Saturday, January 31, 2009

How cool is Google?

I made it to the final table of my first ever Telesina tourney. Nearing the bubble, I decided to Google Telesina for strategy and lo and behold what should appear on the first page but my wee blog. Surprise, surprise, no in depth analysis of strategy, yet. The future for online poker is bright. So many games to be solved.

I'm currently on the bubble lying 5 of 6, with 5 getting paid. Shortstack has just doubled up twice, from 19 chips! Q7o, J7o. Short stack went down to AAA by 3rd street. Ouch QJs hit Q but my 2-pair ran into KKK. Ah well, 100% cashing ain't bad. And Google knows about me.

1st ever Telesina Cash foray

First thing to note is that I tried to sit at a 0.1 Euro table but stood up as one of the players had 200 Euro in front of him. Clearly a game of skill with fish. I'm the biggest one because I can't spot the sucker at the table. Aggression seems to be key, with KK showing betting pot appears to be the move. Eight hands in, I'm down $1.65 and only gone past 3rd st once. I started with 20Euro.

J9o fold, J8o fold, KQo BringIn J suited on 3rd st, pot and I take down my first hand of Telesina. Pocket AA this hand. Woo Hoo, 3rd street was a Q and opp had QQ. He bet pot, I re-raised pot confidently ahead and I'm up $3. Not that I'm results oriented :-).

J8o, 89o, A7o all folded. J7s, I bring in and proceed to have 5 diamonds. Flushes beat FHs and I'm now up $7. This isn't exactly helping my rake race but i'd forgotten how much fun poker can be.

A8o, 79Qr(BI), JTo, Q7o, 89o, all folded. KTs bet, checked down, pot on 6th when QQs paired, check and won small pot.

AJ8r, Q8o, K8o, Q9o all folded. We're now down to 3-handed so aggression and variance will play a big part. K9T7r went too far, first obvious mistake but they were min bets. Pocket AA now, with K. Potted twice to take it down.

A97r folded, ATs became AAs and I lost a small pot on SD. JTs became JJTT and guess what my opp had JJTT. Never played with a stripped deck before. My A kicked. Up $8.

QTs with T on 3rd st. The other Ts were exposed and there was a pot bet called. Easy fold. A trick for any Stud game is that if you can't currently beat someone elses exposed cards, you are chasing and should almost always fold. Sounds obvious but draws are enticing. And so it is here. 3 players got dealt Ts. One guy has KK exposed and one of the Ts is calling him down. Needless to say, he misses his st8.

Q9o, [just realised I have 28Euros on the table] that's well over $50, way more than my starting backroll all those years ago. I know they call it microstakes, so was I playing nano stakes when I started?]. J7o, etc folded.

Interesting 9TQK and I need a J. 2 have been exposed in the 12 visible cards, plus my 4. I make that a 2 in 16 or 8/1 chance of making my str8 next card or 4 to 1 by the end. Whilst it looks like I'm getting pot odd. The bets are flying in so I'll fold as it wouldn't be the nut str8 anyway. Next hand was 9JQ with 2 Ts exposed, exit stage left.

I've just realised that with 6 players, if we all stay to SD there is only 1 card not exposed. We just had 1 where the other 4 got to SD. Now playing HU as 1 guy got all the money. This is where BCG would stand up and why I lose my money so readily.

Woo Hoo, my first bluff. I had TT and another was exposed. Opp had all high cards. but missing the T for a str8. He had 2 high pair and the only thing I could possibly have was a str8 if a Q was buried. No Qs exposed, so I bluffed the pot, he folded which I knew he could as he's played well.

We're back up to 5-handed and my hot streak continues with Euro 37 in front of me (I just made a FH). Just made another mistake though. Had AAxxx and someone had KKxxx and the bet the pot which was going to be $15 by the next street. I folded fearing the K. Turns out I would have won unimproved as my AA was good. That wasn't my mistake though, I just realised that I only looked at the 2 hands and forgot to check the exposed cards for other Ks. There probably weren't any as I think I may have done it subconsciously, but there is a different way of thinking in Stud. Especially as in the bluff opportuntiy that worked up above.

OK, I'm going to wrap this post up. In short, I've really enjoyed the relaxation. The deviation has reminded me of skills that I've acquired in other forms of poker - bet sizing, position, board texture, starting hand selection, player tendencies etc.

If you've ploughed thru this post and reached here, thx for persevering. Hopefully it has reminded you of how far you've come on your journey too. I'd highly recommend Telesina the next time you are feeling jaded with grinding poker.

PS Just hit a K for the nut str8 gutshot. There were 14 exposed cards and no Ks out. I make that 4 of 18 or 9/4 by the end. Not nearly as tuff to hit the lone gut shot in a stripped deck it would appear.

PPS Stood up having doubled my $20 BI with 40 Euros and a Post that I look forward to revisiting with nostalgia in years to come.

PPPS I've noticed that the tables are full of Italians. With PokerStars now having free reign in Italy, I predict that there'll be at least one Italian WSOP bracelet this year. This is a great training game for all variants of poker.

Telesina Freeroll

I love new games and there was a Freeroll running on NOIQ for Telesina. It's a mix between 5-card stud and hold'em (last card is a community card). You play with a 32-card stripped deck (2 thru 7 removed). This changes the probabilities and flushes are now ranked higher than FH which seems like a semi-common occurrence. There is a bring in.

The freeroll was PL and 2000 people entered. I'm currently placed 178th out of 668. Here is a live commentary of what happens next.

First hand, 3 people got dealt 9s face up. IMO, they should all fold now, they don't. One guy seems to pick up on this and raises the limpers. He gets a couple of callers and is pocket Qs improve to take down a big pot. This hand is freeroll stuff and not real Telesina, I'm sure.

I've folded J8, T7 and A8 as I assume that tight is always the way to go. Common sense tells me that if I am playing my top 20% of starting hands in any game, my average hand range will be ahead of my opponents. A mix of post flop judgment and aggression should then selectively win more than my fair share of pots.

OK, pocket JJ. 8 on 3rd street, checked. 8 on 4th street for 2-pair. I ended up checking it down and was beaten by QQ99 on the river. With a stripped deck, there were potential str8s and flushes abound, including KK exposed.

NOIQ does a really good thing IMO, leaving the folded cards exposed. I found with stud online that I could never keep up with the folded cards. This hand I have JJ again, but an A brought in and the next player with a K raised the pot. Looks like KK for sure. His K came again on 5th street. Indeed he had KKK and beat 999. Poor play by the loser.

I've folded Q7o. K7s/KJs/89s/TT go to 4th st and the TT ended up with AAATT. Next hand, I BI with A9o (no choice). Call, Pot sized raise, call, I fold. Without playing a marginal hand, I find myself in a credible 159 of 252.

QJs, I called down a couple of improved streets but folded on 5th street to a bet that would have me AI and possibly drawing dead as 5th was a blank. Now, I'm relatively short stacked and get dealt 99. I call and its a family pot. A suited J on 3rd street sees me push AI to get a family of callers. A rush of blood really when I didn't need to. I'm out in 217th, had a lot of fun and am a little bit oler and wiser. May visit the micro cash tables and give it a go. So easily distracted. Or is it HORSE study?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Big music week - Once & Leonard Cohen

Big real life winner this week. I wrote before about an Irish movie called Once - Boy meets Girl and share a love of music. Anyway Boy and Girl came to the Concert Hall at the Opera House this week (sold out) and I rocked up and scored cheap tickets for what was a great gig. True life story of busker comes good. Hard to top that you'd think, but ...

Thursday sees Leonard Cohen in town. Not sold out so a chance of picking up cheap tickets as they were $190 a pop. Couldn't believe that no-one showed up with an extra ticket. A far cry from slipping a couple of quid in with a ticket stub to get into FA Cup Finals. I always had plan B which was to buy them from the ticket office. To make matters worse, there were two of us. Missed Paul Kelly the Support Band, but just as the interval was starting, who would appear but the iconic Aussie Scot, Barnsie. "Jimmy, any spare tickets". "Stay there lad, you may be in luck" I must say that he is a real gentleman. Anyway Row BB, Seat 1 was virtually on the stage, and free. Concert was amazing. At 76, Leonard is still the real McCoy.

Poker was pretty much reduced to a live session at the Casino for my free parking. Broke even, which to me is a win given the 10% rake and my relatively novice stage in poker maturity. The big players have a lot of gamble in them when you see them play. I watched the $500/$1000 BI table and they had on average $6000 in front of them with $5/$10 blinds, that's a lot of post flop play. With $500 bets not uncommon, that was the TAGgiest live table I've ever seen. They were all regulars and are now off to Adelaide for the ANZPT.

As for the weekend, Friday is Home Game night but I haven't heard from anyone, so I'm not sure if it is on. Sunday I'd like to play in a $200 PLO Tourney at Star City. Need to see how well I can advance my domestic duties in the interim.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A lesson in Irish Economics

Having gone busto on NOIQ, I needed some light relief:

Young Paddy, moved to Roscommon and bought a Donkey from a farmer for €100.00. The farmer agreed to deliver the Donkey the next day. The next day he drove up and said, 'Sorry son, but I have some bad news, the donkey died.'

Paddy - 'Well,then just give me my money back.'
Farmer - 'Can't do that. I went and spent it already.'
Paddy - 'Ok, then, just bring me the dead donkey.'
Farmer - 'What are ya gonna do with him?
Paddy - 'I'm going to raffle him off.'
Farmer - 'You can't raffle off a dead donkey!'
Paddy - 'Sure I can. Watch me.. I just won't tell anybody he's dead.'

A month later, the farmer met up with Paddy and asked, 'What happened with that dead donkey?'

Paddy - 'I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two euro's a piece and made a profit of €898.00.'
Farmer - 'Didn't anyone complain?'
Paddy - 'Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two euro's back.'

Paddy now works for the Irish Government

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Year resolution update

Sunday weigh-in and I've lost another couple of kilos, 6 in total. Only 2 more to reach my target. Unfortunately, having lost it so quickly, I think that if I ease off too soon I'll put it back on again.

This weekend included a bit of exercise though, golf and a swim in the ocean. Golf I had 26pts off a 16 handicap in 35 degrees. Not too bad for someone that doesn't play. I am a member of a great course, so golf is now officially added to my New Year resolution. Not brave enough to commit to playing to my handicap yet. I'll review that over the coming weeks.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Home Game Report

Recession must be hitting our home game as the stakes are getting lower each week. This week we had $90 in chips for $30, with blinds of 50c/1$. When we cash out, we just divide the number of chips by 3. This way we had 90BB BIs. It worked very well.

The main reason for moving to the more affordable structure is that we've become friends and aren't trying to hurt each other (as much). Last night seen some incredible hands and a lot of laughs. A few pictures were snapped as the moments were priceless.

This will lose in the telling, but I was card dead for almost 2 hours and managed to tread water. UTG, I decided to straddle for $6. It wasn't raised (5 callers), so I had no option and we went to the flop which came 752 (2 hearts). I stayed blind to see where I was out and led out for $12 (4 callers). Turn 3h, so I decided to lead again for $12, 2 callers and 2 folds. River Jh (4 hearts), so I decided to check which would give me all the data for my decision. Next spot raised $50, into $150, fold and it is up to me. I looked at my first card, As and turned it face up to get a reaction. The AI player looked pretty comfortable. Next card was a Kh. Couldn't belive my eyes, slid it face down again and pushed AI. 'Geezers' face was priceless. He went into the tank before calling. He had the Qh - how unlucky was that?

A couple of hours later, about 1am, my friend to my left decided to kick start his game again with a straddle (btw, we've never ever straddled before). Flop came Jxx. He too lead out into a family pot. Serveral callers. Turn was a J. He checked and someone but in a small raise, 1 caller. My friend was going to look and I suggested he was getting pot odds on almost any 2 cards (as there is a bit of bluffing goes on). River blank. Still no look he checked, Geexer pushes AI and gets a caller. Jim now looks and he has AJ. I gave the nod to get the camera out and this time we captured the look on Geezers face when his KJ was outkicked.

Other memorabel hand was Jim and I. I had AK and raised a $10 raiser who was called to $30. I got 2 callers. Glop was all low and I c-bet. 2 callers (its that kind of game). Turn K for my TPTK. I lead out for $90 about half the pot and get pushed AI for $500. That was the next photo opp of me scratching my bald head whilst pacing. I showed the AK and got a good read. I was most afraid of AA as I'd made it $30 preflop. Turned out Jim had AK too. Phew!

Sorry, one last hand saw 4 people AI and Jim winning as the big stack. With 3 people broke, we had a run on the bank and they were queued up for rebuys. Anyway final result for me +$120 which puts me back in a better frame of mind for next week.

Friday, January 23, 2009

NOIQ Rake Race

Another benefit of this blog is that it may have prompted me to participate in the NOIQ Race thanks to TheRiver. I've been a member of NOIQ for some time when it was on the iPokerNetwork as I liked the iPoker i/face and NOIQ was the first ever site that I'd heard of RB. I signed up through PokerPT and enjoyed the novelty of a headline in Portuguese once when I won a tournament.

As you may know, NOIQ and iPoker didn't see eye2eye on RB so NOIQ has gone onto the Entraction Network. It's in Euros which hurts and I think that I am playing a level or two above where I should because I am losing. Another cause may well be the Race. I've only participated in one ever before and I found I tilted. This one you collect points for rake actually paid (VIP Pts), so it encourages LAGgy play. I've been having fun but eWallet is hurting. Need to be careful not to go busto before mid-Feb. Anyway approx 300 pts at moment so it will be interesting to see overnight where that lands me on the Leaderboard. I was just outside the 500 last night.

May be another homegame tonite. Hopefully I won't make it 3 in a row there. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The dawning of a new era ...

I’ve decided to psychologically lock in my Pokerstars PLO start-up journey as a bit of a success story and take a break to let it sink in. I’ve only been at PLO for a few months and seemed to have held my own up as far as PLO100 (albeit with a massive boost to end the run in front).

And so it is that I start out for a new chapter. A fresh start, with a month on NOIQs new site under the Entraction engine. They have a 500K race happening that looks relatively achievable to cash in, so if I can limit my losses, I can fund more PLO learning.

I had my first session last night and I don’t particularly like the interface. It’s not that easy to see what is happening within a hand. I haven’t learned how to check HHs or get PokerTracker Omaha to work. That said, if it is like this for everyone, that may not be a bad thing.

Adjusting to Euros is something I haven’t thought thru yet. I’m not even sure how much they raked. If it’s 3Euro then no wonder they can give such a generous race. I sat at a .25/.50 table which is equivalent of PLO100 on Stars, only to find out that I was allowed to sit down with 200 (or 400BB). This is worth considering in PLO and is probably a better structure. Next time I may drop a level and BI for the full 400BBs. I scored a 120Euro win first time out which when I transfer back to Neteller should look very respectable in USD and even better in AUD.

Here’s wishing Obama and myself all the best for the next month and beyond!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Confidence is a wonderful thing

My father once asked me "What is the most important shot in golf?". My answer was "The first one", but he had a better one "the next one". That didn't make my answer wrong. If I don't get off that first tee well, I rarely have a great round. And so it is with poker. This hand came up last night. Just like AK v QQ is a classic holdem race, flopping the nut set v a big draw is a classic PLO race. Up against 2 opponents though, it's a nerve wrecking feeling when holding on.

This was only a couple of hands into a session where I was well aware that I was taking another shot that I wasn't necessarily bankrolled for and my intention was to play tight. Just too good a spot to miss out on. If you can't play right at a level, then don't play. This is close to my biggest PLO pot ever and thankfully it went my way. Consulting CardPlayer, my equity at the time of the shove was a generous 57% the way things fell.

From here, I found myself big stack and went from strength to strength as I ran hot. Left a couple of hours later with my biggest ever haul from a single PLO session, a profit of 5.5BIs, or $550 (and USD at that) - woo hoo! Had the 43% come in, it would have been a very different Post. I think we under-estimate confidence and the absence of it. In SuperSystem, Brunson states that regardless of what the maths guys say, "rushes" do occur and you should go with them. That that is where your profit comes from.

I'm a math guy and I can't put my finger on it but last night was a rush and I seemed to sense it as it was unfolding. Bed o'clock was when the big hand hit twelve and the little hand one. Do you believe in rushes?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Is PLO37.5 my level?

Poker is such a deceptive game in terms of short term results and false reinforcement. Last night I had a session of PLO50 where I probably broke every one of the Hutchison System starting requirements repeatedly. I had a little calculator running alongside for the first time and I kept ignoring its guidance which was 80% Fold and 20% Limp. I only seen 1 Raise advice the whole session and the flop missed on that hand. I on the other hand was fairly aggressive preflop. Still passivish after the flop. One area I did improve was my river value betting.

So after ignoring the Hutchison advice, I turned $50 into $200+ in a couple of hours. Did I run good? Was it the deception that my wide range provided that allowed me to win the big pots? Has my post flop play and board texture reading improved? Alas, I really don't know.

What I do know is that my results are PLO25 (+$337), PLO50 (+$220) and PLO100 (-$240). In BB/100, that appears to be +25, Zero and -7 respectively. It would appear that I am between a PLO25 and PLO50 player for now.

For the record, 6500 hands averaging 9.74PTBB/100.

So where to from here, grind it out at PLO25 for a profit and experience. Or continue to take shots with any excess until I crack the $100. As I have exceeded expectations already, turning a profit at PLO25, I think that I'll continue taking shots as long as I'm not getting too hurt.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Two Good Results

Footy tipping is an Australian pasttime. I'm in a $50 comp with about 25 others tipping the EPL soccer. I'm an out of touch Liverpool fan (went to Uni there to watch them in the 80s), so my only fighting chance is to defer to the wisdom of crowds, otherwise known as Betfair, and pick all the favourites. It is a proven system. With 3 spots paid, I've come 2nd then 1st in both previous seasons. I don't really know the guys so I offered to step out but I keep getting invited back.

Well, this season it has been upset after upset. Also, from a bookie perspective, the draw is never a favourite and there has been draw after draw, which had seen me drop off the pace. I never lost faith though and ground it out, inching up week on week, only to get smacked back down. A couple of weeks ago, there were 5 draws, ouch. Anyway, got up this morning and 7 out of 7 favourites won overnight. I leapfrogged a couple of leaders and found myself in 1st spot. Woo Hoo. I'll keep you updated.

Now my other Sunday report is my Fatroll weigh-in. Pleased to report that I lost another 2 kilos this week. Now 78kgs, just 4 more to go!

Home game blues 2

My offline bankroll is diminishing. 3% last Friday, I dropped another 2% this week. Last week, I played bad, this week I had 4 tough spots. A 2-outer and 7-outer smack on the river followed by over analysis that I got wrong twice.

First one I had A2 on a flop of A27r. A LAG bet out and in position I called. Turn blanked and he fired a 2nd bullet, I called again. When the river blanked, he shoved again about $120 into an $80 pot. As there were no feasible draws and 72 was unlikely I somehow managed to put him on 77 or 22. Discretion being the better part of valour, I folded my 2-pair to TPTK, bugga, and a big mistake how could I overlook TPTK or any other 2-pair for that matter.

Other bad decision came on the very last hand. We'd agreed one last orbit and I'd joked that this is the crazy part of the night - usually is. First 3 hands were fizzers, 4 handed. Then the last hand where I was dealt QQ when I'd straddled for the first time of that evening to $5 in a 50c/$1 game.

Call, Raise $10, Call then me to act. I decided to raise to $35 and consider releasing to an A or a K post flop. Fold, call, call. $100 in pot. Flop was sweet for me TT7, 3 handed. Check, check, standard cont-bet $50 to attract skeptics. Fold and a surprising AI for another $140 on top.

I went into the tank and thought of a few things:
- 1st he was not the sort of player to lose his stack on the last hand.
- then I realised that he knew that I could c-bet light, so he may have AK, med pair or similar.
- then I knew that he was risking his original buy-in which had been set to the side for over an hour.
- He looked comfortable but when I asked if he had something he looked genuine in believing that I hadn't even looked at my cards (which he confirmed after was true).
Split 2/2 - but in reality 1 and 3 were the most reliable observations.

Anyway, I reasoned that his range included AK, 99-QQ and the obvious Tx. Curiosity may have got the better of me. Needless to say it was AT and I lost a chunk that I was ahead. In the grand scheme of things, these are just part of the learning process. But it still can be lonely when it happens and you have no-one that understands to discuss it with.

Most pleasing part of the night was a comment after my 2-outer AI for a big stack earlier. When I lost, a few hands later one ex-semi-pro that I respect told the table that the character of a poker player was how he handles bad beats. That made my night as I've never once lost my temper at any table. I can tilt internally like anyone else tho'.

Thanks for being there folks and letting me vent ...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Aggression / Discipline experiment

Last night I tried single tabling to try out a combination of never raising pre-flop no matter what I hold and increasing my post flop aggression.

This is an acknowledge PLO strategy as PLO is primarily a post flop game. I still tried to restrict myself to the better hands when limping and was positionally aware. The second part of the experiment was to work hard on not calling. Either raise or fold. (I think I failed this bit eventhough I tried really hard.)

Results went well early doubling my stack and then selectively picking small pots up post flop on raggeddy boards with a tight image and large stack. I must admit that I got bored with the single table and started a second. This provided the balance between being able to think about each decision and enough hands to provide a realistic range of situations.

I then got cold decked a little (I think) and found that my stack dwindled but not nearly as much as it may otherwise have done. In fact, my usual style may well have lost my stack a couple of times. Giving up less with smaller pots at stake, I was able to get away from a few draws that I would otherwise have gambled on with a smaller SPR. The final result was 1 BI profit over 400 hands.

The most interesting thing for me was that my Aggr Factor was still only 1.55 and that was me trying my very hardest to be aggressive. Looking closer at the calculation, I believe that it isn't that I am not aggressive enough, it is a case of bloating the denominator with crying calls. All comments on my stats welcome ...

Flop 4+20/13 = 1.88; Turn 6+18/17 = 1.41; River 2+13/14 = 1.09; Total 1.55

Hopefully, that can be my focus for the next couple of sessions, "fold earlier when I think I'm beaten or am chasing a coinflip that is probably a crooked coin".

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Too results oriented

Having got my diet off to a flying start in the first week, I've found myself hoping (Freudian slip) on and off the scales at least once a day. Needless to say, a watched kettle never boils. No positive movement to report.

It would be very easy to give up. I also had a massive apple crumble treat the other night with ice cream which was one of only two deviations. The next morning, no difference. That was tilt material as I felt like going back to my old ways if nothing was making a difference.

I'm now going to stay off the scales between Sunday weigh-ins and focus on just making correct dietary decisions one meal at a time. Does poker mimic life or the other way around?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

PLO playing styles

I decided to have a closer look at the playing styles of the winners and losers. In a very unscientific manner, with a small sample size of 150 or so players with more than 50 hands each, I counted the winners and losers in each of the PTO playing style categories. A more comprehensive analysis would have included the $ amount won / lost, maybe later.

Anyway 7 categories had winners and 5 styles were losing. Legends for Tight, Loose, Semi, Passive, Aggressive. Brackets are probably anomolies as there were only 4 in each of the TA categories. In order of success:
- winners (TA/P), LP/A, SLP/P, SLA/A, TP/A, TP/P, T/A, and
- losers LA/P, SLA/P, LP/P, SLP/P, (TA/A).

Moral of the story is that Passivity post-flop isn't good. Sad to say that I am in the losing LA/P category. Not surprisingly, I have the same problem in NLH. Something else to work on. Any ideas on why I am LAG pre-flop and passive post flop in either game? I'm a wee bit baffled.

More winners and fewer losers in PLO?

I've always been interested in the maths of poker. Short term variance can be very misleading when we rely on experiential learning. Plays that come off can seem right and those that don't we can shy away from. Maths can help us gain a more profitable understanding of the game quicker.

One stat that I read early and have since observed to be very true is that only 5% of poker players are long term winners, the other 95% feeding the economy. In my early Poker Office days I would scroll down the list of observed players overall results and eventually, sure enough, about 5% would play big volume as winners and there'd be a long tail of small users.

I also know that in NLH we can be presented with opportunities that represent large edges pre and post flop, maybe 80/20. In Omaha this is more rare, the norm being closer to 60/40 as an edge that you want to push. So what effect does this have on the distribution of winners and losers?

After a very small sample size, just over 5000 hands observed, the winner/loser split in my PokerTracker Omaha is exactly 40.06% and 59.94%. If anyone has a larger sample size, perhaps you can share with me if this phenomenon holds true. If so, inferior players can be fooled more by short term variance into thinking their strategy is good. Just look at my recent premature entries.

In terms of my recent PLO results, they have slowed down to 9BB/PTBB. Last nights session was very LAGGY and the variance massive. I dropped 2 BIs early and recovered by the end of the session.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Home game blues

My home game successes came to an abrupt halt on Friday. Good news is that the stakes were a lot lower. I'd also under-estimated the opposition and tried to pick up a stack early. This was costly on two fronts, I was limping in to family pots trying to hit and leaking a few dollars. I was overbetting to protect hands and getting sucked out on.

From there it was downhill as I stayed shortstacked all night and picked spots to gamble on making a stack. I'd get successful my fair share, but never two in a row to allow me to play sufficiently deep for my usual game.

The combination of high expectations, bad play and a relatively cool deck didn't make for a particularly enjoyable evening. The major scalextric track did though.

FATROLL Trying to get back in shape. Pleased to report that my 82kg to 74kg goal is heading the right direction, I'm on 79.5kg after 11 days.

Laff's Hand History

Laff posted a few hands looking for comment, so this post is to be read in conjunction with Laffs entry ...

By way of disclaimer, I always struggle with hand histories on forum posts as I believe that there are many valid lines to take with any hand. The result should be secondary, its the decision making that counts. In isolation though, I find myself only able to make obvious observations such as fast playing trips, protecting TPTK etc. That said, here goes. I'd welcome any comments on my commenting.

Hand 1: I always play flopped trips fast. Partially to avoid this disaster but primarily to capitalise on my good fortune. The River escalation was a little crazy as it started with a check and got out of hand. No hand that we were beating was calling that AI.

Hand 2: I don't have too much problem with this hand. I'm guilty of crying calls on the river. The Turn check was good and the river call only needed to be right 25% of the time.

Hand 3: Opportunity lost pre-flop. A big difference between Limit and NLH is the relative strength of TPTK. In NLH, your stack is always at risk. This hand would have played itself out at Limit and no-one gets hurt. NLH is different. Preflop, thin the field with a potsized 50c bet. 9c7c may have called, maybe not, I would have looking for a solid hit. Let's assume $1.50 in the pot, that was a perfect flop to lead out for the pot again. I would have passed on my middle pair in that spot. Selective aggression is the key to NLH, don't slowplay. An aggressive style lets you get away from more hands too. When people tangle, they generally have the goods or air.

Hand 4: Similar to Hand 3, betting the flop would have put pressure on. When the A came, you had a big enough pot to fire again and price out the gutshot. As it was, you got lost, slow played a great turn card and it all became costly. Playing trips fast you can throw in the occassional bluff when you have taken the lead early pre-flop like this. Don't worry about being re-raised, then it is up to you if you want to play for stacks at that stage or fold (see Hand 1).

Hand 5: Another case of slowplaying. NLH is a case of Big Hand, Big Pot, Small Hand, Small Pot. This is only a subset of your hands, but try not to get too clever. Simplify your decision making on all streets by taking the initiative. You need to find out where you are at before the significant bets start flying.

Hand 6: I liked your bet-size bet here and you have to call in this spot. Opponents AI was a classic case for playing fast with an overbet and simplifying things - imagine a TJQ or flush flop making a flop decision a little tougher. These hands just happen and you'll have plenty more in your favour in your career. Would you shove in his spot on what looked like a steal? I'd suggest that it is a good play as it smells of a re-steal.

Friday, January 9, 2009

PLO Heater?

From the first page of the PLO Strategy Primer "Low and mid pocket pairs are close to worthless. A hand like 5588 belongs in the muck. Even if you hit a set, you can easily lose to a higher set, straight, or flush."

Alas, I hadn't been asked yet by Laff for a primer, so when I seen 2 x AI from short stacks in front, I reasoned that I could be up against anything and if I hit my trips I could be good. I now realise that this thinking is totally flawed and expect never to make this mistake again.

One more leak plugged, and I have plugged so many very quickly. With PTO, I immediately discovered my biggest leak which has yet to be plugged but I seem to have slowed the flow to a trickly.

An excellent starting hand category as the name implies is Premium Aces. After being dealt this 13 out of 4500 hands, my Net return is a loss of $270, or $20 per hand. That's almost 13PTBB/Hand or 1300PTBB/100.

I have now committed not to lose my stack with these hands unless holding the nuts post flop. Sub-optimal, I'm sure, but until I learn a better way, I'm in damage control mode. Yesterday I referred to SuperSystem/2 and was pleased to read the page on AA. Paraphrasing, whilst a strong hand preflop, most players lose much more money with these hands than they win. That's me, I won a little 8 times, lost a little twice and lost my stack 3 times :-(.

So now that I've shared with you how crap I am. How did I go last night? Honestly, I just ran good once again. I dropped to 2 tables of PLO25 as I was getting a bit of work done at the same time. A couple of hours later I stood up with approx one BI profit on one and five BIs on the other. I can't remember the last time I've won 6 BIs with ease in a NLH session.

I'm convinced that this wasn't all good play or good cards. As in all poker, most of your profit comes from the mistakes of others. I'd encourage you to think about swimming with the fish before the well runs dry.

PLO Strategy Primer

I love Google; it never fails to impress me. So when Laff asked for a Strategy Primer, off I went to look for one. The first suggestion for "Omaha Strategy" on Google was this post by NOFX PUNK on the Full Contact Poker Forum.

I must confess, I have stopped my search for a better primer. It's not perfect and statistically (like life on other planets) there is probably better out there but this is a great benchmark.

Having played for a couple of months here, this post is full of all of the things that I have been picking up through experiential learning. I'm convinced that if you follow this advice and play microstakes you will be a winning player almost immediately without any table selection. The micro stakes are full of competent Hold'em players regularly making the mistakes contained in this article.

I'd welcome any strategy questions that the article prompts to further my thinking process as I continue to learn.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Psst ... Don't tell anyone

Having purchased PT Omaha, I finally have an idea of how I'm going. With Badugi, HORSE and all sorts of other distractions that I allow myself, including a Tilt at NLH400 which was a disaster my bankroll just doesn't give me that view.

I've always watched risk of ruin and been happy to step down, but when I get a few extra dollars in the roll I tend to splash it about (invest it) trying different things.

The good news is that I have a broad understanding of the mechanics of a number of the games. Bad news is that I still can't retire and play full time. Hopefully I am incrementally better positioned to transition to Bobby's Big Game though. Can always dream.

So what did I discover ...

- Badugi I didn't enjoy;
- Stud potentially has the complexity I like but I can't see it ever having the $$$s to go professional;
- FLH I really enjoyed but reached levels that I outgrew my ability / potential / bankroll;
- My transition to NLH was incredibly hard but Harrigton sorted me out with a break even TAG style so I can hold my own online and in card rooms now at sociable stakes. Best case, it was only a matter of time before I hit my ceiling in a "solved" game.
- Split games I think I could get to like. Balancing scooping with nut lows is deceptively difficult. This is on hold for now.
- PLO8 combines a lot of concepts, is a lot of fun and is way too complex for me to transition to straight.

PL Omaha, I love! After only a short period I feel that I can hold my own at meaningful levels.

In September I had no real clue about PLO and had only just had my first shot at 4-tabling NLH100. Last night I 4-tabled PLO100, PLO50 and 2xPLO25 for a modest profit on all 4. How can that be? I know I'm making lots of mistakes.

I set up my PTO Categories last night - groupings of hands like Strong Aces. According to 2+2, you should be positive in all categories. I'm way off that. In fact the best hands Strong Aces I'm down almost $300. Clearly overplaying them post flop losing to flushes on co-ordinated boards and trips on uncoordinated. Like slowplaying AA in my early NLH days, I'm clearly making some very costly basic mistakes, yet after 4000+ hands I'm up over 8BB/100 - almost breakeven now on $$$s.

Now for the psst ... Online PLO must be really, really soft right now ... because I suck at that game compared to my 4 years of NLH study and experience ... or I've experienced a variance heater as a fish.

My prediction ... the games are only going to get softer. It is such a buzzy gambling game, I'm convinced that it is the game of the future.

Best of all ... it is a long way from being solved so it is intellectually stimulating.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

PokerTracker Omaha

New Years are good for fresh starts. And one of mine was getting serious about PLO. I've been playing and really enjoying the game on and off for a few months now. I got the mechanics at micro stakes and quickly started playing way beyond my bankroll for the variance of the game. I decided to try and ramp up my learning curve even if it cost me a bit - which it did initially.

So I purchased PokerTracker for Omaha yesterday and instantly gained an insight. When I imported my Hand Histories I realised that I was a winning BB/100 player but a losing $ player. Needless to say that what I win at PLO25, I lose at PLO100. That said, my PLO100 is showing signs of breakeven. This is over 3000+ hands so isn't yet a statistically significant sample size.

Omaha is such a different game that I didn't know where to start looking for leaks. No starting hands dominate as much as Hold'em so your pushing smaller edges all the time. If you hate bad beats, you'll hate Omaha. If you realise that no poker beat is really that bad, you'll do well.

In my search for guidance for analysing my play, I stumbled across the best little website I've found in a while. Check this out! I wish I'd known this when I was playing NLH.

I'll write some more on PLO when I learn some more ... I really feel like I am only starting out as I now have the tool to study. I can't believe that I routinely push $$s in a single bet greater than the cost of PokerTracker and have never before purchased it.

Go figure ... or go buy!

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year resolution

I've never had a resolution before, but when thinking about my goals, the only important SMART goal that springs to mind is to shed a few kilos (while adding the pounds).

I am currently a slightly out of breath 82kgs and would like to be 74kgs by Easter. To achieve this, I'd like to diet and exercise. So far the diet is on track but I'll need to include a bit of exercise. This public forum will hopefully help me stay motivated. Weigh-ins will hopefully be Monday mornings.