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I hate learning!

I've heard it said many times that a loss at the tables can be chalked up to the cost of your poker education. If that's the case, I was educated at the $25 NL tables last night and I foresee a second and third semester in my near future.

I sat down at Eurobet's $25 NL tables and reminded myself of two important points:

  1. Be patient.
  2. Don't overvalue top pair.
And so, within the first ten minutes, I overplayed my top pair and was down about half a buy-in. I don't usually post hand histories, but I'm gonna post this one.

In my defense, I put the guy on a draw. That being said, the big turn bet and river bet by me were just asinine.
Texas Hold'em $0.25-$0.50 NL (real money), hand #97,870,982
Table Hobart, 7 Feb 2006 8:16 PM ET

Seat 1: Biscuit314 ($19.65 in chips)
Seat 2: room 217 ($23.30 in chips)
Seat 3: Rego1111 ($13.90 in chips)
Seat 4: Conmeister ($16.10 in chips)
Seat 5: Briandalion3 ($26.70 in chips)
Seat 6: Klopzi [ AS,JH ] ($25.00 in chips)
Seat 7: Diaonic ($19.70 in chips)
Seat 8: smudge120681 ($3.20 in chips)
Seat 9: Jackets2 ($12.55 in chips)
Seat 10: sandspider ($12.50 in chips)
Conmeister posts blind ($0.15), Briandalion3 posts blind ($0.25).

Klopzi calls $0.25, Diaonic folds, smudge120681 folds, Jackets2
folds, sandspider calls $0.25, Biscuit314 folds, room 217 calls $0.25,
Rego1111 folds, Conmeister calls $0.10, Briandalion3 checks.

FLOP [board cards 6S,AD,8D ]
Conmeister checks, Briandalion3 checks, Klopzi bets $0.80, sandspider
calls $0.80, room 217 calls $0.80, Conmeister folds, Briandalion3 folds.

TURN [board cards 6S,AD,8D,KC ]
Klopzi bets $5, sandspider folds, room 217 calls $5.

RIVER [board cards 6S,AD,8D,KC,7C ]
Klopzi bets $5, room 217 calls $5.

Klopzi shows [ AS,JH ]
room 217 shows [ 8S,8H ]
room 217 wins $23.15.

room 217 bets $11.05, collects $23.15, net $12.10
Klopzi loses $11.05

A mere 25 minutes later, I get a little unlucky again on the river. A fourth flush card falls and I know that I have the highest flush, but...
Texas Hold'em $0.25-$0.50 NL (real money), hand #97,968,137
Table Hobart, 7 Feb 2006 8:41 PM ET

Seat 1: Firebreather ($3.50 in chips)
Seat 2: mirkobat ($36.45 in chips)
Seat 3: xx XXX xx ($26.75 in chips)
Seat 4: irishpub021 ($20.00 in chips)
Seat 5: Briandalion3 ($2.10 in chips)
Seat 6: Klopzi [ KS,QH ] ($23.35 in chips)
Seat 7: chunrich ($24.25 in chips)
Seat 8: egeskov ($2.10 in chips)
Seat 9: pembrom ($23.75 in chips)
Seat 10: sandspider ($50.50 in chips)
egeskov posts blind ($0.15), pembrom posts blind ($0.25), irishpub021
posts blind ($0.25).

sandspider folds, Firebreather folds, mirkobat bets $0.50, xx XXX xx
calls $0.50, irishpub021 calls $0.25, Briandalion3 folds, Klopzi
calls $0.50, chunrich folds, egeskov folds, pembrom calls $0.25.

FLOP [board cards 9S,7S,AD ]
pembrom checks, mirkobat checks, xx XXX xx checks, irishpub021 checks,
Klopzi checks.

TURN [board cards 9S,7S,AD,10S ]
pembrom checks, mirkobat checks, xx XXX xx bets $1, irishpub021 calls
$1, Klopzi calls $1, pembrom calls $1, mirkobat folds.

RIVER [board cards 9S,7S,AD,10S,6S ]
pembrom checks, xx XXX xx bets $3, irishpub021 folds, Klopzi calls
$3, pembrom calls $3.

xx XXX xx shows [ 8S,3S ]
Klopzi mucks cards [ KS,QH ]
pembrom mucks cards
xx XXX xx wins $15.15.

Dealer: chunrich
xx XXX xx bets $4.50, collects $15.15, net $10.65
Klopzi loses $4.50

Although the second hand isn't that bad (at least I didn't push or do anything stupid on the river), the first hand was a little fugly. Well, lesson learned. Being down almost one buy-in isn't too bad. I'm at -9% for completion of my $250 NL challenge, but that's cool. I wasn't in a rush anyway (fox, grapes, etc.).

All in all, I didn't think that I was playing all that badly. Although I lost another $7 or so (raise PF, miss flop, rinse, repeat), I really did tighten up after that initial $11 hit. Not too tight - just tight enough.

Anyway, after dropping $23 at Eurobet, I moved over to PokerStars (who've approved me as an affiliate - links and banners forthcoming) for a little SNG action.

After an hour and fifteen minutes, I found myself taking 2nd place yet again in a $5 + 0.50 SNG. This would normally be a great result had I not had a crippling chip lead with only three of us left.

I had $8500, and my opponents had a combined $5000. At this point, I went card dead and they started playing the all-in game. Although I took stabs at pots and stole some blinds, I ended up being heads-up as a small dog.

At that point, my play turned to crap - plain and simple. I'd raise pre-flop then fold on the flop when I missed. I made a critical error when I picked up pocket 2s and failed to push pre-flop - instead I limped and folded to an all-in bet on the flop.

I finally lost it when I pushed pre-flop with another pair of ducks - opponent called with a 64o. Flop paired his 4 and he made a straight by the river.

So, what lessons did I learn last night?

First, if you're betting big in NL and a guy keeps calling you, your top pair is probably not good. Either your opponent is a donkey and drawing without correct odds, or you're being slow-played. Without any reads on the player, your best bet is to put your opponent on the slow-play...

Second, if you want to ruin someone's odds, you don't need to make pot-sized bets. If you really think that someone's drawing and you've got a made hand, then put your money where your mouth is and push on the flop. If your hand is not good enough to push with, then you shouldn't be making pot-sized bets on the turn and the river. However, giving free cards to a potential drawing hand is far worse than betting out. You can't play afraid that an opponent has hit a set on you.

Third, whether you're in first or in third in an SNG, once you're ITM you've got to play aggressive. If you're short-stack, start pushing. If you're big stack, start bullying.

Feel free to comment, as always, on my donk-ish play. With your comments and the magic of PokerTracker/PokerAce, I'm hoping to feel the love from the $25 NL tables soon.


For those of you interested, here are the stats for my 100 SNG Challenge so far:

SNGs Played:    82
Total Earnings:    $43.90
ITM %:    44.44%
ROI %:    9.32%
1st Place:    8
2nd Place:    15
3rd Place:    13
Bubble Boy:    15

As you can see, it's not all bad. I'm hoping to win 1 or 2 of the last 18 SNGs in the challenge. If I can do that, I'll be happy with my play. Any more wins than that and I'll giddily pee my pants in joyous celebration.


OneTrueRock said...


I really don't see much wrong with your first hand.

If you put him on a draw, than it looks like you played it ok. He had not great odds on the flop bet, bad odds on the turn. The call on the turn worries you a little, but if they are capable of calling with a middle pair of a king, then maybe you value bet the end. Basically, you oppenent made mistakes, by just playing so passively, AA or KK are probably the only thing he fears, but he never defines the hand you have. Personally I pop-you on the turn or river with a set.


Klopzi said...

He definitely misplayed his hand. Why he didn't raise on the river, I'll never know...

My mistake was not in betting the turn or the river - just in the size of the bets.

If I bet big on the turn and he still calls (as he did), I have to give him more credit for his hand in the absence of any further information (that's why PokerTracker helps).

On the river, I could have check-called or check-folded (depending on his bet) or put out a smaller feeler bet.

The problem I have with my move on the river is that if he does have me beat, he'll call or raise me. If he was on a draw, he'll fold. By checking, I can induce a bluff out of him if he missed his draw and fold if he pushes.

That's the thing about poker. Had the guy been on a draw as I suspected, I would've looked like a friggin' genius.

However, even in this case, the river bet was still a bad move. That's how I know that I made a grievous error that cost me.

I'm still learning NL ring play. Lesson learned...

Anonymous said...

Regarding the first hand: AJo UTG is a borderline hand. At best, it is probabaly break even. I'd just fold it pre-flop, especially early in a session. You need to establish a few reads. Regardless, your flop bet is okay. Two callers though... they're either on the flush draw or on they have you beat (holding A6, A8, 66 or 88). You can save a couple of bucks by betting $3 on the turn. But when that gets called, you know you're in trouble. Why Villain doesn't raise on the river, I don't know. Maybe the 7 scared him.

The second hand is not too bad. You might want to consider folding the turn. Yes, you're dawing to what will probabaly be the best flush (As would have spoken up on the flop. AXs would possibly play the flop slow... I would), but notice what's happening to your odds. The bet by xxxXXXxxx indicates that he might have the flush. Surely, if he was worried on the flop about people drawing to the flush he would have bet there, but if he hit a small flush, then he'd be betting here so that people don't draw out to a larger flush. If he has the flush (which he has 50% of the time), than you have less outs. So, instead of 9 outs, you effectively have 7 or 8. The spade Ace is a partial out, since if someone has a set they will make a boat. In other words, you don't have pot odds (I think the pot is laying you 4:1... with the slight risk that pembron comes over the top). You also don't have any implied odds. If a river spade comes, you aren't getting any worse hand (except maybe the Qs) to call you. Indeed, it looks like you felt you were beat there, since you just called.

By the way, pembron mucked [QS,JH]

Klopzi said...

You're totally right with regards to the second hand. I have to start thinking a little better about my moves.

One concept that I'm still trying to grasp is the concept of implied odds. I also tend to still think solely in terms of my hands instead of what others are holding and why they are betting a certain way. I'm hoping this will come with time and practice.

You're right - my spidey sense was tingling when I just called on the river. I thought that he'd have the straight flush, simply because I'm pessimistic and expect the worst. Now I've just got to learn to trust that feeling - still, it's hard for me to lay down the king high flush on the river.

As for the first hand, the AJo was a loose call. I'm still not sure which hands to play where when it comes to NL. Although I guess in ring games, AJo is a fold from EP...

As for easing up on the turn bet, I agree whole-heartedly. I should have made a bet on the flop and check-folded the river to a large bet. I've really got to learn how to handle passive play - that's why the fish eat me alive.

Thanks for the great comment. A few more like that and I may start to learn something.

Anonymous said...

Me again. Don't get me wrong. Neither folding AJo UTG or folding that flush draw are "absolutely right" moves. Just that I find myself folding those in a lot of situations. AJo I don't like because the hands it makes aren't strong enough to play out of position. When you get called there, on a fairly uncoordinated board, people are saying "that Ace don't worry me". Maybe they're drawing in your case, with two diamonds on board, but I doubt it.

My starting hand requirements vary a lot depending on the situation. But when I was playing the 25NL, I quickly realized the AJo cost me too much from early position. Maybe I just can't play from EP. As a quick rule of thumb, I'd say all Sklansky group 1-3 hands are okay and all pocket pairs are good from EP.

A problem with AXo is that if you flop the A there is very little deception. When you bet there, pretty much anyone left in the hand puts you on an at least an Ace. It makes it very easy for them to know where they stand... hence they can extract the max from you and lose the min to you. Why that guy didn't come over the top is still puzzling.

Klopzi said...

I guess it'll all come together after I've had a little more time at the tables.

I just hate being the scared money at the table. Although I guess a few more nights like last night and I should be good and desensitized to losing money...

I'll tighten up a bit up front and loosen up in the late seats and see how the tables treat me.