Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A stranger in a strange land... news & notes on 2/5

Although a departure from the normal paragraph form of posting, I wanted to take down some notes / observations from the 2/5 tables and share them with you:

  • Game speed: Everyone knows their move and has thought about it in advance.  The action moves along much more quickly as there isn't as much thought for routine plays.  Players are paying attention to the action and are well aware when the action is on them.
  • Awareness of odds: On a number of occasions, I made an "outlandish" raise of 8x in the various positions (mostly from SB/BB because I really don't want to see a multi-way flop from OOP for the hand) and almost every time, would-be callers were investigating my stack to ensure proper odds.  On a few instances, I got folds around the table because the odds to call and set mine simply were not there.
  • Aggression factor: Most players have a good grasp that aggression wins.  There were much fewer limped pots, must less willingness to stack off on limped pots, and a TON more positional raising.  Blind stealing is much more rampant and there is far less calling of 3bets.
  • Bluffing: 2- and 3- street bluffing seems to be more normal.  There are definitely players who will 3bet or bet 3 streets with air.  The game is somewhat of a sit down and strap in situation.
  • Thin value bets: I saw a lot of betting on the river where a 1/2 game would likely check through.  Two pair hands got more value in this game than they do in lower stakes.
  • There are still donkeys: As I sat down, I quickly was reminded that this is still the same game: NLHE.  Once the nerves wore off, I settled down to play my hands and put other players on a hand to the best of my abilities.  It's still the same old game I've been playing all these years.
In summary, I was a winner for the night.  I ran well on the first table, doubling my initial buy in.  Not feeling comfortable with 200BB quite yet, I requested a table change and pocketed 100BB.  Upon switching, I immediately got hit with suckouts and monster draws not getting there, and found myself down 50BB.  I wound up winning around 50BB for the short night - I'll take that; it's around double my hourly rate!

I'll probably wind up playing 2/5 at nights and 1/2 during days until I'm more comfortable with the flow of the game.  I can still crush 1/2 and I think it's a cash cow that I shouldn't readily give up.  In the meantime, I look to 1/2 for ego support.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Adjustments... Dealing with regs / competent players & moving up in stakes

Before I start, I want to share a hand that happened last Friday at the Chuck.  The hand involves 2 regs / competent players + 1 donk:

I join a host of 2 limpers with 98hh in middle position when the reg highjack bumps it up to $~14.  A supertight flats the $14 in the BB, a LAGbot flats, and I come along to see the flop, figuring I have good pot odds + great implied odds - oh yeah; I'm $1100 deep, the reg is $~200 deep and the supertight has around $900.  I make the call primarily for the supertight, but figure I can hook the reg and/or LAGbot if the flop comes right.  If not, I can get away.  The implied odds are simply too great though.

Flop, natch, comes 5c6h7c (ho hum... just the nuts...) and it checks to the orig. raiser who leads for $45.  I'm fairly certain that this is an auto-cbet, which I intent to flat if no one else comes along.  However, the supertight flats the cbet.  I'm faced with a dilema: do I get more money in now, or do I slow play and see a turn, letting supertight & reg have a cheap card?  I opt for more money, because I want to get most of the stacks in by the turn.  I raise $100 on top, to $145 clean.  I lose the reg, which is kinda what I thought would happen, but supertight flats once again.  I now know that he flopped a set and is looking to improve to a boat.  This is great information: I can *ABSOLUTELY* get away from any paired board, and I get to see the turn on my terms.  His implied odds are 0 and mine are $650.  Good situation indeed.  Turn is a Qh, giving me a backdoor flush draw + flopped straight.  He checks to me and I think for a little bit, carving out $400 at first then deciding on $300 (THIS IS A 1/2 GAME, AFTER ALL :-) ).  This truly paralyzes him and he talks through the hand.  By this point, I know exactly what set he has; 55 - he talks through 666, 777, 98, 84, 43 - all hands that beat him.  He eventually folds, face up, and I silently muck, much to his chagrin.  I let it be known that I flopped top two and he has a pained look on his face.

Moving onto the related topic today, I played my competent player somewhat incorrectly.  I didn't read him for as tight as he actually was; able to lay down a flopped set for a less than pot-sized bet on the turn.  I bet $300 into $390, trying to get stacks in, when I should have realized that he was not the type to go into call-down turtle mode.  I would have been better off putting out $200-250 and making a semi-healthy river bet, happy with partial stacks rather than full.  Obviously, this is a per-player adjustment, and also a per-stack adjustment; the reality is that if he has $200-400 in his stack, he's getting it in without a hesitation.  He has $900 and it's a much more careful decision process.

The point is this: I don't make a TON of money from regs or competent players.  My primary source of income at the poker table is the donk who calls down his top pair or whatever BS he may have, even so far as knowing he's crushed.  When I nut on the regs, I need to get out of the mindset of bet bet bet value value value as if they were the donks.  These players are aware, just as I am, how to play the game.  They can sense when they're beat.  I need to play a little trickier.  I need to check a street.  I need to make smaller value bets.

Realizing the above, I have come to the decision that I will henceforth be splitting time between 2/5 & 1/2.  I will be playing 2/5 on Thursday nights and 1/2 on Friday days until I have a good grasp of 2/5 and will move into 2/5 full time.  I have moved away from 99% value / 1% bluff lines to around 80/20 lines - and I pick my bluff lines carefully.  I am adjusting to all players.  My average $/hr yield has been ever-increasing (prior to February of this year, I was running around 10BB/hr average but have since moved to >15BB/hr, implementing bluffing and better lines).

In closing, I leave you with the following non-traditional line from Friday, where I did adjust for the player, rather than bet bet bet.  Admittedly, I get lucky more than once, but I still like my lines here:

I have KK UTG.  I look to my left and see a redbird ($5 chip) in the BB.  "Feigning ignorance," I throw out 3 reds, and "realize my mistake" by saying I thought that was a straddle...  I get called in 3 spots and action waits on the BB.  The BB pushes out his remaining $51 and I now have a decision: There's $45 in the pot + $51 that he just pushed out.  If I raise here, I'm basically isolating into a situation of what could be (doubtful though) AA vs. my KK.  If I isolate, I limit the pot to calling $36 to win $96, not a bad deal, but my upside is limited to $96.  If I flat, though, it will likely encourage at least one other player to come along.  I did not expect to see both the bad player flat the $51 and the LAGbot come along.  The flop, again the nuts (natch): Kc 4c 7h.

I look to my left and see the bad player readying a bet.  Additionally, there isn't too much that hit this flop other than random clubs draws and sets.  Therefore, I check and let the bad player lead $75 into the blossoming pot.  The LAGbot calls and I decide to call, not ready to blow out the big guns.  The turn is a blank 5d; the nuts are an unlikely 68 or 63, but I'm truly not that concerned because of the $51 PF raise.  The bad player dumps in his remaining $75 and the LAGbot calls.  LAGbot has $~240 behind, and I have him covered ($360).  I check / shove my remaining $340 and put LAGbot to the decision with my set of Kings...  There's $894 (including my bet) in the pot and it'll cost him $240 to call.  I'm obviously praying for the call, but he folds and I scoop a nice pot (bad reg gonna be a bad reg, called $51 second in PF with 45s for the turned 2 pair).  Oh yeah, K on the riv for the quads.

Again, these in-game changes to my approach make a dramatic difference to my win rate.  I'm ready to start adjusting to the 2/5 flow.

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