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 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
Aug 272008

I know, I know… I haven’t been posting enough lately. I’m not happy about it either,  but I have good reasons. Honest!

Most of June/July was been spent moving house, my girlfriend Kate and I decided to take the plunge recently and move in together. We bought a nice little place just outside the city and have been busy painting, carpeting, electrifying and furnishing the place ever since. It’s time consuming work but I do enjoy a bit of DIY.

Then at the start of July myself, Kate and her family headed off to Falls Creek for a full week of fun in the snow. I’d never been skiing before and at the start of the week I was struggling to even stand up but by the end I attempted (and conquered) my first black run! I’d forgotten how much fun it can be to learn a new skill and I’ll definitely be back next season, it’s a great way to spend some time away.  When you’re up at the top of the mountain it’s like you’re in another world (this is best illustrated by the fact a bowl of hot chips at the top of the main chair lift costs an offensive AUD$12.50) and it’s great to just disconnect from the rest of the world and relax.

That’s not to say I didn’t play a little poker, on the Monday night we were up there the Australian Poker League was running one of their tournaments at one of the local pubs called The Frying Pan Inn. To be honest going in I was more interested in having a few beers than playing a pub freeroll tournament but as the pints flowed I started chatting and joking with the other players at my table and had a great time and after I made the first break I decided to actually try and go deep in the thing.

And go deep I did, managing 6th overall in what was pretty much a crapshoot of a final table given the fast structure of these things. Great fun though.


Requesting “one more beer” at the start of the final table only to be challenged by Kate to “double up and then you can have one”. I proceed to get dealt pocket 10′s the first hand and do just that. Mine’s a Coopers Sparkling Ale thanks!


Going out in 6th with the blinds at 10,000/20,000 and a stack of around 80,000 I open and push wth ATo trying to get heads up with the blinds who were desperately short. The big stack on the button (who, how can I put it nicely? Let’s say he’s been getting quite lucky) calls with 64o and I’m out when he spikes his 6 on the river.

As always though, I thanked the tourney organisers and shook my opponents hand before heading out into the snow for the walk home. Was a fun night, and an even better week. Kinda sucks to be back home!

 Posted by at 12:54 am
Mar 082008

EDIT: This post got big, apologies for the long hand histories but I think this is an interesting series of hands against some pretty crazy opponents. If reading hand histories doesn’t do it for you than you might want to skip this one.

Playing micro stakes full ring limit hold’em on PokerStars as part of my bankroll rebuilding process.

Preflop this table is typical loose/passive with many players seeing flops and not many raising preflop. Post flop there has been some strange and unpredictable play with some unusual holdings being shown down three or four ways.

I’m multi-tabling and have been playing fairly tight until I’m dealt the following five hands in succession:

Hand #1:

: :

In middle position at this stage (3 off the button) it’s raised in early position, I re-raise and the small blind who is playing 100% (I’m not joking) of his hands and seeing 66% of showdowns with what some would describe as manical aggression on all streets calls. Flop comes:

: : :

Small blind bets, early position calls and I raise. Small blind calls and early position folds. Turn comes:


Small blind bets again and I just call this time. Against most players the 8 of any suit is a crappy card for me and it may well be here but given that he’d play this same line with as little as a pair I believe I can call. Raising is also an option but I tend to get myself in trouble doing that against these maniacal players, too often taking a stand in the wrong spots. Nothing wrong with folding either but I can’t bring myself to give this guy credit for a real hand.

River is:


He bets again, I call. He shows:

: :

Nothing too exciting, gives us some information on the small blind player who we’ll call “Looney23″ for the rest of this post.

Hand #2:

I’m dealt:

: :

Now four off the button, an early position player calls. I raise for the second hand in a row which is unheard of at this table. Looney23 calls and the big blind calls. The flop comes:

: : :

I don’t love it but I don’t hate it. BB checks, early position checks, I bet, Looney23 folds(!) and the big blind check-raises. Early position folds and I have a decision to make.

Do I just fold? Is a check-raise from this player enough to put him on the flush. I’m not sure. If he has four to a flush I’m about a 60% favourite, if he has the flush I’m drawing nearly dead but on this table I wouldn’t rule out just a pair of kings. I decide to put him to the test and I three bet. He calls and when the turn comes:


He does something interesting and checks. To me this screams two things either “scared of full house” or “didn’t make my flush”. I bet intending to check the river if he calls. He calls, river is:


He checks, I check and I win the pot over his:

: :

Good result, not sure about how I played it though.

Hand #3:

: :

Unbelievable, three premium pairs in a row. I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. Earlier position this time UTG+2. Folded to me, I raise Looney23 calls, same player from the last hand who we’ll call “CrazyMan” raises and I cap it hoping in vein to get rid of Looney23. They both call we go to the flop three handed:

: : :

Good flop for me. CrazyMan bets, I raise, Looney23 re-raises, CrazyMan calls and I’m confused. Against normal players I’d be worried about sets, there’s also a chance CrazyMan has a bigger pair. I call.

The turn is the:


CrazyMan checks I bet, Looney23 calls (flush draw?) and then CrazyMan check-raises.

What the?

Logically I should be thinking about hands like straights, two pair, sets but instead this just feels wrong. I can’t explain why but I don’t put either of them on a hand at this point. My gut and my mind can’t come to agreement so I call. For the record I hate this call.

The river is:


CrazyMan bets out and now I have to believe one of them has a straight or a flush. I fold fully expecting Looney23 to raise. He surprises me and calls, showdown.


: :

(king high)


: :

(rivered two pair)

My gut was right but my head didn’t let me punish them enough. I should have 3 bet the turn but really I had no chance of getting rid of Looney23, it is clear from his play that he considers top pair no kicker a monster hand.

This hand set the precedent for the big hand #5.

Hand #4:

I’m dealt:

: :

In early position.

I fold.

Hand #5 – The “big” hand:

UTG now I’m dealt:

: :

I raise, Looney23 calls, CrazyMan re-raises, small blind calls (nearly all-in) I cap without much thought and everyone calls.

Flop comes:

: : :

SB checks, I bet, Looney23 calls, CrazyMan raises, SB calls all-in, I re-raise, Looney23 calls, CrazyMan caps it and we both call. Phew.

Given the previous hands I don’t give either of them credit for a bigger hand than mine. Turn comes:


I bet, Looney23 calls, CrazyMan raises, I re-raise wanting to get heads up with CrazyMan but Looney23 calls, CrazyMan caps and we both call again.

The action on this street has me worried, no idea what they have but I decide in advance to just check/call the river. This pot is big enough, I only let the turn get capped because of the players I’m against but even against players this crazy surely KK can’t be good here too often.

River is the:


I check, Looney23 wakes up and bets now (damn straight, I think to myself) CrazyMan just calls this time (very odd) and I make a crying call into a pot that’s given me somewhere close to 30 to 1 in odds.

The all-in player shows:

: :



: :

(runner, runner straight)


: :

(pair of fours)


So tell me, in this last hand, given the previous play of these opponents do you lose big with these kings or did I get out of line here and build too big a pot?

In hindsight I think there were a couple of points in the 5 hands where I may have made the wrong decision but when you’re being hit over the head with premium pocket pairs pre-flop and then facing the kind of play I saw from CrazyMan and Looney23 it’s hard not to get caught up in the moment. Remember these hands happened in succession, the whole train wreck took no more than 5 or 6 minutes from start to finish. I also had 3 other tables open and playing. That’s a lot going on.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to log off now and get over this tilt ;) Thanks for reading!

 Posted by at 11:22 am
Feb 122008

As I reported earlier I’m currently playing in the lower limit ring games and tournies after I cashed out my bankroll for a holiday over new years. Unfortunately this drop down in limits hasn’t been going so well and I consistently find myself struggling to get motivated at levels I feel I’ve already “conquered” in the past. A typical session for me is something along the lines of:

  1. Start patiently win a small pot or two.
  2. Go card dead, fold patiently.
  3. Hit a big hand, raise preflop and overplay it stupidly.
  4. Curse my opponent for playing so “badly”. “How could he call with A7o after I haven’t raised a hand in the past two orbits?” – That kind of thing.
  5. Finish the session down 10 to 20 big bets.
  6. Repeat.

Not the attitude I know and I’m annoyed with myself for playing like this but for some reason or another it’s a routine I seem to have fallen into.

It’s hurting my already lower than usual bankroll which isn’t helping my low limit tilting.

Not really sure what to do at this stage, maybe it’s time to go back to basics, back to what brought me success at these levels a year or two ago… Problem is that I’m just not sure if I remember how!

 Posted by at 12:38 am
Jan 242008
  1. Get money in ahead.
  2. Lose.
  3. Repeat.

That’s basically how I’ve either been crippled or bombed out of my last 5 or so SNG’s. Some examples:

: : vs : : – All in preflop, he turns a straight and I’m crippled.

: : vs : : – Flopped set and end up all-in vs a gut shot straight draw that gets there.

: : vs : : – Flopped trips, opponent turns the straight.

and the old : : hand that I told you about before.

Don’t worry, despite the past couple of posts I’m not going to start turning this blog into a “bad beat” whinge fest. I don’t even really like the term bad beat for most of these examples. It’s just getting frustrating when I’m trying to build my bankroll back up and I get my money in ahead only to be repeatedly screwed by lady luck.

I know it will turn around.

Hopefully the formula from here on out can be:

  1. Get money in ahead.
  2. Win.

At least sometimes?

 Posted by at 10:47 pm