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.