Monday, December 14, 2009

Misdeal - how should this one be ruled?

I was playing in a $25,000 self-dealt regional freeroll tournament when the following situation came up. Any ideas on what the correct ruling should have been?

When dealing cards to all players, one flipped over and that player received his card last with the exposed card left face up as the first burn card. The first betting round was completed with an EP raise, MP call, Button call and both blinds folding. 3-way to the flop.

It was a long table and the dealer was at one end, with the exposed card at the other. He’d forgotten and dealt a burn card and then the flop. The first player checked, second to act checked and the dealer who was third to act bet almost pot. The flop was A34r. At this point, the second to act noticed the exposed card and said that the flop shouldn’t be the flop. It was agreed by everyone the order that the flop came out, so the 3rd card was obvious. It was the all important Ace.

The Tournament Director was called, what should the ruling have been:
- Misdeal and declare the hands dead? If so, how are monies re-distributed?
- Add the first burn card to the flop and declare the Ace as the second burn?
- Place the burn card and the flop into the deck, shuffle, re-burn and flop?
- Another ruling?

Is it relevant that all 3 players had an opportunity to act did? That said, the betting round wasn't complete. If the mistake had been noticed just after the Turn card has been dealt would that have further complicated things? I'm surprised that I haven't seen this before and would appreciate advice on the correct ruling.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Aussie Millions Qualifier

Just received this Satellite report from one of our Friday Home Game buddies ... sometimes the bad beats on the bubble make us question why we play poker ... at other times, we just get reminded.

Entered a tournament to win an Aussie Millions ticket last night at the Crown $100 buy in for 1,000 in chips with unlimited re-buys for the first three 30 minute blinds, there were 88 players started and at the break there were three add ons I bought in three times after my initial buy in and never added on could see no sense in spending $300 for 3,000 in chips….. By the break I had 5.4k in chips and they announced three tickets to the Aussie Millions and 4 to 7 won $1,650 and 8th won $900.

Hit the final table of 10 just wanting to win the $900 after spending $400, when there was eight I just wanted the $1,650 as $1,250 up on the night would have been OK, only when No.8 went out did it dawn on me “Fuck Me” I might be in with a chance of a ticket here chips were always scarce I had average stack all the way through the tournament. I played like a rock RSL would have been proud of me.

Then there was four someone had to bubble a knew it wouldn’t be me I had played one of the best games up against some of the best players in Melbourne, at 2.07 this morning after 7 hours of play the Diamond G won a 10.5k ticket and booked himself a place in the Aussie Millions in January.

Happy, no fucking ecstatic and its hard to find words to describe how I feel at the moment, just needed to share my moment of glory with a Poker buddy

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

mini-Durrrr Challenge

An extremely well written Match Report from a blog that I follow that is simply hilarious, enjoy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tommy Angelo on Cash Plays

I haven't read the book yet but Tommy has been on so many pokercasts that it is either excellent or he has a great publicist. Either way, I have picked up a few things listening to him. Recently I discovered that Bart Hansons Deuces Craked podcasts are available on iTunes so I've been listening to them. They are informative and a great advert for the training site. Anyway, he has a 2-part interview with Tommy well worth listening to.

I was reminded of two moments that had a very positive impact on my results on the last two sessions. First was the bucks night home game when I got a bit of stick for dropping a few BIs very early. The best player present announced "You watch, all of those chips will be back over there before the end of the night". Likely or not, it did give me an image that I genuinely hung on to with every winning pot that night for a healthy win.

This takes me to the APPT where you will have read that I crippled us on two of the 40 minute levels; thankfully my partner was on fire and just went on a rampage both times. Just before midnight there would have been 20 something teams left and I was on break readying myself for the next level. We'd built back up and had about 27k with blinds of 600/1200, I think. Average would have been about 30k when two of my friends were leaving and we passed each other. One said to me that there were a lot of big stacks and that we really needed to make a move. My thinking was that our M was almost 20 and we were just below average so we were traveling just nicely. It just came out "Our M is almost 20 so we're still good". It was at this point that I got a knowledgable nod of confirmation from the same player that I respect from the home game above which had an uncanny assurity about it. It was this nod that I pictured on many subsequent decisions that night, not the negativity of the implosion round from two hours before. Tommy talks about exactly this kind of thinking, which was very real and recent for me. For the record, one poker savvy friend has definitely helped me earn $1000 in a week, thanks.

To round out my heater check this out. I guess I got my river bet-sizing perfect as he tanked for the longest time bank I've ever experienced. Happy days ...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

APPT Teams Event - Sydney

Just up out of bed and thought that my quick and immediate thoughts are probably more valuable than any hand by hand blow.

Let me start by saying that with two teams from our Invitational qualifier playing that I was very aware when driving in that there was a lot of room for distraction for me and I was keen to keep out of that. I was here to work. I'd also heard on PokerRoad that it is important for live players to get away from poker on the breaks as you can rest the side of the brain that's doing your poker thinking. Seemed like a plan and I was going to try to do that. I did and it kept me focused throughout.

There were 77 Teams that stumped up $1100 each. The Teams Event is a 40 minute level, 8000 starting stack tourney where players alternate every level. On the first level you just get 4000 chips so your partner is guaranteed a hand. I tend to avoid the crazy stuff early unless I have a premium hand. Can you believe that we lost one team, both partners obviously going AI within 40 minutes. My VPIP was 0%, card dead but not concerned at all. Focused on understanding the 5 players to my left. My friend was to my immediate right and I know his game. A T/P lady to his left so all was good. Break came and I took 10 keno tickets and wrote down all that I'd learned. This helped when I sat down next.

Partner lost a few chips missing flops but nothing serious and we had 6500 when I sat down. Next 37 mins, VPIP still 0%. Pocket KK, raise, call, call in front, I re-raise and they all fold. Next hand played out similarly and I'd added to our stack, we're above average.

I then took my break, went to the bathroom, cleared my head, and obviously felt good with the situation. 10mins to go, I walk back to check out the chip stacks and my partner is in a crucial hand. I arrive, he sees me, calls me closer and the board is 5354 mostly red, not sure. He'd beem overbet AI on the Turn and was in the tank a little but didn't look at all concerned. Made the call and almost doubled up when his JJ was facing 77, nice call sir.

Next was my memorable level, mid-way through SB completes and I see a flop with KJs, why raise? Flop was a beautiful AJJ, and softplaying isn't ethical so my check in position was definitely a slowplay. Turn was checked to me and I put in a standard 3000 2/3 pot raise, called. Blank river, so no need to slow down. 5500, called and my set beats his A7, happy days. My friend had dropped 2/3 of his stack which was the only negative.

A few hands later and we're now well above average. UTG with 77, I limp, one raiser, Button calls and I call. Flop 873 and the SB is Sean Keeton a Melbourne pro playing with Tony Hachem, Joe's brother, all sponsered PokerStars players. He leads out and I decide to call hoping for a third stack to come along and maybe even squeeze us. They fold but no problem. Turn comes the Ace and pro fires again, I raise this time for value hoping he has AK/AQ and he calls. River blank, he checks, I bet about 2/3 the pot (which was about 3/4 of his stack) hoping for a call or an AI. He tanked and found what was probably an easy fold. There were 2 hearts out there and I heard him discuss with Tony that he was chasing the Flush, maybe it was the NFD on the Turn. That was the highlight though (which could have gone very wrong as I'm not getting away from it if that heart fell on the river).

Now we're cruising and its a bit of a blur of minor ups and downs for a couple of rounds. My partner is playing exceptionally well and building our stack up nicely. I've definitely gone more nitty cruising toward a cash.

Then we move table and I got the table captain to my left raising 50% of hands. He pounced on my nitty play and everyone elses. He even took out a few big stacks that tried to stand up to him. He wasn't a massive stack but just constantly announced "raise". My Button was neutralised massively. 6 minutes to go and no need to really get involved, I have A9 on the button. I have the SB covered and if I put any sort of a normal raise in the BB will 3-bet me for half my stack. I considered doing this and re-raising AI but I'm sure he would have raced so I thought, why not get it AI and steal the blinds most likely. MISTAKE! SB wakes up with AQ and I lose most of our stack. We're crippled.

Partner comes in and plays mega well to build us up from 4000 to a respectable 17000. I add to it on the next level with a KK double up and another hand. He add on the following level and we're looking good again.

Then my implosion. AA MP, I raise, SB calls. BB calls. Flop K88. SB leads out, BB calls and I go into the tank, I can't be good here. I fold and the SB stacks off with his K against the set. Nice escape. A couple of hands later, late position pocket 10s. Flop K85. BB bully checks, I bet 5000 or so, he CR to 15000. Maybe I push AI here, who knows. Turn blank, he checks. Turn a J, he bets, I fold. It was only 4000 which was suspicious and I could have called, but we had 16k left and my partner can use that a lot more than 12k. Crippled again. Luckily I'm playing with one of the best players in the room in my opinion and he builds us right up again. He had about 7 steals almost in a row that were all folded. We're back.

Before I knew it we were on the bubble. Joe Hachem was on the feature table and attacking the bubble more than 50% of hands. Our table was a lot more passive with an occassional steal. There were even a few walks before the two big stacks picked up the blinds virtually every orbit. Hand for hand lasted the best part of an hour with 3 small stacks doubling up. Then Joe Hachems partner got it AI and called with his KK v TT. T on the flop and Joe Hachem was out. My partner wanted to play with him, but I was happy to ee him gone and we were in the money.

Result, we went out soon after for a modest cash. Most importantly for me, I've maintained my 100% record of cashing live PokerStars events - I'm 4 for 4. This was my biggest buy-in to date so that's all good.

Synopsis, you heard it from my selfish perspective but the truth is that I was the wimp in this team. My partner played incredibly well and if you click on a few blogs, you'll no doubt read his recount soon. (PS There will probably be a lot of typos and inaccuracies but I'm leaving this post as is as it is my genuine recollection of 11 hours of very enjoyable poker from 4pm thru to 3am).

The secret to winning Teams poker for me is to partner with the best player in the room! Thanks partner for making the trip across.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thoughts on staking amongst friends

MBB asked “hey there, i have never considered staking someone … do you just do it because he is a friend, or because you think he has a significant edge over the field, and therefore 5% of entry is more likely to return a profit over the long run?”

He is a friend, he didn’t have a significant edge and as the funds came out of my BR, I was certainly in it to return a profit. Unfortunately, I won’t live long enough for the long run on this one so it was more like taking a shot that doesn’t hurt my ability to play the stakes that I enjoy playing right now. Let me expand …

For the record, and for the foreseeable future, I will be open to anyone staking me anytime with the exception of our Friday night home game which is just giving up too much EV, lol. Even if you come across this post in a few years time when I’m playing full-time (dreaming again), drop me a note and I’ll probably give you a piece of my action.

Btw I offer 50% of that game to my daughter every week and she always says no saying that she’ll jinx me. I’m not sure if it is superstition, as she’s very logical, or just not wanting to change something that’s working. On second thoughts, she probably realises that she can manipulate me into risk free cash almost any time for the cost of a short lecture.

At the moment, I believe that I would be +EV in any PLO live tourney up to a couple of hundred dollars. Basically, one that attracts recreational players and not worth it for the pros. I don't always want to stump up the full BI and will happily sell off a piece to reduce variance. And that is what my friend decided to do.

He is an extremely good player and he makes his living out of poker (not all playing) so I guess that he's a professional, of sorts. I’ve seen him run over lots of tables and always puts people on decisions. He’d proven his credentials to a degree by winning a live Satellite at Star City to the Main Event. Now, the Main Event is a big step up. The ticket was worth $6300 and he was looking to lock in up to 50% of that in cash to enter a couple of preliminary events. The sweetener that he added was a free 5% of his $1650 PLO BI. Essentially $400 for $315 investment, if he’s neutral EV. I thought that he was close and it give me an interest in the tourney. Obviously, I needed him to go deeper to get the entertainment value of railing him near the money for it to have paid off. Even having done my dosh, I’m comfortable with the decision and know others that I would take a piece of.

My preferred scenario would obviously to build my roll a bit more and swap pieces, probably 5%, for entertainment value and reducing variance slightly. Basically, the utility of a slight win when you bust out of a tourney is presumably worth more than giving up the equivalent dollar value when you make a score and are happy anyway. Again, I’ll review this when I’m handing over Joe Cada type cash.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

APPT staking update

My first foray into staking. I have a 5% stake in one of the APPT participants. He'd thrown in the PLO as a sweetener where I thought that he may run well as there aren't many that play locally. Alas, the $1650 buy in was obviously prohibitive to the recreational players and just over 50 players started out. With that many PokerStars sponsored players in town, the field was always going to be strong.

He had Eric Assadourian, Toothpick Tony, Van Tran, Lee Nelson and a few other pros at his table so wasn't looking goood. He did manage to double his stack, get sucked out on the river for most of his stack, build up again from crippled and get it AI questionably to finally exit after several hours of top class experience.

On to the Main Event where he played Day 1A yesterday. I got a call around 6pm to say that he was on an unscheduled break. Bugga, a euphimism for Busto. But not quite, as Pokernews reports "The big story of the day came not from the actual play of poker. A fight broke out between Mark Ericksen, who was playing in the high roller event, and an unknown man not participating in anything. There was an unscheduled, lengthy pause while things got settled and the tournament staff resolved the issues." It turns out that it was quite the biffo with the tattoo'd unknown getting by far the better of the action. Not helped of course by Star City Security restrining the victim. Altercation was non poker-related and when the dust settled the room was re-opened. Definitely bad Feng Shui about this room imo.

Anyway, my horse went back into battle and I haven't had an update since. My sister always says that no news is good news, so woo hoo! My turn on Friday in the Teams Event with a fellow blogger, wish us luck.

UPDATE: Text just arrived "Sry guys i busted out last night. Flopped 2 pr, 10 j raise re-raise all in against qk, river 9".

Reminds me of an earlier hand but with a few more outs, "Casino Royale - Tony "Bond18" Dunst got all in on a flop of JsTc4s for a 60,000-chip pot with one opponent. Dunst held KsQs for a straight draw and a flush draw while his opponent held JcTs for top two pair.

The turn was the 9c, giving Dunst his straight and leaving his opponent drawing to a full house. The river was the 7c and completed the board. That pot moved Dunst up to 85,000 chips.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Quite a variety and all is good, just.

Quite an eventful week. I'll summarise the highlights here and move on. It started with me feeling right on top of things. Always a recipe for disaster. Disasters are relative though and thankfully what would have crippled my backroll a few months ago tends to put me back to square 1 or 2 now. If I do it again, it will hurt more so I'm dropping stakes again.

I was winning at PLO100 and feeling more and more confident. I was trying to build a roll for PLO200 which needs me to up my $ win rate if I'm to do this ahead of retirement, so I started multitabling more. I also found PTR and thought that for the first time I could practice table selection. I was quite excited at the prospect and fired up the fishiest looking tables. I was on waiting lists and when new ones bacame available I added to what was a good session. All was well and I was 4 tabling PLO100 profitably. Then boom, boom, boom, within 20 mins it was all gone. Cold decked for a few big hands, a couple of tilty plays and then I stood up with about $300 in front on a single table. PTR attests to this being my worst $ result ever.

In retrospect, I think I got a bit unlucky. That said, when the cold deck came, I had way too much of my br at risk, even if it was spread across 4 tables. I was sitting with well over $1000 in front. Sure I'd won most of it but it's still a massive whack for me. I decided to take a couple of days off and regroup.

APPT Teams event. All booked for this Friday. Table 24, Seat 2. More on this next week.

One of our poker buddies gets married on Saturday so we had a very enjoyable bucks party Friday lunch which involved consuming a significant quantity of beer. With 2 kids, this aging party stayer may have enjoyed his 3rd last bucks party. I was apprehensive about the hangover and the effects on my game. The evening was to be our Friday night game. Sure enough, when we shuffled up and dealt there was an even looser air around the table. I lost a few buy-ins early which I couldn't be sure wasn't bad play as the internal calculator was more than a little sluggish. AJ on an AAQ flop was AI on the Turn against AQ. QJ on a Q52 flop got AI against KQ. I guess like all things when you're drinking, your ability to sense danger and get away from it is significantly reduced. Thankfully, I must have sobered up and managed a very healthy win by 3am.

My Thursday night game didn't happen. I went to get a shower, walked past my laptop and couldn't believe what was playing out in front of my eyes. I've never railed a single game but had heard about Isildur. He was 4-tabling Antonius and I watched him drop $500K in 20 mins. Not surprising really, its only 5 BIs. What then transpired had me cheering aloud sitting on my own. His play was amazing and I always like the underdog, especially when they've written him off. Over the next 2 hours he was sitting with over 3m in front and ahead by 2m. He was smart enough to log one win where he quit one of the tables with 800k in front and fired up another. What was more amazing was that he added 2 tables when Durrrr showed up and absolutely clocked up the wins there. I was split on this one as Durrrr is my online pick. If you haven't checked these games out, I'd suggest you do as it is history in the making. One hand was $750k and it didn't seem out of context at all.

So that's it, a variety of ups and downs but all in all things are still good and in perspective. My next plan is to improve my 4-tabling and I'm going to drop down to PLO25 to do that as it should be a very beatable level for me now. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Imaginary Money, Tilt and Bubbling the Invitational

MBB's post on "The EV Graph-Line, Losers, Whiners and Winners" had me questioning my logic for a moment and generated a wee bit of discussion. Thinking it through, I realise that having Sklansky Bucks to help manage tilt is a big help to me and every edge is just that, an edge. This article on Imaginary Money explains it much more simply that I ever could.

Playing with someone drunk at the table in a Tournament can tilt me. If it was a cashie, I wouldn't care but in a tourney it introduces too much luck for my liking. I can tangle early and get knocked out or sit back and sure enough someone else will get chipped up. Tilt is playing below my A game and there were hands that I knew mathematically that I should play and didn't. Anyway, the issue is with me, not the drunk.

In the Invitational, I managed to Bubble with a 5th and a 5th. I would have thought that 5th twice would get in the top 4, but 3 of last week's 4 placed in the top 4 again and one of the very strong casino regulars played extremely well to move up into 2nd. I sweated 8 or 9 races that would have seen me through when I was on the rail and lost them all. Que sera, sera.

I will allow myself one whinge though to get it off my chest. AJo I raise from CO and druunk in BB calls. Heads up, and a flop of K82r, I bet half pot as bet size had no relevance, it was binary, he'd play or not. Blank Turn so I check, check. River blank, so I check. He thinks and looks like folding. A few people down the other end of the table say don't fold, then someone speaks up and says, guys if you aren't in the hand. I sit tight and eventually he lifts his cards to fold, is 3/4 the way in the muck when a hand reaches out stops the cards in hand, pushes them muck and says, just check. He paired his 7 on the river and won the pot.

It's possibly the first time that I've ever been less than gracious at the table and hopefully the last. I think I can be excused though. For the record, the drunk did absolutely nothing wrong in this hand. In retrospect, it absolutely made the difference between an APPT seat or not as I could have easily folded into 4th and would have. Unfortunately, I realised this at the time and tilted by clamming up just a little too soon for fear of tilt. Que sera, sera.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Is it just about winning money?

Results have got to be the ultimate scorecard, but only over the long term. In the live environment, because we don't get to the long term, it's important to keep a check on whether you're making more good decisions than bad. I'm convinced that online helps to be objective with the technical side of the game. Feel and hand reading ability is something I'm not particularly good at as a math player so that is up for debate.

The psychology of poker explains that there are lots of motivations for playing poker. Socialising, fun, testing oneself. Beating one's self up as an addict where your worthlessness is laid bare with just how unlucky you run being one of the more disturbing reasons. Bloggers are a mix of competitiveness and profit motivated for the most part. Hence, while we try not to be results oriented in the short term, we always know where we stand. Thoughts?

I’ve dropped a few hundred bucks while my AI EV line has just kept going up. I’m down about $450 on the month in luck which is approx 10 BB/100 over almost 4.5K hands at PLO100, I think. It just goes to show how much variance there is in this game. The good news is that my $200 profit could easily have been $650, or higher if I’d been lucky. Not complaining, just making a note.

Certainly not complaining about our local pub chip chop last night. Blinds 25c/50c with $50 max BI and after a couple of hours I was up about $75 with the night drawing to a close. Then came the defining hand of the evening. I was on the button with K9o and it was limped around 7 handed. I made it $3 to go and the SB who is extremely loose made it $10. Best player on the table calls and I call. 3-way to the flop of K94r, happy days, top 2 pair. Blinds check to me and I make it ¾ pot for $30. SB calls and with little hesitation, aggressive internet kid shoves AI for $130. I could Hollywood and bring along SB but wanted to take it down so I was AI quickly. Pocket 4s was most likely, followed by AA or AK. In actual fact, it was a highly questionable shove with K7o. SB had folded QQ and when the K came on the Turn I was home. Trust me, he had a lot of fold equity here and I admire the play very much. His mistake was that my calling range may have been AA, AK, K9 and set, approximately the same as my 3/4 pot raising range at that highly dangerous time of the night. Is that aggression profitable long term or ego getting in the way?

Next hand I had KQo and it’s that crazy last few hands stage. Again, preflop raise was to $10 and I called. Yes, that’s 20xBB. Flop came QQ2, you beauty! Heads up he led out for $10, I dodn’t bother checking stacks, this was mine at 11pm, I called. Turn blank, don’t even know what it was. Irrelevant when he shoves AI for an instacall. He had KK and got very unlucky. Once again an obscene BB/100 live.

Incidentally, the host of tonight’s Invitational Tournament was at the only other running chip chop table and cleaned all but 2 players out in about 45 minutes for a $300 profit - even more obscene. For the record, Australia right now is a low stakes poker player’s paradise. The internet though is the benchmark of how your game is going.

On that front, I checked out PokerTableRatings which I’d never seen before. I might invest in purchasing hands when they build up a better set for PLO. For now, I was interested in my PTR score of 32. Given isildur is 96, and Zigmund is 0, I’m not doing too bad I guess but obviously not a very scientific measure, must be just of BB/100 or something. Anyone know?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

APPT Online Qualifier $22+R 3x-Turbo

With only one $9500 seat on offer, this isn’t really my cup of tea, but it has been a while since playing an MTT and I thought that I’d give it a go. First thing I noticed was that 3x-Turbo is very Turbo’d. The blinds kept the pressure on the stacks all the way.

With an hour of rebuys, even right at the death there were a couple of double-rebuy AI with any two cards guys eating up any prospect of an overlay. The final tally being 103 entries, 405 rebuys and 14 add-ons for a prize pool of $10,440. With about 17 left I put out the call for railbirds as I was chip leader, but that doesn’t last long in a turbo and before I knew it we were at the final table with $15K/$30K/$3K blinds/ante and an M of approximately 5. I’d had to gamble to get this far and my shove with K9o would have been fine if the BB didn’t wake up with KJo and put me beside the birds on the rail. A double up would have had me close to chip leader again. Exciting while it lasted and 5th isn't too bad.

I then decided to blow off some excess energy before bed by 3-tabling PLO100, 2 x FR and 1 x 6max. The deck slapped me about after the chips would go in and my AI EV line soared but the dollars earned dropped a couple of hundred. I stuck with it and didn’t tilt to recover with a slight profit for the evening. I’m working through a$100 bonus from FTP for Christmas and managed to clear almost a third of it in one night. Hopefully I can keep breakeven at this level for a while to consolidate my right to be here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

PLO variance is brutal

My interest in gambling dates back to primary school. Intuitively, I seemed to have a grasp of risk / reward. For example, we played marbles differently in the UK. Sitting with legs apart, we would line up the target, maybe 4 in a row and allow all comers to try to hit and win. First hit wins. I quickly worked out that by lining 6 or 7 with a slightly longer shot would still attract many takers – much more than 7. That was my earliest memory of free-rolling.

It wasn’t until we studied probability though that I got fascinated with the concept of convergence over a large number of trials. I still walk past roulette tables with a row or reds thinking that a black has to be very soon and that this is an opportunity. The wheel like the cards has no memory, but you know what, it always evens out.

And so it is that my run good came to an abrupt end with a sharp correction of fortune. Following another massive downswing, my AI EV line landed exactly on my $$$s won line for all Omaha hands played on FT, 21K of them. Amazingly, they both landed simultaneously on the x-axis – the ultimate break-even player, eh? Thank goodness for rake-back.

The inevitability of it all didn’t seem to make things feel any better, but I suspect that it did. Being aware in advance that I had run particularly well meant that I couldn’t take myself seriously if I grumbled too hard internally.
The good news is that I dipped down even further before going on another run to “test historical highs” as my charting mentor would say.

In short, PLO Variance is brutal. I’ve been lucky until now to avoid the wild swings of the last few weeks. I now know that the higher limits are much more volatile (betting the strong draws rather than waiting for the nuts). I’ve been getting all in more marginally knowing that the other guy is doing the same. My AI EV line confirms that those were positive plays for the most part. Fingers crossed for the week ahead. Ultimately though, I need to just get much better for which there is plenty of scope.

Friday Night Home Game
Another week, another profit. This week, exactly $500 to the good after 10 hours from 6pm. At 40 hands/hr (no way), that’s 400 hands max. With 25c/50c blinds, that’s an obscene 200BB/100, or more. I didn’t really get going until after midnight when we got shorthanded. I’m easy to push off pots, but when I’ve got the goods it is costly for the other guy. That’s where all of my profits came from. I played extremely passively all night. No risk, profitable poker.

The highlight of the evening came with poker Gods satisfying their penchant for irony. Early, one of our more active players got his AA cracked by T2o. Poker buddies have a warped sense of humour which comes to the fore in these situations. Anyway, a couple of hours later the same players were heads up for a big pot. The original winner pushed AI on the Turn and sure enough, the cracked guy had a flush draw with his T2 of hearts. There’s no way that he was getting the odds to call, but it would make for a great story. If you know the individual involved, he’s never getting away from the buzz of a good story and the required heart duly appeared on the river.

The epilogue was a lot less dramatic but in the early hours, I was dealt T2 when we were down to 4-handed. This was to be the very last hand. I raised and got heads up. C-bet, he wasn’t for shaking. Double barrelled the Turn and he still wasn’t budging. On the river, I had absolute air with $50 in the pot. Last hand, I over-bet the pot for $100 and he folded the winning pair. I’d never have gotten to the flop if it wasn’t for the irony in the timing. Needless to say, we were having so much fun that we played for another hour or so.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Running Good

The human psyche is much more adept at spotting downswings than upswings. Even the term Variance is interesting. I would estimate that it’s use in everyday poker language is a 20:1 ratio applied to negative events over the equally common (zero sum game) positive outcomes of variance. This is synonymous with us believing that we’re either playing very well or being very unlucky all the time, plain silly.

Maths guys have HEM to thank for a heightened awareness of where we really sit. Whilst my recent form and upbeat posts may lead you to believe that I’m right on top of my game, I may have mislead you. Not intentionally, as I certainly have nothing to complain about. The fact is that I’ve just been running incredibly well.

The next chart is a useful measure of luck (not the full picture, of course) with the faint line representing my true EV adjusted for equity at the time of the AI.

Now, the volatile psychological emotional persona that I am may be exuding more confidence at the table. And as Doyle says, you should always play your rushes. I certainly think that my opponents are sensing a confident aggressive opponent that should be tangled with sparingly. And online, this is for the most part picked up from results and betting patterns in the current session. Last night I min-raised five Omaha hands pre-flop and picked up the blinds uncontested each time. Unheard of for me.

Why then can’t I bottle this approach to Omaha? One, I wouldn’t want to because you can’t bottle the exceptional luck that was required to produce the results. Secondly, because I’m an emotional human with constantly varying degrees of tiredness, confidence, goals etc. Only last night I was watching a WSOP recording while clicking away, hardly ideal.

Finally, BCG explained very eloquently in his response to a question posed by Yorkie that the negative utility of losing a dollar amount far outweighs the equivalent benefit from posting the same win. Therein, we have the essence of Tilt. Emotionally it affects us much more than the rush that the pessimist in us knows is going to come to an end relatively soon.

Tilt avoidance is much talked about but obviously extremely difficult in practice. I play sub-optimally every session (according to Sklansky’s definition), hence all we’re talking about really is trying to minimise the degree of tilt. I haven’t read Tommy’s book, so I must.

Right at this moment though, I don’t care, I’m running great!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Macau Trip Report

I’ve felt as if I’ve been reaping some of the benefits of a few years of study over the last couple of months by more than holding my own in various live settings. I’m divided between which I enjoy more, live or online play. The truth is that they are very different and have various pros and cons. I’m very lucky to be able to enjoy both.

Macau Trip Report
I needed to go to Macau on an expenses paid Business Trip staying at the MGM Grand. Having enjoyed the poker room in the Vegas sister hotel just over a month before, how could I say no? Mega-tip for Aussies, check out Viva Macau Airlines. Obviously casino funded, this budget airline was well below half the cost of Qantas/BA/Cathay Pacific and by flying direct into Macau, saved me 5 hours on each leg. More on this later.

Now, when I was at Uni or when I just started working, I spent many an hour sleeping at the bottom of telephone boxes in London to keep warm waiting for the first form of transport toward home. An experience that not only lets you appreciate any class of hotel room, but realise what a waste it is to leave a fancy room unattended. Hence, knowing that I’d be out of the room for most of the time, I invited one of my poker buddies to fly up and use the room. With a text response “OMG … she said yes” and a quick change of booking from King to 2 Twins and we were set.

Flight and transfer went well. The first very minor hiccup was that our room was dark and unmade when we checked in. Less than 10 minutes later, we’d been upgraded to an Ocean View on a higher floor, free internet and free mini-bar for the duration of our stay. Free-rolling already.

Even though there is very little poker in Macau, it didn’t take us long to track it down. Star Worlds Casino around the corner had just opened their room. When we walked in, we knew which of the four active tables that we wouldn’t be sitting at. The one with Jeff Lisandro playing $1000/$2000 blinds. Approx equivalent of $150/$300, Jeff was big stack with about US$70K, 3 locals and 4 internet older kids having between $30K-$50K each. The accessibility of standing extremely close to World Champions plying their trade for significant sums is pretty unique to poker and a privilege.

Jeff entered very few pots and when he did had the ability to be incredibly intimidating. Not in a Prahlad Freidman sense, just an intense Ivey-like stare. It also whips up out of the blue. He studies the cards and then picks his moment to instantly stare which I must confess was even disconcerting for me on the rail just imagining how I’d react. I’m convinced that when I was there that he played perfect poker. Which was impressive as this was just another day at the office.

I’ve always read to be wary jumping into the first game you find when you land, so we moved on to the Lisboa. First thing to note is that there are two and we were in the old one which really was an opportunity to step back in time. We loved this place which was round with a Monte Carlo feel and more than a hint of Asia. Alas, no poker, so off we went over the confusing maze of passageways and footbridges to the Grand Lisboa and its PokerStars branded Poker Room. More Vegas-like, sort of, there were 6 smoke filled (and I mean smoke filled) tables going. Min buy-in was HKD1000-3000 (approx US$150-500). Long story short, my mate and I decided to take 50% of each other’s action and made a small profit to start the trip off well.

In Macau, they not only smoke at the table, they blow right in your face. It is disgusting and if you won’t be able to put up with it, do yourself a favour and not go to Macau. Everywhere is the same.

Next day was a walking tour which I would never have done alone. My friend is organised and had planned what we wanted to see. Macau was a Portuguese colony and trading hub port. It is steeped in the adventure of Marco Polo and his peers followed closely by a strong missionary influence. It is all within walking distance and well worth seeing. The beer and noodles at the end of the neo-classic churches was very welcome as we were famished and exhausted.

I was then attending my conference for the remainder of the trip, fitting in a few evening sessions. I finished the trip up overall but didn’t make nearly as much as Vegas and certainly not with the same ease. The games were a lot less textbook and bet-sizing very unpredictability. The game theory guys would have a field day, no doubt, but I always struggle with making bets based on very wide ranges. Just seems like gambling which isn’t my particular cup of tea. I know that I’m missing out on EV opportunities but my bankroll management considerations take precedence and I’m comfortable with that.

My friend entered a US$120 buy-in tourney with 37 entries that paid top 5. He was short-stacked when he spiked a 1-outer 3 on the river to triple up with 13 players left. From there he nursed his small stack, occasionally putting it at risk with well timed AIs. He was the darling of the railbirds when big stack after big stack clashed and fell by the wayside. Lo and behold, he limped into 4th for a $500 pay day that compensated for his minor losses for the trip. Macau was the toughest live game that he’d faced and he almost broke even overall, a credible result. He is way more experienced now and that has been reflected in local games that he’s played since his return. There is no substitute for training at altitude.

To cap off the trip, Viva Macau flew us home in style again. I mentioned the cheap fares above. What I left out was that there were 76 passengers on our 737 on the flight to Macau and only 56 on the way back. We all had a row to ourselves. I slept the entire journey both times – happy days! For the record, all other Australian delegates at the Conference chose the Qantas flights as being more reliable. They paid twice as much to sit upright, transfer to a ferry in HK and have a rough sea trip – I’m glad that I will never be that corporatized.

In summary, Macau was well worth one trip for me, but no immediate urge to go back. Primarily because casino games no longer do it for me and poker remains very embryonic there. Also, so close after Vegas, there is no comparison. Vegas, the poker player is treated like a king and it is definitely the entertainment capital of the world.

Online Omaha
One swallow does not make a summer! I’ve just had a bluebird. A PLO400 player sat at our PLO100 table when I had $300 in front and potted almost every hand pre and re-potted the flop. I played about 50% of the hands I entered with him because I hit a purple patch. Obviously he didn’t always have the goods and in fact, I don’t think I lost a single hand to him. Almost 1 hour of rope-a-dope, I stood up as it was well past my bedtime with $830 in front.

My PLO100 lifetime stats now reflect a mere $5 loss and if I can keep it that way for 10,000 more hands and add a few BB/100, I may be able to secure the confidence to take the occasional realistic shot at PLO200, the first level that you can grind out a living at this game. I still have many, many leaks to plug so there is plenty of room for improvement. More happy days!

Home Game Invitational APPT Teams Qualifier
See last post for the format. I came 5th in week 1. Got off to a good start during the rebuy period building my 10K starting stack to 27K. I tried not to sit back and coast but I may have overdone it a little seeing too many flops with KQ type hands. Card dead on the flops, I dropped slowly to 20K by the break. Still above average. There were 4 re-buys which were added to the prize pool and split by the top 3. My Macau buddy cashed again, coming 3rd.

I was going to look for tactics for next week but after coming 5th it is as if nothing has changed for me. I need a top 4 finish to be pretty sure of getting in and below that I just need the other results to go my way. Beyond that I won’t say too much more as a few of my opponents have discovered this blog. Roll on the 20th and all being well a small APPT entry.

Congratulations to The Serpent
The Serpent is probably the most popular of our home game buddies and in the local pub Tourney we had a special week with the entry raised from $27 to $55. The Serpent amassed a big stack early, sucking out with a straight against Double Barrel. He used the chips well and is the master of comedy, so a good night was had by all when he won for $900. In true Serpent style, he went on to shout a round. Further congratulations due soon as he gets married in a couple of weeks.

Durrrr Challenge
Halfway there and Durrr is up $750K … check out these hands, especially the last one; the joys of being pot committed.

Friday, November 6, 2009

October in Review

October had a lot to live up to after Vegas, Ireland and China and a solid period of PLO on Full Tilt last month. It has been an eventful roller-coaster month.

Crown Casino Melbourne Trip Report
Another trip report for Yorkie. Crown Poker Room in Melbourne is the home of the Aussie Millions. It is undoubtedly one of the world's great poker rooms. Crown décor is well above average. The spacious well lit room enjoys a salubrious sobriety conducive to poker. Crown has secured approval to extend with another 15 tables and will be spreading further toward the PokerPro area.

The staff are knowledgeable, friendly and for the most part in control. I’ve been impressed over the years with many of the rulings that are made and how they are made. On this trip, we had a big stack chip down from ~$400 to below $100 when he went to the bathroom. We all knew and the dealer asked him and he denied it. The supervisor was informed subtely a few hands later and very effectively with a 30 second quiet conversation away from the table which probably went along the lines of “we can go to the cameras and ban you or you can take the chips out of your pocket”, the chip stack was sheepishly restored from the previously vocal player who never spoke from that point forward.

Crown players for the most part respect the etiquette of the game. Dealer and player abuse are kept to a minimum. Talking about the current hand is prohibited and policed for the protection of recreational players. In general, newcomers are very welcome and made feel at home. This is great for the local poker economy. I suspect that the original players established this culture early and the poker room management built upon it over the years. I really recommend Crown as a top poker destination to anyone. The only drawback for overseas visitors is the excessive Australian rake structures.

I was lucky in the couple of days that I was there and won a few buy-ins at the $1/$2 NLH tables. I played in the $2/$5 but got outplayed and scraped a breakeven session. Then I played the most gut wrenching form of poker ever. Before scrolling down, see if you can guess what it was. It’s the game and its structure that made for the most heart thumping session I’ve ever played. And I wasn’t even involved in most of the hands being the only nit at the table.

APPT Freeroll at Star City
Star City has opened a new poker room with a bit of fanfare and a mid-week freeroll that you needed to sign up for in person a few days before. With a field of 250 and 150 more alternates it was always going to be a crapshoot. Our starting stacks were 2000 and the blind levels 15 mins. We lost half of the 400 runners within 3 levels and were at 120 players by the 2hr break. Final table of 10 got paid, top 3 with APPT packages and next 7 with $330 Satellite tickets.

Back to the logistics, Star City shouted beers, champagne, wine and nibblies before the event which they really didn’t need to do but was a nice gesture. May seem like an odd thing to write for you overseas folks but here in Oz, the casinos don’t do anything for the poker players other than run a good,clean game. Not a whinge, just an observation. Eric Assadourian and Grant Levy, two Team Pokerstars locals and room ambassadors said a few words. The event was a big success and Star City got the full room photo shoots that they were looking for.

As for the room, they’ve tried to do the right thing with décor. They’ve retained the rigid chairs from downstairs which are adequate but no more. The biggest issue is the room that they’ve allocated. With its low ceilings it is very claustrophobic. There is no rail worth talking about which will be a big issue for the upcoming APPT and will minimise the likelihood of recreational passers-by giving live poker a go.

Despite being free, my experience left me as flat as I’ve experienced only twice before in my six years of live poker. Once in the Fitzwilliam Club, Dublin, when my K9 ran into KK on a K99 board after 7 hours of building my stack to 5xBI. Similarly, at Crown in the early hours one morning, the two big stacks went AI with my flopped 2 pair facing pocket rockets. The blank Turn wasn’t so blank when the river came runner runner 4s for my largest counterfeit to date. On both occasions, hours of solid grind went down the drain. I’ve had the opposite happen, but that tends to be mid-session as I rarely quit as a monster stack.

Back to my freeroll experience. Crapshoots don’t suit my nitty tournament style so I was pleased to negotiate the early rounds, picking up a couple of hands and stealing selectively to stay above average for every level. I had one mega suckout making my overset on the river against a flopped set.

We were down to 34 players and all was going well until the player to my right sat down. He was AI 4 out of 7 hands and showed pocket 66s, and 8 and a 3 in 3 of the hands. I stayed out of his way. Then a guy opposite led out AI from UTG with an M of 6. He hadn’t played a hand in 3 or 4 orbits so my pocket 99s were a coinflip at best I thought and folded in late position as I didn’t need to get involved. Two hands later and aggro on my right is AI from the SB when I look down to find AK. I thought about it for a little while but never really considered folding. Blinds were 1500/3000 and I was above average with 19.5K but my M was less than 5 given the crapshoot structure. Needless to say, he had 86o and flopped an 8 and I was crippled. I did triple up and managed to make it to the last 24 but I was never a threat again. I must confess that I was flat until lunchtime the next day as I’d worked so hard and played pretty well, I thought.

It was an insight into what the Poker Road guys talk about a lot. Live MTTs are brutal. Mike and Adam on the 2+2 Pokercast had a good session on the viability of MTT pros recently and copped a bit of criticism from listeners for being too negative. In my opinion it was spot on and no-one knows more about the subject than their guest, Sheets. Check it out if you haven’t already.

Online Omaha
My online game is exclusively PLO now. I’ve had a good month with brutal variance. I feel like my game is improving and I’m likely playing too many hands. I could benefit from better game selection but I’m taking on all-comers at the minute. My HEM alerts me to who’s who though. I’ve been a more regular player at the PLO100 level and haven’t lost my shirt as muh as the past. I have run good and my AI EV has balanced back level after approx 20000 hands.

Sweetest pot came where I was down 4 BIs after genuinely being smacked by the deck when I flopped middle pair and the NFD. Preflop raiser, raised the pot again. His range includes rundowns so he may have a set of AAA now, or not, I called to see what the flop would bring. Actually, I flopped a set 555 to go with my NFD and it obviously blanked the villain. He pushed AI somehow and we went to the river which gave him a FH. Very luckily, hero caught runner, runner quads for a $331 pot and it was game on again. I went on to build my stack up to $650+ before needing to step away from the table for real life reasons.

It’s taken a while, but I can’t see me returning to NLH again. It’s like riding a bike in terms of beating recreational players and I recognise that I’m never going to be able to compete with the internet kids that take the game seriously. Omaha, I’m already ahead of the inevitable wave of recreational migrants that the next few years will bring. I want to be able to compete effectively at PLO200 (a tough goal in my opinion) and then I’ll look at the next logical progression, PLO8.

Friday Night Home Game
My favourite form of poker is without a doubt our Friday night home game. We had two this month and as usual I managed to finish up. Unless you get unlucky, with a solid style of poker you should pull out a profit almost every game as it is so loose. The big pots can be dangerous because you can be up against anything. Playing against the other guys range probably needs to be done sparingly as it is so wide you’d be playing way too many hands to showdown.

The last game was the harder night at the office. I was card dead for the best part of 4 hours but managed to eek out tripling my stack to ~$150 when I flopped a set, built the pot and then got it AI on the Turn. I was called by a bare gutshot by a bigger stack (not atypical in our game) and my stack was gone when it hit on the river. I reloaded for the allowed double BI which kicks in after a few hours (blinds stay at their irrelevant same).

We’d started at 6pm and finished at 3am. When I cashed out, two double ups had me $350 in profit. This is the one game on earth that Phil Hellmuths book can teach you to beat.

Home Game Invitational APPT Teams Qualifier
No home games next month as we’re moving to a 16-player Invitational format to put 3 teams into the APPT. $230 each will raise the $3300 required. The winning 6 players will get a piece of each others action. Teams will comprise first and second etc. Any team cashing will keep 50% of winnings with the other two teams getting 25% each. With 6 out of 16 getting through the odds are good. The blind structure will be slow with a 7pm shuffle up and deal and approx 2am finish. Cash game will start up as people are knocked out.

If you have a chance to think about strategy, I’d be grateful. The points on the first night are … and the second night, doubled to reflect … Essentially the first night is like a barrier draw and will likely just go toward separating places 5 thru 8 on the second night. I’d be interested in your opinions as to how I should approach the first night. Ultimately the cards will decide, but in the case of coin flips etc, should I just make sure to get in the top half, top 6, go for the win or what? I’ll probably post how I go after week 1 and look for advice on making the top 6 overall in week 2.

Local Live Tournament Chip Chops
These are a fixed time tournament with a $50 BI, 25c/50c blinds and a pro-rata pay structure. Essentially a rake free cash game apart from a $5 admin fee for the Tourney organiser. The finite time period makes it a tournament and legal in NSW. In my opinion, continuing to push the boundaries of legality may result in further regulation in the not too distant future as Casino lobby groups etc may start to be impacted. Until now, they’ve been a beneficiary of the poker boom and recreational players, but creating significant competition is a different matter.

My results over the month were positive with 2 biggish wins $200+ (which is an obscene BB/100 rate) and on one occasion a $50 loss. I spend most of my time getting the game going and organising the cashing in/out of chips etc, with rebuys, so I’m not giving it my full attention. Consequently, there is little of no fancy play syndrome. Just basic T/A ABC big pot deep stack poker. If only the cash games were this good online.

Most Exhausting Poker Session I’ve Ever Player
OK, at the Crown Casino, I took my first crack at live Omaha. It was a form that I’d never played before, Limit Omaha. I’ve played PLO and Limit HE, so it can’t be much different, right? Wrong! This game was wild and GUT WRENCHING. I wasn’t in most of the hands but it’s as close as I’ve seen to grown men crying.

At least once every two orbits, we’d see a pot capped 7-way. In a $10/$20 game, we’re talking $280 preflop up for grabs. Needless to say, in Omaha, if the other streets weren’t getting capped too you’ be getting the odds to chase runner runner quads every time nearly. Raise, re-raise was the order of the day. Or raise, call, call, call, call, call, call was another likely scenario. If you had the nuts on the Turn you were trying to fade well over half the pack nearly every time.

I seen monster stacks crippled in just one orbit. The worst suckouts ever. The most tilt ever. They dropped like flys and the cash accumulated. I don’t know how this game keeps getting up. Luckily it was my first foray into live Omaha and my propensity was to learn from the experience. I played ultra tight, maybe VPIP 15% and score a very easy $350 profit. I wish I lived in Melboune and got another crack at the game.

I was literally exhausted after the session. It was such an emotional rollercoaster for those around me and every turn of a card brought drama. If you’ve never experienced live Limit Omaha played like this, I recommend trying it at least once in your life.

Being a slacko with updating my blog has had the benefit of allowing me a high level perspective. Overall, a very positive month where I feel that I can hold my own in a number of environments. Poker as a career is no longer something I aspire to. But poker as a very profitable and stimulating pasttime seems very attainable. Given that this journey all started with a very at risk $25, I may well have exceeded my expectations already. Let's hope my good fortune continues throughout November.

It will all kick off for me in Macau where live poker is only just starting to mature amongst $41b of gambling revenue per annum which generates $5.1bn in government income. Wish me luck with the crasians.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Vegas Trip Report

I’m pleased to report that my lack of posts for a month was more to do with being a slacko rather than busto. The ultimate poker player’s paradise, Vegas was every bit as good as I imagined it. Multiple days of jet lag spent on Aussie time, sleeping most of the day and up all night.

Results Oriented
My priorities were to have fun and leave Vegas unscathed. I held my own on the felt by playing the lowest limits with mostly recreational players. I found the games soft and was able to assess playing styles and abilities relatively quickly.

I arrived with under $200 and managed to cover all of my expenses for the week. First session I was down to $120 after cabs and bought in for $100. I was quickly on a roll with 5 winning sessions in a row. Then I was silly enough to play the only table open in the Rio with grinders on the graveyard shift. This dented my BR as I was now playing a game with myself to see if I could leave Vegas without visiting the ATM.

My very limited bankroll (self discipline) curtailed any temptation at upping redline aggression and instead I played relatively nitty, taking positional opportunities when they arose. Pocket QQs were particularly kind UTG. I’d limp knowing that a raise wouldn’t be far away. An early raise of $10 might see 5 limpers and then I’d shove AI and take it down preflop, worked every time.

My best results came in the cheapest game in town, Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, with its $5.99 Steak and Eggs, 50c/$1 blinds and $200 BI. A little predatory, it was the softest night game in town with a great view.

Poker Rooms
Spoilt for choice, I probably played in 25 poker rooms as I cruised the Strip. In approximate order, I liked the Venetian, Bellagio, Caesars, MGM, Excalibur, Binion’s (for traditition), Bill’s (for profit), Paris etc. Only disappointments were the Hard Rock which could only rustle up 2 tables on Saturday night and the Rio (where I stayed) which was the worst.

I learned a lot about the lifestyle by talking to the Vegas grinders in the graveyard shifts. For example, they put in 7 hours per day at the Rio and get entry into a $2000 freeroll with about 15 runners, final table getting paid. Also, 125 hours per month at Harrahs tables gets you $650 cash. These guys take nitty and bonus chasing to a whole new level.

My tale of woe was C-Betting a steal attempt on the first hand of the FR to rise above average. Then 2nd hand, blinds 25/50, grinder UTG makes it 200 to go, I look down at AKs in the CO and decide to call as more than half the field get paid so no need to get too rash early. Flop A94 with 2 diamonds. Grinder leads out for 200, I make it 600 and he called. Flop comes diamond, he bets 1500 and I had to decide was it a flush or air. These guys are so intent on getting every little promotional edge available, I couldn’t see him busting out 2nd hand, but I managed to convince myself that he might just have AQ or similar with the A of diamond redraw. Alas, no, he had KJ of diamonds and I was on the rail 2nd hand. No doubt, the butt of grinder glee.

My biggest surprise was the number, quality and value of affordable deep stack tourneys that they run. One cash I was proud of was a $120, 7500 chips, paying 9 places with 98 runners at the Venetian. I final tabled, finishing 7th when my pocket 6s got cracked by K5 with the K on the Turn. My pocket rockets held up twice mid-way thru to put me into position me well. This cash was particularly sweet as I was down to my last $3 in US dollars after the buy in. Top 3 paid approx $3K, $2K and $1K so I got my chance to dream, In the end, my welcome $369 payout and 6.5 hours of enjoyment was enough to kickstart the roll again. BTW, no need for an iPod in the Venetian as the music is excellent.

Enjoyment Factor High
There didn’t seem to be too many comps , but I didn’t search any out. I was intent on playing as much poker as possible and had a ball. I was free-rolling and relaxed my no drinking while playing rule from the second day. When it was completely relaxed by the end of the week, I moved to $2/$4 Limit which can be played on auto pilot. In this mode, I met an incredible range of characters all out to have a lot of fun. A poker players paradise!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

LAX on my way to LAS

My body thinks its nighttime but the clock says 8:00am, should I use the complimentary beverage voucher. Let me Google the Pope's religeon to decide. So there is only this Post between me and my first Sam Adams in a while, here goes.

First let me start by saying that around Feb time (I think) a number of us bloggers seemed a little flat with our games. With the exception of Jesse, who is a shoe in for a Limit Bracelet one day, we all seem to be doing a bit better of late. For my part here is an update "brag" post. Medium fish in a wee pond stuff.

Sydney Championships, $150 entry, 28 runners, 4th for $403. I'm glad that I didn't play the $770 event as I'm now 3 for 3 in cashes at biggish (for me) PLO Events. Another min cash could have been 2nd if my KK99ss had held up against the chip leader QQ64ss. Runner Runner 6-6 just felt bad. In reality the flop was all low and he had a few outs. My KKxx hit a K on the river AI against AAxx with 7 left, so I'm not complaining. As is usually the case with PLO, by the river I had a whopping 7 outs.

Before flying out at 6am on Sept 11 (I only realised when I got to America), I played our new game at the local Bowling Club. Over the 3 weeks, we've had 4, 5 and then 6 tables. I was packing so missed the Tourney, satisfying my poker craving with the S&G Chip Chop. Ran a double barrel bluff first hand to build my stack but managed to halve it. From there, I resorted to T/A against calling stations and scored a nice $50 on a 0.25c/.50c blind game. Obscene BB/100 if it was to count that way. In reality, its only a couple of big hands that make the difference. You just need to not get unlucky.

I've played every day of FT's Take Two promotion which should be an easy $50 and my redline is going really well. Showdown winnings are well down which is to be expected. Need to work on finding the optimal balance. I find that running the HEM graph along the bottom of the screen provides instant feedback on when my aggression is dropping off. My stats all of a sudden look really good alongside the winning regs, I think.

I got yesterday's game in at Sydney Airport. Was up a healthy amount when my plane was called. The final hand was K44 flop. A shorty raised the pot and I decided to min-raise my 4 to induce the shove with which he duly obliged. He had AAxx obviously and I logged off looking forward to Vegas even more.

And so to Vegas. I'm hoping to check in and go straight to bed with the Hard Rock Casino tonights choice of venue. If I'm feeling jetlaggy, I'm not going to play as I need to pace my finite BR. Hopefully I can win the early sessions and relax in that regard. I have no desire to move above the smaller stakes, just soak up the atmosphere.

OK ... Sam is beckoning ... gl all at the tables.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My first PLO8 MTT win and Sydney Champs

What a difference a day makes. The deck must have read my blog and resented my flippant lack of appreciation for running good. Exacting revenge, it has just slapped me about the face repeatedly. Not one for bad beat stories, let me share with you that the Winnings line has plummeted below my AI EV line, which rose significantly overnight. Good news is that I didn’t Tilt, for which I credit HEM with its visual confirmation that it was just variance.

I was four tabling, with 2 tournaments and 2 FR PLO100 cash games on the go. A tad ambitious or irresponsible perhaps. I almost got ITM with my PLO tourney and came first in the PLO8 one that I was playing in which had 128 runners. Being my first ever PLO8 100+ player tourney win, overall it was a very good evening and another step forward in my pursuit of being an all-round poker player.

My Poker Ranking for the year was 98.71% before last night so I’m keen to see what a small stakes win contributes as I’d like to poke my nose into the top 1%, if only for a day. Not sure of the formula for the rating system, but I know that my ranking has been flattered by running good in a couple of low buy-in events. Having had my fair share of being smacked around the face, I’ll take anything that’s going.

The Sydney Championships are on and there is a $770 PLO Tournament which I would have loved to have played in. In the end, I have decided not to. As I’m off to Vegas on Friday, my $$$s are being conserved to be invested in the cash games over there.

I estimate that I'd be close to neutral EV given the amount of dead money and was really torn between giving it a go or not. Unfortunately, $770 weeds out a lot of the casual dead money that even $550 would attract, so my expectation may well be lower depending on the field size. Less than 100 players would be a pretty strong field, I think. Over that, there just aren’t that many great Omaha players available in Sydney on a Tuesday night.

The deciding factor in the end was the realisation that, for those close to me that don't fully appreciate the variance of poker tournaments, the utility of losing which is the most likely outcome greatly exceeds the utility of a min-cash which is the next most likely scenario.

If I was single, I would give it a shot just to get a chance to pit my wits against The Croc and Eric Assadourian and gauge how far I still need to improve. I know that a lot of the bets that I made last night with the click of a “pot” button, I couldn’t have done live and even if I could, there would have been a million and one tells in the physical activity.

In the end, I'm pleased that I appear to lack the gamble to just throw bankroll requirements out the window and give it a go.

Like Father, like Daughter

What is the Game Theory optimal strategy for the % of times to stick with your Rock, Paper, Scissors selection for the next throw? That was the question posed over dinner last night.

Not sure that we confirmed my guess of 33% when my 17 year old daughter challenged me to a game up to 10. Of course, I accepted. But what happened next was very special for me as the parent of a teenager.

We literally couldn’t continue because we were laughing so much. After about 15 or 20 throws, we had matched each and every time. We were both changing, staying the same, anticipating etc. but every selection we made was identical. Our attempts to outwit each other were identical. As a parent, it really was a very special moment to realise how much is passed on to the next generation. Or am I reading too much into pure coincidence?

As a poker player, I have to wonder how exploitable my poker style is. Am I really that predictable? I’ve thought a little more about it and I wasn’t trying to choose because of what my daughter would pick but rather what a logical person would do. Presumably she was doing the same and consequently predictable to an observant opponent.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Scissors, Paper, Rock - Player Profile

As per MBB's comment on my last post, I have found that increasing post-flop aggression has forced me to become more aware of player profiles. I've been aware that my post flop passivity has been a problem for some time. HEM just presented it in a format that I could no longer ignore.

Coincidentally, I was reminded of the maths of Paper, Scissors, Rock over the weekend and revisited a strategy site. The parallels with poker are amazing. I completed a Player Profile Survey and would be very interested to see if all aspirational bloggers are from a similar mould. Perhaps you'd be kind enough to add your Profile as a comment.

Apparently, my Spiritual Player Profile is as follows ... "You trust your emotions. When competing, you focus on your own game seeking inspiration from within and rely on inner harmony to select your throws. Winning or losing is not the primary focus of your game. Instead you focus upon playing the right throw for any given situation, regardless of your opponents actions. The Spiritual player can usually benefit greatly from strategies that rely upon proper form and technique (such as Cloaking and Shadowing). The downfall of the Spiritual Player comes from being so inwardly focused that you fail to recognise an opponents obvious mistakes."

Not too far off. Strategy for little old Scissors, Paper, Rock, eh? Who would have thought.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Red Lining it

It amazes me that after all of the years that I've played poker, listened to podcasts and read books that there are still Ah-ha moments that are both shockingly obvious and have so far gone unnoticed by me. I'm hopeful that this one will transform my game. You need to be an eternal optimist for poker, eh?

So what is this miraculous find? Don't laugh. The good old Red Non-Showdown Winnings line. I got Omaha Manager free with my Card Runners Full Tilt sign-up and love the product. For the first time I can see what was going on. By comparison, PT Omaha is a dinosaur.

Anyway, a quick click on Graphs showed my Showdown winnings going up at a 30 degree gradient and my non-SD winnings dropping at a 30 degree gradient. Almost symmetrical and straignt as a die almost.

Thinking about it rationally, I spend a lot of time working out if my cards are ahead or behind and acting accordingly. The problem is that most flops miss most people and my opponents are doing the same plus c-betting, stealing blinds, picking up orphans and pushing me off missed draws on the river etc.

I've always known that I am passive post flop and tried on multiple occassions to rectify this but my Mr Logic side quickly kicks in again and lets me down. I find that no matter what I do, I struggle to make inroads into my AF stat.

The Red Line is different though. I have taken to having HEM Graphs open with AI EV and Showdown Winnings clicked for the last 1000 or so hands. Every big hand, I find myself glancing at my chart to see if I am playing well and playing aggressively enough. My results have been flattered by running good, but I know that I am playing better too. Just need to be careful not to get rope-a-doped (which has happened a couple of times). Or betting Pot on the river to manipulate my stats :-).

The real improvement came fromn reading several excellent strategy articles and posts on Showdown Winnings. They really put things into perspective. Including a reference to Fgators "famous" graph. Sad to say, mine was as bad or worse. Hopefully those days are behind me now.

Running good again

As hard as I try not to be results oriented, it feels really good to be running good again. The world looks brighter. Over the last 1500 hands, I am running good against All In EV to the tune of 10 big bets / 100 hands. Unsustainable, but happy days while it lasts. Over this small sample size it made the difference between being a decent winner or a pretty bad loser.

Also, I may have stumbled upon the secret of how I can lose less. And it isn't to stop playing. Watch this space.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Poker as a career?

I'm much further from having a rewarding poker career than I thought I would be at this stage. It's not that I'm not further from the start, it's just that what represents the finish line is getting further away.

Not only are the games getting harder, but I can see that what starts as a hobby can become a grind if you're not careful. Another important factor is that if the stakes are too low, the time required to eek out a living encroaches on your ability to make any "meaningful contribution to society / family".

As always, Jesse has captured this from experience much more eloquently in a recent post.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Overdue Poker Progress Update

It seemed to me like a long time since my last post, but in actual fact it is only 4 weeks. To put that in perspective, it is a lot longer since I last contacted a few of my very good friends. The truth is that I just got out of the habit, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

A lot has happened in the interim, but as with life it has simply merged into an abstract blob in my memory. Poker has been as prominent and, if anything, appears to be settling into a very healthy space. It is still as time consuming but more purposeful. It is also more varied without appearing to have an overly adverse impact on my bankroll.

I am convinced that, if poker is your intended career, online profits will be derived from specialisation in a single form of poker as the games are evolving to be very unexploitable at the higher levels, which requires the high level thinking/discipline of an exploitive strategy. With a 'real job', I don't have the luxury, or need, to specialise to that degree to derive an income from poker so I'm pursuing variety without losses - which I seem to be achieving.

I am playing PLO almost exclusively these days. I am profitable at PLO25, break even at PLO50 and losing at PLO100. Unfortunately, you lose 4 times as much at PLO100 as you win at PLO25 (assuming it is the AI coinflips that make the biggest difference). Hence, my grinding is funding my shots. Probably the nature of the poker climb. I'd like to be a winning PLO200 player so I have a couple of years of learning ahead of me, I think.

I am playing the $11 PLO MTTs and doing quite well. OPR has me as 98.4% which I think flatters my ability. It has helped me concentrate on decisions trying to make it into the 99%, if only for a day, but I haven't quite got there yet.

BTW, I've always maintained that I agree with general wisdom that claims that only 5% of poker players are winners. Based solely on my ranking and performance, I think that online with its ability to multitable that this number could be as low as 1%.

Live Poker - Home Games
I am blessed with a relatively soft, well bankrolled regular home game (every couple of Fridays). These are a lot of fun, the alcohol flows and we usually wrap up between 3am and 4am. No-one loses on a regular basis but a few of us tend to eek out a regular profit. We have a variety of styles which makes it a lot of fun, including two AI fiends that are as likely to have a hand or not.

Live Poker - Casino
The home games and online Omaha have just too much appeal for me at the moment and the Casino struggles to compete. I'm up overall but that is totally dependent on table make-up. Short-term variance affects almost every session result, but overall the trend is indicative of the mix being grinders, regular LAGs and recreational players. In Australia, we're blessed with heavily populated pub leagues that provide a steady supply of average live MTT donkament types.

Live Poker - Amici
This is the only regular live PLO cash game that I know of. It's a private Club with a time charge. The guys getting the game going are seasoned card players ranging from greek and italian old school to obnoxious internet kids. No soft spots in this game. Even those that don't understand PLO, understand cards and pick their spots extremely well. After 2 weeks, I'm 0 for 2. I'm hoping that that is variance, but each week I've lost a Buy-in early (got money in good both times) and then proceeded to play non-optimally. First week nitty scared money; second week my efforts to avoid that resulted in a bit tilty LAG style. Readying myself for third attempt. Big negative with this game is that smoking is allowed at the table. Big positive is that it is definitely training at live play altitude for me.

Read a couple of books and magazines (I'm not a reader), kept up with my favourite Pokercast (esp 2+2 and PokerRoad) and watched a couple of Stox PLO Training videos. All of these have helped keep my perspective in balance.

I've never been able to come up with any meaningful goals that I was committed to sticking to. I try to keep things in balance, move forward incrementally, practice BR mgmt that suits my style and enjoy the game. Not really goals, but I think that they are all ticked for now.

Las Vegas
I'm off to Las Vegas for the first time since taking poker seriously. Can't wait! It's a work conference but I have a couple of days acclimatisation over the weekend of the 12th Sept - woo hoo! Feel free to drop me any tips that you might have.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Planning Ahead

Most of the time, I make a decision in isolation on a street when I could be anticipating what might transpire on future streets.

Hopefully this video can inspire me to think a few streets ahead ...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jade Bubble

I needed to pick my daughter up from an 18th party in the City at midnight so decided to stay in town for a quick cash game. I've discovered that to get around legislation, the Jade Tavern runs a SnG format very similar to our home game. The key is that it goes for exactly 90 mins with unlimited rebuys and then you get paid out prorata. They call it a ChipChop. Effectively a cash game just inside the NSW law. Good on them, I say. It could be bette rrun as there were a couple of incidents that shouldn't have been allowed to happen, but I'm not rocking any boats here.

The first cash game was soft and a $100 tourney was starting so I though it'd fill the time nicely. I chipped up with TAG play into the final table from 33 runners and I was 5th. Picked up a couple of hands, one very big pre with AQ vs AJ, I'd raised in SB, BB re-raised, so I shoved on button. He reluctantly called. I'd like to think that I didn't give him any reason to fold.

With $1500, $1000, $500 in prizemoney, I was 3rd with 5 left. Two big stacks and two smaller ones. One of the smalls started stealing blinds and built up level with me.One of the bigs attacked the bubble and riled the other big stack to where he tilted of his stack, so we had a monster, 2 medium and a healthy female TAG shorty.

The lady played very well and patient, push/shove. Doubled up a couple of times and suddently I'm shorty with an M of 6 4-handed. My BB, limp, limp so I go AI with KJs and needless to say SB pocket 55 held up. Good experience and I played relatively well but shut down way too early - an old online habit of mine that I need to fix up live.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another word for Passive ...

Jeff Hwang's book has paid for itself already 10 times over and I've only read 20 pages. If you have been following my PLO posts, you'll see that my solitary attempts at playing style analysis of winners over a much too small sample size threw up a surprisingly high number of passive players. Totally different to the 6-max aggression of NLHE. I've now discovered the correct term for it - Floating - thanks Jeff.

Winning players float and steal, float and steal at an alarming regularity. It's akin to Brunson stealing the blinds relentlessly when he wrote SuperSystem. Sure the games will change in the not too distant future, but for now an understanding of the game and that play is probably enough for you to stand a good chance of winning. Thankfully very few people visit my blog or the secret would be out.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Running good helps ... a lot.

Just cashed in a random $100 Turbo NLHE Tourney. When the cat is away, the mouse decided to fire up a single MTT and concentrate for a change. I'd like to say that it was pure talent, but I've never, ever run so good. Got my 2-outer on the river when my JJ came up against KK on the final table AI preflop. I usually got my money in slightly ahead and won almost every coinflip - except the last obviously when my 55 lost to AJo (winning that would have made me chip leader). Can't compain though with 3rd and my biggest ever cash, just over $3000.

Who said blogging isn't profitable, rumour has it one of us may even run deep in the Main Event. Good luck!

Walkabout meanderings

It's been a while and there has been a lot to report but I've just never seemed to have the time to get it down on paper. Blogging is probably a habit and I just got out of it for a while. As this will be a brief snapshot from memory I realise that a whole lot of memorable things will be lost. Luckily there are many more memorable moments ahead.

Last night's was definitely my first live Royal Flush, unfortunately I dug a deeper, deeper hole for myself and was on the wrong side of it. It was a home game at my place $.50/$$1 relatively deepstacked with about $350 facing $450, 1am. Villain who we call Double Barrels is the ultimate LAG. Flop came AsQs4h, 2 spades. I bet, he called. Js on Turn and the board looked mighty scary, rather than slow down this was my chance to fire a second barrel at a juicy pot with air - call, bugga. Ts to make the Royal Flush Draw. Now if he doesn't have the Ks he can't call a big bet and even if he has trips we tie with Top straight. Great theory - rest is history as the mobiles captured the smiling Geoff stacking almost all my chips.

As the poker Gods would have it, QQ very next hand. Flop AQ7. Long story short I was pegged as tilting and more than doubled up. Very next hand, Kh4h and flop came AhQh7. Checked around. A big stack hits trips on Turn and bets big, I call. River blanks, he goes AI, I call and all of a sudden I'm almost back to where I was before the Royal Flush. Happy Days!

This was our second early morning home game in a row. Wife is off to UK and I was home alone (with my poker buddies, of course.) Previous night was same format cash game and I posted a modest win there too. We get T$100 chips for $50 and you can re-buy top-up at any time. Every 2 hours we vote on raising the binds / buy-in. When majority say yes, we double the stakes, blinds and buy-in. Sometimes we get to T$4/8, Friday we ended at T$2/$4 and last night T$1/$2. No-one gets hurt but the stakes seem meaningful to us so the play has relevance. I'd highly recommend the format. Other tip is to have multiple buy-ins prepared in advance in zip-lock sandwich bags.

I've had a lot of live poker since posting past and am well up I still buy in to the minimum tables and the rake is a killer so I'm pleased to beat break-even. I'm better at reading people and certainly classifying their styles broadly within a few hands. Patience and aggression are winning.

Omaha is restricted to online and I'm going OK there too. Up and down but modestly up overall. Have moved up from the micros to PLO50 again with the odd shot at PLO100. Jeff Hwangs new book arrived in the post from Amazon and I'm about 12 pages into it. Just reading the intro on floating has turned a profit already. I am still so naive in that game, yet breaking even; so logic tells me that the games are incredibly soft.

Lost my iPod about 2 months ago and the kids have given me one of their earlier ones so I'm catching up on multiple podcasts. PokerRoad Cash Plays and 2+2 PokerCast with Mike and Adam are truly incredible resources and very enjoyable.

I'm enjoying TV poker too which I've never had access to before gettilg cable TV. It is a shovefest, I know, but does provide an opportunity to dream. I must say that the spots that Freddie Deeb and others can put you in would be very very uncomfortable on a televised table. One day ...

Work has picked up in more ways than one. One of our Partners is aquiring the other and that is creating opportunities. I've also been travelling a lot (hence the live poker) and enjoying the challenge again. We have more work than people again which means that I can relax a bit more in these recessionary times.

Family are all well and life is all around good (apart from the Swans)! I'm now going to catch up with all of the blogs that I follow on this drizzly Sunday afternoon. Hopefully life is treating you all well!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Brandon Cantu wins Event 48 - PLO8

What a sick flop to win/lose a bracelet on!

To quote "We finally have a winner. After a series of hands in which all the chips went in the middle, Brandon Cantu eliminated Lee Watkinson. On the final hand, Cantu raised his button to 150,000 and Watkinson called. The rest of the chips went in on a flop of 6h4cQc. Cantu showed AhTc7c4d, a pair of fours with a club draw. Watkinson showed a huge draw, 2c3c5h7s. Any non-board-pairing low card would have been a great card for Watkinson. Instead the turn fell 9s and the river fell 4h to make trip fours for Cantu and finally send Watkinson to the rail. Watkinson walks away with $141,873."

Friday, June 5, 2009

More on the subject of perspective

Nothing to do with poker but, for those in the IT business, too funny not to share ... The Vendor-Client Relationship in Real World Situations.

On a more sobering note, the latest image of Tank Man in case you haven't seen it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mini Hat-trick

Everything is perspective and at the minute, 1c/2c is reality to me and I'm winning and feeling good about it. Looking forward to moving up through the levels again soon.

My main focus this past 3 nights has been to try to bring my A-game to the $11 PLO Tourney on Stars. Compared to my microstakes, it is mega bucks; which is helping me take it seriously. Each night it has approximately 70 runners and I've cashed 3 out of 3, limping home near the bubble each time.

The secret? As Laff says, "Tight is right!"

Monday, June 1, 2009

Star City and Pokerstars $1 Million Turbo Takedown

It has been a big weekend of poker with 2 live sessions at Star City and a crack at winning a Porsche Cayman S in the Million Dollar Turbo Takedown.

I went straight from work on Friday night and managed a 10-hour session straight. Sat in the $5/$10 Limit table with 5 or 6 to every flop, capped or not. I decided to play high cards, pocket pairs and suited connectors. In theory, this should be a pretty lucrative game and I'd be interested to see how lucky/unlucky I was using PokerEV. Long and short of it was that I dropped $300 in first 3 hours by coming 2nd each time and having been rivered more often than not. Then I had 2 hands in a row that I won and I was back to all square. Hovered there for another hour and could feel boredom creeping in so I moved to a 80-100NL game.

My 2nd hand of NL, I find KK in the BB. Maybe 6 limpers for 2 dollars so I made it $20 to go. UTG+1 called and everyone else folded. Flop came with 3 low cards, so I c-bet for $20 thinking that it would be enough or tempt a chase by AK etc. Turned a low club making 3 clubs on board so I pushed the remaining $40 into a $90 pot and villain took forever to call. River blanked and I thought I was good, but he turned over a baby flush. Like the Limit table, I recovered this over the hours ahead and cashed in at 3am exactly even to the $. In hindsight, I made the most of the situation with very little to get my teeth into.

In Australia, P-platers can only take one passenger after 11pm which is a really good law. My daughter needed to get to the Presets with her friends, so I scored an unexpected econd session on Sunday night as chauffeur. Exact same story played out. Second hand of NL, KK UTG+1. I make it $10 to go and get 2 callers when the SB makes it $35. Fearing a strong hand, I called to see if an A would flop and attract a couple of other callers too. The flop came A55r 3-ways. SB checked and with only $45 in front of me it seemed like a reasonable play to push it in. Call, All-in and I was in bad shape. Yip, SB had AA, nh sir, bugga. My Limit seat came up and I still struggled with coming 2nd on the odd occassion I got in a pot. At 10pm with 1 hour of play left, I decided to give the NL a go again and lo and behold, I cashed in at 11pm for a total loss of only $6.

Whilst I played my own cards reasonably well, my reads were well off and I couldn't put anyone on hands. If I'm not raising peflop, I fail to define how others play against me. The regulars change gears depending on how everyone is playing. Over time, I'll need to pick up this skill. More thought required.

The Stars Turbo Takedown was a tough little tourney as the blinds rise quite quickly. I had 2 maniacs at an otherwise passive table with 2 dead no-shows to my right attracting aggressive blind stealing and c-betting. With my wings clipped early, I stuck to solid ABC poker. When the bubble eventually burst I was in approx 1700th position with an M of 7, which was above average. They dropped like flies from 10,000 with the payout structure very flat, another $5 for 500 spots or so.

I played fairly solid hoping to double up or steal as the opportunities presented themselves which I did. Critical hand was the SB shoving on me and I had A8o and decided to gamble. The wider his range, the better off that I am and I decided that with the blinds and antes about to eat in for us both this could well be a steal so I called. Alas, he had AKo and the flop of AK7 had me on the rail in 5972nd for $55.

In retrospect, I'd do the same again because of blind pressure on each of us and the fact that the real money requires a top 100 spot at least, more like final table. I probably forfeited $10-20 of ladder climbing equity for a tiny crack at the Porsche. It's important to dream to keep poker fresh!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Moving up a Level

Inspired by my FR successes, I decided to actually see if it would translate to a real money buy-in PLO MTT. Alas no, I finished midway in the $11 on Stars, oscillating up and down around my starting stack. Played OK, I think.

Realising that playing for anything more than peanuts is way beyond me at this stage, I decided to grind out the 1c/2c PLO. My 4-tabling netted me a whopping $25. May try that again to see if 1c/2c is my sweet spot.

Still freerollin'

Still having a bit of a sabbatical from serious poker and I must say that my mind is clearer to think about the game. That said, tonight I'm indulging myself with another Hubble Freeroll on Stars, this time PLO with 6066 starters.

At the first break I am 142nd of 1094. I got lucky just then hitting my gutshot for a 6-card straight flush 234567, gotta love PLO.

OK 4 hours later - on another break and I'm 12th of 86 and very happy with my play. Lost most of my chips at one stage in a big hand - can't recall why but I wasn't unhappy with my play. A couple of hero calls where I just couldn't put opp on anything but a missed FD and they were all right. Got respect for my min-raises from the tourney leader 2 seats to my left. Small ball min-raise aggression built my stack right up again. Overall, very pleased even though it is a freeroll with nothing at stake. Update: Finished 31st fo a 2nd ticket.

It struck me that most people are well capable of becoming winning players at some level; its just a case of being realistic at what that level is. For me it seems to be Freerolls for now :-(

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why I Play Poker

Some time ago, I wrote to Adam at "Rounders the Poker Show" and suggested a topic for discussion - How to use forums more efficiently. I agree with Laff's comment to my last post that it just isn't a productive use of time (a finite resource for those of us with families and work commitments). That said, there is a wealth of valuable knowledge nuggets hidden away there and worth finding.

To address this, I take my hat off to PokerRoad and their Red Pro Strategy forum ... all wheat, no chaff. With only quality posts and discussions it is a phenomenal resource. In my attempt to get a URL to include, I happened upon this recent post on Shoving Mathematics.

As I will never reach this heightened level of understanding of the game (but can absolutely appreciate and respect it), I know that poker can stimulate me academically for a long time to come so long as I keep it fun and serious.

In summary, this is why I play poker!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Wisdom of Crowds

James Surowiecki argues in his book The Wisdom of Crowds that the aggregation of information in groups, results in better decisions than could have been made by any single member of the group. In terms of poker, it is clear that 2+2 can solve the challenge of optimal poker strategy far more quickly than a dozen or more of the top professionals, experienced experts in their field, ever could. Similarly, the exposition of the UB scandal when the crowd garnered and aggregated tiny components of knowledge was incredible and a testament to "crowd-sourcing".

I've been an advocate of this thinking for a couple of years now in business and am convinced that the discipline of crowd-sourcing, leveraging social media technologies, will be increasingly important. I'm a big fan of Betfair too. Apart from the ability to "play the bookie", at any point in time, it is the most reliable of who is going to win an election, Idol or the FA Cup Final. According to wikipedia, Betfair is the world's biggest prediction exchange, with around $28 billion traded in 2007.

The English Premier League has just finished and I've been involved in a Footy Tipping Comp. I know very, very little about the EPL, but I know how to find out who is favourite to win - Betfair. Last night, Man Utd reserves (title was already won) took on Hull City (fighting for survival) at Hull. How could I possibly evaluate the relative strengths of those two teams from the other side of the world. Don't need to, according to Betfair, Utd were a slight favourite to win as was borne out with their 0-1 victory.

By picking the favourites all year (I never picked one draw, its never the favourite) I just managed to scrape home ahead of 2nd place by one point. He occassionally varied his tips when the home and away teams were both the same odds, he'd pick the draw. Over the season, we both ended up well ahead of the other experts. The buy in was $50 each with 26 entrants and 3 places paid. I think that my 1st spot wins about $700, don't really know. I just know that it is always +EV to follow Betfair as the system is almost unbeatable. Certainly attempts to beat the wisdom of crowds is -EV.

Poker thought of the day ... whilst it is essential to mix up your play, don't ever succomb to Fancy Play Syndrome because it is always -EV.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bootstrapping my Stars account

I've taken a massive downswong on my online roll of late and now need to go back to microstakes to build it up. So bad that I just entered the Hubble FR on Stars with 9000 entrants. If I get in the top 72 I win a place in another $2000 FR.

A number of the successful online pros take shots way beyond their rolls, knowing that if they don't make it that they can always go back to grinding it. I'm not so sure. It's really tough bringing anything close to your A-game to these micro stakes. I'll let you know how I go. Right now, I'm 28th out of 5523 runners left.

Positional updates 58/4633; 98/4037; 141/3509; 203/2632; 704/1409; 636/1150; 153/815; 118/750; 91/650; (hurt badly blind vs blind bluff) 268/537; 223/493; 81/443; 97/410; 107/364 at 2nd break.

In parallel, I've been playing a $4.40 Limit O/8 with 153 runners, paying 36 places. The flat structures certainly keep the money in the pond generating rake. I'm not complaining at this stage as I try to get back to winning ways. I'm currently 24th of76. Fingers crossed.

Back to the Hubble FR 120/340; 125/290; got lucky with QQ hitting trips 25/266; chipleader just donked off half his stack with triple barrel on 27499r, I had A7 and the barrels were getting very big, now 4/206; 7/179; 9/163; 14/154; avg stack 90K, I have $190K; 20/135 closing in ... need to stay away from big stacks and steal where I can; ... another break 29/123; 24/109; 27/100; 36/94 (did I clam up too soon?); AA dbl up to 6/92; 8/86 almost home ...; 19/78 one of those spots where you can fold AA preflop ...; woo hoo made it in 19th position. Looks like Stars play on! 24/48; Finished 41st and won my ticket into another FR. Oh for a BR.

And back to PLO/8 20/66; 23/61; 26/57; Limit goes so slowly in comparison; 29/53; 30/51; 12/48; another break 19/42; 12/39; (pf raise with A245) 4/31; 5/27; 5/21; 6/19; 6/14; single tabling and concentrating now 9/13; bugga that was a mistake - finished 12th flopping middle flush and 35 Lo in BB. 2nd best twice hurts in this game.

2 out of 2 cashes for $5 profit!