Monday, September 29, 2008

Swiss Army Knife

If you haven't checked it out already, there's a brilliant forum on the Pokerroad site where the pro's can freely discuss hands.

This thread in particular has so much poker knowledge wrapped up in it:

The one thing that stands out in these discussions is a distinct lack of any math. They talk about similar situations that have occurred, what their opponent is thinking and why they might act a certain way. There are so many factors and unknowns that go into determining someones hand range I do wonder firstly how accurate the post hand math analysis can be and secondly, how you can begin to apply this while in a live hand?

I believe most live pros certainly know the fundamental poker math inside out, but would rarely delve much deeper into this area. But on their side is a wide array of tools that many online pros don't yet have at their disposal.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ready, set....UGH!

This week has been a bit of a rollercoaster online. I've been up a few buyins, downs a few, then up a few, then down again....over and over. The trick of course would be if I could cut out the bad sessions I'd end up with a very solid week! Over the course of time, I have noticed some patterns which might help me avoid these losses appearing on the ledger.

Bad Session

1. LAG's to the left
Almost every 'bad' session I play involves having a LAG or two sitting behind. I usually find myself torn between staying/leaving because while I'm happy to find a table with a spot, but I really don't like my position. I recall Spambot saying once that having a LAG to your left is great because you always get to act last. But that theory doesn't seem to be working for me....I hate playing big pots or calling down light out of position, and drawing while out of position against a LAG is just plain messy.

2. Starting on the wrong foot
When I first sit and fire up a few tables, my preference is to ease into things then gradually start getting into some pots. Bad sessions usually begin with a whole series of tricky situations and often my showdown % is running at 1 from 5. It's almost like being caught at sea in a storm when each table keeps throwing really tough decisions at you. You have JJ on a dry board and two people shove. You have 2 pair on an all club board and first to act. You value bet TPTK and a LAG shove on the river. In no time I feel frazzled and start bashing the keyboard which typically is a bad sign...

And so the resolution is, I plan to avoid both situations over the coming weeks and hopefully this will improve my bottom line.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Grinder Uniform

Cardgrrl mentioned in a recent blog topic about the number of poker players wearing black baseball caps. This is a topic I've been thinking about recently also.

I typically wear jeans and a hoody because i want to be comfortable and the casino aircon is often set to 'arctic'. But it occurred to me a while ago that I'm giving away free info, esp. on a Fri/Sat night. The only people there dressed down are the grinders. They're not there to see a show or play an hour or two before hitting the town.

When I first sit typically the only information available is the person appearance. You see those dressed up prior to a night on the town, you see 'suits' winding down after a tough week, you see the tourists in the gawdy over-priced shirts and caps, and then there are the regulars sitting there in jeans and a hoody quietly riffling their chips. Without any read on their betting patterns would you play each differently?

In a game which involves a good deal of deception, should we immediately throw up a red flag to the observant players at the table that we know what we're doing? If you sat down and raised half your stack with AA first hand, would you get more action wearing a 'I heart Sydney' shirt?

Next trip, I thought I might dress up and wear a collared shirt with a nice watch etc. It will be interesting to see if perceptions are any different.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Moving up to 50NL

I've been entrenched in 25NL for some time now, basically for two main reasons:
1. I'm very comfortable losing $25 a throw or perhaps $100 if I'm on a downturn. At this level the money doesn't affect my decision making. At 50NL, sometimes losing $50 (or more during a bad patch) stings a little too much.
2. Every time I've set myself to move up I've run really badly. I really think you need a little momentum when you move up a level and each time I've tried I've gotten snapped off by a horrible beat or a cooler.

Tonight was a welcome change. After a frustrating night breaking even at my usual haunt I thought I'd play a round or two at 50NL. These are actually the first 3 hands I'm dealt as soon as I sit down.

(In the 3rd hand, I typically wouldn't push 1 pair that hard but I'd been railing for a few hands and the villain was pretty clueless. In fact, when he left the table immediately broke.)

Hand #1
PokerStars Game #20472815531: Hold'em Pot Limit ($0.25/$0.50) - 2008/09/17 6:32:48 ET
Table 'Arethusa' 9-max Seat #7 is the button
Seat 2: MaN_TuZ ($131.65 in chips)
Seat 3: TrainSurfer ($28 in chips)
Seat 5: Doro-T ($41.70 in chips)
Seat 6: jtkk790 ($50.50 in chips)
Seat 7: XO77 ($29.40 in chips)
Seat 8: Vadek_sky ($8.25 in chips)
Seat 9: ZorlacMC ($40 in chips)
Vadek_sky: posts small blind $0.25
Forrest Gump: posts big blind $0.50
KingBoromir: sits out
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Forrest Gump [Ad As]
MaN_TuZ: folds
TrainSurfer: folds
Doro-T: calls $0.50
jtkk790: folds
XO77: folds
Vadek_sky: folds
Forrest Gump: raises $1.25 to $1.75
Doro-T: calls $1.25
*** FLOP *** [2h Ks Ac]
Forrest Gump: bets $2.20
Doro-T: raises $2.20 to $4.40
Forrest Gump: raises $4.60 to $9
Doro-T: calls $4.60
*** TURN *** [2h Ks Ac] [6h]
Forrest Gump: bets $15.50
Doro-T: calls $15.50
*** RIVER *** [2h Ks Ac 6h] [6c]
Forrest Gump: bets $13.75 and is all-in
MaN_TuZ is sitting out
Doro-T: calls $13.75
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Forrest Gump: shows [Ad As] (a full house, Aces full of Sixes)
Doro-T: mucks hand
Forrest Gump collected $77.25 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $80.25 | Rake $3
Board [2h Ks Ac 6h 6c]
Seat 2: MaN_TuZ folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 3: TrainSurfer folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: Doro-T mucked [4h Ah]
Seat 6: jtkk790 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: XO77 (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: Vadek_sky (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 9: Forrest Gump (big blind) showed [Ad As] and won ($77.25) with a full house, Aces full of Sixes

Hand #2
PokerStars Game #20472832565: Hold'em Pot Limit ($0.25/$0.50) - 2008/09/17 6:34:39 ET
Table 'Arethusa' 9-max Seat #8 is the button
Seat 1: KingBoromir ($50 in chips)
Seat 3: TrainSurfer ($28 in chips)
Seat 5: Doro-T ($1.70 in chips)
Seat 6: jtkk790 ($50.50 in chips)
Seat 7: XO77 ($29.40 in chips)
Seat 8: Vadek_sky ($8 in chips)
Seat 9: Forrest Gump ($77.25 in chips)
Forrest Gump: posts small blind $0.25
KingBoromir: posts big blind $0.50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Forrest Gump [5h Ac]
TrainSurfer: folds
Doro-T: calls $0.50
jtkk790: folds
XO77: folds
Vadek_sky: folds
Forrest Gump: calls $0.25
KingBoromir: checks
*** FLOP *** [Kd 4d 7c]
Forrest Gump: checks
KingBoromir: checks
Doro-T: bets $1
Forrest Gump: folds
KingBoromir: folds
Uncalled bet ($1) returned to Doro-T
Doro-T collected $1.45 from pot
Doro-T: shows [As 4h] (a pair of Fours)
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $1.50 | Rake $0.05
Board [Kd 4d 7c]
Seat 1: KingBoromir (big blind) folded on the Flop
Seat 3: TrainSurfer folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: Doro-T collected ($1.45)
Seat 6: jtkk790 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: XO77 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: Vadek_sky (button) folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: Forrest Gump (small blind) folded on the Flop

Hand #3
PokerStars Game #20472844699: Hold'em Pot Limit ($0.25/$0.50) - 2008/09/17 6:35:59 ET
Table 'Arethusa' 9-max Seat #9 is the button
Seat 1: KingBoromir ($49.50 in chips)
Seat 3: TrainSurfer ($28 in chips)
Seat 5: Doro-T ($50 in chips)
Seat 6: jtkk790 ($50.50 in chips)
Seat 7: XO77 ($29.40 in chips)
Seat 8: Vadek_sky ($8 in chips)
Seat 9: Forrest Gump ($76.75 in chips)
KingBoromir: posts small blind $0.25
TrainSurfer: posts big blind $0.50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Forrest Gump [As Ah]
Doro-T: calls $0.50
jtkk790: folds
XO77: calls $0.50
Vadek_sky: folds
Forrest Gump: raises $2.25 to $2.75
KingBoromir: folds
TrainSurfer: folds
Doro-T: calls $2.25
XO77: folds
*** FLOP *** [Kc 4h Ts]
Doro-T: bets $6.45
Forrest Gump: raises $19.35 to $25.80
Doro-T: calls $19.35
*** TURN *** [Kc 4h Ts] [Js]
Doro-T: checks
Forrest Gump: bets $33
Doro-T: calls $21.45 and is all-in
Uncalled bet ($11.55) returned to Forrest Gump
*** RIVER *** [Kc 4h Ts Js] [6c]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Doro-T: shows [Tc Ac] (a pair of Tens)
Forrest Gump: shows [As Ah] (a pair of Aces)
Forrest Gump collected $98.25 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $101.25 | Rake $3
Board [Kc 4h Ts Js 6c]
Seat 1: KingBoromir (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 3: TrainSurfer (big blind) folded before Flop
Seat 5: Doro-T showed [Tc Ac] and lost with a pair of Tens
Seat 6: jtkk790 folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 7: XO77 folded before Flop
Seat 8: Vadek_sky folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 9: Forrest Gump (button) showed [As Ah] and won ($98.25) with a pair of Aces

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Casino Trip #2: Rainman

Last Friday night was my second trip to the casino. The plan was to (with a little luck) turn around the small loss I had from the last visit. If we can cut now to the end of the night, 5 hours later I found myself driving home down a little over $100 and thinking I'm done with the low stakes cash games at the casino.

You might think am I focused too much on the short term and letting two losses out of the gate affect my decision?

Nope, not at all - rather than post a report straight away I decided to think it through over the weekend with a long term focus. The end result comes down to two main factors, this particular game isn't very profitable or enjoyable.

In regards to profitability, there are many factors which contribute to the 1/2 NL game at my casino being hard to clear.
- the rake is 10% (capped at $8) plus a $5 hourly time charge. When you factor in a fairly low number of hands per hour, quite a bit of the money on the table is going into the box.
- when they min/max the buyins at $80 in a complete donkfest of game where people are over-raising, over-betting, over-calling etc the only real strategy is to wait for cards or set mine. The problem with set mining is many of the stacks (including mine) are short so there's little implied odds.
- Sydney casino openly allows squirreling of chips. It's a common occurrence to see a bad player inflict a brutal suckout then casually stuff the chips into their pocket, dropping back to the $80 buyin level.

As for the enjoyment level, there's nothing more depressing/frustrating than sitting at a table for hour after hour waiting for a spot to try and build your 40BB stack to a useful level. All the meanwhile, continually dipping into your pocket to ensure your chip stack is at the $80 level.

The conclusion I've drawn is that I'll look at other game at the casino. There's a 200NL game but I have heard the rake is higher and possibly includes an ante. Living so close to the casino it would be good to make it a regular trip and work on my B&M cash game.


So that was the end result, but the journey that ended in a $100 loss over 5 hours? It was basically a slow death by a thousand paper cuts - probably the worst way to lose a buyin or so.

When I first got my seat, I found myself surround by regulars in a tight/aggressive game. I won a small pot with a set of jacks. Interestingly, the low buyin also worked against me in this hand. I limped in the blinds in a multi-way pot with JJ. I flopped a set on a QJ9 board. I checked, a player bet pot, another called, and now my only option was to push. The board was straighty/flushy (as Gus would say) so I can't sandbag, and I can't min raise as I'm not playing deep enough nor are the other players. So I push and pray that they don't have a flopped straight. They quickly fold their pairs.

Soon after, I lost that profit against a new player to the table. First hand I flop top pair against his set. I bet the flop/turn then he value bets the perfect amount on the river that I have to pay it off. Completely outplayed but it convinces me it's time for a new table.

At my new table, I soon realize I've jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Every player has game and they're also bluffing/mixing up their game enough that it's tough get a good read. After an hour or so, I'm completely card dead and haven't won a hand. I figure it's not my night and start counting my chips when a guy known as 'Rainman' sits down. 'Rainman' I am familiar with and quickly reload while he wanders off back down to the carpark to validate his ticket. My night isn't over just yet...

To be continued.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Getting the hell out of Dodge

There's nothing like getting out of the city for a relaxing weekend on the coast eating great food, drinking good wine, forgetting about work and not thinking about poker. Well, almost!

Nature has a sense of humour.

Why did I call that guy down with ace high..... ?

A touch of the sun or the wine giving me a little 'glow'. A little of both i think! :/


Quit Losing!

"Learn to quit losing".

These were actually some wise words I recall from Phil Ivey which have always stuck with me. I love the double play on words and how you can interpret this sentence differently. His response was to the question "what's the biggest leak you see from most poker players?". He went on to explain that many poker players keep playing when they get stuck and try to dig themselves out of a hole. They refuse to write off a loss during a bad session even when they realise they're at a bad table, or tilting to some degree, or just not on their A game.

This is indeed a leak in my game and something I still struggle with. I've definitely been caught in that vortex off taking hit after hit while swatting away that little voice in my head saying "It's time to quit - fight again another day". If anything it's more my stubborn streak than the need to turn a losing session around. I keep saying "I'm better than these guys. One more round and things will turn". Of course, it almost never does.

On the flip-side, I remember the late great Chip Reese discussing this same problem but also going on to say how many poker players also quit winning sessions too early. Many of us are happy to quit 'in front' and bank a profitable session while the soft spots are still at the table. According to Chip, you should stay (however long) until those players have gone, even if it means playing through the night or longer - we need to extract every possible dollar from these good situations.


As I mentioned previously, the exchange rate continues to improve and if I were to cash out today I'd benefit more than 20c for every dollar. Nice work for no effort!


Monday, September 8, 2008

Onward and Upward

Many of my poker buddies have been on a dry stretch but I'm happy to report the last month or so has been pretty kind to me. Last month I turned a nice profit at around 4BB/100 while 4 tabling, nothing spectacular but an improvement on recent efforts. In fact, June was my first ever losing month playing poker and was certainly a bitter pill to swallow.

This month has been a heater though which I'm hoping will continue for a while. Last week was very profitable as I was running at a crazy 18BB/100. It's amazing how these runs influence you're thinking. Every time I'm involved in a big pot, I don't feel that sense of dread that I'm about to get yet another 2 outer or ugly cooler handed down from the mischievous poker Gods. Further to this, I'm in the process of clearing a 40% reload bonus that Stars ran during the world series. After depositing the maximum, I'm a little over halfway through clearing a $240 bonus which is certainly a nice earner.

And finally, I've also stumbled across some good fortune as well. When I made my deposit some months ago the exchange rate with the U.S. dollar was close to parity. Since then, our dollar has dived to around 80c to the dollar. As a result, when I hit my high water mark of 2K the exchange rate will in fact result in a $400 bonus in AU dollars.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Thank you very much for your kind donation

From what I've observed, there seems to be three basic types of players:

1. Solid low stakes grinders.
- Is a winning player
- Studies the game
- Very few leaks
- Plays multiple tables

2. Casual player
- Majority of online players
- Have some leaks, often including
- over valuing top pair and overpairs
- poor positional play
- plays too many hands

3. The 'Donkeys'
- Have many leaks
- Play any 2 cards, over aggressive, overbet the pot etc

The reason I believe it's so important to always be on the lookout for 'soft' tables with at least one or two 'donkeys', is because I'm always looking to maximize my edge in the game.

Against the solid players, I figure I have very little if any edge. We're both basically at the mercy of the cards we're dealt. The money, on infrequent occasions, will shift back and forth between us when someone gets what I call an 'ugly second best'. On the plus side, it is a great way to learn and back in my Poker Academy days, I always sought out the greats like Spambot and One to improve my game.

Edge: ~48-52%

Against the casual players, there's a small edge but the occasions where I win a big pot from them won't be frequent and its a long term prospect. Over time, I figure to win money from these players.

Edge: ~60%

But against the bad players, there seems to be a significant edge. The key difference is this: 'the bad players will typically give me their chips'. I don't necessarily need to outplay them, I don't need to out-think them. Over the short-term, they'll go crazy with top pair or wild bluffs and I'll take their chips.

Edge: ~80%

It's a very predatory approach to the game and to be honest, in some respects there's not a whole lot of 'poker' involved. But I do believe it's the strategy to achieve the highest win rate and it has worked for me the last year or two.


Casino trip #1: Operation 'Dip the toe'

Tonight was my first trip back to the casino. The plan is to make it a weekly Friday or Saturday night visit and see how I go. Best case scenario I'll build enough of a bankroll to move up in stakes. Worst case, I'll just continue grinding at Stars so no biggy!

It started out nicely as I managed to get the table I had been railing. It was playing so loose I was considering telling the floor I'll wait for a spot at Table1 if I got another table. For an small extra wait, why risk playing a tougher table esp. when I've picked my spots at the table?

I sat down, posted from middle position and tried my best to look a little confused and not like a chip riffling grinder. I've never understand why good players always chip flourish at these tables and give away free information?

And so for two hours straight I ran completely card dead yet again. I found myself sitting there with that feeling of deja vu from my previous trips.

Not a single pre-flop raise for that entire time. I won a small hand when i flopped two pair with 72 in the BB. Then I lost a smidge more when out of desperation I limped with 63s on the button , flopped two pair and got run down by a straight. Every marginal playable hand was greeted by a 7BB preflop raise before me from either of the two solid players at the table. Or I'd get dealt hands like KQ, AJs etc in early position which just play terrible in a 10 handed loose game.

After two hours, I figured it wasn't my night and gathered up my chips before the time charge. On the positive side of the ledger, the tables were incredibly fishy. Any pair was good for a preflop allin. Top pair was a hand to take to showdown. Any draw was worth chasing, even to an allin over the top. On the negative, I dropped $36 which was frustrating given the potential I could see. Hopefully Lady Luck will be kinder next week.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Scientist

It's funny how everyone often takes their own meanings out of songs. What one person may get from the song may be entirely different to another, and entirely different to the original writer yet again.

There are a few websites out there where people submit there interpretations on song lyrics. This song in particular has always been a favorite of mine, yet every comment seemed to be a simple "I'm sorry" song about relationship break ups. Yet if you put quotes around the opening conversation, it takes an entirely different turn.

Tell you "I'm sorry,
You don't know how lovely you are."

As much as we try, there is no science to love.

Coldplay - The Scientist

Come up to meet you,
Tell you I'm sorry,
You don't know how lovely you are.

I had to find you,
Tell you I need you,
Tell you I set you apart.

Tell me your secrets,
And ask me your questions,
Oh, let's go back to the start.

Runnin' in circles,
Comin' up tails,
Its only science apart.

Nobody said it was easy,
It's such a shame for us to part.
Nobody said it was easy,
No one ever said it would be this hard.
Oh, take me back to the start.

I was just guessing,
At numbers and figures,
Pulling the puzzles apart.

Questions of science,
Science and progress,
Do not speak as loud as my heart.

Tell me you love me,
Come back and haunt me,
Oh, when I rush to the start.

Runnin' in circles,
Chasin' tails,
Comin' back as we are.

Nobody said it was easy,
Oh, it's such a shame for us to part.
Nobody said it was easy,
No one ever said it would be so hard.
I'm goin' back to the start.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

All quiet on the western front

Apologies things have been quiet on the blog front. Last weekend I had a welcome break from poker spending the weekend in the coastal town of Kiama which is around 90 minutes south of Sydney. I might post a pic or two when I get a copy - the south coast certainly is a beautiful location.

As for poker, I've decided to make another run at building a bankroll at the casino. Sydney (Star City) Casino is only a short drive from my place and the parking is free as long as I clock up an hour of play. (Of course, on the occasions I've dusted off my buyin before the hour is up I railbird the higher limit games until the time is up). Last year I decided to make a weekly trip to the casino with the primary goal of 'getting into a groove' so that I felt comfortable there and got into some routine. This lasted for around 2 months but eventually I stopped going as I was running pretty hot online and my ROI for these trips wasn't too great.

While I still turned as reasonable profit from those trips, it was for the most part frustrating as:
- almost every session I was card dead so when I eventually did get any kind of playable hand, even the unobservant players would step aside to the 'rock'.
- the 1/2 game has a max buyin of $80 or 40BB. To my thinking, the correct strategy was to wait for a premium hand then basically ride it to the river. It's almost shortstack tournament play involving more math and less post flop 'feel' which is out of my comfort zone. As I was generally card dead, it was rare I ever got above 100BB.
- the rake was horrible in my opinion, with both an hourly time charge and a cut taken from every pot.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Money in the bank or... ?

Usually I cash my FPP's in for $50 in the bank every time I hit the 5000 mark. But after hearing mention of the 'Turbo Takedown' monthly tournament it appears to good to be true ?

Guaranteed 1 in 3 get paid? Chance for a big collect? Probably a pretty low standard of opposition...?


1st $100,000.00
2nd $60,000.00
3rd $40,000.00
4th $32,500.00
5th $25,000.00
6th $20,000.00
7th $15,000.00
8th $10,000.00
9th $5,500.00
10th-12th $4,000.00
13th-15th $3,250.00
16th-18th $2,500.00
19th-27th $2,000.00
28th-36th $1,625.00
37th-45th $1,250.00
46th-54th $925.00
55th-99th $625.00
100th-199th $453.35
200th-499th $315.00
500th-999th $225.00
1,000th-1,999th $150.00
2,000th-4,000th $90.00
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