Tuesday, 31 July 2007

More better

This feels better though:

PokerStars Game #11229072737: Tournament #56966207, $5.00+$0.50 Hold'em No Limit - Level III (25/50) - 2007/07/31 - 00:14:11 (ET)
Table '56966207 1' 9-max Seat #2 is the button
Seat 2: DrDrayne (2115 in chips)
Seat 3: Brockhunter (2100 in chips)
Seat 6: Zen (1600 in chips)
Seat 7: Taos1350 (1735 in chips)
Seat 8: MikhailTal (3315 in chips)
Seat 9: Rehmbo (2635 in chips)
Brockhunter: posts small blind 25
Zen: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Zen [Jc Jd]
Taos1350: folds
MikhailTal: folds
Rehmbo: folds
DrDrayne: folds
Brockhunter: calls 25
Zen: raises 150 to 200
Brockhunter: calls 150

I thought he might call that. He's played loosely and poorly so far.

*** FLOP *** [6c 2h 8c]

A nice flop for my hand. The club draw is a worry.

Brockhunter: checks
Zen: bets 250

A nice bet. A club draw might call, but it's going to be wrong to.

Brockhunter: calls 250

*** TURN *** [6c 2h 8c] [6s]

Slightly scary, but I'm not crediting him for a 6.

Brockhunter: checks
Zen: checks

I'm taking a risk. I don't think he has a 6, but I don't want to give him the opportunity to c/r bluff me. I don't think he'll pay me here or on the river, so my plan is to check and induce a bluff. I look like I have a big ace and whiffed, so he will likely take a stab on many rivers.

*** RIVER *** [6c 2h 8c 6s] [5h]

That's a slightly scary card, but here's the thing. This player would semibluff with the straight draw on the flop, so I don't credit him for 74 or 97. I doubt either would stand a raise OOP anyway, even for a guy this loose. I already decided he doesn't have the 6. So I'm willing to call if he bets.

Brockhunter: bets 1650 and is all-in

WTF? Okay, so he's repping the straight, or, I suppose, the missed checkraise on the turn.

But what does my hand look like? It looks like a big ace. He surely puts me on AK/AQ, something of that nature. But if I have that kind of hand, I will never call a push.

Most pokerists will tell you that if you want to bluff, you have to sell a credible story. The elements of his story are: I had a straight draw or a 6 on the flop; either you gave me a free card on the turn or I missed a C/R opportunity; I made my straight or I'm betting my trip sixes for value.

But here's the problem: his bet on the river is not credible. It's not always true that an overbet on the river is a bluff, but if you do overbet, it must be conceivable that your opponent will call. Nothing in the action in this hand lets him put me on the hand I have, so he cannot have any expectation that this bet is for value. If he made his straight, he'd be betting less.

Zen: calls 1150 and is all-in

*** SHOW DOWN ***
Brockhunter: shows [Js Kd] (a pair of Sixes)

A plain bluff. He floated the flop with OCs and put me solidly on AK/AQ.

I went on to win. The player I played HU had a very exploitable strategy. He was looking to steal pots left right and centre, which is fine, but he was willing to put in lots of money in raises to do it. I played very patiently, completing the blind and letting him steal it, making small bets and letting him take them away, until I picked up 43 and checked to the flop: 652. I bet out small, he raised, I called. I bet out again on the turn, he called and he called again on the river. That put me far ahead, and chastened him so that he was easy to outplay from then on. It's tough to beat aggressive players HU, but sometimes, sitting back and playing quite passively is the best way. You are aware all through that they don't have values for their play, but if they are playing smallball, you are going to have to make thin calls and bets. But this guy was bloating the pot all the time, trying to push me round. So he got poker judo. In judo, you use the other guy's weight to throw him off balance. That's how it went with this guy. I used his aggression to bin him.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Getting worse to get better

I am glad I'm taking a break and not playing much. I'd just lose more if I did.

I've reverted to a leak I used to have and managed to plug. It's become unplugged. Two leaks, actually.

Here's the kind of thing. It's a $50 tourney. I won a place with a ticket, and I've been pleased to find that the standard has not been that high. We're down to 50 out of 150 runners, and 20 get paid. I have, I think it was, 5000ish chips and I make it 700 to go UTG with AKs. The guy next to me calls. I sigh. One of the blinds calls too. I sigh double. The first guy has me covered by 1000 chips. The other guy I have covered.

So I've been waiting for a hand for some time. Here's leak one. Because I play tightly, I'll tend to refuse to give up good hands when they turn to dogs.

The flop comes Q77. Only one of my suit. I think I'm probably behind, but not by much. The guy next to me probably has a pair, although there are other hands he could have, notably big aces, and the other guy, well, he could have anything.

The blind checks and I bet out 1000. The guy next to me calls, and the blind folds.

We could argue about the wisdom of a cbet here, but two things to note: first, this is a decent flop for a cbet, even against two players; second, I'm going to fire again if I have to on the turn. Not that many players will call a decent bet on the turn with a small pair. They'll float the flop with it, to see whether I'll shoot again, but won't go all the way with it. After all, I raised UTG. (One mistake I made is that I forgot that I had moved tables, and had only played maybe two, three orbits at this table, so I hadn't been in many hands, but I didn't have an ultratight image, just a tightish one.)

So the turn is another Q.

I review the action. What can he have?

Well, I figured him solidly for the pair. I think AQ has to raise the flop if it's made the loose call. You have to figure I'm raising AA-JJ, AQ+ UTG. If AK cbets, it will rarely bet again on the turn. JJ will bet here but will not bet the turn. So if you call and face another bet, you are going to be beaten. Better to put in a small raise to find that out on the flop.

So that was my analysis. I know. Rubbish. He has position. He can call with AQ and see what the turn brings. If I bet, he can evaluate it in the light of what comes. If I don't, he can check behind and pick off a bluff on the river. But he shouldn't have AQ for two reasons. First, it's not beating any of my range and will need to hit a flop hard to continue. Second, calling is horrible in his spot. He gives odds to hands behind to call behind him, and if anyone has a big hand, he's going to get pushed over. I suppose he has some insurance against the push over because I have played tightly and few hands will be a good bet vs my range.

When I see the second queen, I decide to push. I am repping AQ, which I can definitely have. If I don't have that, I quite likely have the overpair. He can't call with his 99 here. With a bigger stack, yeah, he might figure that AK plays it this way, hoping to push him out, and call anyway, but if he's wrong, he's crippled.

All wrong, of course.

The problem is twofold. First of all, I made up the analysis to fit the action I had decided to take, instead of the other way round. The cbet was iffy, and once called, I need to give it up. Second, I just assume he can't be shit enough to have called with AQ, but of course these players are shit! I've just watched awful call after awful call. Just because I would fold, and I only play at $5 level, I assume that players at this level must be good enough to fold!

But the truth is, a lot of them just have more money than me, not more ability.

Anyway, a guy shit enough to call for 700 chips with a small pair is going to be shit enough to call a push with it on this board. I just lost my mind and made a terrible play.

And you know why I did it? Because I was just so fucking determined not to play weaktight and creep into the money. I could have done that quite easily, sneaked in and got a hundred bucks out of it. But good players don't do that. They try to win. They play aggressively and don't avoid edges just to cash.

It is frustrating to be where I am. I am not the worst player. I do win more than I lose. And I am improving as time goes by. Sometimes though, the lessons I learn lead me to make more mistakes rather than fewer (so I learned that in tourneys I was playing too weaktight, now I have to learn to direct the aggro a bit, because I'm far too keen to put money in in bad spots). I guess that will improve as I learn by trial and error what works, what doesn't. And some things I have to relearn, such as not overrating my opponents.

Here's another example. Today in a 4/180, I had been distracted, so I was the shortstack with 21 left. 18 are paid. I hadn't really been watching the game, so I hadn't been stealing much, and I'd been pretty card dead. A guy minraises. He has quite a big stack, so he's probably stealing. I'm in the SB with A6.

I fold this every day and twice on Sundays. I don't need to get involved. I can just creep into the money. The guy has 17000 chips to my 4600. He is never, never, never folding anything even halfway reasonable. The minraise says he's weak but he's in the hijack, not on the button.

Even if he's weak, he is not folding. If I make his range 66+, A2+, K8+, QJ, he is crushing me. Even with the Ks and QJ, he has inbetweeners, which are only 57-43 behind. He will never fold that getting 5800-3800.

So of course I push.

I have a tiny bit of fold equity because my range should likely be quite tight, and he thought about it for quite a while. (Naturally, I'd only actually fold out hands that I was ahead of!) But he had about the worst hand for me he could have, bar a monster: 66. Cheers, poker gods. When I make a mistake, they really like to punish me.

I'm not irredeemable, of course. I recognise some of my mistakes and can stop making them. I guess I'm a bit on tilt though, because of the Friday night game.

Why would I be on tilt?

Well, here are the hands that mattered to me. First of all, I'm in MP with QT. W raises in EP quite big. I put him solidly on JJ. I know his play well enough to recognise his raise for a middle pair. A bigger hand, he wants more action, and might even limp. AK he might raise the same. AQ he will probably limp because his game is all about being tricky these days. (Which is even worse than when it was all about playing values and being a bit weak after the flop.)

I thought hard about calling. If I had had KQ, I would have called, no question. So the flop comes QTx and I'm absolutely kicking myself. W put money in too, so I'd likely have done very nicely.

Then I pick up KQs. The button is sitting in front of M, a calling station, so I'm willing to limp in. But R, the laggy gf of the laggy player L, is actually the button. I didn't realise and she raised. I called, thinking I had position, and only after calling realised what was what. The flop came ATx, so that sucked a lot. With position, this is fine for me. She will give her hand away with her bet, which she did all night. OOP, I'm in the shit.

Later, I double up by pushing 77 over two limpers and getting called by AT. My hand holds up.

So I have about 12000 chips and I'm in very good shape. I pick up AK UTG. I make it 1000 to go. L, who plays quite tightly preflop, pushes for about 6000.

I have a tough decision. My first thought is "just fold". She probably has AA-JJ here. I've never seen her shove lighter than that, although to be fair, I only recall seeing her shove once. I am way behind that range and can fold. But I'm thinking, she won't have shoved AA-KK. I am not so far behind QQ-JJ, and if you add in AK/AQ... well, it's looking like a call.

In fact, I think it's an easy fold. Adding in AQ is too hopeful and I'm too far behind her range to make it a good call.

When they say QQ vs AK is a coinflip, they are wrong. It isn't. QQ is 57/43 ahead. But I haven't done enough work on hot and cold equity and I didn't have the figures to hand. I thought it was a bit closer. I do know that I always prefer to have the pair! I considered though that even if I was behind, I could do the Gigabet thing, making a slightly bad call for a great chance to win. Had I drawn out on her, I would have been by far the bigstack.

So that was a bad call, but I was still alive. However, the blinds were rising fast, and I was fairly short. I stole enough blinds to keep up, but I wasn't getting anything much to play with.

So I have about 6000 in the BB and I pick up 88. R, on the button, limps, I think. W completed and I pushed. R folded.

But W had AA. Yet again he had been willing to let himself be outflopped OOP with AA. So he can pat himself on the back that he "trapped" me. If I had a worse hand, I would have checked. One of these days, he's limping AA, I'm checking with 54 and the flop comes T54 and it's goodfuckingbye to his stack.

If he had felt that there was a good chance of my making a move, that would have been a risk worth taking. But I think I had something like 8 or 9BB, not so short that I'd be pushing all that much. And even if I hit the flop, I'm not putting money in without top pair, so he's going to need a bit of luck to catch me at all.

Oh well. So what put me on tilt was that my night was decided preflop -- I built my stack by doubling through a guy, lost more than half of it with that baddish call of L, and the rest pushing 88 into AA. I didn't get to outplay anybody, never picked up even halfway reasonable cards to do it with (and the one time I did, I passed up the chance).

Well, I'll fix it. I'm planning to learn hot and cold equities so that I have a stronger theoretical basis and do not call pushes unless I have the edge in equity. I'll be more careful postflop for the upcoming and try to read players more. It can only get better. When you know you're bad, you can only improve, right?

Saturday, 28 July 2007


Having hit a downswing that has knocked my confidence, I'm mostly taking a break from poker. Because I'm addicted, this means not playing much, not not playing at all.

So I played a dollar HORSE tourney the other night and finished second and a threedollar HORSE last night.

I like playing HORSE on Stars, because I have an edge against the typical microlimit player. Two edges actually. The first is that I'm simply a better player than average at this level, particularly in limit holdem and razz, which most players are hilariously bad at. The other is that I'm a better judge than most of when to put the money in short. The best thing to do, I think, when you're fairly short is to get all your money in on a promising hand and hope to win. These HORSE tourneys turn into crapshoots because the blinds become very high. The following hand shows both edges in action.

I forget the stacks but the blinds were high enough that I knew I was likely to get all of mine in on this hand. The other guy had me covered, but not by enough to take too many chances.

So I pick up (A4)7 and raise the buyin. A guy with a J showing calls the raise. It's obvious enough what his hand is. He must have two low downcards. I think he has likely made a mistake here, and should fold, for two reasons. First, although I could have something like (Q4)7 or worse, and just be stealing the buyin, the most likely hand for me is three to a low. Second, I know exactly what he has and can easily play correctly against him.

So fourth street makes us

I bet and he has an easy fold. But he does not fold. Far from it. He raises. This is terrible. The best he can have is three to an eight, and I'm showing two to a seven. My most likely hand is the one I actually have. With three cards to come, he's a mile behind. I reraise, of course, and he puts the cap in, which puts me all in.

So we turn our cards over and he has (63)J8. I am comfortably ahead. One 5 has been folded, but that leaves three 5s, four 2s, three 6s to make my hand, and 8s, 9s and Ts also make me a winner if he doesn't catch twice.

I couldn't have found a better spot. Of course, this would not be worth commenting on if I didn't get a bad beat! I caught A77 to make a full house, which is not a good hand in Razz.

My opponent made a Jack low and I was busted. There's no justification for his play. You could argue that calling the raise made some sense because I am often stealing, and you could argue that he could call a bet on fourth because he could be ahead if I was stealing, but capping it has to be wrong.

Earlier, a player with two aces in his board had got into a betting war with me when I had three nines. When he bet his aces and I raised, he had an easy fold. This was, I think, on fifth street. Even with 9s up, I'm not raising, so he is left with trip 9s and a bluff. Okay, sometimes I'm bluffing, but he will have to pay me on the next two streets to find out. When he reraised, I put him solidly on two pair. An ace had folded, so I thought three aces were very unlikely. Of course I capped. He only had three outs to beat me!

As it turned out, he only had one, and caught it on the river. Even if he didn't think he had a fold when I raised, he certainly did when I capped. So the tourney was not too lucky for me, all in all, having played my way back from near extinction. Frustratingly, I went out in 26th, and 24 were paid.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

What's the most you can achieve?

There was a dispute one time in 2+2 over whether a top player could score 70% ROI in the Stars 11s. Of course, there's no way even the best player could.

All good players play tight early and open up later. But if you don't pick up hands, you are going to be pushing when you open up. You can pick your spots as well as you like, but you won't always win. You're going to be sent to the rail a decent amount of the time. You will play technically correctly and your opponents won't have read the book.

Being good gives you an edge. But that's all. We're not playing chess here. Having an edge does not make you a guaranteed winner. A master of chess would beat any nine poor players every time. A master of poker will lose some of the time. He can know the game intimately, make the right decisions each time, and still lose.

Everyone runs bad. You have runs of games where you cannot win a hand. You push with AA and 33 calls and flops a 3. You get it all in with the second-nut flush and the other guy has the nuts. You flop a set and he flops a bigger one. Good players do not get away from those hands and they have to lose their stack. It's the definition of good that you get your chips in when you figure to be best.

Some percentage of the time, the good player will get it in early when miles ahead and lose. Some other percentage he will pick up tons of good hands early but won't get paid, not because he doesn't play them well but because no one else has a thing. Some other percentage he won't get a single playable hand until push/fold blinds and the hand he pushes will run into a monster. Some other percentage everyone will be really tight on the bubble except the guy that calls his push.

And don't tell anyone but good players make mistakes too. They misread opponents. They get trapped. They make bad plays.

Sigh. I'm just pissed off because I don't get 70% ROI at the fives. My once proud 40% has slipped down to 32%. If I keep going at this rate, I'll be breakeven by August.


So I'll have to take a break. I've been losing so much I've stopped believing I can win. Time to do more thinking, less playing, until I feel better about taking them on again.

I am barely breakeven in the past 100 games, and that's no good. Some of it is down to weak play -- after all, I don't think I'm a great player by any stretch -- but sometimes nothing you try works. I get in ahead and they suck out, and I never pull it out from behind.

In my games today, I have pushed A2 over a limper with K9 and he calls and hits the K; pushed J7 from the small blind when very short and got called by 84, he flopped an 8; ran AQ into a limped (!) AK and then when I next picked up a hand, TT, someone else had woken up with KK; hit a straight heads up but the other guy had turned a flush with his 52s; pushed 88 over a limper, and AQ was not worth a raise but worth calling an allin -- what on earth are these clowns thinking? best case he's a race, worst he's dominated and all but gone; gambled with AKs against two allins after I had raised a minraiser, but they had KK and QQ! You know, everyone else can gamble but if I make any play not in the textbook I get hammered. Yesterday, a loose player called my raise with A8. The flop came K high. I cbet and he called. The turn was a second king and I pushed. This is on the bubble and he's busted if he calls and loses. So you figure he will only call with a king and I'm certain he doesn't have one (he would checkraise the flop with it). He calls with AJ. He has nothing. No pair. Not even a draw. Just ace high. I need only have paired and he's going home. You can argue that my play was too aggressive, which maybe it was, or that you shouldn't bluff a calling station (although he'd laid down hands before to a lot of pressure, he'd also called with nothing).

And Arleen? Don't panic. When I say I've been losing a lot, I mean games not money. It's only about 50 bucks. But when you've been winning easily, losing is really painful, even if in money terms, it's not very much.


And you know, when things are bad, they're really bad. Second hand of an sng. I limp from MP with JJ. Couple of other limpers. The BB raises 100. This is very rarely anything great, usually AJ or a pair. So when EP calls, I have an easy push. BB calls with 55.

He flops a 5.

You know, you'd think the poker gods would punish him for calling an allin with 55 when he cannot possibly be better than a race.

So on another table I pick up KT in the BB and check. The flop is T high. I bet, a player I know to be very weak and prone to playing weak hands aggressively raises. I call the raise. The turn is another ten. I check, allowing him to bluff. He checks behind. The river makes a flush, but that doesn't worry me. If he had a backdoor flush draw, that's just poker. So I bet out nicely, he raises and I push.

He also has KT.

You know you're fucked when you cannot make value with your decent hands. They just don't come often enough to miss out on.

But it got worse, right?

Yes, right.

I have AA. A loose guy with a shortish stack limps at t30. I raise to 100. The SB and the loose guy call. The flop comes Ts5s2d. The SB bets out. The loose guy pushes. I push over the top. The other guy has to call 1600 to win 3000. He has the flush draw, so he takes the worst of it.

But at the moment, you are not taking the worst of it if you gamble against me.

9s2s in the money. Flop comes Ks8s2d. I bet out and some guy who has me covered pushes. I instacall. I have 14 outs against top pair so with the dead money this is an easy call. I know the player and he doesn't have better than top pair when he does this.

Note that when I have an overpair, the flush draw -- just a flush draw -- who did not have the odds to call got lucky. But when I call exactly even money, with pot odds favouring the call, not a sniff.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

How to lose SNGs

So here we are. A $5 sng. I don't have notes on any of the players but I have played at least a couple before. One was about average: a bit too loose and a bit too keen to put money in with moderate hands – we'll call him SD. Another was very poor. We had a bit of banter about a hand he played very badly, and he busted out when it was very clear he was beaten – we'll call him AR. I half recognise another couple of names but nothing springs to mind about them. I'm having some connection problems so that's going to be an extra element in it.

93. Fold
AQ. Limp. I limp this from EP. I don’t like to commit chips with this hand before the flop because it's going to need help. I flop nothing. Some guy bets 50, another raises to 200. I fold, bettor folds.
53. Fold.
Q9. Fold.
KJ. I am probably the only player at this table who will fold this.
95s. I fold.
J2 in the BB. I check. Flop T43. I disco before I can fold.
A4. AR makes a 3BB raise. I fold. I would have folded without the raise. I hate playing A-rag OOP. He gets three callers, which is nice and loose. I haven't really been watching but one of them is very short. AR makes a huge bet on the flop and all fold.
Q8s. I fold. I won't play a hand this weak, even from the button.

77 in the CO. I limp but I miss the flop. Shorty pushes. He has nothing but rivers a pair. The guy who called him had middle pair of 3s. I'm not sure I'd bother calling in his shoes, even against a shorty.
87. I fold. Chips fly and someone pushes, but the other guy folds. I'm not keen on his play, betting big then folding. What can you have that you like enough to put chips in but not enough to call the shove?
JJ. A bet and a raise from shorty ahead of me, so I fold it. It's close though and I regret it because I was ahead of both. I'm cool with it though. I generally don't like to get it in with JJ anyway. Shorty is eliminated and there are 9 players.
KJ. I fold.
43. I fold. Most hands are getting raised, but the table is nice and loose.
72. Fold.

53s in the BB. Someone makes the tard push for 1200 and is called. Tard has TT. Caller has A7. A7! How do you call with that? I mean, apart from anything else, you are probably behind the pusher's whole range!
T2. Fold.
Disco'd for a hand.
T9. Fold. A nothing sort of flop, J high, but two guys get it all in. One is the caller from the allin hand a couple back. He has QJ. He is clearly not a great player. The other guy has KJ. The bad caller has him just covered, so he is not knocked out.
85. Shorty pushes, and is doubled up. He had JJ.
73. Shorty pushes T7 this time. AQ pushes over him. Shorty scores a full house! The other guy is quite upset. But even good hands don't come with guarantees.
J2. Fold
KT. Fold. Shorty pushes again. He's enjoying himself now. No callers
K7. Fold. Someone has disco'd. I'm secretly hoping they stay disco'd because I'm nowhere and we still have 9 runners. Next hand is t100 blinds.

J8 in the BB. I fold to an EP minraise. Not an auspicious start but I'm not calling a raise with a hand like that.
T5s. I fold that to shorty's push. He has pushed 76. Called by JT. He flops two pair this time!
43. Fold.
42. Fold.
T3s. Hm. This deck is a tad cold.
42. Fold.
Q4s. Fold.
A9. Fold.
87s. Fold.
76s in the BB. Limped to me and I check. I flop a straight flush! The other guy only pays a smallish bet on the river though.
A9. Folded to me so I raise small. He calls. I checkfold the flop, KQx. I just had a feeling he had it. Preflop raise was a bit on the small side to be honest.

A2. Folded to me but I fold. I feel that the same guy will call and bet any flop. I prefer not to rely on hitting my ace to feel I can continue.
A6. This time I raise to 600. I flop middle pair and push. So I'm back up to 2070 chips.
KQ. I fold. I could raise but at a loose table I'm likely to be behind if I'm called. Maybe could have limped.
T9. Fold.
Q8. Fold. Still 9 players. The table started quite loose but they've tightened up a bit. A lowish flop, and some chips go in. AR is involved but he ducks it.
93. Fold. I defy anyone to win an SNG with these cards. I'm actually third in chips though!
33. Fold. Not from UTG.
JTs in the BB. SB pushes. I fold. Button folds too.
A7. AR pushes. I fold. He did the "I've got to go" thing, which means "I have a monster, please call".
T8. I fold. BB pushes KQ. Called by AT. We are down to 8. That call is a warning to me.
Q5. I fold.
AQ. Call, minraise, I push. QJs calls. Obviously, he flops a J and rivers another. I am down to 235.
84. Fold.
T6s. I am in desperate shape of course. I have one more hand before the blinds. Another allin confrontation and another guy is left very short.
T6. I fold. So I'm all in next hand whatever I have.
T4. Oh well. Three limpers. I miss the flop completely. And the turn. And the river. IGH.

So okay, that was pretty typical of how it's been going for me. Two playable hands outside the blinds; one I fold to a lot of action, the other is cracked by a retarded caller. I'm getting sick of getting it in with dominating hands that do not hold up though.

So I get back on the horse. Nine complete unknowns.

J8s. I fold.
73. Fold. A 10BB raise is called in two places. So I know I'm not up against decent players. I can't think of a hand I would call that with.
JT. Fold.
76s. Fold. Shoulda called. Flop comes 66x, two all in. Both have pairs; bigger one holds up.
T8. Fold. Button raises 5BB. Shorty calls. Button had 98s. I don't see the point of that to win t30 in blinds. Shorty doubles up when he flops a pair of Ks.
K4. Fold. A nothing hand. Shorty hands a hundred or so over to someone else.
32. Fold.
83 in the BB. Limped to me and I check. Flop QQ2. I fold to SB bet. Big raise, one call. Raiser bets turn, river, called both times. Flush on board but caller has a bad queen. Raiser has AQ. I have my eye on him.
88. I call a minraise. QQT flop. All check. J turn. Bet and I fold. Bettor has straight. Shorty has called him down with just about nothing. 9 left.
KT on the button but I fold. I'd call in a limit game but not in an SNG.

A7. Fold. Raggy aces are bad hands at any level, let alone t30.
92. Fold.
94. Fold. I have 1420 chips.
Q7. I fold.
JT. Fold. Fire's going in the bowl. Getting stoned won't affect how I play. How can it? All I'm doing is fold fold folding.
J9s. Fold. I looked away and someone got busted. No idea how. Don't care. 8 left.

T2 in the BB. Somehow I fold. Not sure how. Maybe I missed a hand in there somewhere. Missed the flop anyway. Chips are flying in. Some guy leaves himself with 400ish chips.
T4. I fold to a raise.
82s. I fold. It's worrying that raises are not often getting called. A lot of HU cagey postflop.
96. Fold.
K5. Big raise ahead of me, I fold. Raiser has JJ. Called by 66 and he goes home. 7 left.
J2. I fold. AA limps and calls shorty's push. 6 left.
QT. Fold.
85s in the BB. I fold to a raise.
85 in the SB. I fold that. I have 1270 chips and I am the shorty.
K6. I fold.
QJs. I raise to 200. Called. I totally miss flop. Cbet 300. He pushes. FUCK!

T5s. So I now have 770 chips. Sigh. The very tight table suddenly loosened up on the only fucking hand I've raised all night!
J6. I check. Two limpers. I push QJ5 flop. First limper has QQ. Erm. WTF?

Monday, 16 July 2007

Pushing 93 uphill

I am not confident in my ability in poker, which I think is a good thing. I have plenty of evidence that I'm not rock bottom, but I'm not sure whether I'm one rung, two or several above that. So I'm playing a thousand sngs or thereabouts at $5, rather than moving up now, which my bankroll would allow.

The main reason is that if I have a decent ROI after a thousand tourneys, I'll at least believe I beat this level. After a couple of hundred tourneys, I just might have been running hot, rather than playing well, and my ROI, which is not too bad, might be an artefact of luck.

Some days I tend to think the opposite! Check out the past couple of days.

8th standard BB push ran into limped AA in SB

Note that there were still seven villains hanging around! We must have been at t150. I am suffering a lot from getting trapped by limped big pairs. I'm thinking I need to play top pairs and overpairs just a bit more cautiously.

6th pushed KQ, called by K8, flopped K8. Ran 87 into A8, flopped 7 he sucked flush

The first hand nearly busted me. I pushed from the button, and the fishtard in the big blind decided K8 was enough to call. The bustout hand was just one of those pick one and pray hands.

5th AQ vs AJ, of course he flopped and turned a J

If you have AJ against me, and I get the money in, call it every time. It *always* beats me.

5th turbo ran 93 into JJ on BvB push short

It's a general principle that you push from the small blind with less than ten big blinds. The big blind should fold a lot if he has a stack that is neither very big nor very small. But they're never folding JJ!

5th caught by trapper then A5 into 77

The trapper hit the flop hard and slowplayed. I helped my hand on the river and bet, he raised and I called. I generally believe raises but I had most possible hands beaten -- I forget the hand but we're talking something like TT3, turn 7, river A and I have A7. He had QT or something like that. It's always possible you are going to run into trips on this board, but the other guy has AQ or something like that enough not to throw away your two pair.

6th QQ into AA

This was in a tourney in which I literally had not played a hand! I pick up QQ and raise, he reraises and I push. I was too short to fold to his raise, and he wasn't tight enough to make me want to anyway.

1st tight and tough, but nice patient play to win

I make these notes to remind myself that patience and discipline win me more money than anything else.

5th didn't pick up a hand and ran A5 into TT

If I'm pushing A5, I'm likely pretty short unless I'm restealing.

3rd ran A7 into limped ATs

Button limped, SB completed, I pushed. Don't ask me why the guy on the button limped ATs. I have zero idea.

7th 99 vs AA on A95 flop, recovered but then pushed KK on A high flop, caller had A

Tilt is always a worry for me. I came all the way back from 20 chips to 650, bet 200 with KK at t50, and this guy calls. When I see the ace, I know I have to checkfold, because the guy will have an ace *every fucking time*. Which he did. AJ yet again. Why does he call a 4BB raise with AJ? I don't pretend to understand the tards. They just think As are so so pretty.

5th 73 on T77 flop, turn J. I push, he rivers gutshot straight

I pick up 73 in the big blind. I played the flop a bit too cutely and checked. Villain also checked, which surprised me because he had a big stack and this was the kind of flop I could count on him to bet. So I pushed the turn and he called. He had a nine but I forget what he had with it. I was hoping for the call because I was pretty sure I would be ahead. I was, but he hit his fourouter.

6th ran AJ into limped AKs, then pushed 98s into 77, no love

So you have a premium hand at t100. What's your play? Well, if you are this donkey, it's limp it and give the blinds the chance to outflop you. In his shoes, I'm looking to play a big pot. I raise and hope that someone with a mid ace will push over me. If all fold, oh well. The bustout hand, I was on the button and pushed with about 5BB. I actually have a coinflip with 77 but I don't win too many races.

2nd short HU and no luck

I don't mind being the shortstack heads up. If someone has a much bigger stack, they usually sucked out to get it, and I fancy my chances to outplay them sufficiently to win. But the odds are against you, and if the other guy keeps getting smacked in the face by the flop, you're just going to lose.

5th kk vs 98, he flopped straight

It's about t100. I raise to, I think, 4BB, because this guy is pretty loose and I want him to put plenty in the pot with whatever shit he calls with. The flop comes 765 with two clubs. I have no club. I don't like it but I push the rest of my stack in. I had about 950 so the raise potcommitted me pretty much. I know that no club draws are ever folding, but I'm hoping he has a bare 9 and calls with the gutty. Sigh.

1st played very nicely and patiently even when quite short

Go me! So I played breakeven poker, which means a loss, because the rake cost me a fiver, roughly. I don't think I did much wrong. The one KK hand, flopping an ace, was bad, but the rest is a mixture of horrible fishy calls from villains who proceeded to suck out on me horribly, and "traps" that were so retarded that I don't think it's feasible to avoid them. You just are going to run AJ into AK sometimes anyway. It can't be helped. If you never did, you'd have an ROI of 90%. But I know that I need to think more deeply about some spots, and I'm clearly missing some concepts, because I play okay but I'm not ultracrushing the game, and I think I'd need to if I hope to translate it to a higher level. Having said that though, I railed a $100 tourney the other day, and I couldn't believe how bad the play was.

Of course, I know a couple of things I need to improve on. First of all, I am a bit too willing to get it in with top pair/overpair. This is a hangover from playing limit, where I'll just about never fold an overpair, and I'll be right not to, and where TPTK is an excellent hand. In no limit though, it's only an excellent hand until a shitload of money goes in. Then it starts looking a bit less than fantastic. Still, the other side of the coin is that the fishtards will quite often get their stack in with top pair against your overpair, and they are loath to fold flush draws, regardless what the odds to continue are. So the thinking I need to do is about when, on what kind of boards and with what action, my pair is good. The other thing is to be more active in tight games. The difficulty is that I'm generally a shorter stack, so I can't steal too many blinds unless I play hands that I'll be willing to get it in with. But I doubt I'm pushing enough with trash, and I need to train myself on that.

There are other things to learn, of course. My instincts are quite good, but they're no substitute for a deep knowledge of ICM. And of course experience helps. You can start to get a feel for what different types of players will call with and what they'll push with. I think that's the bottom line in sngs. Knowing that a guy will raise this range, push this range, limp with this, and so on...

But sometimes it looks like a mountain. And you're pushing 93 up it.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Not just bad...

Okay. This is the worst beat I've ever taken, and I don't think I'll ever take one worse, because I don't think there is anything less likely.

NO_LIMIT TEXAS_HOLDEM $5+$1 (Real Money), #574,044,096
5+0.5 NL Holdem Multi Table Tournament, 11 Jul 2007 7:13 AM ET
Seat 1: linda1377 ($22,706 in chips)
Seat 2: MYL ($3,530 in chips)
Seat 3: The_Ente ($4,440 in chips)
Seat 4: froland13 ($25,017 in chips)
Seat 5: metsku ($10,270 in chips)
Seat 6: Dr Zen ($4,705 in chips)
Seat 7: ttouchallsta ($9,470 in chips)
Seat 8: sg14 ($6,743 in chips)
Seat 9: chikso47 ($850 in chips)
Seat 10: fleusroy ($6,260 in chips)
sg14 posts blind ($150), chikso47 posts blind ($300).

fleusroy folds, linda1377 calls $300, MYL folds, The_Ente folds, froland13 folds, metsku calls $300, Dr Zen bets $4,705 and is all-in

I have KK. I am hoping to be called by one of the suckers who's limped. If not, I'll take a decent pot down. A raise would be be good but I actually have a loose image. I've pushed a couple of times in the past three or four hands, and didn't have the greatest hands.

ttouchallsta folds, sg14 folds, chikso47 folds, linda1377 calls $4,405

and shows KcQc.

I have her dominated even.

metsku folds.

FLOP [board cards 7H,2D,5H ]

With no clubs on the flop, no split pot available, and no cards to a straight for her, she must score runner queens to beat me.

So she is 43/3 * 42/2

or basically 301 to 1, against.


TURN [board cards 7H,2D,5H,QH ]

She scores a queeen but no need to fret. Still 21 to 1 against...

RIVER [board cards 7H,2D,5H,QH,QS ]


Monday, 9 July 2007

Tard move

If I had to name the worst play you can make in poker, this is it:

NO_LIMIT TEXAS_HOLDEM $5+$1 (Real Money), #564,382,813
Northridge Single Table Tournament, 8 Jul 2007 11:10 PM ET
Seat 1: MO35 ($1,480 in chips)
Seat 2: najdzel999 ($1,480 in chips)
Seat 3: Sampy X ($1,500 in chips)
Seat 4: 13aris13 ($1,500 in chips)
Seat 5: Yarking Dawg ($1,560 in chips)
Seat 6: Edu_Silva ($1,480 in chips)
Seat 7: Dr Zen ($1,500 in chips)
Seat 8: pikku-jii ($1,500 in chips)
Seat 9: Ronny Cox ($1,500 in chips)
Seat 10: ladytron604 ($1,500 in chips)
Edu_Silva posts blind ($10), Dr Zen posts blind ($20).

I have 73 or some such shit, so I don't expect to go far in this hand.

pikku-jii folds, Ronny Cox calls $20, ladytron604 folds, MO35 folds, najdzel999 folds, Sampy X folds, 13aris13 calls $20, Yarking Dawg calls $20, Edu_Silva calls $10, Dr Zen checks.

So I get a free ride. I haven't been watching these players, and this is only the second or third hand. I know Yarking Dawg. He's a bit too willing to gamble, but that's all I recall about him.

FLOP [board cards 4H,6H,2H ]
Edu_Silva checks, Dr Zen checks, Ronny Cox checks, 13aris13 checks, Yarking Dawg checks.

Now, if I flopped a flush on this board, I would bet. No one ever credits you for it, and you don't want to give a free card to a big heart. I have a gutshot draw, but I'm not all that excited about it.

TURN [board cards 4H,6H,2H,5C ]

My draw came in. I'm still not megaexcited though, but I'll call a bet with it.

Edu_Silva checks, Dr Zen checks, Ronny Cox checks, 13aris13 bets $40, Yarking Dawg folds, Edu_Silva folds, Dr Zen calls $40, Ronny Cox folds.

If I had to put this guy on a hand, I'd put him on a single highish heart. This is probably a semibluff.

RIVER [board cards 4H,6H,2H,5C,QD ]
Dr Zen checks, 13aris13 bets $1,440 and is all-in


Okay, so the guy is betting 1440 to win 180.

There are two cases: he has two hearts or he doesn't. I doubt he has, but of course I won't be calling. This is a bet you need a very strong hand to call. Arguably, only the nuts can call it.

Now why is this a bad play? He has won the pot, no?

It's a bad play because I clearly had something on the turn. I either have a flush or I have a 3. The latter is more likely but I could have flopped a flush and waited for someone to bet it rather than scare the whole table away with a bet. With this many players to the flop, the chances are good someone has two hearts.

If he has no flush, he's pushed me off my hand, hasn't he? Yes, but he has gambled his whole stack that I don't have a flush and won't call with a straight.

If he does have one, he has just failed to get paid. I would have called a small bet. The river was a Q, so I might even have Qh and be willing to call a bet with top pair on the board. I've seen people do it.

When you make a bet that only the nuts can call, you want the pot to reward you. In poker, risks are worth taking only when the rewards are adequate.

Dr Zen folds.

Of course. I doubt he had a flush. But even though the reward is greater for me if I am right, the risk is too high. As it happens, the guy busted out fairly soon afterwards, after making several high-risk, low-reward bets, one of which paid, the other two not.

You see this all the time. Players push to win tiny pots preflop. If the rest of the table is even half-awake, it's only calling you with hands that beat you. If your hand is a bluff, you're risking everything for very little. If you have a very strong hand, you made very little for it. Either way, it's a poor play. Yes, sometimes a fishtard will call an allin push with a weak ace or a pair of 3s, but it's not something you should plan on.

Sometimes you just have to lose

Sometimes you just know you're going to lose.

I have AhQh in a fivedollar MTT. An EP player raises, a loose goose calls. I push. I'm miles ahead of EP's range. He calls. He turns over AJ.

How can you call an allin with AJ? How is it possible that you can be ahead of what I have?

So the flop comes QT9r. I know I'm going to lose. It doesn't matter that I've flopped top pair. He has an openender and it will obviously come in. The turn's a K and IGH.

I'm playing an SNG. A guy bets 400 at t20 after several limpers. One calls. I have no idea how you call a huge bet like that after limping. Last night a guy called a decent raise from me (I had JJ) with KK. But why just call? I might be willing to call a reraise, and by calling, he invites everyone with a naked ace to get in behind him. Well, of course, weak players think you should slowplay everything, and unfortunately, I flopped all undercards and went for it. I remind myself why I do not like JJ and next time I'm just limping it and dumping it to any action, which has worked well for me.

So the 400-chip caller, it turns out, had A8 and rivered two pair. He called down from the A high flop and got lucky on the river.

So I wake up with AA in the BB at t30 and raise to a couple of hundred, enough to fold out everyone but this same retard. The flop comes 9 high without draws, so I bet about 2/3 pot. He calls. Well, it's possible this guy has top pair, but he could have paired anything or nothing. But when the turn comes another 9, I have a sinking feeling. I consider my options. He could have called PF with A9. I've seen him make a worse call. But do I put him on the hand that beats me and check and see what he does? What if he has some shit like a pair of 7s and puts me on AK that cbetted and then gave up, bets and I fold when I have the best hand?

Generally, with AA, I tend to think of it as a bad hand to hold if I can't get it all in preflop, and I'm willing to dump it if I don't think it's good. I know I should check here. If the tard bets heavily, I can assume I'm beaten. He's probably pissed himself with excitement when the second 9 turns up. If he bets small, I'm probably still ahead and can call down, or defer a decision to the river.

Yesterday, I raised big with KK, and a guy who I had figured for a loose goose called. The flop came with an ace, but I fired in a bet all the same. He just called. This guy would surely raise if he had the ace. I bet again on the turn, which showed three to a suit, and he minraised. I called it because I had picked up a flush draw and the A and K were already out. I just didn't put him on Qhxh. The river was another ace and he pushed. I didn't credit him for the ace or the flush. The betting just didn't look like it. I called and he showed a busted straight draw. He had been trying to bluff with Q5.

So I'm looking at the second nine, and my read is that the guy has A9. If I had stopped to think, I'd have been doubtful that a push would be called by any other hand, but I wasn't thinking. I pushed and he showed me the hand I read him for.

The lesson's easily learned. You have to trust your reads and not get all upset because the very worst has happened. Sometimes the guy with AJ just will get his straight. The poker gods don't always punish them for their awful play. And the guy with A9 will have his day when he cracks your aces. The key for me is that when I read him for doing it, I have to give it up. I've proved to myself that I'll make the tough calls when it smells right. I don't need to tip over from tough into brainless.