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.