Friday, September 28, 2007

Advice and suggestions

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who reads my blog, it's really encouraging to know that someone out there in cyberspace (that sounds so geeky!) is getting something out of what I write. And so I'd like to say an extra big thanks to LJ, Fuel55, RecessRampage (aka Dirty Vizzer), and Anguila for each commenting on my previous post; I really do appreciate your input guys, so thanks again for taking the time.

I'd also like to give a thumbs up to the SurlyPokerGnome for helping me get setup with PokerACE HUD now that I have finally got round to using PokerTracker. For those of you who consider yourself serious players but don't know what this PokerTracker program is all about: suffice to say you NEED this tool. I won't try and list it's uses here, as a more talented person has already completed that task far better than I ever could. Check out his input here.

For those of you who were interested in the hand where I had the nut fullhouse on the river but felt that I didn't maximize me profit, I'd like to go into it now. I really want to find out how I can get more money from river situations such as these, as I believe you can make a lot more profit through correct bet sizing because the pots are so damn big! Allow me to set the scene....

I had just sat down at a fairly loose $2/4 game on UB and was dealt 8h 6h in th BB. The button made a typical button raise to $14, and after the SB folded, I chose to call.

The flop came down Jh 10s 5h (Flush draw....)

I checked with my weak flush draw, only to see the button bet $12 into the $30 pot. So, sensing weakness, I raised to $30. The button insta-called.

The turn came down Jh 10s 5h (2c)

I still had nothing, but fired again, betting $60 into the $90 pot. My opponent again insta-called.

The river bricked out, and lacking the moxy to fire a third bluff, I conceded the pot and checked to my opponent.... who proceeded to bet $6 into the $200 pot, leaving me in the insta-calling seat, just to figure out what the hell he had! He tabled QJo, and I thought wow: either he made a great read, or he's a total calling station with any medium strength hand.

So, 20 minutes later, I've been on a tear and had built my stack to $900, while Mr QJo had amassed about $650. I find myself with Th Td in the cutoff facing a raise to $14 from the earlier villain who is UTG. Knowing his propensity for going too far with weak hands, I raise to isolate him hoping to flop something strong.

The flop came down: 3c 7h Ts

Top set? Yeah, I'll settle for that! So the action is on the villain, and he bets $6. Knowing now that he will call raises with weak hands, I raise to $66 which to my delight is promptly called.

The turn brings: 3c 7h Ts (8h)

Once again my opponent bets $6! I now raise to 160, hoping this again looks like a bluff/steal attempt. He insta-calls, and I wonder if he has a set (unlikely) or perhaps an overpair, and is hoping that I hang myself. Either way, he has called 2 big bets now with something, and TPTK is unlikely given my hand.

River: 3c 7h Ts 8h (7c)

I now have the nut full-house, and what does my opponent do? He bets $6, into what has become a $530 pot. Now I have to decide how best to get value. If my opponent remembers that the last time I bluffed where I chickened out on the river, he might think that I will go all the way this time and expect a big bluff. If he thinks I only ever bet the river when I'm not bluffing, then I should bet small (though larger than $6 perhaps!) I also tried to put him on a hand, and figured that he must think he had a decent hand to go so far with. I figured an overpair was most likely, and as he most probably had me pegged as a habitual bluffer, I decided to bet large: $390, putting my opponent almost allin.

My opponent thought for a full 15 seconds before folding.

What did I do wrong here? Should I have bet far smaller on the river? Or should I have raised more on the flop?

Of to Egypt tomorrow, so will look forward to reading the comments when I get back! Best of luck....

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ice-cold Poker = Tilt-free Poker

The title of this blog is "Ice-cold Poker", and I'd like to mention why I chose it. I believe that I perform best when I'm able to think and reason clearly, and for that to happen my mind cannot be pre-occupied or distracted by anything, especially emotions. An excess of emotion may lead to decisions being made based on factors other than reason and instinct, both of which arise from our faculties of intelligence. As we all know, choosing a particular course of action because we are angry, frustrated, depressed or even just because we 'feel like it', can result in undesirable, and sometimes even disastrous consequences.
When I'm sat at the poker table, emotions should have no impact on my decision making. Each decision to check, call, bet, raise or fold should be based solely on reasoning stemming from observation, deduction, rational theory and occasionally instinct, which to me is the brain telling you something it cannot easily explain. For this reason, poker play should be as unemotional as possible, hence my blog title-cum-mission-statement of "Ice-cold Poker". By playing such poker, I can maximise the number of correct decisions I make through intelligent reasoning, and reduce the number of incorrect decisions made through emotional interference, including tilt. Thus, if I achieve my ideal 'ice-cold' mindstate, then I thereby achieve a tilt-free mindset. I cannot yet play this way all the time, but when this becomes a habit then I hope it will help make me a far stronger player.

It's been a good week results-wise since my last post, and I feel I have been playing very well. There were a few situations however where I felt like a left some money on the table: one where I flopped a fullhouse; and another where I had the nut fullhouse on the river. I'll leave the latter for another day, and focus on the former where I was lucky enough to flop a fullhouse with JJ.....

I was playing a fairly loose $2/4 game on UB and was dealt JJ in UTG+1 (is this known as the hijack seat?). UTG raised to $14, and I called, since in my position I didn't want to get caught out of position in a raising war if someone behind me also had a strong hand. The cutoff also call the raise, and the blinds folded.

The flop came down Jc 4h 4c (Gin!!!)

UTG bet out $40 into the $46 pot. I deliberated, then called, glad that there was a flush chase on the board for deception. The cutoff also called, taking the pot to $166. At this point I thought UTG had a big pair or something like AK, and the cutoff had at least a flush draw if not a 4.

The turn came down Jc 4h 4c (3c)

Bingo! The flush card came and I thought I was going to get paid off by at least one of my opponents. UTG checks, and I decide to bet out a weak $70, looking for a raise from anyone holding the flush or possibly an overpair with a high Club. To my dismay, both players folded.

What did I do wrong here? Should I have checked the turn myself, or was it the size of my bet that was suspect?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Head Scratcher

Hand #45643546-44854 at Hope (No Limit Hold'em)
Started at 16/Sep/07 18:19:08

skimpy posts the small blind of $3.
terminator16 posts the big blind of $6.
Incrediboy: 6s 6h
skimpy: -- --
terminator16: -- --
skynet1111: -- --
EzTheKid: -- --
djkaifa: -- --


skynet1111 calls. EzTheKid folds. djkaifa folds. Incrediboy raises to $27. skimpy calls. terminator16 calls. skynet1111 calls.

Flop (board: Ts 3d 6d):

skimpy checks. terminator16 bets $60. skynet1111 folds. Incrediboy raises to $160.50. skimpy folds. terminator16 calls.

Turn (board: Ts 3d 6d Js):

terminator16 checks. Incrediboy bets $429.
terminator16 goes all-in for $206.50. Incrediboy is returned $222.50 (uncalled).

River (board: Ts 3d 6d Js Qc):

(no action in this round)

Incrediboy shows 6s 6h.
Incrediboy has 6s 6h 6d Js Qc: three sixes.
terminator16 shows As Ks.
terminator16 has As Ks Ts Js Qc: straight, ace high.

Hand #45643546-44854 Summary:

$3 is raked from a pot of $842.
terminator16 wins $839 with straight, ace high.

Was considering a stage by stage analysis of this hand, but it really speaks for itself.
The donkey in this case bet $60 on the flop, then called a $100 raise, when he had all of 5% chance of winning. On the turn, he improves dramatically: with a possible flush and straight he now has nearly 23% chance of winning. It is at this point, where he is nearly 1-in-4 to win, that he decides to call my allin for the rest of his stack.
Of course he hits on the river as fish are wont to do. So, 'terminator16', wherever you are, I salute you. I can't imagine a more preferable opponent.

Rant over.

Postscript ....analysing the numbers of the allin call, I found that my opponent's call was in fact correct. The pot was laying 1:3.1 odds on the call, and he was just over 1:4 to win. That said, he wouldn't have gotten those odds if he hadn't put $160 into the pot with 20:1 odds against him. So he's still a total donkey. Total. Donkey.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I put this hand down as a mistake on my part, but now I'm not so sure.
I was fairly new to this table, and it had a very high preflop raise average.

Hand #45622719-30234 at East Peoria (No Limit Hold'em)
Started at 12/Sep/07 18:17:09

bloomebay posts the small blind of $2.
Dosharaithe posts the big blind of $4.

Mr_Erlandsson: -- --
bloomebay: -- --
Dosharaithe: -- --
Incrediboy: Kh Ks
richgarces: -- --
DamigeX: -- --

Incrediboy calls.
richgarces folds.
DamigeX raises to $12.
Mr_Erlandsson folds.
bloomebay folds.
Dosharaithe folds.
Incrediboy calls.

Being dealt KK UTG, I decided that I would change from my usual raise and call (for deception), hoping to encourage a large steal raise from the cutoff or the button, who was the table big stack. Instead of that situation, there was a small raise into what was potentially a multiway pot from the cutoff. I didn't know what to make of it, as it didn't suggest great strength seemed to be indicating a drawing hand like 98s. As it didn't give me much to steal, I smooth called to continue the deception.

Flop (board: 3h 9c Td):
Incrediboy checks. DamigeX bets $11. Incrediboy
raises to $35. DamigeX calls.

My opponent bets under 1/2 pot with position. I decide to see if he has actually connected or missed the flop entirely. He calls quickly, so I have to assume he caught something he liked here. Am thinking he has at least TP, or maybe an OESD.

Turn (board: 3h 9c Td Jh):
Incrediboy bets $60. DamigeX calls.

The turn I didn't like, but if he had TPTK it's now just been compromised, and as JT could easily be in my range I felt he could credit me with 2 pair. Obviously, if he was raising with 87 or KQ he's now made his hand, and will surely raise. I'm betting here aiming to get anything weaker (including draws that have improved slightly like JQ) to fold. Since he merely calls, I put him on a strong non-nut hand: have him pegged as 2 pair or better 90% of the time.

River (board: 3h 9c Td Jh 6d):
Incrediboy bets $75. DamigeX calls.

The 6 changes nothing. He called the check-raise and the bet on the turn, and whatever he has I know he isn't folding it. If I check I know he's value betting here, which is why I lead out for around 1/3 of the pot as a blocking bet. Since he didn't raise, I thought for a moment that I might actually win at showdown.

Incrediboy shows Kh Ks.
Incrediboy has Kh Ks 9c Td Jh: a pair of kings.
DamigeX shows 9d 9s.
DamigeX has 9d 9s 9c Td Jh: three nines.

$3 is raked from a pot of $370.
DamigeX wins $367 with three nines.

OK, so he was massive all along after flopping a set, but he played it very passively, especially given my bet sizes (turn: $60 into $100, river: $75 into $220).

Deception play (sustained)
I lost $180 on this hand, and I'm sure there are arguments for folding this hand after my flop check-raise was called.
I do maintain though, that by playing deceptively it is VERY difficult to know before showdown whether you are miles ahead or miles behind, as you have given no indication that you are holding what normally is a monster hand. In this situation, I think I may even have saved myself some money:
Deception play (brief)
Say instead of calling the flop raise, I reraised as you normally would. Say I take it up to $40. With 99, my opponent may easily call with position and enough behind to hope for a set. So the flop comes out and my opponent has a set. I have to lead here, as I do not want to give a free card in case my opponent has an A. So I bet $75 into the $86 pot. As I'm new to the table, I haven't got a great read on my opponent, he could be floating with nothing more than position and 2 overcards. So now, to be sure I'm beaten, I bet $100 into the pot, which is now nearly $240. So I bet, and when he raises I can fold, as the board is sufficiently scary. Still, I just lost $40 + $75 + $100, totalling $215.
Aggressive play (i.e. normal)
If I raise UTG and get called, the cost could be similar to this: $14 flop raise, $60 on a check raise with my opair, and $80 probe on the scary turn followed by a fold). This comes to $154, which is the least expensive option of play.

Even though my normal play appears to be the least expensive when I'm behind, I feel pretty sure that my deceptive play can net me more profits those times I'm ahead. Of course, my opponent needs to catch a piece of the board or have a draw to continue, but by disguising my hand I should often get action from TP or 2nd pair, especially when my opponent is aggressive. The above play could easily have ensued from my opponent raising with QJs, calling my checkraise with an OESD to the nuts, then refusing to lay down TP + OESD, on the turn or the river. He would only usually do this if he thought I had nothing much stronger, and this would only be the case if I'd been deceptive.

As always though, am keen for comments and criticisms on how I played this, as what doesn't kill me only makes me stronger.

PostScript... My thoughts go out to all those in America whose lives were touched or taken by the attacks of 9/11. The world remembers as life goes on.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back in the fight!

Always happy to report that this weekend I didn't suffer any bad beats, played solidly and walked away strongly in profit after. Not only was I dealt some absolute monsters, I was helped immeasurably by having some opponents push with some rather surprising holdings.

Friday night, 30 minutes before I was due to go out and dine on some of the best Argentinian steak available in London, I fired up a few tables on UB to see what was popping. After flopping a straight with 42o (that didn't lose!) and busting a short stacked opponent, Incrediboy proceeded to get a flurry of hands and take down several med/large pots.

One player at my table was playing very aggressively, and when he raised UTG I was almost delirious to see I had been given AA. I popped in the reraise, knowing he would call and he would be isolated. The flop alas was far from perfect: KcKs2h rainbow. He checked, and I decided the scared c-bet was my best option, so I bet $45 into the $100 pot. He insta-called, and I had a micro-second to contemplate my next move. Then, all my half-formed plans were blown away when a positively spectacular Ad fell on the turn. Bingo. My opponent now lead out for $110! All my dreams were coming true as I raised to $250, only to see my opponent push allin for $200 more. I snap called and waited. The river bricked out and the pot was shipped to me. I checked the hand history to see if my opponent had gotten horribly unlucky with AK, KQ or maybe 22. Imagine my surprise when I saw he had pushed allin with 33!!!

5 minutes later, up against a half-stack, I found myself with TT UTG and made a standard raise. The half-stack in the BB was the only caller. The flop of Th 6s 4s gave me top set, and the action was checked to me. I bet my set (cos I'm a man) and to my delight the BB raised the pot, which I hesitated just slightly before calling. The turn gave me quads, and I was forced to call the BB's surprising allin! Checking the hand history, I was getting scared when I read the BB also had pushed with 33, for a mighty 2 pair: TT and 33 (6 kicker!!!).
I stood up and checked my results: $1.1k in 30 minutes. Incrediboy, that's incredible. I went off to meet my friends for steak stunned, but very happy at my good fortune.

Saturday was not so easy, and within an hour I found myself down several buyins. I focussed and played hard though, and managed to finish 2 hours later in profit again after tricking an overly aggressive opponent to push an apparent weak turn bet from me with nothing more than a bare flush draw, while I had trips. Although I made a few big mistakes, I still feel happy with how I played afterwards; particularly the fact I didn't tilt when I was losing.

Sunday morning came around and I played a little more. I quickly took out one short-stacked player after he called my pf raise with Q6o (mistake #1), and hit trips on the flop when I picked up a flush draw. I c-bet 1/2 the pot, and he smooth called (mistake #2). My flush came in on the turn and he checked, maybe hoping to check-raise, but I checked behind for deception. On the river he tried to get value for his trips by betting the pot (mistake #3). I pushed allin and he insta-called, showing down his paltry 6 kicker to my Q-high flush. From there I took out another short stack when he couldn't fold his 99 to my QQ on a J high flop. I doubled up, then logged off for a full cooked breakfast. Bliss.

That evening, just before bed, I played again, conscious of the fact that many other late night sunday sessions had turned a winning weekend into a wasted one. It was not so this time. A player UTG put in a raise, and with 66 in UTG+1 I called, along with both the SB and BB. The flop came down 6c 4h 2d, and I smiled the toothy smile of a tiger seeing a baby llama straying from the safety of the herd. The blinds checked, and the UTG bet pot. With 4 players in the pot, I raised my top set right there to make the bet $100. The SB quickly folded, but the BB smooth called, and I thought I was up against another set (please please please!). UTG quickly called, and my instinct said overpair, he can't let it go. The turn came Tc, and the BB checked. The UTG player fired again, $180 this time! I pushed allin, and the BB quickly folded (shame), but Mr UTG insta-called. The river was 7s and the pot was shipped to me. I called up the hand history, desperate to know what premium holding the UTG player I had luckily overcome? The premium holding was.... ATo.
I tried to explain to Faye just how insane his play was on every level, but I just couldn't. Words failed me. That pot took my winnings to over 1k for an hours play.

I think the moral of the weekend is that you need more than good cards to clean up at poker. You need either
a) Lady Luck to give your opponent a great, but slightly weaker hand every time she gives you a monster, or
b) you need to play against people with an excess of testosterone, but a severe shortage of intelligence.
The second in infinitely more available, so practice good table selection and follow the fish. Use any tools at your disposal to find the weak players, and do your level best to take all of their money. After all, if it didn't go to you, some shark might take it instead. :- P

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Back in the ring

A strange but not unusual thing happened to me the other night. I sat down to play a session of poker, and after I had focussed my mind, repeated my winning player affirmation, and made myself completely comfortable, I proceeded to have another losing session. Nothing too bizarre there. What made it different was that when I had finished and confirmed that I had lost money in the session, I felt good. Many people believe that gamblers are only contented by self-punishment, but I assure you this wasn't the case. I felt good because I recognised that I had played well.
For the entire session I made only one mistake, which was not surrendering my AA on the turn to a big raise from what turned out to be a flopped set of 6s. I didn't get stacked on the hand, but I ignored the classic call-call-raise bet pattern of a set, and even payed off the $200 value bet my opponent made on the river when the board paired. By the end of the session however, I had reduced my overall losses to less than the size of that value bet through solid use of tight, aggressive, rational play.
I played well, and I felt good about it. I didn't care that I didn't get paid for it: I know that will come in time. I played again last night with the same mindset, and this time I came away solidly in profit, but feeling just as good as when I had played well and lost. If I can maintain this new attitude, going pro will be much easier.
Also helping me on my quest to world poker domination, I want to thank the HammerPlayer for some very good posts which are helping develop my thinking. I suggest you check out his blog for some very thought-provoking material....

On a related matter, I'm still playing $0.25/0.50 on FTP, and I have no idea why! Ever since I lost most of my 2k deposit on that site, I just can't seem to beat one of the lowest cash games on there! Has anyone else struggled beating the lower limits on FTP? Are all the players there really good but really poor? If anyone sees me playing there (username Subzero__666) please give me some advice if you spot me making mistakes! I really can't figure out how I'm not consistently beating these games, and anyone who helps me to back to the mid/high limits can name their reward (within reason!). Will stay tuned...

Monday, September 03, 2007

August: Gone (with the wins).

Enjoyed 2 fantastic days of surfing lessons in Bude, Cornwall with my girlfriend on the weekend just gone, and though I was truly exhausted by the time I got home last night, I'm already looking forward to the next time I get to pull on a rubber suit and jump onto a hard moulded foam board..... though perhaps simply 'go surfing' is a safer expression! This was only my 2nd set of lessons, but I'm managing to pop up to standing nearly every time I catch a wave, and already have a basic grasp of turning. Really can't wait until I a) get much better, and b) get to surf on some bigger waves; those offered by Bude before October are somewhat diminutive. Even though Cornwall is a 5 hour drive each way for me, it's so much fun mastering the waves for those precious few seconds that I consider it easily worthwhile.
Was stunned to check my blog today and see that an entire month had passed by with not a single post. Thought I'd address that quickly (now that I'm back at work!), but wondered what caused such a lag. Thinking back to the weeks of August, I have been busier at work than I have ever been before, have spent nearly all of my weekends away from London and I'm not sure I've played so much as 10 hours of poker throughout. I haven't even been reading as many blogs as I usually do, having exhausted the archives of HDouble, DoubleAs, Fuel55 and the SurlyPokerGnome. I have been enjoying lots of Alan's recent posts as RecessRampage, so may be digging into his historical folders in the coming weeks.
Unfortunately, over the last month my performance has mirrored my commitment to playing and fallen considerably. I don't think August was profitable, and I have lots of work to do to get my game back up to a standard where I'd feel comfortable quitting my day job, which is still my plan for next year. I had one bad session in particular where I lost a lot of money when the board paired either on the flop, or the turn, and I was unwilling to credit my aggressive opponents with trips. Even more unfortunately (for me), losing those pots caused me to get even more aggressive and get caught bluffing at some very large pots. And once that happens at a table, my image is shot, my reads veer off and I can't win a hand.
So, while I've had several winning sessions this last month, I've had a few far bigger losing sessions which have stopped me from seeing profit, and my lack of available playing time has prevented me from reversing these losses. My aim for this month is to get back into playing regularly, and to return to the grind of tight aggressive, and occasional smart aggressive play. If I can, I'll even try playing a Mookie if I can get the entry fee together on FTP! Good luck to all the bloggers.