of flopped trips...  It backfired in my face :-).  However, I did get a cool comment out of it: I have "balls of steel."  Nice!

Anyway, your hero joins the fracas this week with a hand from last night:
Straddled to $8 from UTG, who is a Iranian guy - crazy, hot headed who just loves to get loud and grouse about anything and everything.  He also is in love with the raise; he's got a wide range from all positions and is not afraid to "ship it" with weak holdings.  So far, he's made correct reads and worked his stack up from $300 to $500.  I'm on the BTN and I overlimp 3 players to my right with QJhh when it gets to UTG who pops it to $25 on top.  Folds around to the player immediately to my right (weakish player, plays hands face up, etc. - generally non-thinking) who thinks for a bit then calls the $25.

Action to me and I pump it up to $100, having had the plan all along.  Thought is that I can see a flop cheap for $8 with suited connectors / premiums if it checks through or I can squeeze the UTG if / when his bet comes as somewhat expected.  There's a ton of dead money (around $35 plus the UTG $25 + the guy on my right's $25) and UTG is rarely ever showing up with a hand.

Thoughts?  Thoughts on bet sizing?  What about the overall execution?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Vegas, baby!

I'm headed out to Vegas on Friday morning...  plans are for a 5 day trip.  I'm looking to perhaps mix it up with a few tournaments since I'll have the time to put in.  Here are the "major" guaranteed tourneys going on while I'm there:
  • Venetian 8/1 12pm $300 $15k guaranteed - 12k chips, 30 minute levels
  • Wynn 8/1 12pm $225 $25k guaranteed - 10k chips, 40 minute levels
  • Venetian 8/4 12pm $150 $10k guaranteed - 12k chips, 30 minute levels
So, having never played a wide field tournament, how long do these events last?  If it starts at 12, will I be playing into the dinner hour?   Are they one-day events?  Would any of the above be considered "good value?"  Do the weekly guaranteed at these places carry an overlay (which would be nice)? 

Likely, I'll play the Wynn 8/1 and the Venetian 8/4 from the look of it.  The rest of the days and time that I have will be filled with 1/3 cash games.  Best I can tell, the places for cash games are the Venetian, Belagio, ARIA and Wynn - and based on Rob's latest details with Orel Hershiser, I'll probably go with the ARIA primarily.


Friday, July 24, 2015

My night last night...

I played poorly - and have minus one buy in to show for it.  In light of the poor play and sucky cards, I think that's not a bad result...

As evidenced:
98o <  99 - Top two vs. top set... live poker is rigged
AQ < 89dd - should have gotten away from that on the flop but paid off ~$100
KK < JT - just stupid play on my opponent who flopped 2 pair but should have never called pre-flop
57hh < 46o - Turned straight runs into rivered boat

I realized that I'm having a problem playing off the mid-stacks (~$150) when I have a good hand.  I need to break myself of that habit - despite my raises pre-flop...

In good news, I played $100 worth of promotional chips and won back a $70 return at the blackjack tables!  That feels good, even though I'm convinced I'm playing wrong.  Does such a small sample size really matter when I'm playing for promo chips?  I don't really care to take the time to print out the algorithms and "correct play."  I just went by gut - I guess I did alright last night :-)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Interesting "reg" hand from 'Shoe - what would you do?

I'm settled into a nice session, around $800 deep at $1/3, playing against two regs with $300 each.  These are competent, thinking regs.

Tight reg 1 in EP raises to $15, gets called by thinking reg 2 and me (5h4h), in addition to 3 other players - we see a Td9dTc flop with $90 in the pot.

Original raiser leads for $30 and gets called after some thought by reg 2, when action lands on me.  I think about what I'm going to do.  While I'm thinking, I get the 3 strap hangers to folding out of turn, returning whatever action I take back to reg 1, but I still have yet to act.  Yes, that's right - they folded while waiting for my anticipated raise...  My decisions are a bit easier now, having knowledge that I'm against 2 regs and no Tx hands by the 3 folders.  Reg 1 rarely has a Tx hand because she opened EP - she's rarely (if ever) opening AT, let alone a lesser hand baring TT.  Moreover, TT is not likely to lead this flop - drawing hands can really only call (i.e. no Tx hands available).  Reg 2 is most likely that drawing hand - he paused for a good long time before making the call - likely deciding between raising and calling but barring raising because of the paired board.  I come to the conclusion that I should put in a healthy pot sized raise here - I raise to $115 - it will fold reg 1's [expected] JJ+, and should fold reg 2's draws.  If reg 2 doesn't fold on the flop, then although I sweat a whole bunch of bad turns, I can possibly push him off the turn but I do think it's likely he'll fold my large raise on the flop.  Thoughts?

Click to see results

I wound up putting in $115, only to be shoved on for $300 by reg 1. Reg 2 folded and I was left wondering in amazement before folding. Ouch! After a bit of table talk, she let on that she flopped 9's full and was fearful of being sucked out on by Tx, exactly what I was representing... Oh well - sometimes you succeed in a clever move, sometimes you fail. It seems I fail more often than not - maybe I should stop bluffing :-)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mohegan Sun Pocono trip report

Not much poker to report lately; I've been vacationing (vacating?) with the family in the Pennsylvania hills of the Poconos!  As is typical for me, I'll experience a good run followed by a series of bankroll destroying sessions (with quotes, because they actually don't destroy my bankroll but mentally destroy me).  Overall, I make money and average out to a decent hourly rate (~10x BB / hr, which is considered beating the game handily) but it's till frustrating to ride the downs of the game.  Coming into PA, I'm riding a downswing of about 3 sessions.

Anyway, since Pennsylvania (PA henceforth since it's annoying to type out the whole name of the state) recently added gambling to their sources of revenue / taxes, pretty much anywhere in the state, you're reasonably close to a casino.  In this case, I was about 30 minutes from Mount Airy Casino Resort and 35 minutes from Mohegan Sun Pocono.  I opted for the latter because of the game selection; Mount Airy had 2 tables going and Mohegan had 4-5.  I wound up playing a sum total of 2 sessions with 1 interesting hand to discuss.  Before I get into the hand in question, let me set up the Mohegan Sun room:

This is very much a locals casino.  The poker room is located far away from the main parking lot, in a subterranean area underneath the live horse racing track.  No windows, but decently lit room - however, it feels like a basement, which it is.  The room maybe has 15 tables, spread out, with 3-4 $1/2 tables operating at any given time, in addition to the low buy in tournaments that run daily with buy ins of $40-$125.  The room is comfortable, reasonably clean (the chips are filthy though), and the floor staff and dealers are friendly.  I found the locals to be welcoming, but they are definitely locals - they know one another and know how to play one another.  Fortunately, they're mostly awful players, save for a few exceptions - 3 players to be exact - who know how to maximize and seem like they would be consistent winners.

The room has magazines 'a' plenty, offering back issues of Card Player and Ante Up! magazine.  They also have some interesting promotions.  Instead of the bad beat jackpot, they have a roughly 12 hour high hand which wins all the bad beat drop money that was collected during that 12 hour period.  Typically, the high hand wins ~$400.  Yes, high hand is anything from a flush on up - you must use both cards in your hand and a pair in your hand for quads to qualify.  Another, even better, offering is the hot seat promotion that runs from 10pm - 2am and 3pm - 7pm on Sundays and Mondays through July.  Every 20 minutes during those times, they pull a seat out of a hat and award the winner $100 cash.  Given the limited tables in play, this is an awesome promotion with each player having a very high chance of winning at least once!

So, going into the room, I'm running on a down streak which continued for my first session.  I've been card dead for those prior sessions, and I could feel my cards starting to pick up - I was dealt KK, AQ, and some other premiums as well as hitting 2 pairs a few times.  One hand, I limped 67s and flopped 6s7sTd beauty 7 way.  SB leads for $10, I bump it to $30, call, to my left raises to $85, flat, flat, SB folds, I stop & think for a long time before folding, fold, raise all in, re-raise all in, and the rest fold - turns out to be a set of 7's (live poker is rigged) vs. the flopped nuts with a re-draw (8s9s).  6 on the river (live poker is rigged) and the 7's full takes it down.  I pat myself on the back and silently curse the poker gods.

However, I still got hit by the cooler stick on a later hand that I'd like to discuss:

I'm dealt 22 in EP and limp / call a $7 standard raise by a bad player.  6 way flop of 7 6 6 rainbow - a good flop for a small pair like mine, but 6 way?  I check and it checks through to a turn 3.  I lead the turn for $15 and I get called by one of the competent players who thoughtfully called (as opposed to snap called).  2 falls on the river (nice!) and I lead for $60 - hoping he has a 7 or 45 or something worthwhile.  This guy hasn't said anything to me all night - but he takes off his sunglasses, and asks me why so much - and why the flip of the chip at the end?  (I'd been putting out a stack and then flipping the last one in all night, just as I bet this pot.)  I answered that I'd been doing that all night - and after careful thought, he announces all in for about $100 more.  I snap call and am shown 77 for 7's full besting my 2's full (live poker is rigged).  Down a buy in+, I walk away an hour or two later down less than a buy in.  Thoughts on folding the hand?  I keep thinking this is a straight cooler, but wonder if I can be folding to a competent player in this spot.  At that point in the hand, given the paired board and the sudden interest in the pot, is he ever shoving worse than a boat?  In other words, is he shoving 6x or 45?  Overpairs?  I don't think it's a big leak calling that bet - (I don't think betting the river is wrong ever) but thoughts on how the hand played?  I go back & forth on my being coolered vs. overplaying my hand.

Next session I played on Monday night.  It was a 180 turnaround from the prior session; I hit every draw (including a hot seat for $100!) and walked away a huge winner.  One funny hand:

My image is very aggro, but showing down every time with the winning hand that no one is giving me credit for.  I sit on $800 vs. my opponent with $250.  Host of limpers and I raise KQo to $15 on the BTN.  3 callers - $60 in the pot and a broadway A J T rainbow (just the nuts ho hum) flop.  Middle to late aged man bets into me for $30 and I call, hoping I get at least one other caller - no such luck.  Turn is an 8 or something.  He continues to lead for $60 and now I stop and think - he's committed to the hand!  He's got $150 behind or so.  I think for awhile and finally shove - he hesitates for a good long time before finally stacking his chips and calling.  I don't hesitate to show the nuts immediately, and he shoves his high stack over, throwing his cards down in disgust and walks away.  In writing this, it was funnier to witness than read, but the whole table was amused...  Poor guy.

Hopefully, I can continue the run into tonight's session at the 'Shoe now that I'm back in town.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

#18 in chips in WSOP event #22!!! GO JOSH!!!

Just a quick update that my former co-writer, Josh, is currently #18 in chips in the WSOP #22 event!  Good luck Josh when you start in an hour!

Friday, June 5, 2015

A quick good luck to all those playing the WSOP events

I missed a post on the poker tells series that I've been doing each week - that took a back seat to the real world work.  I've been so slammed between my job & starting the next semester of school that I haven't had much breathing room.

All work and no play makes Poker Meister a dull boy, as they say...  Therefore, I was able to get in a session last night.  I took what was shaping up to be my best session ever - I hit all sorts of improbably BS from the blinds - J4 boated, a concealed QJ straighted, a 34ss backdoor straighted and called a river c/r all in bluff, etc. - that I was running on God mode, until it stopped.  It was a bit deflating after crushing for the first 2 hours, but I came off my peak in the ensuing 3 hours, nevertheless turning in a solid session.

Anyway, I wanted to wish all of my friends - online & off - a quick good luck out there at the tables in Vegas this week!  Good luck to Josh, [I think] PPP, MOJO, Lighting36, Brian, [looks like] edgie, Rob, GolfPro and any others who I may have forgotten!  I hope each of you can bring home a bracelet!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Thursday's session summary

Nothing much to talk about from last week's session.  I was playing well, but variance was certainly my enemy.  I had a bunch of stupid hands where they should have held and / or won, but suckouts got the better of me.  I'm going to post them as whining, just to get them off my chest.

Hand 1: Terrible player limps and it limps 5-way with a Q Q 7 flop (I hold KQ from mid position).  Checks to BTN who leads for $10 and calls around to me - I raise to $25.  BTN calls as does 1 other player.  Terrible player raises to $110 and it folds out the field; I just call.  Turn is a 4 and he shoves for $160 - I call and am shown QJo.  River: 4.  Puke - we chop.

Hand 2:  Same terrible player as above calls a raise for $10 as do I with KJo on the BTN and we see a Jc8c9s flop.  Original raiser plus others check to me & I lead for $45 into $55.  Terrible player calls.  Turn is a blank and I lead for his remaining stack, $110.  He snap calls.  River is a Qx and he shows Qc5c for the winner.

Hand 3: Limps 8-way around to me in the BB and I look down at JJ.  I raise to $30.  UTG calls ($12 behind - yes $12!!! behind), folds around to another shorty who calls ($35 behind - yes $35!!! behind) and finally competent player in SB calls.  I love how a limp is worth the same as a $30 call, but standard - whatevers...  Anywho, flop comes AcTc5 and I'm basically checked out of this hand.  SB checks, I check, shorty shoves for $12 ($12!!! - yes $12!!!), other bad player just calls, as does SB - I decide to call and pray for my J.  No such poker luck - 9s on the turn and it checks to the remaining short stack who shoves for the remaining $22 - check / raised by SB, and I fold.  River a Ten and SB shows Ts9s for the boat, first shorty doesn't show - he had a small pocket pair (which idiot should have shoved PF), and second shorty shows Ad4d.  Facepalm - these are idiots who have to actively manage breathing on a regular basis...  It just pisses me off that not only did A4 get there on me, but T9 who I have crushed totally nutted on me.  No fault of the T9 guy, but still - the awful play is just... well... awful!

Otherwise, there was one hand of note which wasn't even really an eye raiser:
I'm sitting at the table with a favorite fish of mine.  At this point in the night, I actually just moved tables to be with my fish, who invited me over to his table.  This guy loves to bet bet bet and push the table around.  You can sit on a set with him and he'll bet it for you.  I've taken to flat calling him more often than raising him and getting aggressive with him because I feel like he bluffs far more frequently than bets his draws / value hands.

Regardless, he leads UTG for $15 and I flat with AKo after the competent player above flats.  I think 5 see a flop of 5c6cKd.  Now my friend the fish is not dumb enough to try to bluff out 5 other players unless he has a significant hand, but he checks the flop.  Competent player - who I read to be a serious player in all of the 3-4 hands I have on him at this point - leads for $25 into the $60 pot - weak sauce.  I raise him to $75 which folds out the table back to him.  He shoves over for $165 more.

Thoughts?  FWIW, I folded.

Oh yeah - as I'm cashing out, I found a $25 green chip on the floor!  Woot woot free moneys!!!!  And, to add free money to free money, I got my $25 weekly bet promotion bonus (the 'Shoe is giving me $25 / week for May and [at least] June) PLUS a one-day offer of a $25 promotional chip on this past Friday.  I wound up playing until around 12:30 AM and picked up my free money - on the $50 in bets, I won a whopping total of $15 at roulette :-(.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Last Friday's summary

I took a 5 day weekend culminating in Memorial Day this past Monday.  With no family plans (kids are in school), I decided to go & play in Baltimore on Thursday and Friday.  Unfortunately, I was card dead for the huge majority of the time; I was fighting being in for a buy in until I finally hit a cooler against a kid who considers himself a pro.  As played, I feel I could have gotten away from the hand; it likens back to the hand that played out a few weeks ago against the drunk kid who bet 2 buy ins on the river.

Again, this is against a self-titled pro:

1/3 - Deep stacked $800 effective stacks, I'm dealt AA in mid position, I raise to $20.
Called in 2-3 spots and we see a flop of Ad Kd 3s.
I lead for $25 and "pro" raises to $55.  Note: pro hasn't gotten out of line since I've been at the table, quietly going about his business and not getting aggressive unless he shows down the nuts.
I size up the situation, realizing that he's never folding my next bet, so I raise to $165 - he snap calls.  I put him on a set of 3's.

Turn is 2c - I lead for $300 and he raises all in for $565 remaining - I obviously snap call and he never shows his 3's.

River runs clean and I scoop a huge pot.

Next day, I'm playing during the day with $365 effective - I call a $15 raise with 4 4, as does an annoying woman to my left.

Flop comes K Q 6 and it checks through (I'm ready to check out if there's a bet).

Turn is a 4 putting out 2 spades and annoying woman leads for $45.  I raise to $120 and she insta shoves.  I call and am shown KK.

Nice no 3bet and nice flop check.  I'm outplayed and I'm done for the second session in as many days :-(.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Poker Tells, Part 3 - Quick Calling

I've seen this tell quite frequently - particularly among the lesser experienced players.  If the board is a drawing board, players will act quickly and without thought to call a bet when facing one.  For example, on a board like Ts 6s 2c, if you see your opponent quickly call a bet, it's very likely that they're on a draw - be it spades or the gutshot(s).

Inexperienced players have little to think about when they're drawing; the consideration is never there to get out of line (i.e. raising, etc.), so they'll already know their one move is to call.  Why Hollywood when you're anxious to see the next card off the top?  On the other hand, and examining the hand by contradiction, let's say you have a set or top two on that board; wouldn't you be considering raising?  Wouldn't you at least stop to think about what actions you should take to get the most money in the pot while you think you're ahead?

In other words, the quick call is almost always a drawing hand.  This tell should be cautioned, though, because a player can sometimes show up with a weak top pair, or even second and third pairs hoping to catch up on the turn.

As you become a more experienced player, you should recognize this tell fairly easily, and be aware that you may be doing it yourself.  Try to spend the same amount of time on all decisions, so as to not give away timing tells such as the one described above.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Poker tells, Part 2 - Flipping your hand and looking for a reaction

Continuing with my series on poker tells, the next tell requires a little prompting on your part.  How often have you been a tough situation like the following: you're on the river, action is closed to you, and you're pondering whether to make the call.  You know you're not going to raise, but this guy is either full of crap or has a better hand than you.  This case most likely arises when there's a 3 flush on the board, or you're holding a pair-type hand.  Have you ever thought about getting additional information, rather than just sitting in your seat

When you flip your hand, look at their reaction.  Is their face totally dropped from a moment ago's look of confidence?  When you do something unexpected to your opponent, they don't have time to collect their reactions and stuff them deep down inside.  What you're seeing in that first second of reaction is a truly genuine response.

What I usually see is the face drop, followed by the posture of confidence and head-shaking; i.e. a "sympathizing" with the you that you have such a tough decision to make...  Sometimes, I've seen the nervous tension met with laughter - which, while strange, is another way to break the suspense for your opponent.  However, you need to pay particular attention to that initial gut reaction - it's genuine!

In my opinion, this is a very reliable tell, but you should really minimize its use to once or twice per session (or less).  I've found it to help me out a TON in really tough spots!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Short review of Reading Poker Tells & tells I've noticed at the table

There are hundreds, if not thousands of poker tells, and most likely enough books to cover each tell individually.  I have probably ready 2 or 3 of those books - most recently Zach Elwood's Reading Poker Tells.  FYI - He keeps a great blog, complete with video footage and discounts on his book.  It's a worthy read if you find yourself playing live poker regularly.

Anyway, his book details (around a page or so per) the different tells he's seen throughout his career.  It's quite useful - a nice update to the other useful book I've read which is quite dated at this point, Mike Caro's Book of Poker Tells.  Mr. Elwood goes through the tell, reasons behind the tell, reliability, things to look out for, etc.  I took notes on the book awhile back, because there were some key takeaways in there.

  • Acting ready to muck

    I used to do this myself, having resigned to see my opponents ready to fold.  It's true, though: when I knew I held the winning hand, I would signal mucking my cards prior to my opponent's completing action when facing my bet.  The way I looked at my action was as a challenge or a dare for my opponent to call me.  That's exactly what it is, unfortunately.  It's strength on a dare.  I've since stopped using this tell for my own actions, but I definitely watch out for in when my opponents do it.  Quite honestly, though, I rarely see it done by my opponents.
  • Aversions to lying

    Mr. Elwood points out that people have an aversion to lying.  Unless you're a pathological and actually enjoy lying, you try to tell the truth.  After all, it's easier to tell the truth than to make up a lie.  Therefore, most players will tell the truth when announcing their hands - specifically when they're announcing a precise hand.  An example succinctly shows this point:

    The other night I saw a guy announce to another player that he flopped a set of Kings – after the action had been 3bet by his opponent PF.  His opponent, in disbelief, went ahead and open shoved all in on the flop only to be shown a set of Kings (it was a semi-interesting hand, but that’s outside of the scope of this post).  Although I’m very familiar with this tell, it serves to be pointed out as a prudent tell for other players who are unfamiliar.  When a player precisely declares his hand, he usually is telling the truth.

    Mr. Elwood goes on to point out the example of particularly reckless or aggressive players who play a lot of hands.  On occasion, they’ll declare their hands (i.e. a flop of 7 7 2 and they tell their opponents that they have 7 2, or if they suddenly declare they have AA after raising all day and night on prior hands).  It is usually true when they declare these things; the declaration is so far from the truth that they’re proud to announce and believe they’re tricking their opponent into making a bad decision.
I've also seen some commonly repeated, highly reliable tells on my own.  I wanted to catalog them and share with my readers.  Therefore, I'm going to start a segment (trying to make it weekly) on poker tells; one tell per post.  Of note, these are the tells I've noticed at the low stakes 1/2, 1/3 games - so not necessarily reliable at higher stakes (because of purposeful miscues as players become more intelligent and aware of their actions).  I'll leave you with the most common and useful of all the tells I've ever noticed:

Heavy / deep breathing or high heart rate

This is such a reliable tell for all players.  Most players cannot contain the excitement when they've just smacked the board.  If they're betting, look out!  Take a second and look at your opponent.  Can you see his chest moving up & down with each breath?  Are the veins in his neck pulsing like crazy?  Sweating?  He almost always has a monster here and can't contain the adrenaline rush that he received from knowing that he has the nuts (or close to it).  I've used this time & time again to fold my better hands that can sustain heat, after realizing that these guys have top set or better.

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