Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A busy two weeks and a Blogging Bad Beat

I've gone through spells in my life where I take up jogging or, when I was younger, running. I really enjoy it and get a lot of benefit from it. Then for some reason, it'll be wet and cold or I'm just tired and I'll miss a couple of days. Before you know it, a couple of weeks go past and each day that you miss seems to matter less. And so it has been with this blog. Hopefully I am back in the saddle though. I have been keeping up to date with my favourite blogs and am pleased to see Adam around again.

I hate to end the year with a bad beat story ... but ... having finally got around to capturing the last 2 weeks in an entry, the Save failed because my wireless had dropped out. Gutted, I couldn't muster the energy to retype it all again. Luckily it is NYE and I am now typing in Notepad, so I don't have an option but to jot down the festive season activities.

Christmas is always busy at home, we close a few things out at work, we have 3 birthdays including my own, the kids are finishing school and it is the middle of summer in Oz. Add to the mix a healthy dose of poker and the blog has taken a back seat for 2 weeks. I won't be able to recreate last night's lost epic entry but I did want to share the two most memorable poker happenings, a sweat session with Laff and a home game.


Thanks to an entry on Laffs blog, I offered to watch his play and see if there was any value that I could add by sweating him. The answer was a resounding 'No'. Laff was kind enough to blame the internet lag but the truth is that I am way off being qualified to comment on someone's style in a short session. It was my first attempt and I'd be interested to learn if anyone can add any real value in such an exercise.

What did appear useful though was firing up 4 tables of my own and talking my way through my logic, similar to a Training Video. Again, I am way under-qualified but the exercise taught me a lot and Laff seemed to learn too. I discovered that my play is very inconsistent. I'm not convinced that that is not such a bad thing as it provides balance. While inconsistent on the surface, it may have underlying reasons behind it that I don't fully understand myself (I hope).

Starting hands are the foundation of hold'em strategy. Refining the ranges for stack sizes and your opponents playing styles is something that must be tailored to your own risk tolerance and post flop play. I've now realised that since reading Harrington on Cash that my objective is to stack off whenever I am confident that I am in front. Playing that style, I find that selective pot-sized bluffs pay off more than 50% of the time and are hence profitable.

Hopefully Laff and I can have another session soon and I may well learn a little more about my own play.

Home Game

Now this section was my epic as I had 12 people around for a Christmas Home Game. It went off very well and I had detailed all of the players and their styles (alas, without Jesse's humour). Format was one that we'd used before - casino rules enforced, 50c/$1 blinds, $100 buy-in, top-ups at any time in $10 increments. Tip: Make up zip lock bags with complete Buy Ins in advance.

The long and short was that we had 2 extras turn up which meant we split into 2 6-max tables which worked well. We didn't lose anyone all night and with rebuys, the bowl became pretty full. It still amazes me the scale of the poker economy. When I first deposited $25, I sweated over 1c/2c. I remember reading someone who couldn't understand someone sweating near the bubble of a $1 tourney. I can say that I still have the discipline to take those situations seriously, while also being able to shove a few hundred dollars in on a single bet, live or online. Anyway, when cashing out $4000+, it all balanced to the $. That's 5 nights out of 5 for perfect accounting.

My own result was a slightly disappointing $200 win. I had the softer table of the two and ran into a few big hands from the same player who had an amazing run of cards. He made $650, we had one other small winner and three losers. The other table was a lot tougher with everyone being a very good tournament player. As you know, cash is different and the cream did come to the top. One young guy (who can use the money the most) played perfect TAG style and took down 2 big pots for a $450 win. On that table we had 1 big loser and the rest pretty much stayed even for the night. Everyone that played has plenty of money, so no-one gets really hurt.

Relative to my online success (or lack thereof), offline reaps the benefits of all the study and experience of playing 100K+ hands. My offline bankroll is mounting up and even though it isn't enough to retire on, it is certainly significantly more than a burger flipping wage. I have had the significant advantage of occassional soft home games and no rake.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

WBCOOP Omaha - no good

Failed at my first attempt at the WBCOOP. I must say that I was confident going into the tournament that my new found PLO skills would see me through a field of 450 to make it into the last 72. Alas, after an hour and into the last 300, my short-stack went out with 17 wrap outs on the flop. But as often happens in a tournament, the last hand isn’t the root problem. To be fair, I could have been out much sooner and feel that I played reasonably well card dead.

The chip leader took his lead with no cards though; he was showing all sorts of aggressive bluffs including one that he took to the river with TTxx on an AQJ9Qr board. To his credit, he must have decided that no-one had a straight. That was a big pot and even then he’d never put his stack on the line doubling early. I do admire those that can read the board really well, I’m still playing my own cards a lot and bluffing with air early in cash games to take it down or find out where I’m at and fold to the raise. Obviously when I am strong, I get paid off handsomely.

I got away from all sorts of hands this morning post flop that others would have exited from. I managed to raise my chip count to $2640, when I was dealt 7c7s8dTh in the BB with a tight image. Average chip stack was $4500 and the blinds were now 50/100. MP limped and then CO made it 200 (which was a standard raise from him about 30% of unraised hands in position). I called hoping to hit a flop and stack off or just let the hand go. MP called. (3 runners, Pot $625)

Flop came 4c8c2s which was OK for me because I can just let it go. Check, Check, Check. Turn came 7d which completes a 56 straight, but otherwise is a good card for me with my trips. I decide to lead out for $350 and to my surprise get raised by MP to $950. CO folds and this is now a very interesting spot …

Would I have bet out with a straight (so what can he put me on)? Would MP have raised me with a straight? Is he pot committed or can he be pushed off with a shove. What can he realistically hold? If I put him on 56 for a straight, am I getting the odds to complete my FH with 9 outs? Is he just isolating me with a lot of outs on a wrap and a FD? Bugga … the joys of Omaha. I am not feeling in good shape and am now pretty much going for my 9 outs, if I call or shove. With $2140, I can still double up close to average stack if I fold, but I’ve been pushed off one or two marginal hands that I would have shoved with in a cash game. Can I call in this spot and hope to check down the River? He has been playing very strong Omaha, why would he risk his tournament life with a marginal hand as we have similar sized stacks. Could he be protecting trips? If so, would he not have done that on the flop?

Bugga … Thoughts?

Monday, December 15, 2008

A lesson at PLO100

Thankfully, I am not as results oriented as I once was because I took a hit Saturday and it has hardly affected me.

I was on the wrong side of a couple of PLO100 coinflips early and found myself down 2 BIs and onto my 3rd. I was also being outplayed, but learning. A more disciplined approach would have been to stand up but I made a conscious decision to battle through for the education of overcoming a tough game.

A mix of good cards and aggression seen me win back the BIs to the big stack at the table, on $340. Then came along "postmand" from Denmark (I googled him to find significant WCOOP cashes). He stood out with his exceptional selectively aggressive style. He won almost every hand at showdown. His stack grew rapidly to $290, none of it at my expense.

My focus was good as my stack was always under threat OOP. I felt like I was playing my A game and breaking even at a tough table with the big stack. A seat became vacant to postmand's left and I quickly moved into position. Several orbits later he left and I still had my stack intact.

Now for the bad news, the table got extremely fishy and I chased easy $$$s. The deck cooled and after a period of overly loose and surprisingly passive play for me (I knew I was narginal at best against calling stations), I found my stack whittled away to zero. In retrospect, this is perhaps where I should have left as I was playing far from optimally.

There is no doubt that the $300 retrospective educational budget would have been better spent on CardRunners, but I am convinced that my PLO game has gone to a new level as I had an awareness for the game that I have never experienced before.

As Stars is a new site for me, I must now work out how to retrieve and review the key hands more objectively with hindsight.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pocket Pairs in Small Stakes Hold'em

Optimal maths poker isn't natural or intuitive for many and the math is only one aspect of poker. The requisite to fold for equity rather than chase for excitement is also unnatural psychologically.

Sometimes I miss my Limit Hold'em and as I learn other games I find that I struggle to win at it now. I used to win at $5/$10 consistently (when the games were much softer) and have played up to $20/$40 occassionally. But Adam's suspended blog got me thinking when I watched his hands play out. It reminded me how frustrating the game can be if you don't have the confidence in your own actions and focus on getting it in good.

Today, there appears not to be much wrong with Adam's play. He has recently posted about a new LAG approach though which inherently incurs more variance and attracts action so you will take more bad beats. That aside, I read a snippet last night in "Small Stakes Hold'em" by Ed Miller (I recommend it). The maths seemed so wrong that I was going to check it out. Turns out (no surprise with Sklansky and Malmuth at the helm) that it was spot on.

Using PokerStove Monte Carlo simulation(www.pokerstove.com), with 5 opponents willing to take a flop with 40% of their hands {44+,A2s+,K2s+,Q5s+,J7s+,T7s+,97s+}, which doesn't seem to be unreasonable looking at what reaches showdown with Adam.

The book states that with AA you should be jamming on a dry board with almost 50% equity, but with TT in this spot you should be calling because your equity is closer to 21%. I was amazed! I extended the simulation to see the spectrum. The inter-pair gap gets greater with higher pairs, for the record -

AA thru 22 is 42.3%, 33.2%, 27.5%, 23.6%, 20.4%, 18%, 16.5%, 15.3%, 15.7%, 14.9%, 14.2%, 13.9%.

My interpretation is something that I've experienced and posted about before. When playing against 5 loose opponents willing to get to showdown with marginal hands and draws:
- QQ thru 99 are really middle pairs; (Adam inspired this insight)
- 88 is the cut-off where you are becoming a dog.
- 77 thru 22 are set mining hands with implied odds - flop or stop.

BRAINTEASER : I've run the simulator a few times ... why does it always deliver the pre-flop equity for 77 to be 15.3% while 66 is 15.7%, at first glance an anomaly?

TRUST IN MATHS? Even if you "knew" all the other players starting range was 40% (and the maths above), would you ever prefer 66 preflop over 77?

New Year resolutions?

I've finally come up with my goal for December. Come up with proper goals for January. I've realised that I'm not a goal oriented person. Partly because I've been fortunate in life not to need them and partly because targets can be restrictive and have an unnecessary adverse psychological effect if you're not trying to get anywhere in particular.

In my businesses, I've never had a business plan. I've known roughly where I've wanted to get to. It is often ambitious by other people's measures. Then I just try to get the important things right and avoid the big mistakes. Every so often when I arrive somewhere, I pause look around and 9 times out of 10 I'm happy with where I have arrived and set out again. A big downside is that employees often need targets and I sometimes feel like I fail them in that regards. Other times I think that I demonstrate not to get hung up on the result but concentrate on the decision making.

And so to poker. Dan Harrington wrote something along the lines of "NLH is the perfect game as it simulates life in a compressed way". Actually it was probably nothing like that but that is the impression that he left me with and the more I play the more I know it to be true.

The BCG shared with me how he would approach Badugi and there is no doubt that the blindman's rational man would agree 100% with that approach. Also, LaffyChappy wrote about his Flying Scot inspiration (I now need to watch the movie as I virtually know someone with first hand experience). But the good thing about meaningful goals is that they need to be personal.

I will learn Badugi, I'm sure. I'll probably not stick with it as it seems flawed but it will be a sound introduction to draw games. Winning a HORSE bracelet would be for me the pinnacle of success. I've been playing with O/8 as a split game and then I just need to master the stud variations and go for it in retirement.

Last night at PLO, which was a disaster for me this time last year, I sat on Stars at two PLO25 tables and stood up with $130 and $112 dollars. I got lucky cards, but I folded way more than usual with no regrets and got it all in the middle holding the nuts or close to it a few times. More right moves and less mistakes.

So as we near year end, it is time to pause and have a look around:
- I am a competent online player which is far from easy these days.
- Amongst my network of local friends I have an edge, but only one or two of them take poker anyway seriously.
- I have a healthy hobby that stimulates the brain and doesn't cost me anything other than my time.
- All my life I've been an above average all-rounder and this is showing through in my poker.

The massive downside is that it takes me away from my family and has consumed too many thinking cycles. I am less up to date with current affairs, get less exercise and have a skewed perception on the value of money in these turbulent economic times.

So, I will ponder goal setting for the New Year, I've never had resolutions. And hopefully they will have more to do with Laffs fitness regime and life balance that winning x dollars. As always, thanks to all of you who happen by this neck of the internet woods.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I love Badugi, Jitterbug Badugi

Well, not quite. The game is every bit as frustrating as everyone says. I haven't found the fun aspect as yet, but I haven't given up looking either.

For those that don't know Badugi, it is a bit of a fad amongst the gamblers. It is far from solved and very little known about strategy. That aspect has appeal to me, a bit like my PLO learning days (which will continue for a lifetime).

Badugi is a case of getting the lowest hands of different suits. A234r is the nuts. A 4-card Badugi (different suits) beats a 3-card Badugi. It is triple draw and the frustrating part is that your draw rarely completes whereas your opponents show down A235r etc all the time. Must be doing something wrong!

Anyway, I joined Pokerstars for the WBCOOP and found myself distracted as often happens. A couple of hours of Badugi later, I was almost break-even. If you want to give it a go, try this link first - http://www.badugipro.com/strategy.html.

Blindman reckons that the games may be softish elsewhere on Stars so I may go back to basics over the weekend. I was turned off by the interface. Does anyone know a way of customising it for multi-tabling so bets, pot size, bet pot etc is simpler? I found the interface to take up too much unnecessary real estate, with the all important maths data unintuitive.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pokerstars WCOOB

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

The WBCOOP is an online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers.

Registration code: 214460

Pending Pokerstars approval ... I'm in!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Late night cash game and deep stack live tourney

I really enjoyed yesterday's poker. It started with a phone call from a friend on my way home from work pulling together a home game. I turned up 1 hour later than everyone else and only missed two pots, both AI. The structure was cash $.5/1 with a $30 buy in. You can rebuy as often as you like.

I've played a few times before and as the field is soft, if you can get a stack early you are pretty set. Unfortunately, I lost a couple of buy ins early on coin flips, limp steal attempts from the BB, and trips over trips. Over $100 down, I had my first break and doubled up. Won another big hand to more than double again. Up about $20 with a decent stack and getting late, I waited for cheap chances to double up. It didn't come and I ended up $20 down. All in all, I think I played OK. It's my first loss in that company and I'm well up overall.

Late to bed and then off to the other side of Sydney for a long tournament. It's the best structure I've played with 30 min blinds. I promised myself tight early and I would have been out for sure if I hadn't. Only took two smallish pots with JJ and QQ and folded everything else pretty much. 2.5 hrs later I am level with my starting stack at the break.

Not long after the restart I've made the worst blunder for some time. 9Ts in early position, I limped with blinds of $200/$400 and had one raiser, the SB for $1200. I called with a stack of $10000. Flop came 983r, the SB led out for $3500 and without much hesitation, I raised AI. The SB thought for quite a while but he was never folding, just checking his logic (which I should have done). He called with JJ and almost crippled me. I'm very unhappy with my play, but to tell you the truth, I'm not sure what the right move was. That's the biggest problem - I'd like to be able to perform a structured hand analysis and be confident it was right.

I did gather myself up again which I was pleased with and then as the blinds rose, they were $5000/$10000 when I got KK UTG with $80000 in front. I pushed AI and was called by TT. Q89r wasn't what I wanted to see and definitely not the J on the river.

All in all, a realistic step up from the local pub games to the bigger gigs and I was found wanting but I'll be better prepared next time for the experience. More than 12 hours live has helped.

I spotted a great tell at a crucial point that I was proud of. I had the J on a board of 6789T. The river put a 3rd club on the board. I value bet and was raised AI. Did he have the flush or not? I couldn't get a read even though I tried until his friend walked past and they started a conversation. I'd read in Caro that its very difficult to have a natural conversation when under pressure. I reasoned that he was very comfortable and folded, showing the J. He showed the flush and congratulated me on the lay down. A by-product was a bit more respect at the table.

Sorry this post isn't a bit more structured or coherent but its been a long weekend of poker. Pleased to see that my fellow bloggers are all posting better results, long may it continue.

I'll register for Pokerstars when I read advice on a good RB deal (or similar) and have a go at the Blogger events hopefully (haven't checked out the timezone). Anyone interested in a last longer side bet?

9-table chart rivaling BCG's linearity

You all know that I am envious of BCG's chart. Finally, I found one of mine that resembles it, but it is only for 2hrs of play. It was for 1000 hands though, which equates to about 30 hours of casino play.

I was a beneficiary of positive variance with quads 3 times last night in 500 hands. All up it only added to $14 in winnings, one player and 2 short-stackers. Can't recall any badbeats, but I don't even get to learn the result of a lot of hands. I just get prompted for actions, others folding just moves quickly to the next hand before I realise.

It's a different way of playing poker. I'll try for another session tonight. Next post will be regarding 12+ hours of live play yesterday.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

9-tabling on my new laptop - woo hoo!

Just off to bed after my first 9-tabling session. Quite liked it and I think I got lucky - not sure - a bit of a blur. Played for 90 mins and now I have to get to sleep with my head buzzin'.

I love this new laptop with its big screen. I was playing the <10c NL tables and sat down with a total of $65 and stood up with $121.90. The best thing is that there was no temptation to play KQo from MP. If anything, 72o with a couple of QQ, JJ hands on the go is a relief. I think I'll give it another go again soon.

Win a trip to the WSOP

A couple of days without poker which I will put right at the weekend when I have a passout to play in the deepstack tournament that I won a ticket to 2 weeks ago.

That and the final table of the WSOP got me thinking ... Anyone interested in getting together and running a mini tournament series over the next 4 or 5 months with the winner going to the WSOP? We wouldn't need to play the main event as there are a lot of smaller buy-in tourneys? Also, Ivan Demidov only had 20% of himself I believe when he came 2nd, we'd have a similar arrangement.

Obviously, there'd be a lot of trust involved but the concept would be that all winnings from the WSOP would be distributed equally amongst the group. I think I have a few friends that would be happy to participate. The winner would have the experience but the downside is that they'd need the time off work. By running a series of tournaments online, we'd be assured of sending our best horse. With the supposed dead money there is (we'd just escape that category) it is probably a +ev situation.

Not sure of the logistics and as my wee blog has only attracted a couple of visitors the cost per person may be prohibitive. That said, as we are all hobby players, perhaps it will be something poker-related to do with our bankrolls. Just an idea that I hope has legs. Leave me a comment if you're interested.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Pub Poker

Australia is very lucky in that it has pub poker, a +EV situation all around as it caters for those that like to take their poker a little more seriously and also those that take their drinking a little more seriously.

Last night, I had my second tilt at our local RSL trying to retain my crown from 2 weeks ago. It looked good when I overbet KK with blinds of 200/400 to 2000 and got 2 callers just after the break (when the add-on and drinks voucher get you 5000 extra chips). Flop of 44K just made it a case of winning all the money which wasn't too hard. Check, Check, 1000, call, call. Check, Check, 2000, call, call. Check, 1000, AI, call, call. Pocket 77s and AK chipped me up to 23,000.

Soon after I called down with TPTK (AQ) for 1/2 of my stack against JJ flopping trips. When a loose player min-raised UTG with blinds of 500/1000, 5 handed. UTG+1 called the 2000 and I had 12000 on the button with 99. I pushed AI looking (but not feeling) tilty and was called by AJ. The other player folded showing his 99, bugga.

I went out but replayed the situation a number of times and am not sure that I could get away from the TPTK in a pub environment where the play is so loose and the 99 shove was fine with me too as the blinds go up every 15 mins. On the flip side, I couldn't stack 2 relatively deep players in the casino with my KKK44 flop.

I enjoy the company of about a dozen mates there and hope to be a regular with what is a guaranteed +EV situation as long as I don't take it too seriouly or get bored.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Maximised my WillHill Safety Net

... by donking off 25GBP in hardly any time at all on a FR PLO table. It reminded me how painful the interface is and I am now looking forward to getting my money back. The math was interesting when down GBP25 as it would have been crazy for me to continue playing as I would have to win 50, to receive 25 more. Anyway, I don't think that the Safety Net is a good promotion for the site, apart from the fact that 25 is peanuts.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

William Hill Safety Net up to GBP25

Seems too good to be true. Play the cash tables this weekend and if you lose up to GBP25, they'll recredit your account. It came by email and isn't on the site, so maybe it is because I've given up playing there since they changed my monthly bonus on me mid-month.

Will give it a go and let you know how it pans out. It's not a bad concept to encourage people back. Has anyone seen this promotion before?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Expected Value of Happiness

I had typed this as a response to the Blindmans comment on last nights session (please read it first) but have elevated to this level as I'd be keen to get some comments on the EV of Happiness and results orientation ...

"Very perceptive as always on the end. I subscribe to the theory that life should be treated as one big poker session yet I can still be results oriented ... an observation made by way of comment to BCG in the last few days.

Now, there is also EV in happiness. Some might say much more than the few dollars I risk at the tables - especially my recent 1c/2c foray.

The last bet on the last hand was a unique occassion. If the game was continuing I would most likely have value bet. But here's the rub, according to Daniel Negreanu in a recent PokerRoad podcast (I think) ... Never ... never ... make a bet if you don't know in advance how you will respond to a raise. ... I've been trying to keep this in mind and it is very important in NLH. Limit, you just call down, but in NLH the bets grow exponentially.

Remember, we're both relatively deep, its late, last hand, error prone. The pot was $100, so what would I bet? $30 invites a raise, $50 maybe, $70 probably, $100 definitely becomes a re-raise or fold for the other guy. What would I have done if raised ... I'm not sure and I didn't fancy the spot at that time. You are right though, I probably wshuld have fired $70 mid-session and hoped to be called down.

Back to happiness EV, I went back to my hotel very pleased with my play in Auckland, live and online. Had I re-opened the betting and lost to a full house it would have undone my good work and may well have changed my psychology for future sessions. As it stands, I can't wait to get back to the tables."

... So what do you think? It would be great to be a non-tilting machine, but realistically, even the best guys play better when in the zone or confident. Thinking it through, +EV is much more than the maths of one out of context Structured Hand Analysis. A similar situation is when top players go on a cooler, they can sometimes just start to play a lower variance style to regain more confidence.

So as we near the end of the month, happiness should form part of my goal setting balanced scorecard if I was disciplined and honest enough to get around to that.

I'd really appreciate your thoughts on this concept ...

Aussies 2 - Kiwis 1

An unexpected win at the casino last night. I'd been out for dinner and turned up late for a short session.

I was playing tight when a new player joined the NLH60-100, $1/$2 blinds game. By paying attention, occasionally you can spot little opportunities, even if they are against you overall style or plan at your time, especially live. One such situation occurred.

Fist hand for the new player, UTG he straddled for $15. Next position called and everyone folded to me on the button with pocket 9s. I had $108 and even though it is a very uncharacteristic play, I put it AI to isolate the straddler (obviously a gambler). (Mathematically, it is probably an OK play - would be keen to hear your thoughts.) He looked at one card and called and the player I wanted to lose folded as expected.

Board came A8Q J 7 and I was sure that I was done for. However, it turned out that he'd seen the T of a T4o and called. Easy double up in the end but the key was being awake to the available date. I love straddlers, its such a -EV play for all but experts and generates overly loose play (like mine, perhaps).

Kept playing TAG and ran my stack up to $280 when I called four callers on the button with my pocket 55 for $10(standard min raise in Auckland). Six of us see a flop of 567r, BB bets out $15 into $60 pot and gets 2 callers, on the button, I make a substatial pot-sized raise to $115 with my trips ... fold, call, call - bugga. Turn comes 9r ... bugga bugga ... check, check and I check for pot control . River blanked a 2, check, check and I checked fearing the 8, or set over set. Flop raiser had JJ and caller had 66 to scoop away a $400 pot from under my nose. I was behind the whole way and could have lost a lot more, so I was actually happy in a weird poker way. Only $125 of the pot was mine.

Two hands later I had T4o in the BB. LAG checked KT7 flop, I raised $15 and he called. Turn was a 4, he checked, I raised $30 and he called. Flop came 4 for my full house and he checked. His stack was $85 so I bet $100 and he called with KQo. I'd just won back what I'd lost.

My stack let me play a little then and then there was one more memorable hand. Again, a piece of data and a big element of luck. Last hand before table break, I had 7h4h in the BB. All players limped and I checked. Flop came Jh, 9h, 2h. Being the last hand, I led out for $15 and got 1 caller. One other player only had 1 heart and stated "I think you only have 1 heart but it'll be higher than mine, bugga". Turn was Kd, I c-bet for $30 and got called. Final card was a 9s, probably good for me but a little scary with both of us having $300+ behind (this was the guy that won set over set). I checked intending to call down and was relieved to see opponent had AhKc. In retrospect, there was more money to be had there, but I was right to control the pot.

Final result +$285 which was a pleasing positive variance end to the week. Big silver bird back to Sydney at lunchtime today.

Aussies 2 - Kiwis 1

An unexpected win at the casino tonight. I was playing tight when a player joined the NLH60-100, $1/$2 blinds game. UTG he straddled for $15. Next position called and everyone folded to me on the button with pocket 9s. I think you need to spot little opportunities and as I had $108, I put it AI to isolate the straddler (obviously a gambler). He looked at one card and called.

Board came A8Q J 7 and I was sure that I was done for. Turned out that he'd seen the T of a T4o. Easy double up in the end.

Kept playing TAG and ran my stack up to $280 when I called four callers on the button with my 55 for $10(standard min raise in Auckland). Six of us see a flop of 567r, BB bets out $15 into $60 pot and gets 2 callers, on the button, I make a substatial pot-sized raise to $115 with my trips ... fold, call, call - bugga. Turn comes 9r ... bugga bugga ... check, check and I pot control check. River blanked a 2, check, check and I checked fearing the 8. Flop raiser had JJ and caller had 66 to win a $400 pot. I was behind the whole way and could have lost a lot more, so I was actually happy in a weird poker way. Only $125 of the pot was mine.

Two hands later I had T4o in the BB. LAG checked KT7 flop, I raised $15 and he called. Turn was a 4, he checked, I raised $30 and he called. Flop came 4 for my full house and he checked. His stack was $85 so I bet $100 and he called. I'd just won back what I'd lost.

My stack let me play a little then but they were the most meorable hands. Final result +$285 which was a pleasing end to the week. Big silver bird back to Sydney tomorrow lunchtime.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Enjoyable evening

If I were a professional sportsperson, I think the range of preferred sports would go from darts at one end to golf at the other. Triple twenty, Triple twenty has got to wear off surely. That said, I enjoyed my years of snooker. I'd like to say that it was red, black, red, black but it wasn't. (Aside, just watched Sullivan on Sky Sports get 4 out of 5 frames with century breaks one week after 5 out of 5 centuries in Belfast for a best of 9 win. How good must that be?)

So last night I must say that I had the most enjoyable session for some time. I checked emails while waiting for a phone call. Opened the lobby while still waiting and there was a $2 NL super turbo rebuy. I don't mind coin-flippling in these so they can be fun. Long and short, I bubbled 6th out of 30 something.

At the same time, I opened 2 full ring PLO games 1c/2c and 2c/4c. When you can buy in for $5 it is really deep stack which I thought that I could play tightish and run up a healthy profit. Problem is with that many callers, there are a lot of seemingly bad beats. In reality, if you ran the odds calculator, you're often not more than 30% or 40% even flopping the nuts. That's my excuse for losing both BIs quickly. Pleased to report that I more than doubled up the next 2 so left with a modest profit and a bit of experience for the Blindman's PLO game in Perth.

Realising I wasn't going to make a living there and feeling good, I found what looked to be an active 6-max table and vowed to play TAG with a max stack PLO50. The guy to my right was extremely fishy and donked off a couple of BIs. It got really interesting when 4 of us had $150+ at the table and this turned out to be great experience for me.

I'm still the fish amongst the regulars but starting to hold my own these days. Nice profit for the evening but most pleasing was the fact that I really enjoyed every moment and felt that I was learning a lot. Deep stacked, I slow played my AA a lot and got away from most losing hands and cleaned up when flopping an A. I was more aware of position than usual too.

It's funny that the casino just didn't hold any appeal relative to the table that I had online. I will try to get up tonight though which is my last night in Auckland for a while and score 2 goals to turn around the 1st leg deficit.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kiwis in front at half time

Just one trip to the casino this trip as I've been working in the evenings. Landed Sunday and after a swim in the hotel headed up there quite early. I decided to shortstack as it is a gambling culture here in Auckland. Standard raises can be $12-$15 in a 60-100NLH game.

My 60 got whittled away to 40 with blinds and a couple of limps with suited connectors when I flopped top pair and got it AI on the flop to see 3 callers. Thankfully held up to get me up to $160.

Got sucked out on once, whittled away further and then QQ went down to KK for the remainder of my chips preflop. 5 hours later I had lost my $60, well within the bounds of variance.

The two nights online at the hotel, I came 2nd in a $3 NLH rebuy with 28 runners for $72 and last night short stacked a 200PLO for $40 where they were all large stacks and being ultra aggressive. Got AI with JJT9ss which hit a 678 and held up against 2 opponents. This time, on the positive side of variance, I stood up a couple of orbits later with $150.

As you can see, not much to report.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

NZ 1 - Australia 1

You guessed it, at the airport waiting to see if I can take the lead against the Kiwis at the Casino. It's a tie at this stage, apart from the Casino who always win with their excessive rake.

For the record, I have always been an All Black fan as they used to come to Ireland when no sporting team wanted to know us. Thankfully the draw of the Black Stuff was too much for them. Anyway, that transfers to Rugby League where we have been hosting a non-event World Cup. The Aussies made a tactical error taking on the kiwis at the hakka and proceeded to lose the Final. I must admit to a smile as AFL is my sport of interest these days.

Let's see if I can make amends ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The week that was ... (warning, please grab a coffee)

I can't believe that it has been a week since I last blogged. Mainly, because there is so much to report and I have been active commenting on the few blogs that I do follow. Ironically, I held off blogging because I wanted to share with you in detail my most recent dabble in the PLO world. A week later, I can't recall what was so compelling. That's probably the value of a blog as a diary for myself.

I do know that I am really impressed with River's Hand Replayer, that is pretty cool and so enjoyable to consider how I might have played in the same situation. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work with the XML output from my iPoker site, Hansa Poker. A friend that I met in NZ has shared with me a Replayer that works with Hansa, so I will get around to posting a few important hands if I can find them.

Omaha Experience

As regulars will know, I really enjoy the game but have so much to learn. I've gone just beyond the basics. I've been trying to focus on NLH though for a while so I neglect it for now. Eventhough I think that PLO is the future of high stakes poker and I have a chance to be in on the wave earlier. Amazing how I'm regretting (in advance) not having shifted focus earlier.

Anyway, I digress as always ... Omaha - Hold'em on steroids for gamblers.... my 4 big hands in 24 hours included:

- an AAxx $800+ (read, a lot of money for me) pot that held up;

- 88 on 98x flop for a couple of hundred, followed a few hands later by 88 on another 98x flop for another couple of hundred. Both times I lost to 999. I stood up having won just over $20 for my rollercoaster.

- next morning, a hand that I will try to find and post where my opponent was so far behind throughout, almost a 1-outer on the flop as I had all of his out covered (nearly). Needless to say, my A high flush lost on the river to his gut shot str8 flush.

NLH Experience

I've been running over the NLH50 tables a bit lately, not much $$$s but has helped my aggression factor post-flop. Anyway, after my Omaha roller-coaster, I decided to restore confidence with a bit of grinding. Trouble is that I sat down expecting to run over the table and got cold decked a bit early. This translated into getting called down light and re-raised a lot. All in all, not a pleasant experience losing a couple of BIs quite quickly with the rare humiliation of lol comments (deserved, I must say).

NLH Live

Given my experiences, I went down the local RSL for my first tourney there ever. I work in the City so I always get home too late for a Monday night. Fundamentally, I'm confident that my theory is relatively sound as long as I get my fair share of hands (not lucky, just an average mix). I had the chance to stress test this alcohol induced as you get 2K extra in chips if you buy 3 drinks before the break.

Anyway, I was sat to the left of a player I had played against months previous at another venue. He was a young "CardRunners" type character. I'd remembered him because he'd abused another player for calling his AI shove in an Omaha round when it was actually a "wrap" coin flip against his trips - but he didn't know it. I don't like dealer or player abuse.

What a great seat ... He'd raise and I'd 3-bet. He'd call, the flop would come, he'd Hollywood, check, I'd c-bet and he'd fold. Then I'd let him raise a few while I folded. Then we'd do the 3-bet routine again. Basically, he stole a lot and gave it all to me.

I played with the big stack for our table all night. When we merged to a 10-seat final table, the blinds were so high that it was a bit of a crapshoot. I can't recall if I got lucky or not, I don't think so. Lucky not to be called in spots maybe :-). Last hand I got AK and we we're ready to get into an AI anyway. I raised, opponent shoved, I insta-called and was disappointed to see 22. Basically, my AK was reduced to 34, but that's HU, I guess. Flop came K (I think) and I took it down with ease. Ultimately, I got cards at the right time all night.

So I won ... 1 out of 1 at my local. That gets me into a bigger tourney on Dec 6th, not sure if I can make that one as it is an all day affair and isn't really fair on my family. I'll try to be good between now and then.

Online Tourney experience

Buoyed by my RSL win, I thought I'd give a tourney a go last night. There was a $5 PLO rebuy happening. 1 Rebuy and an Add-on later I departed 9 out of 43 (I think) with 5 places paid. Not bad. Again it can be a crapshoot near the end as the money goes in liberally preflop and your rarely more than 60/40 ahead, even with AAKKss.

On the side, I needed some fold action to pass the time, so I played a couple of $20 Double Up S&Gs. I won 2 x $20 on 6-max and came 6th in the $10 10-max. Very small sample size, but they look very beatable for grinders.

Real Life Experience

On the weekend, we had a great Brazilian BBQ sampler meal in the City followed by Hunger the movie about the Hunger Strikes in the Maze prison (formerly and more accurately Long Kesh), near Belfast. I'd love to hear what people think about the movie when you see it, I won't spoil it here.

Let me say though, it is so real for anyone that lived through that era as I did. It isn't necessarily accurate as some of it is artistic licence. If anything it was worse in reality for those with first hand experience which luckily, I didn't. I found the portrayal balanced (but I'm biased). My wife had a good point, if you didn't live through it you would miss a lot as they don't spell out the why. As such, try to find a Belfastie to go with.

A few bits of trivia for my new found blogging friends that have made it this far:

- a bit of name dropping, I went to school with one of the screen-writers;

- Tiocfaidh Ar La means "Our day will come", pronounced Chucky Our La, the true meaning is only experienced by those that grew up in Belfast and if you've found this spot in my blog I am happy to share with you as it is probably politically incorrect for many;

- for the statisticians, when Bobby Sands got elected the turnout was statistically more than 100% (when allowing for dead and absent voters etc). And that is with non-compulsory voting.

The End

As this is non-compulsory reading, thank you for taking the time to get this far. I'll try to post more regularly in future so you don't need to endure the likes of this post again. Time for dinner.

PS I wonder if the River won his first Live PLO Tournament ... he's been very quiet about it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gotta love that Turn

Starting a new hand (#1263649108)
Texas Holdem NL $1/$2 - 2008-11-11 10:54:23 Server
Table Mamadysh (No DP)
Seat 1: katazrofi80 ( $215 )
Seat 2: thesantaclaus ( $217.85 )
Seat 4: Hero ( $286.60 )
Seat 5: hansruza ( $76 )
Seat 6: BourneReady ( $198 )
Seat 9: OriEy ( $228.85 )
BourneReady posts Small Blind $1
OriEy posts Big Blind $2
Dealing cards
Your cards Ts Jc [Hero]
katazrofi80 folds
thesantaclaus calls $2
Hero calls $2
hansruza folds
BourneReady folds
OriEy checks
Dealing Flop 8d 9d 7s
OriEy checks
thesantaclaus bets $7
Hero raises $22
OriEy folds
thesantaclaus calls $15
Dealing Turn 8d 9d 7s 5h
thesantaclaus bets $40
Hero raises $262.60
thesantaclaus goes All-in $153.85
Dealing River 8d 9d 7s 5h Qs
thesantaclaus shows 8c 6c
Winner is Hero $504.45

Monday, November 10, 2008

Knowing your Limits - The "Coin Flip" test

It struck me tonite when I thought about playing 1 table of NL200 or 4-tables of NL50 that there is a very good game selection litmus test for me.

Basically, how do you feel about coin flipping for your stack pre-flop AK v QQ, or similar? If it was NL1, I can't see you giving it a 2nd thought. But NL1000 for me, that wouldn't be my idea of fun, or skill.

As I get increasingly aggressive though, I'm finding that it is essential to be willing to coin flip to avoid being 3-bet off strong marginal hands in position. Playing too weak there can be exploited easily (and its costly - 20+ nit hands a pop).

My last live game, I short stacked for $100 in a NL100-NL250 game, just so I could play comfortably and gamble if need be. I'd never thought about it before. Can you relate to this?

Needless to say, I took the multi-table option tonite, scored a relatively easy $16 over 1 hour of 3 NL50 tables, no risk, no stress and I've even written this post when grinding it out.

PS As if to prove my point, I'd unclicked Autopost Blinds and was in SB with QJ on one of the tables. Bet pot and LAG BB raised pot to $5.50. I shoved $50ish expecting a fold but got called to my dismay by AK. QxxJx - woo hoo! A nice +$73 session in the end. Goodnight!

Live Tells ... so much to learn.

If you haven't already checked out the RedPro Forums on PokerRoad, please do. They are clutter free and incredible! Here is an extract from a Tony "Bond 18" Dunst request for advice on Tells

http://www.pokerroad.com/forums/showthread.php?t=743&goto=nextnewest ...

I thought about betting but by now I decided he either has AT-AQ or he has a flush draw that missed. So I check and he grabbed like 4k which was more than half his stack and about a pot sized bet, and he throws his chips in with a flick of the wrist, giving the chips that kind of "spin" throw... I don't know if this is how he value bets or if this is how he bluffs but I decided to stand up from my chair and yell "YOU DID THE SPIN THROW, THATS ALWAYS A BLUFF" just to see what his reaction was, he remained just as still and quiet. At this point I knew that if I talk for 2 minutes I'd eventually be able to get one or two tells that will let me decide whether or not I can call. So for the next 2 or 3 minutes I kept saying stuff like "I cant beat anything, but I can probably beat you" "I make one sick call per tourney, this might be it" etc etc....this guy wasn't giving anything away, and finally I decide to go under the table and look at his feet. Navarro says the feet are the most truthful part of the body and whenever I look under the table people always think I'm just being a clown and they don't change the way their feet are positioned. So I go under and see his feet are flat on the ground, I come back up and I say "your feet say you're bluffing" at which point he smiles at me, I throw the chips in and he mucks his hand, I show the 22 and the guy announces to the table "You know what the sick thing is.....I've seen him do this before" pretty sure I didn't get bluffed again at that table.

It's identical to my Eric Assadourian experience in Auckland (I was at the next table) ... http://tiocfaidhmola.blogspot.com/2008/10/gone-walkabouts-playing-with-pros-in.html

Just incredible to witness and very very intimidating. Had I been at the table, I would have felt like just handing over my chips there and then. In reality, I now know that it is just a skill that has been learned and passed on between Pros. Not sure that I could combat it.

You just gotta love all aspects of poker!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

1 hr 4-tabling NL50

-37, +54, -13, +7 = +$11 after 1 hour. Took a few pretty bad beats and stole quite a bit. Let's say 280 hands, that would be about 8BB/100 over a very small sample size. I had been up $40 and down $12 during the session and played the same either way. Enjoying the grind!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pocket Rockets Live in Brisbane, what would you do?

I had 90 minutes to kill before heading to the airport after a day's business in Brisbane. I headed to the casino where they had about 8 tables, I think - 5 were active. The lowest limit was a NL100-NL250 BI with 2.50/5.00 blinds.

My table seemed to be full of regulars and a few poker-savvy backpacker types. I bought in for the minimum as I wouldn't have time to get a read and didn't want pushed off a good marginal hand for a 250 stack. 100, I'll coin flip (worst case) for stacks.

I ended up the session +$36 with relative ease. Had great p/f hands but missed all flops. Stole blinds once, c-bet once, folded all others. The other interesting hand, I'd like comments on.

The 4 players to my left were all LAG. 4 to my right were a mix of TAG and T/P. 20 hands into the session I was dealt AA. UTG limped for $5, I knew that I'd be raised, so I limped. Next player had just sat down and min-raised. one caller, BB called, UTG called so there is $45 in the pot and I have $95 more in front of me. Everyone has me covered.

What would you do?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Quick session update - modest profit

Always easier to write up a win. Fun aggressive session, 1 hour x 3-tabling NL50 before bed with -$28, +$15, +$59 results for approx $50 profit. Lost 2 coin flips, flush draw came in on river and I stole an obscene number of blinds.

Long term poker goals

Inspired by BCG ...

Do I have ambitions to turn professional? Yes, I grew up playing cards around the kitchen table. I watched the Sting every time I could. I played pool and cards for money at school and was a consistent winner. I had a brief time being a side-kick for a NY pool hustler who paid me at the end of a winning night. I've rarely gambled and close to zero in the last 10 years. In yesterday's Melbourne Cup I took the +EV position of bookie to those wanting to avoid the TAB queue. I love risk assessment and finding +EV situations. Poker creates that opportunity daily on countless occassions. The challenge of finding those spots stimulates me. As I approach retirement, I would be keen to take it seriously as an income stream.

What is my motivation to play? I like winning at whatever I attempt to do. I wasn't smart enough or motivated enough to study earlier in my life. I am ahead of the pack - but well behind the regulars at poker. I enjoy the nuances and mathematics of the sport. It stimulates my risk based thinking and keeps my mind inspired.

Will I switch to no limit or some other form of poker? I have done and its tough but exciting for all the reasons above. If I am to be serious, I need to focus more and I'd like to master all of the games. Ultimately, I'd like to be playing competitively at HORSE on a regular basis, plus Badoogie and whatever else comes along.

Will I move up limits? Up and up and up within my bankroll limitations. I have no set limits on how I can go realistically. The game is more enjoyable against better players, I just can't win or afford the potential variance losses yet as a marginal winner.

What do I want out of poker? Get healthier. I'd like to take the time to jog, swim in the ocean and travel.

How do I stay motivated? Basically I play when I want to play. At present, that is any spare time that I have. When I took up golf, squash and snooker I was similarly obsessed. This phase will pass and I'll settle into a nice routine with a healthy balance, I hope.

So where would I actually like to be in a couple years? Travelling for pleasure and logging in from Tuscany, Mexico, Macau, Kenya and Belfast to supplement my income.

What is wrong with the higher stakes? Nothing as long as I'm winning. In fact, having deposited only $25, and ground out 1c/2c for quite a while I am already at the higher stakes in a lot of ways. I will never challenge Ivey or Durrr. I'm not that smart, dedicated and I certainly don't have that much gamble.

Tournaments? I love the fact that everyone sits down equal regardless of wealth or race. This is where I hope to beat the best of the best on an even playing field. My dream is to win the $50K HORSE at the WSOP.

Live play? I enjoy online a lot. A good live game is great for the company and the added stimuli. I'm not good at live yet but need to spend the time studying people at the table if I am to win a bracelet. Good to dream, eh? I'm realistic to know that it is a million to one shot though, or worse.

What about education? I've read a lot of books. Plan to read a lot more as more is written about the other forms of poker and definitely plan to subscribe to CardRunners etc. I got a birthday present of a subscription, but can never find the time to watch a few videos. Maybe I should give up blogging for a few months :-).

How will I stay on track to achieving these goals? Actually, I'll never achieve one quarter of what I've written as I don't set goals or take this nearly seriously enough. That's me and I'm cool with that. Well above average should come relatively easily and that will do me.

So I am going to .....? just keep cruising along. Everything always works out in the end

Might add some more if I think of any ....

Thanks BCG ... you are an inspiration!

Nosebleed stakes ...

Have you checked out the largest online pots that have been falling over the last couple of months. Ten pots between $500K and $750K ...


... including a mega bad-beat river, trips over trips, AA v KK and the Q2 pair of 2s taking down $609K+. Wow ... a long way to the top!

The formula for online poker success!

Work has gotten the better of me again and I have been slack with my updates. Last night I had 1 hour 4-tabling NL50 and got into 6 or 7 big pots, I must have lost two more than I won as I ended up down about $30 overall. It was an aggresive fun session that could have gone either way. No big deal.

One memorable hand was AKs v QQ AI p/f for $50 with my A on the Turn going down to a Q on the River. Best hand held up, so I can't complain ... bugga!

Now what I wanted to let you know about is two very insightful posts from our idol the BCG. He has very generously documented his formula for success, it is a must read. I'll try to include a balanced score card by the weekend showing why I have failed to emulate his successes.

In the mean time, please read and learn here ...


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Coming up with goals ... Why do we play poker?

November is here and I'm impressed by the bloggers and 2+2ers that post goals and then report on them monthly. I'd like to do the same, but I really don't know what goals to set.

I'm happy with my volume, mixing it up with a variety of games, bankroll treads water (goes up, I take a shot - goes down, I knuckle down and grind), I still love the study (read a few more pages of Small Stakes Hold'em and want to get back to Limit Multi) and I feel overall like I'm getting better.

I'm not complaining, by any means, but I do envy the focus and discipline of all you other guys (any girls) out there that can track your progress so clearly.

One post I was going to include was - why play poker? I remember clearly reading Alan Schoonmaker's explanation. Then I read this on Alex's blog "Tower of Checks" http://bubbleb0y.blogspot.com/.

For the record, as at Nov 08, my motivation would appear to be:

1) Measuring myself: 45%
2) Money: 10%
3) Accomplishment: 30%
4) Excitement: 10%
5) Socialize: 5%
6) Pass time: 0%

Anyone out there like to let Alex and I know what your motivations are? Based on the above, any suggestions on goal setting for me?

Variance evens out

I have just returned from travelling so can't spent too long online. Had 20 mins at NL100 and made profit, +$78, single table 6-max. Later that night, fired up 2-tables for 40 minutes -$17 and +$45. Then picked daughter up from party and played 30 mins at 1:30am, went well initially on running $100 up to $213, before running into flopped 777, str8 and then flush to wipe me out. Nett result, +$6.

I'm always wary of playing tired but I felt good about all 3 sessions, had my fair share of luck, good and bad.

Friday, October 31, 2008

7 live hours later, slight profit, interesting lesson.

Sat again in the Auckland NLH100 game and after 7 hours of table time am pleased to report another modest positive result +$55.

I played more hands than my last session report thanks to good cards. Had my fair share of good and bad luck. Lots of little things didn't go my way and one big hand did to my amazement.

Dealt KK early position, raised to a relatively table standard $12 and got $5 callers. A pot sized bet is over 1/3 of my $170 stack. Flop AQ7 rainbow, so I c-bet $55 to get 2 callers and 2 folds, I'm OOP now. Turn of 9 is essentially blank, and it goes check, check, check. River J for AQ79J. I check, MP bets AI for $21, LAG calls $21 and I'm ready to fold when a player that I respect tells me that my pocket Tens are good. Great call and it got me thinking. Working it thru, he could be right and I'd given up with 2 x $55 flop callers.

Opps turned K2 for total bluff and QT which seems a pretty loose call to me. I won, but felt very lucky, even though I was ahead throughout.

Lesson for today - not everyone thinks or plays like me and I need to take this into account in big decisions!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Beating the rake ...

I chatted with the Poker Room boss last night at Auckland. It's a small room and they are playing with Tournament schedules etc and she was interested in feedback. Amazing how quick you become a local.

The rake is high at 10%, capped at $10 on a $1/$2, $60-$100 NLH table. She explained the financial realities and they need to take $200 per hr / per table. That still doesn't compete with pokie and other casino table revenue. Small tournies with 40 people and 4 tables for a few hours can generate less than $200 total. Not a good return, hence not many tournaments. They are running freerolls to help people transition from pub poker to casino poker.

So accepting that the rake is high - to play or not? I'm learning, so table time is an investment. My style reflects the challenge of beating the rake as I am the nittiest nit ever. I watch like a more experienced interested player though.

Last night, I am please to report that playing 5 hands and limping a few more netted me a profit of $74 over 4 hours of play. Had I played any looser, I would definitely have lost! I played pp pairs 3 times after flop. Once I hit and got a flop bet and turn fold on 89KT board, twice I raised preflop and c-bet and was folded to.

AA, I linped UTG (aggressive table), MP raise to $7, BB call, I re-raised to $27 as I would be put on a post flop c-bet if I didn't and I was getting away regardless of flop as it was such a loose / bluffing table. They fold, fold which was fine but dsappointing as I was happy to stack off on any flop.

That was essentially it. Very lillte risk and a successful result. As Blindman said, playing fewer hands I was up for less rake too!

Monday, October 27, 2008

More live poker coming up

Hi All, I may go walkabouts for a few days again as I am on another trip to Auckland for work and will no doubt hit SkyCity for a few more live games. The games there look soft, but I struggle to win there for some reason. I've had a chance to think about a few things since last time, so here's hoping!

All tips welcome for wild, loose, 7-10 x BB preflop raises not uncommn type poker with 25BB BI and a 10% rake. Only +EV I've found is the free diet cokes.

Risk of Ruin 101

One concept that struck me when reading the Mathematics of Poker is the "Risk of Ruin" (RoR), more commonly known as going busto.

Bankroll Management is extremely important and if you only ever sit down with 5% of the Bankroll, you will be down to 1c/2c before going bust. If you've been serious about poker and can't beat that game then you need to rethink why you are playing poker.

That stated, the first lesson on Risk of Ruin is that any game with a negative EV has a 100% chance RoR in the long term. 100%. Gambling 101, every other casino game is -EV, so don't play them when waiting for a table to come free. Sports betting, Betfair etc aren't because you can have an edge, unlikely but possible.

More on Risk of Ruin next time ...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shortstacking and moving from Limit to NL

The Blindman had this blog entry today ...


This was my response which I feel contains a few important points worth considering ...

There is no doubt that short-stacking is mathematically an advantage. Philosphically though, there is a poker economy that is enjoying a boom, but can be subjected to various threats online cheating, bad PR, legislation, abusive chat etc.

IMHO, short-stacking can fall into this category. There is probably nothing wrong with the individual financial instruments that caused the current financial crisis, but the net effect is dramatic.

The prevelance of short-stacking and the ease with which the strategy can be multitabled negatively skews the online environment.

Thankfully to combat this we are seeing the introduction of 50bb min BI tables. This is a positive move for those that really nejoy the game in its purest sense.

In terms of game selection, after 6 months, I really feel that I am starting to get a feel for NL. The transition is incredibly difficult and for me, expensive.

I jumped into NL200 from $20/$40Limit where $200 pots were commonplace. The step up was a quantum leap, so as you transition I'd recommend start micro and play full stack as mastering the game is the goal, not eeking out a few artificial mathematical dollars.

Finally, if you take the time to read the Law School Dropouts blog you'll be very keen to transition sooner rather than later. That was my inspiration, but it was Harrington that provided the key to holding my own.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gotta give action to get action.

I think that I first read something similar to "Gotta give action to get action" in Super/System and again from Mike Caro. My propensity is toward TAG, so I struggle to get action fast playing trips, etc.

Now to the quiz (see last post), my SMS big winner friend sent me an email identifying himself. His poker history is literally no online poker, uses a poker program in MSFT Windows, watches it on TV and read one poker book on a business trip to Perth. He hasn't even played pub poker. At Perth casino, we played his only other live game and he exited early, probably TPTK loss, or similar.

On that night, my advice was to play tight just to rack up table time and experience. Needless to say, he bluffed me out of the 3rd or 4th hand we played. I recall laying down a good hand assuming he had the nutz. I was way off and he thought it was funny - I wasn't so sure.

Anyway, I have confirmed that there were many furious losers. At 2am he responded to one self-proclaimed English pro who was verballing him that he should consider another profession. At 4:00am, when cashing out, he asked if he could be watched to the cab rank by security. He was the last man standing having cleaned out both tables at that level.

Apparently, he rivered trips with 55 twice and another pair once more. He only lost a couple of hands all night and was a massive bully toward the end when he lost all track of chip to dollar values (a big advantage when it happens). The ultimate was a $1500 pot where he had KJ against AJ and got AI on a KKJ flop.

I can only imagine the scene as his chip stack grew. The regulars salivating when this recreational player sucked out on someone else knowing that the chips would eventually be redistributed. It just never happened.

I know it was a freak session, never to be repeated, but there is a lesson there with respect to speculating to prosper. May you have a quarter of my friends luck at least once in your poker career!

Community Quiz - Pick player type

I got the following SMS from an unknown number "Turned $100 into $3475 last night @ conrads. $2.50 - $5 no limit :-) 5 hours".

I set about trying to think who might have sent it. I have met quite a few people through poker. Conrads is a Casino on the Gold Coast in Australia which is a vacation destination.

My immediate candidates were a rich aggressive ex-semi-pro who played in the WSOP 15 years ago, an FX Trader who bluffs a lot and is loaded so doesn't give a sh**, a solid female who plays marginal hands fast and gets action because she's a female ... and then I ran out of likely candidates.

This is an incredible result. It was a 40BB $200 max buy-in table so that is 15+ BIs. I can't recall ever seeing a stack like this online. I'll be interested in guesses on playing style. Answer to follow when the regulars have had a guess.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Different Stages in a Player's Life

I've been thinking about this article by Ray Zee on 2+2 a lot lately. I just don't know where I sit, live and online.


My best guess is that I move from a 2.5 to a 3.3 online, and a 2.1 to a 2.7 live. I find it incredible that after all of the study I have so much more to learn. It could be depressing, or I could just realise that as long as poker remains a recreational pasttime that I must be ahead of the pack. The common figure used to be 5% of players are winners. I'm not sure that that still holds true, but anecdotally it seems reasonable.

Here is my first hand post that had my stomach churning. Is it a 2.9 or a 3.3?

GAME #1228444 NLH .50/1 x10 Table Cliftonville (50 bb min)
Seat 1: MP+2 ($123.00 in chips)
Seat 2: CO-1 ($151.55 in chips)
Seat 3: CO ($82.35 in chips)
Seat 4: Hero ($98.50 in chips)
Seat 5: SB ($112.35 in chips)
Seat 6: BB ($100.00 in chips)Seat
7: UTG ($100.00 in chips)Seat
8: UTG+1 ($47.90 in chips)Seat
9: MP ($161.58 in chips)Seat
10: MP+1 ($171.65 in chips)

SB: SB $0.50BB:
BB $1.00
*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to Hero [HJ HA]
UTG: Fold
UTG+1: Fold
MP: Fold
MP+1: Fold
MP+2: Fold
CO-1: Fold
CO: Fold
Hero: Raise $2.00
SB: Call $1.50
BB: Raise $9.00
Hero: Call $8.00 [I get played back at often when over-stealing, so hand range may well be wide]
SB: Fold

*** FLOP *** [C9 S4 S2]
BB: Bet $16.00
Hero: Call $16.00 [Not feeling good about this, but every so often you need to make a stand on c-betting from a meta-game perspective]

*** TURN *** [C9 S4 S2 D8]
BB: Check [Trapping or pot controlling?]
Hero: Bet $13.50 [1/4 pot bet to similarly put him on a decision]
BB: Call $13.50 [Bugga]

*** RIVER *** [C9 S4 S2 D8 C4]
BB: Check [Trapping?]
Hero: Bet $59.00 [If he wanted an AI, 1/2 pot would have been more effective - stomachs churning, but there is only one way to win this pot]
BB: Fold [Woo Hoo - Overpair or AK?]

*** SUMMARY *** Wins $137.00

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lost my way chasing William Hill Bonus

I’ve lost my way a lot this month. With travel and various other distractions, I played less hours and was less motivated (and tired). I lost over the month significantly on Omaha, but made a similar amount at NLHE. I tried Limit to run up the bonuses quicker but treaded water.

I think that moving to William Hill distracted me and I am envious of the Bonus Chasing Grinder’s disciplined results. The problem with William Hill is that it doesn’t have the volume of players to let me multi-table effectively. That is part of my excuse for being sidetracked by Omaha. The other is that I enjoy it more, hopefully the results will follow.

I’m not impressed at all by William Hills cashier function. I've run up 1000 MPPs which should be good for a $100 sign-up bonus for me. I’ll never accumulate another 1000 so I’ll retire there for the month and start playing 5 hours per month at my leisure ongoing. Am I missing something or is information about “my” bonuses hard to find? Anyone know if it is within the cashier function, or elsewhere?

I probably broke even for the month which is about par for me. Not bad I guess, considering that I certainly didn’t play to my strengths. Any guidance you can provide to get me back on track would be great. I’m at my most comfortable 4-tabling $1/$2 iPokerNetwork, Limit or NL. Any suggestions on where I can find a similar experience with RB / Bonuses as I am liking the extra cash in my RTR account?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Winning feels so much better

Came home late from work after an hour drive from the city and decided to have a few hands before bed to unwind. I enjoy PLO most of all, even tho' I'm nowhere near an expert, barely competent.

The site I wanted to play on had virtually no tables going and I sat at 2 x 6-max PLO200 GBP (which is a lot of Aussie dollars for my wee bankroll). Anyway, careful not to tilt went out the window when I found myself playing very LAG and down 2 BIs of 80 each within a couple of orbits. Then it seemed to click a bit and I ran one table up to 374 GBP from 80 - treading water on the other. Profit +150 GBP and time for bed ... more ass than class for sure!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Passing the time with PLO in front of the TV

I'm still keen to get a really good session online. Having my first quiet evening at home for a while, I decided to chill in front of the TV with my wife. Pulled out work laptop which doesn't have any rakeback sites on it, so settled on Party as one of my "don't care" accounts.

I always try to play well though and sat at the first table it offered me for NL100. Played OK, stole and jabbed my way up to +$15 when I paid the price for a bluff on a 997 board and a 2nd best TPTK for a $-45 result. The sort of hands that can go either way. I wasn't concentrating so may have gotten away from the 2nd one and possibly not bluffed the first if playing my A game, which wasn't the objective. I decided to shut down that table as any solid table image was now shot.

Fired up the first PLO50 short-handed available for a bit of fun. Played T/A for first 10 orbits or so and then wielded bigger stack selectively for remainder of session. Ran it up to a stack of $172 before bed o'clock. A good PLO result for me, this time on the side of +ve variance.

The movie was pretty good too! BTW, a quick movie review ... check out "Once" if you haven't already seen it. Low budget movie with great music.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Anticipation - rusty or refreshed?

I'm not sure that I have ever gone 2 weeks cold turkey from online poker before, but between work, travel and live play that is the case.

I'm hoping to get a few hands in this evening (as Monday is a good TV night for the girls) and really looking forward to it. I am keen to see if it is like riding a bicycle and I slot right back in. It will certainly be interesting as I am hopeful of being refreshed.

On a similar subject, The Bear Blog spoke of Phil Ivey in the WSOP having a bad run and choosing to sit out of his favourite event $10K PLO as he wasn't playing well. It certainly got me thinking as to how badly I might play tired or bored? I'm not sure that I really think about the difference between playing well and getting good cards. I can spot Tilt but probably rely too much on auto-pilot to grind out a profit. Thoughts?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gone walkabouts ... Playing with the Pros in Auckland

... but looking forward to getting back in the online saddle.

I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to Auckland NZ for 10 days with work. I took the opportunity to try the other side of poker, live. Being away from home, I was able to play virtually every evening. I really enjoyed it, but as a profession it would get very frustrating / boring as a breakeven or losing player.

I think that the game may be relatively unbeatable long term given the rake which was 10% with a cap of $10 on the $60/$100 capp $1/$2 NL game. There wasn't the option of Limit play which I would have preferred.

The tables were full of the same regulars all of the time with very few recreational players. The standard of play amongst the regulars seemed lower than Crown in Melb and Star City in Sydney, but the absence of recreational players certainly meant that there was no easy money to be had.

As you might have guessed by now, I was a losing player at approx -$5 / hr. Well within variance limits and what seemed like a high number of bad beats, but I'm not so sure.

Occassionally the preflop raise would be $7, but the norm was $15 to $22 and sometimes more. With small stacks this meant that the money was often going in on the flop. As I don't like to gamble, I was playing very tight and then finding myself up against multiple callers on draws. I was rarely on draws as I was playing only premium hands. It was all quite frustrating when used to playing relatively deep stacked online.

Clocking up a reasonable amount of hours, the pace was still very slow compared to online. I'm looking forward to getting back to 4 tables and constant action.

The highlight though was four satellites on Sat/Sun to qualify for the $3300 Play with the Pros. I got through easily in the two $80 qualifiers to the $330 Satellite (top 20%) on each day. The afternoon was a different story, with only 10% getting paid, I didn't adjust my game early enough. I played well and possibly over cautiously in the first few rounds, then the blinds rose rapidly and I found myself hovering on the average stack, then all of a sudden I was short stacked without losing a hand hardly. Ah well, all good experience.

I had the privilege of getting very close to the players in multiple tournaments during the week. The most impressive was the analysis of an Omaha hand before calling a river bluff light by an Aussie Pro Eric Assadourian http://pokerdb.thehendonmob.com/player.php?a=r&n=42739.

It will lose in the translation, but with 5, 2, 7, T, 7 (rainbow +1) board, he told his opponent who'd bet that he was sorry but that the bet just didn't make sense. He went on to go through every reasonable hand combination and analyse why it didn't make sense. He eventually called with a lone T giving him 2 pair against total air. I've got so much to learn!

Today, Joe Hachem was playing in day 1B. He too was extremely impressive. What I liked was that he paid attention constantly. He'd occassionally reach for his chips while watching the players to his left, he'd watch guys on a decision when he wasn't in the hand and he'd continue to watch pot winners with no showdown as they pulled in the chips and stacked them.

Greg Raymer was very accessible and played the early rounds extremely patiently. We are lucky to have an interest in a sport that the best in the world are so accessible. Only a matter of time until I find myself at a table with them :-).

Finally an apology, between work, play and lack of Internet access I haven't kept up with this blog. To those that dropped me an email, much appreciated, hopefully I'm back. Now I need to catch up with how you've all been traveling.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Risk Management, Bankroll Management, Bonus Chasing and Goals

Effective risk management can be a life skill. The world is full of dangers (and opportunities). Navigating through (and capitalising on) these requires an assessment of both the likeliehood and the scale of each. The impact and chance of most are so insignificant, that they don't warrant anything more than following our instinctual actions. Others however deserve substantial consideration. Let's agree for now that Impact * Likeliehood = Residual Risk (opportunity).

Bankroll Management for me up to now has been based around minimising Risk of Ruin (RoR). That has dictated that I play micro stakes, starting literally at 1c/2c until I was a consistent winner, then moving up. I started with $25. I could have invested $1000 at that time. I'm glad I didn't. I would have lost. I struggle to beat $1/$2 NLHE after 3 years, I had no chance back then.

Any game with a -ve EV represents a 100% RoR over a sufficient sample size. That means, mathematically you're guaranteed to lose. The only way to win are to stop playing after your initial lucky run or become +EV, a true and consistent winner. Your results over 10,000 hands are just that, a result. Only an analysis of hands played could guarantee that your actions were indeed +EV over such a small sample size.

It would appear that I am a very marginal winner and it feels like I know more each week, which can't be bad. My results are certainly improving and I am more focused on making the right play as opposed to short term bankroll swings. That's probably a good thing ... so long as I keep a realistic eye on RoR.

There is a positive side to Bankroll Mgmt though in terms of funding stepping up. To date, I've chosen to prove to my family that the time investment in poker was paying off by withdrawing cheques periodically. Time away from family is a big investment to compensate for so I need to win bigger to justify this. I was at a run rate of $1000 per qtr. I then stepped up and wasn't able to do this anymore as I went back to being a very marginal winner/loser with no RoR.

Before starting the blog, I found that I was playing better poker, playing higher stakes and probably better players, knew more about the game but made less money and enjoyed the grind less. So much for winning, eh?

I was spending less time on table selection and I was playing Noble poker who had withdrawn the rake that they used to pay me because of an iPoker enforcement around rampant rakeback. I liked iPoker and had PokerOffice stats on all my opponents.

I used Party and other iPoker skins to claim on the 2+2 book bonus (contact me if you'd like more info) which was the best move ever. I got better at the game. BTW, if you haven't read all 5 Harrington Books, go check out the offer and do so as soon as possible.

Since the blog, a few guys have stopped by and encouraged me. They've also through their blogs reminded me of the opportunity to chase bonuses. Something I've held off from because I was more focused on winning than having my credit card out there and risk greater RoR through Identity Theft, or similar.

The personal guidance that I've been provided with is first rate and nothing has been asked for in return. My eyes have been opened to opportunities that I was quite frankly missing. Tips on how to structure my records. The best tip was the simple one of opening a Neteller Account (again feel free to contact me for guidance).

Goals ... my one starting the blog was simple (see previous entry). I'd like to be able to make a rewarding career out of playing poker professionally. I'm just working out how to achieve this. (Aside, rewarding is not just making a healthy profit, a subject for another day.)

So will Bonus Chasing improve or hinder my progress to a better player? Here are my thoughts, I'd appreciate your feedback:

- I can significantly reduce my RoR as my performance without rakeback can be marginal;
- If my bankroll grows I can play better opponents quicker within my bankroll criteria;
- I'm incented to put in volume and hence determine my true winrate at various levels;
- experiential learning at volume supports my study; and
- there's nothing really to lose by it.

One last thought to leave you with. It appears that the best bonus program at present is William Hill which I have jsut signed up for. It's not the most elegant site and I've experience low player volume when it suits me to play as I like Full Ring. Last night, I had a 2 hour session 4-tabling NL50, NL100, PLO, PLO/8 at once. This is something I would never have considered before.

It was mentally stimulating and I had two lucky hands which helped me finish the evening a winner on all 4 tables for a total addition of a few hundred bucks. One of the good beat stories will be summarised in as a comment as it isn't my reason for this post.

Finally, thanks so much to the Blindman and Bort in particular for all your guidance. It has made a massive difference to my outlook for the future. Cheers!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Moving on up - NL100

It was Sunday night and I settled down to play a couple of hours of poker. Not sure why, but with $2000+ now in my bankroll and on a good run, I decided to try 4-tabling NL100. I promised myself that I'd drop back pretty quick if I wasn't feeling OK with it.

It seemed fine. I could still steal quite a few blinds. I seemed to make reasonable decisions on the flop. I stab a lot and then get away from it on resistance. Doyle Brunson wrote in Super/System that people think he's lucky when he sucks out, but that in reality, he's freerolling because when they didn't have it, they'd folded. So between my CO and c-Bet stealing, I was involved a bit with a few chances to play for stacks.

After 3 hours of 4-tabling at a higher level, I was breakeven. Unfortunately no rakeback / bonuses etc which would ave left me up. I'm now officially a King at Party though, just when I wanted to leave.

Before bed, I thought that I'd have one shot at NL400 just to see. I lost almost $200 early but had my money in when ahead, so reloaded. 100 hands later, I'd won two biggish pots to finish up +$300.

I think I'll stop giving updates on my bankroll, because I know that a downswing is just around the corner. Until now though, it has been relevant, because I started with a goal of moving up the limits within my bankroll (I've strayed outside occassionally and got lucky).

The focus that the blog has provided has helped my play. I'll now move up to NL100 for a period and see how that feels.

Over the next few posts, expect Risk of Ruin and the Future of winning poker to be discussed.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

AQ Lucky or Unlucky?

Humans are phenomenal pattern matching machines and can spot coincidence in chaos. When 9s are about, people play them. Whilst irrational, when you see this phenomenon discussed in a live game, be a little wary of matching flops that night.

Anyeay, last night I had 3 AQ hands on less then 100 played. I was tired so played just 2 tables but went up to $1/$2 to make me think. I could've not played, but I'm keen to make sure that I can put in volume even when not feeling 100%.

My 3 AQ hands had 2 for me and 1 for my opponent. Results were 3 AIs, for $70, $130 and $200. All pots built steadily on all streets, abeit different pot %. After river there was TPTK with Q high board, a set with QQQ and A kicker, and heart flushes AhQh vs Kh6h.

I playes 2 hands well and 1 badly and finished the session up over $100. I got away with an amazing number of steals. I was also dealt KK and AA but no-one called my "steal". No matter how I look at it, I had a very lucky session.

Next time I have a bad session, I will realise that it is only the evening out of this one and hopefully I'm less likely to tilt.

If interested in my bad beat story, please click on 1st comment ...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Using life lessons learned ...

I'm finding this blog is giving me precision of thought. It seems like it is doing the same for Bonus Chasing Grinder with this post from 10 minutes ago on Bankroll Management. A subject that I would like to delve into over the next couple of weeks.

Before that though, my thinking has been a life experience from my teens. Chess was a game that I could beat my peers at thru primary school and up to 13. I'd never read a book, just seemed to get the game. From 13 on though, everyone I'd beaten passed me. They'd discovered books and I hadn't. They studied and I never. Admission, until poker I've virtually read no books.

From 13 to 18, I made a fair bit from poker. Just pennies but a lot at the time. Around 2005, I discovered Late Night Poker on SBS and then online poker. I'd never played Hold'Em, so I bought a book to teach me the basics. It taught me a lot more and I was instantly a winning player.

The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn and I started reading for the first time. I'm glad I did. Everyone is growing up. Almost month on month the games get tougher. The game is essentially "getting solved". The fish will diminish and the edges for winning players will reduce. The only way to stay ahead is to study. Keeping the study fun and staying amused whilst grinding will be key if I am to be successful.

I'm looking forward to Card Runners (or similar) rejuvenating me. But for now, I'm plodding my way through real study. I hope knowledge retention is like riding a bike. The Mathematics of Poker is a very hard read but incredible. That is what we're up against.

So if our life experiences can teach us a lot will our future be online poker? Considering the traits of successful people, I don't think so. More next time.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Good beat story ...

So much blogging time and poker conversation talks about bad beats. One of my life philosophies is that what you focus on usually grows, positive or negative. Hence, I prefer talking about the hands where I get lucky. I had one last night that bolstered my bankroll further.

I've decided that grinding out NL50 is good when I'm enjoying it, but I'm not learning too much unless I study specific hands or read books that I try to put into practice. That said, I hold my own a lot better than I did a month ago.

Anyway, last night I was struggling with concentration so decided to take a shot at NL200 and promise myself to play really Tight. I got a few raising hands in good position and picked up the blinds and on one occassion c-bet successfully 1 caller who folded the flop.

With $230 in front I was dealt AA on the button. Early position made it $8 and mid position raised it to $24. Ithought about it and looked at the stacks. The re-raiser was on $200 have auto-clicked rebuy to max, the original raiser had only $71.

My 3 choices seemed like call, raise or shove. I selected the call thinking that the early position may shove and if the re-raiser shoved, called or folded would be more data for me. If he folded, so be it, I'd check out the texture of the board and the size of the c-bet.

Dream come true, raise AI with the remainder of his $71 and re-raiser pushed AI with his $200. Mine was an easy call but an anxious wait as the cards landed, small price to pay for +EV.

7 ... 9 ... K ... Q ... 6.

The worst thing about these hands at a cash table is that you don't get to see the hole cards before the board is played out. I was sure that I must be facing KK and or QQ. Luckily, very luckily it was JJ ($71) and AK($200).

I played a few more orbits without getting involved, then cashed out happy that I'd experienced my A game, albeit with a relatively simple decision.

Note to self : If I had been multitabling, I am not sure that I would have been as in tune (even with teh HUD) to the likeliehood of using the others' aggression against them. This became very akin to the concentration I have playing live.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Medium Pair Stats from Poker Office

Blindman was right when he said that he needed more info. Consistent with the attached stats, I nearly always raise with my pps and c-bet them too. This gets me committed and I can see with the replayer that I force out worse hands and encourage big pots when facing better hands.

I need to focus on Big Hand, Big Pot, Small Hand, Small Pot in these situations even more. I was also folding to Turn check/raises on blank and scary boards which may or may not have been a mistake. I might have lost more, but it is possible that I was being moved on.

The long and short of it is that I am a modest net winner with 66 thru 22 and medium pairs are more like these than the premium pairs and should be played accordingly.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Cashed again ...

Looking forward to Sharkscope again. I think NLHE cash games have helped my tourney results. Basically, I am way more aware of the fact that your entire stack is regularly under threat. I find myself calling down for pot control, a skill I never had before Harrington on Cash and Bart on PokerRoad Cash Plays.

So why am I so cocky this evening, another cash for $485 in a tourney has brought my bankroll over the $2000 target. I still think that it is not NL50 related though, so I will continue grind it out a bit more befoire taking a serious shot at moving up permanently. Certainly not until my medium pairs gaping hole is plugged; all advice there most welcome!

While playing the tourney, I had two NL50 games going. Got my money in ahead twice on one table to lose 1 cumulative buy-in before standing up from that table. The variance evened out on the other table where solid play and a few timely steals saw me stand up with $111. Across both tables, after 150 hands I was up 15 BB/100, I think. Still on track over a very small multitabling sample size if it is.

Finally, thanks to everyone who has commented. I honestly didn't think that anyone would find this little blog and it sure is nice to have company. Woo Hoo!!!

Medium Pairs are killing me! -238 BB/100

Well, I took a little time out to check my PokerOffice stats and to my amazement there was a massive leak staring at me within minutes. I've looked before but never found such a leak. But the difference this time was the filtering and the volume.

By 4-tabling FR NL50 for a couple of weeks, my inner game seems to have settled down. Previously, I'd bounce about when losing at one to another Limit, NL and Omaha. That kept me fresh and reduced tilt but constantly changing my style, I think and affected my stats and what I could reliably read into them.

This time, I filtered 8 or more players NL50 and sorted my hands by BB/100 won. Not surprisingly, most profitable are the premium pairs AA thru QQ in that order, which I'm very pleased about. They say that anyone can play AA, but for the record, incredibly I used to be a losing AA player at one time. As I found out and you all know, never slow play AA!

But medium pairs are obviously vastly different. After being dealt a relatively small volume of medium pairs, 73 in total, my losing rate is a wopping 238 bb/100. The funny thing is that I lose more with JJ, then TT, 99, 88 in order.

The good news is that whjen I fix this massive leak, I should help lift myself above break even ( the purpose of this intraverted blog). With self awareness can come self improvement, so I'm halfway there. Please feel free to leave any study pointers as a Comment for me and others. I'll update later when I've worked the answer out, for now plugging this has got to be my priority.

I've just received a CardRunners subscription for Fathers Day, so maybe the answers will be in there.

As an aside, I have continued to be break even over the weekend. Found the grind a bit boring at times and took a quick stab at one NL100 table. Spewed off $50 on a bad call but recovered to be up $15 after approx 150 hands. Played well in general, I think. Folded all medium pairs preflop :-).

Another relaxation was my first Omaha HiLo tourney for $22. Came 15th out of 52 which I was content with given that I've never read about it or played before, just what I pick up on podcasts. Basically, don't leave home without A2. Bad news is that A2 doesn't appear too much (or I was card dead) and when it does, there may be no qualifying low :-(. Nitty never wins, eh?

Omaha is my favourite game (more thinking), so I'm looking forward to moving over to this style when I've improved my NLHE more. The availability of beatable of NLHE games in Oz is my focus for now. I've never played split games of any type, but have the books waiting for when I do. The beauty of poker ... the journey is only just beginning.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The good and the bad ...

The hot run has come to an end and I'm back on track for incremental volume gains (after wooshing way ahead). As hot as I ran last weekend, to be expected, I reversed it donking 4 BIs on 2nd best hands. Encountered slight tilt but nothing dramatic and stepped away. Weekend is around the corner, maybe I can run good again.

Returned to take a shot at a Tourney given that I had a couple of uninterrupted hours to spare. Pleased to report coming 3rd in the rebuy for approx $850. Bankroll and Sharkscope are healthier, but I'm not going to count this toward beating the NL50 consistently. Actually, I got an insight into how tough it would be to grind this level for a living.

The downswing has prompted me to review the actual play of my big hands against HOCP recommendations. Not sure how that analysis will go, I'll let you know.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Study, Study, Study ...

Two players with the same aptitude, talent and knowledge will have approximately the same results over the long run when luck evens out. IMO, aptitude and talent are relatively fixed (psychologists probably disagree) but knowledge can be increased with relative ease.

The more enjoyable it is, the less work involved. At the minute, my knowledge increase comes from three sources iTunes, Books and Experiential (Play).

iTunes, I subsribe to 4 or 5 podcasts. BigPoker.ca (now 2+2 Pokercast) is my favourite as Mike and Adam are funny Canadians that like my kinda music and have great guests. I've also grown up with them over the years. PokerRoad Radio is a close second and gets better all the time. Bart's Cash Plays have taught me a lot about how the pros think about the game. PokerRoad gives a lot of insight into life on the road as a Pro. Not what I am striving for, but very interesting.

Books, I've used the 2+2 signup to score quite a library, although Harrington is all you need to become a winning player (all 5), I think. I've jumped about of late working my way thru different books. The Mathematics of Poker is a heavy read, but is full of interesting concepts that I hope will apply rigour to my thinking. Phil Gordon's Little Books are entertaining and educational. Kill Everyone is next. I've learned a lot from books and it is this that has put me ahead of the average player I think.

Experiential learning. Whilst important, I kid myself that I am doing it for learning purposes as I don't review key hands at the end of sessions, as I know I should. It does help me relate to and absorb what I read in the books though. If I am serious about my goals though, I will need to track the % time spent on each.

For Bankroll and time reasons I have not yet subscribed to a Training site. It is only a matter of time though as this has to be the most painless way to learn.

Television has got to be the worst for education with its AI shovefests. Although it is educating the public to play loose which can't be bad. I haven't seen HSP yet, I hear that is different and worth watching.

Finally, best of all is talking about poker. Bad news, I only know two people who take it seriously (one lives in Perth, the other is focused on his business right now), good news is that there are thousands on 2+2 and other Forums willing to help . I started this blog at the same time as I discovered forums - so I'll let you know :-).

Sunday, August 31, 2008

This journey is so similar ...

... you can read Parts 1 thru 6 as the first 3 years for me before starting my blog.

Kurt sounds like a really cool guy. By the time you stumble upon this, I expect that it will have been updated with a happy ending (if there ever is an ending - maybe that's the attraction of poker).

I'm not sure that I would have stumbled upon this story if I wasn't writing my own blog. It's like buying a new Mazda 3 and suddenly seeing them everywhere on the roads where you hadn't before. It's early days, but I'm getting to enjoy this blogging and I haven't even had one comment yet. Just shouting into space. BTW, if a man shouts in space, is he still wrong?

Running good, feels good!

Well a quick update after 3 hours of multitabling. I've been running good and feel like a champ. I have concentrated a bit more because of the blog, so it has paid itself off already. I've made a couple of lay downs that I would otherwise have gambled on (and lost). Mainly because the grind of gaining back that ground having set my first ever poker goal didn't look like fun. I've realised that there are probably better spots to get the money in the middle.

I know why so many people want to go professional. It seems like I have a gift for the game today. Luckily, after 3 years, I know that it is just called variance and you can look forward to a post in the not too distant future when online poker seems such a lonely spot.

Bankroll. For the record, I have never reloaded from my original deposit of $25. I have moved sites but always within what I have withdrawn. I have a few residual accounts where I play low limit Omaha etc.

With this exercise, before moving up to the next level, I ran a calculation and gave myself until Nov to reach a certain limit. Well, I made those gains overnight so I need to decide whether I need to check if my head is still above water in Nov, or otherwise. Instead, I have revised the goal to be Nov or $2000, whichever comes first as the final goal is still rather ambitious and risks sooner may teach me more. Wish me luck, I am sitting on $990!

Running good, I don't feel like studying just now which was meant to be my next post. I'm logging off now and will get back to that next time ...