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