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 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!

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.

Jan 192008

It’s the old $4+$0.40 180 player no-limit hold’em SNG over on PokerStars. I have an above average stack of around 20K, blinds are 300/600 with a 50 chip ante.

It’s the bubble.

Now like most of these tournaments there’s no real money on offer until the final table and even then not until around 5th place. Places 10-18 pay only $8.64 which is hardly worth the time you invest into one of these. Given that information, when you’re dealt:

: :

In the big blind and the small blind player who’s just recently joined the table and has you covered with about 33K in chips raises it up to 3000 after one limper what do you do?

I went through the options:

  1. Fold. This seems weak but will almost guarantee me at least some money. My thinking though is this isn’t the kind of play that’s going to get me into that top 5 at the final table.
  2. Call. Nah, I don’t want to put myself into any tricky situations post flop this hand.
  3. Raise. Sounds logical, how much? Well, I want to get rid of that other caller (though the action so far has probably taken care of that). I’m thinking up to about 9000. That only leaves me with 11K behind though in what would be a 18K pot plus ante’s. I’m probably going to be all-in this hand if I do this. So…
  4. All-In? Sounds good, I can take down an already decent sized pot right here and if he calls he’s way behind.

So I push and am very surprised when he calls and then very happy when he shows:

: :

then very mad when the flop is:

: : :

I don’t improve and I go out in 19th.

So, tell me. Do you bubble here too? Even if I don’t push pre-flop I don’t see myself getting away from that pot with that hand on that flop. I don’t even think I’m supposed to be able to… Am I?