Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hardest way to make easy money

All that is old is new again. I'm sure that if I read the old words of wisdom around no point in being the 10th best player at the table when the other 9 are also there hold truer than ever. I've never practiced game selection because I felt that I needed to train at altitude and the micro stakes don't hurt too bad. I enjoy live poker and the internet is increasingly where I train.

Well, this week I had the opportunity to play in the Sydney Champs where the PLO Event was a $770 buy in. It was very steep in my opinion and that was reflected in the turnout with only 38 entries. For me, having a quality event on my doorstep seemed worth the shot eventhough I would be massively -ve EV in such a small field. Sure enough a who's who of the casino regulars and the tournament pros showed up, minus the very best Lisandro, Assadourian etc. Surprisingly, I found the quality of play to be aggressive but not necessarily well timed at all. Problem is, like pub poker, one of them always wins and accumulates chips. With only 4 getting paid this became a real issue for me. I managed to increase my stack consistently but with 19 left I was on average and then with only 13 I felt like I was getting short. I then decided to take a stand with a flopped NFD which was a mathematically poor decision in the context of the hand but 3-way was a chance to get me back to where I could play PLO. Needless to say, I missed and was history. I felt that I was very aware and able to hold my own so roll on next year (hopefully with a smaller buy in and a bigger field).

In summary, only the top 5% make money and I'm just not there at the moment. The effort to get there is detrimental to other aspects of my life so I may need to retreat to the comfort of being above average and not much more.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rush poker fan

Never would've believed that I'd say it, but I am a big fan of PLO Rush Poker. May still be enjoying a honeymoon period, but I think that it is particularly well suited to PLO where nitty is of limited value.

If you'd like to get a sense of what its like when you are running good at Rush, watch this video.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

For the record ...

Nothing startling from a poker perspective. Live games are still going well despite two losing sessions that were more than compensated for by a number of winning sessions, including the casino.

Online, I had a +AIEV session that resulted in a big downswing in actual winnings and further dented my online roll, stepping me back down another level. Coincidentally, it happened at the same time that FTP were starting Rush Week, so I moved over and found a few dollars lying dormant that I invested in microstakes Rush. Ran good for a couple of thousand hands and thought that I'd found my new home. Then, as per online poker history, my stats probably caught up with me and I found myself going down to the same extent. So I'm break-even two days into Rush week having accumulated silver status points.

General mindset ... I still think that my game is improving and that my offline results are where I want them to be. All credit for that must go to my online experience and the thought processes that that stimulates. I still have a long way to go to the point where Bart Hanson's observations are second nature.

I'm off to Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane on business soon so I'll get to play a few more casino hours and meet interesting locals as usual. Watch this space.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Online too tough?

Thought of the day: I have stats on 65k PLO .25/.50 players and yet when I last sat down at a table no-one was in my database. How many people play online poker? And since there aren’t that many good players, why can’t I win? Am I really that “not cut out for this game”?

I’ve been without the luxury of HEM for a few days. I had the offer of a new work computer so I’ve decided to keep the old one as a dedicated poker laptop. That freed up disk space on C: by letting me delete my Outlook Data files and suddenly I had over 1GB free again. So I immediately started unpacking my PTR downloads and let HEM load them. I was sent over 1m hands for free which is more than 24 hours of database loading, in theory. Before long, C: was full again. HEM DB had grown to 6GB. A quick FAQ search and I moved it to D: (the step by step was excellent). Problem encountered where I could no longer talk to the DB because of firewalls or something. Again, adventurous step by steps into Windows registries and services and before I knew it, I was up, running and loading again. The HUD fails to work tho’ when you’re loading 1m hands. That finished overnight so I’m looking forward to a couple of hours of PTR-assisted play this evening. Wish me luck.

Playing a lot less poker than when I went overseas. Just trying to have poker have less of an impact on the family. That said, Monday and Tuesday nights are chick TV nights and I did find myself fire up for a couple of sessions. I’ve been running bad at PLO, but it is just such an enjoyable form of poker that I am still keen to get to the stage where I can hold my own at meaningful levels. I’ve given up on mastering any form of poker having experienced the rapid rise in the PLO standard (everyone else’s) over the last 6 months. The best are extremely good and the average table at the small stakes seems just a little beyond me for now. It’s a young single persons game. I do post winning sessions and my AIEV shows that I am running extremely bad, but I know that there is more to it than that. I think that I’m still using NLHE lines when trappier passive pre-& check/raising-post and plain old aggro ram&jam styles might be the go. Still a work in progress.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Poker Long Weekend

Our Friday night home game featured the toughest line-up that we’ve ever had and a competitive tough game was had, me being a modest loser for one buy-in, right on the last hand. I was 75c down when I flopped 2-pair and we got it AI against a bigger 2-pair. It happens. No big deal, but, I was running 21 out of 28 winning sessions and was keen to win $1 in that hand, just wasn’t to be. The host introduced two house rules which psychologically helped the game run much more like a casino game – no rabbit hunting and no talking about a hand if not involved. The fine for the occasional miscreant was contributing a couple of dollars into the next pot.

My next outing was a significant buy-in tourney at Star City Casino. I always seem to be seated at a tough table including always sat with Kiwi G at my table, a well-regarded old-time local pro who is a real gentleman. This time he was on my immediate right and to be honest it is something that I love about poker, the ability to be seated at a mini-legend. It’s amazing to watch and learn as he calls a flop bet OOP and instantly seizes the initiative. He and Luca to his right were certainly co-table captains running up against a single foe who held his own.

I built my stack a little before my AA got cracked by 44. MP raised and I re-raised from the CO and we were heads up to the flop of K84r. He was relatively shortstacked with 4000 in front so I bet 1900 to induce the AI which duly came and I called instantly as it was part of the plan. Needless to say his flopped set held up. I was now a shorty and with the Antes kicking in, the opportunity arose with 4 $200 limpers to shove AI for $3000 with the highly speculative A5s to capture $1000 on a fold or get lucky for a double up. Surprisingly only caller had 78s, flop came A78, turned a 5 to re-take the lead and rivered an A, I’m back in action at almost average stack. A welcome table break and in the first orbit I’m dealt AA with 4 limpers, shoved and didn’t get a single caller. Very next hand, 3 limpers and I’m dealt KK. Let’s go ith the crazy image and shove again. One caller with AQs who flopped an A and rivered an A, and I’m gone. Was obviously disappointed but only very little which I think is a good sign. Unemotional poker in terms of being results oriented and tilting is probably a very good thing.

Off to the $200 cash table and I booked a $100 profit before having noodles with a friend at Fat Noodle (highly recommended) and then back for more action at a crazy table with 3 pub players and 4 regulars. The regs must’ve been card dead or just lying in wait to stack of the pubbies but it wasn’t to be. The pubbies hit cards after cards until the lady had $500 in front and the young guy had about $1700. They’d inflicted a lot of damage hitting flush, sets and Full houses with incredible regularity. Then the final hand ensued. Blinds $5/$5. 3 limpers and SB checks. BB with big stack makes it $65 to go. Everyone folds to lady who calls on the Button. Flop comes 2 hearts, Q high - Check, Check. Turn brings a 3rd heart and a possible straight. Young guy leads out for $170 and lady calls. River is a non-heart A which doesn’t really change too much (you’d think). Young guy bets $250 and pub lady calls. Young guy shows AK and lady mucks. Table looks on in disbelief and salivates. I’d said that 10pm would be my limit and had to go 10 minutes later. I’m sure that I’ll hear that the $2k was redistributed around the table not long after.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The warped humour of the poker Gods

Listening to the 2+2 Pokercast and they were making fun of Mike's success at the Double or Nothing SnGs. Being good at a game where you fold 94% of hands. Mmmm ... that might be good for my new found cascade multi-tabling. I could be the next Havad Khan?

Anyway, ran on average over about 15 of them winning 7.5 when I had the funniest one ever today. Got sucked out on AI when I flopped top set and got called by a naked 2NFD. No worries, it happens. Then, I'm still there with 15 chips. OK. I was card dead for an orbit so played my BB and flopped 2pair that held up. SB, same thing. Waited an orbit and won both blinds again, tripling up on one. Before I know it I get dealt AAQJds and UTG pots it, I repot and were AI with the 75/150 blinds as dead money. It was a 3000 chip pot and the flop comes a beautiful A. Turn blank and river the dreaded heart that gave my opponent a flush. I've read this story before, this time I'm gone.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Commerce Trip Report

It has been a surreal month for me and I’m looking forward to getting back to some normality which is the first time that I’ve ever felt like that after travelling overseas. 5 weeks is way too long to be away from your family, even if you are with other family on the other side of the world. I really enjoyed pottering around at home with my father who has an incredible sense of humour. Before I left, we went shopping for a new Samsung LED TV for him so he’s all set for the World Cup now. Unfortunately for those of us living Down Under, the games are played in the middle of the night.

After leaving Ireland, I headed for a wedding in New Jersey which went like clockwork. The majority of the preparations had been done in advance so it was all very relaxed in the few days of the lead up. Lots of meals out didn’t do anything for the waistline though and I’m not sure that poker is the best pursuit for shifting that either. No poker was had in New Jersey, but a quick goggle search would indicate that there is a healthy ‘home game’ scene there.

The poker highlight of my trip was to LA where I was lucky enough to stay at the Commerce Casino. They have a Crowne Plaza upstairs which is actually very, very good, I thought. Spacious, clean room with free high speed wifi. I’d read and heard so much about the Commerce that I was really looking forward to seeing if it is as good/bad as they say. The 2+2 threads would indicate that an hour or two of good behaviour at a table is running like God. I’d have to agree. I’d consider myself pretty tolerant of a wide range of playing styles and behaviours but the Commerce certainly pushes the boundaries. Dealer abuse is common place and I saw cards thrown at the dealer 3 times. At Hawaiian Gardens (the Gardens, as they like to be called now) I seen the most amazing incident. We were playing $3/$6 Limit PLO8 which is played with racks of $1 chips. A huge hand ensued and a bluff was attempted on the river when there was no qualifying low, by a self-described gypsy who was casting curses on anyone that dared win a hand against him. Anyway, mild-mannered Chinese man in his 60s calls with pocket 77s and wins. Lightest hero call I’ve ever seen given the board that was out there. He scoops and the gypsy reaches into the middle of the table and splashes the pot toward him. He then gets up from Seat 7, walks around to Seat 1, reaches over and humourlessly knocks the old guys chip tower over. He then proceeds to go back to Seat 1 and ask the Chip Runner for a reload and plays on. I understand that this is an extreme version of what appears to be accepted (as opposed to acceptable) behaviour in LA. I could go on and on about what I encountered. The Hustler and the Bicycle Club weren’t any different.

For me the experience lived up to its reputation and I’d happily play at all of those casinos again because variety is the spice of life. I would certainly stop short of recommending them to anyone else. FWIW, my experience in San Francisco Card Rooms was entirely opposite, so it isn’t a Californian thing. As for results, I fared poorly except for my last session where I played a $40, yip $40, buy in $1/$2 NLH game. I’d read about it and again it lived up to its expectation. It’s an AI fest with half the table sitting on $300+ stack. It was my last day before flying out and I cashed out for 3 racks of chips to bring me close to even for LA. If I lived there I’m sure that I could beat the game because table selection would be so much easier and represent a massive advantage.

For the record, the most enjoyable places for me to play live poker in order are home games, Las Vegas, Dublin, Melbourne, Banbridge, London and San Francisco. Given its population Perth Burswood has done very well. The bottom of the list has got to be Star City Sydney for the rake, Macau for the smoking and LA for the worst behaved player pool by far.

Online update is that my game of cleaning up my losing HEM levels hiccupped at 25c/50c where I am struggling to claw back my modest PLO and PLO8 losses. Maybe that is my true level at the moment although the sample size is very small. I have been distracted again though … as I was sitting at LAX ready to fly back to Australia I decided to try Cascading my Tables as opposed to Tiling. Surprisingly, I much preferred it and ran pretty good. I played NLH 10c/20c for the experiment. Posted a win with ease. Since arriving home, I’ve fired up for just one session but again it went well. With Tiled tables, I max out at between 4 and 6 tables. With Cascading, I was comfortably 10-tabling FR and I’m sure that I could have added another 2 with ease. If you haven’t tried it, give it a go.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Travelling quite well

I'm very fortunate to be travelling at the moment for a month. I had one week with work in Germany, followed by Ireland and the States. Thanks to the ash cloud, the trip was a little longer than usual having had to travel via Hong Kong.

Germany has to go down as my least successful poker destination. I broke even with a grand total of break-even. Basically the only game was in a smoking room off a 10-pin bowling alley and I passed on that experience tyvm.

Ireland is very well served with card clubs and I've shown a modest profit s far. The Fitzwilliam is probably my favourite card club in the world, apart from my Friday night home game. I almost bubbled their tourney getting my money in with AQ when I called an AJ shove from a short stack in early position. Alas, the BB woke up with TT and came over the top and I called. A J on the flop and they shared my money. Downstairs, my first hand was A88 and with pocket 8s I had to contain myself as first to act went AI and MP then shoved AI over the top. Happy days, triple up to 450 Euro. I had another few lucky hands, dropped some profit before finishing strongly for a 380 Euro profit on the night.

The Banbridge Bridge Club is not enjoying the best of times at present. Numbers are down and the atmosphere is nowhere near what it used to be. Quite sad really as it was a poker oasis in the North of Ireland. Hopefully it will improve but at present it seems to be limping along. I have always had concerns about playing bigger stakes to provide the buzz of a big win. The Bridge Club always seemed to be playing at stakes above the local economy and I'm not sure that they didn't break the recreational players. I fared wuite well, bubbling a S&G while we waited for the main event which I came 3rd out of 30, followed by a great cash game, only 4 handed. Another live win.

I'm playing very confidently these days and my modest losses online are really inconsequential compared with my live winnings. The experience of thousands of hands provides a big advantage over the purely live folks. It amazes me how many of them refuse to play online for a variety of reasons from fixed, boredom, not real poker etc. In my opinion, it is a big mistake to close your mind to any opportunity to improve.

And so to my modest losses. I have tilted off a bit of money on a few sessions. My game has improved a lot of late and I am trying to play a LAGgier style of PLO than I used to. It goes well for a period but when I lose, I tend to lose big (relative to my bankroll). I have been successfully dropping down in stakes and grinding back up again. I scored two cashes out of 4 SCOOP attempts that helped maintain my roll.

Currently I am playing a little bit of a game with myself. I have been multitabling up to PLO100 which given my results is clearly above my abilities but is helping me improve at the game. I looked at my HEM performance by stake and realised that there are a number of levels that I didn't beat on the way up. So I started picking off each level where I lost and was determined to turn it around with bring myself into the black. It's funny how even 1c/2c when given relevance can become serious stuff. The relevance for me is that I won't get to collect my Stars reload bonus if I don't build up my stake levels. Thankfully, I am up to 10c/25c PLO8 at this stage and the points are starting to accumulate again. Unfortunately, having turned around 4 or 5 losing levels, I am struggling with this one for now. Playing way too loose. I guess its better to be losing at what are relatively insignificant stakes.

So that's whats been happening this month. My next update should include a report from the Commerce which I am really looking forward to.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Yip ... winning feels good!

So my friend and I entered the ANZPT Teams Event on Sunday. The entry was a modest $550 per team and my partner was all psyched up. I on the other hand must confess that I was a little blasé about the whole thing. After a couple of hours of treading water from our 6k starting stack, I'd played 1 hand in almost 3 blind levels and my partner had played about 8, up and down. Luckily a few spots came up to steal a few pots near the end of an orbit and we had scraped together 7100 when the blinds hit 200/400. Then everything came together ...

Jim was on the button mid-level with about 4BBs left and shoved on an unraised pot with QTo. BB wakes up with an A and calls. T hits on the river and we aren't out! A couple of hands later, he doubles up. His JJ survived an inocuous looking flop of 227r. Only problem was that opponent had 23o. Thankfully justice prevailed when the J fell on the Turn which he flat-called and then called the river AI.

Then a couple more hands and UTG he puts in a min-raise. UTG+1 goes AI with a short stack only to be followed by UTG+2 with an AI to isolate with his AK. Folds around to Jim who thinks for a nano-second before shoving with his AA. His little tap to break the inertia had set off a very lucrative snowball effect and we tripled up! Happy days, we're suddenly well above average with 30 something left out of a field of 96, I think.

Breathe deeply and go back to solid play. A few spots came up and to be honest for the rest of the evening almost all of our hands held up AK vs AJ, JJ vs TT etc. We were getting our money in good and the hands were holding. We sat on 57k for the longest time as the field went from 18 to 12 ever so slowly, maybe 2 hours. Then on my break I went for a stroll to keep fresh when I receive a Text "Better come back, sry". I then tried to practice my best false smile and trite "Don't worry about it" lines. Sure enough the final table was forming and Jim was standing up. Then I noticed, cradled securely was the 57k intact. With 600k in circulation, we were average stacked going into the final table with blinds of 2k/4k.

We were happy with our guaranteed $1k payout and then just looked to climb the ladder a couple of rungs or get lucky. Well lady luck was shining and a couple of runners fell by the wayside. With $500 increments we were up to a massive (for us) $2k payout. Now we were freerolling. The final table played out 1 orbit each. I sat down one time and shoved KQs from MP, no callers. Partner believes that wasn't in the script. Very next hand, the most active annoying stealer leads out with 17k. I look down at A9o and decided to 3-bet as he can't always have the goods, everyone folds and suddenly we're running level 2nd in chips. Then a couple more drop out and we find ourselves 4-way. As the others had doubled up, we're now shortstacked again.

With 3 equal stacks, surprisingly, we wielded the biggest threat for a couple of orbits with our potentially damaging AIs. Then before we know it, we're up in the running again without a showdown. Our hands continued to hold up until we were Heads Up with last year's ANZPT Player of the Year Runner Up, Chris Levick and his wife Danette (the TV dealer). They were undoubtedly the best team in the Event and I'll be honest, very intimidating. Chris was raising nearly every hand from the SB to 55k with 4k/8k blinds. I decided to do the same as did our partners. I was surprised at not facing a small ball approach because I thought that a coinflip suited us. Then came the crucial hand, Chris raises AI from the SB, clearly a hand that he's happy to get it in the middle with. I look at the first card, Kc. I comment "halfway there". Then squeeze out a delightful 2nd K. I CALL! Board runs out something, who cares. A $6k blank, blank, blank. And then the very surreal moment of realising that we were indeed ANZPT Teams Event Champions.

It's still a little surreal. So much so that it was almost 12 hours later that I even realised the value of the blank board. From 4th place, they were just chips, pot sized bets and a desire to come first. Even drinking beers with our friends at 3am on Monday morning in Star City, the money jumps in the top 3 places weren't considered or discussed. We had the title, the trophy and of course 75 pristine unused $100 notes each. The $40 extra was already converted into Stella Artois.

Winning feels good and tastes good!

PS Star City did an excellent job of running the entire series extremely well despite the above gorund dungeon that is the poker room these days. And a big shoutout to Pokerstars who sponser these affordable poker tours. This amateur got to play heads up with a formidable foe - thank you Pokerstars. Maybe now I can learn How to Play 8 Game Mix and How to Play Badugi too.

My final shoutout may sound corny but Mike and Adam at the 2+2 Pokercast deserve a lot of the credit for our win. We've listened to every episode including the original BigPoker.ca ones and had visualised being at a final table many times. We'd heard so many pros describe the experience of every stage so often, its like we had been there. When we got there we'd already rehearsed the future. especially the heads up combat. Thanks guys ... you're the nutz.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Winning feels good ... or so they tell me.

Ah well, my ANZPT run is almost at an end. Just the fun run Teams Event to go. The Deep Stack Event was even shorter lived with a very early bath. Didn't even see the Button. BB in Seat 7, 11 handed. Internet kid in Seat 1 had 80% VPIP and 60% PFR, after 5 hands. I'm UTG with AKs. No need to go broke on a draw. Limped around. Flop comes Tc7c2d. Happy days, NFD and 2 overs. No need to go broke on a draw. Check, check, internet kid makes it 300 to go. Passive lady calls. Old guy (me) makes it 1200 happy to take it down. Fold, Internet kid makes it 2600. Bugga that wasn't in the script. Could he be making a move. Sure he could ... but then again maybe not. Are my two overs probably not. Let's assume that he has a set, I'm drawing pretty thin - 36%? Will I find better spots with my 4800 if I fold. Probably. Good enough to win, maybe not. How much did the tourney cost - $300. I'd seen this guy play PLO the night before for thousands. It's like a freeroll to him. Bugga ... go hard or go home. Sure enough 77 for a set. Turn came a K and the river a 9 with no clubs. Didn't even get to play my button.

Luckily, I was first on the list for the cash tables which soon had a 2-hour wait. I like playing when a new table opens and everyone has the same stack. We had about 6 AIs in the first 2 orbits and suddenly the $1/$2 table was playing relatively deep for Star City. I was card dead for a couple of hours and treaded water. A couple of big hands approaching tea time let me pocket a small profit before the dinner break. 40 mins and I come back at the start of the list but back to my $100 BI as a short stack at a lively deep table. Pleased to report a few hours of trappy limping later I walked away with $600.

A win for the day overall, but somehow didn't replace the feeling of exiting the ANZPT. I showed discipline in not entering either of the remaining two mega-satellites. I had a qualification plan going in and this wasn't my year.

Experiential learning. Having thought through my two early exits rationally for some time now I absolutely know the answer to the question, would you risk all of your chips in the first hand of the WSOP with AA preflop? I've always said that I would, but now I know without doubt that I snap call ... even a 9-way AI. Until next time ...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quick ANZPT update

I had an early exit from Event 1 last Thursday not even making it to the first break. AQo when the flop came AJ5r. I check/min-raised to take it down on the flop but got re-min-raised. Mega alarm bells. Turn comes a Q. I bet, he min-raises so I decide to go with it hoping for the AJ or AK. I can't put him on 55 or AA because he called pre-flop. Sure enough, he had the dreaded JJ ... gooooone.

Yesterday was a lot better, just missing out on the money. 12th out of 99 in the PLO, final table get paid. I was just under average stack at the time. With A787ds in BB, flop came 69T, so I had the nuts (sounds good) but with 2 hearts out there, no redraw (very vulnerable multiway in PLO). Blinds are 500/1000, I had 33,000 chips. I potted to 6000 but got re-raised AI to be pot committed and shoved hoping to hold on with slight edge and go 3rd in chips. In fact, I was in better shape as the shove was a fishy 9TJK for top 2-pair and a gutshot. With 75% equity, I quickly went to 0% when Q fell on the Turn. Ah well, played well and just missed out.

Should I have folded my way into the money? With $5.5k for 1st and $575 for 10th, I think that the answer is possibly "no", but I'm open to comment. What I should have done though was check OOP and it might have been checked around. Then I can get away when the Q flops and someone pots it. Assuming the top 2-pair pots it, this becomes a more interesting spot. What should I do in this scenariodo you think?

Another experiential learning experience under my belt, I'm looking forward to the Tony Haschem Deep Stack today. At $330 for a Bounty Tourney with 30 minute blinds its another good value tournament. Hats off to PokerStars for backing the ANZPT.

Friday, April 16, 2010

ANZPT Event 1 - short lived

Reflective of my short lifespan in Event 1, I'll restrict my update to a very disappointing single hand. Starting stack 10k, dropped to 9k, clawed back to 11k, elderly gentleman joins table with 15k to my left, guy to my right says watch this guy bleed off his chips. Sure enough, his 15k was soon 7k.

I get dealt AQs UTG+1. Had been relatively tight to this point and with blinds of 50/100 I made it 600 to go. Only 1 caller, elderly gentleman to my left. Flop AJ5r. Decided to get a few extra chips, so checked, gentleman bets 600 and I min-raise to 1200 expecting to take it down. He min-re-raises to 1800, I call. Bugga, he has a strong hand, probably AK or AJ but maybe a set. Turn brings a Q, happy days.

At this point, Dan Harrington is ringing in my ears. He says that it is worth taking chances earlier against fish because the chips are easier to get off them than it will be later from the shark who would otherwise end up with his chips. So I bet 1800. He raised to 4000 which was effectively AI and I pushed in the rest to put him AI. Needless to say, I was crippled when he showed me JJ.

An hour later, I'd doubled up with a nice squeeze play, gone AI against a shortstack QQ vs AA and very next hand decided to push what little I have left in the middle with 44 to find consecutive AA and exit stage left. All in all, very disappointing.

Stepping back, I have been running good and am now even more revved up for the PLO Event on Monday.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Two semi-interesting spots late at night and tired.

I hope that I haven’t used up all of my good luck just before the ANZPT which starts here in Sydney tomorrow, because I ran pretty well last night. My first outing was our local pub league which has introduced a $55 High Rollers Event on a Tuesday night. I was leading the Skill Leaderboard (Main Leaderboard includes multiple other donkaments that I don’t play in) as I play infrequently but have been lucky enough to win twice this month. Last night, I played pretty solid to get into second with 24 runners. Heads up was short when I shoved with TT second hand to a limp and was insta-called by JJ, relatively equal in chips. Ten on the flop was definitely very welcome and provided for the usual groans from the gallery only to be subsumed by the cheering that accompanied the J on the river. Best hand won, no complaints.

Then the action really began with a last minute home game arranged. 9 runners turned up and all bought $100 stacks to play 50c/$1 blinds and casino rules. Long story short, the bet sizing was pretty aggressive. $5 was a common initial bet, 3-bets to $16 weren’t uncommon and there was probably an AI clash every 1 to 2 orbits. I lost my first stack when my 77 ran into 9T on an 78J board on the 4th hand. No cooler here, to be honest, I was lucky not to be in a set over set scenario given the play. $25 in middle, $10, $10, I limp knowing I’m ahead of these two and happy to keep it 3-way, internet kid makes it $35 I think, fold, fold and I shoved my other $65 hoping to pair the board because getting a double stack early in these home games has its own implied equity, I think. Against this particular player I am always up against 9T, JJ or 88 here which I knew at the time. We ran it out 3 times and he won all 3. Replaying the decision in my head, it should have been an easy fold and just topped up.

Fast forward to last 5 hands of the evening and I’ve given over 1 hour notice of my departure time 2am at which point I declared 2 more orbits with a $250 stack from a $200 buy in. UTG and UTG+1 are both loose and straddled $5 and $10. First to act folds and I’ve got A8s. Seems like a reasonable isolating hand on the short stacked re-straddler (or pick up $17) so I make it $50. Folded around and we do indeed get HU as he chucks in $50 to call. Flop misses me as expected but I’m in position. LAG counts his remaining stack $63 and puts it in the middle AI. Across the table says “you’re sick, you haven’t even looked yet”. LAG says that he has, but it’s obvious to me that he probably hasn’t. I replayed my peripheral vision as best I could in my head and sure enough I was 100% sure that he hadn’t. Without running a simulator – do you think that I should call in this spot knowing that his range is a random hand?

Needless to say given that I’m running good, I won the hand and now find myself a couple of hands later with $355 in 5 neat piles ready for cashing out. Last hand, pocket AA. Happy days (maybe). I threw in my spare $5 to even up my stack and tempt someone to try and take Caro up on his advice, paraphrasing, “make them break their psychologically locked in chips to confirm real strength or force marginal hands to fold”. Alas, no-one raised and I’m 4-way to the flop, OOP. KJ7r, could be better, could be worse. I now have 4 piles and took the half pile of $50 and over-bet the pot to find out where I was at. Fold, fold, other loose player from before, call! Bugga, I’m now none the wiser, probably ahead to top pair. Turn 9s, now the TQ gets there and a back door flush draw appears. Ah well, if I check, he bets always. So as we’re both deep, this may be a bet/re-evaluate situation. This particular player, I’m probably getting it in if he shoves but I’ll factor in reads. What can only be described as a tentative suspicious call could have been worse, could have been better again. A 2h blank on the river was very welcome, but now what to do? $200 in front, $500 in the pot. Biggest hand of the night, very last hand. AA on a board of KdJc7d9s2h. What do you recommend and why?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Online : The training ground for live

Long ago, I realised that I would never make it as an online pro. Thankfully, I've been able to comfort myself with the challenge of staying a winning player, even if it is only a few dollars. Then came PLO and I ran good early (as I've since found out). These days, I am struggling to keep my head above water at PLO100 but just managing too which has always been my goal. Still waiting for the influx of new players to the game which seems to be more of a trickle and the more experienced players. I must say that the standard has got noticeably better over the last 6 months and the CardRunner-type 3-bet aggression has well and truly come to the fore after what was a very passive old school style until recently at the lower stakes.

What has improved with PLO is my thinking about poker in general and this has undoubtedly help improve my offline play. My home games continue to be lucrative beyond what I think can be considered positive variance. That said, the number of hands I will play live in my lifetime is unlikely to exceed the 100k that is needed to be confident in PLO of being a winning player.

I dipped my toes back into pub poker with better results. If you can't beat them, join them, so I take a lot more aggressive lines early in the tourney. Go hard or go home. Luckily, Ive been running good when it matters.

I invested ($12) in Poker Income for my iPhone to track my Live results and the graph is very positive indeed. In BB/100 it is probably well over 100 for the last 60 hours of record keeping. My roll is up to the point where I can comfortably go to the casino within my BR and drop a few BIs if need be and reload. Not playing with scared money is very liberating indeed.

Finally, I am looking forward to the ANZPT which rolls into Sydney this week. I've registered for 3 x $330 tourneys at this stage. Will be disappointed if I get sucked out on early in the PLO, otherwise, I'm just going to give it my best shot to win the $2200 required for a Main Event ticket. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mixed up online poker tournaments

The surreal non-union marketeer plot could be watched from the Permanent Onlooker Unit, overlooking the Permanent Inner Lookout.

Sheepishly he sat sat there in his dressing gown, playing his unrepentant kimono role with his unrepentant merino look and permanent inner outlook. With every pot won, his Sisters of Mercy caoch displayed restrained poker nun mentor elation.

Phil Hellmutt, the newly signed Onion poker mule entrant, knew the value of umpteen notional kroner in an online poker tournament of this magnitude. However, without his hole card view, the power of his crazy chip was gone as his penultimate neon kronor fell to Mike and Adam's goading. "Look, Reunion Entrapment" they screamed as he was felted.

It just goes to show that online poker nouns matter as much as innovation in viral marketing where souls are souled!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Luck vs Skill - poker provides the ultimate balance

In Australia, we have a game called Two-up that is played on ANZAC Day in memory of the Diggers that fought in Gallipoli in Turkey during World War 1. The game was extremely popular with the troops and was simply a case of having a spinner that would toss two or three coins with everyone around in a circle placing bets with each other on Heads or Tails (a tie was a respin). That's gambling and it's purest and was extremely popular with large sums wagered. In theory, no-one had an advantage or a disadvantage.

Now let's look at Chess. The best player almost always wins. Hence, you run out of opponents willing to play for money pretty quickly in your local neighbourhood if you are World Champion.

Backgammon, is a game of skill whereby the dice "deceives" less capable players in the short term into thinking that there is more luck involved in the game than skill. Over the long run though, the skill element comes to the fore and the best players bubble up to the top. That said, the losing players often extract so much enjoyment from the game that it can far outweigh any modest loses that they make.

But how much skill is there in poker? It's easy to learn but impossible to master with an enormous amount of applied knowledge required if you are committed to reaching the top of the pyramid; which is why poker is clearly a game of skill.

In my opinion, the ideal combination of skill and luck exists. As for the most important skill? Without a doubt, game selection. Invest with your head, not over it. If you are a losing player, try dropping to 1c/2c and working your way up when you KNOW that you are winning at any particular level. You'll be very surprised how difficult it is to win at even these levels but the experience will serve you well at every subsequent level.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Crazy Chip

Dedicated to everyone who has posted a hand history or a graph on 2+2 ... enjoy!

Variance - love it or hate it?

PLO VARIANCE IS BRUTAL! From being on top of the world in terms of my poker results, I played a series of sessions where my AI EV line stayed positive but my bankroll took a severe hit. I handed back almost 50% of my recent gains in a couple of big hands where I got my money in good.

Thankfully last night I arrested the slide with my confidence pretty low. I won a big hand 3-way for $250 in a FR PLO100 game and then a few hands later won another stack when we both got it in with AA** and I hit my flush. Less than an orbit later, I had the nuts on the Turn when an idiot str8 filled and I got potted into. It was such a confusing board, it took me a second to confirm I had the nutz before shoving. He folded which was emotionally confusing for me. I knew I had the nuts so I want a call, right? Nope, logically if he calls we tie on that board so the fold was way better.

HEM and experience are helping me ride what is an unbelievable emotional rollercoaster. If you are going to concentrate on PLO I strongly suggest keeping a close eye on AIEV to keep tabs on how you are really playing. For me it is a wake up call that after a couple of years of trying hard not to be results oriented, it is very much a work in progress. Also, I had become fairly objective and unemotional to results but after a brutal stretch I found myself cursing my luck.

Taking a few steps back, it is clear that in the live arena, it will be virtaully impossible for the wave of players transitioning to PLO to really know if they are long term winning players or not for many, many years. Needless to say, 95% of us won't be. An opportunity well worth pursuing for those of us that missed the heady days of Party Poker in 2003.

PS Another thanks to Jeff Hwang, when I was struggling, I was still very confident that I was playing solidly thanks to his clear guidance on how to play. It really does help if you're trying to knuckle down and grind.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A big thank you to Jeff Hwang

My chart on PTR is a V-shape and the bottom of the V is about 3 days after I bought Jeff Hwang's first book on PLO. I've raved about the Advanced book before but in truth it was beyond me at that time. In fact, it has been a while since I picked it up because the first one is so good for teaching you solid big play poker.

I think that I'm running good and my results are great. I even made it into the PTR Top Winners yesterday. The confidence has also spilled over into my live game where results in local pub chip chops, Friday night home games and even the casino have all been positive. My losing sessions would certainly be below 20%. It won't last so this is really just a note to myself for posterity. In the bad times, I'll be able to look back and think that I had one of the games nailed, if only for a fleeting week or two.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What's been happening?

A long time between posts! I'm not sure if I will continue blogging as regularly because it is just so time-comsuming and the regular updates tend to be so variance biased.

Having had the opportunity to reflect on a summer of poker, I must say that it has been a good one, the highlight being a home game in Whistler when I was skiing. A well run game with a mix of locals and regular visitors. I have met so many great people through poker.

I've been running good in our own home games which are definitely getting tougher. Similarly, played yesterday in a pub game that is now attracting internet kids chasing the easy money and consequently tougher. Pleased to report that I'm still a regular winner thanks to online volume primarily.

Online, I lost my shirt on Rush Poker. It's hard to tell if it is variance and I did seem to run extremely badly but that many BIs lost can't be all variance, surely.

4-tabling PLO100 FR is my game of choice these days and after "investing" in experiential learning, I invested on Jeff Hwang's two books on the subject which I can't recommend highly enough. My chart was down at an angle of 30 degrees until the books flicked it right up at 30 degrees almost overnight. The secret, play tighter, D'oh!

Live, I'm looking forward to the ANZPT but will miss out on Adelaide. May try to make it over to Perth and then give Sydney a real go buying into a few of the events.

In summary, Bankroll continues to grow and the game is providing me with more fun than ever before.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Theory and Practice

In theory there should be no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is a lot.

I've not long finished reading Tommy Angelo's book where one of the most important take aways from me should be his original advice which is to lop of your C game. By consistently lopping off what is then your C game, your game will improve.

When I landed in Canada, I picked up Jeff Hwang's first book PLO The Big Play Strategy. In retrospect, whilst his advanced book opened my eyes to so many valuable concepts, there was so much that I didn't understand about the game that it is no wonder that I am still a losing player after 30K hands. That said, I have a lot more of the theory and have the experience of having made a lot of the mistakes. So hopefully the future will be promising. If only I could lop off that C (or even D) game ...

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Currently in Whistler for a couple of weeks where the snow is phenomenal but the visibility poor. A forced rest day today when the weather closed almost all of the lifts. Sun is due out at the weekend so fingers crossed I'll manage to stay injury free for the WBCOOP the week after which will bring this PLO cashy out of Tourney hibernation.

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! The WBCOOP is a free online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers, so register on WBCOOP to play.

Registration code: 784915