Saturday, 29 December 2007


This is what I fear. That what I know works somewhat, but it isn't right. If it isn't right, it will not serve into the long run.

I have lots of poker knowledge in my head. But it's quite jumbled. Some is definitely sound: I know pot odds; I understand reasons for betting and raising; I know what are good hands and what bad, and I understand why (and I don't just mean I know what are good hands for tight players; I know what hands are good against which type of players); I am not so bad at analysing hands in terms of their maths. I know the outlines of a lot of other parts of knowledge.

I know some of what I lack: I am not good at reading other players (too much playing and reading at the same time--which I can fix); I am not sure which hands to play in which situations, so that I'm not certain whether I'm playing too tight for a situation or too loose; I sometimes misfire with aggression--bluffing calling stations too much and tight players not enough; I sometimes play too weakly.

I chose sitngos because they fit my skillset best and because I started winning at them. I still do but I think anyone with my level of knowledge would. I want to do better. I don't want to play a million $5 sitngos and win at 20-30%. I want to crush them and move up, and win at higher levels.

So what should I do? I can't afford a coach to set me straight. I am afraid to keep piling good knowledge onto bad knowledge. I don't know how to analyse what I do, let alone what I know. I am afraid above all that I will start to win again, and not know whether I'm playing better, learning more, or just running better.

And the worst is, it spills over into life. I have started hating the people I play against. It's desperately unfair that they play so badly and win and I play well and lose and I can't get past it. And the frustration of not progressing makes me tilt in my life. It just makes everything seem so desperate. And it all feeds back, in a vicious circle.

Sometimes I feel I should take a break for a couple of months, let my head clear and then start from scratch. Imagine I know nothing and start from that.

But what good would it do? The old knowledge would crowd back into my head and I'd be back here a couple of weeks later.

still really bad

So I get a third place in an sng where I'm far the best player but get all my cards in the big blind and have it walked.

Then I pick up QQ in the sb at t50, one limper, I raise to 200, he calls.

Flop is AAJ. He checks. With a huge sigh, I bet out 300. He raises and of course I fold. Every time I have a big pair and some idiot calls a raise, an ace comes on the flop. I'm pretty sure he had one. Yeah, maybe he had JT or a midpair but why go bust finding out? Most players in fivers are not tricky enough to play the odds like that.

Anyway, I'm tilting a bit, so I pick up JTs in the cutoff and raise it to 200. You're not calling that with a pair of eights, right? No, me either. But some guy does on the button. Flop comes ATx and I push. I'm delighted to see his hand obviously.

River 8. I am hating this so much. My ROI has plummeted. I just lose all the time. It doesn't matter what shithouse draw my opponents have. Even two outs is good enough.

You can argue that raising the JTs is a bad play, and I should fold, but even so, only one of us really made any mistakes. Not just calling preflop, which is horrible, but calling on the flop, which is worse. My most likely hands are ace-something and a pair bigger than tens. These retards just think fuck it, I have a pair, and I'm calling any bet. They don't even look at the board in my view.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

and worse

ITM in an sng. I have K3.

TEXAS_HOLDEM, NO_LIMIT, T4-56395985-72
played at "New Haven" for USDTC from 2007-12-19 23:05 until 2007-12-19 23:05
Seat 1: Dr Zen ($4,915 in chips)
Seat 3: RoyzeNoBoyz ($6,795 in chips)
Seat 5: Lec12345 ($3,290 in chips)
Dr Zen posts blind ($100), RoyzeNoBoyz posts blind ($200).

Lec12345 folds, Dr Zen bets $500

Standard with a king.

RoyzeNoBoyz calls $400.

FLOP [board cards:4HTDKC ]
Dr Zen bets $900, RoyzeNoBoyz calls $900.

I have to assume I have the best hand. Three possible cases after he calls:

1/ He has a king.
2/ He hit something else.
3/ He has a draw.

In case 1, I am probably doomed to loose more chips because I'm very unlikely to fold top pair.
In case 2, if I check, he might think I was cbetting and then I can win his bet. If I just lead out again, he probably folds.
In case 3, he might semibluff. I am taking a risk if I check, but this guy has played quite aggressively.

TURN [board cards:4HTDKC5H ]
Dr Zen checks, RoyzeNoBoyz bets $5,295 and is all-in, Dr Zen calls $3,415 and is all-in.

He shows JT.

Well, that's great right? I'm miles ahead and he only has five outs.

Surely this time it will...
RIVER [board cards:4HTDKC5HJC ]

Oh no. Silly me.

It gets worse

I don't expect to win every time I play, but this is getting ridiculous. This happens EVERY FUCKING TIME I PLAY. A $5 sng this time:

TEXAS_HOLDEM, NO_LIMIT, T4-56394060-14
played at "Uppsala" for USDTC from 2007-12-19 21:14 until 2007-12-19 21:15
Seat 1: Olum0609 ($3,770 in chips)
Seat 4: 1egdums7 ($1,010 in chips)
Seat 6: MorphNosnese ($1,555 in chips)
Seat 7: Donvon1 ($925 in chips)
Seat 8: Fat-Lula ($4,115 in chips)
Seat 9: Gatti11 ($2,240 in chips)
Seat 10: Dr Zen ($1,385 in chips)

Have not played a hand.

1egdums7 posts blind ($25), MorphNosnese posts blind ($50).

Donvon1 folds, Fat-Lula folds, Gatti11 calls $50, Dr Zen bets $300,

Big bet but this table has been retarded, so get the money in.

Olum0609 folds, 1egdums7 folds, MorphNosnese calls $250, Gatti11 calls $250.

FLOP [board cards:AS3H9S ]

Bang! TPTK, we're good to go.

MorphNosnese bets $400

Don't think so, dude.

Gatti11 calls $400, Dr Zen bets $1,085 and is all-in

Come on!

MorphNosnese folds,

Didn't think so.

Gatti11 calls $685.

Here's a WTF moment.

The guy shows Ks5s.

Okay, you're an idiot who limps that preflop.

But you call a raise to 6BB with it? And then call a t400 bet on the flop? Half the pot, so not good enough odds, and I'm still to play, with my most likely hand a big ace.

Of course, he has to call the push. He's played so badly up to this point that he's actually priced in for it.

Still, I should be happy, right? Money in really good again. He's about 2 to 1 to...

TURN [board cards:AS3H9S7S ]


Whenever I get allin with less than the nuts now, I expect to lose. It doesn't matter what shit they have against me, they will win every time. EVERY FUCKING TIME. I'm not kidding. I occasionally have a hand that's ahead preflop and holds up, but if someone calls me with some bullshit draw, count on their drawing out on me.

RIVER [board cards:AS3H9S7SQH ]


Goddamnit! I need PokerRoom to switch off the doomswitch, because this is just sucking so much.

t150 in a $5 tourney. I have about 6K. I wake up with QQ. I raise to 500 and the only guy who covers me calls.

Note that. The only guy who covers me at the whole table calls.

The flop comes all low hearts. I have the Q of hearts. I bet out. The tard raises, and I push.


Most of the time the guy has Ahx and has paired x, or has a big ace that he thinks probably is ahead. Sometimes he has a set. Sometimes an overpair of his own. Other times he's bluffing. Only very rarely will he have the flush.

In the first of those cases, you really don't want to fold. In the second, I have the odds to call his raise, but I'm not going to like a push on the turn. In the third, I don't want to fold at all. In the fourth, I still have a redraw against most flushes. On balance, I'm going to be ahead, and I'm going to be called by the Ahx hands and probably AK/AQ too.

The guy shows KhTh. WTF? How often can players flop flushes against me? I mean, for fuck's sake, they do this all the time. He doesn't even have 5h4h or other bullshit that I can at least suck out on.

And please, spare me a discussion of overplaying overpairs. You have to overplay them in $5 tourneys on PR. The blinds go up quickly, and you just don't get enough play to play too nitty. Anyway, I think my play is fine. There are just too many hands he can have that I beat to fold that.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Sucking does not hurt

So I made the final table of a $5 tourney. I had been up to 100K but I took a bad beat, but remained viable. With short stacks, no need to take too many risks but it's not my style to fold my way up the ladder. After all, I'm trying to win.

So I pick up AT.

TEXAS_HOLDEM, NO_LIMIT, T4-55942675-164
played at "Elmira" for USD TC from 2007-12-13 23:16 until 2007-12-13 23:17
Seat 2: Dr Zen ($64,376 in chips)
Seat 5: BunyipBlue ($12,520 in chips)
Seat 7: ckoilecon88 ($175,659 in chips)
Seat 8: dondimorin ($9,709 in chips)
Seat 9: ATorben ($14,002 in chips)
Seat 10: Woltas1 ($176,734 in chips)
ATorben posts blind ($2,000), Woltas1 posts blind ($4,000).

Dr Zen bets $9,000, BunyipBlue folds, ckoilecon88 folds, dondimorin folds, ATorben folds, Woltas1 calls $5,000.

I make a raise on the small side. I think this guy will call most raises though if he has what he considers viable cards.

FLOP [board cards:6S7H,TS ]

So I hit the flop, but there are tons of draws there, so I bet pot:

Woltas1 checks, Dr Zen bets $20,000, Woltas1 bets $40,000

I am never folding here. I have put in 29K of my 64K stack and I have TPTK. If he has got lucky, oh well, but I will not fold this.

And if I'm not folding, I'm pushing.

Dr Zen bets $35,376 and is all-in, Woltas1 calls $15,376.

Unbelievably, he shows Qh9h. He has the odds to call the push, but WTF was that raise? Is he really clueless enough not to realise that I won't fold anything I bet here for a minraise? My bet potcommitted me. He has seen me call a push with hands that must puzzle a level one player (because they don't understand that you must call when the odds favour you, given that what we are doing is making bets).

He doesn't even have a flush draw.

But you know what's going to happen, don't you?

TURN [board cards:6S7H,TS6D ]

Wait for it...

RIVER [board cards:6S7H,TS6D8H ]

Yep, there it is. His play postflop is atrocious. I can forgive the call preflop. He can count on my having a hand that beats him preflop but I offered him decent odds, I suppose. That's my mistake in this hand. I needed to raise a bit more, because with a hand such as AT, I probably prefer to win the blinds.

But on the flop, he has no excuses. I have bet the pot, and this is an easy fold for him. I *could* have two spades, but even if I do, I probably have an ace or king, and I'm beating him. But he should expect me to show top pair or better, because I have betted the pot and committed myself. I am clearly going to put all my money in here. He cannot raise me off my hand, no matter what I have. I will never fold here. If I didn't like my hand enough to call a raise, I would have checked behind, or perhaps made a smaller bet. I might even have pushed a spade draw. (I say "I" but I mean "his opponent".)

This guy will lose money over his career. It's little consolation for me that that is true but I suppose that I should take some from having again put my money in really good. (We all know that hands you lose are more salient than ones you win, and I would hardly remember it had I won that one and gone on to win.) And at least I made a final table. I'm not going so badly if I make FTs.

Thursday, 13 December 2007


I am hating poker at the moment, so much so that I might give up. I cannot stand the element of chance. I know that's a weird thing to say in a game that is so influenced by chance, but I am finding it really hard to deal with, because I keep making good plays and keep on losing in ridiculous and painful ways.

Today I have played four games of poker. The first was a $5 tourney. I had about t1000 at t100 blinds and picked up JJ. Four guys limped. I pushed, hoping to fold them all out. UTG called, and showed AT.

This is atrocious, obviously. He is behind *everything* I push with if I am even close to sane. He is a flip with smaller pairs, yes, but he is crushed by AA-JJ and bigger aces.

You are thinking he flopped an ace. Nope. He rivered a flush. He didn't even have suited cards.

Well, okay, shit happens, so I fire up an sng. I run a bit cold but play okay and get it all in with KQ against QJ. That's nice, isn't it? I'm a huge favourite. But he flops JJ9.

Next up, I'm in third and push with A something. Called by K8 for a bunch of chips. He flops the K.

So next up I am on the bubble. I cover the short stack, who is in the big blind. I have A2s. I could push, but I raise instead. I figure he will fold and if he pushes, I will snapcall. My read is that he will try to push me off whatever I'm raising. I folded one earlier to another player. This is different though.

So he pushes, and I call. He has 74. The flop comes Ax4. I don't get excited though. He has five outs and that will surely be enough.

I won't even tell you about the day before yesterday (didn't play yesterday), not even the AA where two fish called a big raise with king highs and both beat me.

I would not mind so much if I was playing badly. But I am comprehensively outplaying these retards. I trap them and they hit two-outers. I snap off their bluff pushes preflop and they hit perfect flops. I flop straights and they runner-runner flush me out of it. They call my pushes with hands I dominate, and they hit their kickers.

It is sick. I wish I could be writing interesting posts about winning sngs with good play. Instead, I am just dumbfounded by how much money I lose each day.

Okay, I'll run good at some point. But just now, I need that some point to be now. When you're not feeling confident about your play, you start to think not that the play that got you knocked out was no good, but that other plays weren't. "If I had done that, then..." You start to question everything. Well, that might be good, but not when it isn't constructive.

Edit: And now I'm on tilt, so I'm playing like shit. But it doesn't help when you are dealt K5, and the flop comes K high. You call bets to the river and the other guy shows the other two Ks. WTF? I am dominated by a pair and I flop the case fucking card? Then I follow up by pushing over a limp with A6 and getting called by KJ, who proceeded to flop and turn a K. To mock me, Stars gave me an ace on the river. The guy who called was a fucking idiot, who had been mouthing off in chat, and that didn't help.

Edit 2: Even worse. I just cannot stand this. I have 1800 chips at t100. I pick up AQs and raise to 300. Some guy calls. Flop is Q93 with two diamonds. I bet 500, he puts me all in. I call obviously. He has AA.

WTF? I can stand bad beats. I can stand setup hands. But I can't stand both all the fucking time. ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Every game today. Every game bar one two days ago.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

What is a level?

I'm posting this answer to a boots comment as a post, because it's sprawled a bit.

boots asked whether I do have a level, and wtf is a level anyway?

It means that there is a level of buyin at which I have an edge over the opposition.

boots, generally, you could consider yourself on a scale of pokering. Let's say I am a 45 out of 100 (this is not a realistic score, just an illustration). I might play several 10s, a few 50s, whatever, but if the average is 35, I am a favourite to win money. Not guaranteed, but I have an edge. Betting with an edge is what gambling is all about. (It doesn't matter that there are individual players better than me. What matters is my edge over the pool of players as a whole.)

However, if most players in the games I play are 50s, so that the average is, say, 50, I am over my head. I am betting with the worst of it. I may win (and I've seen players who are hopelessly outclassed but still win) but I can basically expect to lose.

The thing is, I want to know whether when I back myself with 16 dollars in a 16 turbo I am making a good bet or a bad one. The dissonance for me has come from this:

a/ before playing 16s, I felt I would be making a good bet. I had good reason to think that: I beat the 5ers, 6.50s and 10s decently; I feel comfortable discussing hands at this level on 2p2; I review others' 16s and feel I have a good handle on the play
b/ I lost heavily.

I ran badly, true. I can think of several spots where I got my money in good but was just outlucked. That's going to happen, and of course there will be days where it happens continuously. Yesterday, for instance, I was on the bubble with about 4100/15000 chips. I got it all in with shorty with AK. He had A4 and flopped a 4. Then I called a push with another AK. I'm reasonably confident it was a good call because even though I was covered by the pusher, I felt he had a fairly wide range and I was quite short, but it's conceivable that ICM would indicate a fold. Anyway, he turned over A9s and rivered a 9. So here I dominated others twice in only a few hands, got my money in good, and still ended up losing dollars. But that's poker. The problem is that losing a few buyins at the 16s has left me unsure whether I ran badly enough to account for it, played badly or went on tilt and let bad luck influence my play. I've gone over some of the games in Wiz, and it's not indicating bad pushes or calls, but I lost several games postflop.

So I don't know. My belief is that my level is the 16s, or quite possibly the 27s. I think my play is sound, on the whole. My knowledge of ICM is a bit sketchy, but on the not aggressive enough side, which shaves a few points from your ROI but doesn't necessarily make you a terrible player. There are just so many guys who clearly have no idea of pot odds, tournament equity or basic strategy. I played a 20 on PokerRoom the other night and I couldn't discern any difference in ability on the whole between the players there and in a 5er. I also once observed a 100 on PR and you know, the players there were mostly shit. You can't tell much from one game, because you might just have stumbled on a particularly fishy tourney, but at least I know that bad players do exist at that level. (The thing is, boots, that if my level is 45, I might find 30s in the 100-dollar level, but there will be enough 55-60s and better that the average will leave me with no edge.)

Anyway, I'm very busy this month, so I don't have time to devote to thinking about poker too much. So it was no problem to drop back to playing 5s and 10s, where I'm certain I do have an edge, and not worry too much about it. I can try the 16s again in the new year, once I've been able to do some more work on ICM and have a think about whether my basic strategy was at fault. Maybe I need to be a bit more nitty postflop. That would be the thing I need to look at, I think. I can post hands to 2p2 and get some help from better players. It might be that I played the hands okay, but simply ran badly enough to make it feel like I was going wrong. Or it might be that I made poor choices and can fix it. I'm not despondent about it (although I was when it happened). I am still on the way up.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007


So I moved up to the 16s and I'm hating it.

A loose guy raises, I push over with AQ, he calls with Q8s and the board comes 57964. Of course. I then pick up AJ in the BB, the same guy raises in the SB, and I push again. He has AK.

I limp in on the button at level two with KJs. The flop comes jack high, twosuited, it's checked round to me and I bet. Tard raises, I call. I'll re-evaluate turn but I saw this tard bust himself out with a weak hand one tourney back. Turn jack, we get it all in. Yeah, I should have folded, but what's the point of having reads if you just ignore them? There are dozens of hands he can have that I beat, but AJ isn't one of them.

I pay the BB of 150 with Jh3h. Some guy pushes, SB calls and it gets to me for small change, and I call. I flop the flush, and when SB leads, I'm putting him on top pair or a big heart, and I push. Yes, he has a big heart. Two of them.

I have AKs and raise. Called in a couple of places. It comes twosuited, king high. I probably shouldn't get it in, but the loosetard I'm in the hand with doubtless gets it in with a range of hands. He has paired his kicker though, as well as his king.

Another time I have a suited ace, and the flop comes two of my suit. I bet, tard raises, and there is too much money in the pot to fold, so I push with the decent odds on offer. Not decent enough. I am right that I have 12 outs, but today I would need 40 outs to stand a decent chance of actually drawing out on someone.

I play ten tourneys but do not get aces or kings cracked. That's because I do not get aces or kings. I get QQ cracked twice though, just in case I was thinking that somehow that was a good hand. It does hold up once. I get JJ once, and make nothing with it. I get AQ, but it might as well be 72 when it misses the flop five times in a row.

That's poker, I guess. I'm left not sure whether to stick with it, because I don't think I'm playing badly and SNG Wiz is not saying I'm pushing in the wrong spots, or to drop down and regain confidence at a lower level. You have downswings, of course, but yeah, I'd have liked an upswing first.