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.