Sunday, August 27, 2006

Being Honest with Yourself.

My game is full of holes, leaking $$$ like water through a sieve, now not being negative here - after all the $ are still coming in regardless. What i need to do is to spend some serious time recongising and recording the leaks, and put together a plan which is a little more substantial than 'i'll work on them'. Figured that the best place to do this was in public... here goes;

MTTs, too tight, yep the dreaded weak-tight syndrome gets me during those middle stages. I'm ok at the start, not bad at the end (SNG push-fold helps here) but that difficult mid-stage, the blinds are high and escalating but the bubble is an hour away... I need to open up more but never quite find the right spots. PLAN, Read lots of 2+2 posts that concern non-premuim hands mid-stage, make a list of the extra hands I'd like to play and in what circumstances.

SNGs, not making enough effort with the sit and go power tools. Had it for about 6 months and probably totalled 3 hours on the thing. I have a good idea of the push / fold ranges but this is not enough, costing $$$ unless I pin this down. On the other hand there are situations where I know something is a +ev push (23o from the SB for example) and I hesitate to pull the trigger... weak again really. PLAN: 30 minutes per day for a week looking at my hand histories with the power tools, pulling that trigger more often!

Cash / Horse / Stud etc - breakeven at best on these games and still I play them, idling away hours on the tables. STOP! This is costing $$$ in no more than the time that I could be profitably playing SNGS...

Feels good to write things down!

New challenge is to make enough money during September to spend October on the Thai Island of Koh Phi Phi, for 2 of us that will mean about 3.5K USD... thats more than I have ever made in one month before but hey, with a bit of motivation and the rub of the green who knows...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

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Lindgren's Book...

Just finished re-reading Erick Lindgrens book about getting to the final table. Fist read on a long flight back from Singapore to Europe and did not have too favourable an impression, kind of came across as a little arrogant at the same time as being thin on content.

This time I picked up a couple of points of interest, the first being on which flops to continuation bet when called trying to steal blinds. Now my thoughts were that high card flops (assuming I missed) are bad news, Lindgren contends that it is the raggy low flops which one should be scared of - the premise being that blinds often call with small pairs / connectors etc. Maybe this is a difference in style between the WPT players and those in the $5 to $20 multis which I am used to - in my experience 2 high cards / any ace are the more likely candidates for blind defense.

Secondly a good point about seeing flops in position early for a small raise, sure I understand position but with rags? Guess the key factor is post flop play here, again the difference is the opponents in judging how to do this correctly. One is never going to see a 'great laydown' in a small stakes tourney so the key is being able to beat a premium pair (or minumum TPTK) after the flop. Will look into this a little more. Enjoyed the book a little more this time - will have another look through in a few months time.

Currently on my shopping list is Slansky's Tournament Poker for Advanced Players and the much discussed 'Super System', have the Stars points for these and will order ahead of my next trip to the UK in the Autumn.

Treading water with results the last few days, + on Sit and Goes but minus on MTTs... bah.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Final Table + Horse

Well went one better than yesterday in the Titan 8k guarenteed, reaching the final table only to bust out in 7th. Got A10o in the BB and tryed a resteal vs a button min raise only for him to turn over AQ... oops. Happy to go one better than yesterday and hopefully can go one better still in the coming days for a 'real' payday.

Been playing HORSE on Stars, what with it being the latest thing and all, some truly attrocious players, small $ up but my good old weakness of not being able to let go of 2nd best hands soon enough preventing me from being a big winner. One hand in the stud h/l was very funny... dealt 8A/3 and called a preflop raise along with 4 others made my low by 5th street against 3 opponents showing xx/j8j xx/993 (clubs) and xx/584... I was last to act and pumped the pot twice this round, the other 'low' folded on 6th when they appeared not to improve and i got a couple more bets in against the 2 highs before the 99 guy folded and it was time to call down for my half of the pot.... the funny thing was the abuse afterwards for 'pumping the low' via the chat window, including from the other 'low' who claimed to have my low beaten. Classic to be called a donk over and over after my well timed raising had not only got at least 4 extra bets from both highs but made a 'better' low fold. Happy to be that donk any day.

Moneymaker round 2 no good this time, my own silly mistake - I will not bluff calling stations, I will not bluff calling stations, I will not bluff calling stations. Ah well, give round 1 another go this coming week then...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Recent Results

Well then, a decent run of results in MTTs but the SNGs - after being my bread'n'butter for so long are treating me cruelly at the mo.

- Got through to round 2 of the Moneymaker million freeroll on stars again, thats 2 out of 6 which, considering the size of the field and the crazy nature of the play, is not a bad achievement. Round 2 this coming Saturday.
- 4th in a 610 field 20+2 on Stars, not bad $800+ payout, could have been better but no place for a final table bad-beat post here.
- 5th in a $40 over at Ritz Club, not a great payout but a couple of hundred.

Amazing this SNG thing, acutally seem to be doing worse now I understand ICM and bubble dynamics than before... hopefully just good old varience.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

'Average' Leaks.

Read a very good entry at concerning leaks of the average 33 player. There was a suggestion to come up with ways to exploit these - good idea, think this excercise for the old grey matter belongs right here... list is in bold, my thoughts below - the first 3 are covered in the original article so I will not reproduce those here.

-He slowplays way too much
Slowplaying is a disease in low level SNGs, as is the chatbox 'crying' when AA gets busted after limping. Guess the solution here is two-fold, firstly no firing out second barrels when my cBets are called / small raised. Second it makes sense to raise limps with decent hands, a slowplaying opponent will often reraise. Once they are identified this is fairly easy to counteract - challenge is in identifying. If a hand is checked and then a bet appears on the river you have a different problem, adjusting the probability of being beaten if opponent is a known slowplayer could work here.

-He minraises AA after limpers
Standard play again identification must be the key here, often min-raises are with those meduim hands like AJ, 77 (or worse!). Must identify who is minraising with what. If someone is minraising their premium hands then calling from LP with drawing hands / low pairs makes more sense than usual - got to think that you have a chance to get their stack if you do hit the flop hard. The meduim-minraiser is harder to play against in some ways as you are less sure whether they hit the flop, here reraising strongly with premium hands makes sense. Again the challenge is in identification...

-He makes very small continuation bets when he misses
This one seems easier, especially when an opponent checks / raises strongly when they hit (the slowplayer mentioned before comes in here - once you have tagged one then a check after the flop when he took the lead pre must be a huge tell). There are several solutions, with a hand then it makes sense to call these small cBets and CR the turn, without a hand it makes more sense to CR on the flop or call and lead on the turn.

-He is bluffs MUCH more frequently when he was the preflop aggressor than when he wasn't
Related to above, does an opponent cBet every time he raised pre? Guess from opponents point of view this could be a reasonable strategy - effectively hiding his hand and only having to work a small % of the time (assuming half-pot bet). However the size of the cBet is usually the weakness in the logic - beginning to get the thought that I am not paying enough attention to bet sizes here (multitablinf does not help!).

-He doesn't push often enough when under 8bbs or when in the SB
Now we get to ICM! First I have to admit that this is a weakness of mine - have the sit and go power tools and am currently working this one through. Do not really need a strategy to counteract other than playing optimally in these situations, an opponent not making +EV pushes when short will naturally have a disadvantage to an 'optimal' pushbot.

-He pushes too much when over 10BBs, EP, or in certain bubble situations
This one touches on the key (for me) to successful sng play - assigning accurate ranges for your opponents push and call ranges. Early pushes (15bb+) in my experience are usually those meduim strength hands (certain players will of course do it with premiums). From a strategy point of view I am not calling these without a decent holding but will be looking for showdowns with others to assign a range. To be honest I am happy for 10bb+ pushes as long as it is not every time I'm BB, the times I have QQ+ (ok JJ / AQs+ for some villans) will make this profiable for me in the long run. Early pushes with 6-7 players to act are suicidal without a decent hand, no problem seeing these then. The 'Certain Bubble Situations' is more complex. Some opponents push each time they are UTG or Button for example, if you can detect a pattern then it is time to adjust that pushing range - for example I might call when it is +ev against top 20% for an average opponent but make this 40% for an obvious pattern pusher.

-He doesn't seem to care how many BBs an all in is for; He will call a 2k all in when blinds are 100/200 almost as often as when they are 200/400.
Related to the above, all about putting villan on a range. Calling ranges are of course complex and affected by the frequency of your (and others) pushes too. Is this opponent a 'spite caller'? Adjusting the range downwards would work against someone obvlivious to stack sizes - maybe open pushing premium hands a little earlier if you have seen them making loose calls in fairly deep stacked siuations (not sure this is optimal... but certainly a thought against the right opponent).

-He is afraid on the bubble when there is one very short stack, but not very afraid when stacks are all even.
Well at least such an opponent is thinking about the bubble a little bit! So when you have a shorty you can push push push, his calling range shrinks to the point where it is almost an any-two against him. When stacks are even expect lots of raises / pushes from him, again I would like to be +ev against 20% to call (which is not many hands I can call with) if someone is pushing liberally then make it vs 30%. Another way of looking at this is whether it is possible that there will be a short-stack in the near future - assessment of whether the others at the bubble are likely to get all-in against each other is important from a push / call range point of view. Once a smally is created one would need to spot quickly who tries to fold into the money and who does not understand the situation and adjust to this. No good crying when another big stack makes a dumb call with a shorty around... it is up to you to accurately identify who can and can not be pushed into in these situations.

-He tremendously overvalues A6o
Late on this is another range assignment point. Early on then great news! Find that playing AK strongly early on in a low-level sng is a good strategy. Sure, sometimes you will come across a set or nice big pair, but the amount of times you will be called by a lower A make up for it. Putting it another way, you manage to get all in pre with AK and have a 10 / 30 / 60 chance of a premium pair / pair under QQ / hand you dominate.. i like those odds and will take them all day long!

-He has pride issues, and doesn't like being pushed around (although this happens at the $530s too)
Spite call warning!! Seen some otherwise average players suddenly call at the bubble with j3s the 4th time the small blind pushes into them... sure ranges will go down, but the ego players are dangerous... found that this type will often use their timer before folding the first few times (especially if you resteal push earlier in the game). Before the bubble then a CR with a premium holding could work here, often these types will call down once they have taken the lead so any way to build a pot must be good. The weak lead can also get a nice reraise once in a while. When identifying an ego player (through the chat box or wherever) value bet value bet and then valuie bet.

-He doesn't know much about pot odds.
Too many of these about - calling a pot sized bet on the turn on some draw. Appear to be two aspects to this, first is that if they want to call then great! every time someone takes 2/1 on a flush hitting then I win (over time of course). On the other side, if the scare card does hit on the river one has to put pride to one side and check-fold if the opponent bets big. Sometimes too easy to call with your set just to show the table what a donkey your opponent was by calling your big bet after the turn... there should be plenty of other opportunities to exploit this one. At the bubble another advantage can appear, I always make a note if i see anyone folding to a short stack all in getting 2/1+, you just never know when you might be able to make use of it!

-He wants you to think he's a good player
Fine, value bet him, force him to make 'good laydowns' when scarecards appear. Not a user of chat myself but there might even be a case for a couple of well timed compliments here... massage the ego in order to take advantage of other weaknesses later.

-He will refuses to fold an overpair, no matter the size
Value bet your set to death.

-He doesn't care much about what position he's in when entering a pot.
So many people at the low level sngs play drawing hands out of position. Since they miss most of them then this relates back to the cBetting thoughts above. What does this size of cBet mean?
Easiest way to exploit this is just to use position yourself, how easy is it to buy the button at your table? are you getting lots of limpers when you have the button, if so then call with that connector. Guess that even a basic understanding of position gives you an edge here.

-He doesn't consider how the number of players seeing the flop affects relative hand strength.
Horrible, consider limping behind once again, case for the CR when you hit big. Lots of these players in one game make things interesting. Some resteal plays from the blinds can work here (although the tendancy to slowplay of many players make this risky without a decent hand). Again the solution is to value bet big when you flop that set and fold when you whiff and an Ace flops.

-If he's the type of player who puts you on a hand, he loves to put you on a flush draw, and will do so whenever possible.
Nice, bet when that flush card appears. Overbet your set when the flush does not make it by the river (feigning a bluff).

Wow - did not expect to write so much. Comments welcome!

Back Then...

Decided to have a weekend off of Poker. Music festival in town to keep me amused in the meantime, will do some HH reviews and general info seeking in between.

Wanted to mention the first time I played online poker. Must be about 2 years ago now. Started with Limit Holdem at Party, ugly losses! Here are a few specific memories of that time...
- Recall playing J8 as my minimum starting hand, position? raiser ahead? suits? nonsense... a J and and 8 or better was good enough. If I 'ran bad' then I went to J9 minimum and then to J10.
- Recall Discovering No-Limit, 'wow this is GREAT - you only have to put in 25c to see a flop, now i can play with anything'
- Discovering Sit and Goes... 'Wow this is EEEAAASSSYYY, just wait until I have a pair or some high cards and call that big bet'. Right, won the $10 now I'll do the same thing at the $50s... oops.

Yep, like most people I was a pretty consitent loser back then, only really in the last year have I started making small profits some months just over $1k but most just under... what I really hope for is to look back in 6 months time at some of the plays I make now with the same sense of amused bafflement as for the list above.

Have been reading a good blog at well worth a visit for some interesting discussions / articles.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Poker on the plan3t Gong would be perfect, aces every hand, people having all their chips taken as a punishment for sucking out, bankroll growing exponentially... unfortunately here on planet Earth things are a little different - thus this blog.

Since there are already 1000s of Poker blogs the idea is to make this one different. The ideas are as follows;
- Educational, for me and maybe for you. Charting the incremental learning which has recently changed me from a losing player to a (small) winner and hopefully a reasonable winner in the future.
- No bad beat stories... well unless they are funny ones.
- No ego. Its anonymous anyhow.
- Tales of the unexpected.
- Interesting links.

High ideals, will start with where I am right now. Frustrated by some SNG varience, too tight to cash MTTs regularly and not quite good enough a hand reader to consistently win at cash. Sounds bad? maybe... here is my month to date:

- $371 down on sit and goes (mostly Stars $15+1s)
- $500+ from the Stars Moneymaker freeroll round 3 (34th place - dissapointing)
- $1000+ from Ritz Club London freeroll
- $200ish down from various other MTTs (will start keeping better records here).

Not enough to retire there then. Actually having a couple of days off at the moment for the purposes of learning. Plan to make these a regular feature. Been through hand histories for the sit and goes and found a few -ev pushes (usually when the blinds are 150 to 200 range). A leak! Always good to find a leak.