Jun 182010

Haven’t had much of a chance to play this week, busy with work during the day and life most nights.

I did play a few hundred hands last night though for a small (1.5 buy-in) loss. Generally I’m playing well generally and the overall loss was caused by two hands.

One was my first big blind at a table full of unknown players, folds to the small blind who limps and I have:

: :

I check (generally I’d raise the small blind here but it was my first hand) and the flop comes:

: : :

Some betting happens on the flop, turn and river and we end up getting it all in. He shows:

: :


No surprise probably but in that blind vs blind situation it’s hard to get away from trips as an unknowns range (especially at the micro stakes) is so wide there even with the action.

Same table, a few hands later I pick up pocket jacks in early position and get 3 bet from a middle position player, I call and see a flop of under cards and end up getting it in vs pocket kings. I probably could have got away from this one for about half a buy-in less if I’d slowed down and thought about things a bit.

Otherwise I feel like I’m playing fairly solid poker. Apart from playing less for stacks with pairs I think I need to work on the following:

  • Value bet sizing on later streets when I have strong hands.
  • Continuation bets in 3 bet hands.
  • Pre-flop raise percentage (currently it’s a little disproportionate to my VP$IP – something like 23/13).

Will keep working at it, I’m enjoying the challenge again!

Jun 172010

Things are going well since my last progress post, since then I’ve played a couple of thousand more hands and until Monday night when I dropped a few buy-ins I hadn’t had a losing session at the micro stakes 6-Max tables.

Not too worried about the loss Monday, it’s going to happen and the majority of it was from two hands where my big pairs ran into sets. It could have been a little less though as I had another one of those stubborn moments that goes against my new style of play:

6-Max, approx. 100BB stacks, in late position I’m dealt:

: :

Folded to me I make it 3X and am called by the small blind who I have no reads on. The flop comes:

: : :

The small blind checks, I continuation bet around 3/4 pot and am called. The turn comes:


And the small blind now bets around pot.

Let’s look at the facts:

  • I have a pair that’s lower than the board
  • Although he took a strange line this unknown player is now showing strength and on this board if he is strong he’s probably beating JJ
  • There’s still around 60BB to put in this pot before our stacks are in, no one is committed

And now let’s look at my thoughts at the time:

  • No one has been respecting my continuation bets tonight
  • He doesn’t have a queen
  • When people call my cbet then donk the turn sometimes they’re bluffing. He wants me to think he has a queen.

So I shoved. And guess what? I was right, he didn’t have a queen. He had:

: :

For a slow played set, turned full house.

Truth is the night before when I’d been winning I probably fold the jacks here, but this night when I had been losing and had been pushed off many hands before this I lost my patience and made a badly timed stand. In a way I guess I tilted.

It’s not the end of the world but it’s a situation I’ve been trying to avoid and I was a little angry at myself for losing a buy-in here.

One positive? I sensed I wasn’t playing my A game and decided to log-off and call it a night before I made things worse. There’s always tomorrow!

Jun 152010

I’ve really been trying to work on my hand reading skills lately and in general it’s been going well. It takes a fair bit of concentration though and it is possible to become so preoccupied with your opponents holding that you miss something, well, obvious:

6Max NLHE, 100BB relative stack sizes, on the button I’m dealt:

: :

It’s folded to me and I’m pretty much always raising this here as a steal attempt. Happy to play it in position when I’m called and can get away from it pretty easily if I’m raised.

The small blind player who is fairly loose/passive over a small sample of hands calls and the big blind folds. We see a flop:

: : :

The SB donk bets the flop for around 1/4 pot which can mean almost anything, I see this bet a lot as a bluff in this situation but some players also make this kind of smallish bet with big hands also.

I decide to raise his bet another 3X and he nearly instantly min 4 bets me. Obviously he likes his hand, I like mine too but not enough to get stacks in here. At the micro stakes this 4 bet represents a lot of strength. Most of the time he’s got at least 2 pair here or a set, sometimes he’ll be overplaying top pair but when I 3 bet he should be putting me on at least that. Not surprisingly if we plug his strong range into Poker Stove, we’re crushed:

If we’re generous and assume he might also be overplaying a lone ace we can add AT, AQ and AK which makes it roughly 50/50. Only when we add a small percentage for him bluffing or playing an even weaker ace or J7 do we get any meaningful lead. Either way I’m not risking my stack with a 5 bet here, I also can’t bring myself to fold for the minimum though after crunching the numbers here in this post hand analysis I see that it’s definitely not a bad play. I decide to call and re-evaluate on the turn:


He now checks, possibly trying to get me to bet, possibly scared that the king improved me. Either way I don’t think I’m getting value from any hand worse than mine here so I check behind with the intention of getting to showdown as cheaply as possible. The river comes:


He checks and I check, happy to see a showdown. Being in early position he’s forced to show first:

: :

And I’m happy to have made a decent enough read.

Then for some reason the software flips up my hand and I get shipped the pot.

What? Huh? Ah… crap!

You saw it already right? Yup I made runner, runner flush (the nuts no less!) and was so blinded by my opponents range I wasn’t even watching for it.

Kind of embarrassing checking that one down!

Ah well, it happens to the best of us:

At least online you get shipped the pot.

Jun 112010

Since the software update earlier this week I’ve noticed that the “Sit Out Next Big Blind” option has been broken on the Party Poker client. Instead of waiting until the next time you’re the big blind it sits out immediately, a minor annoyance but I thought I’d get in touch with support and make sure it wasn’t just me:


Since the last software update it appears that the “Sit out next big blind” option is broken. When checked it sits immediately rather than waiting for the big blind.


It didn’t take long to get a response:

Dear Simon,

Thank you for contacting Customer Service.

Our technical team is already aware of the issue and is currently working towards resolving it as soon as possible.

I apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding regarding the same.

In case you have further questions, we will be more than happy to assist you. We are available 24/7 by e-mail and phone.

Thank you for choosing us as your online gaming site.


Customer Service

As a software engineer by day I can understand this bug slipping through the cracks… I’ve seen much worse. It was really just a chance for me to test out the response time of Party Poker’s customer service as I’ve never had to get in touch with them before. The good news is I’m happy to report, they are quick and friendly, much better than the last time I had to get in touch with the support on a large site that make or may not go by the acronym start with the letter “FTP”.

Now let’s see how long it takes them to fix the issue…

UPDATE: Logged in to play tonight and it’s all fixed. No software update required.

Jun 092010

Sat down for another session of 6 max no-limit hold’em last night intent on applying some of the advice I gave myself in my last post by playing solid poker, not getting out of line and being patient and guess what? It worked! I walked away from the tables up 5 buy-ins.

Here’s a happy graph from Poker Tracker 3:

Yes it’s a very, very small sample. Yes it’s an unmaintainable win rate. Yes I ran into some juicy fishies. And yes it’s micro stakes but who cares? It feels good to put a plan into practice.

If I had to pick one hand that defines how I played differently last night than I have in the recent past it wouldn’t be one of those big double ups, it would be this one:

On a full table of 6 players, with 100BB effective stacks I’m UTG and am dealt:

: :

Good enough for a raise in the 6 handed game, especially with a couple of tight players to my left. So raise it I do making it 3x to go.

It folds around to the button, who has been fairly loose/passive in the 25 hands or so I’ve seen him play, who calls as does the big blind who is brand new to the table. We see a flop:

: : :

The BB checks and I see no reason not to continuation bet here in the hope of getting a call from a hand like A8s or A7s both of which are in the button players range. I bet 2/3 of the pot and the button folds but the unknown BB player calls. The turn is:


The BB checks again and I decide to bet in order to extract some more value from his extremely wide range. I bet 2/3 pot again and he raises me 3 times that again.

I stop, think about it and fold.

In the past I might have shoved here, justifying the play by saying that he’s obviously bluffing trying to push his weight around or a fish overplaying a king with a weak kicker and on rare occasions I might have been right but the truth is that the line he took by calling the flop continuation bet and check raising the turn shows huge strength and the most likely truth is that he flopped a monster or turned the straight. I don’t need to pay another 75BB or so to find out how he beats me so folding is the best option.

It might not sound like much but this is something I’ve been struggling to do up until now and it’s cost me big time. I don’t see that pot as a 25BB loss, I see it as a 75BB win.

Jun 082010

Since my last update my game is slowly improving. I’ve still got a long way to go though and as I have mentioned before a lack of patience has been my downfall.

It seems these days I play a solid game for 95% of my time at the tables grinding away a profit and then have a major brain fart and lose a buy-in pulling some sort of stupid low percentage move. I mean take this hand as example:

I’m in the BB with a 100BB stack and I’m dealt:

: :

It’s folded around to the small blind who raises 4x, the SB also has 100BB in front of him and has been stealing at every opportunity (his attempt to steal poker tracker stat is around 60%!) so I decide to defend and make it 3X his raise to go and he calls.

The flop comes:

: : :

He checks, I continuation bet around 3/4 pot and he insta-raises me. Before I even thought about it I shove the rest of my stack. He insta-calls and shows down:

: :

Why did I shove? Well at the time I thought I was being pushed around, but that logic doesn’t hold up when you think I’m risking in the order of 75BB to win only if I was right that he had complete rubbish that missed the flop and can fold it. It’s the kind of bet where if I’m called I’m crushed and if I win I risked way to much to do so profitably.

Truth is it was a complete lack of patience combined with a bit of stubbornness. It’s not the first time I’ve done something like this either, usually it’s not for 100BB but it’s costing me regardless.

Right now the main thing standing between me being a going from a break even (or even slightly losing) NLHE player to a winning one is controlling when I play the big pots… I know I can do it!

Apr 222010

It’s been over a year since my last real post, in that time I’ve changed jobs, travelled tens of thousands of kilometres, had surgery for a knee injury, taken up a new hobby and got a new car. One thing I haven’t been doing much of is playing poker, at least not playing it well.

I’ve played the odd hand, but compared to back in 2008/2009 my volume is way down. I’ve also gone from a winning player to a losing one, break-even at best. There are a few reasons for this.

The first is lack of patience, I’ve played so rarely lately that when I do play I want things to happen way too fast. Just last night I got 100 big bets in with just top pair and a flush redraw against an extremely tight opponent who may as well have been screaming at me that they had a set. I didn’t consider pot odds, hand ranges or anything else before I raised his  flop 3 bet all-in. It was like I wanted to play as many big pots as I could as quickly as possible, not a way to win at this game and unfortunately typical of my time at the tables in the past few months.

Second thing is I have been runnning a little bad, it’s compounded by the bad decisions I’ve been making but it’s frustrating to make good ones only to lose anyway. I won’t bore you with bad beat stories but I will say I haven’t been dealing with the tilt as well as I used to, I think that it comes back to patience.

Lastly, I haven’t been reflecting on my play. When I was winning I used to write on this blog at least a couple of times a week and reflect on hands or sessions which really helped improve my game. I need to do more of that.

So, it’s line in the sand time. Time for me to become a better player or cash out and move on to something else…

 Posted by at 7:00 am
Apr 212010

In anticipation of the return of Simon’s Poker Blog I’ve updated the theme to something snazzy and modern.

Any issues? Thoughts? Random Advice? Leave a comment!

May 142009

Have been riding the roller coaster that is Pot Limit Omaha lately and after initially making a right royal donkey of myself and donating my stack as a 70/30 (or worse) underdog on more than one occasion I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of things.

I’ve read both “Pot-Limit Omaha Poker” by Jeff Hwang (HIGHLY recommended, I keep re-reading that excellent chapter on straights over and over picking up something new every time) and “Secrets of Professional Pot-Limit Omaha” by Rolf Slotboom which have helped my game considerably and I was actually starting to turn a half decent profit when, in a PLO $10 full ring game on PokerStars I’m dealt:

: : : :

A pretty junky Omaha hand but 5 players limp and I get a free look at the flop:

: : :

The nuts for the moment, but with the two straight cards and two hearts out there I’m not thrilled. I’m an underdog to any of the big draws. The SB checks and I check not wanting to play this hand out of position. I plan to fold to any significant action.

Significant action does not ensue and somehow we get to the turn for free:


Makes my hand even worse. I could take a stab at the pot here but it’s not big enough for me to risk it, with 4 players still to act I’m only getting action from the straights. Of which none exist apparently as it is checked around again!

This is probably the most passive hand I’ve witnessed in a PLO up to this point. I’m a little embarrassed as passive isn’t really my style, maybe I should have bet that flop! Ah well, let’s see a free river:



I have the nut full house which is pretty good and someone might have a 7, or the nut flush and want to play…

The SB bets out (the first post flop bet this hand!) $0.30 into a pot of $0.50. I raise the size of the pot up to $1.50 and everyone behind folds. The SB then re-raises pot to $5.10 and I re-raise my last $6.70 and he calls.

At the time I don’t think I considered these bets as much as I should have, in my mind he had rivered the nut flush or a lower full house and got overly excited with it. When in reality he held:

: : : :

For the straight flush.

Oops. I didn’t see that.

Better players than I would argue that I should have and I’d have a hard time disagreeing, however, with players at these limits generally throwing chips around like they are worthless it’s very hard to put the SB on quads or the straight flush there. I can’t help thinking that I at least should have considered it…

… back to the books!

 Posted by at 10:58 pm
Sep 042008

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll have heard about the cheating scandals involving super user players over on Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet. Since this is my first time commenting on any of this I’ll say one thing:


And then I’ll point you in the direction of the Hard Boiled Poker by Short Stacked Shamus who’s coverage and research of the scandal has been nothing short of excellent.

Once I heard about the problems over at Absolute I immediately logged in to see if I had any funds there, it turns out I had $20 left in my account run up from a free bonus $10 they had given me earlier in the year. Nothing too exciting but $20 is $20 and I wanted to make a point of cashing out  – as I hope all of you have – to show them this kind of thing is not tolerated by the poker community. So, into the cashier I go, select payouts and…

Your Available Balance of $ 20.15 USD is insufficient to carry out a payout request. Our minimum payout amount is $ 50 USD. Thank you for your cooperation.

#$@! that’s a bit cheeky. Fair enough though, so now I have two options:

  1. Play on a site that has cheated it’s players and try to turn $20 into $50.
  2. Deposit $30 and withdraw the $50.

There ain’t no way I’m depositing any of my actual money so option #1 it was. Off to the SNG’s where I proceeded to break even after about 5 in a row.

A new strategy was required and then it dawned on me: Blackjack! Heck it was their money I was playing with anyway…

Did I mention I’d been drinking?

After the first 10 or so hands betting between $1 and $5 per hand I was up to around $40 and looking good. Then the beer and the gambling gods worked against me and about 20 hands later I was pushing my last $2 onto the table. I thought they’d got me but what happened next was the luckiest streak of -EV gambling I can ever remember having. I turned that last $2 bet into exactly $51. It was a thing of beauty I tell you, doubling and winning, splitting and winning, blackjack after blackjack after blackjack. I tell you, I felt like a member of the MIT blackjack team (except there was no skill involved).

Needless to say I quit as soon as I got to $51 and promptly withdrew my funds. No problems with the processing and a couple of days later the $51 was sitting where it belongs, in my PokerStars bankroll.

So long Absolute, I won’t be back.