Wednesday, November 22, 2006

That's 1 small step....

Wow, until I lowered the stakes I really hadn't realised what a drastic difference there is between the limits of 1-2 and 2-4 in online NLHE. For those who don't know, it's like the difference between classes in kindergarten and high school: you're either dealing with infants severely limited intellectually and largely incapable of performing even the most basic of human functions, or you are facing eager juveniles most of whom can answer several different questions correctly and subsequently think they know it all!

I have not posted a losing session since I dropped down to the 1-2 games, and feel as though I haven't even had to try. I even had a 2-4 game running in addition to the two 1-2 tables just to keep my brain ticking over, it really is almost mindless otherwise! Just to give an indication of the type of play you are likely to encounter, here is an example from a 6 player table:

I get dealt AcKd on the button, and after 2 players limp I raise to $12, a big raise but the table has been very loose from all I've seen. I get 3 callers(!): the SB with a full buyin, the BB with $39, and after lengthy deliberation the short stack with only $9 left behind. The flop was Ks Qh Th which, although it hit me nicely, I sensed helped one of my opponents a lot more! The SB checked, and the BB went allin instantly. Mr Think-it-over insta-called with his $9, and I also called with my TPTK, betting that the SB would not likely call 3 allins (he duly folded). Now came the moment of truth, would I be miles behind my 2 opponents or were they as I suspected both fairly weak?

The shortstack flipped an actual monster draw with (wait for it.....) Jh2h which just shows the inspirational calibre of play that is prevailent on the 1-2s, and the BB, who you'll recall instantly pushed against 3 opponents on the flop, flips...... Q4. A healthy 2nd pair, 4 kicker. Again, inspirational is the word.

The flush comes on the turn, and the river is a blank, so I take the $60 side pot and J2s takes the other $65. I was actually laughing as he almost quadripled his stack!

So anyway, going to stick with the simple new formula of 2($1-$2) + 1($2-$4) = Profit + Fun and just get back to enjoying the game. Things are starting to look up.....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sour times

Finally got to 200 hours play last night. Checked the bankroll, and found that in those 200 hours I'd made just under 400 dollars. I'll just pause a moment for those figures to sink in. The math is pretty simple. If anyone so much as whispers the word average I think I might just cry.

So what happened? Well, following the unlucky run I had a few weeks ago, I got the bankroll back up to 15.5 and then.... well, I guess I just lost my mojo. A combination of some bad calls, being cold-decked and getting quite unlucky over the space of a week cost me over a third of my bankroll. I lost 3k during a long session on Sunday, and then last night another 2k disappeared in 2 hours. Right now I'm questioning everything about my game, my confidence is shot to hell and my bankroll has been brutally battered. In the interests of catharsis (and in the urgent hope of improvement) I'll discuss a few different hands and a few areas of play my staggered brain has singled out for attention.

Where should I start? So many hands are flashing in my mind, however I will ignore the mere annoyances like opponents pairing their weaker kicker or making an unlikely straight on the river after calling a strong bet / reraise and focus instead on those hands where I either played badly and ignored the warning signs, or failed to adjust correctly to the developing board.

Table Name Hand ID Game Stakes
The Da Vinci Code 12497146-8185 Holdem No Limit $3/$6
[Nov 12 15:44:21] : Hand Start.
[Nov 12 15:44:21] : Seat 1 : Sub_Zero has $1,088
[Nov 12 15:44:21] : Seat 2 : Gypsie Lord has $521
[Nov 12 15:44:21] : Seat 3 : Wolfpack17 has $1,102.06
[Nov 12 15:44:21] : Seat 4 : trixieslp has $600.75
[Nov 12 15:44:21] : Seat 5 : sungmun2 has $392.25
[Nov 12 15:44:21] : Seat 6 : TOTIS2121 has $917.50
[Nov 12 15:44:21] : sungmun2 is the dealer.
[Nov 12 15:44:22] : TOTIS2121 posted small blind.
[Nov 12 15:44:22] : Sub_Zero posted big blind.
[Nov 12 15:44:22] : Game [8185] started with 6 players.
[Nov 12 15:44:22] : Dealing Hole Cards.
[Nov 12 15:44:22] : Seat 1 : Sub_Zero has Qs Qc
[Nov 12 15:44:24] : Gypsie Lord called $6
[Nov 12 15:44:28] : Wolfpack17 folded.
[Nov 12 15:44:32] : trixieslp called $6 and raised $12
[Nov 12 15:44:32] : sungmun2 folded.
[Nov 12 15:44:36] : TOTIS2121 folded.
[Nov 12 15:44:41] : Sub_Zero called $12 and raised $40
[Nov 12 15:45:20] : Gypsie Lord folded.
[Nov 12 15:45:23] : trixieslp called $40
[Nov 12 15:45:23] : Dealing flop.
[Nov 12 15:45:23] : Board cards [8s 6c 5d]
[Nov 12 15:45:30] : Sub_Zero bet $100
[Nov 12 15:45:32] : trixieslp called $100
[Nov 12 15:45:32] : Dealing turn.
[Nov 12 15:45:32] : Board cards [8s 6c 5d 7h]
[Nov 12 15:45:43] : Sub_Zero bet $150
[Nov 12 15:45:45] : trixieslp called $150
[Nov 12 15:45:46] : Dealing river.
[Nov 12 15:45:46] : Board cards [8s 6c 5d 7h 8h]
[Nov 12 15:45:50] : Sub_Zero bet $780 and is All-in
[Nov 12 15:45:56] : trixieslp called $292.75 and is All-in
[Nov 12 15:45:57] : Showdown!
[Nov 12 15:45:57] : Seat 1 : Sub_Zero has Qs Qc
[Nov 12 15:45:58] : Seat 1 : Sub_Zero has Qs Qc
[Nov 12 15:45:58] : Sub_Zero has Two Pair: Queens and 8s
[Nov 12 15:45:58] : Seat 4 : trixieslp has Kh Kc
[Nov 12 15:45:58] : trixieslp has Two Pair: Kings and 8s
[Nov 12 15:45:58] : trixieslp wins $1,207.50 with Two Pair: Kings and 8s
[Nov 12 15:46:04] : sungmun2 : !!!!
[Nov 12 15:45:32] : trixieslp : wow
[Nov 12 15:45:32] : Hand is over.

OK, the hand starts with a minraise from late position, which can mean any hand at all. I reraise 200%(as usual with a strong pair). This is a move with the hope of determining the strength of the opponents hand, tempting the rr with AA and KK. Here, the rr didn't occur, so it's possible to put them on AK AQ or a smaller pair than QQ.

I bet strongly on the flop, as there was a possible straight developing, and wanted to discourage a gutshot with 99 or the OESD with 77. A smooth call didn't mean too much on the flop, as I could have been betting an AK unimproved myself.

I fired again on the turn, ready for a rr from a made straight or a now-fearful set, but I was just called again. At this point I was very uncertain about my opponents hand, but I still thought I was winning. There had been no rr preflop, and no reraise to indicate a set a straight draw. At this point I expanded the range of hands to include 65s, for a scared flopped 2 pair, and narrowed down the pairs to JJ or TT given the postflop action.

Then came the river with a final 8 to pair the board. Now, I actually liked this card. It counterfeited the possible 2 pair (65s) and made any other suited connector (98s / 87s) highly unlikely. I knew I wasn't facing a set, and so I thought my Queens up was in good shape, especially as the likely hands I was facing now were JJ and TT. I took the 2 postflop calls to be an inability to lay down a weak overpair, and so I pushed. I was not expecting the call to be accompanied by a show of KK.

My mistake here was the push on the river. I had not factored in my opponents 2 smooth calls of strong bets on both the flop and the turn. I had re-raised pf, so he had a much better idea of my range of hands (probably QQ-TT), all of which he was of course beating. In fact, if he knew that I didn't often rr pf with anything other than the above, he would have had no reason for fear (and thus a defining rr) at any point in the hand. He knew he was winning, and he knew I was aggressive, and I think he played the hand very well. I should have checked the river, and maybe called up to $100 if he did bet. By that point I had put in $300 into the pot, and 3 calls of large amounts should have elicited more respect and fear from me. Even though I had decided early on KK or AA were unlikely, I should still have been cautious about the possibility they were present. I will now know better in the future....

Table Name Hand ID Game Stakes
Zathura 10474914-115268 Holdem No Limit $3/$6
[Nov 12 12:41:08] : Hand Start.
[Nov 12 12:41:08] : Seat 1 : rossa has $105
[Nov 12 12:41:08] : Seat 2 : Sub_Zero has $452.50
[Nov 12 12:41:08] : Seat 3 : ILIKEYOU has $407.50
[Nov 12 12:41:08] : Seat 4 : db48 has $1,271.25
[Nov 12 12:41:08] : Seat 5 : wingmanwafu has $180
[Nov 12 12:41:08] : Seat 6 : maggan123 has $1,314.89
[Nov 12 12:41:08] : rossa is the dealer.
[Nov 12 12:41:09] : Sub_Zero posted small blind.
[Nov 12 12:41:09] : ILIKEYOU posted big blind.
[Nov 12 12:41:09] : Game [115268] started with 6 players.
[Nov 12 12:41:09] : Dealing Hole Cards.
[Nov 12 12:41:09] : Seat 2 : Sub_Zero has Kc Ac
[Nov 12 12:41:12] : db48 called $6 and raised $12
[Nov 12 12:41:16] : wingmanwafu called $18
[Nov 12 12:41:16] : maggan123 folded.
[Nov 12 12:41:17] : rossa folded.
[Nov 12 12:41:21] : Sub_Zero called $15 and raised $40
[Nov 12 12:41:23] : ILIKEYOU folded.
[Nov 12 12:41:27] : db48 called $40
[Nov 12 12:41:29] : wingmanwafu called $40
[Nov 12 12:41:30] : Dealing flop.
[Nov 12 12:41:30] : Board cards [Qc Ts 4h]
[Nov 12 12:41:33] : Sub_Zero checked.
[Nov 12 12:41:36] : db48 bet $48
[Nov 12 12:41:38] : wingmanwafu folded.
[Nov 12 12:41:42] : Sub_Zero called $48 and raised $70
[Nov 12 12:41:57] : db48 has 10 seconds to respond.
[Nov 12 12:41:58] : db48 called $70 and raised $280
[Nov 12 12:42:13] : It's your turn.
[Nov 12 12:42:13] : Sub_Zero has 10 seconds to respond.
[Nov 12 12:42:17] : Sub_Zero folded.
[Nov 12 12:42:18] : db48 wins $413 as the last player standing
[Nov 12 12:42:21] : Hand is over.

This hand I think shows the danger of over-aggressive play. I was putting in the big rr preflop to define my hand and thereby remove weak Ace hands and frighten small pairs into folding. The call wasn't necessarily unwanted due to the strength of my cards, but I would be out of position for the rest of the hand.

The QT4 flop with a backdoor flush draw wasn't the worst I could have seen, giving me several valid outs (KKK, JJJJ, or running Clubs). My mistake was betting out here, as several of the likely hands I was facing (ATs, AQ or maybe TT) just got a lot of help. If I wasn't facing a huge bet out of position, I could happily have called to see whether the turn brought help. My own cards and those on the flop made my chances of winning too slim to profitably bet in this spot, and so when I was faced with an allin raise I had no choice but to fold.

If I tempered my aggression with more deceit, I think my results might improve substantially. Every player knows you have to be aggressive with AK, but every good player knows you can't attack every hand. Given the allin, it's likely I was facing KK on this hand, though again I would have expected more raising preflop, but as I am (or more aptly was) learning the higher limits you play, the less often such plays are made. It is still fairly rare to bet with monsters, so a little more checking from first position sprinkled through my game will hopefully increase the fear in all of my opponents. Then I will be much happier, as I will see the increased regularity of that beautiful phrase "Sub-Zero Wins...."

So what's the new plan? I know it's a big step down, but it's the rules, so I'm going to play some 1-2 again. I need to get my confidence and bankroll back in shape, and I'm praying hard that I can still manage that on the 1-2 tables! Think it is high time to get back to basics, and only once I've relearnt the simple lessons will I be comfortable with upping the ante. Luckily I have lots of other interests and a great group of friends, and a very lovely lady has just walked into my life, so I'm going to let poker remain simply a hobby for the moment and refuse to let myself become obsessed with something that is, after all, still just a game.....

Friday, November 10, 2006

Respect the re-raise

That's all you have to do. Respect the re-raise. It's not difficult, it's not fancy, but it's a rule that will go a long way to guaranteeing success at the poker tables.

I've been playing a lot of poker these last few weeks and it seems to me the only time I lose a big pot is when I fail to respect the reraise. I don't know why I so often ignore that most obvious sign of danger, but I do know that as soon as I start to recognise and respond correctly I will have no problem consistently winning at poker.

I recently found myself calling a second allin reraise with TPJK! I had limped with AJ in the SB, and led out with a pot-sized bet on the A23 (2 Spades) flop from first position into 3 players. I got 2 folds and then a 150% reraise from the button. For some reason I told myself he was weak and was on a draw, so I prompty reraised him $100, telling myself I'd fold if he went allin. He went allin, and so what did I do? I called! He turned over his obvious set of 3s, and my hand went to my head in a rapid slapping movement. My hopes of winning rose briefly from zero when a J fell on the turn, but the river brought no miracle and I doubled my opponent up. Whoever they were, they must have been either scratching their head or laughing themselves silly at my play.

It is these sort of errors which are crippling my average and my bankroll, and the most frustrating thing is how easily avoidable they are.Have also suffered a few beats after making good allin calls, and these are not helping my play when it comes to pushing with a thin edge.

All of this said, I'm still really enjoying the game and each day I can't wait to get home and play. I am enjoying learning and practicing my skills, and am keenly aware that I'm very close to being very good, and if I can just overcome my innate aggressive tendencies and exercise slightly better judgement when thinking about calling an allin with TPJK then I will be well on my way to doing just fine. Also came across a very good play with KK that ended up stacking my QQ which I've included below, plus I think the best display of the true might that accompanies an allin with The Hammer! Enjoy.

Table Name Hand ID Game Stakes
Dumb and Dumber 10474841-130204 Holdem No Limit $2/$4
Seat 1 : petcash2 has $285.50
Seat 2 : Fedz has $564
Seat 3 : steve54555 has $317.75
Seat 4 : Mr_McDee has $160
Seat 5 : copiad has $886.27
Seat 6 : Sub_Zero has $237.25
copiad is the dealer.
Sub_Zero posted small blind.
petcash2 posted big blind.
Seat 6 : Sub_Zero has Qc Qs
Fedz folded.
steve54555 called $4 and raised $12
Mr_McDee folded.
copiad folded.
Sub_Zero called $14 and raised $30
petcash2 folded.
steve54555 called $30
Dealing flop.
Board cards [5s 4c 2h]
Sub_Zero bet $70
steve54555 called $70
Dealing turn.
Board cards [5s 4c 2h As]
Sub_Zero checked.
steve54555 checked.
Dealing river.
Board cards [5s 4c 2h As 9c]
Sub_Zero bet $30
steve54555 called $30 and raised $92
Sub_Zero has 10 seconds to respond.
Sub_Zero called $91.25 and is All-in
Seat 6 : Sub_Zero has Qc Qs
Seat 3 : steve54555 has Kh Kc
steve54555 wins $475.50 with Pair: Kings

Table Name Hand ID Game Stakes
Police Academy 10474745-138853 Holdem No Limit $2/$4
Seat 1 : VgaPoker has $146
Seat 2 : kingmats has $115
Seat 3 : RadioBob has $33.75
Seat 4 : johnnny23 has $630.46
Seat 5 : BimboDeOro has $296
Seat 6 : Sub_Zero has $378.25
johnnny23 is the dealer.
BimboDeOro posted small blind.
Sub_Zero posted big blind.
Seat 6 : Sub_Zero has Kc Ks
VgaPoker folded.
kingmats folded.
RadioBob called $4 and raised $29.75 and is All-in
johnnny23 called $33.75
BimboDeOro folded.
Sub_Zero called $29.75 and raised $70
johnnny23 folded.
Seat 6 : Sub_Zero has Kc Ks
Seat 3 : RadioBob has 7c 2s
Board cards [2h Qc 2d 9c 5h]
Sub_Zero has Two Pair: Kings and 2s
RadioBob has 3 of a Kind: 2s
RadioBob wins $100.25 with 3 of a Kind: 2s

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Falling off the swings

It was nearly 12 last night when I stretched out in my chair and left the poker tables. It was a very memorable night, and for the first time I truly appreciated the power of variance. I had just experienced what was easily my most unlucky session ever: I had just been bad beaten out of 2.5 thousand dollars in the space of 4 hours. The 'lucky' part of the evening(and you really have to want to see it) was that a] it wasn't 5 thousand, and b] I was able to win a thousand back.

I made only a few mistakes for the session, but I was unable to get ahead enough to do any serious damage to any of my opponents and their grossly (not to mention unfairly) inflated stacks. Just checking on a poker calculator and I found that I put the majority of my stack in while I was ahead as an 85, 90, 90.5 and a 91 percent favourite, and yet for each instance the statistical expectation would simply not hold steady.

Although not the worst beat I suffered in terms of probability, the following was the one that stung the most. I'm glad that I can say I didn't tilt, and was able to keep playing against players who were clearly weak, and I can only hope that next time I will not be quite so unfortunate. That's all folks, hope you enjoy better fortune than I..... and I hope you enjoy the following hand! :-)

***** Hand History for Game 5394361782 *****

$400 NL Texas Hold'em - Wednesday, October 25, 16:24:33 ET 2006

Table Table 106050 (Real Money)

Seat 6 is the button

Total number of players : 5

Seat 3: fekunayre ( $537.20 )

Seat 5: m_zeal ( $612.90 )

Seat 6: Finansen99 ( $1528.21 )

Seat 4: Sub__Zer0 ( $404.10 )

Seat 2: bicko2 ( $396 )

bicko2 posts small blind [$2].

fekunayre posts big blind [$4].

** Dealing down cards **

Dealt to Sub__Zer0 [ 7d 7s ]

Sub__Zer0 calls [$4].

m_zeal folds.

Finansen99 raises [$22].

>You have options at Table 105609 (No DP) Table!.

>You have options at Table 105609 (No DP) Table!.

bicko2 folds.

fekunayre folds.

Sub__Zer0 calls [$18].

** Dealing Flop ** [ Th, 7h, Js ]

Sub__Zer0 bets [$30].

Finansen99 raises [$90].

>You have options at Table 105609 (No DP) Table!.

>You have options at Table 109593 (No DP) Table!.

>You have options at Table 105609 (No DP) Table!.

Sub__Zer0 raises [$170].

Finansen99 calls [$110].

** Dealing Turn ** [ 3h ]

>You have options at Table 109593 (No DP) Table!.

Sub__Zer0 is all-In [$182.10]

Finansen99 calls [$182.10].

** Dealing River ** [ Qs ]

Sub__Zer0 shows [ 7d, 7s ] three of a kind, sevens.

Finansen99 shows [ Ad, Kd ] a straight, ten to ace.

Finansen99 wins $812.20 from the main pot with a straight, ten to ace.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Breaking Vegas....?

What a week. There is nothing like spending a week doing everything to excess, and there is only 1 city in the world where excess is abundantly available 24 hours of every single day.... Las Vegas. I was able to drink, eat, stay awake and gamble far more than is sensible or even healthy, and I managed to do so without doing myself any permanent damage for almost an entire week. That said, the trip did get off to a dangerous start....

While accommodation arrangements were still in their infancy, it was discovered that a lot of money could be saved by booking a room from Sunday afternoon onwards instead of from Saturday. Now, we were due to arrive at LV International at about midday on the Saturday, and I suggested that it might be possible for us to simply stay up all Sat night and then hit the hotel (and the sack) the following day. Furthermore, I posited that as we could both sleep during the 10 hour plane trip on the way over, it wouldn't even really be a struggle to stay awake. It followed logically that if we truly wanted to ensure a good sleep on the plane, we should forego sleep on the preceding night. So, in accordance with our foolproof plan, after getting home on Friday night after work, I stayed awake until we left for the airport at 7am. I didn't drift off on the underground, nor did I nap while catching the Gatwick Express. Unfortunately though, my dedication was not to be rewardedl: I couldn't sleep on the plane. Not a bit. I'd been awake for over 24 hours and my eyes just couldn't close. And so I found myself looking over the Strip in gorgeous midday sun not only having been awake for over 34 hours, but painfully conscious that there was no hotel room booked for us until another 28 hours had passed. The challenge was on....

After getting to the Mirage and dumping our bags, we grabbed a delicious super-size meal somewhere in a shopping court before heading for the MGM Grand to get the poker party started. I was soon sat at a 1-2 NL game, which would be the only game played during our visit. It didn't start well. I'd put in a sizeable raise with a big Ace or high pair, I was getting called by an opponent as long as they had suited cards. On the flop I'd have TPTK or a set, and be up against a weak 4-flush, and yet 2 pot size bets would not push them off until they hit on the river, time and again. That or I would have my big A called by A7s or A8, and guess the top card on the flop? The 7/8 of course! The only sound more regular than the riffle of chips was that of a bewildered Englishman croaking 'Rebuy!'. My favourite hand of the night was putting in a big preflop re-raise from the button with KK, and being called by KT in the BB. The flop came JQK, and a pot size bet by me elicited a call. An A came on the turn to provide my opponent with the straight and I was raised all in for about $50 more, forcing me to call, and I failed to fill up. To my opponents credit, she looked very sheepish turning over her hand, but she still scooped the pot with no difficulty. I eventually doubled up after hitting a set of 9s on a 954 rainbow flop, after talking a guy into believing I had 54s, which ironically was exactly what he had when he called my allin! Managed to win a few kicker wars and left the table after a rollercoaster 6 hours about $150 up.
Had drunk a few redbulls earlier in the evening, but was still not feeling 100% as Honest and I got a taxi back to the Mirage. I was seized by an uncontrollable fit of shivering when I sat down at the first available 1-2 table, and proceeded to win several pots uncontested, as all my opponents thought I was at least mildly deranged! I witnessed a beautiful (and successful) $100 bluff for a $300 pot from a Danish player with a busted flush draw, and then 10:30 am finally arrived and I was able to withdraw from the table with excuses of having had no sleep for 60 hours and requiring food in the most urgent of fashions.... We found ourselves in the buffet, too strung out to avail ourselves fully of either the bounteous food or drink that was available, but we ate and drank all that our shrunken stomachs could handle before retiring to our room, where an early checkin and an extra toothbrush had been especially requested!

The rest of the week passsed in similar fashion, with the following highlights: I raised with AJs preflop, was called by both the SB and BB, and an AhQs5h flop came. I bet $25 into the $30 pot after it had been checked to me and the SB folded, whereupon the BB went allin for $125 more. I was left with a tough decision with my TP'J'K. I thought about it, decided 2 pair or a set was unlikely given the allin and called, figuring my opponent was on a draw and wanted me to fold. My read was bang-on and I found myself up against KQ of hearts. The turn gave a K, and the river a blank so I found myself stacked after a good read and a tough call, alas, such is poker. Again came the pained cry of 'Rebuy'....
My other good call for the week was raising $11 with AK and being min raised from the button. The BB and I call and the flop comes KJT. I bet $30, and the button goes allin for $100 more, the BB folding hurriedly. I think for ages, and finally figure this allin is not the move of someone who has the nuts. I call, and the button flips AK, so I happily split the pot. I thought it was a great call given the circumstances, but I was rewarded with no more than a split pot. Still, when I could have lost another buyin....
I got into a great situation in the Mirage when I hit top pair and a nut flush draw with As6s on a Ah Ks 8s flop. I was up against a very aggressive opponent and ended up stacking the poor guy when he decided to push with A5 after the turn gave me a lovely 6c. My hand held up for once, but unfortunately the very next hand proved to be less fortunate. I looked down to find pocket Kings, and promptly raised it to 16. I was re-raised to 40 by the same person I had just stacked (he had just re-bought for 200), so I took it up to 150, knowing he was tilting and had at best A high. He raised allin and I called gladly. The flop came down J ....J ....5, and then the turn brought the dreaded A and my heart skipped as I realised the pot was lost. The final card was an 8 or similar, and I found myself desperately praying for QQ, that only plausible hand I could beat. Instead, he flipped AQ; a terrible hand, taken too far but still rewarded, however unjustly....

Had a lovely moment in the Mirage when I bet pot into a 2 5 K raised pot with 66 from the button. I got a call from the UTG player, and the turn brought a beautiful 6. UTG bet 50, I min-raised with my miraculous set, and UTG went allin. I briefly feared 34, but then discounted it given the preflop action. I must admit I did enjoy them flipping 65 after I called, leaving them with no outs no draw!

The easiest win for the whole trip however happened in the Venetian. There was an action player at the table, blind straddling and raising blind. He seemed to know how to play, but may have been under the influence somewhat (it's hard to tell in Vegas!). The player to his right straddled, and he announced he was going allin blind. He had a full stack of$200. The blinds came to $7. I looked down to find JJ winking up at me. I have never taken so long on a decision, or felt so horribly worried! My concern was chiefly that someone in the remaining 7 players still to act had a monster, but I bit the bullet and called. Mr Allin-Blind actually had a hand: 44! I couldn't watch the flop, but I was not robbed. That was my profit for that night, so thankyou again sir...

Lots of other action aside, I thought I played well but never quite got the cards I needed. JJ ended up against AA with no preflop rr. Then I had AJ against an aggressive opponent with QQ on a J high flop. Didn't lose too much on that one, but still should have known I was losing when he didn't fold to my pf re-raise. Live and learn I guess.

The only other hand worth mention was me completing from the SB on with Ks6s on our penultimate day. The flop came As3s4h. I checked with the nut flush draw and the BB bet $10. I raised to $20 with my nut draw after everyone else had folded, hoping for a free turn card after a hesitant call. Instead the BB went allin for 180 more. Instinctively, I put him on the nuts, namely 52 for the wheel. I knew I was miles behind, and that I had only 35% chance on winning; far less odds than I was being offered by the pot. It was then that I realised I had yet to really gamble in Vegas, yet to take a shot with the worst of it. And so, to the disbelief of my housemate, I called the allin with nothing other than a flush draw (and an incredibly unlikely backdoor straight draw). Amazingly, and contrary to all I had witnessed in Vegas, my draw didn't hit, and yet nevertheless I was happy. I had gone to Vegas, and I could honestly say I'd gambled. No matter that I'd lost all respect from my mentor and contemporary Honest, or been labelled as a complete Fish by the table, I was happy with my terrible decision. I had taken a shot, and I had enjoyed it!

I came away with the bankroll $600 shorter, but that included all my spending and rent of the Mirage hotel room (which was $400 pp for an ensuite room with poker rate), plus about 60 hours of poker, so I don't think I did too badly overall. I thought my play was very good most days (I can discount K6s from that of course!), but I suffered quite a few bad beats early on and just didn't seem to catch enough good hands to compensate. This was not the case for my housemate Honest however, who as always played some exemplary poker and managed to get into several great situations with monster hands against loose and terrible opponents. Check out his blog to hear more about these.... but to keep things in perspective, when I got home on Sunday I played just over 2 hours and made $1000 on the 2-4 tables at PP, paying for the hol in one fell swoop. So I really have no complaints at all....

Saturday, October 07, 2006


It's time to round em up..... I'm off to Vegas. It's 630am for the record, and I've spent the last 2 hours playing poker and have succeeded in getting the bankroll back over 15k. I've been playing well all week and although I still feel I've been receiving more than the expected number of suck outs, I haven't been crippled by them. I was playing some 3-6 and lost a buy-in with AA when someone caught their OESD on the turn (after calling a 4/5th pot bet) , but even that was not enough to keep me down.

I recognise that I'm still overplaying a few hands, but I think my game is improving quite fast and I'm getting a very good feel for reading weakness and strength from bet sizes, bet speed and the texture of the board. I hope that these skills will continue to develop while I'm playing in the flesh, but you'll just have to wait for my post trip update to find out for sure....

Having had only 1 hours sleep in the last 24, I'll leave you now as I need to shower before the journey, but I wish you all luck in all of your endeavours, and I look forward to reporting on an amazing holiday in just 7 days time.

May all your pots be huge....

Table NameHand IDGameStakes
Pigs10475177-48605Holdem No Limit$2/$4
[Oct 5 19:15:45] : Hand Start.
[Oct 5 19:15:45] : Seat 1 : Purdie11 has $279.42
[Oct 5 19:15:45] : Seat 2 : mandic96 has $25.12
[Oct 5 19:15:45] : Seat 3 : Corgan1967 has $219.78
[Oct 5 19:15:45] : Seat 4 : Sub_Zero has $582.25
[Oct 5 19:15:45] : Seat 5 : Chipstop has $77.50
[Oct 5 19:15:45] : Seat 6 : HallieD has $289.25
[Oct 5 19:15:45] : Corgan1967 is the dealer.
[Oct 5 19:15:46] : Sub_Zero posted small blind.
[Oct 5 19:15:47] : Chipstop posted big blind.
[Oct 5 19:15:47] : Game [48605] started with 6 players.
[Oct 5 19:15:47] : Dealing Hole Cards.
[Oct 5 19:15:47] : Seat 4 : Sub_Zero has Ad Ac
[Oct 5 19:15:52] : HallieD folded.
[Oct 5 19:15:55] : Purdie11 folded.
[Oct 5 19:15:57] : mandic96 called $4
[Oct 5 19:16:00] : Corgan1967 folded.
[Oct 5 19:16:10] : Sub_Zero called $2 and raised $15
[Oct 5 19:16:12] : Chipstop folded.
[Oct 5 19:16:15] : mandic96 called $15 and raised $6.12 and is All-in
[Oct 5 19:16:15] : Under-Raise rules are now in effect.
[Oct 5 19:16:17] : Sub_Zero called $6.12
[Oct 5 19:16:17] : Showdown!
[Oct 5 19:16:17] : Seat 4 : Sub_Zero has Ad Ac
[Oct 5 19:16:19] : Seat 2 : mandic96 has Jd Qs
[Oct 5 19:16:19] : Seat 4 : Sub_Zero has Ad Ac
[Oct 5 19:16:28] : Board cards [As 5s 3c Th Ks]
[Oct 5 19:16:28] : Seat 2 : mandic96 has Jd Qs
[Oct 5 19:16:28] : mandic96 has Straight AKQJT
[Oct 5 19:16:28] : Seat 4 : Sub_Zero has Ad Ac
[Oct 5 19:16:28] : Sub_Zero has 3 of a Kind: Aces
[Oct 5 19:16:28] : mandic96 wins $51.74 with Straight AKQJT

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Finding Your Cave Animal

I won't lie to you, I have no achievements to boast of over the last 10 days. My average has halved, I've dropped nearly 2k, and the worst part is I've been trying to play well! Am desperately hoping that I've just been getting unlucky, but I surely can't blame mere luck for having 4 losing sessions in a row! Is it lucky to be dealt AA or KK nearly every 2 orbits? Definitely! Then why complain? No reason really, except for every monster overpair I've been dealt, it seems I've been getting crippled by a flopped set or a river that pairs the top flop card. Honestly.
OK, so I'm not making money from my alleged 'monsters', so what about all the other good hands that take down decent pots? I raise with them, miss the flop, and then have my continuation bet hurled in my face again and again. Or I hit the flop, bet it strong, get called, and then an over/scare -card lands and suddenly I'm either facing an allin or a pot-committing check raise. The worst luck I had was flopping a set of 9s, getting my opponent with AA allin on the turn when a K fell, and then kissing that massive pot goodbye for a 2-outer on the river. Was seriously feeling like the poker gods AND the players were all out to get me. Even when I made a great read, I would have it thrown in my face (see HH below).
A few points for me to remember:
Playing less than $2-$4? Don't bluff anything other than the flop. Wait for second pair before taking them allin!
Don't go re-raise or push allin with a K high flush. The one time you get stacked isn't worth it.
Maintain aggression, even when people play back. If you bet then check out of position you're wide open to bluff bets which you will be forced to fold to. Smaller continuation bets on the turn can win the pot or simply stop your opponent from bluffing, which more than makes up for the financial outlay.
Keep reading. I'm not sure there is any correlation to me getting engrossed in a riveting work of fiction for more than 2 weeks, but my game suddenly slipped during that period. Why take the chance?
1 more week til Vegas and I'm nervous but raring to go. I'm going on holiday, and I'm going to play a lot of poker too. I don't think there's any way I can possibly not have an absolutely amazing time. And if there is, I'll take that gamble......

Table NameHand IDGameStakes
Dumb and Dumber10474841-68724Holdem No Limit $2/$4
[Sep 23 16:58:55] : Hand Start.
[Sep 23 16:58:55] : Seat 1 : Bluffenuf1 has $440.64
[Sep 23 16:58:55] : Seat 2 : Denrod has $141
[Sep 23 16:58:55] : Seat 3 : dawsey has $194
[Sep 23 16:58:55] : Seat 4 : Los Flo has $79.75
[Sep 23 16:58:55] : Seat 5 : Sub_Zero has $296
[Sep 23 16:58:55] : Seat 6 : TheFizz has $300
[Sep 23 16:58:55] : Los Flo is the dealer.
[Sep 23 16:58:55] : Sub_Zero posted small blind.
[Sep 23 16:58:56] : TheFizz posted big blind.
[Sep 23 16:58:56] : Game [68724] started with 6 players.
[Sep 23 16:58:56] : Dealing Hole Cards.
[Sep 23 16:58:56] : Seat 5 : Sub_Zero has 3h 3c
[Sep 23 16:58:58] : Bluffenuf1 folded.
[Sep 23 16:59:01] : Denrod folded.
[Sep 23 16:59:01] : dawsey folded.
[Sep 23 16:59:07] : Los Flo called $4 and raised $4
[Sep 23 16:59:08] : Sub_Zero called $6
[Sep 23 16:59:10] : TheFizz folded.
[Sep 23 16:59:11] : Dealing flop.
[Sep 23 16:59:11] : Board cards [2c 5s 4c]
[Sep 23 16:59:14] : Sub_Zero checked.
[Sep 23 16:59:19] : Los Flo bet $10
[Sep 23 16:59:21] : Sub_Zero called $10 and raised $15
[Sep 23 16:59:25] : Los Flo called $15
[Sep 23 16:59:25] : Dealing turn.
[Sep 23 16:59:25] : Board cards [2c 5s 4c 8d]
[Sep 23 16:59:29] : Sub_Zero bet $30
[Sep 23 16:59:33] : Los Flo called $30 and raised $16.75 and is All-in
[Sep 23 16:59:33] : Under-Raise rules are now in effect.
[Sep 23 16:59:34] : Sub_Zero called $16.75
[Sep 23 16:59:34] : Showdown!
[Sep 23 16:59:34] : Seat 5 : Sub_Zero has 3h 3c
[Sep 23 16:59:36] : Seat 4 : Los Flo has Ac Jd
[Sep 23 16:59:36] : Seat 5 : Sub_Zero has 3h 3c
[Sep 23 16:59:41] : Board cards [2c 5s 4c 8d Jc]
[Sep 23 16:59:41] : Seat 4 : Los Flo has Ac Jd
[Sep 23 16:59:41] : Los Flo has Pair: Jacks
[Sep 23 16:59:41] : Seat 5 : Sub_Zero has 3h 3c
[Sep 23 16:59:41] : Sub_Zero has Pair: 3s
[Sep 23 16:59:41] : Los Flo wins $160.50 with Pair: Jacks
[Sep 23 16:59:52] : Hand is over.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Minimizing Mistakes

I know how to get value from strong hands. I know how to raise to cut the field. I know how to bet to make people think I'm holding the nuts. What I'm still learning, however, is how not to pay people off when they hit their draws. It'll be an obvious draw, and I'll have said to myself right there on the flop They're on a draw but I'll go ahead and put my money in when they hit it, either to represent what only they could have or maybe just to punish myself for not being effective at pushing them off it. It could even be denial, like thinking Surely that big raise on the river is a steal bluff! when I've just read their hand perfectly, know it's far stronger than mine, and I go ahead and call anyway. I've really got to stop it, as it's the biggest and definitely most expensive leak in my game. I think it's going to be a goal to precede all others, before getting to 20k, before making $50ph, before thinking about ending my job. Because if I'm still making mistakes this big, well then I'm just like the vast majority of the poker planet, and that is something I never want to hold true.
Step 1: Don't put money in when the flush card falls on the river.
I have KK orr AA. I raise, and get a caller. The flop comes with 2 of a suit and no overcards. Bet from me, call from them. Turn is a blank. Bet from me, call from them. River is the 3rd card of that suit. Here comes the genius bit: I bet -to represent that same flush! In doing so I make myself pot-committed, so when they push I throw away the rest of my money because of pot odds. And there they were, wondering how they were going to get value from that miracle river card. No more. Scare cards will be checked, and value bets paid off by discretion. We'll save the tricky stuff for the 10-25s.
Step 2: Don't get fall in love with overpairs.
I have KK or AA. I raise, and get a caller. They check the flop, which has no overcards. I bet, they call. Flop brings a blank. I bet big, putting them on a draw, and they reraise, minimum or a just little more. I of course call, knowing I'll be ok provided that river draw card doesn't show. It doesn't, but the big bet on the river is still made by them, and of course if I call I should really throw in the extra 50 or 100 into the already massive pot, and so I do. And there is the set of 2's or maybe 3's, no matter that I raised or reraised so much they should never have called in the first place. Once again, I pledge no more. I will think long and hard before calling a check-call check-raise with a mere overpair, and remember the biggest pots that are lost are with big pocket pairs that are UNIMPROVED.

My current average is at $40ph, and in just 120 hours I'll have hit 20k. And only 3 weeks til I'll be in Vegas. How does that make me feel? Well, to borrow a phrase a friendly local shared the last time I visited the gambling capital of the world:
"Get hard player!!!!"

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

On track

I took a holiday. I read some books. I broke up with my girlfriend. All in the space of a single seven day week, and man was I tired by the end of it. The holiday I took was with my now ex-girlfriend and a group of mates, and the too frequent arguments we had while away were indeed a catalyst for the recent split. It was a year last monday, and I'd even bought her a big bouquet of roses to mark the occasion. Just goes to show some things can't be fixed with flowers. On the plus side, I guess my evenings and weekends are suddenly a lot more empty, but the jury is still out on whether this is to prove positive or problematic!
So how did I take my thoughts off that painful decision? I joined PartyPoker of course! My housemate Honest recently started playing there and told me it was a decent site with plenty of terrible players. So, after growing sufficiently weary of the delays and disconnects of VC Poker, I downloaded the software for PP and deposited the $500 maximum. I had to receive a phone call from their support team before my deposit was approved, but by the end of the day I was ready to roll.
I started off perhaps unwisely by sitting down on a 2-4 table with the full buyin of 400. Within 30 mins I was down to 250 and having doubts over the level of play, but it was actually me just playing my usual aggressive game and not hitting as often as I would have expected. Managed to get most if back however, and quit just 30 down. I decided my next session would be on the 1-2s.
Unfortunately, my first session on the 1-2s started off exactly the same way; I opened 2 tables and within 30 minutes I was down 150 and having doubts, but then I got in the groove and after doubling up on one table found my PP bankroll at 600. The next day I started again and made 300 in an hour. I stopped, had a sandwich then made 100 more in 30 minutes before finishing for the night.
I made my latest entries into my spreadsheet and smiled. With just under 14.5k and a new average of $38ph, my 20k target was now just under 150 hours away. Things are starting to look good, and I'm almost ready for the PP 2-4s. I love it when a plan comes together...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tortoise vs Hare

Just above the sink in my kitchen there is an old blackboard hanging next to an equally dated noticeboard, and it is on this quaint medium that I and other members of the house occasionally scrawl a goal or more likely a reminder. Last night I daubed 'Get to 20k' in my awkward left-handed scrawl onto the otherwise empty slate. With a current hourly rate of just under $30, and over 7k needed, my brain tells me it will take…. quite a while. A very long while actually. About 240 hours worth. Now, this is clearly not a viable timeframe if I want to get this goal done for xmas, so I'm proposing playing a lot better and learning lots more about the game to facilitate this.

Here's my plan:

Re-read "Theory of Poker", "The Art of Bluffing", "Professional Poker" and "NLHE Theory and Practice" answering all the quiz questions and practicing the concepts at regular intervals while I work through each book. Thinking constantly about the game is essential, but most people won't improve if their thoughts are not guided by a professional.

Make more notes on each player throughout every game, as you can't just see one bad play and label someone with Cracker/Chaser/Terrible. This mistake is easy to make and can prove costly, plus I'd hate to be judged on the strength of some of my less-than-clever plays! This is a necessary discipline that should be a habit of any serious player.

Stop playing K small suited. I have been playing about with Kx suited a lot recently and the only time it's ok to limp with it is if x is 7 or higher and you are on the button. If you are in a very aggressive game do not bother even limping, as otherwise you're throwing away a marginal easily-dominated hand preflop far too often for limping prove profitable. Just remember it's like playing a Ax suited where x is 6 or lower.

Raise more tentative bets from SB on the flop. Most often people in the SB or BB will hit the unraised flop but worry about their kicker so bet out to find where they stand. With position you can usually raise and win the pot instantly or on the turn with a ½ pot continuation bet. Of course, once in a while they will pair their kicker or similar but this move is easily successful enough to remain profitable when you have to fold after getting reraised (and you have nothing).

All of that said, I played well over the weekend, and am almost back at the 13k hurdle. Let's see how my game progresses….

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Grind

Another tough night, played about 3 hours and dropped over 1k. Was feeling confident as well after smashing through the 13 barrier the previous night, taking my broll to dizzying new heights. Didn't play any differently to my normal game, apart from where I tried a semi-bluff allin raise with KcQc suited in position on a Tc 8c 4s flop. My opponent was an aggressive chaser who I'd seen attack with fairly weak cards and I thought I had a good chance of forcing a fold. Unfortunately he called with QQ (taking 3 of my outs), hit a Q on the turn (eliminating 3 more of my outs!) and none of my remaining 8 outs appeared on the river, so goodbye stack.
It was the usual story of slightly unlucky for the rest of it, big raises with KK called by AQ and A high flops, the odd race with small stacks with AK against mid-pairs failed to hit, and an apparently favourable AK vs A9s preflop allin for about 200 turned into TPTK vs the nut flush. Didn't tilt at any point or get myself into any pots with weak holdings, but my opponents kept drawing and hitting. Even mixing up my play with my big hands just led me into trouble (see below).
Oh well, back to the grindstone I guess and I'll hope for a 'luckier' weekend....

Fantastic Four
[Aug 24 19:07:46] : Hand Start.
[Aug 24 19:07:46] : Seat 1 : Sub_Zero has $267.75
[Aug 24 19:07:46] : Seat 2 : Battie has $292
[Aug 24 19:07:46] : Seat 4 : 5krona has $388.21
[Aug 24 19:07:46] : Seat 5 : stippler has $318.33
[Aug 24 19:07:46] : Seat 6 : PtPoker2001 has $219.25
[Aug 24 19:07:46] : stippler is the dealer.
[Aug 24 19:07:47] : PtPoker2001 posted small blind.
[Aug 24 19:07:48] : Sub_Zero posted big blind.
[Aug 24 19:07:48] : Game [14651] started with 5 players.
[Aug 24 19:07:48] : Dealing Hole Cards.
[Aug 24 19:07:48] : Seat 1 : Sub_Zero has Ah Kh
[Aug 24 19:07:51] : Battie folded.
[Aug 24 19:07:53] : 5krona called $4 and raised $8
[Aug 24 19:07:55] : stippler folded.
[Aug 24 19:07:56] : PtPoker2001 folded.
[Aug 24 19:07:58] : Sub_Zero called $8
[Aug 24 19:07:58] : Dealing flop.
[Aug 24 19:07:58] : Board cards [6d 6s Ts]
[Aug 24 19:08:01] : Sub_Zero bet $8
[Aug 24 19:08:03] : 5krona called $8
[Aug 24 19:08:04] : Dealing turn.
[Aug 24 19:08:04] : Board cards [6d 6s Ts Ac]
[Aug 24 19:08:09] : Sub_Zero checked.
[Aug 24 19:08:10] : 5krona checked.
[Aug 24 19:08:10] : Dealing river.
[Aug 24 19:08:10] : Board cards [6d 6s Ts Ac 3d]
[Aug 24 19:08:13] : Sub_Zero checked.
[Aug 24 19:08:23] : 5krona bet $33
[Aug 24 19:08:26] : Sub_Zero called $33 and raised $40
[Aug 24 19:08:32] : 5krona called $40 and raised $80
[Aug 24 19:08:34] : Sub_Zero called $80
[Aug 24 19:08:35] : Showdown!
[Aug 24 19:08:35] : Seat 1 : Sub_Zero has Ah Kh
[Aug 24 19:08:37] : Seat 4 : 5krona has 6h Jc
[Aug 24 19:08:37] : 5krona has 3 of a Kind: 6s
[Aug 24 19:08:37] : 5krona wins $345 with 3 of a Kind: 6s
[Aug 24 19:08:46] : Hand is over.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cleaning up

You've probably done it, I've definitely done it, my soon-to-turn-pro housemate has regularly done it. Think we've all said the words "I hate poker". Most often this is because of someone laying a terrible bad beat at the river, or maybe some clever dick hiding AA in the BB and trapping a poor unwitting fool for the majority of their stack (yes, that fool would indeed be you). I however had cause to say this for an entirely different reason, and I'd like to tell you why.
For the majority of those who play poker regularly and win consistently (ie the fortunate minority), I think poker is a double-edged sword within our lives. Furthermore, I believe it is highly analogous to an addiction, and it is for this reason that I recently found myself cursing poker and wishing (albeit briefly) that I'd never started to play. The road so far has been tough, but the occasional glimpse of the promised land through the breaks in the cloud can make the struggle seem insignificant. When you're losing, your mood slips and you focus only on why and how to reverse this trend. When you're winning, you feel confident, content and usually quite generous! The problem, however, lies not in the trials and tribulations of the journey, but in the fact that life outside of that journey no longer seems quite as much fun.
With an obsession (or hobby if you prefer) as interesting and deep as NLHE, the acclaimed Cadillac of poker games, it is perhaps not surprising that alternative pursuits pale in comparison. It is a game that requires every ounce of your mental ability, judgement and concentration, it never offers identical scenarios, and it can never be perfected, only practiced. I can think of no other pursuit that is even remotely similar.... except perhaps warfare, where the stakes are greater by far! I just resent the fact that since I have chosen to be the best poker player possible I find myself forgetting that life outside the game still exists. Since I devote as much of my time and effort as possible to achieve my poker goals, I find myself stunned when I receive the occasional reminder that there is a world outside of poker. A world where you can feel good without winning a massive pot. Where you don't feel angry or depressed because you were out-played/drawn. Where you can interact with people in a non-competitive environment. A world where you can enjoy good clean fun without financial risk, and enjoy the simple and numerous pleasures that this life has to offer. I urge you to get out now and enjoy some yourself.

Of course, I've had 24 years living in that world, so for now, I'll just see you at the table ;-)

Table Name Hand ID Game Stakes
Psycho Beach Party 10475142-18772 Holdem No Limit $2/$4
[Aug 15 09:59:53] : Hand Start.
[Aug 15 09:59:53] : Seat 1 : greenteaguy has $534.50
[Aug 15 09:59:53] : Seat 2 : obelix has $412.85
[Aug 15 09:59:53] : Seat 3 : Sub_Zero has $354.75
[Aug 15 09:59:53] : Seat 4 : imabout has $368
[Aug 15 09:59:53] : Seat 5 : sonogong has $66.75
[Aug 15 09:59:53] : Seat 6 : bryan300 has $94.50
[Aug 15 09:59:53] : bryan300 is the dealer.
[Aug 15 09:59:53] : greenteaguy posted small blind.
[Aug 15 09:59:54] : obelix posted big blind.
[Aug 15 09:59:54] : Game [18772] started with 6 players.
[Aug 15 09:59:54] : Dealing Hole Cards.
[Aug 15 09:59:54] : Seat 3 : Sub_Zero has 6h 6s
[Aug 15 09:59:57] : Sub_Zero called $4
[Aug 15 09:59:59] : imabout called $4
[Aug 15 10:00:02] : sonogong called $4
[Aug 15 10:00:02] : bryan300 folded.
[Aug 15 10:00:05] : greenteaguy called $2
[Aug 15 10:00:06] : obelix checked.
[Aug 15 10:00:07] : Dealing flop.
[Aug 15 10:00:07] : Board cards [6d Qh 5s]
[Aug 15 10:00:12] : greenteaguy checked.
[Aug 15 10:00:14] : obelix checked.
[Aug 15 10:00:27] : It's your turn.
[Aug 15 10:00:27] : Sub_Zero has 10 seconds to respond.
[Aug 15 10:00:29] : Sub_Zero checked.
[Aug 15 10:00:35] : imabout bet $16
[Aug 15 10:00:38] : sonogong folded.
[Aug 15 10:00:40] : greenteaguy folded.
[Aug 15 10:00:41] : obelix folded.
[Aug 15 10:00:44] : Sub_Zero called $16
[Aug 15 10:00:45] : Dealing turn.
[Aug 15 10:00:45] : Board cards [6d Qh 5s 3d]
[Aug 15 10:00:55] : Sub_Zero bet $25
[Aug 15 10:00:56] : imabout called $25
[Aug 15 10:00:57] : Dealing river.
[Aug 15 10:00:57] : Board cards [6d Qh 5s 3d Kh]
[Aug 15 10:01:05] : Sub_Zero checked.
[Aug 15 10:01:08] : imabout bet $64
[Aug 15 10:01:21] : Sub_Zero called $64 and raised $75
[Aug 15 10:01:31] : imabout called $75
[Aug 15 10:01:32] : Showdown!
[Aug 15 10:01:32] : Seat 3 : Sub_Zero has 6h 6s
[Aug 15 10:01:33] : Seat 3 : Sub_Zero has 6h 6s
[Aug 15 10:01:33] : Sub_Zero has 3 of a Kind: 6s
[Aug 15 10:01:34] : Sub_Zero wins $377 with 3 of a Kind: 6s
[Aug 15 10:01:43] : Hand is over.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Strikes and Gutters

Wow, it's been a hell of a week. Got home from kungfu last Wednesday desperate for a quick game, and what do you know, I got myself in a hole. A deep, expensive, awake-til-nearly-4am-with-work-the-next-day hole. I went through nearly $1600 before I left the tables. Now for a lot of people, this is a lot of money. I am one of those people, and went to bed feeling like I'd been sucker punched solidly for a day. The loss started off as usual with a few bad beats, and then I started losing a lot to people who were calling and raising with literally any 2 cards (provided they were suited of course). My TPTK would run into an unlikely 2 pair. My overpairs would go down to a set. I just couldn't get a handle on my opponents aggression and the rebuy button was getting hit more often than Lebanese residential blocks.
The really bad thing is that I decided I couldn't face work the next day, and so, I swallowed my pride and called in sick. *hangs head* I can't function well when I'm tired and I just couldn't face work in my current mindset. I even managed to get through til the afternoon before I sat down at the felt. I won $400 back in an hour and stopped, feeling much better. Unfortunately, I didn't quit while ahead, and sat down again after dinner and lost another $1200. I'm smiling as I write this but there were definitely no smiles at the time. That said, I did manage work the next day so I felt I was getting at least some handle on the situation, though I cannot deny I was very concerned that my bankroll had dropped from 12k to under 10. Very. Concerned.
I had my usual "Why did I have such a bad session?" internal monologue the next day and realised I had been trying to fight fire with fire. Playing suited semi-connectors from early position just because your opponents are winning massive pots with them is a terrible plan, however smart it may seem when your opponents are destroying you with them nearly every hand. I had been limping with lots of KXs, raising from the middle with mid-connectors and generally playing weak poker. And, as I was unable to lay any bad beats my results were subsequently poor. And so once again, I focused, screwed down and tried to get into a good routine. I do think about the game constantly when I'm winning, but nothing sharpens the mind more than losing a few thou in my humble experience. And, I'm pleased to report, the new play has so far been going rather well.....
I've been on holiday this week so had much more time to play, and so far I think I've made over 2.5k in about 8 hours, and on top of that I actually feel I've been playing very well. There have been a few situations where I was leaving money on the felt unnecessarily;either by chasing draws too aggressively, or getting trapped in a raising war with hands that were at best marginal to begin with. There were also a few occasions where I did not extract the maximum value from my monsters, but that has all been in the name of extreme caution and in fear of the gods Draw and Suckout.
The highlight of the week so far was a hand I was playing on VC against a guy who clearly has no understanding of implied odds but never-the-less enjoyed the fortune of Lady Luck on this particular occasion. The guy who put in the first raise was a very weak player who was tilting wildly and I was aiming to isolate. Enjoy....
Table Name
Hand ID Game Stakes
Police Academy 10474745-39429
Holdem No Limit $2/$4
[Aug 15 14:54:09] : Hand Start.
[Aug 15 14:54:09] : Seat 1 : dawsey has $333.25
[Aug 15 14:54:09] : Seat 2 : homer jayy has $249.39
[Aug 15 14:54:09] : Seat 3 : RX forPoker has $182
[Aug 15 14:54:09] : Seat 4 : Sub_Zero has $275
[Aug 15 14:54:09] : Seat 5 : amirmi99 has $225.72
[Aug 15 14:54:09] : Seat 6 : tailormerd has $296
[Aug 15 14:54:09] : amirmi99 is the dealer.
[Aug 15 14:54:10] : tailormerd posted small blind.
[Aug 15 14:54:10] : dawsey posted big blind.
[Aug 15 14:54:10] : Game [39429] started with 6 players.
[Aug 15 14:54:10] : Dealing Hole Cards.
[Aug 15 14:54:10] : Seat 4 : Sub_Zero has Kh Kd
[Aug 15 14:54:13] : homer jayy called $4 and raised $16
[Aug 15 14:54:13] : RX forPoker folded.
[Aug 15 14:54:22] : Sub_Zero called $20 and raised $40
[Aug 15 14:54:25] : tailormerd : i didnt play my habd well
[Aug 15 14:54:26] : amirmi99 called $60
[Aug 15 14:54:27] : tailormerd folded.
[Aug 15 14:54:27] : dawsey folded.
[Aug 15 14:54:29] : homer jayy folded.
[Aug 15 14:54:29] : Dealing flop.
[Aug 15 14:54:29] : Board cards [2s 5s 7c]
[Aug 15 14:54:38] : tailormerd : hand
[Aug 15 14:54:41] : Sub_Zero bet $100
[Aug 15 14:54:43] : amirmi99 called $100 and raised $65.72 and is All-in
[Aug 15 14:54:43] : Under-Raise rules are now in effect.
[Aug 15 14:54:45] : Sub_Zero called $65.72
[Aug 15 14:54:46] : Showdown!
[Aug 15 14:54:46] : Seat 4 : Sub_Zero has Kh Kd
[Aug 15 14:54:47] : Seat 4 : Sub_Zero has Kh Kd
[Aug 15 14:54:47] : Seat 5 : amirmi99 has 2d 2c
[Aug 15 14:54:53] : Board cards [2s 5s 7c Tc 3c]
[Aug 15 14:54:53] : Seat 5 : amirmi99 has 2d 2c
[Aug 15 14:54:53] : amirmi99 has 3 of a Kind: 2s
[Aug 15 14:54:53] : Seat 4 : Sub_Zero has Kh Kd
[Aug 15 14:54:53] : Sub_Zero has Pair: Kings
[Aug 15 14:54:53] : amirmi99 wins $474.44 with 3 of a Kind: 2s
[Aug 15 14:55:03] : Hand is over.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Worries in the Dance

This morning promised a beautiful example of an English summer day, and the sun on my face felt as good as the fresh air as I walked through Green Park on my way to work this morning. However, my thoughts were troubled somewhat by a brief conversation with my younger brother just last night. I hadn't spoken to him for a while and was asking him how he was doing at work, he told me it was fine then calmly asked me what was the name of site I used to play poker. Cue alarm bells.

I instantly told him that he shouldn't play and that it was an easy way to lose a lot of money quickly. He said that he didn't want to stop as he liked to play, and assured me he only put on £10 each week to play. I confirmed that I played on VC, and advised him if had to play then to do so with play chips which many sites allow. He told me he already played with VC, and helpfully informed me that the site was 'rigged'. Cue alarm bells, long and loud.

How on earth does one even start to respond to that comment? Despite being 24, my little brother has still lots of growing up to do, and is still a very emotionally unstable individual at the best of times, firmly believing that no-one can understand him or anything he's been through.... in short, the worst person possible to get into gambling. And his older brother? Working for a big company in the capital earning a decent wage, enjoying life and making no attempt to hide a serious devotion to NLHE poker where he seems to be winning lots of money. What sort of example did he think he was setting? Did he think that no-one would take any notice?

I think from now on I should clutch my little obsession much tighter to my chest, and not give anyone any ideas about getting into gambling. It's similar to smoking in front of children: you can tell them not do it 24-7, but if they know you are doing it they are going to want to try.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Distracted Thoughts

Was in a team meeting at work today and somehow found my mind distracted from RFID and Distribution Centre's onto matters more poker related....

After quite a few hours play over the weekend I had found myself in several multiway raised pots where I was first to act (usually with something like 55-JJ or AQs). Quite a few times the flop came out and left a pair on the board. Given that a paired board is far less likely to have helped your opponents, my thoughts on how to play this situation are as follows:

If you are first to act in a SH raised pot, you are more than likely to be in the blinds or under the gun, probably with a the aforementioned mid pair or big suited A (if you find yourself without either of these you're a far better player than I!). I will ignore the cases where you flop a monster and focus instead on the more likely event of you flopping nothing, leaving you with an underpair or more likely A high. Which means you're effectively going to have to bluff at this pot to win it. Here's how it could go against 2 opponents, B and C.

You (A) check the scary flop, and B bets. C hasn't got anything strong and fears A could be sandbagging so he folds in the squeeze, leaving you out of position (if you call) for the rest of the hand. No good.
You check, B checks, and C bets. Now you're in the squeeze so you fold, leaving you with negative pot equity. Also no good.
You bet first.

There are 2 bets you can make here: the probe bet (say 1/3 pot), or the aggressive bet (2/3+ pot). Now if you choose the probe route, you are more than likely going to face a raise from either B or C which doesn't sound attractive, so first we'll examine the other option.

By betting aggressively, there are 3 most likely events.

1) With the first in vigorish, players B and C both fold. Very nice, alas not the most likely.

2) B folds, and C raises or calls. You don't know where you stand, and the pressure is back to you either now or on the turn. Say the pot was 60 preflop and you are willing to fire at it twice. If you bet 40 on the flop and get called, you are going to have to bet a decent amount at a 140 pot on the turn, say another 80. This will cost you 120 in total to take down the pot if it succeeds.

3) B calls* or raises and C folds. Same situation as above ensues, where you now have to big bluff again on the turn with no more information (optimistic), or call a raise only to try an even more expensive bluff on the turn (downright foolish).

*If player B ever flat calls, regardless of what action C takes, (barring a miracle)YOU ARE DONE WITH THIS HAND. Player B has clearly shown he has no concerns about what C has by flat calling an aggressive bet.

While betting aggressively into 2 people gets maximum respect, chances are still good that you're doing it into a strong hand, whether or not it has connected with the board. Also, not many people bet out with the nuts, so expecting B and C to both fold will happen at best once every 5 times. Out of position, you'll find a call or a raise much more common, and as outlined above, things will quickly get expensive if you decide to continue.

I propose that a probe bet is more effective in this situation. First off, it looks suspicious. B and/or C are very likely to flat call this bet, so you can get at least a cheap turn if you have any sort of draw. If you bet say 20 into the 60 pot and there's a raise, here's what will most likely happen:

1a) B raises your 20 (to say 60), C will most likely fold under the squeeze and the action is back to you. Now, assuming we aren't playing tricky dicks either B has a good hand that he wants to define early on or has a good draw and wants a free card later. Action is back you.

2a) B folds or calls the probe and C raises to 60. Again, C most probably has a good hand or a strong draw and wants to find out where he's at. Action is back to you.

Now, you have put out a suspicious bet (20) and it's 40 more to call the raise. I advocate a reraise here. In both scenarios, thanks to the squeeze you're effectively against a single player, and a min-raise to 100 along with the action so far will cause him to abandon anything but the strongest of hands, so if he does call, once again YOU ARE DONE WITH THE HAND. This gives a net expenditure of 100 to win a 120-140 pot, and given the scary looking board and your suspicious opening bet into 2 opponents, should work easily often enough to make this a valid weapon in your poker arsenal.

Maybe it worked. Maybe I got lucky. Either way, I'm about $500 up for the day and feeling a lot more confident. Hopefully this turn of form will continue into the week, but I always find the week day games much tougher than those on the weekends. Who knows, maybe I'm just getting better with experience! Either way, will be starting DoubleAs book Pressure Poker this week and thinking more about improving my game, gotta get the bank roll swollen in time for the trip to Vegas in October...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Another not very good poker session, and I'm not too hapy about it. Since the result of an allin win or loss on a 2-4 table means a swing of $800 in either direction, I guess playing 3 tables at once where this can happen means a session loss of $600 isn't so bad, however....
After losing my stack to the nut full house after flopping a set with 22, and getting involved in (and mostly losing) several pots after limping or raising the button with fairly weak hands (suited and/or semi-connected), I've decided I've been playing far too loosely to be economically effective. Even beating AA with 68 off for $450 is no compensation for the overall loss I've experienced over the last week or so. And, while my play is beautifully random and no-one can guess if I'm re-raising from the cutoff with 45 off or AA, more often than not I'm finding myself in big pots without a big hand, and that (as all Sklansky devotees well know) is a fundamental error.
So, starting in about 60 seconds, I'm going to tighten up and only mix up my hands about 10% rather than the 40% that I've been doing recently. Wish me luck, and I'lll let you know how I get on....

ps Here's a hand history which I think I played perfectly, but lost my stack. Comments welcome.
[Aug 5 15:45:55] : Seat 1 : D1no has $332.12
[Aug 5 15:45:55] : Seat 3 : Sub_Zero has $823.25
[Aug 5 15:45:55] : Sub_Zero is the dealer.
[Aug 5 15:45:56] : peebo posted small blind.
[Aug 5 15:45:56] : D1no posted big blind.
[Aug 5 15:45:56] : Seat 3 : Sub_Zero has Qs Qh
[Aug 5 15:45:58] : RugMunch folded.
[Aug 5 15:46:03] : Sub_Zero called $4 and raised $8
[Aug 5 15:46:10] : peebo folded.
[Aug 5 15:46:11] : D1no called $8
[Aug 5 15:46:11] : Dealing flop.
[Aug 5 15:46:11] : Board cards [2s 3d Jc]
[Aug 5 15:46:14] : D1no checked.
[Aug 5 15:46:16] : Sub_Zero bet $16
[Aug 5 15:46:17] : D1no called $16
[Aug 5 15:46:17] : Dealing turn.
[Aug 5 15:46:17] : Board cards [2s 3d Jc Tc]
[Aug 5 15:46:20] : D1no checked.
[Aug 5 15:46:23] : Sub_Zero bet $40
[Aug 5 15:46:24] : D1no called $40
[Aug 5 15:46:24] : Dealing river.
[Aug 5 15:46:24] : Board cards [2s 3d Jc Tc Qd]
[Aug 5 15:46:28] : D1no bet $264.12 and is All-in
[Aug 5 15:46:29] : Sub_Zero called $264.12
[Aug 5 15:46:30] : Showdown!
[Aug 5 15:46:30] : Seat 3 : Sub_Zero has Qs Qh
[Aug 5 15:46:32] : Seat 1 : D1no has Ac Kh
[Aug 5 15:46:32] : D1no has Straight AKQJT
[Aug 5 15:46:32] : D1no wins $664.24 with Straight AKQJT
[Aug 5 15:46:42] : Hand is over.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Had a bad night poker-wise last night. Left work after staying behind an extra 2 hours, so was mentally exhausted when I sat down an opened a new 2-4 table. I bought in for the full 400 as always, and someone sat down with another 400 for some hu action. We played back and forth for a few hands and were even when I got dealt AJ in the SB. Now, I had just picked up the phone and was mind conversation with my girlfriend so my full attention was not on the table but this did not immediately affect my play. After he completed, I limped, hoping of course to see an A and then make a little from my aggressive opponent. The flop came AA6 rainbow, and I quickly bet out 2/3 pot hoping it would look like like my typical steal, and thereby eliminate any thought I might actually have an A. My opponent quickly called, which was perfect. At this point I put him on some high cards, maybe a 6 or maybe even a mid pair. The turn was an 8, and I checked, hoping to induce a bluff. He bets pot, and I min raise, hoping to build the pot for the river but not minding if I take it down now. He calls.
Now at this point I should have been getting suspicious, but I couldn't statistically warrant him with an A (strong or otherwise), or having flopped (or turned) a full house. However he definitely thought he had a real hand, and it was only because I'd hidden my strong A so well that he was still in the pot, which was now about $100. And, as mentioned, I was on the phone. >:-/
Anyway the river was a K. I check, he bets 50, I take it to 100, he goes allin for about 250 more, and I call.
He takes the pot, but he did not flop OR turn the full house. And as suspected he didn't have an A. That's right, I got suckered by a miracle river for a beautifully hidden KK. I still haven't figured out whether I played it badly or the result was bad only because of the way I played it. Comments welcome on that one!
A few points worth mentioning are: don't play when you can't give a game your full attention. An obvious point, but still one worth making. And being tired or emotionally drained (as conversations with partners can often be!) will only exacerbate the situation, so don't do it!!! The allin told me I was losing, and I ignored it. Yes he got pretty lucky (that's my phrase for 2 out's on the river) but that doesn't matter a bit when it means you lose everything when he hits.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Was going to start this by saying hello, but who knows if this will ever be any more than a mere diary? If anyone does read it, this will be a chance to learn my thoughts on current topical issues such as 'the 9-5 Grind' (and it's inherent futility), 'how to make easy money by gambling' (strongly linked to the preceding issue) and 'how people can ignore offensive personal BO' (generally with reference to commuting for the aforementioned Grind).

As I currently work in IT I should be able to post my thoughts fairly regularly, and respond to any feedback I might receive. Hopefully this project will prove interesting enough to warrant my sustained attention and prove a welcome distraction for anyone who comes across it....

I'd like to mention my favourite maxim is Carpe Diem as I believe life is far too short (and opportunity too fickle a mistress) to do anything other than grab every chance you get as fast as humanly possible! For me this means I no longer have to live with those horrible thoughts of 'what if?' and that is a huge consolation in my occasional periods of doubt. To continue in this Latin vein, I'd just like to add to anyone reading this: Luceat lux Vestra.