Thursday, October 29, 2009

Biggest $ pot ever won #2

This is a very interesting hand from seeing the showdown. I set over setted someone + hit a 1 outter against AK while holding KK.

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 8 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

MP2: $53.65
CO: $16.10
BTN: $18.25
SB: $32.55
BB: $49.50
Hero (UTG): $75.90
UTG+1: $10.00
MP1: $22.30

UTG+1 posts a big blind ($0.50)

Pre Flop: ($1.25) Hero is UTG with Kd Kc
Hero raises to $2, 1 fold, MP1 calls $2, MP2 raises to $8, 4 folds, Hero raises to $16, MP1 raises to $22.30 all in, MP2 calls $14.30, Hero calls $6.30

Flop: ($68.15) Tc Ks 6d (3 players - 1 is all in)
Hero checks, MP2 bets $31.35 all in, Hero calls $31.35

Turn: ($130.85) 6h (3 players - 2 are all in)

River: ($130.85) 3s (3 players - 2 are all in)

Final Pot: $130.85
MP2 shows Kh As (two pair, Kings and Sixes)
Hero shows Kd Kc (a full house, Kings full of Sixes)
MP1 shows Th Td (a full house, Tens full of Sixes)
Hero wins $62.70
Hero wins $65.15
(Rake: $3.00)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What would you do? #15

Against a well-known reg - 16/11/2.6 @ 740 hands... To date, I have never bets this strong from him with any hands I've seen to date.

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 Pot Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

UTG+2: $50.00
MP1: $21.65
MP2: $50.00
CO: $21.40
Hero (BTN): $76.90
SB: $51.85
BB: $17.90
UTG: $10.95
UTG+1: $27.20

CO posts a big blind ($0.50)

Pre Flop: ($1.25) Hero is BTN with Td As
3 folds, MP1 raises to $1, MP2 calls $1, CO calls $0.50, Hero calls $1, SB calls $0.75, 1 fold
Weak raise, Mp2 calling, CO calling - a decent Ace gets me calling.

Flop: ($5.50) 3h Th 6d (5 players)
SB checks, MP1 bets $0.50, MP2 raises to $3, CO folds, Hero calls $3, SB folds, MP1 folds
With the heart draw, MP1's bet makes no sense (.50 into 5.50?). However, a healthy raise from MP2 has my warning lights on. He's not raising enough to throw the hand away, so I call to see a turn card.

Turn: ($12.00) 2c (2 players)
MP2 bets $8, Hero ???
To date, I have never seen this particular opponent lead / raise / bet so strongly. The only thing I can put him on is a limped 33 or 66 for the set. I have to imagine that if he has JJ-AA, he would have re-raised PF, though his stats suggest that he doesn't 3 bet very often at all. Therefore, I put him on a set. I just don't see him flatting PF with AT-JT and betting crazy like this.

Click to see results

Hero folds

Final Pot: $12.00
MP2 wins $11.40
(Rake: $0.60)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Value Semi-Bluff Stab

Every now and than you'll play in pots where it seems that everyone is weak or dis-interested. This could be due to the fact that a large number of players are in the hand or because each player genuinely does not "know where they're at". I've found that simply taking a convincing stab at the pot can be a highly profitably move.

For example, if you were to bet about half the pot, you would only need to force your opponents to fold once for every three times you make this stab. If you were to bet slightly less, say, a quarter or a third of the pot, this move is even more successful because it puts your opponents in the same position while putting less chips at risk. Also keep in mind that while making small bets in proportion to the pot may often look weak, when you are multi-way, say 3-5 opponents, these bets tend to look much stronger since all players realize that their holdings have diminished in value. Most players, especially those that are passive, don't want to get sandwiched or call light with marginal hands.

The other type of stab which I call the 'Value Semi-Bluff' stab is when you know that there is no possible way for you to have the best hand at the time, [this only occurs on the flop or turn] but you are pretty sure that your hand may have the highest potential showdown value. This occurred in a recent hand that I played as seen below:

Full Tilt Poker $0.10/$0.25 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

BTN: $4.80
SB: $25.00
BB: $25.00
UTG: $28.24
Hero (UTG+1): $25.00
UTG+2: $21.46
MP1: $5.00
MP2: $41.07
CO: $14.65

Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is UTG+1 with 6s 8s
UTG calls $0.25, Hero calls $0.25, UTG+2 calls $0.25, 2 folds, CO raises to $1.25, 3 folds, UTG calls $1, Hero calls $1, 1 fold

Flop: ($4.35) 2s 9h Qh (3 players)
UTG checks, Hero checks, CO checks

Turn: ($4.35) 7s (3 players)
UTG checks, Hero bets $1.75, CO folds, UTG folds

As you can see here, I overlimped UTG+1 with 6s 8s, a hand that is pretty easy to play with deeper effective stacks. Let's not analyze the play of this limp or the loose call that I made from the CO's raise. Instead, my logic here is generally that the CO is going to have a wider range and once the UTG limper calls it's an easier over-call for me, with the added assumption that the other limper behind me will frequently over-call as well.

With the check through the turn, I have to assume that the CO pre-flop raiser is pretty weak [or slow-playing, but less likely] since she/he didn't continuation bet. This leads me to believe that the CO raiser had a hand less than top pair with the strongest hands in his range being JJ- or AK. The turn card becomes the best possible card that I can see, providing me with 6 outs to make a straight and 9 outs to make a flush.

With a Value Semi-Bluff stab at this pot, I only need to take it down right then and there about 1 in 3 times for it to be profitable. I'm also getting value out of hands that do flat call me each time a 10, 5 or spade falls on the river. It is possible for the river to back-fire, for instance, if the board is a spade or 10 which loses to a better flush [A-high or K-high] or a better straight [K-J]. However, I should expect to receive value out of hands that include top or second pair in all other instances. Nonetheless, I still believe that the Value Semi-Bluff stab is a good line to have in your arsenal which will cushion your stack during your cash game sessions.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Don't Berate Fish

I've always believed that the better you become at poker, the worse beats you'll take. This is because you'll get your chips in as a significant favorite more frequently than your competition. At times you will play a hand so well, that your opponent could not put you on your hand and ends up getting all of her/his chips in as a significant underdog. This is how bad beats tend to occur.

If you're going to be a successful poker player, you need to learn to deal with bad beats, suck-outs and people playing less-than-optimally. You also need to accept that the greatest amount of profit comes from players that play poorly, lack fundamentals and are unable to adapt to the various situations encountered during a session. We'll call these types of players fish.

I'm making a universal appeal to all poker players [particularly profitable players] that you never berate, insult or publicly humiliate a fish. This may be the hardest thing you ever do, but I beg of all poker players to never discourage a fish's style of play or worse, suggest that something they do is wrong. You don't have to encourage them [don't worry they'll do that on their own], but simply say 'Nice Hand' or 'You Got Me' and move on. There are a several theories to support this argument:

1) They'll Play Better Against You - The fish may be aware that they are unprofitably drawing to flushes or straights, but they will anyway because making a strong hand may be more important to them than the money itself. If you were to insult a fish, they may decide to not pursue these types of common leaks.

2) They May Gun for You - Because the logic of a fish is so far from optimal, they may put you to some really tough decisions when they decide that busting you is more important than the money. This dimishes your edge against the fish and makes playing pots with them far more unpredictable and volatile. The reason why a good player has an edge over a poor player is that they have more opportunities and decision points to make correct decisions. Good players can stretch out hand past the flop or turn to outplay and out-think their opponents. Fish don't do this.

3) They'll Leave - Do you really want to grind it out in tough games where everyone is playing VPIP = 20 and PR% = 10? I seriously doubt it. Game selection is probably the greatest common factor in the performance of profitable poker players. If you drive a clear loser of the game elsewhere, your overall equity will be negatively affected.

4) They'll Push You off of Your Winning Style - What makes them a fish is the same thing that makes you a winning player. In the long-run you make decisions that are superior to your competition. This includes betting, bluffing and tilting. You know how to play against the various types of fish, so stick with that and don't be fooled by their short-term variance against you.

So the next time you're about to blow-up at a fish in Hellmuth-fashion, realize that nothing good will come from your speech and that you're only costing yourself money.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What would you do? #14

~30 hands in, no particular reads. No particular reads on the player; this is a normal player... somewhere between 12-20 VPIP, etc.

Is any normal person folding in this spot, with 50BB effective stacks?

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 Pot Limit Hold'em - 7 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

BB: $43.70
UTG: $4.50
UTG+1: $86.10
MP: $25.30
CO: $51.90
BTN: $58.30
Hero (SB): $50.25

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is SB with Kh Ks
2 folds, MP calls $0.50, 2 folds, Hero raises to $2, BB calls $1.50, MP raises to $8, Hero raises to $26, 1 fold, MP calls $17.30 all in

Flop: ($52.60) 4c Ad 8h

Turn: ($52.60) Jc

River: ($52.60) 5c

Final Pot: $52.60

Click to see results

MP shows Ah As (three of a kind, Aces)
Hero shows Kh Ks (a pair of Kings)
MP wins $50.00
(Rake: $2.60)

What would you do? #13

Normally, this is not such an interesting hand. However, I got involved in this hand with a 14/11/1.2 over 90+ hands, which was the interesting part. So here's the what would you do? of the day:

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 Pot Limit Hold'em - 8 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

SB: $56.90
BB: $76.60
UTG: $50.00
UTG+1: $41.30
MP1: $47.00
MP2: $51.80
CO: $54.85
Hero (BTN): $120.80

UTG+1 posts a big blind ($0.50)

Pre Flop: ($1.50) Hero is BTN with 7h 6h
1 fold, UTG+1 checks, 2 folds, CO calls $0.50, Hero raises to $3, 3 folds, CO calls $2.50
Standard punish the limpers raise.

Flop: ($7.50) 8d 7s Ks (2 players)
CO checks, Hero bets $4, CO calls $4
Two spades, and a K is well in my range; I have reason to bet with the two spade draw-ey board.

Turn: ($15.50) 6d (2 players)
CO checks, Hero bets $12, CO calls $12
Here's where it gets interesting: I turn two pair. I'm less concerned about the CO completing his straight more than I'm concerned about the flush draw I'm putting him on. I don't think a 14/11 is limp / calling T9o... if he has Ts9s, then I would have expected a 3 bet flop. I definitely don't expect him showing up with 56, he's a fairly "smart" player in the hands I've seen to date. Therefore, what range am I putting him on? All manner of Kings, for starters - KQ, AK (likely would have raise / 3 bet flop), KJ (less likely from a 14/11), or a stubborn pocket pair.

River: ($39.50) Js (2 players)
CO bets $35.85 all in, Hero ???

What are you doing in this spot? It is totally marginal - I think I'm way ahead / way behind here. He can be slow playing a set, rivered a higher two pair, etc. Question is, does a 14/11/1.2 shove a river for value?

Click to see results

Hero calls $35.85
Final Pot: $111.20 CO shows 5h 5d (a pair of Fives)
Hero shows 7h 6h (two pair, Sevens and Sixes)
Hero wins $108.20 (Rake: $3.00)

Edit: I'm getting a little fancier on this blog; I have figured out how to show / hide results. I'm going to be doing this for future postings.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ViewSonic 22-inch VA2223wm 1080p Full HD LCD Monitor - $128


I just purchased two so I can run a dual monitor setup off of my new laptop. $270 for the two! 12 tables, here I come!

Don't Become Results-Oriented with Pocket Aces

Recently I got stacked with Pocket Aces. Who hasn't? It is something that everyone who plays this game will experience at one point or another; losing your buy-in or tournament life with AA. While it is the key to the game to get all of your money in before the flop with AA, it always seems to hurt more when you lose with AA than the good feeling that you get when you win with them.

How do we feel when we lose with Aces?

[ ] Cheated
[ ] Discouraged
[ ] Tilted
[ x ] All of the above

Some people become so disgusted from that one hand when they bust with Aces that they are permanently scared from the experience. Others feel that it happens to them so frequently that they give up playing the hand like it's the nuts and choose to take lines to survive with the hand rather than maximize with it. This is a huge leak and generally a sign of weak or passive play. If you can't make money with the best hand in the game, how do you expect to win with more speculative hands?

As I review my hand histories for $25 NL in PokerTracker, I noticed that my win rate with Pocket Aces is about 89% based on 20,000 hands. Now clearly this is a small sample size, but from what I've read, Pocket Aces stand to win around 86-88% of the time. Thus statistically speaking, I'm running better than average with my rockets so I have nothing to complain about.

Now that we have established the fact that Pocket Aces should be played fearlessly [but not wrecklessly] we need to recognize that about 12% of the time we will fall victim to misfortune and lose with them. And on average our losses will be much greater with AA than almost every other hand we play. This is because it is far more difficult to release AA on the flop of most boards than it is to release a hand like pocket 3s, where most of the time the board will not connect with our hand.

As I review each of my losses with AA, I'm generally concerned with the betting lines to determine where I went wrong.

-Was I 3 or 4-bet post-flop during the hand?
-Did I re-raise a player on a paired board?
-Did I slow-play them?

These are the types of questions I ask myself, because after all, if someone is going to take my buy-in I may as well learn how to prevent or minimize the impact during like scenarios in the future.

The inspiration for this article came from the following hand, which provides a situation where it is incredibly difficult for me to fold my AA. In fact after the hand history, I'll provide comments from a few friends that I asked for feedback.

The Official Hand History Converter

MP2: $8.76
CO: $4.87
BTN: $28.87
SB: $35.22
BB: $4.30
UTG: $77.19
Hero (UTG+1): $25.03
MP1: $15.49

Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is UTG+1 with Ad Ac
1 fold, Hero raises to $0.75, 4 folds, SB calls $0.65, 1 fold

Flop: ($1.75) 3c 2s 8d
SB bets $1.25, Hero raises to $3, SB calls $1.75

Turn: ($7.75) 4c
SB checks, Hero bets $5.75, SB calls $5.75

River: ($19.25) 4d
SB bets $18, Hero calls $15.53 all in

Final Pot: $50.31
SB shows 2c 2h (a full house, Twos full of Fours)

Hero mucks Ad Ac
SB wins $47.80
(Rake: $2.51)

Me: Do you go broke here?

Friend 1: All day everyday. 100% of the time I am getting it in there. There are so many hands that you beat that are plausible with the range that he is taking a flop there with. Only three hands beat you and there is really no worry of any drawing hands on the flop. Be glad to get it in on that board everytime.

Friend 2: Tough Hand. You got coolered. I think you have to slow down on the turn but you do have the Ac which tells you he is not on a draw like Ac8c or AcXc.

Me: I agree with Friend 1 and believed there were a lot of hands that I could beat including any pair above 88, A8 and the random person that will stack off with a missed AK or busted flush draw.

Friend 2: I think he played the hand well. If he re-raises you on the flop you're not getting it all in with him because most of the time you are going to see a set there.

Me: I was surprised to see the lowest boat possible at showdown. I would have expected him to re-raise the flop or check-raise all-in on the turn, given the amount of strength I've shown. But as Friend 2 indicated, it was his non-traditional line that got my call on the river.

So while your AA's will get cracked and sometimes in very difficult siutations such as this one, you cannot let that deter you from the other 85%+ times when they will win for you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Power of the in position 3 bet

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 6 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

MP: $10.45
CO: $10.70
Hero (BTN): $51.85
SB: $42.05
BB: $67.40
UTG: $50.00

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BTN with 7d 7c
UTG raises to $1.50, 2 folds, Hero raises to $4.25, 2 folds, UTG calls $2.75
UTG has been a very active player. I don't have the stats on him (at the time of this writing), but his open range is somewhere around 20. Therefore, I 3 bet him in position.

Flop: ($9.25) Ks 6c Ah (2 players)
UTG checks, Hero bets $4, UTG folds
Dry flop and he checks. I'm going to stab with a probing cbet. A raise or call from him means I give up. I'm assuming he may have been good here; he called a 3 bet out of position - I give him credit for pocket pairs. Given the way he's been playing, he's not folding inside draws (QJ QT JT), particularly for an under half pot bet... I don't think he's folding a King outright on the flop, and he certainly is not folding an Ace. That leaves us with TT, 99, 88 and less. My guess is he had 88.

Final Pot: $9.25
Hero wins $8.80
(Rake: $0.45)

What would you do? #12

Villain is a 50/12 in around 12 hands. Therefore, not much history on him. Are you making the call here?

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

UTG+1: $20.80
Hero (UTG+2): $106.60
MP1: $19.60
MP2: $17.60
CO: $9.25
BTN: $32.75
SB: $57.40
BB: $25.15
UTG: $28.40

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is UTG+2 with Ac Ts
2 folds, Hero raises to $1.50, MP1 calls $1.50, 4 folds, BB calls $1
I have been absolutely pounding on this weak passive table. I am stealing blinds at will, and with most of the players, if they are calling, they have a hand. However, I have limited history on the BB, other than he's playing 50% of his hands...

Flop: ($4.75) As 9c 3c (3 players)
BB bets $4.75, Hero calls $4.75, MP1 folds
He's leading a 2 club board... In limited history, since he has 50% of hands played, including raised pots, I'm suspicious about him. He's shown to be aggressive in the prior action, but has yet to

Turn: ($14.25) 9d (2 players)
BB bets $18.90 all in,
Is he leading the flop with 2nd pair when anyone knows an Ace is in everyone's range? He has seen me raise once in the 12 hands he's been involved at the table. To him, I'm showing 8/8... I have top pair with a weak kicker, but (limited history) 50 VPIP suggests he's playing weak aces, etc. What would you do?

Hero calls $18.90

River: ($52.05) 5c (2 players - 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $52.05
Hero shows Ac Ts (two pair, Aces and Nines)
BB shows 4s Ah (two pair, Aces and Nines)
Hero wins $49.45
(Rake: $2.60)

Monday, October 19, 2009

What would you do? #11

No history with this player; this was the first hand the player had played...

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 8 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

BB: $21.45
UTG: $10.75
UTG+1: $50.00
MP1: $40.00
MP2: $50.00
Hero (CO): $53.50
BTN: $27.10
SB: $10.00

MP1 posts a big blind ($0.50)

MP2 posts a big blind ($0.50)

Pre Flop: ($1.75) Hero is CO with Qs Td
2 folds, MP1 checks, MP2 checks, Hero raises to $2.75, 3 folds, MP1 calls $2.25, MP2 calls $2.25
Standard cutoff steal - but with 2 extra blinds posted, this is an even nicer spot. It sucks that both of the posters come along; I want to steal this outright...

Flop: ($9.00) 2d 2s 3d (3 players)
MP1 checks, MP2 checks, Hero checks

Turn: ($9.00) Qh (3 players)
MP1 checks, MP2 bets $4, Hero calls $4, MP1 folds

River: ($17.00) Js (2 players)
MP2 bets $17
Decision time. No knowledge of the player. I'm shooting in the dark with top pair weak kicker. What do you do?

Hero folds
I didn't want to compound my failed steal attempt with an even larger mistake of a $17.00 call. In my opinion, this is a coin flip situation. Are you making this call?

Final Pot: $17.00
MP2 wins $16.15
(Rake: $0.85)

The power of the in position 3 bet + a river bluff

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

MP1: $11.15
Hero (MP2): $62.00
CO: $11.05
BTN: $21.00
SB: $44.90
BB: $9.35
UTG: $57.40
UTG+1: $32.90
UTG+2: $40.85

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is MP2 with Qd Ac
2 folds, UTG+2 raises to $1.50, 1 fold, Hero raises to $4.25, 4 folds, UTG+2 calls $2.75
When you 3 bet (UTG+2 had a PFR of >13), your opponent generally puts you on a pretty narrow range. Things going in my favor include the fact that PT3 build 4 does not include (by default) 3 bet %. Therefore, people at $50NL, as a general rule, are not looking at 3 bet %. Therefore, to them, 3 bets mean one of 3-4 things: AA, KK, AK and less likely QQ. If you widen that range, you can get away with a lot more. Therefore, I 3 bet this "wide" raiser with AQo

Flop: ($9.25) 6s 4c Ks (2 players)
UTG+2 checks, Hero bets $5, UTG+2 calls $5
I can represent AK on this board, but I'm not happy at all about his flat.

Turn: ($19.25) Js (2 players)
UTG+2 checks, Hero checks
Spade draw gets there, and I'm giving up on the hand.

River: ($19.25) 8s (2 players)
UTG+2 checks, Hero bets $9, UTG+2 folds
A 4 flush is out on the board. Is UTG+2 ever going to check to me in this spot with the As or even Qs (second nuts)? I can easily represent AKo, cracked by the turned spade, but backdoored to the As. I'm fairly certain that he does not hold a spade either. As far as bet sizing is concerned, I waffled back and forth between $14 and $10, before settling on $9. I wanted to make the bet significant, but not so much as it looks like an outright steal. I wanted to make it too much for him to call with no spades or a small spade. However, I did not want to put a huge percentage of my stack on the line in the event I get called or check / raised. Therefore, I felt like $9 is a "call me" bet, but a significant (for these stakes) bet where he can't call me without a good spade.

I think my story makes sense, too - because I 3 bet him strong pre flop and led the flop on a King high board.

Final Pot: $19.25
Hero wins $18.30
(Rake: $0.95)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Every Hand Tells a Story, Part 2

Mr. Meister posted the following comment to my post entitled Every Hand Tells a Story which prompted me to elaborate on this topic:

"...Great insight. Here's my question: I am on Full Tilt with the same tools available (plus PT3) as you; i.e. I have the hand history tracker. How are you quickly determining the rundown of events from this player? I realize you only had 12 hands, but I've seen you do this before, with a much greater hand history. How are you quickly seeing what player was involved with what hands? Is there a filter? I think this method could be pretty powerful combined with PT3 (I realize PT3 has the same ability, but it can be a slow process to do this history regression on a particular player)..."

Often times I use this method when I haven't had a long history with a player nor player notes on the villain. This method has been very successful for me when determining the current state of mind of my opponents. Have I noticed them playing many pots recently? Did they just stack off or get bad-beated? Ultimately, this process allows me to more accurately assess the likelihood of my opponent to have a made hand vs. a bluff.

Having a full time bank certainly helps during these occasions. So how exactly do I determine 'a lot' of recent activity? Here is the basic framework to my decision-making:

1) If I see my opponent playing fairly straight-forward with profitable hands, raising when it seems standard, opening with hands with +EV, being conscientious of position, then I generally fold in these tough spots.

2) If the player has proven that they will play a lot of trash hands ignoring implied odds, stack sizes and position, I tend to stay in the hand and recognize that my hand has a lot of increased value.

3) If I haven't seen the player go to showdown all that much, I look for how often they are voluntarily contributing $ to a pot. It's easier to tell when an opponent has played in a hand when they win the pot. In the 'Last Hand' view the winner of the pot is highlighted and denoted as 'Winner'.

4) If I see the player having recently won a lot of small pots, or limping a lot and betting the flop a lot, I give them much less credit because this style represents a loose-aggressive style.

5) However, to tell whether they played in a pot and did not go to showdown and/or win the hand, I look at the amount of money in their stack from one hand to the next and am able to tell whether they played that hand or folded before the flop. So if I see that their stack has changed in size in several hands within an orbit or two, I know that they are most likely opening their range and are unlikely to have a big hand. Remember: Big hands [i.e. top 10%] just don't come that frequently that often.

6) If I don't have any information that I can interpret either way, such as, I haven't seen them showdown a hand and I only saw that they voluntarily contributed to a pot in 1 out of the last 5 hands, I generally ignore this method altogether and base my decision solely on hand reading, betting lines and stack sizes.

Sometimes it's that simple.


Speaking of the 3 bet... Here is a fine example: I am not looking to see a flop; I want to take it down right here & now. My hand has plenty of value at this point- I'm likely better than 50/50 with any of these players (2 limpers plus the open means that at least 1 or 2 share cards, if not all). The original open is a 35/18, giving him a range that I can drive a truck through.

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 8 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

BB: $50.00
UTG: $63.30
UTG+1: $10.00
MP1: $50.00
MP2: $49.25
CO: $51.30
Hero (BTN): $58.15
SB: $10.25

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BTN with 8s 8h
1 fold, UTG+1 raises to $2, MP1 calls $2, 1 fold, CO calls $2, Hero raises to $8, 5 folds

Final Pot: $8.75
Hero wins $8.75 - Good value for 88, a middling pair with little hope on the flop. No fuss, no muss, and no rake!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just got this forwarded from omgitsjosh - If you're feeling down about bad luck....

Simply redic!

Warning: More whining. This month has absolutely sucked so far. Negative variance continues to bite me in the ass (after last night, my all in luck has gone to $-310). I am now down a flat buy in on the month. I take solace in the fact that all is not lost; I am earning unprecedented rakeback dollars, more than pushing me in the black for the month. However, it truly sucks that I cannot get anything going for the last 15 days. Perhaps tonight will be the turn around?

(Note: is currently unavailable)
$0.25/$0.5 No Limit Holdem
7 Players
Convert hands with our

UTG 62.15
UTG+1 38.80
MP 50
CO 49.10
BTN 8.25
HERO (SB) 42.90
BB 48.70

Pre-Flop (0.75, 7 players)
Hero is SB with cA sA

UTG raises to 1.50 (60.65), 3 folds, BTN calls 1.50 (6.75), HERO raises to 6.50 (36.15), 1 fold, UTG calls 5 (55.65), BTN folds (6.75)

Flop (15, 2 players)
s9 s6 d4

HERO bets 15 (21.40), UTG goes all-in 55.65 (0.00), HERO goes all-in 21.40 (0.00)
Spade draw out on the board, but I have the As backdoor. I have to assume that this player has an overpair and it will be incredibly hard for him to get away. I am correct.

Turn (107.05, 2 players)

River (107.05, 2 players)

Final Pot: 107.05

HERO shows
cA sA

UTG shows
sQ dQ Gotta love the two outter.

UTG wins 104.05 ( won +41.90 )

BTN lost -1.50
HERO lost -42.90


$0.25/$0.5 No Limit Holdem
8 Players

UTG 46.15
UTG+1 15.60
MP1 50
MP2 38.80
CO 51.20
BTN 50
HERO (SB) 49.50
BB 50

Pre-Flop (0.75, 8 players)
Hero is SB with hK cK

1 fold, UTG+1 raises to 1.75 (13.85), 1 fold, MP2 calls 1.75 (37.05), 2 folds, HERO raises to 5.25 (44.00), 1 fold, UTG+1 calls 3.50 (10.35), MP2 folds (37.05)

Flop (12.75, 2 players)
s3 d6 s9

HERO bets 10.35 (33.90), UTG+1 goes all-in 10.35 (0.00)
Another spade draw; Either UTG+1 is calling or folding; he's not going to fold any pairs or overcards in my opinion. As per the prior post, I put the strong bet into action (even though a $12.75 pot means he's committed from the pre flop). I clearly am not folding to any street, so I may as well take the offensive and shove while I'm sure I'm good. I am correct in my statement.

Turn (33.45, 2 players)

River (33.45, 2 players)

Final Pot: 33.45

UTG+1 shows
sJ sK Of course. I love running bad. KJ > KK... G-d bless!

HERO shows
hK cK

UTG+1 wins 31.80 ( won +16.20 )

MP2 lost -1.75
HERO lost -15.60

Every Hand Tells a Story

Poker is about making the best decisions with the greatest frequency. Anybody can play the nuts or fold with 3 high when facing a bet on the river. It is everything in between which defines our style of play and success. We will constantly be faced with scenarios where we really don't know whether we're way ahead or way behind, we just know it's one or the other. Getting back to our orinigal premise of making the most correct decisions is where we become long-term focused as opposed to results-oriented.

Our opponents can be just as sneaky as we are. They can limp with AA, min-raise us with the nuts or take many different lines to bluff us. Often times we won't have the nuts and we enter into scenarios where we could be putting our entire stack on the line if we continue with our hand. However, when in a difficult spot without the nuts we need to always evaluate the storyboard of a hand or session.

Recently, I was involved in a hand where an opponent put me in a difficult spot at the river. Now some may say that this spot wasn't at all difficult and that my move was to insta-call. However, in the games that I play ($25NL) more often than not, players over-bet the nuts as opposed to over-bet bluff. Based on this I am generally cautious when someone has shoved or over-bet me.

Here is the hand:

CO: $25.37
BTN: $19.78
SB: $29.50
Hero (BB): $24.65
UTG: $5.12
UTG+1: $25.00
MP1: $11.12
MP2: $8.32
Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is BB with 4d 8d
5 folds, BTN calls $0.25, 1 fold, Hero checks

Flop: ($0.60) 9s 7c Jd (2 players)
Hero checks, BTN bets $0.25, Hero calls $0.25

I flop a gut-shot straight draw that could be counterfeited by KQ, but I would expect the button to raise pre-flop with KQ. I rationalize that floating for one BB is worthwhile to see a turn because there are many cards that could help my hand including any diamond or a 10.

Turn: ($1.10) 2d (2 players)
Hero bets $0.50, BTN raises to $1, Hero calls $0.50

I turn a 4-flush and still have my gut-shot straight draw which I'm now assuming would be good if I hit it. I elect to make a blocking bet which achieves the following:
1) I take the pot down right there with '8' high
2) I get called and make a nice 3/4 pot bet on the river if I hit or 2/3 pot if an overcard comes
3) I get raised off my hand and know that I'm most likely way behind and cannot continue because of the poor price I'm getting out of position.

Villain decides to min-raise me, which solidifies my assumption that my outs are most likely live. If the villain had KQ or a 4-flush I'd expect him to flat-call while in position so he doesn't get run out of the pot with a hand with good showdown value. I happily call his min raise.

River: ($3.10) Ts (2 players)
Hero bets $0.75, BTN raises to $18.28 all in, Hero requests TIME

Not quite the nuts, but still gives me a hand that can beat a lot of other hands like two pair or a set. I decided that a small bet designed to look like a bluff would yield the greatest expectation from this hand because it allows the villain to try to raise me off my hand. This is exactly what occurred and the button shoved all in.

This is where I need to get as much information as I possibly can about my opponent before making a fatal error. Is it possible for my opponent to have KQ or Q8--the two hands that beat me? Yes, it certainly is. Would my opponent bet the flop with either of these hands? A min bet--probably. Would my opponent raise the turn with either one of these hands? Most likely not. Would he shove the river as he did? My gut feeling is probably not and that he would go for a big bet but not a complete shove here. However, not wanting to get stacked with 3rd nuts when it is entirely possible for the villain to have 1st or 2nd nuts, I resorted to the last piece of information I had --> 'Last Hand'.

Because I did not have PokerTracker installed on my machine, I didn't have the luxury of seeing statistics of the villain. So I quickly scrolled through the 12 hands that I've observed while at the table. Here is a brief transcript:

Hand No. 1: Villain was active but no HH
Hand No. 2: Villain was active but no HH
Hand No. 5: Villain gets it all-in pre-flop with AKo and loses to 88. Total Pot = $14
Hand No. 7: Villain limped pre-flop, bet the flop and took down the pot = $0.81
Hand No. 8: Villain flat-called a 4x pre-flop and folded when two players got it all in on the flop
Hand No. 9: Villain limped and folded to a bet on the flop
Hand No. 11: Villain limps pre-flop, calls a pot size bet on the flop and folds to a bet on the turn
Hand No. 12: The current hand

So my read is this is an active player who recently flipped with AK and lost 28BB. While he showed a premium hand in defeat, he has shown activity recently, most likely due to tilt or steaming. He has been limping frequently and looking to find a spot to quickly 'win it all back'. Based on all of these factors, I reason that he is capable of bluffing or overplaying many hands here. I don't think his story makes sense and I elect to call the huge over-bet shove on the river.

Hero calls $17.53

Final Pot: $39.66
BTN shows 3s Ah (Ace Jack high)
Hero shows 4d 8d (a straight, Jack high)
Hero wins $37.68
(Rake: $1.98)

The cbet & the pre-flop raise

I picked up two interesting tidbits last night while I was watching the I received as part of my 5500 points that I earned last month. I was given a 1 month free access to online video training, which is awesome... So far, it's very good stuff. If you are not signed up for this service (and there is absolutely no cost for it), then you are doing yourself a disservice; you can receive increments of 1 week access for portions of 5500 points earned during that month. Disclaimer: I get no benefit or compensation for writing the above paragraph.

Anyway, in the one 45 minute video I watched (ghosting a guy ("Put me in coach Part 1" by schaffem111) who was replaying his 4 table session at a 6 max table), I was able to pick up on two items that have provided me instant profitability. Both have to do with bet sizes:
  • Betting high VPIPs who call/call
Every so often (at $50NL, almost every night), you will come across a player who has a VPIP above 40, and is limping many pre flops to see a flop and fold. Sometimes, these players will limp and call a raise. These types of players should become your best friends. They are milking machines, and you should be raising them every time you have good cards (in other words, you should never allow them to a limp a hand where you will be involved; play your game, but more aggressive with less limp, more raise). I get that - and I have known that fact for some time; I don't want to see a flop without juicing the pot with a guy that has two randoms. However, what I never really thought about was the bet sizing and the limp / caller. Here is a player that so desperately wants to see a flop, and he is willing to pay terrible odds, "just to see." What was suggested during the video was to raise to isolate, and raise a goodly amount.

For example, let's put you in MP and loose player in UTG position, at $50NL with full stacks (100 BBs). Generally, he limps and you raise a standard 3x + 1BB per limper. If you are doing that, you are not maximizing the value of the hand, pre flop. Instead of raising 3x, pop it to something like 4x + 1BB per limper. You know this guy is going to come along to see the flop, so why not get extra value, especially when you know you are CRUSHING his range? As with any pre-flop raised pot, you clearly need to re-evaluate the situation based on the flopped cards, but you have an extra bet in the middle that you ordinarily would not have.

Be careful with this idea though; this is for combating loose players who have a tendency to fold to cbets. If your donkey has a flop game, then I would suggest to adapt accordingly; you don't want to be constantly put to a decision and find yourself in awkward spots.

At any rate, I was definitely able to utilize this strategy last night to increase my profitability when I had position over a 74/18/1.6... We were both deep stacks at the table (I had ~$80 and he had ~$140) and I would continually raise his limps to $3 or more to isolate him, and then steal on the flop.
  • Betting out a high $$$ amount because they're either going to call or not
The other point I took away from the videos is betting for value on a dry board (an example is when you hold AK and the flop is A 5 9, etc.). When you know your opponent's range of cards, you should consider putting in a nice cbet, instead of 1/2 to 2/3 - the idea is that he is either calling or not. If he's a donkey who plays Ax, or someone who is only calling a raise with AJ+, he is not generally going to consider the size of the cbet in order to make a call; if he has AQ, AJ, AT, he is calling, PERIOD. He is not folding based on you betting pot vs. you betting half pot. I thought that was an interesting insight. I'm not sure if I'll be able to apply it; I need to watch for situations when I can use it... however it makes for playing for stacks much easier.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What would you do? #10

I have been taking the I received as part of my 5500 points that I earned last month via CardRunners videos (actually I've watched 1 video). In one of the videos, there were two things I picked up: don't give players with a small hand history a ton of credit, and another point which I will get into in another post.

Back to the hand: I have virtually no history on the villain. 0/0 @ 7 hands

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 8 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

SB: $24.45
BB: $63.40
Hero (UTG): $52.55
UTG+1: $19.50
MP1: $50.00
MP2: $20.35
CO: $10.00
BTN: $37.25

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is UTG with Qs Qd
Hero raises to $1.75, UTG+1 calls $1.75, MP1 raises to $6, 5 folds, Hero calls $4.25, 1 fold
Am I set mining QQ? This is a sizable 3 bet and MP1 had not been involved in a hand prior to now (though 7 hands is hardly a sample size). I consider folding right here, but after careful thought, I decide to take a flop to see where we go.

Flop: ($14.50) Ah 5s Ad (2 players)
Hero checks, MP1 bets $7, Hero calls $7
Is this a terrible flop? Out of position, it probably is. MP1 leads out for half pot; is he really doing this with AK or AA or AQ (FAR LESS LIKELY BECAUSE I HOLD 2 QUEENS)? I expect a check through if he flopped quads or trips simply based on the fact that he's hoping I "catch up." This half pot bet smells like he's trying to push me off the pot.

Turn: ($28.50) 6c (2 players)
Hero bets $10, MP1 folds
As I snap called the flop, I thought for a moment: If I check, he likely does not hold an A, and will check behind, based on my c/c on the flop. He's as afraid of the A as I am... Therefore, I make a quick probing bet here on the turn (turning my hand into a semi-bluff); a bet large enough that he will not call without an Ace, but small enough that I am not setting myself up to go broke. At this point, there is a little less than half my stack in the middle. If he raises here, I can get away from the hand. If he calls here, I c/c this down to see a showdown. I think he's equally scared of me, and at this point I believe he has KK, QQ or JJ.

Final Pot: $28.50
Hero wins $27.10
(Rake: $1.40)


Frustration is...

Frustration is... Getting it all in WAY ahead only to find out that your opponent hit a 2 outter on the flop setting your profit for the night from +40 within 125 hands to -10:

CO: $16.35
BTN: $8.50
korser (SB): $22.40
OmasSparstrumpf (BB): $10.00
UTG: $54.10
Hero (UTG+1): $54.55
MP1: $50.00
MP2: $83.15

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is UTG+1 with As Ac
UTG calls $0.50, Hero raises to $2.50, 3 folds, BTN raises to $8.50 all in, 2 folds, UTG calls $8, Hero raises to $18, UTG raises to $48, Hero raises to $54.55 all in, UTG calls $6.10 all in

Flop: ($117.45) 8d 6d 4d

Turn: ($117.45) Qc

River: ($117.45) Qs

Final Pot: $117.45
BTN shows Kc Ah (a pair of Queens)
UTG shows 6c 6s (a full house, Sixes full of Queens) - Really? Shoving pre flop with 66?
Hero shows As Ac (two pair, Aces and Queens)
UTG wins $89.50
UTG wins $24.95
(Rake: $3.00)

Frustration is... When the donkeys hit every single card that they need, then min betting?

Hero (CO): $52.05
BTN: $51.25
SB: $49.50
BB: $16.00
UTG: $28.90
UTG+1: $30.60
UTG+2: $18.95
MP1: $51.20
MP2: $52.20

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is CO with Kc Qh
1 fold, UTG+1 raises to $1, 3 folds, Hero calls $1, 2 folds, BB calls $0.50

Flop: ($3.25) 7c 3d Qc (3 players)
BB checks, UTG+1 bets $2, Hero raises to $6, BB folds, UTG+1 calls $4

Turn: ($15.25) 9s (2 players)
UTG+1 bets $0.50, Hero raises to $5, UTG+1 calls $4.50
Not so happy with my turn bet; should have been more, but I probably saved myself money.

River: ($25.25) 9c (2 players)
UTG+1 bets $0.50, Hero calls $0.50
You make the flush and then you min bet? LOL! Good value!!

Final Pot: $26.25
Hero mucks Kc Qh
UTG+1 shows 3c Tc (a flush, Queen high) - Good PF raise, and calling of a 3bet! Glad you got paid for your risk... a whole $0.50!!!
UTG+1 wins $24.95
(Rake: $1.30)

Frustration is... when you find yourself in for more than a buy in, midway through the night due to variance

Frustration is... when you finally work your way back to positive a half buy in (which sets you to in the black for the month), only to get sucked out on once again & find yourself in the hole again

Frustration is... when you ONCE again work your way to marginally positive, another donkey stacks you on a suckout

Vindication is... despite all of the frustration, showing a [marginal] profit for the night, despite getting thrown the best that variance can throw your way

Not that it helps, but I looked up my all-in pot equity calculations from Hold'em Luck, and found that this month I'm running $-245 in all in situations. Joy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oh dear...

This is indicative of how I've been running lately. The villain is 54/27 @ 26 hands.

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 7 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

UTG+1: $33.50
MP: $23.45
Hero (CO): $54.70
BTN: $136.85
SB: $9.50
BB: $47.50
UTG: $9.50

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is CO with Ts Tc
2 folds, MP raises to $2, Hero raises to $5, BTN calls $5, 3 folds

Flop: ($12.75) Qh As Th (2 players)
Hero bets $5, BTN raises to $27.75, Hero raises to $49.70 all in, BTN calls $21.95
There is just no way that he shows up with a KJ here. If he does, I have a ton of outs though. Am I wrong in the way I play this here? Very scary board - should I be getting it all in here or should I be calling the BTN raise and seeing a turn?

Turn: ($112.15) Kh (2 players - 1 is all in)

River: ($112.15) Jd (2 players - 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $112.15
Hero shows Ts Tc (a straight, Ace high)
BTN shows 9h Ah (a flush, Ace high) - What bullshit. Not only does he hit his damn card on the turn, but if he doesn't have a flush draw, then we're splitting. This pot hurt.
BTN wins $109.15
(Rake: $3.00)

Good bluff catch!

I rarely am able to call with Ace high. However, the UTG is just killing me with stealing pots away on the river in prior action (35 hands total though). UTG is 55/14/2.3. I decide to take a stand and I find that I'm good.

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 Pot Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

BTN: $50.00
Hero (SB): $37.45
BB: $49.50
UTG: $67.60
UTG+1: $44.75
UTG+2: $11.15
MP1: $11.15
MP2: $19.25
CO: $52.15

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is SB with As Kc
UTG raises to $1.75, 6 folds, Hero raises to $5.75, 1 fold, UTG calls $4
I'm trying to get more aggressive by 3 betting. I have a top 5 hand, so I will 3 bet this in and out of position on most occasions.

Flop: ($12.00) 4s Th 3s (2 players)
Hero bets $5.75, UTG calls $5.75
Standard cbet - 2 spades and it is certainly plausible that the villain is on a spade draw, given his playing 55% of hands.

Turn: ($23.50) 9h (2 players)
Hero bets $10, UTG calls $10
Doesn't change anything; I would prefer to take this pot down right here & now.

River: ($43.50) Qd (2 players)
Hero checks, UTG bets $15.95, Hero calls $15.95 all in
I have showdown value, but definitely don't like the Q. However, I call figuring I need to be right about once every three times (4:1 odds on call). In addition, given the way he played this hand, I believe he's playing a missed flush draw. Finally, the reality is that I was committed on the turn. $16 more is not going to get a fold out of me.

Final Pot: $75.40
Hero shows As Kc (Ace King high)
UTG shows Jh Ah (Ace Queen high) - not even a flush draw, just Ace / Jack high! LOL.
Hero wins $72.40
(Rake: $3.00)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Turnaround for October!

It's too early to declare victory, but in an early morning session, I've gutted my $270 deficit for the month down to a $130 deficit. Nice session of 347 hands, where [positive] variance FINALLY caught up with me! As is usual, I hit a 5 -8 buy in skid & stop posting.

It stinks, but the losses make posting to this blog not so much fun. I'm not sure whether that's a bad thing; I write to analyze my hands, but if I'm running bad, there is no real analysis that needs to take place. I've written complaint posts before and they're kind of just useless rants. Anyway, here's to more interesting hands in the future where my AA < 53s & my flopped sets < straights & flushes...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

2008 WSOP boat over boat situation What would you do? #9

Found this clip from Sept 17th's posting on Bill Rini's blog - a clip from the 2008 WSOP. The hand is good in so far as the thought going into it. However, I disagree with Matusow that he would be going broke on this hand. I think, at worst, Geller is making a call with the lower boat - which is the impressive part of the whole transaction (he folds!).

Look at the hand: Raise PF, 2 flats behind. Both Romanello & Geller flop sets and play it like they flopped sets; it's a pretty bad all-broadway flop (QJ flopped nuts), but they play it safe by check / check / checking it on the flop. When the T comes out, neither of them can be happy, making any Q the nuts on the turn. If one of the three are holding the Q, they are guaranteed to be betting out here, because there's not much value they can expect from a single river bet, given the way the 3 have played out the hand thus far. When the T pairs the board and Gellers gets raised to his lead out, the only hands Gellers can put Romanello on are AA, KK, QQ (straight), TT (for the quads). If any of the players had AK, QJ, they would be betting on the flop / turn - for value - and protection. However, both Gellers & Romanello are hoping each other (and Matusow) catch up or are potentially way ahead... By the river, clearly AA, KK & TT are winners, QQ is a loser. Is Romanello really raising a SCARY board like this with a straight, or two pair? All of the above (AA, KK, TT, AK) are "plausible" PF raising hands, but I'd have to put Romanello on AA / KK / less likely TT after the raise and speech. Therefore, Gellers [correctly] surmises that he is beat, and [correctly] lays it down.

Had it been me, I likely would have opted to call the raise, thus losing an additional bet. No question: it was a GREAT laydown. However, going broke on this hand IN A TOURNAMENT, no less, hardly...

The Poker Meister #-2 - I got pwned!

Is my luck running out with this hand?

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 7 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

Hero (CO): $37.00
BTN: $26.45
SB: $48.65
BB: $16.00
UTG: $13.05
UTG+1: $46.35
MP: $20.75

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is CO with Js 9s
UTG raises to $1, 2 folds, Hero calls $1, 3 folds
The only question is whether to raise or smooth. Having no history (0 hands) on UTG, I opt to call.

Flop: ($2.75) 2c 5s 4s (2 players)
UTG checks, Hero bets $1.50, UTG calls $1.50
2 spades? HA! Of course, I'm going to get there!

Turn: ($5.75) Jd (2 players)
UTG checks, Hero bets $3.55, UTG raises to $10.55 all in, Hero calls $7
Probably good enough; If not, I always have the flush draw as well.

River: ($26.85) 8c (2 players - 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $26.85
Hero shows Js 9s (a pair of Jacks)
UTG shows 4h 4c (three of a kind, Fours)
UTG wins $25.55
(Rake: $1.30)
Yuck. The Poker Meister has failed me...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

There Will Be Winners and There Will Be Losers - Which Will You Be?

Let's face it- most people that play poker aren't winning players. Aside from the fact that poker is a negative sum game because of rake, there will always be an elite group of players whose long-term performance exceeds the rest of the population; perhaps an 80/20 split between winning to losing players. So why does this occur when in the long-run all players see the same cards from the same position the same amount of times? Here are some reasons:

-Purpose: People play for a variety of reasons including to escape daily stresses, to socialize, for competition, for adrenaline or excitement, because they have a gambling problem and of course to make money. For most people it will be for a variety of reasons [see the Psychology of Poker by Alan Schoonmaker for more discussion on this topic]. The truth is that most people, even winning players, would be better off taking a part time job at a fast food restaurant as a second source of income than trying to grind it out at the tables. Those that are committed to making money as the number one reason for why they play will be more likely to win than those that simply enjoy splashing chips into pots over a few cold ones.

-Technical Play: People who are committed to reviewing hand histories and discussing betting lines on forums are more likely to experience improvements and profits in their game.

-Fearlessness/Aggression: Those that understand that selective aggression is an asset to a player's arsenal are able to utilize various types of equity irrespective of their cards. For example, in tournaments good players have a lot of survival equity which is why they tend not to put their entire stack on the line early in tournament even with hands as strong as combo-draws and small sets. In cash games players often have significant fold equity before committing 1/3 of their stack to a pot. Sophisticated cash game players understand that every hand has a certain amount of steal quity [even pocket aces] and a raise or re-raise in certain spots could turn a non-profitable hand into a profitable one. You can win a pot two ways: by betting/raising or showing down the best hand. Passive players never experience the advantages of aggression and the ability to win without the best hand.

-Reciprocality [Tommy Angelo]: I highly recommend reading Tommy Angelo's theory of Reciprocality which basically states that poker is a war on all fronts. It's a war of information, bluffing, folding, maximizing, acting, tilting, bankroll management, position, etc. His theory also states that poker can be broken down to many elements [some having greater importance than others] and the goal is to perform each better than your opponents. For example, if I know you never bluff all-in on the river, I never have to worry about making a good fold when you shove the river. If I know that you are likely to call with very light holdings [calling station], I will choose to value-bet you as opposed to bluff you since it is unlikely for me to turn a profit by bluffing you. It is these types of small battles where edges are born.

Phil Ivey said it took him 2 years before he became a winning player. For those that have beat his record, kudos to you because you're on the right track. Stay disciplined and constantly challenge yourself to be a better player.

For those that aren't quite there yet think about your overall approach to poker and consider the following:

-Am I willing to make winning money as my number objective?
-Have I tried any poker coaching or mentoring sites?
-Do I regularly review hand histories with others?
-Do I contribute to and read through poker-related forums, blogs and websites?
-Do I have a network of people that I can receive honest and sound advice from?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Data mining on Full Tilt & PokerStars from Gugel!

Let me start by saying - I'm a big Gugel fanboy. He has only further enhanced his reputation with the following:

During the past 2-3 weeks, Gugel over at has gathered statistics (which I view as critical to play) on the two main sites, Full Tilt & PokerStars.

He started with an estimation of difficulty in moving up in stakes, where he looked at how many hands are played by a player, ultimately getting to a heads up situation. The end result heads up situation yields the difficulty of the level. I'm not convinced this is the optimal way of looking at it - check out the post for details - but it certainly is better than anything else out there that I'm aware of...

Next, he took a look at average pot sizes between PokerStars & Tilt to determine which is a "looser" site. I believe this is a good way of viewing the difficulty of each site, because the more money / pot, ideally the more players / flop. I don't know whether the data was available, but it would seem a combination of plrs / flop + money / pot would be a more accurate depiction, but certainly, money / pot seems like a very good way as an isolated variable. What I would like to see is a view of each game (i.e. HU, 6 max & full ring NL/PL HE). Whether he's able to extract that data, I don't know - but this is certainly unique data.

Finally, he recently posted data on the best time of day to play. The results were somewhat surprising; the times to play were skewed towards east coast prime time. I would have expected to see European prime time hours (approx. 2:00PM-5:00PM EST), but the data does not seem to support that theory. Anyway, if you are serious about your poker, as I am, go check out his posts... Definitely quick and refreshing reads - in addition, check out the rest of his site; very interesting stuff in there...

Never Do This

I don't need to go through and explain about how this hand played out, because it would become fairly obvious what my holdings were had you not seen my hand. The point I want to make is the tragic flaw that MP2 made by forgetting the fact that players could reasonably get to a flop calling a 4x raise [profitably] in a NL cash structure with 100+ BB.

Hand #1
Full Tilt Poker $0.10/$0.25 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

MP2: $30.76
CO: $25.66
Hero (BTN): $27.06
SB: $25.10
BB: $4.45
UTG: $11.18
UTG+1: $30.51
UTG+2: $12.41
MP1: $4.20

Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is BTN with 6h 7h
4 folds, MP2 raises to $1, 1 fold, Hero calls $1, 2 folds

Flop: ($2.35) Kh 6d 6c (2 players)
MP2 bets $1.50, Hero raises to $3, MP2 calls $1.50

Turn: ($8.35) Ac (2 players)
MP2 bets $26.76 all in, Hero calls $23.06 all in

River: ($54.47) 7d (2 players - 2 are all in)

There will be plenty of circumstances where you're not sure whether you're way ahead or way behind--this being one of them. While the villain [MP2] really liked his hand by the turn, it doesn't mean he should be willing to play for his stack at that point. In this type of way behind/ahead scenario, the villain will always be raised by someone with a better hand [i.e. a 6x and the extremely rare, but possible AA or KK]. The villain will only sometimes be raised by weaker hands such as KQ on the flop or AJ on the turn, etc. Rarely will the villain be raised with a hand much less. With that said, I think the standard line to take is to value-bet downward and consider folding to a large raise. By no means would you open all-in like the villain did on the turn and risk a stack with plenty of fold equity for a pot that is less than 1/3 of the size as your stack. A shove on the turn with AK is absolutely tragic b/c it will force lesser holdings to fold, doesn't extract value from Ax, Kx and club draws and will only get called by a hand that has AK beat. Put simply, nobody is calling a $23 bet into an $8 pot here with only 2pair. The question is that if you're MP2 how do you fold your hand by the turn? By the river? Which of the following is the most likely line to take to get away from AK on the turn and/or river... the turn? the turn, bet-fold the river?
...check-raise the turn, fold to a re-raise?
...check-call the turn, bet-fold the river?
...check-call the turn, check-raise the river and fold to a re-raise?
...check-call the turn, check-call the river?

3 betting the button from the BB - Blind protection

As I'm trying to shore up & increase my BB/100 rate, I'm thinking about a whole slew of options. In addition to the positional 3 bet of pocket pairs pre-flop, I am toying with the button steal. Thanks to Poker Tracker, I am able to monitor the attempted steal % of each player. Below is an example of an 18/12 regular who has an attempted steal of > 40%. I can steal right back with any two cards. You can file this under 3 betting; it is probably easier to steal a pot outright from an aggressive button stealer rather than 3 betting an early raise. See below:

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 7 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

CO: $10.00
BTN: $21.95
SB: $50.00
Hero (BB): $74.65
UTG: $56.50
UTG+1: $9.00
MP: $9.55

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BB with Jh Kd
4 folds, BTN raises to $1.50, 1 fold, Hero raises to $3.50, 1 fold
Attempted steal % is 42%. Easy situation for re-steal. In this case, I may very well have the better hand, but regardless, I am shutting him down because I'm fairly certain he can't stand a re-raise. I'd make this same move with 72o.

Final Pot: $3.25
Hero wins $3.25

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Another weird bluff - What would you do? #8

This one is a little less interesting. Wasn't sure whether I should post it, but the sheer volume of the river bet was what prompted me to do so.

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

CO: $50.00
Hero (BTN): $72.85
SB: $12.00
BB: $26.00
UTG: $31.05
UTG+1: $10.00
UTG+2: $57.40
MP1: $3.85
MP2: $24.25

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BTN with 4h 2h
UTG calls $0.50, 4 folds, CO calls $0.50, Hero raises to $2.75, 1 fold, BB calls $2.25, UTG calls $2.25, CO calls $2.25
Standard steal to punish limpers. I'm getting a little more aggressive on the button and in position. My range has really started to open up, while maintaining my VPIP ~20... My PFR has come up to around 15-18.

Flop: ($11.25) 2s 5c 8h (4 players)
BB checks, UTG checks, CO checks, Hero bets $4.50, BB folds, UTG folds, CO calls $4.50
Unlikely to have hit anyone, so I'm happy to take this sucker down right now with bottom pair. I have no history on the CO, so I have no idea why he's calling.

Turn: ($20.25) Js (2 players)
CO checks, Hero checks
Pot containment / check behind.

River: ($20.25) 2c (2 players)
CO bets $42.75 all in, Hero calls $42.75
So from a turn check / check to a river overpot shove... What would you do with your rivered trips?


Final Pot: $105.75
CO shows 6c 3c (a pair of Twos) - Stone cold bluff for overbet pot? I've heard of bluffing, but the point is not to go broke when you bluff like that. He was on an inside straight draw + backdoor club draw.
Hero shows 4h 2h (three of a kind, Twos)
Hero wins $102.75
(Rake: $3.00)

This really wasn't much of a decision in my book; I snap called immediately. In retrospect, I was looking at the way I played the hand & the way he played it (almost identically). The flop is a standard cbet. The turn says either one of us have air or monsters. The river overbet, to me, really questions what he's representing. If he's going for value, given the way I'd played, he's going to bet half to quarter pot. I'm not sure what his bet represents. Do I really think he's calling my flop bet with a deuce? And I'm supposed to believe he's rivered the deuce with ZERO history?

The Poker Meister #35 - Knew it didn't feel right edition

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

UTG+2: $52.70
MP1: $23.05
MP2: $7.00
CO: $71.20
BTN: $108.55
SB: $9.50
Hero (BB): $41.15
UTG: $52.80
UTG+1: $66.10

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BB with Jh 9h
3 folds, MP1 calls $0.50, 1 fold, CO raises to $2.25, 2 folds, Hero calls $1.75, MP1 calls $1.75

Flop: ($7.00) 5c 6d Qh (3 players)
Hero checks, MP1 bets $2, CO folds, Hero calls $2

Turn: ($11.00) Js (2 players)
Hero checks, MP1 bets $4, Hero calls $4

River: ($19.00) Qc (2 players)
Hero checks, MP1 checks

Final Pot: $19.00
MP1 shows 5h 3h (two pair, Queens and Fives)
Hero shows Jh 9h (two pair, Queens and Jacks)
Hero wins $18.05
(Rake: $0.95)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Full Tilt Poker - Funds Withdrawal Request

Milestone moment: I have never *EVER* withdrawn money from any online poker site! This is my first profit taking [hopefully of many]!

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Fold Equity of AK + the 3 bet & image

Speaking of 3 bets... 7 hands into this table, I had my AA stack some schmuck with TT. My 3 bets are considered "credible." Therefore, I get away with this semi-bluff move with AKo...

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

CO: $60.85
BTN: $38.80
SB: $10.15
BB: $50.00
UTG: $50.00
UTG+1: $34.85
Hero (UTG+2): $70.30
MP1: $50.00
MP2: $53.75

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is UTG+2 with Ac Ks
UTG raises to $2, UTG+1 calls $2, Hero raises to $6, 8 folds
I'm fairly certain that UTG+1 has a smaller pocket pair. He may very well have AK, or I may very well have the best hand.

Final Pot: $6.75
Hero wins $6.75

Pre-flop play: Small pocket pairs & the 3 bet

I've been reading excerpts of Small Stakes No Limit Hold Em (Ed Miller, Sunny Mehta, Matt Flynn) and I've picked up an interesting bit of information, which spawned a short conversation with my poker guru, omgitsjoshua (he's the guy who got me playing correctly back in June). Mind you, I've been toying with this idea for awhile; I read Ryan Fee's 6 Max NL Strategy Guide and his guide proposes the same thing... but the text of our conversation went as follows:

we [Josh and I] talked a long time ago about limping / raising ranges, etc.
and i've been doing a lot of thinking lately
your standard pattern is to limp / call small pairs
i'm a fan of that out of position
10:42 AM but what about when you face a raise while in position against a limper or two?
i've been finding that a lot of times, against a 3x raise, I'll 2.5x again with 44-99
and usually take down the pot against a guy with a pfr of 10
assuming 100bb stacks
10:43 AM what i've been thinking about is the fact that small pps will only hit 1 in 8
which is their showdown value
but their steal value is a lot higher if you can set the tone for a steal &
take initiative away
10:44 AM i was reading that yesterday in the Small Stakes No Limit Hold Em
10:45 AM joshua: yeah its pretty standard to three bet with pp's in position
me: ok
10:46 AM joshua: i prefer deeper structures tho
me: thats fine too
and i get that
joshua: the truth is limp-calling with pp's is tough just to break even
me: yea
that's exactly my thought
and the book agrees
i had been doing it prior to reading the book
now i'm a lot more prone to do it
10:47 AM joshua: the only thing i would say is this...
if you choose to play a cash game strategy [optimal as it may be] you may incur a certain amount of volatility or getting smacked by the deck at any point in time
10:48 AM me: of course
and i get that too
joshua: my point is as you transition to this strategy, you may be getting 4-bet or trapped more often in the beginnning, leading you to believe that you're getting killed 3-betting so light
10:49 AM so, once again its a situation where you need to be able to handle the swings
me: yup
joshua: basically you're learning to play larger pots with smaller edges, which is good and useful as you move up
a small percentage [edge] of a lot > than a big percentage of a little

The short of it is this: You are not going to realize a big profit by limping small pocket pairs. In fact, you will be hard pressed to realize any profit by limping these types of hands. If you're only hitting a set 1 in 8 times, your showdown value is minimal. Additionally, most times a flop will have at least one overcard to your pocket pair. However, taking the initiative and "smartly" (don't 3 bet a tight tight player i.e. VPIP 6/6, etc.) 3 betting pre-flop may accomplish one of two things: you may take down the pot right then & there (netting you the raise and/or limpers' money + SB/BB), or it gives you the initiative to garner fold equity from post flop play. A 3 bet can represent a broad range of hands in post flop play. It's too easy for pocket pairs to represent any number of hands post flop, when you've 3 bet pre-flop. You can rep an overpair, set, etc. - the possibilities are endless. In addition, it sets you up for your true monsters such that people will play wider to you and you'll get paid there more often. Just remember to play smart with a flat call to your 3 bet (be careful on the flop)... and DEFINITELY have the discipline to fold to a 4 bet!

What would you do? #7

Yet another situation where I'm way ahead / way behind. What do you do in this spot?

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 8 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

BB: $70.60
UTG: $47.50 - 33/11/inf @ 19 hands
Hero (UTG+1): $51.75
MP1: $53.00
MP2: $35.65
CO: $50.00
BTN: $37.20
SB: $3.55

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is UTG+1 with Tc Td
UTG calls $0.50, Hero raises to $2.25, 1 fold, MP2 calls $2.25, 4 folds, UTG calls $1.75

Flop: ($7.50) 9h 6h 2h (3 players)
UTG checks, Hero bets $4.25, MP2 folds, UTG raises to $10.50, Hero requests TIME, Hero calls $6.25
Flopped overpair. All heart board. What are the hands that he can be check / raising but limping / calling the pre flop?

In retrospect, it was a bad call on the end (I wanted to see what he would do on the next street), but I get away from his turn BIG bet.

Turn: ($28.50) 8s (2 players)
UTG bets $19.50, Hero folds
Are you calling this? Or better, are you calling the check / raise flop? The only hands I can put him on are 99, 66, 22 or (obviously, but less likely) hearts. What about if the next card is a 10s? Would you be calling in that spot - I think [obviously] more likely, but this is not a pretty board...

Final Pot: $28.50
UTG wins $27.10
(Rake: $1.40)

Can't beat these nutz!

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

CO: $129.45
BTN: $41.50
SB: $10.25
BB: $50.00
UTG: $50.00
UTG+1: $34.00
Hero (UTG+2): $71.00
MP1: $50.00
MP2: $50.00

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is UTG+2 with Th Ts
UTG raises to $2, 1 fold, Hero calls $2, 1 fold, MP2 calls $2, 4 folds
I had been 3 betting this table a TON, so I opt to smooth the pre flop raise.

Flop: ($6.75) 2h Ac Tc (3 players)
UTG bets $5, Hero calls $5, MP2 folds
Pot-sized bet, most of the time, means non-club... The only thing I have to fear is Aces which is a credible hand from UTG. However, I'm going broke with this hand if need be.

Turn: ($16.75) Td (2 players)
UTG requests TIME, UTG bets $10.50, Hero raises to $25, UTG requests TIME, UTG raises to $43 all in, Hero calls $18
AWESOME! Now I *HOPE* he has a set of Aces! Seeing UTG request TIME made me really question my 2.5x turn raise; I played this pretty standard and I thought I gave away my hand... At least he was smart enough to realize a call is useless & he wants to take initiative (by his shove).

River: ($102.75) 9d (2 players - 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $102.75
UTG shows Ad Js (two pair, Aces and Tens)
Hero shows Th Ts (four of a kind, Tens) - QUADLINGS!
Hero wins $99.75
(Rake: $3.00)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Decisions... decisions... What would you do? #6

I continue to get into decisive situations more often at the $50 level... Here is a WWYD situation?

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

UTG+2: $30.85
MP1: $67.70
MP2: $60.60
CO: $50.00
Hero (BTN): $58.35
SB: $60.30 - 28/22/1.0 @ 46 hands
BB: $45.00
UTG: $50.00
UTG+1: $18.25

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is BTN with Jc Js
5 folds, CO raises to $1.50, Hero calls $1.50, SB calls $1.25, 1 fold
CO proved to be fairly tight. Therefore, I'm not sure of whether my JJ is ahead, but I'm at least calling in position.

Flop: ($5.00) 5d 9d 5s (3 players)
SB bets $3, CO folds, Hero raises to $8.50, SB raises to $14, Hero calls $5.50
On the SB lead and CO fold, I'm fairly certain I'm good - therefore I raise. I'm not so sure of what is going on here, though... I don't like that 4 bet on the end.

Turn: ($33.00) 4h (2 players)
SB bets $10, Hero requests TIME, Hero calls $10
Okay. I'm nearly folding here. It totally smells of value bet. I thought long & hard about this - I will nearly have half my chips into the pot. In retrospect, I should have shoved or folded right here. However, the question is: Do you make the call?


River: ($53.00) Kc (2 players)
SB checks, Hero checks
I am OVERJOYED to see a cheap showdown!

Final Pot: $53.00
Hero shows Jc Js (two pair, Jacks and Fives)
SB shows 7c 7s (two pair, Sevens and Fives) - I had to type to him in the chat window (don't think he thought I was genuine though, although he almost did win with the worst hand) "NH"
Hero wins $50.35
(Rake: $2.65)

The Poker Meister #34 - Don't try to use it against me!

Doesn't this guy know the power of the Poker Meister?!?!?!?

Full Tilt Poker $0.25/$0.50 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

BTN: $11.60
Hero (SB): $49.00
BB: $20.00
UTG: $49.50
UTG+1: $19.25
UTG+2: $55.95
MP1: $20.35
MP2: $36.85
CO: $50.00

Pre Flop: ($0.75) Hero is SB with Ks 5s
UTG calls $0.50, 5 folds, BTN calls $0.50, Hero calls $0.25, BB checks
Easy SB limp.

Flop: ($2.00) 9s Kh 5h (4 players)
Hero bets $2, BB folds, UTG folds, BTN raises to $4, Hero raises to $14, BTN calls $7.10 all in
I'm happy to get it in here with a flopped 2 pair SB special.

Turn: ($24.20) 7c (2 players - 1 is all in)

River: ($24.20) 8d (2 players - 1 is all in)

Final Pot: $24.20
BTN shows 9h Jh (a pair of Nines) - I didn't realize that I was slightly favored on the flop... I dodged 9's and hearts.
Hero shows Ks 5s (two pair, Kings and Fives)
Hero wins $23.00
(Rake: $1.20)

Another good month... September comes to a close...

The most profitable month yet, as I hope every continuing month would be... As usual, this month featured a downswing early in the month, but not nearly as drastic as prior months. To start, I was down ~$200 (for the stakes I was playing, ~10 buy ins!). I recaptured that by mid-month and went on a tear (you can totally see that in the graph between hands 10856 & 15866) leading to the opening of my career at $50NL/PL solely. After tearing up that game for a little while, things settled down and, I was plus/minus 5 buy ins. It is great to be profitable at the next level, but I have very limited hands to show for it (~11K @ $50NL/PL). I started 5 tabling, with the intent of working my way up to 6 tables. Since moving to 5 tables, I've done well, and been less susceptible to over-thinking / neurotic decisions (a form of tilt for me, where I am sure that everyone is bluffing me). Let's hope October has a steady course and I continue to show good profits...

Online poker profits: $935.03
Live poker profits: $39.00
Rakeback bonus profits: $158.75
Full Tilt bonus profits: $0.00 (Take 2 bonus not yet paid in September)
Total: $1,132.78

A quick rundown of my stats: 24K hands played in 98 hours for a win rate of 4.77 BB/100 (PT3 BBs) - my dollar / hour average kicked last month's average's butt by double @ $9.52/hr. I am going to start posting my Iron Man status as well; this month I made silver, but check out the last day (30th)! 545 points is more than I have ever done in a single day! It was a 5 hour session last night.

Note: I started adding in the sources of my profits, where in prior months I only tracked my online poker playing profits. I went through my last 2 monthly recaps and added this section to each of the posts.

Quick commentary: I started 5 tabling the other day... I was in the midst of a -$120+ session and I said to myself I need to stop messing around with 2 or 3 tables and increase my hands seen... I opened up 5 total tables and started playing "normally" for me, which is not worrying about the trivial details, avoiding tough decisions every hand, etc. I started avoiding OOP situations (because I'm seeing more hands, having less time to worry about marginal situations), started getting busy between hands on other tables, and was able to focus fully. From the low of $-120 for that night, I turned it around to $47! I think that's the key - I need to start increasing my tables to keep my focus.

It also helped that I started getting decent hands... but that's neither here nor there. I was able to start playing the cards & waiting for the cards instead of pressing marginal situations.

I think the above is fundamental to all online poker players; there are too many available distractions when you're in your home on your computer. If you give yourself the optimal balance, you won't have time to watch TV, play solitaire, read blog posts on the internet, and any host of other bad habits I've been doing lately while waiting in between hands with 2-3 tables.

Update: The last day of the month, September 30... I figured I'd give 6 tabling a try. I was busy, and made some marginal decisions, but it went well! I can see 6 tabling in my future.

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