Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Books and KO Tourneys

Arrived in the UK after a brief and pleasant stopover in Amsterdam. What a great country the Netherlands is!

Found a package waiting for me with some books ordered a few months ago with Stars FPPs, actually forgotten which ones were ordered by the time I got hold of them. Turned out to be "Tournament Poker" by Tom McEnvoy and "Kill Phil". Started McEnvoy's one, not a great writer to be honest - jumps around too much and little strange in style - on the + side it does cover tournament strategy in many games (12 or so!). Will persist, the thing about these books for me is not the main text, but the 1 or 2 'hidden gems' that provoke thinking and approaching situations in new ways.... we will see.

Also managed to play a couple of Full Tilt's 'Knockout tourneys' over the past few days, both were $24+2 with $4 becoming a knockout bounty and $20 to the prize pool. Bubbled the final table of a 540 ish player MTT in 10th (no problem - made a good decision!), then made up for it by winning a 90 player knockout SNG. In the latter I only knocked out 2 players all tourney, fortunately these were the eventual 3rd and 2nd place finishers.... have a feeling that the nature of these attract more 'fun' players than the standard games at the same level. Will have a think about any strategy adjustments (which I believe would be minor) and post about them in the new year.

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Stars Review Example

Poker Stars Room Review

Poker Stars is the largest online poker site in terms of player volumes by a significant amount. As of spring 2008 their record of 150k simultaneous poker players giving them double the size of their nearest competitors.

As you would expect from the worlds largest poker site, the selection of both poker cash games and tournaments is excellent. Something is available 24 hours a day for people ranging from the recreational player through to the online poker pro. What is more the loyalty program at PokerStars is one of the best around and the unique software client one of the fastest and easiest to use out there.

Poker Stars – Bonuses And Promotions

The sign-up bonus at Poker Stars is smaller than at many sites. However the 100% match up to $50 will clear very quickly, giving an instant boost to your online poker bankroll. Make sure you use Poker Stars Marketing Code PAWSUB35 to claim the full amount.

Instead of a big sign-up bonus, Poker Stars reward their players with a very generous VIP Club. As you collect points you will move up through various levels (from Bronze to Silver, Gold etc). At each level the benefits increase including freerolls with some huge prize pools (including 20k, 50k and 100k events) and the ability to buy goods ranging from electronics through to books and tournament entries from the Poker Stars store.

Poker Stars – Cash Game Selection

The busiest games at Poker Stars are the no-limit Holdem cash game tables – with buy-ins starting at just cents and going up to $1000’s, and sizes from 2 players through to 9, there is a table available for every bankroll and player type at this poker site.

In addition there are fixed limit and pot-limit Holdem tables available as well as many other forms of poker such as Omaha (all variations), Stud, Stud Hi-Lo, Razz, 5-card Draw, 2-7 Triple Draw and mixed games including HORSE and HOSE.

Poker Stars – Tournament Selection

Each Sunday Poker Stars run the largest tournaments in terms of regular prize pools (the Sunday Million) and number of players (the Sunday Hundred Grand). With the largest online tournament selection of any site, in terms of variations, poker types and buy-in levels – there is a tournament available to suit every player at Poker Stars.

Poker Stars – Sit N Go Selection

More choice and more SNGs starting at Just $1 – Poker Stars show that they are the biggest online poker site in this area too. Sit N Go tournaments ranging from 2 (heads-up) to 180 players are available, these include turbo blinds as well as standard speeds and are available in a number of game types too. Satellite SNG tournaments and ‘double shootout’ SNGs are regularly available for qualification to events both online and offline.

Poker Stars – Software Overview

Fast, functional and easy to operate. The Poker Stars software has many neat features such as re-sizable tables, the ability to load your own picture or icon to display at the tables and ‘mouse-over’ viewing of folded cards. The software is very smooth running and will not take too much resource from your computer, another of many reasons that Poker Stars has been so successful.

Poker Stars – Deposit Methods

Visa (including pre-paid cards), ePassporte and electronic checks (e-checks) are the most commonly used deposit methods at Poker Stars. This site’s knowledgeable staff are available 24/7 to make your real-money deposits as smooth and fast as possible, for players in the US and also worldwide.

Poker Stars – Summary

The largest online poker site in the world, and for many good reasons. Poker Stars offer an excellent selection of poker games to cover all player types, have the best loyalty program online in the form of their acclaimed VIP Club, and also boast what is probably the best online poker software client. While the sign-up bonus is smaller than at some sites this is easily compensated for by the generous incentives on offer for regular players. Check them out for yourself today and find out why more players rate Poker Stars than any other online poker site.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Looking Forwards - Into 2008

Not the last post of 2007, but the last one from the comfort of my home office! This post will concern some plans for Plan3t Gong in 2008, a mention of some of my wider plans and even a thought or 2 about poker!

So, what will change here at Plan3t Gong next year?

Well, my feeling is that the poker strategy (which incidently I love writing and discussing here) has somewhat taken over the 'blogging' side of things. After all - a blog is supposed to be a personal thing right? Have felt for a while that PG is a little too, well, impersonal! So the plan is to have a few more posts about this mysterious strategy writer called Mark... might even tell you who I am and how I feel about the world - if you are interested!

The second change will be to write about the business side of my life.... regular readers may know that I had a senior position in a blue chip a couple of years ago, fell in love and decided to travel the world last year (2006)... and this year has been about deciding what to do next.

Well, I have decided... Plan3t Corporation will be born in the new year and it will have some tough goals ahead (and a lot of hard work!). The idea is to generate a 'proper' passive income by the end of 2008... one which will enable me to go diving in Thailand while staff look after the office! So, Plan3t Gong will be a conduit to share this journey, the ups and downs and everything in between, I'm looking forward to it immensely.

Finally, the poker strategy will continue. After all - it is what Plan3t Gong poker is all about... will never dictate or say 'this is how it is' here... providing food for thought for those who enjoy thinking is a big enough role on its own.

Poker, ah poker. My favourite sport (well, ok, tied with Cricket).

My goals for poker in 2008 are simple, enjoy the game and make some money. No big challenges, no specific goals I will play simply because it is a beautiful game.

Will try and post from Amsterdam over the weekend!

Gl at those tables, Mark

PS: Just a quick thought on my 'xmas booze challenge'... erm... well.... got my $2.10 to about $12 and then got bored with it... so the $12 is still there. Ah well, maybe it will turn into enough for a hamper by xmas 2009!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Personal Poker Review Of 2007

Well, for me there are only a few days left of the 'poker year'... on Thurdsay I will board a plane for Amsterdam for a couple of days (birthday on Friday!!), then fly to the UK for xmas and new year... a busy schedule of visiting friends and familiy will leave little time (or to be honest inclination) to spend at those virtual tables. So today a backwards look - then later in the week a forwards look and an annoucement or 2 about some changes to Plan3t Gong for '08!!

2007 has been a reasonably successful year poker-wise, I have cashed out on several occasions from various sites and still have a healthy balance online for '08.

The single biggest change has been to understand my own motivations better when it comes to the game. If someone would have asked 'Hey, Mark! Why do you play poker??' at the start of the year then I'd probably have explained to them that this is a relatively easy way to make some money! The same question now would have a different answer completely! 'Because I enjoy the game' is where it starts and ends....

In fact, 2007 has been the year I discovered that playing 'only' for the money turns poker from something pleasurable into something else instead! When feeling good and playing for fun I actually win more.... the enjoyment of the challenges of the game - those cumulative little strategy insights posted here at Plan3t Gong all year... that is the real joy of the game.

2007 has been the year that came into being. The idea started out as a 'better' platform for my strategy ideas... with the help of inspiration from many fantastic poker webmasters at it took on a new life - and has now got to the point where is generates me some 'passive income'... hard to believe there are over 200 pages up and around 10,000 visitors each month already... 2008 will be about taking this site, and several others to the 'next level' (more on this in my 'forwards look' later in the week)

Plan3t Gong really came to life this year too, have thoroughly enjoyed posting and feeling part of the 'blogger community'... have also enjoyed reading the other blogs (check out my 'blogs of distinction' list for some exellent reads!). Will take a quick opportunity to say thanks to all my readers and those who have linked to me - the readership has been growing throughout the year and I hope that in 2008 this will continue, many ideas to keep things fresh here next year - will again cover these in my 'forwards look' later in the week!

GL at those tables, Mark

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sit And Goes, ICM and The Size Of Mistakes...

Thinking about one of my favourite poker-related topics today - the size of mistakes.

Nobody plays 'perfect poker' right? The number of unknown variables and individual differences make decision making an inexact science - even in the 'solved' end game of SNGs.

Well, if we accept that everyone makes mistakes then logically it follows that the players making money over time are making less and / or smaller mistakes than their opponents.... Slanksky and Miller referred to this as 'Winning the Battle Of Mistakes' (in relation to cash games).

A competant SNG player needs a good idea of the correct situations and hand strengths required to push or fold at the bubble... without this then money is being leaked. It follows here that your actions are primarily dictated by the calling and pushing ranges of your opponents and the dynamic between the stack sizes at the table (presence of a micro-stack being the 'biggy').

Today I'd like to look at the ranges question. Say something goes wrong with this estimation process... we assign an opponent an incorrect range. Is there a useful way to adapt our play to ensure that any mistake we make due to this is smaller rather than larger??

A couple of examples: Equal stacks and high blinds at the bubble, folded to you in the small blind... you have rags but see your opponent as tight / cautious - lets say you have 8-2 suited and put your opponent on 66+ A10s+ AJo+ to call.... with even stacks of 5000 chips and 300 / 600 blinds you have a clear shove here... it is worth 1.5% of the prize pool!

Ok, so lets imagine you made a mistake!

Instead of 6%(ish) of hands your opponent is actually sitting ready to call you with a healthy 18% of hands!! Thats 3 times as many.... well, your push now gets thin - down to 0.1% of the prize pool - but still has a positive expectation.

Now we can reverse roles, the small blind pushes into you, and you estimate his range incorrectly... you are in the BB with A-10 off suit, seeing your opponent as a competant player you 'know' that he will be pushing 100% of hands in this situation (since in theory at least you 'can not call' without a monster).

You call - your expectation is 1% of the prize pool and that is plently enough to show a profit over time!

But wait, what if you got it wrong... those pushes by the small blind were in fact due to a strong run of cards, instead of an ICM expert knowing that he can push 100% the SB is in fact a fish who would fold 66% of hands here (or complete with them (euch!!)). Note the error is the same size as before (we over-estimated by 2/3rds).... now your error is much bigger... in fact this comes in at -1.3$ of the prize pool in $ev terms.

Kind of a long way of getting there - but here is the thought for today.... if you are going to make a mistake in push / fold poker at the bubble of a SNG then make it a 'pushing' one and not a 'calling' one.... the smaller your mistakes the more money you'll win over time!

GL at those tables, Mark

Thursday, December 13, 2007

SNG Fees, The Poker Cartel + Player Stickiness!

Have been thinking about fees for SNGs (tournaments in general too).

Every week, somewhere on the internet, someone posts on a forum something like 'why are SNG fees so high .... we are being ripped off.... etc etc'.

You know they have a point - well, ok, half a point. The 8 to 10% fees are high considering the value that the poker sites are offering. From the perspective of a multi-tabler playing 10 / hour this could easily be $20 or $30 gone forever from your poker bankroll!

Now, let us look at this from the perspective of the poker sites for a second. Asking the question: If SNGs are so popular (and they are) what incentive do the sites have to lower that rake? None. An equilibrium has been reached - the demand for the games with the current rake is too high, reducing the rake by 30% for example would not result in enough of an increase in players to make this profitable for the poker sites... what is more a poker site doing this is in danger of starting a 'price war' - that would be deterimental to their business.

I am not condoning the high fees, far from it - my personal view is that the rake for all forms of poker is too high. For me it is a reality check from the perspective of the sites and the people looking after their bottom line... there really is little incentive there.

A couple of examples will illustrate:

- World Poker Exchange used to offer 100% rakeback for cash games (think they reduced it to 75% eventually). Let me ask a quick question, why was this site not in the top 10 - or even top 20 - online poker sites??

- Rakeback deals are available at many sites, but NOT at Poker Stars.... why then is this the most popular site by a long long way?? (twice as much traffic than nearest rivals - 130K peak vs 65k Peak for Full Tilt and around 58k Peak for Party). Sure, the VIP club is decent, but really, does this compare with a good rakeback deal??

So whether we like it or not the status quo remains, every now and then a hopeful poster appears on the internet with the mild delusion that 'player power' could change things for the better for everyone... unfortunately it will not, there are too many people happy to pay the fees to get the sites to change.

Sure, it is a cartel - yet, for the near future at least, player stickiness (or just apathy!) means it will remain in place!

GL at those (expensive) tables, Mark

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

StarTracker - Now With Relative Rankings

Regular readers will already be familliar with StarTracker from a few months back... this is a (currently) free resource that tracks Poker Stars SNGs with a number of innovative features in addition to breaking down results by buy-in level and SNG size.

Returning to the subject today as a brand-new feature has recently been announced - The 'StarTracker Rankings'. You can see the ranking score for all of the players at your table based on an algorythm accounting for Average Finish Position, ROI and Sample Size.... in a nutshell this provides a better indication of how 'good' (relatively speaking) an opponent is at a particular level. What is more it gets around the issue that 'other' tracking sites have with a single win in a 180 person SNG (for example) skewing the results for players.

Check out the 'My Table' feature too - requires a download but will quickly show you all the scores for you tables... great info for anyone playing SNGs t at Stars. Here is the link:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

To 'Slotboom' - In More Ways Than One!

Had a trip to the in-laws over the weekend so not much time for poker. Managed to grab a couple of spare hours last night to visit the PLO tables over at Titan for a (profitable) experimental session... my idea was, instead of just trying to win money (!) I'd have a try with some new PLO strategy ideas and generally look harder at the subject of 'weaknesses' in opponnets than before.

All in All An Interesting Little Session

Had a few tables going between 50c / $1 and $1 / $2 - tried the short-stack limp re-raise with premiums strategy on a couple of these. Acually won 2 out of 5 of the times I got all-in pre with aces and decent king hands.... this is an excellent result as I was getting > 2/1 on my money each time... if only I'd won those hands on the $1 / $2 tables instead of the smaller ones I might have actually shown a profit...

Deep stacked at another table and working on the ' isolate your target from position' strategy - making small re-raises with quality hands, especially after my loose / aggressive / bad target had raised.

An observation here is that re-raising with quality rundowns + quality high pair hands (with help) is an excellent way of defining your opponent's hand before the flop! With $100 stacks this meant mini-reraising from $2.50 to $5... now with AAxx my target was raising again (around $13 - can not recall the exact figures). With stacks over 100 BB deep this made post-flop decisions very easy indeed... really enjoyed putting in the mini-re-raises with those medium rundowns 6-7-8-9 etc... and yes I did get my targets stack in the end (though he was down to $40 at the time!)

One more observation was with the $1 / $2 game - had not really played much at this level before, a little high for my PLO bankroll (Omaha plays twice as big in terms of pot-size / variance than Holdem... so this is the equivalent of $2 / $4 NLHE). My suprise was due to the number of truly terrible players at this level... in one example I had a low (current nut) straight + pair and bet the flop and a safe turn, the river made a higher straight possible and also a backdoor flush... so I checked behind from position. My opponent in this hand nad called a pot flop and pot turn bet (round $30) with a gutshot + overpair (obvious low straight on board). To make matters worse after paying so much for an unlikely draw they checked after hitting it...failing completely to get rewarded. This was one of many examples, those aces-only raisers are there too!!

Anyway, experiementing with a more aggressive approach to PLO and will continue to do so. This game is becoming very popular at the moment with plently of dead money at the tables so a few weeks 'rebuilding' could lead to a fun and profitable 2008!

GL at the tables, Mark

Friday, December 07, 2007

Luck - A Reverse Angle View...

Thinking about that old chestnut again, the thing we like to call luck. Not going to get into any philosphical arguments about perception of chance events etc right now.... 'luck' will do!

During a tournament we play a wide selection of hands right?? Pairs, High Cards (A-K etc), suited connectors and a whole range of more speculative holdings. And sometimes we run into aces!

Here is todays thoughts, from a statistical viewpoint each player will be dealt aces (or any specific pair) once in every 221 hands (on average). There are 8 or 9 opponents in each hand... so going with 8 we have a one in 27 chance of running into aces each hand (approximation here, sure people folding increase this likelihood and having an ace yourself decreases etc)... thats not my point today.

Now we add KK... down to around 1 in 14.... so we have 60 hands an hour in a tournament, that leaves 4 chances, on average, that we run into AA or KK.

So here is the perspective... if you avoided these spots at each break you can smile, pat yourself on the back and think of how lucky you are! It will make up for those times someone hits their 2-outer to send you to the rail!!


As a quick aside, no challenges at the poker tables this month.

Have a list of writing to do that is going to take me well into Jan 08 to complete and also very busy with creating (top secret new website that is going to be just grrrrreat!). Will be playing a little in-between but want this to be for relaxation rather than challenging myself for this month. Will set up a couple of 'fun' challenges for the new year though, both on killing the SNGs again and growing my micro-balance at Pacific.

GL at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Hidden Harrington Thought!

Finished up HOH2 again (must be the 3rd time by now). While going through I found an interesting couple of lines. Just a small footnote to one of the many 'problems' which feature throughout the book.

Funnily enough - it got me thinking!

Here it is, the problem centered on having a reasonably big stack approaching the paying places and a medium-strength hand in late position. The idea was to try and steal the blinds... skip the details... the footnote said this:

"Remember this, You have to steal in a way that allows your opponents a face-saving out, even if they sort-of know what you are doing..." (bolding mine)

As a big stack you'll be stealing a lot of blinds right, the idea then is to not 'force' those smaller stacked opponents to play back at you by 'embarrasing' them by stealing in exactly the same way from the same position each time.

This struck a chord, especially with the 'egos' you'll meet online who don't like to be pushed around. Something as simple as varying the raise size, making a delayed continuation bet instead of a standard one - or even folding once in a while could prevent those tricky 'should 1 call a resteal' problems that spring up from time to time.

Will certainly think this one through and try and adpt my game a little.

GL at the tables, Mark

Saturday, December 01, 2007

SitNGo Strategy - ICM Re-visited

Quick post today, inspired by various recent forum posts asking SNG questions.

Many posts start along the lines of 'I don't agree with that ICM Bull****', or something similar. Kind of 'leave that to the nerds' or 'I'm so good I don't need it' attitude.

No problem with that personally, there are in fact some very good players who do not call and push in line with the 'correct' ICM ranges. What the ego driven posters you see miss is subtle but brilliant - those people who choose not to use this actually understand this model very well indeed... in fact it is the excellent understanding of ICM, and the reading of situations based on the fact that opponent's are using this, which allows them to find positive expectation spots!

My thoughts on the role of ICM in Sitngo strategy can be summed up like this:

- You can beat the lower limits (up to $20) without it, especially if you are 1 or 2 tabling.

- If you take the time to learn more about ICM you will better understand what many of your opponents are doing (right down to the range of hands they push / call with!). Even if you do not use ICM yourself this is profitable knowledge.

- By making inappropriate calls and pushes at the bubble according to $ equity models you are costing yourself real money. Whether or not 1-tabling your 'reads' can make up for this - it is as simple as leaving $$$ on the virtual felt.

Want to know more? Check out this introductory guide: SNG Strategy - Intro To ICM , 100's more articles too!

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Luck + Changes To My Favourite Tournament!

Two interlinking themes today.

Read an article on p5's yeasterday on ones perception of 'luck' in poker, by Grapsfan. Made a great point about many players attributing their wins to 'skill' and losses to 'bad luck', too many words and not as clear as some of Grapsfan's articles but worth a read none the less.

Secondly, Titan Poker changed by favourite tournament! OK then, all of their re-buys. You used to be able to rebuy at Titan only when down to zero chips. Now with the help of a nice big re-buy button you can take more chips any time you have your starting stack or less... Titan have also increased the paying spots (at least for the larger field tourneys) from 10% to 15%.

Have always been one to enjoy change - even if it is to my personal favorite online tournament -the $10 Rebuy Nightly 30k Gtd.

So, here is what happened... 1115 entered, not too many rebuys meaning there was actually an overlay of almost $1k! Played a solid game all the way through, did not show down too many hands and found myself in the money... then further in the money... then down to 2 tables... then to 15 players left... with an average stack!

The poker-gods then deemed me worthy of a pair of Kings in the big-blind... folds to the small blind (who has be covered) who makes a huge raise - I re-pop (he's already committed to call) and he turns over 9-9... my ticket to the final table had (almost) arrived! Only the 9 on the turn was a small problem, the kind of problem which causes a box to pop up on the screen saying 'You finished in 15th place and won $xyz - Would you like to play again?' - yep, the end of the line.

Of course I was not happy, slumped resigned into my chair rather than angry. One minute later it was 'Oh well, never mind - time for a nice cup of tea!'.

Here is where Grapsfan's article comes back in.... with 3 tables to go and after a couple of failed steal attempts + blinding for a round or two I'd found myself with just 6 times the big blind, in the Hi-jack seat and the rest of the field had folded to me. Ace-Jack was more than enough for the job of shoving to steal the blinds, which is exactly what I did! The button called with Ace-King... oops, but luckily a jack on the flop saved me - enabling me to get to the last 2 tables.

So, there we have it. Could easily have internalized that result as 'poor Mark - he would have made the final table - but suffered a bad-beat'. No, I played well, and both the good and bad sides of this thing we called luck affected the game. Graps has a great point - learn to love your good fortune, it makes the bad times feel better!!

Finally, how did the changes affect the tournaments at Titan?

Well, so far not too much. Only a few people 'double rebuy' early and there are still hordes of fish (repeating previous posts here but you really have to see it to believe it!!). Did not like the longer payout structure as this lead to an extra 50 people basically getting their buy-in's back, have a feeling that this site will be my favourite for a long time to come!!

Check out Titan Poker today (non-US, sry), bonus code SNGPLANET will get you the maximum $500 sign-up bonus.

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thoughts On Becoming A 'Poker Pro'

No no, not me! Already ruled that one out and focus my energies in this post-corporate chapter of my life on creating a 'passive income' (but that, as they say, is another story).

After reading countless forum posts, some excellent blogs and having a few chats with friends both online and off - I have come to the conclusion that the desire held by so many small stakes poker players to 'One day become an online pro' is in fact a delusion...

Yes, a strong word - but one chosen with a good reason.

There are many reasons for this, some practical, others mathematical and still more psychological. Will list a few below:

- Let us start with the statistics: The majority will never make it, a downswing will come and that will be that, mix in the 'real' aspiration behind this decision... people are not looking to become a high-volume low-limit grinder. In their hearts the real desire is to become the next Annette_15 or BigJoe or Rizen... folks, these are the 1% of 5% of 0.1% - that is to say 1% of players actually take the action required to become a 'pro', 5% of these make a reasonable profit after a year, a tiny percentage then go on to make it 'big'... my view on the stats is this, any one wannabe pro has a 95% chance of failure within year 1 (this might be giving up, no necessarily losing money) of these one in 1000 will get to the neo-celebrity status with the success level they really crave. So from the outset - of those who make the decision to 'go for it' 1 in 20,000 get there.

- Next a bit of psychology (my first degree was in that subject BTW!). The desire to be a poker pro is influenced by the 'love of the game'. There is a lot to love about poker, the challenge, the competitiveness and the satisfaction of taking home the cash! Yet again and again I hear the same thing, after just a few months of being a 'pro' the love starts to ebb, the game becomes a 'grind' in the negative meaning of the word for so many. If you are stuck 'grinding' SNGs (for example) at the low to mid-limits is this really any better than a data-entry job?? (well it pays better I guess!!) Most aspiring pros will give up because they lose the love in my experience.

- 'Kudos' needs to be brought into the discussion too. The online 'names' have a certain 'cool' about them, hordes of wannabes hanging on their every message-board post, pouring over their hand histories and generally wishing to be 'just like them'. Becoming a pro, even a mildly successful one will often gain the 'respect' of virtual peers and offline poker-playing friends... my point here is that this is a delusion too. Your poker playing buddies will leave college and get jobs, your 'virtual' following is nothing more than a rather odd way of making yourself feel 'superior' or 'good' and actually (again unless you are the 0.1% who transition to the 'big time') you end up with a life that is far from 'looked up to' and are really convincing yourself that all is well by using the eyes of those very 'aspiring pros' who will never make it...

- Time: Ok, there are a certain percentge will can and do make a good wage multi-tabling the cash games or playing tournaments. Some will make $100k+ doing this, the majority will not. This is a good amount of cash when you are young, living on campus or with parents (or even on a Thai island), spending your spare cash on a nice lifestyle going out with buddies and the rest. Two points here, you are getting older, some day your buddies will have 'settled down' some day you'll have a spouse and a familiy to look after, some day going out drinking until the early hours will not have the same appeal any more... grinding the poker tables will not then be balanced with other aspects of life. Point 2: You really want to do the same thing for 3, 5 or 10 years (!) sounds like hell to me!!

Could go on, there are a few more thoughts in my head on this subject - will stop though before this post becomes a mile long. Feel free to share your thoughts via some comments, always happy to disagree with people (healthy debate a favourite off-line passtime for me!).

Will summarize, I think the aspiration for most people to become a poker-pro is a delusion for the following reasons: Chances of making it are (very) slim - however good you believe you are. The love of the game will disappear, turning poker from something good into a nasty, repetative grind. The kudos among peers is transitory. And finally, unless you are the 1/20,000 who make it big being a poker pro is a poor option over the medium to long term.

GL becoming a pro! Mark

PS: Xmas booze challenge update: took a hit running AK into QQ on a AQA flop (oops!) but have since ground my forgotten mini bankroll from its starting point of $2.10 up to just over $9 (thats enough for a cheap bottle of wine!)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thoughts on Multi-Tabling

Wow, been so busy writing lately that I've not had time to, erm, write.

Had a thought on multi-tabling to share today. For a long time (before having the time got in the way!) I played sit n goes... guess regular readers might have noticed since half the posts here are on the subject.

Playing at the lower end of the buy-ins, $16s and $27s for a bit, the way to maximise hourly take was to learn the 'pushbot' game and to multi-table. Experimented with many ways of multi-tabling (tiled / cascaded / sets / continuous variations etc) and various numbers of tables - up to 12 at once. Decided finally that sets / tiled and 6 tables was for me and settled into that.

With my business ventures and freelance writing now taking most of my time it can be difficult to find the right time to grind those SNGs - so instead I set aside one or two evenings a week and play a few multi's and some satellites at the weekend (just won $530 T$ this morning in fact!!).

Now here is the thought, being used to multi-tabling from the SNG days (sure they will return soon enough!) I set up 4 or 6 MTTs at once. This is simply not +ev for me.

The great thing about SNGs is that they can be played pretty much 'mechanically', you do not even need to play 'perfectly' at the lower buy-ins, just better than your opponents! It may sound obvious here but this is not the case with MTTs at all, you need to be watching your opponents - noting their betting and assigning them ranges for raises and calling re-raises. You need to know who will call with A10o because they think it is a premium hand, and conversely who is happily folding waiting for those aces!

Well, I do not profess to be the worlds best MTT player (did make another final table earlier in the week but busted out in 8th after someone was selfish enough to wake up with aces against my 8's...). Thinking about the game gives an edge against the 'average joe' (who, incidentally we know is 95% likely to be break-even at best and 70% likely to be a loser!!). Really feel that I have been giving up a good proportion of my edge in these games by playing too many tables... time to cut down - to stop thinking of myself as a 'multi-tabler' and acknowledge that I am a 'SNG multi-tabler' who likes to play other forms of the game!

GL at those (multi) tables, Mark

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rizen, Apestyles, PearlJammer To Release A Book...

Interesting news.

3 very successful online tournament pros, Rizen (Eric Lynch), Apestyles and PearlJammer are to release a poker book. Having seen training videos from all 3 players on PxF I have to say that these guys know their stuff (and have records to prove it - bah!). It'll be on my reading list for sure.

Not too much information to go on at the moment - other than the fact that there will be a press release in a couple of weeks time - here is a link to Rizen's Blog where he mentions this... Rizens Blog (will open a new window)

Gl at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Drawing Hands in Position - Check or Bet?

Turning my thoughts to a new area today... here is the scenario - you call a raise from the button with 2 suited high cards and flop a flush draw + overs... your single opponent bets around 1/3rd of the pot into you on the flop.

Common eh? could happen with a number of draws or made hand / draw combos in a number of situations. There could be other players still to act, or your opponent could have checked to you on the flop (or for that matter have made a pot-size bet.

The question is - when to raise as a semi-bluff, when to flat call and hope to make your draw and when to simply fold and get on with the next hand?

Not professing to know the answers! What I like about this one is there are so many factors potentially involved... the cards that you hold only being one of them. Plan to do a couple more posts over the coming days to look in detail at some of these factors - for now a list of some of the things we may need to consider, in no particular order (feel free to add to this list btw!).

1) Active opponents in the pot to act behind us? (relative to the player who bet post flop)
2) Stack sizes... how deep are we and our opponents?
3) The known tendencies of the opponent who bet (weak? likely to re-raise all in?), can also include any other players still active in the hand...
4) What kind of game is this - is the answer different in a SNG, MTT and a Cash Game?
5) How strong is our draw, to the nuts?
6) The texture of the flop - sure we have a flush draw, but is there an ace on board? a pair? stright possibilities?
7) Our table image? Are we perceived as tight, weak, crazzzzzy?

Have this 'forgotten one' feeling.... ah well, can always edit later. Something to think about - my own thoughts real soon!

GL at the tables, Mark

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sit N Go Strategy - Interesting p5's Post

Interesting Sit N Go Strategy post over on pocket 5's to link to today, and one that works on various levels at that with a fascinating debate between 2 successful small-stakes SNG Pro grinders included.

You'll see the numbers in the thread - where is gets interesting for me is the assumptions on which the decision is based, the pushing range of the big stack and the 'fact' that the small stack should be calling with any-2 (in my own experience at the 27's this is not a definite - even though folding would be mathematically horrible for smally here enough people do it to make it only 75% to 80%).

The best thing of all about this debate is that there are various levels of thinking going on... on one side there are a bunch of maths-based calculations which assume each player understands ICM... on the other hand there is the line of thinking that says 'if player x understands ICM he will assume I am pushing range XYZ, therefore I can actually push ABC etc etc'... great stuff.

(right click to open in new window / tab)

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Challenge Time...

Well, the last challenge did not last too long so time for a new one.

Accidentially found I have a sum of money in a (very) old Pacific Poker account. Must be 2 years since I put in $50, donked it off in a few hours and then forgot all about it. As fortune would have it I needed to download the new version in order to do some writing work for a client... and lo and behold if there's not $2.10c in my account!

Was also busy booking flights today - for a family visit at xmas - so why not combine the 2 into the 'Plan3t Gong Xmas Booze Challenge'.

The idea being to see how many bottles JD (and other assorted drinkies) I can get to by xmas.

*Update* first hour successful - up to $6.45 already...

Will keep you posted right here on Plan3t Gong,

GL at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

(Completely) Off Topic - Mum's Blog

Well it does not get any further from poker than this!

Can you ever properly put into words, to share with other people, the realisation that we have been totally missinformed about the true nature of the universe and our part in it?

Me? no, would not even try.... my mother on the other hand has started a blog to answer this very question! In order to get her off to a flying start I'd like to ask the good readers of plan3t gong to share the link below with anyone who might be interested in this topic... spiritual stuff that is, not the correct spelling of 'mis-informed'...

In return I'll promise to look into some obscure aspects of poker strategy real soon...

Cheers, Mark

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Plague Of Small Stacks

Decided to play a little No-Limit Holdem cash yesterday to make a change from PLO / Tournaments / SNGs etc. Having not been at the cash tables for a while I headed for the lower levels ($20 buy-in with 10c / 20c blinds) over at Titan.

It would seem that every other player is a short stack... not, you understand, the good short stacks who may have read Donkey Devastation's short stacking guide or Ed Miller's book.... oh no, awful players posting with 1 hand to wait, calling bets for 1/4 of said stack then folding to a min bet on the flop... really bad.

Actually these players, while irritiating, are not usually an issue. Yesterday it was the sheer volume of them, seemed like half the players were buying in for the minimum $4.

So, as usual this got me thinking (!) what adjustments do I need to make to beat these guys? Wait for premium hands? limp in and hope to hit a monster? Get aggressive as soon as the other big stacks were out of the hand? After all there is a counter strategy for every player type - if you can just figure out what it is!

Waiting for premiums was out, not enough to go around.

Hit a set once with another deep stack in the pot.... only to see my cbet raised all in by a shorty and the deep stacked player understandably fold. (arrrggghhh)

Aggression did not work, many of the shorties would call with around 50% of hands pre-flop and then push bottom pair (or even ace-high) after the flop... fold equity = zero!

So, half an hour later I'd exhaused all the options, except one.


And you know, it worked! I was able to get on with other parts of life safe in the knowledge that my poker skills were working for me well... I'd found myself in a -ev situation and quit.

Guess the message here is that this happens in different ways to us all... ever fancied a few SNGs and found your level full of winning regulars - yet played anyway? Looked at the tourney schedule to find only Razz available in the next 5 minutes but played it anyway?

I'll be honest - I have, and its a leak that is not too difficult to fix.

GL at the tables, Mark

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Poker Pro? Me? No!

Interesting question came in via a comment from one of my longest-term contributors MrTynKyn - here is his blog (en Espanol (which means I can not read it unfortunately!).

The question is whether I am a 'pro poker player' - with a side question of whether it would be possible to be a 'low limit grinder' kind of Pro here in Europe...

Firstly my personal answer... then some thoughts that this triggered about the desire to be a poker pro in others.

Well the fast answer is 'no' for me.

The slightly longer answer is that poker is a liesure pursuit, something that for me is a challenging and fun part of a balanced life... have considered the idea in the past, but whenever I play purely 'for the money' the game becomes a total bore. Poker turns from something to enjoy into something sinister - a grind in the bad sense of the word.

From a personal perspective grinding a living on the online poker tables would be socially isolated, dull and... well horrible. Playing the occasional game (and making $$$) on the other hand - love it!!

In fact I currently have 2 'jobs' the first one is as a freelance writer, doing (mostly) poker content for other webmasters. You'd be suprised just how many of my pieces are 'out there'... unlike this blog I write them in 'US English' so no clues from the UK spelling!! I also run and have 2 more poker sites on the way (Plan3t Gong readers will be the first to know when they are launched!). The idea is that these generate a 'passive income' which will enable me to spend more time writing on the subjects I really love - going well so far with this one. (some killer non-poker writing projects in plan for next year - at the moment the poker writing pays for my beers and holidays!!)

Enough about me: What about whether 1500 USD a month (as in the original comment) would be enough to live on in Europe? erm, no. Might work for a college kid sharing rent, or someone young enough to live with parents but this is not really a viable living wage (especially in the UK / Germany / France etc)... life is just too damn expensive over here!!

OK - will save my thoughts on the 'aspiring pro's' you find all over internet forums for another day... want to do this subject justice.

GL at the tables - and thanks for the interesting questions MtTynKyn!!


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thinking About Aces + November Challenge Over!

Some quick thoughts about Ace-Ace today. Re-reading Harrington on Holdem vol.1 (a great book!) and came across the conventional wisdom that is 'Aces play best all-in pre-flop against a single opponent'...

Thought I'd have a look, we have 2 separate angles here. You are 80% favourite against someone with a lower pair - increase this to 2 opponents with lower pairs and you are 60% to win.... and so on.

The angles I wanted to cover are - 1) maximising your expectation 2) The effect on your variance.

So, Poker Stove shows us these numbers (using pairs that do not intefere with each other for straights and a mix of suits).

AA vs 99 - 80.8% equity

AA vs 99 vs 22 - 65.7% equity

AA vs QQ vs 88 vs 22 - 52.5% equity

So, we will simplify by saying that everyone involved has 1000 chips....

AA vs 99 - expectation +808 (cEv used), risk of busting 19.2%
AA vs 99 vs 22 - expectation +1242, risk of busting 34.3% (additional 15.1%)
AA vs QQ vs 88 vs 22 - expectation +1575, risk of busting 47.5% (add another 13.2%)

For 2 and 3 opponents - extra chips won vs increased chance of busting (baseline 1 opponent)

2 opponents - +434 chips, extra 15.1% bustout
3 opponents = +695 chips, extra 28.3% bustout

Its all kind of obvious right, as the number of opponents go up so does your expectation, yet the risk of busting out of a tournamnent also goes up... what is interesting (again in an obvious way!) is that the increased expectation in chips does not have the same risk / reward ratio as you add more opponents.

On the surface it would appear as if the 'covnentional wisdom' is right - that your best risk / reward comes against a single opponent. But how do we factor in the variance angle... that is to say that 'doubling up' is great, but could easily put is in a position where we have to take further chances in big pots to stay viable in the tournament, on the other hand tripling up (or even quadrupling) would put us in a completely different position - our future risk of ruin goes down - at least in the short term + out ability to grow our stack by pushing the shorties around goes up...

Food for thought!

Well, after a month (mostly) off of poker I set myself a $1k challenge to get back into the swing of things for November... erm, its over. 3 Final tables, 2 in PLO tournaments (a 5th and a 4th) followed by a 3rd in a NLHE tournament (all at fishtank central (Titan!)) put me over the $1k mark for the month already. No additional challenges - plenty to do besides poker this month, will set a new one next month and just play for fun (and hopefully a little more cash) for the remainder of this month.

Gl at the tables, Mark

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sit and Go Strategy Showing Hands

Time to return to the subject of 'Ego Players' those people who somehow feel the need to appear smarter than the rest, who play poker not just for $$$ but to boost their own ego's...

Showing cards is in general a bad idea, there may well be specific scenarios where this is a positive play - when you are playing with the same crowd all the time for example, or playing with sophisticated opponents at a high level. In a lower limit SNG there is never any need - you will not be playing the same opponents often enough and, in my humble opinion, any perceived benefits will quickly be outweighed by the negatives if anyone is watching closely.

These are the scenarios;

1) Showing great made hands.
2) Showing bluffs and or Monsters
3) Showing rags in the big-blind when folded to.

1) Showing Great made hands.

Here is a real-life example, you will see this again and again. An early position raise and 3 callers, flop 10 10 4, first raiser Cbets and an opponent pushes. Everyone folds and the pusher shows.... Q 10 off suit.

Pretty standard at the 16s! Here is what the Q10 guy told me:

- "I think 2 unsuited broadway cards is a big hand"
- "I do not understand position" (called a pre-flop raise in mid-position)
- "I am not a tricky player" (pushed on a drawless board scaring off hands that might have called a raise).
- "I want to show people that I had a monster after the flop so they do not think I was bluffing"

He made 3 errors here, calling an easily dominated hand in a multi-way pot early, shoving his concealed monster when the only hands that would call are likely to have him beat (A10 / 44 etc) and showing the cards afterwards!

So we take a quick note, overvalues broadway cards (loose player) and 'straightforward' (kind of player who will raise good hands, check with draws and fold everything else). His ego let him down, we can now exploit this player!! At the bubble we can tighten our pushing range against him (likely to call with similar hands), if we raise on the flop we can get away from a medium strength hand if he raises and watch the board closely for draws if he flat calls, and we can call him in position with the knowledge that he will show the strength of his hand before we act!

2) Showing Bluffs or Monsters.

Will start with monsters... several ways of looking at this, the very best opponents will show you their AA when everyone folds on the river - now you can take a note of how they played it on each street. Someone who limps or mini-raises their Aces is a goldmine, the key point for me is that when they next raise to 4 times the BB you can rule out premium hands!! Add this to other tendancies for the player (likely to fold to a push after raising??) and you have a chip ATM at the table... wait for the BB to become worthwhile and shove over their raises here with semi-decent holdings - they already told you that you are not dominated!

Now bluffs... the point for me here is that someone who bluffs and then shows is likely to bluff again and again, even if you do not play another pot with them in the current game you must make a note - they will be doing it the next time you play them. In practical terms when deciding whether to call this opponents raise you can not always assume they have nothing, the thing to do is to increase the % chance that they have junk when deciding whether you have the odds to call. Harrington suggested there is always a 10% chance in any given situation - I like to make it 30% for the ego bluffers!

One more way to exploit a bluffer is to make sure you give them the maximum opportunity to bluff - let them control the betting when you have a monster, if that is not possible then checking the turn after leading preflop and on the flop can induce a bluff on the river. At the bubble do not push into these guys with great hands, give them room to come over the top of you with junk from their BB. If you have a reasonable hand then push as normal, it is not possible to bluff someone who is already all in!!!

Someone who pushes a lot and shows you a good hand say once in 3 or 4 hands is also slave to their ego. They think they are sending a message that their pushes are always strong to the table - in fact they are doing the opposite. Read this as "I am pushing junk but want you to think that all my hands are strong by pushing this one".

3) Showing Rags in BB when Folded to...

Now this can be irritating but also gives you some valuable information. Folded to the BB who shows you his 94 off suit... his ego is saying 'haha - got you' but what is he really saying about his play?

Well to start with he is saying 'I lack the understanding that the others at the table are deciding their actions based on their assessment of strength / stacks / player tendancies, based on the range of possible holdings for the remaining players'. So this opponent is also unlikely to have a good understanding of Bubble play.

They are also, more subtly, telling you they would not have defended this blind - great information! If you are to their right you should be raising every single blind from here on (and I do!), put them to the test - if someone never defends their blinds without a premium holding then they are unlikely to make too much money in the aggressive late-game of SNGs, they scored a couple of points for their ego but the result was to lose a huge number of blinds!!

Finally, levels of thinking should be mentioned, a sophisticated player might well employ one or more of the 'tells' above to throw others off their game - keep an eye out for these opponents! As a rule never show if you do not have to... Texas Holdem is a game of information - the less information you give to your opponents the better!!

Cheers, Mark

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Moshman's SNG Book - Full Time Report

Finished up Colin Moshman's 2+2 SNG Strategy Book... time for a 'Full Time Report'!

Well, the fact that I'm sitting here racking my brain for something positive to write about the second half of the book tells its own story. Took me a whole cup of morning tea to come up with... erm, well, he knows what he is talking about!

The book is a missed opportunity, it contains some excellent points about a tight and solid early strategy and very aggressive high-blind and bubble play. Where is goes wrong is to aim those points at less experienced SNG players - then frame them with examples which quite simply do not match the reality of the games those readers are likely to be playing in...

Here is an example - 2 big stacks and 2 very small stacks at the bubble. Biggest pushes, 2 micro stacks fold and the other big stack looks down to find QQ. The 'Mathematically correct' response here is to fold... the reason why is the risk in prize pool equity does not equal the reward.

I can agree with the logic, many posts here on Plan3t Gong on this very subject... what I can not fathom is how this fits in with the cold hard reality of the Stars $16s (or the Titan 33s for that matter) and below... at this level QK, A10 and 77 are likely to 'beat you into the pot', let alone folding QQ!! Therefore pushing - even as the big stack, needs to account for the real danger of being called - not the 'mathematically correct calling range' of your opponent, but their real calling range...

Thats the contradiction here, either you aim a book at the inexperienced players and write about the reality they will face at the tables - or you aim the book at the more expert player and keep the higher level examples.

Ah well, getting a little negative now... there are some well make points - its better to bust by being too aggressive than too passive is the main one. Shame about all the 'filler' - especially the last 1/3rd of the book.

Colin Moshman knows what he is talking about - unfortunately even the fine editors at 2+2 could not hide the fact that he is no writer!!

GL at the tables, Mark

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Challenge Update - Size of Mistakes + New Widget!

Set myself a small challenge to make $1000 in Nov from SNGs + PLO... happy to say that the first update is a good one. + $212 real dollars and $285 tournament $ from some Sunday million satellites, alas -$7 from 120 hands of PLO (most of which lost in one big pot with the evil hand which is the second best full house!).

Feel that the relative break from poker in October did me the world of good, enjoying the tables once again. Actually asking myself before opening any table 'Am I in the right frame of mind to make a series of good decisions?', the couple of times the answer has been 'no' I've done something else instead.

Only made one really bad decision (shudder just thinking about it!!)- in a $10+R Sunday million Sat - I raised and was called by the small blind who shoved me on a KQK flop... hmmm. Stacks were already shallow and I figured (correctly) that he never has a K here. Not a good enough reason to insta-donk my tournament with A-J really though... ah well guess I had outs!

Its all about errors, as Rizen said recently making a small error such as folding the best hand when you are unsure where you are at and your tourney depends on it - is much better than making a big error. Simple words but so true. Make the little mistakes folks - let your opponents make the big ones.

Finally, I have a new social bookmarking widget (!). If you enjoy Plan3t Gong then I'd appreciate a bookmark on any of the services you use - if not then check some of them out (warning - they can get addictive, particularly StumbleUpon!!!) The widget is on the top right corner.

Anyway, GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Moshman's SNG Book - Half Time Report

Time for a quick half time report on Colin Moshman's SNG 2+2 book... got to say I am not overwhelmed by it, then again I probably have too much experience with SNGs already - not really the books core audience.

One positive was a piece on 'High Blind Limpers' aimed at the 200 big blind zone. Already covered this topic here at Plan3t Gong with a few posts - 'the push over limpers' looked at the maths behind it... making notes saying 'HBL' for these players was also a nice idea.

The 3-5 big blind rule of pushing without looking at your cards was also good. Again experienced SNG players will inituatively know that you have to use your last bit of fold equity rather than blind away (reminds me of the piece on 'Going like Broomcorn's uncle' in Doyle Brunson's Super System... for those who do not know he anted himself to death!). Making the 3 BB thing into a 'rule' and explaining the numbers behind it will help a lot of new SNG players.

On the minus side the chapter on ICM was not great - too many equations which would put off some people new to the concept... its really quite simple and the book does not make a great job of making the central points.

Not bad and certainly worth a few dollars for newer SNG players - will bring the full time report some time next week!

Cheers, Mark

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

November SNGs vs PLO Challenge

Almost finished my month-off from the tables... well ok, played maybe 6-7 hours this month. Not bad and feel like I've achieved my objective of freshening up...

So, going to have a personal challenge in November... to make $1k between SNGs and PLO while not playing too much poker (regular readers will know my 'other jobs' running SNG Planet and as a writer for other peoples sites keep me plenty busy enough! Also have a brand new website on the way (more soon on that one!)).

Going to split my time as evenly as possible between the 2 forms of the game and see which one is the most profitable at the end of the month...

Quick note about Carbon Poker - they are running a 'special' on SNGs for the first week in November - all are half price to enter (ie $10 + 50c instead of $1). Check out our detailed look at their SNGs here - Carbon Poker Sit N Go Special Promotion

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

PLO Cash Game Strategy - Interesting Hand!

Played a little PLO over on my favourite site Titan last night when this hand came up... do not have the history so this will be from memory. The reason I starting thinking about it was that the 'villan' in this hand sent me a chat-box full of abuse after the hand... this lead me to question my own logic in the hand and get the notepad out to scribble down some numbers... comments on my line welcome!

So I have the button in a 10c 20c game and a stack of around $25 up from the initial $20 buy-in. Get dealt 8h-8s-Ah-Kh and see a raise to 60c from the Cutoff player who is generally tight but will take stabs at pots after the flop...

Elect to just call here, I have position and will surely be re-raised by exactly the hands I hate (aces and kings or something like j-Q-K-A if I repop), big blind also calls making the pot $1.90 before the flop.

The flop comes 8c-7h-9h

Not bad at all, I have middle set + nut flush draw

Villan leads for $1.20 and I decide to find out where I stand with a re-raise to $3.60. The big blind folds and villan flat calls. Pot now = $9.10

So, villan only called... what could he have - my thought here is something like a combo straight and / or flush draw - if he had the made straight already without a flush draw he should have re-raised me the pot right? a set of 9's or some 2-pair combination is also possible... decide that a wrap and non-nut flush draw (I have the nut flush) is most consistent with the call.

Turn comes Ac.

Not a bad turn, giving me 2 more outs for a full house in the event that villan already has a straight and not helping any straight draws....

Villan now checks, he has abandoned hands a few times after leading the flop and calling so this is consistant with a straight draw too... I bet $4 assuming that this will take the pot most times.

Bam! Villan check-raises all-in... for $17 more... hmmm

So, looks like he has either hit the straight or has me on a draw against his set (777 or 999 most probable) time to look at the odds.

The total pot = $29.80 and it will cost me $13 to call. This means I'm getting around 2.3/1 pot-odds... the question is how many outs?

If villan has a straight.... the last 1*8, 3*7's, 3*9's, 2*aces and any of the 8 remaining hearts should win thats 17 out of 45 unseen cards.... a profitable call.

If villan has 777 or 999 - if we assign equal probability to each then 2.3/1 is again an easy call.

If villan is bluffing with a draw (10% or less chance of this based on the action) I'm miles ahead and getting odds too.

So, after 10 seconds of thinking about things I call, spike a heart against villans straight and win a nice pot.... cue the chat box full of abuse (regular readers will know that I'm immune to such things - though it did make me question my call at the end!).

In retrospect the only change I would make to my line here is to bet the full pot when checked to on the turn... since I was already committed to going all the way this would have made the decision making process easier!!

Cheers, Mark

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quick Books Update + Reloading Thought

Started Colin Moshman's SNG book (2+2 one)... no great insights so far just solid advice on the play of hands in the early to mid blind levels. Often find that the value in poker books is not the 'main strategy' being discussed at all - but those small hidden thought provoking gems that would be easy to overlook in a quick run through.

One more gem from Rolf Slotboom's PLO book - though this would apply equally to all forms of the game... if you lose a pot when in early position then why not wait to go through the blinds before topping back up?? (if you are stacked then could be changed to buy the minimum for those few hands the reload fully for the button). After all you are going to make most of your profits from position.

Sure you could get dealt a monster UTG or in the BB. The question is whether these times would make up for the more likely marginally profitable hands - which your bad position make unprofitable??

Cheers, Mark

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sit And Go Strategy - Wild Bubble Opponents Part #2

Time to put a couple of numbers to the idea from the last post... have been pondering the concept of crazy opponents at the bubble for a day or so - and come up with a new theory (!) would like to come up with a good name for it, something catchy... ah well, 'The plan3t Gong theory of what is wrong with ICM' will have to do for now.

Anyway, enough intro... here is our situation:

4 players left, 3 get paid 50/30/20 pool and even chip stacks of 2500. Before posting the blinds of 200 / 100 each player has a dollar equity of $25... (keep it simple eh?).

Now, based on the calling range of your opponents and a handy ICM calculator you estimate that you have a +$ev push that is worth $2... here is how the mathematics works:

- Compare your equity of folding (thats $25) with:

Your gain when your opponents fold (based on their ranges) * probability of them folding and your winning chances when called (again using the entire range) * probability of them calling.

So, if they fold 90% of the time and call the rest, yet you win 40% of the time when called you can compare the probable gain with the risked equity... at the end we convert it all into $ equity using that handy ICM calculator... that, in a nutshell is how it works. If your equity from shoving is > than your equity of folding then you will win money over time by shoving... easy.

Now for the PG Theorem... in its short and sweet (and red) form.

"ICM Models under-estimate the dollar equity value of folding"

Here is why. Bubbles do not go on for ever, at some point 2 players will fight it out and one will be busted. When this happens your equity will go up - you made the money without risking any chips.

So, what percentage of the time would this scenario need to happen to see a marked effect on your $ev fold. We will go from one extreme to the other....

50 hand bubble: 2% of the time (on average) 2 of your opponents fight it out
20 hand bubble: 5% of the time...
10 hand bubble: 10% of the time...

So what happens to our $ev fold for the different length of bubble

50 Hands... 2% of the time we gain $5.83 in equity for free thats +11c on $ev fold
20 Hands... 5% of the time we gain $5.83 in equity for free thats +29c on $ev fold
10 Hands... 10% ... thats +58c

This is where the wild opponents come in... at the lower level SNGs bubbles are rarely more than 20 hands long, particularly where the blinds are getting high. Coupled with this the 'default' setting that is common for ICM calcs is 0.5%, if we under-estimate $ev fold it may be possible to make a -$ev push into a wild field thinking that it is +$ev.

Of course, the effects of the blinds, stack sizes (including relative stack sizes and their position) are all more important than the PG theorem.... but then again - every cent helps!

GL at the tables, Mark

Friday, October 26, 2007

SIt And Go Strategy - Wild Opponents At The Bubble (Part #1)

Time for a new series... probably 3 posts concerning lower limit sit and go strategy adjustments to those crazy / wild opponents at the bubble.

We've all seen it right? opponents pushing and calling with junk, mini-raising, limp / folding and all the rest of those horrible plays. What I wanted to start thinking about is the maths behind the adjustments to make in these situations... so many angles to look at that this post will introduce the subject today and the numbers will follow in the next few days.

Scenario #1 - You have a +$ev push while 4 handed according to ICM, for arguments sake we will say this is +2% (for those who do not yet use ICM this is a 'no brainer' push under normal circumstances - see bottom of post for links). However, your read on the table is that they are the wildest crazyest donks you ever met - sure you are +$ev when called - but how do we account for the fact that they will bust each other so readily, in a mathematical sense??? Could this be a case (as Sklansky would put it) of turning down a good bet today in order to take a better bet tomorrow?

Scenario #2 - Instead of pushing / folding those opponents are making early game type plays, raising 3 times the big blind and continuation betting / folding etc... should you adjust your push / fold game in any way to take advantage of this? The players obviously have no understanding of pot-odds here let alone ICM...

Will leave you to think about it for today... below are 2 links for those interested in learning more about the ICM, the first is to my own site SNG planet's introduction to the subject, the second is to my personal favourite SNG tool - SNG Wiz - which goes through your hand histories after the game and shows up whether you played 'correctly' according to the poker maths - also great for running simulations of common bubble scenarios to learn the optimal plays, you can take a 30 day trial to see if it works for you before buying...

Intro to SNGs ICM

WIZ Free Trial

GL at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

PLO Strategy - What You Do Not Hold

Slowly getting through Rolf Slothboom's excellent PLO book... yesterday coming across a gem of a passage - one of those short pieces that could easily have been overlooked in the mass of content and hand examples.

The point can be summarised like this - it can be difficult to accurately put an opponent on a hand in Pot Limit Omaha, so the real 'experts' do something else... they work out from your betting patterns and past tendencies what you have not got in your hand.

Going to leave this post at that today (preparing for my return to Budapest tomorrow) - to me this is simple genius - will post some examples and real life experiences with using this concept soon!

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SIt N Go Strategy - What's Your Edge?

Catching up with a couple of PxF videos today after 4 fantastic days with no internet access... spent them visiting family, hiking in the Malvern Hills and generally eating fine food and drinking fine drinks (recommend 10 year old Irish Malt to anyone!).

Anyway, I digress - one vid today Rizen mentioned the important and much overlooked concept of judging where on the table your chips are coming from... the idea being that by quantifying where your edge is you can make the required strategy adjustments to take them!

This got me thinking (sound familiar??!). How does this relate to Sit N Goes?

After all, in all poker games you should be able to answer the question - my profit comes from ......... . (fill in the blank).

Since SNG play often involves many tables, and relatively few hands per game you only have a short time to adjust to individual opponents, and may in fact not get the cards / opportunity / position at the table to do so.

Which means that your edge comes from something else. But what? Here are a few possibilities...

- Ability to adjust to and exploit the 'average' players errors in the early / mid game?

- The discipline to wait for a while if you see every table has a few winning opponents already logged in?

- Great bubble play, sound knowledge of ICM coupled with accurate reading of opponents ranges?

- Blind stealing skills in the mid-game, including the ability to resteal / defend your own blinds?

- A small edge in overall play coupled with the ability to play 8+ tables at once to ensure a profit?

- The discipline to switch sites to find the softest SNGs, even though you prefer the software at your current site?

- Fine tuned heads-up play?

- The patience to continually improve your play by going through hand histories and working out whether an alternative line would have been better?

The list could go into more detail of course... my post today is more designed to stimulate thoughts rather than provide a comprehensive check-list.

Your edge is your profit, successful SNG players in the long term have worked hard on their game... if you plan on joining them thena little work could well see you answering 'yes' to the majority of the questions above!

Check out SNG Planet today for 100's of strategy articles and tips covering SNGs, MTTs and Satellite Qualifiers!

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Shorty All-In... What Do People Overcall With?

Something that has been lurking in the trusty plan3t gong notepad came to mind yesterday while watching a Johnny Bax video over on pxf.

The situation was quite a common one for SNGs, MTTs and even at cash tables (this example was from a Double Shootout). Bax was dealt Aces and a small stack pushed for 300ish chips ahead with several players still to act... bb was around 50.

The choices are raise or flat call right?

Raising has the danger of pushing the rest of the field out, calling might encourage someone to squeeze with a good but not great holding and is often the better play here. Bax called and the rest of the players folded in this example.

What it got me thinking about was the meaning of these overcalls of short all-ins at different levels and in different games.

My personal experience is that inexperienced / bad players often get these moves the wrong way around! In the Titan 25k gtd (for example) you are likely to see people flat calling with horrible hands like Ace-Jack / 99 (or worse) and raising with those Aces.

Now we get to another level of thinking... if your opponents are aware that you would only flat call with aces / kings in such a situation and raise to isolate with weaker hands then does it make sense to actually do it the other way around?

What about a SNG? Your objective here is slightly different from an MTT - those 300 chips (+the blinds) would be welcome enough in the early to mid stages to make isolating a good play with QQ / KK / AA or even AK... sure encouraging overcallers increases your expectation - but at the same time in increases your swings - the value of the extra chips may be worth it or may not depending on your comfort level at the fast approaching bubble.

It seems to come down to the old favourite of 'what is the purpose of your bet?'. Watch those overcalls - the experience of the player making them often defines their hand quite nicely!

Something to think about!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An Absolute Storm In A Teacup?

The Absolute poker 'super-user' account debate shows no signs of fading away just yet. The latest is that Absolute have agreed to an external audit of their systems.

While the evidence looks compelling I can not help thinking that this just does not affect me... even if such account existed the risks involved mean that they would only be playing in the very biggest games - and lets face it 99.9% of us are playing at stakes any superuser would have no interest in.

What it did get me thinking about was the more mundane everyday cheating that happens online. I've received rebates from Stars (for example) when SNG collusion has been found. The players who try this are generally kids who execute very badly and end up getting their accounts frozen...

Lets face it the potential edge from colluding in a lower level ($30 or below) SNG is pretty small compared to the risk (your whole bankroll frozen) when caught. Busy (as usual) today but will try to come up with some numbers for this soon.

Cheers, Mark

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Short Stacked PLO Experiment

Supposed to be having a month off of playing poker to stay fresh - however reading Rolf Slothboom's excellent PLO book got me in the mood to give his 'Vienna Strategy' a quick bash.

This is a short-stacking strategy in Pot Limit Omaha and involves deliberately sitting to the right of an over aggressive player. The idea is that you use the aggro players bets to trap dead money into the pot by check-raising with a premium hand or big draw - getting your money in as a 50/50 or better but with the pot offering 2/1 or more.... the idea is that you stay tight at a full ring table.

Tried for an hour last night over on Titan to see how it went... the answer is great! Here are a couple of hands that highlight the strategy:

I'm in for $4 on the 20c/10c table and limp in with 3-4-5-6 (single suited), 5 players see the flop of A-4-6... a decent enough flop for the system. Min bet from an early position player, I call and see a raise from the aggro to my left to $1 or so (can not recall exact bet sizes). 2 callers making the pot something like $4, I have $3.60 left - 2 small pairs and 8 outs twice for the straight for a probable 12 outs twice (could have been a higher straight / higher 2 pair so we will count 10). If I'm right then I'm just under 40% to win the hand here... and assuming aggro and just 1 other player calls my all in then the pot will be offering 3/1... they did and a lovely 2 appears on the turn. Strike 1!

Hand 2 was the 50c/25c table and I'm in for $10. Call a min bet in lateish position with A-K-8-9 double suited... a reasonable hand but not a great one. Flop comes 2 spades giving me the nut flush draw. Small blind bets and 2 callers ahead. bringing the pot up to something like $6, I get most of my money in (the small leftover on the turn would be no problem as anyone still in the pot would have been getting daft odds - I was basically all in on the flop). This time end up with 3 callers! So I now have 4/1 pot-odds on a 2/1 shot.... sure to show a profit over time, especially as the bigger stacks might well bet the turn / river and get a fold from one or more of the others still in the hand.... The flush card came and I dodged anything to fill an opponent - strike 2!

Lost one making the same move with flopped trip 8's vs opponent's flopped trip aces... that was a $4 table so no real damage. Also tried the $1 / 50c table for a while but ended up with the most aggressive player to my right... no good as I was trapped in bad position so gave up after blinding away a few dollars there.

A great little system. Maybe not as much fun as the 'I think - you think that I think' of deep stacked play... but hey.

Back to the s*n^gs shortly!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Position and Maniacs - PLO and NLHE Strategy

Not had too much time to read my new books, still over in the UK visiting family and friends so eating and drinking rightfully taking priority!

Did make some inroads into Rolf Slothboom's PLO book - turning out to be a good read in terms of getting things to think about (personally feel that this is the main value of poker books - not one to cut-and-paste a strategy!).

Rolf had an interesting short-stacked PLO system where he deliberately sat with the maniac raiser to his left... this defies 'conventional wisdom' which says it is best to have the LAGs to your right and tighties to your left.

Will not cover PLO short-stacking here (another post for another day). But some of the thoughts expressed in this chapter relate to both PLO and NLHE equally... they are really to do with the broader subject mentioned a few times here on PGong of 'absolute and relative position'.

The basic concept is that, with the pre-flop raiser to your right and others in the hand your positional advantage (from being on the button for example) is gone. This is because of the 'Check to the raiser' phenominon after the flop... basically the out of position players are likely to check whether or not they have a hand - giving the pre-flop raiser the opportunity to continuaion bet.

If this player is to your immediate right then you need to act before you know what the other players in the hand are likely to do... you have position on the hand, yet relative to the likely post flop action this advantage is gone - the out of position players may be planning to check-raise the expected continuation bet.

Slothboom's method (well, seen it mentioned by others too!) means that your relative position is good. You can check the flop whether or not you hit or miss. The LAG continuation bets - now you react to this bet last. The other players are sandwiched between the LAG and you. This means they are forced to fold marginal hands (for fear that you'll re-raise) or declare their strength earlier in the hand than they might have wanted to (enabling you to get away).

Another advantage here is that when you do have a monster you'll be able to trap more money into the pot before check-raising - increasing your win on strong hands dramatically. In pot limit Omaha you might even be able to use the extra bets to get all your chips in as likely favourite - while leading out would have required a smaller bet (the pot was not yet big enough to get a large % of your stack in).

Maniac on your left would work in many game types with the right strategy adjustments - certainly something to consider!

Cheers, Mark

Friday, October 12, 2007

Poker Books!

V quick post today - travelling in the UK at the moment visiting friends and family. Yesterday I managed to dodge the postman's strike and get a couple of books through the post. They should provide even more things to think about in the coming weeks here at Plan3t Gong.

First is Rolf Slothbottom's 'Professional Pot Limit Omaha' - this was a recommendation some while ago (thanks Shane if you are still out there!). Started it already and looks fantastic!

Second is from 2+2, Colin Moshman's SNG strategy book... got mixed but generally good reviews over on 2+2 forums (feeling that some ego was involved in many of the negatives) and looking forward to reading this one too.

Did order a couple more via Stars FPPs - we will see whether they arrive before I go back to Hungary.

GL at those tables, Mark

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Folding Aces Pre-Flop... Some Scenarios

Some poker psychology today... well a new look at an old question at least - want to run an old scenrio by you all, and then apply this to various situations...

The Situation:

You just sat down, the very first hand is dealt - you are dealt a pair of red aces in the big blind... nice.

The UTG player pushes all in... even nicer.

Before you know what is happening UTG+1 also pushes, as does the next player - in fact by the time the action gets to you every player at the table has pushed all in!!


So now you need to make a decision as to your action... calling would have a positive expectation of course. You'll win something like 27% (did not look it up so approx from memory) against 8 opponents (maybe chop against someone else with aces). This means you would be out of the game 73% of the time you call but big stacked the rest...

Do do you call, or disreetly fold and wait for a less dangerous opportunity??

OK - as with everything in poker, you can not yet make a decision right? Some more info needs to be taken into account... what game are we playing and what is our personal situation.

Situation 1: Its a SNG tournament paying the standard 50/30/20.
- Easy fold, if you do not understand why then check out the introduction to ICM over at

Situation 2: Its a 1 table satellite paying 3 places!
- If you call with your aces here please drop me a comment, I want to play poker with you immediately!

Situation 3: It is the very first hand of the 2008 WSOP
This is where the original question came from... think about this one, you are playing in the biggest tourney you have ever been in and have an opportunity to get 10x your stack or (most likely) bust out... now the question becomes one of bankroll management right?

Situation 4: It is a cash game, however you just ground your bankroll back from the brink of going broke and have your last $100 on the table (with no easy means of redepositing).
Horrible situation here, if you are not calling in a cash game with this hand then why are you playing poker? If you are playing your last 100 on just one table then you'll go broke soon enough... imagine how easy this question would be if that $100 were just 5% of your bankroll!

Situation 5: It is the first hand of a $5 rebuy on your favorite site.
Now it is the worlds easiest call!

Situation 6: First hand of the poker stars sunday million.
To some this would be an easy call - to a micro grinder who satellited in it becomes more similar to the WSOP question right??!

Hopefully something to think about... what do your answers (and the strength of conviction of those answers) say about your own approach to the game? For example in the WSOP situation... if you say 'call' - is this a 'no brainer' for you, or did you think about the pros / cons first? If you say 'fold' (or vice versa with the 'call') is this because you feel you'd like skill to play a greater part in the game (over many hands) or that you'd like your WSOP experience to be a little longer.

Anyway - post now long enough!

Cheers, Mark

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Plan3t's Personal Poker Platform Pet Peeves...

And other words beginning with P...

No perfect poker software out there... while I have my faves (Titan and Party at the moment, but for reasons nothing do do with their ugly software!!) each site has something irritating about it... here is my list - feel free to add.

1 - Titan, unchecks the 'auto post blinds' when you reload / top-up at cash tables... really annoying this one, especially when multitabling and you find out you timed out in the blind.

2 - Full Tilt, No countdown in minutes for the tournament start times... you actually have to concentrate to make sure your tourney starts. + takes your avatar mood back to normal when you move tables - I want my turtle to to look happy!!

3 - Party, You bust from a SNG (for example), click the 'x' in the top corner to kill the table and get the 'Are you sure you want to leave - you will lose your buyin etc etc' message... probably my biggest peeve of all!!

4, Party II, the software eats your computers resources, to the point where it switches off the 'audio and video animations' due to the fact that it uses 500k of memory just to bring up a second or a 3rd table.

5, PokerStars, had to think about this one, almost wrote that the biggest deal is that I can not find anything wrong... but got 'em on one thing! During special promotions (1 billionth hand for example) they bring up a message which covers some players cards... ok its only for 5 seconds, but it is still damn annoying!!

Definitely more out there, travelling to the UK today so will make this a quick post though!

Cheers, Mark

Sunday, October 07, 2007

PLO Cash Game Strategy - Reading Opponents

Time for a little more on Pot Limit Omaha Strategy (PLO Strategy) today... thought I'd do a list of the important things to look for in your opponents; Not meant to be comprehensive, or in any particular order! If you play PLO and would like too add to the list then feel free to drop a comment....

1) How close to the nuts for the whole stack?? My number 1! Like to look at the showdowns, especially when the chips go in late in the hand... some players will only show down the nuts (or close) others will happily back the 3rd nut flush with all their chips, or top straight on a paired board... or even more horrific holdings. Seeing someone show the nuts is not sufficient evidence, you need a selection of showdown hands.

2) What are their raising requirements pre-flop (and re-raising requirements too). Did a separate post on this... an opponent who only raises aces / kings is a goldmine. An opponent who never raises anything gives you the opportunity to limp with a wide range ahead of them...

3) What are my opponents flop betting ranges? Some people will play their strong draws aggressively and others will take a free card... some will bet top pair / 2 pairs and others only with top /mid set or better... take a note on this and define their hand later.

4) Does this opponent bet different amounts? For example if you see an opponent bet the pot on the flop a lot then they suddenly bet half or 2/3rds pot your interest should be immediately roused... why? Could be a monster, could be a weak draw... whatever the answer make sure you find out and take a note!

5) Multi-way pots, what kind of hands will this opponent enter a multi-way raise pot with before the flop... the thing to look for here is medium-pair only hands and non-nut suited cards. This is exactly the type who will get all of their chips in later in the hand with the 3rd set (or worse!).

I'm sure there are more!

GL in those PLO cash games, Mark

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sp0nsored Post - Full Tilt

Full Tilt Planet is where players can come read summaries of high stakes poker games at Full Tilt Poker. The site covers players from team full tilt poker and also the biggest cash game players on full tilt. There are posts daily with notable hands and a recap of the poker game.

The site also has a (full tilt poker bonus codes) full tilt poker bonus codes. It also outlines how you can get full tilt poker hats and rewards for playing at full tilt poker.

Full Tilt Poker is one of the top poker rooms for a reason. They have the biggest poker action with the most poker professionals of any site. This site is for players wanting to find out more about the high stakes world of poker.

The Plan3t Gong Verdict: Full Tilt Planet is a great site in blog format - the initial look at the homepage shows lists of High Stakes games - however there is a lot of information available by clicking on the side links or the Pro names in the 'tag cloud' on the right hand side. With lots of detail including hand histories of huge buy-in games this site is certainly worth a visit!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Sit & Go Strategy - ATC - Final Installment

Time to bring the blind stealing with any-2 cards series to a close... quick summary of what has gone before..

- Original question - if you are not intending to call a re-raise why do your cards matter when blind stealing from late position during the middle stages?
- Part 2 - How often do we expect to get called or raised? Use 15% per player here, probably too wide, (10% might be better?) erred on the side of caution to illustrate a point...
- Part 3 - what are the different possibilities when we do get flat called?

So, to bring it all together we will look at the overall percentages of the 'flat called' scenarios and see what difference it makes to our chip-ev expactation (not using $ev yet since we are in the middle stages)

So we are flat called - taking the button scenario and 50% calls / 50% re-raise (we fold) this happens 14% of the time (half of the cumulative 28%).

Of these times -

20% the BB bets out, we miss and fold.
25% the BB checks, we hit hard enough to cbet
25% the BB checks, we check and BB checks turn, we cbet
30% the hand is checked all the way to the river.

So, for which scenarios do our actual cards make any difference?

To my mind it is only the 2nd one, and then only a small difference between KJ and 9-4 in our hand. There may be a slight difference in the 4th (checked down) scenario too (this would be marginal enough to make no difference)

I will suggest that the difference between c-betting with top pair holding KJ and with 9-4 would be slight because the kind of hands we are getting flat-called with are themselves marginal (a pair of 10's would presumably raise - so we are only worried about 2 overcards when hitting the top pair with 9-4). Lets say this affects our chances in this case 1/3rd of the time.

So, we have more or less boiled it down to 8% of 14% where the cards make an actual difference... thats just a little over 1% of the time.

Appears that the case can be closed - the difference between raising junk and raising a medium strength hand is negilable...

Back then to the meta-game considerations posted in the comments of the original post... checking down 2-3 off here might make future blind steals a little more difficult - it might also get you 'less respect' when the push-fold part of the game begins in earnest!

Was about to write about how this could be a good thing if you do get dealt some cards - but I think we save that line of thinking for another time!!

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, October 04, 2007

SNG Strategy - ATC Part #3

... apologies for the abrupt end to yesterday's post - a text reminded me I was in danger of missing a lunch appointment and being late would have made life very difficult indeed (will do a post on the fine ladies of Hungary at some point soon!!)

- Anyway, at the end of the last post we were starting to look at what happens when your blind steal gets called... (of course we have the sub-topic of betting a little less too)

To my mind there are 4 plausable scenarios of 'what happens next'.

1 - You miss the flop and the BB who called you bets, no discussion required here - a fold.
2 - You hit the flop and the BB checks, decision time - a continuation bet? Not the original intention...
3 - You miss the flop and the BB checks, you check behind and the BB checks a 'safe' turn, you fire off a delayed continuation bet here. (assuming for simplicity that you'll fold if the BB bets the turn)
4 - The hand gets checked down all the way to the end...

Will start with number 2 and use the KJ example hand - hitting 2nd pair or better (or a strong draw) would be the only time I'm cbetting here.... this is where the original question of 'does your hand matter?' gets interesting... as hitting the flop with a medium and a weak holding are 2 different cases.... will add in the probability of each scenario at the end.

So you get flatted and lead out after hitting the flop - 70% of the time the BB folds and 30% of the time the BB either calls again (yuk!) or check-raises all-in (both times you are done with the hand)

100 attempts:
70 * + 350 chips in total
30 * - 600 chips in total
- (70*350)-(30*600)/100 = +65 Chips

Fine, here is (3) the check-check / check-bet line, in these circumstances, assuming a 'safe' turn, we have to assume the BB folds to the Cbet quite often - 85% sounds good here.

100 attempts:
85 * 350 chips in total
15 * - 600 chips in total

- (85*350)-(15*600)/100 = +207.5 chips

Finally the check-check, check-check, check-check line!! (ok would have been easier to say no firther betting to showdown!). Assuming here that you missed the flop, 35% wins might be generous for KJ (certainly any high card strength matters here).... will go with 2 examples then, once with KJ and once with 9-7 suited

KJ 100 attempts
35 * + 350 chips
65 * - 300 chips
- (35*350)-(65*300)/100 = minus 70 chips

97 100 attempts
15 * +350
85 * - 300
- (15*350)-(85*300)/100 = minus 200 chips

ok - thats enough for one day, will (finally!) conclude this line of thought tomorrow by putting probabilities onto the above scenarios and then comparing the 'blind steal with nothing expectation' with the 'blind steal with a little something expectation'... and of course factoring in the meta-game considerations in the comments of the original question.

GL at the tables, Mark

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sit N Go Strategy - ATC Part #2

ok, onwards with the any-2 blind steal... comments on table image + likelihood of domination wre great. Today I wanted to look only at an approximate chance of being called... not going to go into too much detail on the mathematics - really just to propose a couple of 'blind defence ranges" while in the 18ish blig blinds area and work backwards from there....

So the worst scenario is the flat call (ohhh, I hate those 'flatters' sometimes!) as here we have a decision to make after the flop... do we cbet? (probably no), delayed cbet if checked to twice (quite possibly!).

I'll give an average low limit ($30 and under) SNG player 15% from experience - half of which they re-raise with and half flat-call. We could also try to factor in the 'any-2 card re-raise' (another day another day!!).

So, how would 15% relate to chip ev from the steal portion only? will factor in showdown value later.

So with 2 opponents (button raise) we are called or raised approx 28% of the time - 15% from the SB + 15% of the remainder from the BB... again assuming just one opponent for simplicity.

From the C/o we have 3 poteential callers - now we are called around 36% of the time.

So, we invest 300 to win 150 in blinds - for the steal only:

2 - Opponents
72* +150 (+10800)
28* -300 (-8400)
= +2400 / 100 = + 24 Chips each time (feels a bit low!)

3 - Opponents
64* +150 (+9600)
36* -300 (-10800)
= -1200 / 100 = minus 12 chips each time

So, the steal alone is marginal.

We now need to factor in our equity when called.... assuming that we always fold when re-raised before the flop. So half the time we are flat called, and on these occasions we have 35% equity...

Oops - got to run - almost missed lunch appointment!! Will do the 'equity when called' calc tomorrow!!