Sunday, May 31, 2009

Opening Bets Late In MTTs

Always regret it, but decided to play in one of the small buy-in rebuys yesterday, along with almost 6000 others (!). Anyway, long story short for the background... won some, lost some, got lucky, got unlucky, stole pots, had pots stolen from me and eventually busted in a classic AK vs Pair situation in 195th (or something similar) place.

As a quick aside it was a friendly table for a long while, not overly chatty, but pleasant and good natured - something that is becoming increasingly rare these days.

Onto bet sizing late - my 'thing to think about' for this post is that the size of bets in the later stages can be used to anticipate calling ranges. Might be a little basic for experienced readers.

During the early stages of an MTT the 3 times raise is the 'standard' with 4 times or bigger on occasion. In the later stages with big antes smaller raises - ranging from 2.25 to 2.75 the big blind - actually accomplish exactly the same goals (building a pot for value or getting the blinds to fold). Experienced players know this and save those chips those times they are behind or want to play pot-control post flop by making the opening raise a little smaller.

This is not to say that everyone who opens for 2.5 times the blind late is a strategy expert... yet on the whole we can make the assumption that this player is familiar with MTT strategy and (importantly) has taken the time to think about the effect of different raise sizes.

So, it follows that to use this information to our advantage at the tables we need to ask the question of what other assumptions / approaches to the game someone who is familiar with bet sizing strategy might take... not going to provide a whole list but here are some ideas to start you off thinking:

- The gap concept, specifically the risks involved in calling with easily dominated hands.
- Moves such as the squeeze, stop-n-go and floating.
- The power of position and fact that you can raise a whole range of hands from here.

Note that we can not necessarily do this the other way around, just because someone sticks to 3 times raises late in the tournament we can not assume that they do not know about strategy... the key to this post is to spot a clue that your opponent has at least thought about different aspects of the game!

Gl at those tables, Mark

PS: Got a nice little pickup on the business-side, will do a roundup and look ahead to an interesting June next post.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Psychology Of 4/1

Friday used to be my favorite day... now I'm always baffled by how fast the week went and looking forward to planning for next week - must be in the right business for me!

Anyway - a good old fashioned 'something to think about' post today. This one was triggered by a comment over at Melted Felt, it was on a post about Carbon Poker being rigged not to pay out the bad beat jackpot... and was from a reader who posted his evidence that Carbon was rigged in all seriousness - this evidence was... wait for it - you'll never guess (!). It was a hand history from a $2 SNG in which his aces were cracked by queens all-in pre flop.

Well well, obviously not played much poker sir (probably the kindest thing I can say!)

Anyway, it got my old mind whirling about those odds 80% to 20%, and how the perception of most people - even those who know the percentages - is that those pair-over-pair situations are much bigger favorites than the mere odds suggest.

4/1 is not that big a deal in many situations.

You have 5 eggs left in your box and one turns out to be bad.

You order 5 scotches over the course of an evening and they add diet coke to one of them.

For every 4 times you catch the metro, once you arrive just as the train closes its doors.

I mean, when you put those same odds into every day situations it seems like each is almost waiting to happen. So then, why do people get so upset / surprised / amazed / conspirational when they lose a pair over pair situation?

Baffles me!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Monday, May 25, 2009

Poker Links Week At Planet Corp!

Starting 'Poker Links Week' today with some late-spring cleaning here at Plan3t Gong... and no less than 2 offers, one for for fellow poker bloggers to join my blogroll and the other for poker webmasters (or bloggers) that I'll supply some unique and high quality content.

First the blogroll here at Plan3t Gong... well, blogs come and blogs go as people's circumstances change - so we end up with a bunch of out of date blogs listed. So, today I'm going to remove any that have not been updated for 6 weeks (will keep a note and check back in a months time for updates!).

This will free up some space which I'd like to use to exchange with genuine bloggers out there - if you have a real blog (not just adverts / banners / reviews please, though I do understand bloggers deserve a little monetisation for their efforts!) then give me a shout, I'll be happy to link you up here and might even add a shout in a post too.

Secondly, content. This week I will be writing a bunch of additional content for my own sites - and also for other peoples! While I no longer write for money I'll be happy to do it in exchange for a link back to one of my quality sites. If you have a poker blog or site and would like strategy / reviews / bios or any other type of content then drop me a comment here ( all are manually verified and I will not publish contents which contain contact information).

Thats that for now... going to do the same at Melted Felt with the blogroll, though I prefer funny blogs to link to over there - may well update more about 'links week' as we go forward.

GL at the tables, Mark

Sunday, May 24, 2009

General Update - Psychobabble On Business And Playing!

Frustrated at the moment... the thing is I know that I should not be.

Business first, I measure my results in $$ and sign-ups of new players. There we go trundling happily along at xyz new players a day and *boom* we fall off the proverbial cliff for 5 days now, with xyz daily tops... aaaarrrggghhh (edited out the numbers, you don't really need to know ;O) )

Here is the rub, in my heart I know that short-term fluctuations are just part of the game, that in a couple of days time the sign-ups will bounce back. Yet the frustration stays, results in my constantly checking the sites (something that was a big time-waster early on until that bahaviour was 'unlearned'), in worrying whether something has happened that will doom us to failure... actually more irritated with myself for being irritated than anything else. Chill Mark, it is just a few days!

Actually played some poker this weekend for the first time in a while, those Multi-table tournaments are as brutal as ever! Going to have to be honest with myself and admit that my mindset is probably not right for MTT play, I know the drill with 'keep making the right decisions and the $$ will follow'.... but it just feels too brutal for me to really - no bad beat stories allowed here, but when you actually read someones hand so well that you know they are bluffing the turn - and they still get there, it becomes dis-heartening.

Hey, becoming a morose post - the thing is I actually won money overall, if only a little, with a 5th in a 20 / 180 - so it was not all bad, just mentally not for me.

Being honest with yourself is important in life and poker alike - I'll be keeping those MTTs to a mimimum from now on and mini-raising in PLO instead... as far as the business goes it is time to fight a good fight rather than let any short-term fluctuations get me down. Going to spend some time this afternoon on an article idea which will compare SNG leader-boards at the main sites, and tomorrow - well that is the start of what I have termed 'links week'.... tune in tomorrow for details!

GL at the tables, Mark

Friday, May 22, 2009

Online Poker Accounts Hacked... PokerStars Again Show Leadership

You are never far from a 'my online poker account was hacked and all money stolen' story on forums these days. Lets face it, to a hacker there is a ton of money to be made - even more than normal bank accounts in a lot of cases. What is more, poker players are often to stoned / careless to take security seriously until too late! logging on in internet cafes... public wifi spots... downloading from torrents while playing... you are probably gambling in more ways that you think,

Anyway - this is supposed to be a useful post as well as a thought-provoking one.

Going to state the obvious first. You should treat your online poker account security as strictly as you would your online banking. No public machines please, that poker can wait!

Second, Poker Stars have again shown some leadership with a very neat idea - anyone who takes security of their online account should check out their 'pin' system, which moves the numbers around each time on the keypad to prevent key / screen loggers... basically a 6 digit pin in addition to your password.

Here is a link to the instructions... if keying in a 6 digit pin when you log on is too much hassle for you then please do not come crying to me if your account gets hacked!

Poker Stars Security Pin

For those who want to go to the next level Stars are also offering an RSA security system via their VIP store... (6000 points I think) this is linked to your account and displays a 6 digit pin which changes every minute, you simply type it in when you log on.

Me? Well I do have some FPPs hanging around... but will stick with the standard pin from here.

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mimicry - Using Your Opponents Betting Tendencies Against Them...

Actually watched 2 Poker X Factor videos last week... have been a member since Nov 2006 and used to really enjoy the new series as they appeared. To be fair the offerings now are even better than when I first joined, with new instructors and some big-name online pros.

What changed was me - poker is now business rather than liesure - and so time spent watching PxF vids feels like 'work' and has to hold its own in the 100's of other competing tasks on a day-to-day basis!

Anyway, Bax is still great at narrating the vids and something he said in a recent series triggered the idea for this post - on mimicry.

Bax was dealt a big pair and saw a limp ahead, previously the limper had raised 6x with kings (they were v deep at the start of a tourney) and Bax said he was not going to make a bigger than standard raise - so as not to alert this player that he had a big hand... this was almost just a passing comment and easily missed, but to me it was something significant - in Plan3t Gong style it was something 'worthy of thinking about' a little further.

In essence this player had made a big raise with a big starting hand and thus would be likely (conciously or otherwise) to put an opponent on a big hand if they made a similar raise themselves. What I wanted to do was to expand this idea into common situations we might enounter at the tables. My thought is even opponents who are not yet at the level of thinking required to 'put you on a hand' will react to strong and weak signals - and that those signals are often based on what they perceive the 'correct' play to be in various situations.

*** Quick disclaimer, going to put a few examples below - these are pretty simplified to illustrate my point and trigger thinking... so no need to send me mails if you do not agree with the exact examples (though more examples / scenarios in the comments could make this post more useful still!). ****

Lets take a tricky trappy opponent (BTW thats most lower level players right? they would rather feel 'smart' by fooling you than maximize ev in many cases). They hit a set and check-call the flop, looking to check-raise the turn... they also implicitly assume that an opponent who spikes a set would almost always do the same. Mimicry can help us in a couple of ways here - leading right out with a set works, since this opponent would rarely consider this line, eliminating most sets / strong hands from this guys range when he does lead of course helps us too. But how about we mimic his c-c / c-r line on occasion when weak, since this is exactly how he plays a monster then we could do this to represent one... (or course check-raising the turn often screams strength, but hey - its just an example!!)

Another common example is that lower level players make small 3-bets with monsters and bigger ones with more vulnerable hands. These players do not want to 'scare away the opposition' when they have that 'invincible' premium pair. Lets mimic them too... but not when we have the goods of course. Small bets are great post flop too... if you know that an indivual makes smaller bets when very strong you can make your bluffs small as a proportion of the pot - maximizing your value for the money invested. And bigger bets against this opponent (! I'm sure you get the picture). Imagine in PLO an opponent who value bets small with the mortal nuts on the river each time... how profitable would bluffing a scare card become here!!?!

One more applies to draws, some players will play these aggressively and others passively... in position some players will raise the flop and check behind on the turn if they fail to hit. Spot one of these and checking the turn becomes a great option when you are strong... you 'appear' to be on a draw so strongly to someone who will regularly play this way that your huge re-raise when they bet the river into you will 'scream' that you missed to them. Of course against the worst opponents more straightforward pot-building plays may be good too.

Anyway, these are just examples - be great to hear your real-life experiences of when and where you have used an oppnents specific betting patterns against them!

Gl at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Welcome Break Over...

Had a fantastic long weekend with my Mother over to visit, was a good pychological break too with no thinking about poker and only a little thinking about the poker business. Caught the sun, 31 degrees C here in the city... oh and drank - a lot.

So, looking down the barrel of another hectic week and looking forward to getting stuck in. Have a couple of posts on poker psychology in mind for this blog. One concerns mimicry and using an opponent's observed betting patterns to shape their perception of your hand. The second is to do with 'cognitive bias' which is the phenominon by which we re-invent our own pasts to 'gel' with our self-image, belief structures and attitidues.

On the work front we are going to get the ball rolling on moving rakeback provider, start our 'tournament spotlight' theme, redesign a couple of front pages, put some new material for both OnGame and iPoker sites and generally create some world-class content which we can be proud of hosting on our network (ads at the top of the right hand column if you are a first time reader here!).

Best get on with it, not used to 4 days away from business and will have to tune back in!

GL at the tables, Mark

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Online Poker Chat Debate... Great Idea!

Browsing the hate-filled forum that is Pocket5's yesterday and came across an interesting thread with an excellent idea from mod Adam in it... the subject is the debate about chatting while playing online poker.

Pretty sure I have discussed my own thoughts on this before - basically that any chat is bad for your profits, whatever convoluted reasoning you come up with for it being positive. The linked thread actually suggests actively getting banned from chat as a good solution for those who can not stop themselves breating the fish....

But Adam came up with an even better idea, one that could actually be fun - especially after time has passed and you have moved on / up / away from your current game.

Here it is:

Just keep a Notepad window open and type all your rants there. Or if you want a good laugh at the end of the day, type it all into an email window and then send it all to yourself after you're done playing.

Genius huh? How much fun would it be to collect these together for a year and then go back through them.

Me? I'll just carry on saying nothing at all.

Here is the link:

GL at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SNG Planet Polish Is Here!

Always makes me jump out of bed early in the morning when we have a new site up (i know i know)... anyway - happy to be announcing the latest version of SNG Planet today, well 70% of it at least. We have gone live with:

PL Poker Tournaments

In one fell swoop the biggest collection of SNG articles in Polish... + tons of beginners MTT articles, reviews and comparisons - there are more on the way, we plan on completing the Satellites section by the end of the month too... should be 110 pages soon (bigger than a lot of people's entire sites!).

There are flags at the top of the screen for English, Russian, Hungarian and Romanian as well as the new Polish version... next plan is German, though we are going to pause for a little while first to consolidate and create some other sites. Will let you know here at Plan3t Gong first.

Gl at the tables, Mark

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hectic Week Ahead!

World record time... the number of consecutive Monday monrning posts here at Plan3t Gong which start 'going to be a busy week' (or something along those lines!). Well it is, both for our poker business and personally!

Personal first - I am receiving a royal visit starting Thursday night when my Mother and latest Step-dad arrive from the UK. Should be fun, we are already planning a trip down south to see Erika's family (not that they speak any English - but that is a minor issue).

Working wise we will be launching the latest translation of SNG Planet when the Polish Edition goes live. Once again this is pretty big news for me... we do not fuck around with these translations, talking 100 pages of quality strategy here - actually bigger than many people's entire sites.

Tons of other things to fit into a 4-day working week too including a SEO revamp of the Hungarian sites, some fairly large updates for Killer Holdem, a rakeback planet update and the usual ongoing activities with the other sites too... this week will also see us finalising plans made with the operators we met at the Conference in Amsterdam, this should involve some changes to the mix of rooms we are promoting but nothing that the casual visitor would particularly be aware of.

Not had too much time for poker at all this month, occasionally donking around for 30 minutes on the 8-game tables. Was momentarily tempted by the 'earn 7500, get 80k free' Poker Stars FPPs offer - and then remembered that I actually hate poker when playing for anything other than entertainment and the grind would have made me miserable very fast. Nope, knowing yourself is key in this kind of situation... and I know that fun (and the occasional profits!) has to be a big part of the game for me.

GL at the tables, Mark

PS: Follow me on Twitter for all the Planet Gong, Melted Felt and Planet Sites updates...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Thought Provoking Article On Hand Reading

You know that feeling... the one when you get to the end of a 12 hour working day, sit back and assess - and then realise that your list of things to do is actually longer than it was at the start?? If you are involved in the poker business I'm sure it is a yes!

Anyway, to keep things fast I'll link to an excellent article on hand reading from the 2+2 monthly magazine today... this is seriously thought provoking, for those of us who find exact hands a bit of a challenge to read the 'catergories' approach could be a great starting point. My one disclaimer is that you need to be more cautious at the lowest limits - just because you are right about the weakness of an opponents hands does not mean that they will not call you with it anyway!

Hand Reading Made Simple

Gl at the tables, Mark

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Back In Budapest - Amsterdam Affiliate Conference Recap #1

Each time I go away it is with good intentions of blogging on the go.... and each time I return the first thing is to announce it here and apologise for no updates! Ah, well - let me make it up to you with part #1 of my re-cap of an excellent trip to Amsterdam for my first poker business conference.

Will post a more personal version of the trip report here - going to do a business one over at - the greatest commumity of poker affiliates

Fortunately, the annual 'Queens Day' celebration coincided with the conference, meaning we were able to don orange hats and join in the biggest party of the year in the Netherlands... would recommend this to anyone, literally the whole city was out in Amsterdam with people from all walks of life enjoying the day / night together. Did make getting to our hotel a little arduous, but hey.

Ah, the hotel. We stayed in the Krasnapolsky on Dam square... have been to the Netherlands many times and stayed in many hotels - but this one was a let-down. The building / staff and location were all excellent... but the room! Dated, small and tatty, bah. Back to the Barbizon next time (which has the added benefit of being next to my favorite breakfast place - the 'Prince Hendrik Sandwich Bar')

A definite advantage of staying at the Kras was the proximity of the sponsored bar - the 'Players Bar' - which was literally 2 minutes walk away. Went to the networking events both Thursday and Friday there to sup the free beer. The first day felt a little odd really, not knowing anyone at all, while everyone else seemed to know each other. Did chat with some affiliates and operators, however now recognise that the cold 'Hi, I'm Mark!' networking routine is not my thing, much easier when you have a starting point to meet people from... which was demonstrated Friday where we knew a few faces and felt much more comfortable.

Meeting with Greg Powell and Jeremy Enke was high on my priority list before leaving. These gentlemen are some of the pillars of the poker affiliate community and turned out to be really great guys too - looking forward to sharing many more beers with both at future conferences.

Staying in the centre of the city we had to work out how the Amsterdam tram system worked to get to the conference centre (the RAI). Brilliant way to see the city for just a couple of Euros... if anyone is wondering you buy a long ticket with 15 spaces - when you get on the tram the driver or ticket guy will stamp 2 or 3 depending on how far you go, simple.

The conference centre was huge and it actually took a while to locate the right conference. Several of the operators had laid on nice set-ups, a 'Party Poker' Bar, Boylesports Guiness / Darts, Cake had a giant kitchen setup, SmartLive a real roulette table and so on... many of the providers also used the age-old tactic of using pretty ladies to hand out leaflets / get you to the booth / or swap gifts for business cards... will give my top rating to BetUS (oops, I mean, I was not looking, erm, did not notice, eyes are only for you Erika!).

Some operators were more aggressive in getting attention than others, and to be honest 1 or 2 well known ones were a little too aggressive for our tastes. Going to keep the post positive, so will not mention any names.

Well, my list of things to do is massive.... so will continue this post tomorrow with some more of the business side of the trip.

Gl at the tables, Mark