Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Poker Quiz

Q. When you are allin preflop with KK with 2 other players and find that you are up against ATo and AKo respectively (making you just over 72% favourite), do you:

A. 1) Expect to win nearly 8 out of 10 times
2) Cheer out loud because you are miles in front
3) Get up, take your shirt off and do the I'm-over-70-percent-to-win dance
4) Get a sinking feeling that the river will punish you

Read on for the correct answer.....



For those of you who guessed answer 4), well done, go to the head of the class. For me, at least I can console myself that the sidepot wasn't for over $100. Oh, sorry, that's right: yes it was. :- (

Other than that the week is going ok so far, my broadband provider failed to provide for most of yesterday, so I only ended up working a half-day, which was nice as I got to do some reading and just relax for a while.

Anyway, in other news I'm now part of the blogburst network for the remote possibility someone wants to publish something I've written, and I've also included a button link to Phuture Frequency Radio, which is a wicked site with loads of podcasts of awesome drum'n'bass sets from various DJs. Check 'em out if you like beats and breaks.

Thats all folks.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Ok, for those of you who've been keen to find out exactly how I've done in my third month of going pro, here you go:

I still continue to have a week each month where I perform badly, so fixing that will definitely be my goal for next month. At least I will get a bit of rakeback to soften the blow. I'm pleased to note that my monthly $/ph value is creeping towards 100, which has been my goal since I started. I reckon soon as I can scrap my negative week then I'll have no problem hitting that mark.

THe other thing that I'm keen to start is jumping up to $2/4 6-max games on FT. I'm just waiting til my bankroll there is up to $10k before I start dabbling in those waters. I hope that when I do I will have an upturn in profits to accompany the doubling of rakeback earnt. Will obviously keep you posted on that when it happens.

Don't have much more to say right now, wanna enjoy my weekend and forget about poker for a while. That said, I did visit the Victoria casino here in London last night for half an hour to check out the live action. I only got to play at the kiddy game (50p/100p) and found it was full of donkeys. The games I saw were all ridiculously loose passive, with 'lucky hands' being played left right and centre.
I saw a 3 way allin in one pot when a 3rd club fell on the turn. One guy pushed with what must have been a gut shot or TP (maybe as a bluff?), the other came over the top with 6c2c for the actual flush, and the guy who called down both had Qc4c for the higher flush! Enough said, I'll be going back soon.

Anyway, hope you enjoy your weekend, and good luck at the tables!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Can it last?

Had a really good week so far with no losing sessions, and it looks like this month will be my best to date. I'm really pleased with my play, feel that my game is very strong at the moment and I'm making some good adjustments after reviewing my stats on PT. I'm getting a decent sample of hands after nearly 3 months now, and I can easily see what hands are long term losers so anything less than borderline I'm dropping from my arsenal.

Was just playing some $1/2 6-max NL at Full Tilt, and it is amazing how much the skill level drops after 3pm (Eastern Time). I was grinding all day after an unlucky morning, but I took a break and then in just under an hour I made back nearly $1k! I'm glad that I get lots of practice against the veteran crowd, because it makes playing against recreational players so easy in comparison. I'm on track to become an Iron-Man there for the first time (woot!), and will be enjoying plenty of rakeback come next month (I've been averaging about 1500 points of play 5 days a week).

So, no complaints from me at the moment. The sun is starting to shine, and I'm looking forward to summer. I'm enjoying my new job, and I even appear to be good at it! Life is good at the moment. Hope you are all doing just as well....

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Advice on Tilt Control from a Pro

Not me this time folks, this advice comes from Full Tilt pro Ben Roberts. I though it was interesting to relate tilt to a primal emotion given the profound effect it has on our behaviour.

Have a read, I think it's well worth it to get another perspective on that troublesome beast 'tilt'....

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Playing to feel good

Whether you're a good player or an aspiring bad player (like me during a bad day), try and remember that although you may want to win every time you play poker, it isn't always going to happen. Make your life easier and don't aim for that. Try instead to play in a way which makes you feel good.

Some people feel good when they execute a great bluff. Some prefer making an excellent read, and acting upon it confidently. Others feel best when they make a tough but correct laydown. I like all of these things, and I like them best in combination. When I'm playing well, I honestly don't care about the results. I just enjoy the act of playing itself, and for a pro who may otherwise face burnout I think that's pretty important.

Those times when I'm playing below my 'A-game' is when I start to focus on results, bad beats and other such irrelevant short-term factors. You've probably heard it before, but play well and you will be rewarded over time. Play badly and you will be punished. You can't change that, but I have had to learn that the hard way!

So another week as a pro has ended, and it wasn't too bad, considering. Over the last weekend, I played about 5 hours, and managed to lose almost 3k. Some of it was due to setup hands (flopping an OESFD with 5c6c against a big donkey, playing it very aggressively and finally hitting my baby flush on the river - only to lose the eventual $1600 pot to his Kc9c). Most of it though was I think playing poorly, and so my meagre profit for that week was erased and I had another annoying negative profit week. Over the subsequent week, aside from one day where I was spewing at $1/2, I feel I played very well, and pulled my results back into the black. When I do play well, I find it so easy to recognise what it means to play badly.

I was going to title this post "How to win at mid-limit poker #4 : Don't get tricky". I wanted to outline a few donkey plays I've noticed myself making when I'm playing poorly to remind myself that I too make dumb-ass plays, and that if I can stop making them I can plug one of my biggest leaks....

Whenever I'm playing below my A-game, I notice I start getting tricky. This is a sure sign of bad play, and maybe a form of tilt for me. Getting tricky for me has recently involved:
  • Representing a Q on a flop of Q Q 9 on several streets (and thereby ignoring the calls of my opponent who actually holds said Q)
  • After 3 betting preflop with TT, check-raising when a flop of A K 3 comes down
  • Calling a pot sized bet on a monotone flop with an underpair (not of that suit) just to 'see what my opponent does next'
  • Bluff check-raising my opponent on a draw-free flop, and then continuing to bet into them after they have called

I have noticed I still have a worrying propensity to make donkey calls purely on the basis that I know I'm up against a long-term losing player. I simply ignore the large size of the river bets, tell myself they are bluffing and make the call with my weak hand. It's another of my big leaks, and I recognise it fully. I'm working on fixing it in my head, which is I guess all I really can do.

Other than practive, blog reading and reviewing my play through PT, to improve my game I've also started listening to cash plays radio podcasts with Bart Hanson taken from Poker Road. There are some interesting bits of advice in there, some from guest players. I don't agree with some of the advice, but I'm thinking about it and any interaction with poker material must be of some benefit.

Anyway, just wanted to post something as it's been a while and I haven't been particularly forthcoming of late, so hope all is well with you and that you keep me posted with life and poker in your own blogs. Catch up soon amigos...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hunting big game

Just looking for a bit of advice on situations like the one detailed below...

Loose agressive 6-handed $3/6 NLHE table.
UTG+1 has $3000
Button has $500
You are in the Big Blind, with $1600 and TT

UTG folds. UTG+1 raises to $21.
Cutoff folds. Button raises to $85.
Small Blind folds.

You are now in what could be a raising war between the original raiser and the button. What should I do here?

Obviously there is a lot of value in going for the UTG+1 stack, but that is offset by the risk that he may easily 3-bet if you call, or if you 3-bet either he or the Button may push.

I folded in this spot (and of course the flop gave me top set). Is folding TT in this spot too weak for this level? Should I be 3-betting as I will be out of position if I call? Any advice welcome...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

NLHE Pro Strategy

I'm still a bit uncomfortable describing myself as a pro and I'm not sure I'll ever do so without being a little self-conscious, but I guess I have no choice since in this case the shoe certainly fits.

I've been meaning to do a strategy post for a while, and want to focus today on some of the major changes I've made to my game since I turned pro at the start of February. For those who are new to my blog, I'm a No Limit Holdem cash game player with about 3 years experience. As a pro I have been playing short-handed games at limits from $1/2 to $3/6, playing up to 6 tables at once. Since then I've made over $20k, and while I still make many mistakes and have bad days, I feel that my game is far stronger than that displayed when I was playing as a hobby.

This won't be a comprehensive strategy guide, just a few points I think are worth making that may give some ideas on how to play a bit more aggressively and a bit more deceptively preflop, with some of my thought processes. I can't say it will work for everyone, but it seems to work for me and it might help some of you. As always, I welcome criticism and advice so please feel free to leave me any you may have -I'm really just like you (hopefully) in that I want to be the best player I can.


If you want to be a winning player the most important thing to have in a hand is not pocket Aces but position. Sometimes you will be forced to play a hand where you will be the first player to act on every street, but you should do everything possible to make sure that most of the time you are the one in last position. If you're not already on the button you can really only achieve this through raising.


If I'm going to play and I'm entering an unraised pot, I almost always raise. 6-handed, I'm raising UTG with ATs+ and any pocket pair(PP). From UTG+1, I'll include ATo and maybe a few no-gap suited connectors 87s+. From the cutoff, include TJs+ and no-gap/1-gap suited connectors 75s+. From the button, include K9o+ and any other likely suited connector no lower than 54s.

Getting Re-raised

Raising with such a broad range really keeps your opponents guessing, and disguises your premium hands AA-QQ/AQs-AK. Opponents however will adjust and start to re-raise you more frequently, and this is where it gets interesting.

If you are out of position (i.e. the re-raise has come from a player behind you), only call if you have a low PP and have the right odds to set mine. With a strong/premium pair or AK you should 3-bet. Let go of everything else, as it's not worth playing out of position with speculative holdings. Seriously. JTs may be your favourite hand in the whole world, but life will be easier if you fold it.

If you are in position (i.e. the reraise has come from a player in front of you), you have more options. You can now occasionally call with your premium pairs and AK (instead of 3-betting), and you can now also call with your suited connectors and see a flop. Your range will thus be very wide when you are in position, and should now potentially include every possible PP, AK and a broad range of suited connectors. You can also occasionally 3-bet with suited connectors and low PPs to mix things up...

What I have noticed is that when the re-raise comes from the blinds, particularly the big blind, more often than not it's being done light. The re-raise from the blinds is also very popular when someone has raised and had several callers, creating a squeeze play. In either case, you have options. Fold your weakest speculative hands and either call and outplay them with the advantage of position, or just go ahead and 3-bet expecting a fold. It doesn't really matter, long as you mix it up when 3-betting and include enough premium hands when you do so.

Playing 'Dominate-able' Hands

What I mean by this is hands that are strong but could be dominated if they hit top pair: AQ is dominated by AK on an Ah 6s 7d flop. With such dominate-able hands (AQo, KQs, AJs), I want to try and find out before the flop if I'm dominated or not. To do this I will always re-raise if I'm out of position to the raiser, and normally re-raise in position as well. This may seem expensive, but I'd rather find out preflop if I'm up against a dominating hand, and I prefer opponents announcing AA/KK early on, rather than after I make top pair top kicker on the flop.

The only time I won't re-raise in position is if I think it's likely I'll face a light re-raise from the blinds, or if the pot is multiway and my hand is a premium drawing hand like AQs that likes multiway pots.

Calling a Raise

Out of position, the only times I'll call a raise are:

  • If the raise is tiny (and my hand is reasonably robust)
  • If the pot is multiway (and my hand is reasonably robust)
  • If I have a low pocket pair

There are no other times I should be calling a raise out of position. It is NOT worth trying to overcome the positional disadvantage, so I normally either raise or fold.

In position, I'm calling only if I believe I will have position for the rest of the hand, and I think it unlikely I will face a re-raise from another player. As such, I will only be calling from the cutoff or the button, and I will usually only be doing it with drawing hands or low PPs. With premium or dominate-able hands, I will of course be re-raising myself. Very very occasionally I will smooth-call with AA/KK as a trap when I think a re-raise likely either from the button or the blinds.

General Thoughts

  • Try and play strong hands in position.
  • Raise preflop whenever you can with a wide range of hands and with the aim of gaining position
  • Don't play dominate-able hands without raising them.
  • Play speculative/drawing hands in position as cheaply as possible.
  • If someone seems weak, raise then and there.
  • Don't play strong hands out of position without raising.
  • From the blinds: re-raise button and cutoff raises with your better hands - they are usually raising with dominate-able trash.
  • Put the pressure on your opponents

That's all for now, realise most of this stuff is preflop strategy, but if you just carry the outlined aggression through to the later streets you basically know how I play. Basically this style should makes things a bit easier postflop as more pressure is put on your opponents from the start. Hope some of this is helpful. Good luck all...

Thursday, April 03, 2008


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

Cadogan is at seat 0 with $441.
lvnoffsklskyb is at seat 1 with $735.20.
sugardaddy2 is at seat 2 with $353.50.
winner_16 is at seat 3 with $282.95.
Incrediboy is at seat 4 with $595.
Hata19 is at seat 5 with $812.45.
The button is at seat 5.

Cadogan posts the small blind of $3.
lvnoffsklskyb posts the big blind of $6.

lvnoffsklskyb: -- --
Cadogan: -- --
<--- rated by MPI at -1.09 (above average)

sugardaddy2: -- --
winner_16: -- -- <--- total fish I was after, rated -44.33
Incrediboy: Tc Jc
Hata19: -- --

sugardaddy2 folds. winner_16 raises to $12.
Incrediboy calls.

Was happy to call the min-raise of the fish, and any possible re-raise with a strong SC in position.

Hata19 folds. Cadogan re-raises
to $54. lvnoffsklskyb folds. winner_16 folds.
Incrediboy calls.
This struck me as a typical squeeze play, so not necessarily a sign of premium cards.

Flop (board: Ah 8s Qc):

Cadogan bets $84. Incrediboy raises to $189.
This 3/4 lead on the pot was really fast, so I immediately pegged it as a c-bet bluff. Liking my double gutshot, I though I would shut him down now with a raise of $100.

Cadogan goes all-in for $387.
I was nearly sick when he pushed. My read was obviously miles off, and this guy must have at least TPTK, or more likely 2 pair. The pot was $700 after my ill-advised raise, and it was $200 more to call. I noted my backdoor flush draw to go with my 8 outs, and decided I was just getting the odds to call against his probable range. I was kicking myself hard and praying for a miracle as I moved my mouse to the call button....

Incrediboy calls.

Turn (board: Ah 8s Qc 6c):
A Club! Come on! King Nine or Club, King Nine or Club, King.....

River (board: Ah 8s Qc 6c 2s):
Nothing. No help. I'd just wasted $450 of my hard won dollars on a stupid suited connector. I was so mad at myself, especially as I'd been playing well all morning at the $1/2 and $2/4 tables.

Cadogan shows 4s 7c.
Cadogan has 7c Ah 8s Qc 6c: ace high.
Incrediboy shows Tc Jc.
Incrediboy has Tc Jc Ah 8s Qc: ace/queen high.

Hand #51980883-5373 Summary:
Incrediboy wins $897 with ace high!!!!!!
To say I nearly died of shock is to glibly summarise the numbing disbelief and total confusion I experienced when I saw the chips come my way. I thought my eyes had failed me, that I'd misread the board somehow. Then I saw that I'd won Ace-high, and I realised that my opponent too had been bluffing. It was just a supremely happy stroke of luck his bluff was inferior to mine! And just like that, I had a new favourite hand... ;- )

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Just a quick post of my stats since I started as a pro:

Total hands: 79k

Vol.Put$InPot: 21.17

PreFlopRaise: 15.91

Agg.Factor PreFlop: 2.6

Agg.Factor Flop: 5.3

Agg.Factor Turn: 4.5

Agg.Factor River: 2.4

BB/100 hands: 3.14

If anyone would like to suggest things I should change (other than increasing the BB/100 score!) I'd be very interested to hear from you. I'm thinking that my river aggression is a little lacking, but I'm not sure I want to become a bigger target for check-raises when the pot is really big and I am usually bluffing ;- )

As an interesting aside, I saw that I have paid over $1200 in bad beat contributions on UB, and been rewarded with exactly $0 in wins! Guess I'm just not very (un)lucky...

Still planning on a strategy post, it's on it's way I assure you. Gonna be a big one though I think, so in keeping with tradition I'm putting it off as long as possible! Hope all is well in the real world, was going to leave you with a reminder of what things can be like in mine but the HH has disappeared. Basically I had a great hand, got allin against a fish, lost to a runner-runner straight yada yada yada etc.