Saturday, June 11, 2005


I Think Too Much (I Think ...)

Or at least I worry too much, definitely. If this is what I'm like when I already have a job that pays about 60% more than I need, I'd probably be a nervous wreck as a poker pro :-). Limit Hold-em may not be for me - $200 down playing 5000 hands of $1-2 is starting to move outside the realms of fluctuation and into sucktuation. I do seem to attract the most horrendous beats and situations - I typed one in there but I feel better now so I've deleted it again. But never mind, that's hardly the only game in town and in fact I have even won a small amount through the bonuses.

What I should do is just play what I want to play when I want to play it, make sure I'm picking up bonuses/rakeback/added money, concentrate on making good decisions and let the final score take care of itself. There is a lot of added money around in tournaments at the moment. I'm not going to tell you about the biggest gold-mines but tonight I did enter the Cryptologic 6-pack tournament. This has 3 guaranteed $12K prizes, and the prize consists of 3 consecutive WSOP entries - $2K, $5K short-handed and $3K from memory, plus $2K cash and free accomodation. Very tasty, and with 3 chances instead of one I think it would be easier to play properly out there if you won it. No one's going to fold AA pre-flop in the Big One whatever crap they might talk on forums, but going out there to play just one event will push you towards folding marginal +EV spots which isn't going to help. Anyway tonight there were only 150 runners giving an overlay of about $100 per head. I wasn't very happy when I was crippled with AA v KJs all-in pre flop (sorry but I wasn't) and exited soon after. If you can get out there on short notice (which I can't) do have a look at that next Saturday.

The tournament added money is classic uneatable value if you can't manage to place. I note that I have cashed 0/19 since returning from Vegas and so the combined overlay of $680 remains uneaten. Never mind, it's not as though I'm going broke. Speaking of not going broke, which is just about everyone's aim when they hit the WSOP whatever they tell you, nice to see the good guys cashing in out there. Professor Duvall notched a great result in the Omaha Hi-Lo, 3rd/699 (699 runners for Omaha Hi-Lo !!) for $77K. I'm sure Jeff is sensible enough not to walk around like his dog's been run over just because he didn't win, like some of them do. Bushy notched $25K at the Palms and the top diarists bar none, Dr. Channing and The Camel are staying ahead of the game thanks to their specialties of Second Chance Tournaments and Monster On-line Heads Up Matches respectively. I don't know if it counts as winning money in Vegas if you do it online in your hotel room - I suppose it all counts anyway !

I refuse to believe that you can't beat $1-$2.

Possibility 1: You are suffering a bad run. It happens.

Possibility 2: You are playing well enough to win, but at the wrong level. In other words, some of your plays are too subtle for $1-$2. I consider this rather likely.

Possibility 3: You are playing too many hands for value and too few from "strength". By this I mean, say you have 76s on the button, and there are 4 callers before you. Obviously you are getting equity here. So you call. You hit a 4-flush and see bets on flop and turn. And you miss. Too many of these, and you are soon in a hole.

So, what are the solutions? It would be nice to see your %vol put in pot, %raise and %won when seeing flop.

But, at a guess, try the following tactic during the early evening. It's very simple, because my rules have to be simple for me to remember them.

1) Do not enter any pot for value. Only enter a pot which you have every intention of winning. When you enter a pot (which will usually be with a raise), consider any flop that you hit to be a help.

With luck, of your three or four opponents pre-flop, two will drop on the flop and the remainder will drop on the turn. If they don't, then try to spike a lucky card on the river.

The only time you do not play as if the flop is exactly what you wanted, is when the flop is exactly what you wanted.

Also, try to keep the way you are playing as secret as possible for as long as possible. Enter few pots. Look like a rock. If your raise with KJoff 1 otb with three previous callers ends up with something like Kxxxx on the river, but you think that you might be up against a better king, so you are tempted to check in last position, DO NOT DO SO. You must bet for value, because if your opponent folds, you have maintained your tight image. As soon as your rogue raise is spotted, go elsewhere.

Remember, you are not looking to promote the image of an agressive semi-maniac. You want people to think that you enter few pots, but that when you do, you are very strong. Most of the time, this gets them to lay their hand down before a showdon.

None of this applies late Friday night, when there is one rule. Get the best hand at the end.

Thanks Pete that's great stuff. I find it hard to believe myself but there's little arguing with the results. Frankly I think it's a bit of Possibility 1 and a fair bit of Poss 3.

At $1-2 (this is all 6-handed) I have

%VPIP 14.6%
Raise pre-flop 10.2%
%Won WSF 34.3% (which sounds awfully low now I think about it)

Important question : does your proposed strategy apply to 6-handed, 10-handed or both ?

I'm going to try to answer that myself first - it could work on either, but would be a bit less effective 6-handed because people are used to opponents playing very aggressively.

I forgot that you were playing 6-handed, and my general point had related to a full ring game. But, looking at your numbers. Jeez. I have a higher VPIP, a higher WWSF and a higher percentage of raises in ring games. You are just being blinded to death through inactivity here.

I'm no 6-handed specialist, but, taking the view that it's roughly like the 10-handed game, except that four people have folded before you, try the following as an experiment.

First in UTG: Raise with KJ , K9s or better, A8, A6s or better, QJs, any pair 5s and above. Never slowplay the big pairs. Raise with them.

First in MP1. Move down to KT, K8s, A7, A5s, QTs, 4s or better.

First in CO1: Include T9s, T8s, JT, any pair, A5 or better, Axs, K6s or better, K9.

First in Button: Any ace, any king, anything that looks pretty.

Defending Blinds:

Harder to be specific, because it depends on the aggressiveness of opponents. Personally, I'd rather fold an ace than come in as dominated hand. Defend with hands that will be easy to get away from on flop. Against potential stealers, flat call with any ace, KT and above, KQ. Then bet out on flop.

Unless you have absolute premium hands in the blinds, I tend to avoid battels. By reraising, you are starting a battle that is likely to go to the end. By flat-calling and betting the flop (any flop), you allow the raiser to fold with less loss of face.

2) When there are previous limpers:

A raise on the button with 2 previous limpers can often win the blinds and two single bets with little trouble. It's not so easy with one limper, because people will be less likely to believe your hand. With one limper, NEVER LIMP AS WELL. You will either end up being in a family pot out of position, or being raised behind you (and out of position). Remember, you are only entering pots you have ebery intention of winning. So either throw your hand away (the smaller suited connectors) or raise in an attempt to get it heads up or between you, the limper, and a blind defender.

6-handed I'd expect to see at least a 15% raise frequency from you, possibly more. And about a 35% to 45% win when seeing flop. I'd expect about a 22% or thereabouts VPIP figure. If you can manage 22% VPIP, 14% raise, 37% win when seeing flop, then you will be in the black. Don't worry about the percentage of hands won when you go to a showdown. For a start, there shouldn't be a lot of these. But if there are, 42% to 47% is fine. You will more than make up for your losses here by your wins that do not go to showdown. And, paradoxically, your aggression can cause the size of your loss when it goes wrong to be less. Because if you are showing confidence against a couple of opponents, you have a "protected" pot. If just one of them were against you, they might reraise, but they are also worried about the other caller. So you often get two callers rather than one raiser. So you put in one less bet for the same potential return. Nice when you spike a winner at the end...
Does Mr/Dr Channing have a Phd or are you just being affectionate?

What to do when you are reraised behind:

If it happens occasionally, call the reraise and see the flop. Check blind. Fold if you miss, check-raise if you hit.

If it happens too often, find another game. You do not want battles to the end. You want to win uncontested pots on the flop or turn.

If you are raised on the flop or check-raised on the flop: Opponent probably has mediocre pair. If you have overcards to top card, or a gutshot and backdoor flush, or some kind of opportunity like this, three-bet it. Otherwise, fold like a gentlemen (but only after dwelling up for a couple of seconds....)

That last bit of advice arrived 0.1 seconds before I raised UTG with KJ, was reraised, called, and check-raised the flop of KKA. So that's how you do it :-). Took down 8 big bets and didn't even have to show my hand !

This feels good, it feels totally different to what I was doing before (usually auto-betting the flop and shutting down on the turn if I hadn't hit by then) so I will spin it up.


If you've never read "The Unusual Suspects" do try to find it. It might be in the Mob forum archives. One of their brilliant characterisations was of Neil as a Victorian Doctor who would diagnose the murder victims while giving odds on their fate. I still think of him as Dr. Channing even if no one else does.

Here are my numbers FWIW - I have taken the last 20k hands played at 5-10 six-handed on Party:
VPIP% = 35%
PFR = 19%
WON WSF = 38%

I think mine show a very different approach to you two - I think I'm ok with my figures. VPIP looks suspiciously high but I defend that by claiming that its a winning style when you have sought out the right table.

Anyone know what conventional figures should look like??
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