Thursday, December 10, 2009

Well, it's been a while. Poker has been awful lately, and even after I spotted several problems with my game my results have continued to be at best mediocre. Just finished my 3rd session for the day (am currently on track with doing 3 roughly 2-hour sessions each working day) and am still livid after suffering the following hand. Read on for details:

Absolute/UB Cereus No-Limit Hold'em, $6.00 BB (4 handed)
Button ($880.65)
SB ($451.60)
BB ($630.20)
Hero (UTG) ($1327.35)

Preflop: Hero is UTG with A, A
Hero bets $21, Button raises to $66,
2 folds, Hero raises to $171, -even 4 handed, I'm repping QQ+ here
Button calls $105
-decides to call and see a flop, hmmmm.

Flop: ($351) 7, K, 4 (2 players)
Hero bets $258, Button raises to $709.65 (All-In), -brilliant, he has a K and I have him crushed
Hero calls $451.65
-send me the pot please

Turn: ($1770.30) Q (2 players, 1 all-in)

River: ($1770.30) 5 (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: $1770.30 Rake: $2

Results below:

Button had K, Q (two pair, Kings and Queens). Of course he does.

Hero had A, A (one pair, Aces).

Outcome: Button won $1770.30

What really grinds my gears is that the guy is usually a good player, possibly even another pro, but he played the hand about as badly as possible and still took most of my stack. So I'm still struggling with the occasional EV issue, but other than that all is good.

Going to try and maintain ICON status with UB, as they will give me 5% interest on my account if I do. Will be tough given that it's xmas, but gonna pound the tables over the coming weeks and hopefully get enough points. May even write another post or two. Then again...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Nice change

If you want to make enemies, try to change something -Woodrow Wilson

Well, my good run has lasted far longer than I expected, and in fact it's still going strong! In the last 3 weeks I've suffered only 2 losing sessions for less than $400 summed. For the month I'm averaging a 13.5BB/100 winrate and a lovely $2k over EV. So I really cannot complain at all at the moment, and am enjoying being able to put lots into my savings account for a potential future mortgage.

I realise it's again been a while since I last posted anything, but I have been quite busy of late. Not only does my kungfu continue apace, but I've also started learning parkour or free-running with these guys, and have been doing a little organisation of a stag weekend. That, along with an incredibly entertaining and addictive show known as The Wire have kept me pretty well occupied. And let's not forget the demanding hours that being a professional poker player entails. ;)

Anyway, I was thinking of doing a series of posts under the theme of Becoming/Being a Professional Online Poker Player. I know there are like a million how-to guides out there from really well known players, but as always this is as much for my benefit as anyone else, and hopefully hearing it from someone who wasn't playing from when they were 6 or who went from micro to nosebleed stakes in 2 years might be of use to lots of people. I was planning to break it down into the following categories:

  • Understanding the game
  • Enjoying the game
  • Learning patience
  • Being adaptable
  • Limiting financial risk

Are there any other categories that would be useful to anyone? Drop me a comment and I can certainly accommodate.

Anyway, hope all is well in life and at the tables, and I sincerely hope that you have a good run of luck too. After all, it makes a helluva nice change.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Swing when you're winning....

What you risk reveals what you value. -Jeanette Winterson

So yesterday was quite an extreme day for me work wise. It started with my rivered full house losing to rivered quads, and proceeded to proffer several coolers, bad beats and I'm sure a few instances of bad play on my part. However, about 2 hours in when I saw I had lost nearly
2k I asked myself: am I in any good games, and am I playing well? I decided that the answer to both was a firm yes, and I continued to play. It turned out to be a good decision:

I managed to hit a few hands against the fish at the bigger tables I was playing on and not only did I erase the 2k debt but managed to make about $800 profit for the day.

I ran well again today, with loads of donks playing terribly against me and me staying lucky enough to not get unlucky when the money went in. In fact, this month I think I'm on a bit of a heater, running at about 12BB on average at my $1/2 and $2/4 games, and life once again seems easy. Of course it won't last, but I like the periods where I can pretend that winning will always be this simple and it won't be long before I'm driving my dream car....

To help my savings along I decided to withdraw some of my hard-earned cash from UB earlier today. After using their payouts software and being told I could not withdraw money because I hadn't made a deposit in the last 6 months, I mailed the support staff with my request. See below for my mail, their response, and my incredulous reply....

Please can you accept this email as a request for another payout of $XXXXX (in the equivalent £ sterling) to my home address via "Cheque by Mail." I tried to make a withdrawal this morning but as usual I was denied being cited 'no deposit'.

As you can see from my account history I have made several withdrawals in the past and once again require to do so. Please initiate the withdrawal immediately.

If you have any queries please contact me.

Regards, Damian

Dear Mr. Kowalski,

Thank you very much for your response.

We will gladly assist you by submitting a manual request for you in the amount of $XXXXX USD. Unfortunately, we are not able to request a different currency as our customers can when they request the payout on the site. <--- what?!? you can't manually do what the software does? ?

If you would prefer to have the funds sent to you in GBP, you can make a deposit to your poker account for as little as $10.00, and once the 48 hour time frame has past since your deposit you can go ahead and request your payout through the site by going to:
Cashier > Payouts > Request payout method > Drop down menu for currencies. <--- and why exactly would I put money into my account when I want to take money out???

If you would prefer to proceed with the manual request for $XXXXX USD please let us know and we will submit that for you.
We apologize for any inconvenience they may have caused. We are looking forward to your response.

Best regards, Diana
Payments Department @ <--- yes, she did in fact mispell 'Ultimate'. Nice one.

Hello Diana.

Are you telling me that you will not provide a certain service to a customer because as customer I can request that same service via the site's software? A yes or no answer will suffice.

If the answer is 'yes', please forward this mail along with my request for the equivalent of $XXXXX in pounds sterling on to your manager while you go and look up the definition of "customer service".

If the answer is 'no', then kindly send me my money as requested. As a long standing customer of UB I do not expect to have to take further action simply to make a withdrawal like I have done countless times in the past. Get this sorted now.


I'm glad to say they have since got back to me with an actual helpful reply, but I'm still stunned by the lack of thought and service offered to me from a site I've been using heavily for about 4 years now. Still, at least they offer a good selection of fish.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Selective aggression

A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it. -Albert Einstein

As a professional poker player, you rapidly become acquainted with your individual strengths and weaknesses. Because I have a highly competitive nature, I want to try and win as many pot I enter as possible. Sometimes though I end up trying to win every pot I enter, and the law of averages (not to mention common-sense) dictates that this cannot be.

Trying to 'buy' pots, whether through constantly leading with weak hands or bluffs or by check-raising with semi-bluffs (especially on the turn), is bad for many reasons. Not only will you lose lots of chips on each hand to calling stations and solid regs, for the rest of the session you also lose one of your best weapons: fear. With a correctly balanced strategy of calls bets and raises, your opponents be unable to read the strength of your hand. In keeping with human nature they will be afraid of the unknown. If you are seen to always bet however, they know you cannot always have a hand and so are much more likely to call you down with medium strength hands.

That means that while you are in hyper-aggressive mode, you will only be able to win a big pot by showing down the best hand, and never by getting your opponent to fold. Strikes me as similar to trying to eat a steak with a knife but no fork. Bluffing and semi-bluffing are tools that I regularly use, and though I probably succeed about as often as I fail for a net profit of zero, I firmly believe that I get paid off a lot more with my good hands because I employ both quite often.

So, as all good players know you need to pick your spots to be aggressive as a simple blanket approach is decisively destructive to your game. A variety of factors must be in effect for an aggressive play to succeed. Calling a big 3bet with 22 preflop against someone who has 300BBs is a terrible idea if they will check call every street without the nuts. Representing a straight on a 346 7 board after you 4-bet preflop could prove costly. You need to know not only your opponents stack size but also their tendencies both before and after the flop, and what your image is and whether your range in a given hand would connect with the flop.

If you are against a tight player, and there is a scary flop, and there is a reasonable chance you hold a hand that now has them crushed, you can represent it. If you suspect your passive opponent had a draw on both the flop and turn and the river bricked out, you may go ahead and bet with your air if you know they are unlikely to call. If you suspect someone of squeeze 3-betting light, you can call and try and take it away later in the hand if they play straight-forwardly after the flop.

With all of these scenarios though, sometimes you just have to pass - do NOT call every raise or 3bet preflop just to try and outplay your opponent on later streets. Sometimes it's ok to fold a suited connector on the button. Simply dumping 66 to a 3-bettor can be a sensible move. Occasionally folding to a small bet on an XXY flop will save you money in the long run. Good players will notice if you always raise or float on certain board types and exploit you the next time. I know I do. So, be careful and balance your plays and you can deny them that opportunity.

Will leave you with some hands where I used some selective aggression and it paid off nicely - but again I have to stress these are not moves I'd often make....

#1 NLHE $2/4 Deep 5-players
Seat 5 - Villain ($922.50 in chips)
Seat 6 - XXXX ($373.75 in chips)
Seat 1 - Hero ($942 in chips)
Seat 2 - XXXX ($1,285.70 in chips)
Seat 3 - XXXX ($1,260.10 in chips)
Villain - Posts small blind $2
XXXX - Posts big blind $4
Dealt to Hero [9c 10c]
Hero - Raises $14 to $14
XXXX - Folds
XXXX - Calls $14
Villain - Raises $54 to $56
XXXX - Folds
Hero - Calls $42
XXXX - Folds
*** FLOP *** [9h 4c 3s]
Villain - Bets $77
Hero - Calls $77

Here I float the rainbow flop with TP and a backdoor flush draw.

*** TURN *** [9h 4c 3s] [Kh]
Villain - Bets $110

On the turn he bet so weakly that I decided to raise, representing a set or turned TPTK because the K is such a good card: it kills QQ-TT, and though he may have had AA or even AK, he has to be scared of my smooth call on the flop followed by a raise when a K falls.

Hero - Raises $240 to $240
Villain - Folds
Hero - returned ($130) : not called

There was also a chance he was squeezing light, and I may in fact have had the best hand.

*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero - Does not show
Hero Collects $500.50 from main pot

#2 NLHE $2/4, $1 ante 6 players
Seat 4 - Villain ($801 in chips)
Seat 5 - XXXX ($754 in chips)
Seat 6 - Hero ($1,075.50 in chips)
Seat 1 - XXXX ($729.70 in chips)
Seat 2 – XXXX ($510.20 in chips)
Seat 3 - XXXX ($1,577.30 in chips)
XXXX - Posts small blind $2
Hero - Posts big blind $4
Dealt to Hero [9h 9d]
XXXX - Calls $4
XXXX- Folds
XXXX - Folds
Villain - Raises $20 to $20
XXXX - Folds
Hero - Calls $16
XXXX - Calls $16
*** FLOP *** [6s 6c 3h]

Here the villain was 18/11, so very tight basically and deep stacked too. I knew I could take him off all but his strongest hand with an appropriate display of strength on this flop. So I decide to lead into the 2 other players.

Hero - Bets $52
XXXX - Folds
Villain - Raises $156 to $156
Hero - Raises $268 to $320

By firing into 2 players on an XXY flop and then putting in a big 3bet when he raised I told a consistent story of great strength, and he basically has to fold everything except the nuts and maybe AA. Given that I’d been playing well though my image was strong and he may even have laid that down.

Villain - Folds
Hero - returned ($164) : not called

Or he may just have been bluffing with QJs and I had him crushed! :-x

*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero - Does not show
Hero Collects $376.50 from main pot

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Foreign Opportunity

Travel makes a wise man better but a fool worse -Thomas Fuller

WARNING: Non-poker content.

I was training kungfu the other night and my instructor asked the class who would be interested in travelling to Hong Kong in 2010 for the third Wing Chun world conference. Upon learning it would take place in Novermber, my thoughts immediate turned to my girlfriend Faye who has her birthday that month. As my instructor was unable to tell me exactly what dates we'd be away, I decided not to commit as I didn't want to spoil her celebrations. Now, although this seems considerate (or maybe well-trained!), in retrospect I think I had the wrong mindset.

When you are offered an opportunity - such as travelling to a foreign country to pursue a hobby or any other kind - your mind should be thinking 'Great that would be a terrific experience how can I make it happen?'. If you find yourself thinking 'Wow that's a long way away and might be expensive and I wonder if anything else might happen then...' then you have a decidedly negative thought process. After all, how many times do you need to be reminded that you only live once? When presented with a choice you should always choose the option that takes you down the road less travelled.

Some people spend their whole lives in one town with the same people doing the same things. Some of them are even happy doing it. For those of us with intellectual, physical and geographical horizons to expand however we should always seek new places, activities, cultures, you name it. I'm nearly 30 years old, but I hope that as a person I'm far from fully developed yet. I want to learn and grow, and aim to keep doing that until I die. To learn and grow however requires new input or being challenged, and that doesn't happen by repeating old experiences. So, after some time to think (not to mention a nice little ramble here) I'm going to commit to the trip to China. And I'm going to take my girlfriend. Sorted.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No Complaints

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of suffering -Helen Keller

I don't know what caused it, but I've been running like a higher form of life these last few weeks. I have been studying again, and although that must be helping I'm sure it doesn't account for an insane 47BB/100 winrate at 2/4 over nearly 4k hands. As you can see from the below graph, my results are quite a way over my allin EV, and you know what? That's variance, the sweet side for a change, and I'll take it gladly.

I still have trouble in some spots, namely my decisions on when to raise with strong draws. I'd appreciate any input on the following hand which I think I played pretty badly....

NLHE $2/4 Deep 3 players
Seat 1 - AggFish ($751.22 in chips) at 34/21
Seat 3 - TAG($562 in chips) at 20/13
Seat 4 - Hero ($828.15 in chips)
TAG- Posts small blind $2
Hero - Posts big blind $4
Dealt to Hero [Jh 10h]
AggFish - Raises $12 to $12
TAG - Calls $10
Hero - Calls $8 --> decided to call here as JTs is an ideal multiway drawing hand
*** FLOP *** [Qh 4s Kh]
TAG - Checks
Hero - Checks --> hugely great flop for me to cr and hopefully get it in: chk to AggFish but...
AggFish - Checks
*** TURN *** [Qh 4s Kh] [2d]
TAG - Bets $28
Hero - Raises $88 to $88 --> here is where I make my mistake, raising when I have lost half my equity
AggFish - Folds
TAG - Raises $252 to $280 --> TAG puts in big raise (I'm thinking set of 2s or 4s at least)....
Hero - Folds --> ....and I can't call.
TAG - returned ($192) : not called
*** SHOW DOWN ***
TAG - Does not show
TAG Collects $210 from main pot

I really think I should have smooth called the turn and tried to entice AggFish along, but instead I put more money in too late and then got moved off a very strong draw. Thoughts?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Slow Progress

Progress is not created by contented people -Frank Tyger

Well, I think today I made it back into the black for the month, or in other terms, I'm no longer paying for the privilege of turning up to work each day. Had a few good sessions this week, and thankfully few bad beats for the huge pots I've been in, and goodness me I'm grateful.

Have even been playing some low stakes PLO just to stretch my mind a bit, and I was playing pretty well I think. I even folded AAQ5, which surely shows that I'm progressing (doubters: it was utg and rainbow). I even think I've been playing well during my holdem games by making some good folds... but then who can ever tell when you don't get to showdown?

I have just borrowed Dan Harrington's
Cash Game books from a friend and plan on powering through them asap, since it's been far too long since I seriously studied recent pro poker strategie for improving my game. I have also been trying to catch up with my reading in several poker forums, as you can of course never read too much, and have also been looking at different poker websites like to see if I'm missing out on any key information or deals. This site even caters for various european nationalities, and includes the rules for NLHE (or for the German speakers "Texas Hold em regeln").

In non-poker news, I'm just getting back into kugfu once again after meeting a teacher while exercising at my local park. I went along to a few of his classes and being suitably impressed I am now a member of his organisation and hope to be grading very soon. I'm really enjoying being very active once again, and I'm sure it's helping my game to be in good shape. Am even hoping to start parkour or free-running later this year, but might just find myself pressed for time on that one!

Anyway, hope the tables are treating you well, will leave you with a hand that showed me a new way to play A3o...

NLHE $2/4 Deep, $1 ante
Seat #6 is the dealer
Seat 6 - HERO ($800 in chips)
Seat 1 - XXXX ($397 in chips)
Seat 2 - NittyFish ($959.50 in chips)
Seat 3 - XXXX ($298.37 in chips)
Seat 4 - SPAZFISH ($569.95 in chips)
Seat 5 - XXXX ($162.50 in chips)
XXXX - Posts small blind $2
NittyFish - Posts big blind $4
Dealt to HERO [Ks Kh]
XXXX - Calls $4
SPAZFISH - Raises $24 to $24
XXXX - Folds
HERO - Raises $88 to $88
XXXX - Folds
NittyFish - Calls $84 <-- cold calls a big 3bet, gotta be set mining here XXXX - Folds
SPAZFISH - Calls $64 <-- snap overcalls, no idea what he has doubt he has a big hand
*** FLOP *** [5s Js 4d]
NittyFish - Checks
SPAZFISH - Bets $276 <-- bets pot multiway, know I'm good against 1 opponent.... HERO - Raises $552 to $552
NittyFish - Folds <-- ...and now I know I'm not facing a set SPAZFISH - All-In $204.95
HERO - returned ($71.05) : not called
*** TURN *** [5s Js 4d] [7s]
*** RIVER *** [5s Js 4d 7s] [Qh]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
SPAZFISH - Shows [3c As] (ace high) <-- can someone talk me through his thought process? :-o
HERO - Shows [Ks Kh] (One pair, kings)
HERO Collects $1,234.90 from main pot

Friday, August 07, 2009

Anxious Times

Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained -Arthur Roche

Been a long time eh? Don't worry, I'm still here and still playing that cruel game known as poker to keep me living in the manner to which I've become accustomed: specifically few working hours with no commuting but also no pension!

Work has been pretty steady up until a week ago, and I'm doing my best to save for a mortgage. Alas, my first week of this latest month saw me over 5k in the red, and I'm still nowhere close to being in profit for the month.

I can't tell you how tough it is to face the game when you have such a large obstacle to overcome, but luckily for me I've had plenty of practice playing the day after losing several thousand, so I'm back at the tables and slowly making headway.

I did go on a mini heater this morning and scraped back a little, winning what must be the most BBs in a single hand that I've played for a long long while. Nothing fancy here, just got lucky that the third guy in the hand added over 100bb before he dropped out...

Holdem No Limit $2/4 Deep - 6 players
Seat #4 is the dealer
Seat 4 - HERO ($1,212.25 in chips)
Seat 6 - VILLAIN1 ($2,039.70 in chips)
Seat 3 - VILLAIN2 ($941.50 in chips)
XXXX - Posts small blind $2
VILLAIN1 - Posts big blind $4
Dealt to HERO [9c 9s]
XXXX - Folds
XXXX - Folds
VILLAIN2 - Raises $14 to $14
HERO - Calls $14
XXXX - Folds
VILLAIN1 - Calls $10
*** FLOP *** [4h 6d 9h]
VILLAIN1 - Checks
VILLAIN2 - Bets $36
HERO - Calls $36
VILLAIN1 - Raises $196 to $196
VILLAIN2 - Raises $475 to $511
HERO - All-In(Raise) $1,162.25 to $1,198.25
VILLAIN1 - Calls $1,002.25
VILLAIN2 - Folds
*** TURN *** [4h 6d 9h] [Ac]
*** RIVER *** [4h 6d 9h Ac] [Kd]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
HERO - Shows [9c 9s] (Three of a kind, nines)
VILLAIN1 - Shows [6h 6c] (Three of a kind, sixes)
HERO Collects $2,948 from main pot

Yup, there were 737BB's in that bad boy pot. Why can't I win pots like that every day??? :-/

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Risks Inherent

Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down - Ray Bradbury

So this month was going really well, and then all of sudden it wasn't. Sure there were some hands that I could have played a lot better, but I had some pretty damn awful luck. I doubt that I've ever had such a bad hit of variance. But don't just take my word for it, after all my picture is worth a thousand of them....

It should go without saying that I'm not best pleased, but with 2 weeks to go I of course aim to swing things back in my favour. Who knows, I might even re-discover how to dodge 2-outers and flush draws....

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Open options

To know what everybody else knows is to know nothing -Remy De Gourmont

A friend of mine has recently been enjoying some impressive successes in large field tournaments. Naturally, I'm jealous. I figure that if he can do so well, I of course can do better. Whether or not this is true is a secondary concern to finding good tournaments for me to get involved in.

Between my current sites Full Tilt and UB, I think the only place to go in terms of tournaments is Full Tilt. There simply aren't enough players on UB in the day for decent tourney action, and seeing as I am currently only a tournament rookie, I would prefer that the tables be filled with fish rather than purely populated by pros. That said however, from all the reading that I've done in other players' blogs I think it might finally be time to join a new site: specifically Titan Poker, with whom I can get a pretty good signup
poker bonus.

Bonuses aside, TP hosts a diverse and tempting range of tournaments, catering for the poorer players who prefer satellites or $30 MTTs, to the high rollers who want a shot at winning events like an 250k guaranteed. The full breakdown of their schedule can be seen on TP's
poker tournaments page. Personally, I think I'll follow the tried and tested approach of starting small and building up the stakes in keeping with my bankroll.

On the topic of trying new sites, I am tempted to return once more to Mansion Poker. I get a nice rakeback rate of 36% on that site, and the reason I originally left wasn't because of poor software but poor player numbers. Either they have picked up lots of customers recently, or they have always been popular in EU daylight hours. Whatever the reason, the tables have been plentiful and pleasingly populated (I saw a minbet and a min-raise in a 21BB NLHE pot) over the last few weeks, and so I just might fire it up and make a deposit on there again. Providing I can find a nice deposit bonus of course. And who knows, they may even run a few decent tournaments themselves.....

Friday, April 24, 2009

Winning Advice?

A word to the wise ain't necessary, it is the stupid ones that need all the advice -Bill Cosby

Below is some advice which I recently read, and thought it would serve as a good review of some high level NLHE concepts. I find that it is very useful to occasionally take a step back from the fine details of a problem or project and check that the fundamental 'bigger picture' details are in place and working properly. This is especially important when the problem is something of great complexity... or if it's success means the difference between making a salary or not!

Winning Tips for Texas Holdem players

Texas Holdem is a popular casino game. Though simple to learn, it is difficult to master. Here are some winning tips for
holdem players.

1. Texas Holdem game is basically a high card game. Whoever holds the two good high cards has the best chance for the best hand or a draw to the best hand after the flop.

2. It is important to play strong hands, as only strong hands are able to withstand a raise(s), from early betting positions.

3. At later positions, it is better to play medium strength hands, especially, if you have a good chance of seeing the flop at a decent price.

4. While it is advisable to play strong hands throughout Texas Holdem, it is also important to play aggressively.

5. Take all the raises you can get, as if you don’t rid yourself of competition, your chances of winning will reduce considerably.

6. Moreover, your aggression before the flop adds significant weight to any strong play you might want to use on the next round, especially if there is a bad flop and you want to attempt a steal.

7. In Texas Holdem always ensure that you are ready to fold your high pair if you get a lot of action with a hostile flop.

There are several points from above that I'd like to expand upon. As always my advice is geared towards 6-max NLHE, but still holds for full ring games.

#2. While this is true in lower limit games where there are only 100bb stacks, this advice needs to be relaxed when the stacks get deeper and the games become more tricky. If you can exploit an opponent by playing a hand like 53s that they would easily go broke against in the right situation, you should play that hand (providing you can do so cheaply).

#3. This should read "play medium strength hands as well as premium strength hands [in later positions]". When the price of playing is mentioned, don't forget to take into account any raises that can come from players still to act behind you. If you are going to be forced to fold if someone raises, and such a raise is more likely than not, it is best to fold now and save yourself the money of call-folding.

#5. This is linked to the previous point advising aggressive play. While I agree that aggression is important, sometimes it is a lot safer and economic to call rather than raise if doing so doesn't cost you any advantage. For example, say you are last to act in a hand with 2 opponents where the board of Ks 9h 4h Ad contains a flush draw and nothing else and you hold top 2 pair with Ac Kc. If player 1 (a tight aggressive opponent) bets out and player 2 (loose passive) calls, and you are sure player 2 has a flush draw and will not fold to a raise, it might be a good idea to simply call in this spot with your 2 pair. While you want player 2 to put as much money in the pot as possible with their flush draw, the fact that player 1 might easily have a set and re-raise allin means you should err on the side of caution here and wait for the river before committing more money to the hand.

#6. This is true, but only if your preflop aggression is occasional. Someone who raises and re-raises every other hand will not be given respect for a strong hand by the other players, and many of them will start to call down your bets on later streets with more marginal hands. So by all means be aggressive, but be aggressive only in specific spots.

Hopefully this advice is helpful, but as with all advice consider it carefully before you use it, and if any of it doesn't work for you then feel free to discard it. All the best.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Just wet myself watching this amazing clip, for anyone who ever feels unlucky at the tables the empathy is almost painful! Do yourself a favour and watch it, though be warned the language is somewhat colourful! Thanks to Amatay for providing the link, I think a good sense of humour is essential to those who do what we do.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Deeper thoughts

An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all - Oscar Wilde

Following my recent reversal of fortune at FTP (specifically me playing and winning with something approaching consistency) I have been getting involved in more $2/4 and $3/6 games, including the deep tables for both. I played the following hand yesterday, and couldn't help thinking I would have won it if my thinking had been a little clearer.

Full Tilt Poker Table Dunk (deep 6) - $3/$6 - No Limit Hold'em
Seat 1: Villain ($618)
Seat 2: ***** ($845.35)
Seat 3: ***** ($618)
Seat 4: ***** ($1,314)
Seat 5: ***** ($723.45)
Seat 6: Hero ($1,200)
vvm94 posts the small blind of $3
wuleq posts the big blind of $6
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Kh Ah]
zero2lose folds
hammer_6161 folds
Hero raises to $21
Villain calls $21
vvm94 folds
wuleq folds

The villain of the hand was a tight regular, running at around 22/19. When he called on the button I assigned him a non-premium hand, most likely a small pair or suited connector. He was not the type to play suited garbage. There was $51 in the pot when we took the flop heads up.

*** FLOP *** [Tc 2s 9h]
Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero bets $42
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain calls $42

With a nice rainbow flop, I bet out quite strongly hoping to take it down there. After a long pause, the villain decides to call. At this point I can see him having a TP hand like JT, an OESD like QJs or 87s, or a possible set which he is slowplaying. I decided I'm not done with the hand, and would see what the turn brought.

*** TURN *** [Tc 2s 9h] [4h]
Hero checks
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain bets $80
Hero raises to $210
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain has requested TIME
Villain calls $130

After my check, the villain again tanked before putting out a bet. I thought to myself: he's not protecting a hand, he has a draw and is trying to scare me off. So as you can see I actually liked the turned flush draw enough to put in a decent check-raise. Again, the villain tanked for a long time before calling and I now completely ruled out a set which would surely push in this spot. I now put the villain on exactly QJs or 87s, and was confident I was way ahead.

*** RIVER *** [Tc 2s 9h 4h] [8d]
Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero has requested TIME
Hero checks

OK, having narrowed my opponents holding to 2 hands, one of them just made the nuts, and the other just became nothing more than a bluff catcher. A bet into the former would prompt an allin raise, and a bet into the latter (given the strength I'd shown) would prompt a rapid fold. My thinking at the time however was that my opponent would not have called a turn check-raise with an OESD and no overcards, so I decided he was far more likely to have QJs then 87s, and thus have the nuts. So thinking I opted to check, knowing that I had now lost the hand.

Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain has requested TIME
Villain checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Hero shows [Kh Ah] Ace King high
Villain shows [7s 8s] a pair of Eights
Villain wins the pot ($552) with a pair of Eights

Alas my opponent wasn't as sensible as I had given him credit for, and I lost to a measly pair of 8s. A pair that would surely have folded to one last bet on the river: I realised too late that a bluff would have been profitable. I had invested $270 in the hand, and on the river we both had $350 behind. As the pot was $550, and my opponent only had $350 left, if I was to bluff it would have to be suitably small - without being so tiny it would get looked up by 3P7K.

[EDIT] Had to correct this, my first set of figures were miles off! [EDIT] Lets ignore my thinking that he was more likely to have an OESD and overcards, and say he was 50-50 to have either QJs or 87s. If I had bet 175 to win the 550, and he folds 50% of the time, then (discounting what I have already invested) I win $550 half the time, and lose $175 the other half. That's a $187 +EV spot if my thinking is correct.

As you can see from the above illustration, even if he has a 75% chance of having the nuts, it works out as winning $550 x 0.25 = $137 and losing 175 x 0.75 = $131 which is still +EV. So, even though I knew I was beaten, a bluff lead was still profitable and should have been attempted. My only consolation was that my read was bang on. If anyone agrees or thinks otherwise please drop me your thoughts!

The other hand I was thinking about (is it weird that I think of poker hands in the shower??) was the following one I played just this afternoon.

Full Tilt Poker Table Kilt (deep 6) - $2/$4 - No Limit Hold'em
Seat 2: Hero ($800)
Seat 3: ***** ($461.40)
Seat 4: ***** ($563.45)
Seat 5: Villain ($798)
Seat 6: ***** ($867)
***** posts the small blind of $2
Hero posts the big blind of $4
The button is in seat #5
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [4h 4d]
***** folds
***** calls $4
Villain raises to $18
***** folds
Hero calls $14
***** folds
*** FLOP *** [4c 3h 8d]
Hero bets $32
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain has requested TIME
Villain calls $32

Pretty standard flop lead out with a set on a ragged dry flop. If he has an overpair he'll usually raise, or a with a big A or piece of the board he'll probably call. I obviously hope for the former, but am happy he calls.

*** TURN *** [4c 3h 8d] [Ad]

The Ace is an interesting turn card. Either it helps my opponent, or crushes him if he has 99-KK, which given the flop action is unlikely. At this point I'm thinking he is more likely to have a big A, and so I opt for the check-raise option, so that he can value bet an Ace or bluff an excellent scare card.

Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero checks
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain bets $77
Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero raises to $256
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain has requested TIME
Villain folds
Hero wins the pot ($257)

Now, unfortunately my opponent folded after betting the turn, but then I raised strongly enough to force him to fold any flush draw or pair. The question is, should I have bet a whole lot less? With such deep stacks, I can't just push in that spot and try and represent a weak hand that picked up say a flush draw and a gutter.

What would a min-raise do? Look really fishy I think is the answer. It might even elicit a 3-bet from a TP type hand. Providing I can find a fold if the river completes the flush (nothing else really scares me) and I'm facing lots of pressure, I think a min-raise in that spot might be the best shot at getting his whole stack.

Without check-raising though, I think continuing to bet when the A comes shows too much strength. Even if I bet small when it comes, again he folds all overpairs and is probably very hesitant about doing anything other than calling if he has an Ace, no matter his kicker strength.

Maybe I'm missing value here though, does anyone else have a different line here? If so, again I'd like to hear what it is. Thanks.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Strategy Success

Took a while, but have finally gone through all my posts and added the 'Strategy' label to the appropriate entries. So, if you want an insight into my thoughts on shorthanded NLHE, now you can just click the strategy link on the right hand side of the blog and see a list of all strategy posts written by yours truly. Hope they help.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Man needs difficulties; they are necessary for health - Carl Jung

Well, somehow I managed to break the 30k barrier on FTP, and for the first time ever I think I am now a winning player on that site according to! Don't really know why the sudden change in fortune, but I'm not complaining by any means. Thinking about it, I haven't been playing as aggressively as I have in the past, and I think after playing so much deep-stack NLHE on UB my game is now much more conservative. Consequently my range when putting money in after the flop is now much more skewed towards monster than marginal hands, and I think this may be why the money is coming in.

On UB though my results haven't been quite so good, and I still occasionally find myself misplaying hands for 200BB+ which is really frustrating for this so-called pro. It's always against the super laggy or donkey players as well, as I fail to adjust correctly to their particular style and betting patterns. Post-game analysis continues though, and I believe my game is improving as the year goes on.

I've been dabbling in the UB Steps SnG tables, with some good initial results running a step 2 seat into a step 6 seat, which unfortunately I couldn't hold on to when I finished 7th. I plan to continue playing in them however, as aside from the chance to win a WSOP main event package they also keep my brain ticking over as it learns this new type of game. It certainly makes a change having to fold hands I'd usually happily go all the way with in a cash game. The players in general are pretty bad, especially at the lower levels, so that needs to be accounted for also. Will let you know if I get any further than Step 6.

In non-poker news, I went on my second snowboarding holiday in Italy's Claviere 2 weeks ago, and it was incredible! We spent a whole week there and managed to get in about 6-7 hours of boarding each day, and I was really pleased with my progress not to mention how much fun I had speeding down the slopes! My girlfriend, her 2 sisters, and their other (better?) halves were all their too, and we all had a great time exploring the slopes en masse or in twos and threes and all of us are keen to go again. I'm planning on investigating another trip this time in a chalet next season, and will be extending the offer to some of my other snow-inclined friends to join in.

That's for after what will hopefully be a long hot summer, and I'll need to put in plenty of hours to comfortably afford it - with the pound being so weak at the moment the food cost us a small fortune! Anyway, all the best at the tables and in the real world, will leave you with a very special player....

Full Tilt Poker - $1/$2 - No Limit Hold'em

Seat 1: BMoney76 ($203)
Seat 2: Subzero_666 ($330.60)
Seat 4: jangggo ($194)
Seat 5: cwalk2k3 ($221.35)
Seat 6: Flashish ($200)
jangggo posts the small blind of $1
cwalk2k3 posts the big blind of $2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Subzero_666 [Kc Ac]
Flashish folds
BMoney76 raises to $4
Subzero_666 raises to $15
jangggo folds
cwalk2k3 folds
BMoney76 calls $11
*** FLOP *** [6c 3c Qh]
BMoney76 bets $188, and is all in
Subzero_666 calls $188 - never called so fast in my life!
BMoney76 shows [Ts 7h] - errrr.....?
Subzero_666 shows [Kc Ac]
*** TURN *** [6c 3c Qh] [Qs]
*** RIVER *** [6c 3c Qh Qs] [Ad]
BMoney76 shows a pair of Queens
Subzero_666 shows two pair, Aces and Queens
Subzero_666 wins the pot ($406) with two pair, Aces and Queens
BMoney76 is sitting out
*** SUMMARY ***
Seat 1: BMoney76 showed [Ts 7h] and lost with a pair of Queens
- lol!

Champion Characteristics: 1)Min raising T7o 2)Calling a 3 bet with T7o out of position 3) Pushing allin with no hand no draw. Bravo.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Back to Business ( II )

Another thing that should not be overlooked is ways in which you can maximize profit from your invested capital. In poker, this can be done by looking out for several things: bonuses, rakeback and advertising.

Bonuses are available from any good poker site (like the Poker Stars bonus) and provide a means of getting additional money when depositing funds to that site. Usually a poker site will credit your account with bonus dollars as a specified percentage of your deposit, and these bonus dollars are then released (either incrementally or in total) after some target amount of play has been reached. There are even helpful sites which will give you a list of all poker sites and available bonuses so you can get the maximum reward from every deposit you make.

Rakeback is the term given to the money that is reimbursed to a player from the total amount of rake that the player generates on a given site. This money comes not from the site, but from a 'rakeback affiliate', any one of which usually cater for a broad range of poker sites with different rakeback percentages. Rakeback is an essential financial aid for a pro, and there is no reason not to be receiving it.

Advertising as a means of generating revenue is only available to those people who have a webpage, or are fortunate enough to be so amazingly famous that companies will pay them to wear their merchandise/logos when they attend live tournaments/games. If (like me) you only belong to the former group, if your page has enough traffic certain sites may ask you to include a link to their site in exchange for some nominal compensation. This may not ever generate huge financial reward, but every little helps.

So if you see poker as a business, hopefully you are now a little better prepared to make the most of your chosen profession. As a poker player though, I'm sure you are already used to exploiting every possible opportunity. So may your edge be big as possible, and may the poker force be with you.....

Monday, March 30, 2009

Back to Business

The successful man is the one who finds out what is the matter with his business before his competitors do -Roy L Smith

I've been playing poker for a living over a year now, and when it's your sole source of income you quickly find you have to treat it like a business. As you probably know, a business is not a simple thing. You need not only to offer a valuable service or product, but you also need to know: your customers; how best to package/present your product/service; when and how to advertise; what other similar businesses are doing.... In short, there are lots of factors to consider. This is certainly the case for poker.

You have to know your customers. I'm sure you've all played against a certain player who you have mentally earmarked as the best person in the world to sit down at a poker table with. If you don't have a means for finding this person whenever they are playing you are sacrificing a huge financial edge. This is why having 'buddylists' and player tracking software is so important. Any money spent on sites/software which tell you the location of the best tables to play is money that could not be better spent. It is also equally wise to make a note of players who are very good so they can be avoided whenever possible.

You need to know your business. If you haven't studied, analysed, discussed and dissected the most common situations to your particular poker game, then you are merely gambling and not running a business. The only substitute for a sound theoretical understanding of the game is substantial experience - long enough that the effects of variance play no more than a marginal role in your results. Ideally, for the best results the two should be combined.

Indeed, it is often not enough to have acquired only a basic grasp of the game in the past - you should be taking regular revision sessions and learning the latest ideas and strategies. Poker is a constantly changing industry, and failing to change with it will leave your business behind. Fortunately there are now great applications for reviewing your play, and scores of sites which provide either useful poker discussion, poker training, or both.

Along with all the above, the most important thing to remember is that you also have to work hard! You can have the best business in the world, but if your employees only work part time or half-heartedly you cannot help but struggle. You need to make sure targets are met (i.e. hours per week), enough effort is given (i.e. playing without taking phonecalls etc.) and there is no counter-productive behaviour in the office (i.e. drinking at the desk, smoking weed in the toilets etc.). I truly believe that hard work can make up for almost all other shortcomings.

I guess I could say that I know running a business is hard, but I'm pretty sure that the online business of playing poker doesn't come close to the difficulties of doing business in the real world and I don't like to be presumptuous. Suffice to say that whatever business you're involved in, it is sensible to consider as much as possible in order to give your business the best chance to succeed. May your own go from strength to strength -unless of course you're one of my direct competitors! ;-)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Critical thinking in poker

The trouble with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than their minds - William Durant

Damn if this post hasn't taken far longer than I wanted! Sorry for being so slow with this, but I wanted to have several good examples and tried to make a post that will genuinely help players improve their game. I fear there will be no groundbreaking concepts in this strategy post, but hopefully it will be helpful to someone aside from myself, and with the luck the examples included will nicely illustrate what remains an important lesson: the necessity of critical thinking in big bet poker.

Critical thinking for me is about observing a certain situation or behaviour, and then deducing the cause or reasoning behind it. Sometimes this thinking can even allow you to predict with some degree of confidence what will happen in the future. Obviously in poker this ability is very useful in hand reading, but it is also highly applicable to the psychological aspect. Critical thinking can be used to help understand what your opponent is thinking... and if you can accurately do that, the battle is basically over.

Lets go with the first example and look at critical thinking for hand reading:

$2/$4 NLHE - 6 players
Seat 1: CrazyIvan24 ($400)
Seat 2: tRybek ($758.60)
Seat 3: Villain ($538.10)
at 24/8
Seat 4: Hero ($421)
Seat 5: ChildBride ($400)
Seat 6: tonybas ($638.30)
tRybek posts the small blind of $2
Villain posts the big blind of $4
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Kd Ah]
Hero raises to $14
ChildBride folds
tonybas folds
CrazyIvan24 has 15 seconds left to act
CrazyIvan24 calls $14
tRybek calls $12
Villain calls $10

Ok, standard open UTG with AKo. I get two folds, and then a call from the button who has been trying to outplay me in position several times. Both the blinds also call. So I can assume the following here: no one is likely to have a hand like JJ+ or another AK, as the button would re-raise with this to force out the blinds, and the blinds would normally squeeze given this is a 2/4 table. I won't rule them out, but my opponents ranges (remember 2 are in the blinds) are more likely to be high cards, low pairs, connectors, and suited garbage. The button's range is more likely to also include a suited connector given the likelihood of a multiway pot.

*** FLOP *** [Kc 9c 4c]
tRybek checks
Villain checks
Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero bets $48
CrazyIvan24 folds
tRybek folds
Villain raises to $122
Hero has 15 seconds left to act
Hero calls $74

I hit top pair, but obviously I'm not thrilled at the monotone flop. There is almost $60 in the pot, and after two checks from the blinds, I fire with my TPTK. The button folds as he must with anything than a set or a flush, and the SB follows suit (no pun intended). Then the BB comes out with an 1.5x checkraise. Now normally I'd give this a lot of respect, but lets consider the factors.

The BB called just $10 pf with 3 players already in the pot and was closing the action, so his range is pretty darn wide. The flop is very scary, and my bet into 3 players looks like I want to take down the pot while it is small. The flop couldn't be more spread in terms of rank, so 2 pair is very unlikely. The pot is now heads up, which is always the best time to check-raise bluff. The size of the raise is interesting also: it is not very big and would not put off a flush draw or a set. It is possible he's raising with a baby flush, but the nut flush (aside from being unlikely for the BB to have) is more likely to call than raise against a single opponent. Lastly, and most importantly, I'm in position so I can safely call and re-evaluate after seeing my opponents turn action. It is mainly this final factor that convinces me to call.

*** TURN *** [Kc 9c 4c] [6h]
Villain checks

The villain checks - so much information here. I can now rule out a baby flush - my call indicates either the nuts, a draw to the nuts or a strong made hand (set, TPTK, overpair) and out of position he would bet again to protect his flush on this safe turn card. A set, already unlikely is now ruled out as he would again try to protect this oop. Two pair is still just as unlikely. My best guess at this point is that he was trying a pure bluff with air, has a badly played QQ-TT, possibly with a Club, or something like Ks Qc. So, since I am miles ahead of his most likely range, I happily shove my TPTK on this seemingly dangerous board and get the result I expect.

Hero bets $285, and is all in
Villain folds
Uncalled bet of $285 returned to Hero
Hero wins the pot ($297)

This second example gets a bit more into the psychological aspect along with hand reading...

$1/$2 NLHE - 4 players
Seat 2: IDent ($103)
Seat 4: Hero ($200)
Seat 5: royamsterdam ($200)
Seat 6: Villain ($416.15)
at 17/13
royamsterdam posts the small blind of $1
Villain posts the big blind of $2
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Jh Kc]
IDent raises to $9
Hero calls $9
royamsterdam adds $1
royamsterdam folds
Villain raises to $32
IDent folds
Hero calls $23

I call here because I have position on the fish IDent who has been opening nearly every hand, and also I have the button so will have position on every other player. KJo is easily ahead of the fishes range, and I am happy to play it in this situation. Now, the Villain re-raises from the BB. He is a tight, thinking player and he knows as well as I that the fish is often opening light. After the fish folds, I have my first real decision. I am most likely facing a premium PP, or maybe a squeeze from AJs+, both of which obviously crush me. Given how tight he is though I realise that I can more easily push him off lots of non-nut hands, and with the right boards I can represent plenty of hands and do exactly that, so I decide to call with my probably dominated hand.

*** FLOP *** [3c 5h 9d]
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain bets $31
Hero calls $31

What a perfect flop for me. My range definitely includes all PPs which just made a set here, and in addition the rainbow board means that if I smooth call here a set looks even more likely. This is a perfect board for representing against a tight player. Also, the lack of a broadway card means that any big A (suited or not) is feeling pretty awful now that it remains completely unimproved. He bets, as he would with his entire range, and after a brief pause I smooth call.

*** TURN *** [3c 5h 9d] [4s]
Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain checks

With the pot at nearly $135, out of position against a fairly solid opponent who smooth called a c-bet on a very ragged flop, my tight opponent is in a fix. There is no way the 4s helped him. With any unimproved Ax, he can't call any but the smallest bet. Even with a big PP, he can only hope to check call with what will more often than not turn out to be the worst hand. And so he thinks for a while before having to check.

Hero bets $72

Since I have played this hand like a set, I follow that line and decide to bet half the pot. This is a good amount for 2 reasons: 1) it looks like I want a call, and 2) it leaves me with roughly the same amount behind, so it looks like I am pot committed and hence less likely to be bluffing. Once again, my thinking has been good and I am fortunate enough to get a deserving result.

Villain has 15 seconds left to act
Villain folds
Uncalled bet of $72 returned to Hero
Hero mucks
Hero wins the pot ($134)

The next example shows an acute lack of critical thinking on my part, and my opponent reaps the rewards from my gross mistakes....

$3/$6 Deep NLHE - 5 players
Seat #1 is the dealer
Seat 1 - TRADEBYDAY ($591 in chips)
Seat 2 - Hero ($1420.50 in chips)
Seat 4 - Villain ($794.40 in chips)
at 27/24
Seat 5 - ROCKCHALK73 ($485.70 in chips)
Seat 6 - SPOOOOOKY ($1763 in chips)
Hero - Posts small blind $3
Villain - Posts big blind $6
Dealt to Hero [As 10s]
Hero - Raises $15 to $18
Villain - Calls $12

At $3/$6, ATs is a very good hand for a blind vs blind confrontation. My raise and his call in position is nothing out of the ordinary and not too much information is available from it.

*** FLOP *** [Kc Ks 7s]
Hero - Bets $18
Villain - Raises $62 to $62
Hero - Raises $136 to $154
Villain - Calls $92

With two spades on the flop I decide I very much like this flop, and make my first mistake. Since my opponent having flopped trips is so unlikely(not to mention a fullhouse), I decide that I like my hand so much I will be going to the river with it. A word to the wise: never decide such a thing. Especially don't decide it on such a dangerous board. A poker hand is dynamic, and hand decisions must be equally so.

I decide to bet small to try and elicit a bluff raise on this scary board, and my 27/24 opponent happily obliges while in position. Now I re-raise nearly $100 on top - representing a strong King - expecting all flush draws, 2 pairs and bluffs to fold pretty fast. However, I get called but instead of hearing warning bells I put my opponent on either a flush draw or 2 pair on a paired board and simply assume he's being stubborn. The pot is now around $340 and I have a nothing but a flush draw and an overcard.

*** TURN *** [Kc Ks 7s ] [Ah]
Hero - Checks
Villain - Bets $130
Hero - Calls $130

I just made top pair Ten kicker, so now I'm beating his flush draw and his 2 pairs. So I check and let him decide to bluff both of these hands. He does bet, but it is only about 1/3 of the pot. Calling here is my second mistake of the hand.

Why would he bluff such a small amount on such a scary card? There's no way he could have called the flop action with something like AQ, and I also know he doesn't have the nut flush draw, so the A does not help him. But he's still betting it, and curiously he's betting small. I should see that I'm facing at least trip Kings at this point, because he's not afraid of the Ace and he called my big re-raise on the flop after I showed huge strength. I can now see that his turn bet isn't aimed at scaring off a draw, it's aimed at getting a call from any hand or any draw. At the time though I decided however that I was 'priced in' and call with my top pair and nut flush draw.

*** RIVER *** [Kc Ks 7s Ah] [9h]
Hero - Checks
Villain - All-In $492.40
Hero - Calls $492.40

Here is my biggest monetary mistake. I check, knowing he will check behind with any Ace or hand with decent showdown value, and bluff his missed draws. There is only one real draw though - the flush - and I have the nut draw for that, taking away 2 of his outs and thus dramatically lowering the likelihood he has the same draw. He bets allin, and I ignore the fact that not only is him having a flush draw unlikely, I also discount his call on the flop where I showed such strength. I make the rookie mistake of putting him on the one possible hand I beat. So I call, and so I lose 200BB.

*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain - Shows [7c 7d] (Full house, sevens full of kings)
Hero - Mucks
Villain Collects $1585.30 from main pot

I was surprised he raised the flop with the nuts, but this was deep $3/$6, and he saw an easy way to try and get the money in early, and then I went and finished the job for him by re-raising on the flop and then calling his allin on the river. An expensive lesson for me, but a valuable one. You must re-evaluate after every new piece of information, and more importantly you always have to look at the whole picture.

This final hand is very interesting, and again shows the use of critical thinking for gaining psychological insight and improved hand reading.

$3/$6 Deep NLHE - 5 players
Seat #6 is the dealer
Seat 6 - STATIC_NINE ($681 in chips)
Seat 1 - NEO094 ($794 in chips)
Seat 2 - ADAMDALE77 ($1131.45 in chips)
Seat 3 - Hero ($1209 in chips)
Seat 4 - Villain ($1502.30 in chips) at 25.5/20.5
NEO094 - Posts small blind $3
ADAMDALE77 - Posts big blind $6
Dealt to Hero [10h 10d]
Hero - Raises $21 to $21
Villain - Calls $21
NEO094 - Folds
ADAMDALE77 - Calls $15

With 5 players at the table I get a flat call from the villain (UTG+1) and a call from the BB in response to my UTG raise. My range for opening UTG is usually most PPs and ATs+, and my opponents are mostly fairly decent thinking players, typical of the $3/$6 level.

*** FLOP *** [5c Qh Jh]
ADAMDALE77 - Checks
Hero - Bets $48
Villain - Calls $48
ADAMDALE77 - Folds

This is a nice flop for me, as it hits half of my Ax range, and also my 3 of the PPs I would raise with UTG. I decide to put pressure on the villain by betting into him here and sandwiching him between me as the preflop raiser and an opponent who could have anything. I do this as it often lends a greater degree of 'purity' to his actions, and subsequently makes my future decisions easier. Also, it gives me the best chance of getting position for the rest of the hand if he folds. From the flop onwards I'm not really playing my hand but my opponents.

I decide to bet 3/4 pot, which I would do with a number of hands on this drawy flop including 2PTK, TPTK, a set, and occasionally an OESD. The villain flat calls, which makes me think he caught a small piece of the flop, or has a strong draw (nut flush or maybe an OESD). Since he doesn't raise, I guess that he does not yet want to commit to the pot, and likely does not have a monster as he is happy to let the BB also call. If he gets checkraised by the BB he can re-evaluate in position. The BB chooses to fold however, and we see the turn HU.

*** TURN *** [5c Qh Jh] [Ad]

The Ace is a great card for me here. Sure it gives the nuts to my opponent if they were calling with KT, but this hand is unlikely since I hold 2 Tens . It doesn't help hands like TP or 2P unless they also have top kicker, or the unlikely OESDs, and only really aids the nut flush draw. If they were in fact calling with AhXh then they just improved dramatically, but will still be wary of 2 pair or a set. As I recognise that the nuts is unlikely here, I decide to try and check-raise and put pressure on my opponent who could easily be floating with a weak hand or draw.

A slow-played monster will likely push here when check-raised, as will the (unlikely) nuts, along with AhKh. I expect that a check-raise will be called with hands like AK, QJ orAhXh and will cause all weaker hands to fold. Also, since I will essentially be bluff check-raising here I make sure I have at least some outs to make the nuts on the river.

Hero - Checks
Villain - Bets $120
Hero - Raises $282 to $282

So I check, and my opponent bets nearly 3/4 pot. He knows the Ace is a scare card, and my check after having a c-bet smooth called will often mean I am giving up on the pot. However, I check raise 1.5x and now he must consider my range. He can probably discount KTs from my range as it is a little weak for me to open UTG. A set of Qs, Js and 5s are all possible, and would all be feasibly played this way. Just as likely is AQ for top 2 pair, which would neatly fit with the action so far.

Villain - Calls $162

My opponent thinks and calls, so I can now narrow his range to AK, QJ and AhXh with a fair degree of confidence, and rule out all sets, the nuts, and AhKh. Since I have already thought about what a call will indicate, I am much more confident about the hand going to the river.

*** RIVER *** [5c Qh Jh Ad] [Qd]

Well, the river doesn't give me the nuts, and I'm completely crushed by practically all of my opponents range. Luckily, I don't look like I'm on a gutshot, and my opponent has no idea I was betting and raising with an underpair. The Q pairing the board not only lessens the chance of my opponent having a Q, but (since I was representing either a set or top 2 pair) turns what my opponent thinks is my most likely range into a full house. Knowing this and also that anyone with a full house would normally bet for value on the river, I do exactly that - being careful of course not to bet too much and risk appearing like a bully. A 2/3 pot bet seems appropriate, and also if I have completely messed up my read I'm not throwing away too much money. The result is most satisfying:

Hero - Bets $480
Villain - Folds
Hero - returned ($480) : not called

Of course, I could have gotten very lucky to win the 3 hands that I did by catching my opponents on pure bluffs. I like to think however that it was more due to focussing on the action and logically reasoning about my opponents hand and also about what they thought my hand was. Either way, if you concentrate hard during a hand, try to put your opponent on a hand and also consider what they think you may have, you cannot help but become a better player.

All the best at the tables, apologies again for going dark for so long. The next post is coming soon....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The agony and the ex ...asperation?

It is a waste of energy to be angry with a man who behaves badly; just as it is to be angry with a car that won't go. -Bertram Russell

Table Escada (6 max) - $1/$2 - No Limit Hold'em
Seat 1: Hero ($331.85)
Seat 2: LiFe Is CrAp ($322.35)
Seat 3: iplaynething16 ($136.65)
Seat 4: charles1981 ($63)
Seat 5: Jordan Morgan ($211.50)
Seat 6: WICKEDSTL ($69.15)
WICKEDSTL posts the small blind of $1
Hero posts the big blind of $2
The button is in seat #5
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Ah Ad]
LiFe Is CrAp folds
iplaynething16 folds
charles1981 folds
Jordan Morgan raises to $7
WICKEDSTL calls $6 <--- perfect 'squeeze' opportunity with AA as looks very suspicious
Hero raises to $30
Jordan Morgan folds
WICKEDSTL calls $23
*** FLOP *** [Qh 8s 2s]
Hero bets $67
WICKEDSTL calls $39.15, and is all in <--- snap call, and I foolishly assume 88 or a flush draw Hero shows [Ah Ad]
WICKEDSTL shows [Tc Jh] <--- ye olde gutshot and 2 unders - how can it fail?!? Uncalled bet of $27.85 returned to Hero
*** TURN *** [Qh 8s 2s] [Ks]
*** RIVER *** [Qh 8s 2s Ks] [Ac]
Hero shows three of a kind, Aces
WICKEDSTL shows a straight, Ace high
WICKEDSTL wins the pot ($142.30) with a straight, Ace high
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $145.30 Rake $3
Board: [Qh 8s 2s Ks Ac]
Seat 1: Hero (big blind) showed [Ah Ad] and lost with three of a kind, Aces (but when are trip Aces ever good?)
Seat 6: WICKEDSTL (small blind) showed [Tc Jh] and won ($142.30) with a straight, Ace high

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Annual Results

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. -Winston Churchill

Well, it's been 12 months. Some were long, some short; some easy, others hard; many profitable, and several less so. Unfortunately, the last month was one of the latter. Including rakeback, last month I made about $400. And there I was hoping to finish on a high. However, as I've recently told a struggling friend and fellow pro: it's all about the long term results. So, without further ado....

Half-year profit: $20.2k over 250 hours

Yearly profit: $64.8k over 780 hours

Equivalent salary in UK sterling: £54k

It could have been better, but it was an ok start to the pro life. And by and large, I enjoyed my years work, which I haven't been able to say before. So, here's to the new year, and all it may bring....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pity. Moving on....

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived. -Thomas Merton

Following what I predict will be my worst month of cash game results (don't ask - I'm too fragile!), I am giving serious thought to how else I will be spending my time over the next 12 months. I do still want to play poker, but I'm very tempted to devote a more serious chunk of time to PLO, and also start looking at tournament play, as from all I've heard the player fields are (in the majority) extremely weak. I realise I will have to curtail my expectations as far as winning sessions go, but I expect that the very occasional payoffs will prove a handsome consolation.

The quest for a suitable site to play a regular poker tournament may prompt me to expand my site repertoire away from UB and FTP.I've heard about lots of different sites through blogs, mail, and adverts, so I may end up at PokerStars which seems a favourite among bloggers, or try a brand new site (such as Pokervibez) as they usually have lots of offers going on, and tend to draw crowds of weak players who fall prey to the mass advertising typical of a startup site.

I've also been reminded about Pacific Poker which is another well-established site boasting some very juicy games and an overall rating of 7.8 on Pokerlistings. Aside from that, the offer of a 125% first deposit bonus is pretty hard to ignore! Either way, I don't
think I'll be short of good places where I can play online poker, whether I desire tournaments, NLHE or PLO.I've heard a change is as good as a rest, and though I'm far from tired of playing NL Hold'Em I think by starting to add variety to my games now I'll hopefully prolong the inevitable, and of course learn a new skill set or two. Can't do me any harm..... can it?

Naturally, before I enter the new working year in earnest I will be doing a lot of revision of my NLHE play: the value I'm getting from hands and how effective I am with good cards and bad cards in and out of position, with and without aggression, and on each street. I haven't had a proper think about strategy since I last listened to a CashPlays podcast, and now that Bart has been at DeucesCracked for over 4 months I'm very much due for a sit down. There is plenty of material still unseen on CardRunners, and I have a number of months still to wait before sunlight and fresh air will tempt me from my desk.

So, with a cash deficit to address, new strategy and new games to learn, not to mention a probably new site to master, I think from now on my motto should be 'Bring it on'. Another bad beat? Bring it on. Tricky table? Bring it on. Tough decision for an ultra-deep stack? Bring. It. On!