Thursday, June 26, 2008


Regression To The Mean

PLO8 no good (don't start me off about what happened in that one), and single tables no good either. As it happens I just can't play too many of the latter without wanting to go on a killing spree, what with the whining about saving chips and making deals interspersed with losing every single pre-flop allin. This leaves me 1/15 in the tournaments and 1/17 in the single tables ; fortunately the latter was a scoop, especially as it was the only one I've managed to get heads up in.

But what kind of a sample is this, really ? Just the MTTs, played 15 at about 5 hours each on average, at a guess, is around 2200 hands. Single tables would be about another 5-600, if that. 3K hands max - it's nothing. That's less than 3 sessions online for me. I'm hardly going to read too much into anything that happens in 3 sessions online, it's just another week.

Even if someone's playing every tournament they can, the sample size is so laughably small that reading anything into it whatsoever seems completely pointless. But of course we have legions of people hanging around whose very job it is to do just that, so it's all Year Of The Pro and what a great series Oleg Bucknoleg is having, etc etc.

Funnily enough this never occurred to me last year, or in Tunica 18 months ago :-). And in fact over the three trips I'm running well above expectation, something like +150% ROI. Which should make me feel a bit better, and I suppose it does. If it wasn't for the fact that the $1500 HORSE and the Limit Shootout (if only for sentimental reasons) are two tournaments I really want to play, I'd change my flight and slope back home, but in the event I'll just hang out for another week and play those, plus Stud 8 tomorrow. I'm not going to miss the ME for a second though, you're all welcome to that one.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Fixing The Holes

Played two more standard $1500 donkaments, without much to report. In each case I busted on a thin call, although it wasn't as though I had a ton of chips - both times it was for around 2700 at 100-200. The first call on the river was thin bad ; the second was probably thin good, at least it was pre flop so I had a shot.

I'm having serious problems with concentration and patience. I've found it difficult to suddenly "switch on" for a key pot and all too often my arm is throwing the chips in before I've really thought about it. There was an interesting thread about table chat on 2+2 recently, a lot of people said you should be paying attention to pick up tells, profile your opponents, manipulate their moods, etc, but then sheets, whose posts I have come to respect a great deal lately, said that it's all just too distracting, and any tells or inducements you get from talk just aren't worth it. I find myself agreeing.

So I jammed the headphones on and tried my best to play one hand at a time and not worry about anything else in the mixed limit/no-limit event yesterday. It helped that I could just rock up in the NL because a) there were no antes and b) there was a limit round every half hour in which I had a decent edge. I peaked at 9K before losing a flip AK < TT and then TT was outflopped by 33 in a key limit pot against the same guy. At least my focus was a lot better in this comp. I might not play any more NL comps, that still leaves PLO8, Stud 8, HORSE and limit Shootout to be winding down with.

The mixed event was funny in that suddenly, out of nowhere, it became a cavalcade of the stars ! In order of bustout we had Devilfish, Dario Minieri, Carlos Mortenson (who I didn't recognise at first as he's lost so much weight), Kenny Tran, Joe Hachem (unbearably smug) and Noah Boaken. Noah was the only one who outlasted me, and certainly played as well as any of the others, albeit Dario and Kenny both got coolered and weren't there very long.

Finally there was one lol donkaments moment. A complete egg sat down next to me and started sucking up to Hachem. "Where have you been Joe, living the high life ?". Hachem just grins. "Well, " says the egg in complete sincerity, "you deserve it".

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Pep Talk

I just wanted to post something on here as a reminder. I was playing well in the Stud last night until I completely lost my focus and made three really thoughtless plays. At 200-400 and 300-600, these cost me 2400 chips (four bets lost, one bet not won), in an event where we only started with 3K ! That's giving yourself a mountain to climb. Having a drink with The Camel afterwards he was talking about players like John Juanda and JC Tran who are totally focussed when they're playing a hand, and begrudge giving up every single chip. That's what I need to approach. My job today, in the $1500 NL, is to concentrate on every hand I play and concentrate generally for as much of the time as possible.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Unlimited Hold Them

Four NL tournaments on the spin, and I think I’m playing better as I go along, but no joy in terms of cashing. First up, the $1500 donkament on Saturday which was capped at 2700 runners. I basically flipped my way up to 10K, plus one double up flopping a straight in the BB in an unraised pot, before busting to JR Bellande last hand before the break. Playing 100-200/25, I made it 650 in the CO with AhJh, Bellande reraised to 2K from the SB and I felt that given the last-hand-before-the-break dynamic, the 4-bet shove was the play (despite my previous promise to avoid marginal pre-flop allins). He called with KK, IGHN, even with 14 outs on the turn.

When I posted this on 2+2 the consensus was “he’s a lagtard, shove ldo”, but my own read on the day was that he wasn’t going to get out of line for all his chips, so who knows. It was probably a flat-out gamble. If he passes 40% of his hands it’s OK, and this may be about right.

Sunday was the $3K which was a noticeably tougher field. However, with some patience I was up to 14K from 6K soon enough. Mike Gracz called my 40BB effective 4-bet from the CO with his AJ, and my JJ held up. I was surprised to see the hand when he called but maybe he was just trying to gamble it up and get chips or play the $10K limit. Another guy threw his last 2K at me with Q high vs. my KK, I trapped someone for 3K more with AA and I was in good shape. Annoyingly though I lost 10K with top two on the turn against a set, although if I didn’t make 2 pair on the turn I’d probably have lost the same anyway. Standard short-stackery from there, won a flip but lost a resteal to bust with 33 < 77.

Yesterday I got off to a great start in the $2500 6-handed, flopping QJT with AK in the very first hand. Unfortunately, the A on the turn scared him off his JT. I also took my share of the table egg’s stack as he busted out inside half an hour. After that the play was pretty solid, I moved to 9K high point by bluffing Maria Ho on the river, but maybe got a bit carried away and dusted off 2500 check-raising a low flush draw on the turn and having to fold to his re-shove. Back to 5K playing 100-200 and lost a completely standard AK < AA, what can you do. Try again I suppose.

Finally today in the $1500 donkament, this was the first time I’ve really seen how soft these can be, given a good draw. I had the most passive table in earth history to start with, doubled up with quads and the old allin overbet on the river, and was licking my lips waiting for the antes to start when the table broke five minutes before that point. Marvellous. The next two tables were a bit tougher, but still with plenty of people who couldn’t shortstack properly. I called an active player’s allin with A8s and held off his 76s to move up to 8K and after that I do believe I hardly showed a hand in 5 hours, except the odd blind v blind check down. During that time I picked up exactly no premium hands. Finally with M5 I called a small raise in the BB with J6s, getting about 7-2 preflop, happily check-called the J92 flop allin, and was shown 99. IGHN. Standard play IMO, if I don’t flop I just get rid and if I do I almost invariably pick up one more bet and am ahead of his range.

Despite dusting off $8500 in those 4 tournaments I feel ok about it. My play definitely improved as the days went by, I was more patient and if you do just stay patient in these things with more than 25 BB, good things will happen. Then when you’re below that point it’s pretty random but I’m still better than 90% of the field and just as good as the rest with these stacks in these tournaments. So it’s back to the Stud tomorrow and then we may have one or two days off, depending.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Donking It Up

Had a good run in the $3K HORSE over the last couple of days, finishing up in 26th for $6200. The only thing duller than NL hand histories is limit HHs, so I'll spare you the details, but it was an interesting tournament, quite a mix of donks and decent players, but very noticeable how the donks thinned out in the later stages. There's only so many times you can go runner-runner for half the pot. Who did I play against, Jennifer Harman for quite a while (tough combination of good and lucky), Justin Bonomo, the chick who won the chickament (not bad if a bit of a rock), Tom Schneider (played a lot of unbelievably bad-looking O8 starting hands but who am I to judge), Vanessa Rousso (I have an 8 in Razz - oh no wait, it's a Jack-Ten) and probably a few others I've forgotten.

I had 50K chips after winning a big Razz pot against Schneider but lost two Razz flips and one Stud flip, pretty much, to bust out. The limits were very high and for most players left it was a case of win two hands in a row monster stack, or lose two in a row busto. I'm the first to criticise myself if I play badly but I think I played very well in this one and was happy with getting into position for a big score, sometimes that's all you can do. On my way out I saw the guy who had been sitting on my right and busted 10 minutes before me, and he could barely talk he was so disappointed. He wasn't a young guy either, prob in his fifties.

Anyway, seeing as that also saved me $2K by making day 2 and not playing on Thursday, that was an $8K swing compared to the worst case, which still doesn't get me out of it of course, but it is damage control to an extent. Onwards and upwards, $1500 NL/$3K NL/$2500 6-handed/$2K NL/$1500 Stud bring it on.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Drawing A Blank

Where are we, 0/5 in tournaments now and 0/10 in single tables. System working well, send more money. Since the last update :

$1500 Limit : Worked up to about 6K (from starting stack 3), but lost a big chunk with 99 v JJ in a three-way pot and couldn't recover.

$1500 Shootout : Made a possibly dodgy limp-shove, here's how it went down : 25-50, two limpers, I limped in the small blind with AQ and I really don't want to build a pot out of position with this hand. Big blind bets 375 into the 200 pot with about 1800 behind. I think my only options here are fold and allin, and maybe fold was better. He called my jam with AK, and I was unable to recover from 1K. One interesting snippet, Ian Frazer was on my table. Eddie Hearn was on the next one and when he pointed out the draw, Frazer said "that's alright, I know how he plays". Normally I'd put this down to bravado but in the event Frazer commentated on my semi-final in the Party thing so, having seen all my cards for 4 hours, he probably does know. So I wasn't going to reraise him light but we never got involved anyway.

$2K Limit : Some tough opponents here. To start with Jan Sjavik, who is one of the best limit tournament players I know, and Alex Kravchenko who was decent. As the weaker spots dropped out they were replaced with players like HossTBF (Full Tilt nosebleed cash player), David Baker (made the final in the Shootout last year), Derek8 (Stars TLB leader who could clearly play) and a couple of others who were 100-200 regs at least. I touched 5K max but ended up in a capped pot pre with KK v JJ v AQ (cap is 5 bets, JJ tried to make it 6 pre lol and AQ called everything pre). Flop AQx and I escaped for a raise, although I should have taken one more off for the size of the pot. JJ called all the way, the egg. Drainage after that and I was crippled with AT losing to Hoss's K6 and finally K9s < 22 for the scratch.

Oh well, it's only internet dollars. $3K HORSE today and, if I don't make Day 2 in that, $2K NL tomorrow. That starts a run of 5 NL tournaments (one 6-max the others all standard), in which I shall try to be a little more patient with committal pre-flop plays and see where that takes me.

Friday, June 06, 2008


What We Have Learned So Far

Firstly, today it really wouldn't have taken long to find out how loose the table was just by observation. It's nice to come out firing straight away sometimes, but against a bunch of unknowns with a 60BB starting stack, as we saw it only takes two hands of raise/cbet/fold and there's a quarter of your stack gone. I could have given it 10 minutes before trying to be the table captain.

Secondly, I don't think my limping strategy with 20BBs was correct. Even in the first level, once I found out the score I was limping and trying to flop in a few hands. In a situation where you don't want to be heads up with a total calling station who won't respect the c-bet (especially out of position), it's best (especially with Ace-big) to raise smaller, try to engineer a 3 or 4 way pot, and then full steam ahead when you flop good, check/fold when you don't. I did play a couple of 3-way pots with AK in the first level, which is going to be very profitable over time with this line-up, I just missed them both. With the AJs it would have been better to make it 250, which is still liable to be called in 2 or 3 spots, and then play for stacks on a good flop. This is fine with 20BBs when the downside of a cooler flop is much less. Deeper, you don't need to do this because just folding the flop costs you less compared to what you can win, and also you’re giving people implied odds with the small raise. It’s more or less an SPR (Stack/Pot ratio) thing, like in that 2+2 Professional NL book. Anyway, in the event, having limped, I couldn't really complain that the button flopped trips when it could just as easily have been the blinds.

In effect, this leads to a “Plan B” style of play. Plan A is normal sort of TAG, like I played in the $2K on a tight table. Larger open-raises, smaller auto c-bets and take more than our share when we miss the flop. In a looser game, and with smaller stacks, the emphasis shifts from winning more pots to making pots larger when you win them. This is done by, paradoxically at first, raising smaller pre-flop and hoping to pick up more than one caller. Now, if we hit the flop 1 in 3 (with at least 2 callers), even if we play completely straightforwardly and never get any action on a hit, we’re breaking even. When we do hit, there are more opponents to either catch a second best hand or just call us with some garbage because that’s what they do. When we miss, we can check-fold with more confidence that this is the right play.

This has to be carefully weighed against stack sizes. The optimum is about 30BB. Say it’s 50-100 and we have 3K chips. Raise to 250, get 2 callers, the pre-flop pot is around 800 and SPR is 4. Now we can commit with top pair and if someone donked into two pair or better (or donks into it on later streets), then we don’t mind because they wouldn’t have had implied odds pre-flop. In my AJ v 84 case, if anyone had called 8% of stacks pre flop and then hit J44, fine, keep trying that. And they might well have done, the geezer who had the 84 in the event was only still in because he called 20% pre with 98o and hit trips with that (against two opponents who both made top pair). That’s the kind of luck some of these guys need just to keep up.

A corollary to all this is that we don’t want to blast people out of the pot pre-flop with big hands, whether paired or unpaired, by reraising. One hand I didn’t mention below was when I had AA in the blinds, facing a cut-off raise. I made it 650 out of my 2K stack in order to set up a flop jam. But there was really no need to do that. I could have just called, SPR around 5, and let him hang himself. When people are doing horrible things like overbetting 2x pot and calling down with third pair no kicker when there are 4 hearts on board, you want to see flops with them. And when the stacks are relatively short like this there’s absolutely no reason not to.

One point to note about the Hansen book, which is all about the "Plan A" style of taking down a lot of uncontested pots, albeit you would hardly call it TAG, is that he pretty much always (I don't have it to hand right now) had more than 50BB in his stack. I wonder if Gus would play differently with less than 30. I suspect he'd actually be jamming and re-jamming a lot rather than trying to do what I'm saying above, but it would at least be interesting.

Thirdly and finally, after all that, a penny suddenly dropped when I was playing an STT just now as to how I used to play these things before I put so much time in online. There's next to no point trying to steal blinds until you're short enough to pushbot. Wait for your hands, try to get them paid off by keeping people in for the flop, mix in the odd re-jam with a medium pair, and just push push push when the blinds are high. I went out of another one this evening with AT blind vs button 25 BB deep when I just couldn't bring myself to fold it to a button raise, and ended up allin v AK again, skjdnfksjdhb. It's a different game. Fold and outplay them later, lol. Just for once, that's pretty close to correct.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


$1500 6-handed (yes, already)

Grosssssss. Lost 25% of my chips on the first two hands dealt, raise/c-bet/fold. As if that wasn’t enough, once I saw someone call a bet on a board of KhTh7h4h with 7c2c, and win, it became apparent that bluffing was not much of an option on this table. So it was really a case of finding/hitting a hand and getting paid because no one ever folded. Well that’s not true ; they did fold twice, once when I flopped broadway and once when I had Aces pre. I somehow still had 1900 when we went to 50-100, and figured that limping pre with the intention of either getting paid if I flop or limp/reraising would be the best bet. So I do, AdJd, button and blinds call. Flop J44, so obviously I’m concerned about one of the blinds having a 4. Bet the flop, button and SB (72 boy from before) call. Turn 9, and now I have a decent read that the SB doesn’t have a 4, so I’m basically good. You can see where this is going. I skilfully manipulate the pot to get allin on the river, and the button calls me with 84s. To table : good luck guys. To self : because you will fucking need it.

One positive from this, although it may sound odd, I was pretty disappointed to bust so early. You can't let it get you down, especially out here, but a lot of the time I just walk away whistling and I'm not disappointed enough. Having a strong desire to do well really helps keep you motivated live, and I seem to have that at the moment.



This post shouldn't contain anything new, I'd just like to remind myself because I do have to change my playing mentality as quickly as possible. Basically the resteal play is just so much less of a factor in live play. I should only be restealing about the best 50% of the situations in which I would resteal online, and similarly should only be calling a possible resteal in the best 50% (or so) of situations where I would call online.

I mentioned the 44 hand yesterday which was too thin given the raiser's position (3 off the button) and my own position (cut-off). There was also a hand in an STT a couple of days ago where I had been fairly active and the villain had already reraise/folded pre-flop once, but even so I made the wrong call. Briefly, I raised ATo on the button from 25BB, he reraised to 10BB from a larger stack and I shipped it in. Not only did he insta-call with AK, he sort of gave me a "wtf was that" look. With 15BB the (effective) call would have been fine, or with this stack and a pair 88+, but as it was it was a poor play on my part. I had 2.5x my starting stack and plenty of scope to keep playing and pushbot effectively as the blinds increased.

I might be one of the few people who needs to actually slow down in STTs. They are much more of a pushbotting game than a restealing game. I know it's still a ridic small sample, but after wiping out in these last year and going 0/4 without ever threatening so far this time, I may need to just re-adjust to these. If I do, there's no reason why I can't make it work. I played one last night featuring the single worst player I've ever seen in a $500 poker game of any kind. He crippled me by calling 10% pre with 42s, flopping a flush draw + pair and rivering a backdoor straight. Then he doubled me back up twice by opening for 10BB with KJs and KT respectively and having to call my KK reraises. It was a comedy STT, I picked up AA twice, KK twice and AK twice ; and busted out on the first hand of level 3.

Neil gave some very good advice in his latest Pokerverdict blog, as follows :

"the secret is to not panic, realise that the other players are truly terrible, and that you'll soon get paid on your hands, and just to wait for good things to happen without wasting chips trying to push it. "

That was the case when I chipped up to 12K in the tournament yesterday ; if I had slowed it down from that point, especially with the 44, I might have saved enough chips to give myself a chance of a comeback.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Let Us Gogogogogo

Off and running today, as much in exasperation at the lack of $500 STTs as anything else. I coughed up for the $2K NL and busted out in level 3. It was a bit of a rollercoaster though, doubled up very early defending the BB with 74s (score one for Gus) when I turned a straight and he couldn't put his two pair or whatever down. Up to 12K with QQ > 44 pre and back to 9 AA < QQ pre grrrr. Went for a steal reraise with 44, ran into KK behind me and couldn't pass for his stack (original raiser passed AQs). TT < AK pre and finally with 5BB K7s < KQ.

Felt very comfortable overall though, there was one guy who looked pretty good but luckily I was on his immediate left, the rest were the usual collection of rocks and eggs. Maybe the steal reraise with 44 was a bit aggressive with three people behind me but it's only marginally bad if at all. If anyone else reraised they had enough chips for me to just drop it.

Moving forward, definitely playing the $1500 6-handed tomorrow and, depending on what happens, $2K limit on Friday and $2500 NL on Saturday are pencilled in. Good luck to Roland in the $5K mixed final today, and Chufty who is 2nd chip leader overnight in the O8. If anyone can stop Team Channing from attaining world domination that is, lol.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?