Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Best Month Ever

So yeah, shipped the Warm-Up last night which was great. It was a strange one, for most of the night I had a better shot on Party and I was focussing more on that. When I busted Party in 18th there were still 80 players left in the Warm Up ; the Party tournament only had 1200 runners compared to 4000 in the WU so it ran much quicker. From that point I grinded along until I suddenly won two flips to take me from 23/26 to 2/26 in five minutes.

Anyone in London knows how hot it is right now. I'm not an Internet slob or anything, but at 2am it was still 26 degrees in here with all the windows open, and I was reduced to sitting my T-shirt and pants playing this tournament. I know, it's not a pretty picture. I made the final without much further incident - there was no FT bubble at all as 10th and 11th went out on the same hand. Going in 5/9, the payout structure mandated very careful play against the bigger stacks, especially with the super-loose chip leader and a good 2+2 guy on my immediate left. The other players weren't great though and I knocked a couple of short stacks out ; firstly a guy min-raised from 10BBs in the SB, I shipped QTs and he called with K3s (sick induce as someone rightly said in the 2+2 sweat thread). Rivered him for flush > two pair, then I called a short SB push with Q4s and "held" against JT. Those two hands might have been the other way round (as in Q4 > JT might have been earlier), whatever.

Four-handed was relatively deep with everyone having at least 35BBs IIRC. Even so I felt that it wouldn't be long before two of the other guys got it in, which they did when the chip leader shipped 9x against Aces on a 9 high board and then rivered another 9. I doubled through the 2+2 guy with TT > A8 completely standard, then he went out to the chip leader 44 < 55. Heads up I was 3-1 down but chipped away at him pretty well. Being able to check-raise two pair and then split trips on the flop helped. I unloaded a sick bluff with T9 after I three-bet him pre and followed up the AQx flop. On the blank turn there was 14M in the pot and I had 11M left so I just thought "one for the crowd" and shipped it. He folded and said "nh", lol. Couple of hands later I raised with KK, he jammed 25BBs over it with K7s, gg wp.

Which was nice. I'm glad that's my biggest win now ; when people ask in interviews about "greatest achievement" I'll say that instead of 2nd at the WSOP - as soon as you say the word "second" their eyes start to wander as if they're thinking "fuck this, let's find an actual winner to talk to". Can't say I blame them either. So obviously confident going into the Main Event, without any unreasonable expectation. Without being too result-oriented, I'm pretty happy with my decision to skip the prelims anyway.

Playlist 5 :

Slayer - Reign In Blood
Pearl Jam - Ten
Catherine Wheel - Happy Days
Prince - Lovesexy
Bjork - Volta
kd lang - Live By Request
Starsailor - Love Is Here
Cistercian Monks Of Stift Heiligenkreuz - Chant - Music For Paradise
Brian Eno - Ambient 1 / Music For Airports

Monday, June 29, 2009



Shipped the Warm-Up last night, which was nice. I'll blog in some more detail later on, as I was up playing it till 3-30 and didn't get much sleep after that, but obviously that feels really good. It's the first tournament of any import that I've won on Stars. It was funny, every time I was all in it seemed to be a flip, and I won them all obv. There were some cool hands in the final, especially heads up, so I'll let you know when the replay is up on Stars, I'm not sure if it will have commentary or not but there should be some version with all hole cards shown. So I'm definitely on a break for the rest of the week, prior to Vegas (flying out on Friday).

Playlist 4 (#3 was the lucky playlist last night BTW)

Fall Out Boy - From Under The Cork Tree
Killers - Hot Fuss
Rush - Permanent Waves
Hepburn - Hepburn (lol)
Bjork - Post
Madonna - Ray Of Light
Tori Amos - Boys For Pele
Neil Young - After The Gold Rush
Jeff Buckley - Grace
The Benedictine Monks Of St James - Gregorian Chants (Disc One)

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Follow The Money

It probably comes across like I'm obsessed with Negreanu and Hellmuth, but I do fancy myself as the amateur psychologist, and what a couple of case studies we have here. As I said in the post on GIQ about sophism, a sophist frequently falls into a contradiction because his arguments are thought up on the fly rather than constructed in a logically consistent way. Imagine my delight when Negreanu pulled this one out last night :

09:39 pm "Also, for those too dense to understand the ramifications of the event not being on television, look at the type of players that would NORMALLY play if their sponsors put up money, but didn't. That creates value for ALL of the players since the majority of the sponsored players are -EV. Has nothing to do with "being on TV", but has everything to do with sponsorship dollars that are gone from the event. "

10:59pm "Seems to me that it's mostly an issue of semantics in terms of the name of the event. If the event is called "The Players Championship" it can use any format that the players think crowns the best all around player."

He wants an event to "crown the best all round player" that's also good value from an EV perspective. Anyone spot the problem ?

If Daniel, or anyone else, wants to be "crowned as the best all around player", it's a lot simpler than that. Go and find the biggest games with the most money on the table, whatever they happen to be right now. Beat them. Basically, be Phil Ivey. Five years ago, the biggest game was the mixed game in Bobby's Room. Fine. Now the biggest games are NL and PLO, and they're mostly online. All that "The best all around player" has to do is sit down and beat the game. There's no point beating HORSE now because the best players don't play HORSE because (duh) it's not the biggest game. If it was, they'd pick it up soon enough, and then you wouldn't be the best at it any more, DUCY ?

As a side note, it is possible that the best players find more value in second-tier games. Isaac Haxton mentioned aejones, ansky and a couple of other players when asked on the Poker Show who the best players are currently, as they're crushing 25-50 and so on. So do that instead. It's just that if DN wants a shot at being considered the best, then he should stop wasting his time making fantasy pools with matchups like Allan Smurfit v Surinder Sunar (seriously), and bring his game up to speed. When he calls out some random guy on the Internet to play 10-20 and then insists on only one-tabling, it just shows how far behind he is. No wonder he wants to push one donkament as some kind of measure of anything.

Playlist 3 :

Avenged Sevenfold - Avenged Sevenfold
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
INXS - Kick
Oceansize - Frames
Portishead - Third
Bjork - Medulla
Bach - Brandenburg Concertos
Future Sound Of London - Lifeforms (Disc 1)

Update 30/6 : Hats off to the obviously very intelligent and astute Flawless_CED who made the following post on 2+2 yesterday (forum note: always big up someone who agrees with you ldo)

"Summary of thread and timeline of events:

1) Pros own at poker before TV
2) TV makes NLHE popular
3) New generation of young players learn to really own NLHE
4) Old pros no longer winning consistent bracelets shy away from NLHE
5) Old pros try to make more non-NLHE events at WSOP so they can keep spotlight on them
6) They fail because the viewing public doesn't give a F about viewing their limit/horse events
7) Spoiler: If non NLHE events did gain popularity, wouldn't be long before online guys just learned to own those too... only reason they don't now is because the money is in NLHE."

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Flogging A Dead HORSE

The $50K HORSE has started, but it's 50 runners down on last year. There's no doubt that this is because it's not televised. Even Stars and Full Tilt don't have bottomless pockets and they're understandably reticent to cough up 50 large for players to play a non-televised event. You would think that this is a good time to take stock and think, ok, the $40K has pretty much replaced this, and off to the glue factory with the tournament.

Daniel Negreanu, however, can't let it go. I get involved with him in this thread when I shouldn't have done, but his constant sophistry drives me round the bend. It is utterly transparent to me that Negreanu's problem is that he doesn't want to face two facts :

1) There are now loads of players who are as good as him at NL tournaments (or better)
2) No one wants to watch limit poker on TV

So he has no fast track to a TV final. He can't even play the "Invitational" because he's never won the ME. I bet he was grinding his teeth about that :-). A lot of these guys need to wake up and realise that they are extraordinarily lucky that they were playing well/running hot around 2003/4, when most of the TV stars were "created". If they were five years younger, they'd have no end of a harder task making it to the same level. I don't mind that, that's the way it happened and I accept it. But they also need to accept the way things are now, and demanding totally unnatural tournament structures to suit themselves is not the way to do it.

As for the sophism, it's funny that Negreanu reminds me of Annie Duke so much in this regard. It's no wonder they hate each other so much - people often hate what they see of themselves in others. /armchair psychology :-)

Playlist 2 (I think this one's my favourite !) :

Megadeth - The System Has Failed
Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime II
Rush - Power Windows
The Good The Bad & The Queen - eponymous
Radiohead - The Bends
JJ Cale - Greatest Hits
Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes
Various - Buddhist Chants & Peace Music
Future Sound Of London - Lifeforms (Disc 2)


Software (1)

Right, I was going to talk about software. First of all, I downloaded Holdem Manager, and it basically owns Pokertracker. Maybe that's partly because I couldn't get Pokertracker 3 to work, but anyway. It works on more sites and has more useful stats like 3-bet frequency. It also has a very cool feature for SNGs where it calculates your EV adjusted according to the "luck factor" of allins. At first I was sceptical about this but when I looked at it closely, it really does do this properly - it works out the ICM of every hand (even ones you're not involved in) and how the final result compares to the equities when the chips went in. Of course this doesn't completely adjust for all the luck, but it helps. With the other multi-tabling software (which I'll come on to), I've been playing a few SNGs on the side. They seem to be a lot softer (at the 50-200 level) than they were a couple of years ago - maybe a lot of the grinders have moved on. So I don't mind spinning a few of them if I don't feel like a full tourney session.

One other thing while I'm here, I thought I'd share my "poker playlists" with you, I have 7 of these at the moment, each one is basically a 7-8 hour playlist that starts off rocking (rock dammit) and becomes more chilled as the evening goes on. Enjoy :

Playlist 1

Trivium - Shogun
Evanescence - Fallen
Rush - Subdivisions
U2 - Under A Blood Red Sky
Bjork - Vespertine
KT Tunstall - Eye Of The Telescope
Sigur Ros - Takk
Benedictine Monks Of The Abbey Of St Maurice - Gregorian Chants
The Orb - UF Orb

Monday, June 22, 2009


Six Times A Night

I stepped it up a notch last night after being inspired by watching Jon Spinks' video on Pokerswat where he plays 20 tables. And does the video commentary ! Pretty impressive. I thought if he could manage that I could squeeze in a couple more tables. I downloaded some software to help with that, which I'll go into in a later post, some of it was very good, some not so much. FYI that's software that makes table selection and mouse input easier, nothing that suggests plays or anything like that. Anyway, while 10 tables was the most I could manage, I cashed a personal best (as far as I can remember) 6 times ; 3 min-cashes plus $5600 for 2nd in the Tilt $69 6-max, $7500 for 6th in the Ongame major and a WSOP seat on Stars that I'm cashing for $12K.

I think the extra tables helped me push through that "dead zone" I find in online MTTs where there's like 3x the players to be paid left and my attention starts to wander. Having 4-5 tables open at this point instead of 2-3 really helps. And of course more volume = more money as long as you still play well enough. The WSOP seat was nice, binked the Double Shootout on Stars. Even when you cash it in, it's somehow more satisfying than winning the same amount elsewhere. Cashing it is obvious because I already have an arrangement with Boyles, but even if that wasn't the case, I'd advise anyone who has the option to cash it, play as a free agent and you're almost certain to get a better deal if you make it deep (if you even want a deal), now there's no extra incentive up front.

I'm glad I'm not out there now, it's starting to sound pretty testy. To get a fair picture of the WSOP you need to be following players from the start, not as they pop up on the final table. Just reading, say, Pokernews gives you the latter and it's very misleading. Checking out, say, Blackbelt or the Hitsquad (or many more) shows you the picture without result bias. From my POV, clearing $40K here in a month has helped as well :-). Having said that of course, gl to Neil and Barny in the shootout today, and Padraig in the PLO.

Monday, June 15, 2009


You Wait Two Years ...

... and then two come along all at once. Congrats to Roland on winning the $5K PLO8 last night. I heard the interview he did with the Poker Show just prior to the final and he sounded really sharp and focussed. While Roland himself said that he had played "less than an hours PLO8 in his life", again, it just goes to show that if you know tournaments and you can play poker well generally, the game doesn't really matter.

With two bracelets and two 3rd place finishes (Ben Grundy and Michael Greco well done to them too), while I always take the view that poker is an individual game and nationality shouldn't really come into it, hopefully this will spur other UK players to step their game up. I'm starting to wish I was there myself, but we'll have a go at it next year maybe. I will be there for the ME, annoyingly I had a great chance to win a package on Boyle last night but for some reason I stopped doing what was working so well and made a couple of loose calls that cost me dearly. I did enjoy playing it though, perhaps I will put some more effort into online satellites in future, especially for stuff like WSOP-E and EPT London.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Poker Show Interview

My interview with Jesse and Matt on the Poker Show is now online, go to The Poker Show Archives, Show 20 Part 4, starting around 19:20. It was a fun interview to do because it was live and unedited so I could say some stuff that would usually be edited out in for example a TV format, so I was able to say that 10-handed live NL tournaments suck, and so on.

Meanwhile massive congrats to JP Kelly who scooped a bracelet in the $1500 PL. I remember JP turning up at Luton aged 18 and just tearing the tournaments up from Day 1, really pleased to see him take this one down.

Monday, June 08, 2009


Meanwhile In Vegas

The big news this week of course was Phil Ivey winning his bracelet, and many prop bet millions. Daniel Negreanu also finished 2nd in a LHE tournament after having the chip lead heads up (something I can sympathize with). What's interesting to note, I think, is the games they won (or nearly won) in - NL Single Draw and Limit Hold-em.

As Terrence Chan says in his excellent blog, "If you cannot beat a typical WSOP $1500 tournament field in any given game, you are a lousy excuse for a poker pro." Not just that, but I would contend that for anyone who is even competent at a limit game, they have a much better shot at a bracelet in that game than in NL events.

Note that I say "shot at a bracelet" rather than "EV". You might have better EV as well, depends, but really when you go out to Vegas you almost have to leave EV and variance at home. As Rolf Slotboom said to me last year (where's Hugo when I need him to do a comedy Rolf accent), if he only cared about EV he'd be sitting in his front room playing online. The limit games have much smaller fields, which gives you a much better chance of winning, LDO.

NL events are now either stacked with top players ($40K), humungously large fields ($1K) or a fair slice of both ($5K). Every year it's more difficult to win a NL bracelet, and that's not going to change any time soon. All the vibes I'm picking up from blogs and updates are backing this up - less value than people expected, less value than last year. Also, let's face it, playing NL 10-handed is hella boring (another point echoed by Terrence Chan), and I lose focus very easily when I'm bored. So if it's bracelets you want, just become vaguely competent at all the HORSE games and you'll have a much better chance. You've got a year to do it and plenty of games online to practice in. I might even do it myself !


The Donk Factor

A couple of very interesting hands came up last night in the Sunday specials. First of all the monthly Party Poker Million, $600+40 buyin, $1M guaranteed, lots of satellite winners. I have 25K (starting stack 20) playing 100-200 when a player in early position makes it 700 from a 60K stack. I have TT and make the standard call. Button calls, then one of the blinds makes it 2600 from a 15K stack.

This raise size is very telling. With 2400 already in there and 15K back, he could shove if he wanted to, and might well do with AK (I'd just call but a lot of players will shove). Instead he raises even less than the pot. In this spot, his range is hugely weighted towards AA/KK. I figure that if I call it's just for set value, and I won't have that against the guy with 15K, so I'm only calling if EP calls. He does, I do, and so does the button, 4 players to the flop with 10K in the pot.

It comes AJTcc and the original 3-bettor, first to speak, jams his 15K. EP folds. Sigh. It's Party and I has a set. But what's he going to show me other than AA ? AK doesn't fit the pre-flop action. Surely KK wouldn't open-jam there. He has to be either one of the 10% of players who might raise like that with AK pre-flop, or a complete nutcase, or making a "fuck this I'm bored" play, which you would think was unlikely an hour into the comp, but it's happened before. I can't find a pass and he has AA ldo.

It's at least a sign of progress that a year ago I would have been like ZOMG-instacall-oh bugger. It was just a ridiculous spot where you actually could fold a set with 10K in the pot and only 15K behind, but it's so hard to do in the heat of the moment.

Then again, check out this hand from the Warm-Up on Stars. It's 2500-5K plus antes and I have a nice 350-400K stack, somewhere around there. Middle position opens to 15K (he's pretty deep too), I call with AQs, and now the blind 3-bets to 35K. Once again we have this tricky small squeeze-like bet that sends out so many contradictory signals that it's very often a big hand that someone doesn't know what to do with. MP folds and I decide to take a flop in position, would probably fold if I wasn't suited. Also if the flop is A high, he's heavily weighted towards KK (or even QQ) as there's only one combo of AA left and I can try to get to showdown.

Flop comes KQQ, bink. If he has KK I'm going broke here with no qualms. So he bets I call, turn blank he bets I set him in and he goes into the tank. A friend watching the hand says on IM "looks like AA", I'm just about to agree when he calls and shows 88.

So there you go. However much you trust your read, there's always a chance that your opponent, if he's unknown anyway, is just doing something so ridiculously stupid that you could never work it out using logical analysis. In this case I quite like the play pre-flop as it's very deceptive but when I stick around even after he's representing a big hand on that flop he has to shut down. Trust your read but always allow for a bit of a donk factor !

PS In the end I finished 24th in the Warm-up, lost another 2M flip, balla. All you can do is put the volume in, get into these positions as often as you can, and hope to win your share from there.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Desperate But Not Serious

If you didn't already know how desperate ESPN are to stomp all over the game just for ratings, news from Vegas courtesy of Padraig Parkinson. Even in the "Tournament of Champions", they changed the final table to 10-handed to ensure that Hellmuth was on it. With 1100 chips. Which he lost in the first hand.

The first time this happened I was quite angry about it, now, really, what can you do but laugh. Even in this rinky-dink joke of a "tournament" that was basically designed by ESPN to ensure they had some "faces" to work with, they still had to fuck about with it to get the desired result. Serve them right that McEvoy and Varkonyi, two of the most faceless, characterless and moderate players from the whole roster (and that's saying something) made it through to heads up. Padraig throws in that they did this for Chris Ferguson in a $1500 comp last year as well (something I was unaware of), but again, by now, who gives a fuck. So why am I blogging about it you may well ask, well just to let you know how low they can go :-)

Back in the real world, I'm thinking about taking Pokerstars off the schedule for a while. I'm $18K down on there this year, but the real reason is that the play on there is so different to all the Euro sites [1] I find myself constantly switching back from one mindset to another when I'm trying to play, and I think it's costing me EV all round.

[1] Full Tilt is kind of in between the two and much less of a problem.

Monday, June 01, 2009


Another Late Winner

This is at least the third time I've pulled out a big score in the very last tournament of the month. I picked up 3rd in the Ongame "ChampionChip" $200 freezeout, for $20K. It was a touch disappointing not to win after having a monster chip lead through the final table, but I lost an unavoidable 2 million chip flip (AdQ vs 8d8 on 743ddd flop) and then ran 88 into AA soon after. Ongame tournaments are quite strange, 10-handed, no antes, and usually an average stack of around 15BBs towards the business end. This doesn't sound very promising, but in practice if you chip up and get ahead of the game in these you can crush. People raise/fold like they never would on Stars any more, play super-weak around bubbles and generally suck.

I was already scratching out another $5-6K month before that, so it ended up as a good one. I'm also vaguely tracking how much I win/lose (hopefully win after that) online during the WSOP and that counts :-). Although these things are swamped by variance in any one night, I did make an effort to stay focussed about 3-4 hours into the session, when I often start thinking "fuck it, let's try to double up" and take too many marginal, or even -EV, shots.

What We Learned This Month

As above about making an effort to stay focussed at the right time. I'm also playing better with a 30BB+ stack, by really thinking about what a bet's going to achieve (make worse hand call or better hand fold) and just checking when neither works. I still have to work on acting without thinking when I have a good hand and get min-raised or something, but we're getting there.

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