Monday, December 22, 2008

Back to school

I was struggling to sleep the other night, so I was running through the days hands in my head, you know to try and work out optimal lines and identify mistakes. Then I started thinking about the nature of the game, because my girlfriends mum was telling me her husband should take the game up to earn some extra cash now that he is retired. At the time I simply told her that I had already offered to help him learn if he so desired, but if he doesn't want to play the game then it would never happen. Obviously there is a bit more to it than this, as even if a person does want to play poker that doesn't necessarily mean they should.

I think learning poker is a lot like being at school. To me, the people who attended school could be broadly grouped into the following categories...

1. The people who are naturally academic and clever, and as such breeze through school getting excellent results without seeming to exert any effort.

2. The people who find school a challenge (but are clever/industrious): studying hard and wrestling with the more difficult concepts as they learn with different people experience different degrees of success. Some learn better from their mistakes and successes than others and go on to become academically successful, but all manage to pass comfortably and generally do well post-school.

3. The people who find school a challenge (but are dim/lazy): wrestling ineffectually with or ignoring the more difficult concepts as they attempt to learn the basic lessons being taught with little success. Some manage to pass, but most get frustrated and leave school as soon as they are able.

4. The problem people. These are the people who struggle to turn up for lessons, or cannot focus for more than 5 minutes before disrupting the class or completely zoning out of what is being taught. They are unable, or are completely unwilling, to learn. These people can sometimes even turn destructive: damaging school property, getting into fights etc.

In the poker learning world, these distinct groups can be re-classified as follows:

1. The natural born pros, who fly through the limits and quickly rise to the top with the minimal amount of study.

2. The winning amateurs: some who play for fun; some for money, but all whom win more often than not. These people tend to study and practice often and diligently, and some of these eventually try going pro after putting in enough effort.

3. The losing amateurs: some who play for fun; some for money, but all whom lose more often than not. Some of these people try to study and improve, but very rarely can they change to become regular winners at the game.

4. You know who these people are in the poker community. They are the ones with severe problems: gambling, discipline, delusional, financial, even emotional. These are the people who play poker when they shouldn't. Maybe they think they are better than they are. Maybe they think poker is rigged. Maybe they think they are owed a big win after losing for so long. Or maybe they don't think at all. They lose big, and they lose fast. More often than not, they also lose time and again, with no ability to stop. Very occasionally such a person is aware they are a huge loser but can either afford it or play only at stakes that have negligible financial impact for them.

I've heard that about 85% of poker players are long term losers, so correspondingly the majority of people would fall into categories 3 and 4. As such, I'd think long and hard before recommending someone attempt to learn poker with the hope of becoming a financially successful player. I'd recommend learning it for fun in a heartbeat, because I still regard it as a challenging, absorbing and enjoyable game, but unless you know that a person belongs in the top 2 categories just tell them where the kiddy game is if they ask.

As for me, I believe I'm in category 2, and even there it's by no means a bed of roses. Just like when I was back at school, I have to work pretty damn hard to do well. I wish it came easier, but I'm glad I can put in the extra effort and (usually) get rewarded for doing so.

Anyway, just thought I'd share my thoughts, hope they get you thinking. Here's a hand from the other day that I'm still laughing about...

Table MAYFAIR DR ($1/2 Real Money)
Seat 1 is the button
Seat 1: RatholinShrtStk ( $42.80 USD )
Seat 2: P1 ( $453.23 USD )
Seat 3: P2 ( $400.00 USD )
Seat 4: Hero ( $408.65 USD )
Seat 5: P3 ( $111.96 USD )
Seat 6: P4 ( $259.16 USD )
P1 posts small blind [$1.00 USD].
P2 posts big blind [$2.00 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [ 6c 6d ]
Hero raises [$7.00 USD]
P3 folds
P4 folds
RatholinShrtStk calls [$7.00 USD]
P1 folds
P2 folds
** Dealing Flop ** [ Th, 6h, Qs ]
Hero checks
RatholinShrtStk bets [$8.00 USD]
Hero raises [$20.00 USD]
RatholinShrtStk raises [$27.80 USD]
Hero calls [$15.80 USD]
** Dealing Turn ** [ Ad ]
** Dealing River ** [ Kc ]
RatholinShrtStk shows [Jd, Qh ]
Hero shows [6c, 6d ]
RatholinShrtStk wins $85.10 with straight, Ace to Ten

Thursday, December 18, 2008

New or Improved?

Well it must be that time of the week again, and as usual I am wary of how infrequently I manage to post. It's not that I'm not playing, or don't have lots to say but for one reason or another I just never get round to posting half as often as I intend. I think a lot of it is to do with the fact that either poker is going well and I can't be bothered when things are working out just fine, or that poker is going badly and I'm too frustrated to write about the subject that is currently vexing me. That said, I've just gotten myself a brand new headset and with the wondrous advent of voice recognition software I can now (in theory at least) compose a post without typing a word! Personally, I think it won't make that much difference, because I still have to sit down, think and then correct whatever I manage to get down on the screen. We'll see though, and hope as ever springs eternal...

For those of you looking to get hooked up with the latest in poker software tools (not sites), I've just been alerted to This is actually a pretty useful site, providing a pretty complete listing of all the mainstream and otherwise useful programs available to improve your game; whether that be through having a better designed HUD, improved odds calculation, intelligent data mining or a raft of other poker-oriented facilities. I was impresssed to see that Holdem Manager (as used by yours truly) features as the most popular data analysis program on the Tracking/Analysis page. This assures me that the site is both up to date and is in touch with poker players who know what they're about. I'll have to comment a bit about HEM in a later post. Anyway check the site out, you might just discover something that could seriously improve your current winrate.

As for my game, this week has been rather slow, and I've only just made profit after a poor start on Monday. I don't know why, but I've been getting crushed by shortstacks lately, especially on FTP. I wouldn't mind (they are only shortstacks after all) but I always seem to have them crushed before the flop: JJ vs AJo, A9 vs 98s, AJs vs QJo etcetera etcetera ad nauseum. Combine that with losing more than a fair share of coinflips and I am still in my break even rut on that site. I did go on a mini heater and nearly made it to 17k last week, but once again I find myself back under 16k. No further comment.

Anyway, gonna get back into the fight now, wish me luck, and in return I'll send a prayer to the goddess Tyche on your behalf. Take care out there.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hangovers are good

So I went out last night to have dinner with an old friend and enjoy a few drinks. I ended up completely hammered. I did manage to be home just after midnight, so it doesn't seem like a big session, but given that is started at 6pm and that I am a complete lightweight, I'd say I did fairly well. Was chatting with the person in question just tonight, and we worked out that we each drank half a bottle of red wine and 1.75 litres of sangria. Not bad for a Wednesday.

The interesting thing is that I think the hangover helped me at the tables. I was feeling too rough to contest pots, get angry or try and make any clever plays, and consequently I played a good solid game all day. My reads were pretty good, and the only big pots I lost were in tough spots: JJ on the button vs KK in the BB, and AQ in the BB vs KK on the button in a reraised pot (on a Q high flop).

Anyway, hopefully I'll continue to play more solid poker tomorrow, really could do with a nice solid week to start off December and get me back on track. Hope the tables are kind for you....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Back in the Black

Well, after bending the calendar month of November slightly, I managed to make nearly 1k for the (3-week) month. This just overcame the -700 figure which was my profit for the preceding month, putting me gratefully back in the black.
So this week has been the first for my December earnings, and although it started off badly, I'm in profit for the month and feel pretty good about my game once again. I've taken some horrid beats recently, and have been in sore need of a small good run both to restore my confidence and stop me from tilting. Luckily I've been granted my wish and had a 2 pay period of good play and corresponding results, so hopefully I can make December a month to remember. I'll keep you posted....

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just Another Week

Well, thanks to a small amount of luck and possibly some good decision making, last week went pretty well for me workwise. I didn't lose a single session, and as always in that situation life can start to look pretty rosy. I was brought back to earth today however losing nearly 4 buy-ins at $2/4, so I have a challenging week ahead if I want to report decent profits for this month.

That said, I don't really want to talk about poker right now. Not because I'm fed up with it, or don't want to learn or share any more about the game, but because there's more to life. I know this is a poker blog, but even as a professional poker player there is much more to my life, and I'd like to reflect on those more enjoyable elements for a change.

I just spent a great weekend with my girlfriend: we watched TV, cooked meals for each other, chatted, shared some reading time and simply took pleasure in each other's company. The weather was freezing so we didn't really get outside or do anything exciting, but we've never needed that to have a great time. This week I'm going to be seeing several of my friends from uni, one of whom has just got engaged, and we will be having a celebratory meal tomorrow night with him and his new fiancee. I'm also going to be seeing my auntie who is down in London for a day, and since we always get along famously I'm quite looking forward to seeing her.

Important people aside there is lots more to life that I enjoy, but sometimes I simply forget. It's important to take a step back and count all your blessings. Remember how lucky we are to have free time to pursue a hobby. How lucky we are to have money to spend on ourselves. To have a job, a house, and food to eat. That we are able to read and write. Basic stuff I know, but that is what makes it so easy to forget. I believe I'm very fortunate, and one of my failings is that I take it for granted far too often.

It is quite easy for me to maintain a solitary lifestyle with my current occupation, but it's really not healthy mentally, or even financially. Poker can be very addictive and often becomes all encompassing when not kept in check. A bad day at the tables can leave you seriously doubting yourself and wishing to be left firmly alone, while a good day can leave you feeling ready to take on the world. But a good day isn't half so sweet if you have no-one to share it with.

So, just for today, maybe take a pass on that tournament or the juicy cash game and spend some time with friends or family. After all, poker is accessible 24/7 online, but the people in your life sadly won't always be available. Make sure you make the most of them while you can.

All the best, D.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Paycut due to illness

In the now near-immortal words of Timbaland: It's been a long time - I shouldn't have left you....

So, some of my readers will wonder why I dropped off the face of the blogworld for over a month. I apologise for my absence, it was largely due to serious illness. Not mine I hasten to add - I haven't been ill since I stopped commuting to work! - but that of my closest work colleague. That's right, my PC: it caught a virus.

I still have no idea what happened, but a virus/trojan got onto my PC (I had been downloading hacked games again...) and was not detected by my AV software. Suddenly I was getting BSODs every time I tried to load windows. By booting in Safe Mode, I was able to get limited functionality but couldn't perform basic HDD scans, or even download new AV software or similar helper programs. So, with my unaffected laptop (with CD-RW drive) I spent the best part of nearly 10 days trying to fix the problem to no avail. I know, it's a very long period but I'm a stubborn guy. I think you need to be in the poker world. By the end of my efforts to fix it my PC wouldn't boot at all.

That is why I now have a new Dell desktop with Vista and a now useless one-and-a-half foot black box lurking in my living room. I have managed to import all my music, photos and most importantly hand histories from my old HDD, but am only recently fully back up to speed in terms of work functionality. Let's say all of that agony accounts for roughly half a month. Why didn't I get back on the horse there and then and try and make up the lost time? I must admit I had a far better offer.... so I left the country instead.

I was lucky enough to spend a 2 week holiday in Mauritius enjoying some very hot weather, fantastic beaches and incredible food. I went with my girlfriend and her family and as her father grew up out there, we had almost constant engagements with her relatives, all of which involved eating hefty amounts of great Chinese and Mauritian cuisine. We ate so much in fact that one person managed to put on 3 kilos while we were out there! So, I was able to walk, read, swim and sunbake (it was too hot for mere sunbathing) for a whole fortnight, with no computer in sight. It was lovely, and I managed to come back late on Saturday relaxed, tanned and ready for work.

While I was out there I did a little study, including reading my first PLO book so that I am ready to try that game in earnest before xmas. I also read Phil Gordons second book (the Little Blue one), and in accompaniment to some time spent thinking about my recent play I have made a few mental adjustments to my game that I hope will notably improve my results. I'd be really pleased if this happens, because my last month's results were far from good.

I'm not sure if it's partly due to stress from my PC dying, or from playing without stats or even playing with a smaller display, but I had quite a few sessions during October where I was playing like an utter donkey. I suspect it's more down to another period of me getting over-aggressive and tricky to try and compensate for a bad run. What's worse is that most of those sessions involved me playing at a $5/10 table. It got a little ugly in places, and I freely admit anyone watching would not have seen any evidence of me being able to play for a living. And so, I hereby announce my first negative month: for 55 hours work I managed to lose $720. The less said about this the better, I'm told it happens occasionally but I know it didn't need to happen this time around.

This month has started much better. Despite losing my 8 consecutive months FTP Iron Man status (which really sucks btw) I have put in some good hours this week, playing pretty well overall and getting lucky once or twice to combat the inevitable bad beats. I'll do a strategy post soon, but for now sorry again for the absence and thanks again for being a loyal reader. I'll leave you with a nice little suckout against a solid guy who'd just been rivered in the previous hand, and a guy who was a sandwich and an apple short of a lunchbox (I'll let you guys figure out who was whom).

All the best, D

Table Broadford (Real Money) - 4 players
Seat 6 is the button
Seat 1: xxx( $855.60 USD )
Seat 2: Hero ( $962.10 USD )
Seat 4: Villain1 ( $402.00 USD )
Seat 5: xxx( $424.40 USD )
Seat 6: Villain2 ( $595.50 USD )
xxx posts small blind [$2.00 USD].
Hero posts big blind [$4.00 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [ Ks Kd ]
Villain1 raises [$14.00 USD]
Villain2 raises [$48.00 USD]
xxx folds
Hero raises [$156.00 USD]
Villain1 raises [$258.00 USD]
Villain2 raises [$547.50 USD]
Hero raises [$802.10 USD]
Villain1 calls [$130.00 USD]
** Dealing Flop ** [ Ts, Jd, Td ]
** Dealing Turn ** [ 5d ]
** Dealing River ** [ 8d ]
Hero shows [Ks, Kd ]
Villain1 shows [As, Ah ]
Villain2 shows [Kh, Qh ]
Hero wins $1205.62 USD from main pot
Hero wins $386.88 USD from main pot

Monday, October 06, 2008

Prelim findings

As you can see, my preliminary investigations (which are actually of my last 6 months of play) into the differences in my playing style on 2 different sites reveals.... not very much at all. It looks as though the only significant difference is my flop aggression factor, where on the UB site it is double that which I display on FTP.
Really though, there is nothing that explains why one site provides over 80% of my income. I do play at higher limits on UB, but I don't think that alone explains my far better results with that site. I'm seeing my good friend and fellow pro later this week, and will try and get his input on the subject to see if any further light may be shed.
Enjoyed a solid week just gone, despite the odds seeming to be stacked against me over several sessions, and of course hoping to have another good one this week. Wish me luck, hope you are still enjoying the game and winning all your 60 percenters!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Breaking even

If you happen to look at my stats on, you might be a little surprised to learn that I'm not a profitable player. According to that site, I (on average) lose money by playing, and am only kept afloat by rake. So have I been lying all this time, pretending that I make decent salary by playing this game for a living? Of course not, but that doesn't change the fact that on FTP I just don't win very often. I don't know why. I try hard. I focus. I think I play well. But, still, I don't really turn a profit. I resolve to change this fact.

Up until now my 'cash cow' for poker profitability has been Ultimate Bet. Always has been. But my cousin, friend and fellow pro has been crushing the games from 1/2 to 3/6 on FTP for the last year and I can't let him be the only one. So, I'm going to start picking my FTP game apart on PokerTracker, studying and using all available tools to turn my results around on that site. There must be something fundamentally wrong with my game to have such different results, and I need to find out what it is.

Aside from PT, I plan on getting more familiar with PokerEV to evaluate my play and see whether I'm getting my money in good or bad. I also plan on using the latest tool for calculating poker hand odds kindly provided by the folks at PokerListings. With these 2 applications I should be much better able to evaluate my play, and clearly see where my problems are. There is of course an outside chance that it's all down to variance, but I think after more than 6 months of play I can file that idea into the 'Highly Unlikely' folder.

Think that's it for today, after a long, brutal and ultimately unprofitable session yesterday (including losing a 2k pot on a 75% AIPF) I plan on playing just a few short sessions today and getting back on track. Luckily I've already won several hundred on FTP, maybe things are turning round already.....

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lowering my standards

When I was first getting into poker I would watch the world-class players in the WSOP and be stunned at the monstrous final table pots they would win with comparatively terrible hands! I simply couldn't understand how they could raise their opponent on the river with a measly top pair 6 kicker, or call an allin with 2nd pair and a gutshot. Today, I still find the level of play just as awesome, but I understand it a little more. The pros play against their opponents range of hands, and that more often than not means they have to lower their calling and raising standards.

I have been playing more $5/10 games over the last month, and been finding that in order to be a winning player at this limit I have to be willing to get all my money in a lot lighter than I'd like: often with no more than a simple pair. There is a much greater focus on your opponent's playing range, which is calculated from observing their image, position and any other pertinent tendencies.

I have included two examples of me doing just this, and in them my reads are luckily correct. I put a fair amount of stock in the timing tell of my opponent in the first hand, especially on the turn. In the second hand I was playing mainly against my opponents position and current playing style, and the likelihood of hands these factors dictated.

Winston Salem ($5/10 No Limit Hold'em) 3-handed

Villain1 is at seat 0 with $485.
Hero is at seat 2 with $2508.
joazou is at seat 3 with $0 (sitting out).
Villain2 is at seat 5 with $1208.
The button is at seat 0.

Hero posts the small blind of $5.
Villain2 posts the big blind of $10.

Hero: 9c Kc

Villain1 raises to $35. Hero calls. Villain2

Flop (board: 6c 2d Kd):
Hero bets $60. Villain1 raises to $120.
Hero calls.

Turn (board: 6c 2d Kd 3d):
Hero checks. Villain1 bets $320. Hero
raises to $640. Villain1 goes all-in for $330.
Hero is returned $310 (uncalled).

River (board: 6c 2d Kd 3d 5h):
(no action in this round)

Hero shows 9c Kc.
Hero has 9c Kc 6c Kd 5h: a pair of kings.
Villain1 shows 7s 7h.
Villain1 has 7s 7h 6c Kd 5h: a pair of sevens.

Hand Summary:
Hero wins $979 with a pair of kings.

Hand at Yonkers ($5/10 No Limit Hold'em) 5-handed

cprease is at seat 0 with $1237.
Villain2 is at seat 1 with $1338.
Hero is at seat 2 with $1104.
IanMacLeod is at seat 3 with $1088.
IwillBUSTu is at seat 4 with $1687.50 (sitting out).
fishenvelope is at seat 5 with $774.70.
The button is at seat 1.

Hero posts the small blind of $5.
IanMacLeod posts the big blind of $10.

Hero: 9h 8h

fishenvelope folds. cprease folds. Villain2 raises
to $35. Hero re-raises to $115. IanMacLeod
folds. Villain2 calls.

Flop (board: 7d 5h 9d):
Hero checks. Villain2 bets $160. Hero
raises to $450. Villain2 goes all-in for $1223.
Hero goes all-in for $989. Villain2 is returned
$234 (uncalled).

Turn (board: 7d 5h 9d Ad):
(no action in this round)

River (board: 7d 5h 9d Ad Kd):
(no action in this round)

Villain2 shows 8s 8d.
Villain2 has 8d 7d 9d Ad Kd: flush, ace high.
Hero shows 9h 8h.
Hero has 9h 8h 9d Ad Kd: a pair of nines.

Hand Summary:
Villain2 wins $2216 with flush, ace high.

Obviously I got unlucky in the second hand, but my read could just as easily have been wrong and I could have been behind to an overpair. Even so, I still would have been happy with my play and still would have outs for the times I was behind and got called.

EDIT: I know I've posted like 1 post this month, but I've been getting despondent about my game and this has been spilling over into my blogging. I'm sorting things out though and getting back into a routine, which will hopefully be incorporating regular blogging very soon. Good luck all, especially those who've also been having a hard time recently. Believe me, I truly sympathise when the going gets tough...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Still alive

Just so you know I'm still here, had a busy month though and haven't been feeling my game these last few weeks, hence the nil posts. Had a funeral, 2 weddings and a week in Hereford so August really was all over the place for me, and the month's earnings of 4.5k I think accurately reflect that.
Anyway, will update again soon, quite a few things have been on my mind so hopefully I'll get round to addressing them here in the coming weeks. Peace all....

Monday, August 04, 2008

Mixing it up and getting nowhere

Fairfield ($3/6 No Limit Hold'em)

O Reary is at seat 0 with $671.50.
-vault- is at seat 1 with $1166.40.
Care2Tango is at seat 2 with $722.50.
lior4you is at seat 3 with $133.
Incrediboy is at seat 4 with $597.
Daf13fy is at seat 5 with $1262.15.
The button is at seat 0.

-vault- posts the small blind of $3.
Care2Tango posts the big blind of $6.

Incrediboy: Ac As

lior4you calls. Incrediboy calls.

Given the highly aggressive nature of this table, I limp call with high confidence that I will be raised, and possibly re-raised, before the action reaches the original limper.

Daf13fy raises to $21. O Reary re-raises to $84.

Right on cue, I get both my wishes. I decide to lay the boot now, happy to take the $100 by turning my hand faceup.

-vault- folds. Care2Tango folds.
lior4you folds. Incrediboy re-raises to $288.
Daf13fy re-raises to $492.

Great, this guy can't fold QQ/KK, let's get it in and cross my fingers.

O Reary folds. Incrediboy goes all-in for $597.
Daf13fy calls.

Flop (board: 3h 7c 5h):
(no action in this round)

Turn (board: 3h 7c 5h 3d):
(no action in this round)

River (board: 3h 7c 5h 3d 2s):
(no action in this round)

Incrediboy shows Ac As.
Incrediboy has Ac As 3h 7c 3d: two pair, aces and threes.
Daf13fy shows Ah Ad.
Daf13fy has Ah Ad 3h 7c 3d: two pair, aces and threes.

Hand #55256802-9956 Summary:
Incrediboy wins $644.75 of a $1289.50 pot with two pair, aces and threes.
Daf13fy wins $644.75 of a $1289.50 pot with two pair, aces and threes.

What are the odds, eh?

This was part of another terrible day at the tables, just as I was about to get into profit for the month. Luckily a good friend was there to help me stop playing when it started to affect me, so it could have been a lot worse. If you're reading this, thanks bud, I owe you one.

Best of luck.

Friday, August 01, 2008


Hello everyone. I've had several comments that I should be posting more often, so for those of you who wanted more: I'm now trying to give you more! Not sure they will all be very interesting but who knows....

Had a very remarkable hand this morning with a result that surprised me quite a lot. I was sat at a $3/6 table with several weak players, no 3-betting before the flop and lots of calling going on afterwards. There were also lots of checkraises being made, mostly courtesy of the villain in this hand. I had made a few bad calls to lose some pretty big pots: one with TP weak kicker to lose to a better kicker, and one with TP decent kicker to lose to flopped trips. My image was therefore not great, but I didn't think it was terrible.

Hand #55256802-7320 at Fairfield (No Limit Hold'em)
Started at 01/Aug/08 03:32:22

Hero is at seat 1 with $634.20.
Villain is at seat 2 with $2018.35.
The button is at seat 0.

Hero posts the small blind of $3.
Villain posts the big blind of $6.

Hero: 4h As

Player2 folds. Flamez13 folds. Player4 folds.
Player1 folds. Hero raises to $18. Villain

Pretty standard move with an Ace in the SB when it gets folded round. Normally I'd pass if it's not suited, but given the game play I wasn't too concerned about being 3-bet and could see a flop without paying more if I got called.

Flop (board: 3s 5s 4s):

Now I obviously liked this flop. With middle pair top kicker, the nut flush draw (I have the As) and a gutshot sucker draw, I figured I had very good equity against my opponents calling range.

Hero checks. Villain bets $36. Hero
raises to $84. Villain calls.

I decide to check raise to get maximum value from bluffs and unimproved high cards. The call suggests my opponent is also on a draw, though he may have caught a piece of the flop, an overpair or have an unlikely made flush.

Turn (board: 3s 5s 4s 5h):
Hero bets $135. Villain calls.

With about $200 in the pot, I bet under 3/4 pot to look like the 5 helped me, and I'm trying to entice my opponent into calling. He does so quickly, and I become convinced he is weak and that he does not have a made flush or a big overpair since he would usually raise now a full house is possible. I'm starting to think 6s6x or 7s7x are also very plausible holdings.

River (board: 3s 5s 4s 5h 3d):

I hate this river. If my opponent was sticking around with A3, 23, 36 etc. they all now destroy my hand. I was always behind the unlikely overpair, and now without a flush or straight I am losing to that also. That said, I checkraised the flop, and weak bet the board pairing. Now with the second 3 coming in, I figure my opponent is unlikely to have either a 5 or a 3, and so I can represent a fullhouse myself, and get 66-77 to fold, because if I check to them the pot is gone. The other reason I want to lead here is because a check looks far too scared, and any bet my opponent makes cannot be called with a lowly pair of 4s. If I get raised I'm gone, but I think it's worth the potential cost to retain the initiative. So, trying to maintain the 'call me' bet sizing I established on the turn, I bet $250 into the $450 pot.

Hero bets $249. Villain calls.

He called quickly, and I thought he'd made the under full house on the river. I knew he didn't have the flush or an overpair as there would definitely have been some agonising before any call was made.

Hero shows 4h As.
Hero has 4h As 5s 4s 5h: two pair, fives and fours.
Villain mucks cards.
(Villain has 6d Ac.)

I was stunned when the pot came my way and I read what he had called with. How on earth he thought his hand was good on the river I do not know. That said, I'm obviously glad he called, and was obliging enough to also pay off my flop checkraise and turn bet with nothing but an OESD on a monotone flop.

Hand Summary:
Hero wins $968.50 with two pair, fives and fours.

I know this doesn't happen very often (we'd all be rich) but it's interesting to see what aggression and initiative can lead to. My opponent was drawing to roughly 10 outs (only 1 for the Ace because of counterfeiting) all the way, and with my mediocre hand I was able to extract huge value. I don't think I got particularly lucky here either, and I think I played the optimum line given my read. If I had lost the pot, at least I would have done so for good reason.

Comments and criticism below please!

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Well yesterday wasn't the greatest start to the new half. In fact, you could say it 'sucked ass', an American phrase I believe which neatly captures my sentiments. It started off badly on FTP, with me losing 3 allins with overpairs to JJ, KK, and KJ, with the latter being allin after the flop of QTx. Then a few coinflips didn't go my way, my play got worse, and before I knew it I had been playing over 5 hours straight and was down 3k.

It's still really annoying suffering such bad days, even though I'm much more comfortable knowing I can make it back. I think it's worse though in some ways, because I should be able to recognise bad play/tilt sooner and stop playing before I lose a chunk of the bankroll.

Anyway, back on track now and taking things slowly, am going to try and stick with short controlled sessions, because I just don't play that well otherwise. Wish me luck....

Monday, July 28, 2008

Half year

This month end completes my first 6 months of going pro, that is becoming entirely self-employed as a full time professional poker player. Here are my results for July:

During this period (excluding a few sessions not imported to PokerTracker) I ran at roughly VP$IP 22 and PFR 16.50, with an average BB/100 score of 6.5 . As you can see from my results, I didn't play loads of hours this month for various reasons, but I did manage to beat my earn-rate target of $100 per hour quite handsomely. What's even more impressive is that I managed it while still having a negative week during week 3! I think this was really only possible thanks to running super-hot in week 2, allowing me to boast my best ever earning week. Good cards and good play can be very nice in combination as I'm sure you well know!

Here are my financial results for the half:

And here are my PT stats:

I'm pleased with my financial results of course, but I know I can do much better. My recent downturn in hours needs addressing; I think a lot of it is due to summer and the activities that summer weather encourages (blading, seeing friends and family) and complacency about my ability to make a decent living working from home.

I am pleased about how much I'm studying: watching plenty of CR vids, doing lots of reading and thinking about the game - but need to make sure that whenever I play I am disciplined enough to always bring my A-game as the times I don't end up far more expensive than not playing at all.

Thinking back over the last 6 months it's incredible to consider how much more I know. My game isn't dramatically different to what it was - and I don't see that changing in the future - but what has really changed is my understanding of the game. It certainly seems that my hand reading is coming on a lot, and I am far more confident about making decisions and generally adjusting to different types of opponents in different situations. I still encounter the odd player who leaves me wondering whether they know what game they are playing, but that is just life.

Thinking long term for a second, I do find myself wondering if I will be bored of watching cards flick several hours a day. I've decided that providing I am still learning the game and elevating my play, it will be very difficult to get bored. Situations that you have seen hundreds of times previously become weighted with new factors and possibilities to consider with every new facet learnt about the game. I still subscribe to the adage 'No limit hold'em takes a day to learn, and a lifetime to master'. Best of luck all.

Cranwood (6 max) - $2/$4 - No Limit Hold'em
Seat 1: Player1 ($420)
Seat 2: Villain ($799)
Seat 3: Hero ($516)
Seat 4: Player2 ($1,665.20)
Seat 5: Player3($492)
Seat 6: Player4 ($400)
Player2 posts the small blind of $2
Player3posts the big blind of $4
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Jh As]
Player4 folds
Player1 folds
Villain raises to $14
Hero raises to $48
Player2 folds
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain calls $34
*** FLOP *** [Qs 9h 2d]
Villain checks
Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero bets $68
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain calls $68
*** TURN *** [Qs 9h 2d] [7d]
Villain checks
Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero bets $140
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain has requested TIME
Villain folds
Uncalled bet of $140 returned to Hero
Hero mucks
Hero wins the pot ($235)

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Learning Curve

Was listening to a Cash Plays interview with Daniel Negreanu yesterday that really struck a chord. Bart Hanson was asking his thoughts on various issues, including bankroll sizing and moving up levels. Negreanu said that people who followed advice of having an excessively large (ie 'safe') bankroll before moving up a level were limiting their growth as players, for the simple fact that when you play in a bigger game you are challenged far more often and as a consequence learn the game at a faster rate.

In the example cited, 2 players of equal skill start playing at a $5/10 game. The first player only plays this level, and the second player continually takes shots at bigger games. Initially, the first player will make more money and the second player struggles to adapt to a tougher game. However, over time the second player will learn to beat the bigger game, and should make more money playing at that level and above. Even if they do not continue to play at the higher level, upon returning to the $5/10 game the second player will find it far easier to beat, and should now expect to have a higher winrate than the first player (who has never played at a higher level).

Makes perfect sense, but this was not obvious to me until Daniel spelled it out. So, I think I will start pushing myself more to move up levels sooner rather than later. There are loads of reasons in favour of this, and I can't think of any reasons to abstain. I'll study more CR videos of higher level tables. I'll continue listening to Cash Plays hoping to receive more sound advice on overall playing strategy. I'll read more posts on the forums, and go to places where I can get advice from pros or learn from a simple poker tip of the day.

After all, I am a student of the game, and without diligent study and application I know my game would rapidly regress. And without the constant challenge of both learning and pressure, my enjoyment of playing would quickly wane at a time when it should be at it's peak.....

Thursday, July 24, 2008


This is a momentous event. In nearly 4 years playing poker, this has only ever happened to me once before. It was even more delicious this time, as I was ahead on the flop when the money went in.

As you can imagine, the pot was 4-bet preflop, and when the flop came out, the rest of the money went in no problem....

I almost managed not to scream when the turn came, so you can imagine what happened when the river landed! Suck, and re-suck, it's a beautiful thing, but it doesn't seem to happen often enough when I start out in the lead!

Anyway, it's been another good week, despite a lack of hours, and in a few days the half year results will be posted. Am keeping everything crossed that they will be impressive and worthwhile, but of course only time will tell. Best of luck all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


After a blinding second week, my poker seemed to regress towards the mediocre as soon as I fired up the tables last monday. I was playing ok I felt, but was roughly only breaking even until wednesday came around. Then I woke up very early for the Blogger Cash Game, and got basically owned, not just in that game, but the 2 other cash games I was playing alongside. There was one hand in the BCG where I made a read, and then got put to the test, and couldn't follow it. The reason for that was that in that particular hand I was either just barely ahead (with K high), or absolutely crushed (the flop was AcAd3c). I wasn't playing my A-game, and certainly didn't want to (deep)stack off with a mere high card against a perceived flush draw...

So that night I was down about $400, but the following days I continued to haemorrhage my hard-earned, losing over 2k in the usual combination of bad beats and bad plays. During this period I found myself making many more thin but still correct calls, but then getting sucked out on, which as you know is one of my biggest bugbears.

Anyway, managed to scrape a little back over the weekend, and this week has been markedly better, will be posting half-yearly results after the end of this week, so I can start to take stock of the longer term as a poker professional. Hope all is well at the tables, and in the world.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fire with fire

Had an interesting hand at the end of last week where I put myself in a tough spot with a very marginal holding against an aggressive unpredictable opponent. In this particular game, the villain was raising from the blinds every time the action came round to him, and then leading with a full pot every time he got called. This at least was my observation, and I surmised that he must then be doing it light most of the time. So, I decided to limp in position with a very average hand knowing he would raise, and see what developed from there....

Carey ($3/6 No Limit Hold'em)
5 handed

Hero is at seat 0 with $840.20.
Villain is at seat 2 with $558.45. <-- stats of 53/11 and radically ascending Agg Factor
The button is at seat 0.

Villain posts the small blind of $3.
Player1 posts the big blind of $6.

Hero: 9d 8h

Pre-flop: Player2 calls. Player3 folds.
Hero calls. Villain raises to $36.
Player1 folds. Player2 folds. Hero calls.

Flop (board: 7h 3d 9c):

Okay, so I've got TP8K on the flop. At this point, I figure I'm ahead of villains range. I know I'm going to face a pot bet, and I plan to raise immediately to discourage unimproved high cards from continuing. There are no draws to speak of, so I figure if I get played with it will most likely be with some kind of made hand, or air.

Villain bets $84. Hero raises to $180.

Villain goes all-in for $522.45.

The bet came as expected, and so I raised as planned, expecting a slowdown from the villain (no one had yet raised his flop c-bets). Instead, he insta-shoved over my raise, making it $340 more to call.

Now, if he had a monster, I didn't think he would play it so fast, plus given his observed tendencies it just wasn't likely. People who have a strong hand just don't seem to insta-shove in my experience. The only obvious draw was the OESD with T8 or 68, which given my kicker was again pretty unlikely.

Thus, I reasoned he was either moving in with something weak like 22, 44-66, an overpair like TT-AA (quite unlikely given the insta-shove), or overcards/air. I was obviously a dog to his overpairs, but thought they were so unlikely I was getting sufficient odds to call his shove. So, given his stats, my initial read and analysis, I gritted my teeth and made the call.

Hero calls.

Turn (board: 7h 3d 9c Td): <--- pretty safe turn, giving me extra outs if behind

River (board: 7h 3d 9c Td Ah): <--- did not like the river at all, as it completes all Ax hands

Villain shows 6c 6d.
Villain has 6c 6d 9c Td Ah: a pair of sixes.
Hero shows 9d 8h.
Hero has 9d 8h 9c Td Ah: a pair of nines.

Hand Summary:
Hero wins $1126.40 with a pair of nines.

Now against a lot of players, this would be spewy poker. But I'm glad that I made the right read, and had the stones to act on it. Too often I see bad players sit down, give their stack to another player, then leave. To take advantage of these players, you have to get involved in pots with them, and more often than not you will have to do it with pretty weak hands. As long as they are ahead of your opponents range however, this stands to be a profitable move over the long term.

Hope you're weekend was good, look forward to reading your own exploits over the coming week. Best of luck at the tables.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Panning for gold

So this morning I played for 3 hours on 4 tables: I had 2 set under sets, and lost a big pot with 88 on an 7h 8h Ts flop to Kc9c. I was playing really well though, so at the end of the session I was exactly break even. Pat on the back, but alas no cigar.

Session number 2 saw me sat on 3 tables, lasted only 30 minutes, but I lucked my way into making over 1k... in just 1 hand! Sometimes you just need to be in the right spot at the right time, and things will just go your way. Here's the proof:

Bruneau ($3/6 No Limit Hold'em)
4 players

Villain is at seat 0 with $1020.70. <--- runs at 41/18 : a.k.a. 'Anti-Origami'
Hero is at seat 2 with $1146.90. <--- got him covered
Player2 is at seat 3 with $1525.90.
Player1 is at seat 5 with $704.
The button is at seat 3.

Player1 posts the small blind of $3.
Villain posts the big blind of $6.

Hero: 9h 7h

Hero raises to $21. Player2 folds.
Player1 calls. Villain calls.

Flop (board: 3d 9s Td):
Player1 checks. Villain checks. Hero bets
$42. Player1 folds. Villain calls.

Turn (board: 3d 9s Td 9c):
Villain bets $147. Hero raises to $399. <--- wasn't too worried about the flush, so this was more of a massage.... Villain calls.

River (board: 3d 9s Td 9c 7s): <--- boom!
Villain goes all-in for $558.70. Hero calls. <--- love it when they push into a lock hand...
Villain shows Qc Js.
Villain has Qc Js 9s Td 9c: a pair of nines.
Hero shows 9h 7h.
Hero has 9h 7h 9s 9c 7s: full house, nines full of sevens.

Hand Summary:
Hero wins $2059.90 with full house, nines full of sevens.

It's often this way in poker; you can play well for ages but sometimes you need a little to help to get paid. Big thanks to whoever/whatever gave it to me today.....

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Month of the End

Ok, so it's now the end of month #4, and unfortunately I haven't been able to achieve my $ph goal this time. I was alas well on track to break it, but then I had a super bad day in my final week and managed to drop my winrate and that weeks profits in one fell swoop. But I'll shrug it off and try extra hard over the coming month...

It's interesting to note that that one bad day was the only negative session I had after my terrible first week. I was managing to average almost 1k a day from that point, and I am aiming to continue that this month (inshallah!). I know that might be a really ambitious aim, but then maybe "aim for the stars and you might just hit the moon..." as the saying goes.

So in summary, this month has been much better than the last, but not as good as the one before. My play is still a work in progress, and I'll let you know when I feel it's stable. Still just need to avoid those bad days/weeks and I'll be flying along....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tilt Them

This is my strategy advice for the week. If you want the best chance that people will give you their stacks, it helps to frustrate them. When they get frustrated, by-and-large they tilt. Sometimes they will tilt by turning uber-tight, which at first sounds bad but actually allows you to bluff them to death. Most of the the times though they'll get obstinate or aggressive (the natural human reaction to frustration) and they will start playing back at you with weaker hands, or refuse to believe they are beaten.

As a player, you have several avenues available to achieve this tilt state in your opponents. You can show off your successful bluffs. You can pick off their bluffs. You can constantly raise their limps. You can constantly re-raise their raises. You can bad beat them (involuntary). You can outplay them (voluntary). You can even just needle them through trash-talk, although this is not good etiquette.

Personally, I think it's easiest to tilt someone by raising, re-raising, and outplaying them, but I'd pretty much use any means necessary. After all, this is poker - and if you're not going to go hard, you may as well go home. I managed to tilt someone this morning through a combination of raising, good play and luck (catching a few key cards in tricky spots). Because I was raising and re-raising so often, he decided to make a stand at one point....

GeT_BeTTeR_FiSH ($955.60) <-- Tilty McTilterson Subzero_666 ($633.40)

Button raised to $14. Tilty re-raised to $50. I come over the top with AKo to $136. Tilty thinks for a while, then calls....

*** FLOP *** [2h 6c Ah]
GeT_BeTTeR_FiSH checks
Subzero_666 has 15 seconds left to act <-- pause for effect
Subzero_666 bets $200
GeT_BeTTeR_FiSH has 15 seconds left to act
GeT_BeTTeR_FiSH calls $200 <-- calling and praying I'm bluffing/stupid

*** TURN *** [2h 6c Ah] [9s]
GeT_BeTTeR_FiSH checks
Subzero_666 bets $297.40, and is all in <-- easy push now the pot is so big

GeT_BeTTeR_FiSH calls $297.40 <-- can't let go of his hand
Subzero_666 shows [Kc As]
GeT_BeTTeR_FiSH shows [Qd Ac] <-- not even suited!!!

*** RIVER *** [2h 6c Ah 9s] [Kd] <-- seals the deal

Subzero_666 wins the pot ($1,278.80) with two pair, Aces and Kings

What a way to blow 160BB with TPQK. This was a donkey play from a 29/25 winning player - which means he must have been tilting to play like this. So my advice is: make your life easier, tilt someone today! :- )

Lovely non-suckout screenshot:

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tough break (or Flopped Straights Never Win)

In an ironic twist of fate, I found myself today with an OESFD vs a set (and allin on the flop), a direct reversal of my last post where I lost a $1700 pot. This time however, I also had the nut straight. Here's how it played out...

Tinsley ($1/2 5-handed No Limit Hold'em)

Hero is at seat 0 with $197.
Villain is at seat 4 with $195.80.
The button is at seat 0.

XXXX posts the small blind of $1.
XXXX posts the big blind of $2.

Hero: 4c 5c

XXXX folds. Villain raises to $7. Hero
calls. XXXX folds. XXXX calls.

Flop (board: 6s 3c 2c): <-- boom!
XXXX checks. Villain bets $22.
Hero raises to $55. <-- raise with the nuts and OESFD
XXXX folds. Villain goes all-in for $188.80. <-- Villain can't let it go
Hero calls. <-- easy call, I'm at worst 70% favourite

Turn (board: 6s 3c 2c 2d): <-- not a good card (no action in this round)

River (board: 6s 3c 2c 2d Jh):
(no action in this round)

Villain shows 3d 3s.
Villain has 3d 3s 3c 2c 2d: full house, threes full of deuces.
Hero mucks cards.
(Hero has 4c 5c.)
<-- was only 70% favourite. No biggy.

So the lesson is: don't get your money in against an OESFD, and don't get your money in with an OESFD. They are cursed I tell you, cursed!!!! Muah ha ha hahhhh..........
:- )

Friday, June 20, 2008


If only we weren't deep stacked....

Bench ($2/4 6-max No Limit Hold'em)

Villain2 is at seat 1 with $388.10.
Villain is at seat 3 with $872.17.
Hero is at seat 4 with $845.88.
The button is at seat 4.

XXXX posts the small blind of $2.
XXXX posts the big blind of $4.

Hero: Kc Ks

Villain2 calls. XXXX folds. Villain calls.
Hero raises to $26. XXXX folds.
XXXX folds. Villain2 calls. Villain calls.

Flop (board: Kh 5d 4d): <-- boom!

Villain2 checks. Villain checks. Hero bets
<-- protect my hand in a multiway pot
Villain2 folds. Villain raises to $188. <-- excellent, lets get it in
Hero re-raises to $648. Villain goes all-in for
Hero goes all-in for $819.88. Villain
is returned $26.29 (uncalled).

Turn (board: Kh 5d 4d
8d): <-- damn, flush just got there....

(no action in this round)

River (board: Kh 5d 4d 8d
5s): <-- boom, full house!!!

(no action in this round)

Villain shows 6d 7d.
Villain has 6d 7d 5d 4d 8d:
straight flush, eight high. <-- naturally :-/

Hero shows Kc Ks.
Hero has Kc Ks Kh 5d 5s: full house, kings full of fives.

Hand Summary:
Villain wins $1720.26 with straight flush, eight high.

For those of you who are wondering, I was a 58% favourite on the flop. That said, were the situation reversed, I would have played it the exact same way. We both took the optimal line in this hand, and in the end it was all down to luck.... or lack of it, in my case.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


It's like someone has lifted up the opposite end of the table: all the chips seem to be sliding in my direction. I'm still playing at VP$IP 27 PFR 17, and it must be optimal because my winrate is 9.7BB/100 for the past 11 days.

And, for once I have no doubt that it's not all down to luck - I'm playing well, and I can feel it every time I sit down. When I fold my steals. When I make a perfect read. When the board tells me I'm beat. When I execute a great bluff. When I don't let myself get emotional or tilt. And it feels good. It makes me want to play more, and play better.

I'm watching lots of CR vids, and along with my new mindset they seem to be really helping. I'm picking off bluffs and weak plays regularly. I'm making things difficult for my opponents. I'm mixing up my play. I'm learning new tricks again....

Anyway, not much else to report, looking forward to the weekend already and hopefully for another good week to finish the month. Here's hoping....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Back in the Black

Today I did it. I managed to get out of the massive hole I was in after last weeks' consecutive losing sessions. I know I shouldn't have had such a bad week, but on the plus side this week was my best earning week I've had since going pro -winning over $5k in under 20 hours. So next week I can start earning my wages for the month and am hopefully going to continue playing as well as I have over the last 5 days.

So what has changed? Well, put simply I'm trying to play better poker. I've dropped my flop aggression slightly, but been much more selective with my c-bets, and my (now occasional) double barrels. I'm focussing more on flop textures, and consequently my hand reading is improving allowing me to make better bluffs, value bets and raises. My stats are now at a solid 22 17, and this is what I will be attempting to maintain.

I've studied several CR vids. Each has been very interesting and I have gotten a lot out of seeing the game from each fresh perspective every different CR pro offers. Hopefully the more I watch the more ideas and tips I will absorb, and be able to effectively apply at the tables.

I've been playing shorter sessions. This week I haven't played a single session over 2 hours, and I've found it really helpful. Each time I've played I've felt fresh and focussed, and by doing exercise every day in between sessions, I really think I'm enjoying the benefits referred to in "healthy body healthy mind".

Not much else to report, but I'll leave you with an interesting hand with a guy I've tangled with a lot in the past (he runs at 23 18 and loves to squeeze and 3-bet from the blinds).

$2/4 6-handed (NLHE)

Villain is at seat 1 with $733.
Hero is at seat 4 with $392.
aDonk is at seat 0 with $656.80.
The button is at seat 5.

aDonk posts the small blind of $2.
Villain posts the big blind of $4.

Hero: 9s Kc

XXXX folds. XXXX folds. Hero
raises to $14. XXXX folds. aDonk calls.
Villain re-raises to $56.
<-- standard squeeze, which he'd make with ATC

Hero re-raises to $164. <-- put it to him as I really believed he was making a move

aDonk folds. Villain calls. <-- think he would have pushed a real hand here

Flop (board: 8d 3c 9d):
Villain bets $342. <-- soon as the flop comes he pushes allin INSTANTLY, with no time to take it in
Hero goes all-in for $228. <-- have to stick with my read with TPKK

Turn (board: 8d 3c 9d 4c):
(no action in this round)

River (board: 8d 3c 9d 4c Tc):
(no action in this round)

Villain shows Qc 7s.
Villain has Qc 7s 8d 9d Tc: queen high.
Hero shows 9s Kc.
Hero has 9s Kc 8d 9d Tc: a pair of nines.

Hand Summary:
Hero wins $794.50 with a pair of nines.

Donk call, or Hero? I'm not sure in the long term, but I'm just glad my good read got rewarded this time...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Unlucky? Not that much

($1/2 6-handed) So you have TT in the BB, and an early position has raised. You take it to $24 hoping for a fold, but the raiser (who has AJo) decides to call. Very loose call imo, but at least they aren't suited ;-)

The flop comes [J J 2]. Villain: 92.6% Hero: 7.4%

Bingo for him, bad news for me. I bet out, and he smooth calls. I'm done here...

The turn comes J J 2 [T]. Villain: 15.9% Hero: 84.1%

Bingo for me, bad news for him. I check, he bets out half-pot, and I push allin. He obviously insta-calls. I see his cards, and start chanting "no Ace, no Two, no Ace, no Two, no....."

River: J J 2 T [J]. Villain: 100% Hero: Bemused.

So that wasn't the greatest start to the day, but I've had a fairly good morning otherwise, and I'm still booking winning sessions this week. Gonna finish watching a CR vid now, and think about how to improve my game. Keep me posted....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pat on the back

So it's 8:30am and I'm trying my best to play my A-game. I'm raising lots in position, only calling re-raises with strong hands out of position and speculative hands in position. I'm paying attention to my opponents stats and trying to adjust accordingly.

So I find myself in a tough spot having raised AQo on the button, and getting reraised to $25 from the SB, who is a VPIP 27 PFR 24 player. I have been raising him a lot, because that's what I do in position. So I decide he is probably trying to push me off with KJs or a low PP, and I 4-bet to $75. He thinks for just a second, then quickly pushes for $150 more.

This player has been very active whenever given opportunity, and I know he's more than capable of making moves. On the other hand, I haven't got any allin experience with him, and don't know what he could shove with. I obviously have to concede he might have KK or possibly AA, but I just don't like the timing of it. This seems more of a blind defence issue. So, I decide he's pushing a suited connector, weak A or PP from JJ-88, and I make the call.....

What does he turn over? AJs, and I give myself a pat on the back for a great read. As ever though, when making a great read I don't get any credit for it:

I was angry for a few seconds, but I got over it. After all, making the money follows making the right decisions, not vice versa. So I'm pleased with myself, if not as rich as I should be!

This week is going much better, and every day thus far has been a winning one. I feel I'm controlling pots more, being selective with my aggression and best of all believing my opponents when they bet! Hopefully this will continue and I can resume growing my bankroll on FT, which got killed last week but is still in good enough shape for $1-2.

In other news, I am now officially a whore. Not that I get paid to have sex (though it's long been a dream of mine of course), but that I got an email saying I could get paid to have a news feed on the WSOP for Betfair on my blog. After talking up the price a little I agreed (check it out on the right --> ), and I can now afford to take my girlfriend out for a meal this month ;-)

Anyway, no strategy tips this time round, hope you're all faring well, amd if anyone has any interesting HH's please email them to me and I will post and discuss. GL all.

Monday, June 09, 2008


That's basically how I felt on saturday of last week. I had played for 6 days and every single session was a losing one. I lost nearly 5k in a week! There were of course some horrible beats, and I was losing lots of my coinflips, but poor play was most definitely a strong factor.

Once again I've found myself being too aggressive, and consequently either getting called down very lightly by my opponents, or being check-raised to death. My flop aggression factor for last week was 5.4! That's a sure sign I'm overdoing it, and so am toning it down big time.

Anyway, I'm still watchin CR vids and critiquing my play, and soon as I stop believing everyone's trying to double-barrel me with air I'll be back on my A-game. I even managed a winning session today, so here's hoping things improve.

An example of a hand I was doomed to lose, however I played it (a.k.a. "I hate shortstacks"). The villain had a stack of $70, so I either re-raised and win $7, or call and then lose $70 when he can't fold his obvious flush draw:

Would you call an allin on the flop (for $140 more) with just an OESD on a 2-flush board if you had only invested $60? This guy would! Of course my OESD with flush draw (not to mention gutshot straightflush) didn't hit...

And to finish off, this is a hand from this morning which shows you what running bad is really all about. Amazingly, nothing ended up broken, crushed or snapped. Apart from my spirit, will-to-live and temper, respectively.... ;- )

Friday, June 06, 2008

To bet, or not to bet

For the rare occasions that I find myself out of position on the river with the nuts, I'd really like to be much better at is knowing when to bet my hand for value, and when to check to induce your opponent to bet for you. I think this is all down to accurately reading your opponents hand, and knowing their tendencies. The latter is obviously made easy through datamining and having a HUD, but the former is a little more tricky.

When I'm at the river and I'm trying to put someone on a hand, I try to consider the following things:
  • if the villain raised preflop: how often they raise, and the amount they raised
  • if they called a raise (or a re-raise) preflop: how much did they call, and what position did they call in
  • what was their action after the flop (check/call/raise/checkraise)
  • what was their action after the turn (check/call/raise/checkraise)

If my opponent has been raising every street, then it seems sensible to bet into them on the river. However, if they were only raising because they had a strong draw which has now missed, this approach will obviously not work. In that scenario, a check-raise may be the best play so that you entice at least 1 bet from them with their busted draw. This is why you need to pay attention to how your opponent plays his draws, his decent made hands, and his monsters.

My example: Villain was VP$IP 21 and PFR 18, and for this hand was on the Button to my SB. His river Aggression Factor was 2.5, which is quite high.

Table Rhea (deep 6) - $1/$2 - No Limit Hold'em
Seat 3: Villain ($409.60)
Seat 4: Hero ($468)
Hero posts the small blind of $1
LEVIATHAN0329 posts the big blind of $2
The button is in seat #3

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [7h 9h]
mypkrtime has 15 seconds left to act
mypkrtime folds
alfred-FFM folds
mepaws folds
Villain raises to $8
Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero raises to $26
LEVIATHAN0329 folds
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain calls $18

The Button raised, as he had been doing lots, and so I decided to defend with 97s, hoping for a fold but if called not likely to be dominated and a concealed hand if it hits the straight. The villain thinks for a while which seems like he was thinking about mucking before calling in position.

*** FLOP *** [4c 8d 2d]
Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero bets $40
Villain calls $40

OK, given that I'd put in a defining re-raise, on this ragged flop with 2 Clubs I fired a strong $40 bet into the $50 pot. The villain smooth calls my bet. At this point he could be floating with overcards, have a flush draw, a weak pair, an overpair, or a pocket pair like 77 or 55. A set is possible, but unlikely.
The pot is now $130.

*** TURN *** [4c 8d 2d] [6c]
Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero bets $88
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain calls $88

Having decided that my opponent most likely on a draw that did not hit on this occasion (overcards missed, overpairs did not improve, flush draw did not complete), and having picked up an OESD, I fired again. Again, the villain calls. Here, I can rule out a set because with a fat pot and the way the board is developing with 2 flush draws and several straights, he would certainly raise to protect. There's not way he has just overcards here, unless they are AKcc or AKdd.
I'm starting to think a pair and a flush draw like Ac8c, or Ad4d are quite likely, along with some suited connectors like 8c7c or 5d4d. On top of that, overpairs 99-QQ are also possible, with TT being the most likely in my mind given the preflop and flop action (figure JJ/QQ would have raised somewhere).
The pot is now $306.

*** RIVER *** [4c 8d 2d 6c] [5s]
Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero bets $224
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain has requested TIME
Villain folds
Uncalled bet of $224 returned to Hero
Hero wins the pot ($307)

When the river came and I had the nuts, I thought the following:
If he has a weak overpair and I check, he'll most likely check it down given my solid aggression. If I bet, he'll fold it.
If he has an unlikely stong overpair, and I check, he may bet it, but will most likely check given any 3 or 7 makes a straight. If I bet, he will most probably fold.
If he has made an unlikely 2 pair he will bet/call.
If he has made an unlikely straight he will bet/raise allin.
If he has a busted flush draw and I check, he will probably bet up to $200.

Given that the only thing I thought he would likely bet/bluff with was a busted flush draw, and that I thought there was a greater chance he was himself holding a suited connector, I decided to bet out in spite of his high river AF. I lead for 2/3 pot with the nuts and hoped the 5 had helped him, or that he couldn't lay down his overpair. After thinking, he eventually folded, which made me question my play.

How would you have played this? Would you have bet less on the river? Would you have played it at all?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Stupid is as stupid does

Ok, so my last post for those who read it was pretty downbeat. I had a bad month, was playing poorly for a lot of it and my results were barely profitable as a consequence ($500 for the month - wtf??). So what was I doing wrong then, given that my first few months seemed so promising?

Well, obviously I wasn't playing well. I was calling raises with weak suited aces, limp calling with suited connnectors, and basically playing passive poker. Secondly, I was playing too high stakes on occasion, sitting down at a $5-10 game on several occasions which although very juicy, I was still unprepared for.

The other problem I noticed was that I wasn't controlling the pot size. After putting in a 3-bet with AK in position, every time I would cbet the flop unimproved I was getting check-raised and forced to relinquish almost a third of my stack. And playing usually at $2-4, that's about $140 each time.
And with such a swollen pot, those times I would hit TPTK I'd (more often than seemed fair) stack off to someone who hit their set.

So how to remedy my situation? Well, given that I desperately want to get back to the way things should be (with me beating the games consistently and growing the bankroll along with my ability), I've taken a short break from the game, decided to drop down to exclusively $1-2 NLHE, and I've joined cardrunners to give me another insight into the game. Along with studying my results on pokertracker, listening to cash plays, and with luck reading some quality poker blogs again I'm fervently hoping that I'm going to get back on track, and fast.

Things for me to remember for the future:

  • some hands you are doomed to lose, no matter how you play it

  • some hands you have to just let go, no matter how pretty they were preflop

  • some hands are like those girls with inviting smiles who are always down the pub: you just shouldn't touch them

Will leave you with a sick beat I took the other day after tightening up beyond belief trying to turn my results around (which nicely demonstrates the first bullet point above). We were allin on the flop of course.

Good luck at the tables people.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bad day + Bad days = Bad week

More allin preflop misery for your enjoyment/empathy....

Friday hasn't been kind. Instead, it's been one long grind, but such is life sometimes. I can recall a thousand days in the office where time went slower, so at least when it happens at home I can swear or moan or whatever makes me feel better.

Just suffered another allin preflop spade beating with AJ vs KJs, I swear I can't win a pot today. Barring an insanely good saturday, this week is going to be another negative one. Next month I'm going to review my play and give an update on my mistakes and changes required.

Monthly earnings: less than $500. May sucked. Damn lucky I have money set aside...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bad beats => Bad play => Bad day

So today I had a losing session, over 2k dumped. Lots of it was my fault, and I think I was tilting towards the end, and I'm going to be really disappointed if it means this month I have 2 losing weeks, instead of the aimed-for none.

Playing fulltime is all about the mental stamina, and you have to take things like the following on the chin, and NOT let them affect your game. (I have no qualms on naming the following villain - his play deserves nothing less).

Demopolis ($2/4 No Limit Hold'em)

luna459 is at seat 0 with $542.50.
NEruffneck is at seat 1 with $412.30.
fdelpaso is at seat 2 with $124.65.
Incrediboy is at seat 3 with $390.
Kooox is at seat 4 with $779.90.
mrrussian is at seat 5 with $1096.55.
The button is at seat 4.

mrrussian posts the small blind of $2.
luna459 posts the big blind of $4.

Incrediboy: As Ad

NEruffneck raises to $14. fdelpaso re-raises to $24.
Incrediboy re-raises to $55. Kooox folds.
mrrussian folds. luna459 folds. NEruffneck calls.
fdelpaso goes all-in for $124.65. Incrediboy goes
all-in for $390. NEruffneck calls. <--- what the hell do you think you're up against????

Flop (board: Jc 6s 3c):

Turn (board: Jc 6s 3c Js):

River (board: Jc 6s 3c Js 2c):

Incrediboy shows As Ad.
Incrediboy has As Ad Jc 6s Js: two pair, aces and jacks.
NEruffneck shows Tc Kc.
NEruffneck has Tc Kc Jc 3c 2c: flush, king high.
fdelpaso shows Ks Kh.
fdelpaso has Ks Kh Jc 6s Js: two pair, kings and jacks.

Hand Summary:
NEruffneck wins the main pot $376.75 with flush, king high.
NEruffneck wins the side pot $530.40 with flush, king high.

Wish me luck for tomorrow and the weekend. Hope you're all faring better than I...

Monday, May 26, 2008


Here is my bank holiday weekend poker results, neatly summarised in a single picture (got him allin on the turn):

Just before this, his AK duly mastered my KK (aipf). Not a good bank holiday. Still, beats sitting outside in the rain....

Monday, May 19, 2008


One of my readers asked me a long time ago what I find to be the most frustrating experience at the poker tables. I think the following HH perfectly illustrates my reply....

$2/4 NLHE, 5 players
Hero is at seat 2 with $522.40.
Villain is at seat 4 with $1509.20.
The button is at seat 2.
LessonsRExtra posts the small blind of $2.
Villain posts the big blind of $4.
Hero: Ac Kh
pokusKAdabra: -- --
Patishh folds. rcsox1 folds. Hero raises to
$14. LessonsRExtra folds. Villain re-raises to
$44. Hero calls.
Flop (board: 8s Ks 5s):
Villain bets $65. Hero raises to $150.
Villain re-raises to $540. Hero goes
all-in for $478.40. Villain is returned $61.60
Turn (board: 8s Ks 5s 3d):
(no action in this round)
River (board: 8s Ks 5s 3d Js):
(no action in this round)
Villain shows 8h Ts.
Villain has Ts 8s Ks 5s Js: flush, king high.
Hero shows Ac Kh.
Hero has Ac Kh 8s Ks Js: a pair of kings.
Hand #53361920-5299 Summary:
Villain wins $1044.30 with flush, king high.

I really believe there is nothing more vexing than making a great read, following it through and then being punished for it. But, this is the life I have chosen.... so I just roll with the punches.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Allin: better to call or to shove?

Here are two separate situations, where I flop an OESD and a flush draw on the flop.

Situation #1, I'm up against an unknown player at a 5-handed $2/4 table, and have just sat down:

Seat 2: Subzero_666 ($400)
Seat 4: Villain ($400)
Seat 6 is sitting out
Villain posts the small blind of $2
XXXX posts the big blind of $4
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Subzero_666 [8h 9h]
XXXX folds
Subzero_666 has 15 seconds left to act
Subzero_666 raises to $14
XXXX folds
Villain calls $12
BB folds
*** FLOP *** [7h Kc 6h]
Villain checks
Subzero_666 bets $24
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain raises to $59
Subzero_666 has 15 seconds left to act
Subzero_666 raises to $209
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain raises to $386, and is all in
Subzero_666 has 15 seconds left to act
Subzero_666 calls $177, and is all in
Villain shows [7s 7c]
Subzero_666 shows [8h 9h]

I knew that he had to have at least 2 pair here, and was unsurprised to see the set. I don't see myself playing this any other way though.

Situation #2, a very aggressive 6-handed $2/4 table, where I have been playing for about an hour.

Seat 1: Villain2 ($324.15) <-- very aggressive but weak
Seat 2: Villain ($293.10) <-- solid, tricky, thinking player
Seat 6: Subzero_666 ($456.70)
XXXX posts the small blind of $2
XXXX posts the big blind of $4
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS *** Dealt to Subzero_666 [Qs Js]
XXXX folds Subzero_666 raises to $14
Villain2 calls $14
Villain has 15 seconds left to act Villain calls $14
SB folds BB folds
*** FLOP *** [Ts 5s Kh]
Subzero_666 has 15 seconds left to act
Subzero_666 checks
Villain2 bets $48 Villain raises to $96
Subzero_666 raises to $442.70, and is all in
Villain2 folds
Villain calls $183.10, and is all in
Subzero_666 shows [Qs Js]
rootsrock shows [Ks Kd]
Uncalled bet of $163.60 returned to Subzero_666

This time, I check-shove to get maximum fold equity from draws and weak hands. The only time I will normally get called though is by 2 pair or better.

I've had some doubts over whether it is best to push allin when the only time you will be called is by a better hand, or call an allin when you are an underdog and need to hit. Does anyone else play the above hands using a different line? Does anyone fold the above hands???

Comments welcome.