Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Baby steps

Been running bad for about 2 weeks now. This is the first time I've experienced what I've dubbed 'frustration tilt' where you try to play well, then get nothing but poor cards and bad beats until you pick a hand like (an overpair or TPTK) and just don't let go until you're stacked. It's a new one for me, and it sure aint fun. To summarise, I've dropped over 75% of my 2k deposit to FTP, and I'm disappointed with myself.
But I don't get mad these days, I get even. I'm not going to reload, I'm just going to grind my way back to where I was. And then I'm going to push the limits. As soon as I have enough for 3 full buyins at the next limit level of NLH, I'm going to try it. I'm just going to keep pushing as far and as hard as I can, and see what I can cut. I plan on taking things gently on UB and stick to a max of $3/6, and use that as my cash cow. Will keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Defending late position raises

Haven’t posted in a few days, thanks largely to my friends boat party on the river Thames over the weekend. Think I drank the best part of 2 bottles of wine early Saturday evening and was thus completely incapacitated for the rest of the night, and also the weekend!
Been meaning to submit a strategy post for a while though, so have included below my latest idea on defending late position raises. As ever, any feedback will be appreciated (*hint hint*).

The situation: 6-max NLHE. You limp in early with a med/small pair or SC. As usual in aggressive short-handed games, the cutoff or button raises 4BB. The blinds fold, and you are the only caller. The flop comes Kh 7s 3c, and there is almost 10BB in the pot.
Having missed the flop completely, you check. The button c-bets (say 8BB), as expected. Now, you check-raise. Most of the time, this will elicit a fold, and you will win the 18BB pot. Let’s look at why.

Basically, this play is based on receiving the correct flop (more on this later), and the hand range your opponent will raise with. Let’s think about what you opponent is raising with here (either in the cutoff or on the button), assuming they are fairly tight.
AXs ( X = K-8 )

Knowing what we do about the number of ways these hands can be dealt, we can determine the following numbers:
AA-88 => 7 * 6 = 42
AKo-ATo => 4 * 12 = 48
AXs ( X = K-8 ) 6 * 4 = 24

Total # ways to be dealt a raising hand: 114.
Now we factor in the fact that there is a K on the flop, and adjust this number accordingly: 107.

The importance of the K-high uncoordinated flop now becomes apparent. We now need to look at the number of above raising hands which are NOT compromised by this flop. These are as follows:
AA, KK, AK giving a total of 21 (= 6 + 3 + 12).
This list is short precisely because the flop contains a single high card, and is uncoordinated. Thus drawing hands can effectively be eliminated from the range, as calling a re-raise with only a backdoor draw is extremely uncommon.

So, in this example, out of 107 solid raising hands, only 21 will be strong enough to continue after the flop. So what percentage of hands are potentially crippled by this flop?
(107-21) / 107 * 100 = 80.37383 !!!
This means that 80% of the time, the raiser’s hand has been compromised and faced with a check-raise they should give up there and then. If that isn’t a good spot to bluff check-raise, I don’t know what is!
I must stress though the importance of the high-card being a K. If it is a Q, the range of hands that are still in good shape increases dramatically, to the point where the move is almost a coin-flip in terms of odds. Save your money for those occasions where you will have clearly the best of it.

There are several caveats to this play, such as your opponent being able to fold an underpair, them not hitting the middle flop card to make a set, always making a c-bet, and so on. I will not go into into these, but be aware there are situations and exceptions where the check-raise will not elicit a fold, and in these situations you should shut down immediately unless you improve dramatically.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Back down I go....

Just been reading some of DoubleAs old blog entries, and as always I am left impressed and envious with his reasoning and ideas. I have been reading lots of his older stuff each day of late, and I always feel that I read it too fast as there is so much to absorb and to consider. If I continue to climb any further, a lot of his ideas will prove truly invaluable, providing I can employ them correctly.
In one of his posts (or more probably several) he talks about having the discipline to use the knowledge that you have all the time, thereby making it a habit. If I can do this I know I will find beating the game and moving up in levels much easier and quicker, so playing as best I can, or ‘professionally’, at all times is one of my current goals.
Another goal I have decided upon (aside from not playing drunk!) is to always play for the right reasons. I play poker for fun, and the most fun I have is when I’m winning. More specifically, my enjoyment comes from pulling off great bluffs, or from outplaying my opponents in a way that gets me all of their chips. I play to beat the competition. I need to recognise when I’m not in a good position to do that, due to being tired, distracted, or simply outclassed, and then either find a new table or just stop playing.
Hopefully by sticking to these goals, my discipline while playing can continue to improve, and my results will *ahem* follow suit.

The above has been prompted by the fact that recently I have been a little dispirited with my play. I have been playing hit and miss at the $2-$4 level on UB, but mainly it’s because I have just started playing NLH on FTP at the $1-$2 level and I seem to have become a losing player! I am still thinking and reading about poker every day, but over the last 7 days I have failed to post a winning session at $1-$2. Here are my thoughts on why:
1) At $1-$2 I expect to win. If I occasionally win at $3-$6, and usually win at $2-$4, then surely I should always win at $1-$2, right? This means I am instantly complacent about the competition on these tables, and it occurs to me they are far more hungry, if not quite as skilled at this level.
2) $1-$2 isn’t $2-$4. I continue to use standard $2-$4 plays and multi-street bluffs against people who are happy to call off their entire stack with TP9K. Just because I know I would play an overpair the same way doesn’t mean they do, or that they will fold their horribly weak (but still best) hand.
3) I don’t rate players at the $1-$2 level as intelligent. This I think is my biggest problem, as I have convinced myself that a turn raise from a $1-$2 player does not indicate a set as it would normally, but instead I put them on a straight draw, and surmise they will fold to an allin. I think ego is the cause of this, and by pretending that the money I have on that site is all that I have I should be able to rectify the situation.
If I continue to lose, I will drop down another level, and I think this experience will prove to be a very good refresher on poker winning basics, and bring back my proven TAG style, free from any evidence of FPS (Fancy Player Syndrome). After all, let’s leave the tricky stuff for the £25-$50 game :- )

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Chicken dinner

Don’t deserve any credit at all for this hand, apart from for sensible table selection! Logged on before noon on a Saturday, and I find a $2-4 table with an average pot size of $279 and only 5 of 6 seats taken. It was a sign, and I wasn’t one to ignore it. What followed was a rollercoaster of terrible hands and suckouts from some ridiculously loose play (see # of calls below) from everyone else at the table, but I hung firmly on and managed to win my biggest ever pot by nothing more than playing my good hands very aggressively, then being in the right place at the right time.
If only it was always as easy as calling with the nuts :)
NB Notice how much I’d have lost if he had even a small set!

Hand #41864557-9650 at Grand Island (No Limit Hold'em)
Started at 05/May/07 06:01:39

wildcoyote77 is at seat 1 with $1011.40.
ffiisshhyy is at seat 2 with $614.
JonbonDrama is at seat 3 with $2354.50.
StackinChips1 is at seat 4 with $278.50.
Incrediboy is at seat 5 with $901.
The button is at seat 2.

JonbonDrama posts the small blind of $2.
StackinChips1 posts the big blind of $4.

wildcoyote77: -- --
ffiisshhyy: -- --
JonbonDrama: -- --
StackinChips1: -- --
Incrediboy: Ah Kh

Incrediboy raises to $14. wildcoyote77 calls.
ffiisshhyy calls. JonbonDrama re-raises to $74.
StackinChips1 folds. Incrediboy calls. wildcoyote77
calls. ffiisshhyy calls.

Flop (board: 6h 2h 3h):
JonbonDrama bets $90. Incrediboy calls.
wildcoyote77 goes all-in for $937.40. ffiisshhyy
folds. JonbonDrama folds. Incrediboy goes all-in
for $827. wildcoyote77 is returned $110.40

Turn (board: 6h 2h 3h Td):
(no action in this round)

River (board: 6h 2h 3h Td Th):
(no action in this round)

wildcoyote77 shows Qh 7h.
wildcoyote77 has Qh 7h 6h 3h Th: flush, queen high.
Incrediboy shows Ah Kh.
Incrediboy has Ah Kh 6h 3h Th: flush, ace high.

Hand #41864557-9650 Summary:
$2 is raked from a pot of $2044.
Incrediboy wins $2042 with flush, ace high.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Drunk striving

So angry at myself. Last night I played under the influence. Lost 1k, which in itself isn't a great deal, but it's the principal of it. It certainly wasn't professional, and that's the thing that has me steaming.
ALmost asked my girlfriend this morning to stop me if she ever saw me sit down to play after drinking, but then I stopped and thought about it for a second. Why on earth should I abdicate the responsibility for my own behaviour? How old am I, 7? The discipline starts now.