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Late Night, No Poker

I wanted to play poker so badly last night. Around 9:30 PM, I got my laptop ready and was about to run to the fridge to grab a Rockstar energy drink in preparation for a solid session of $100 NL. Unfortunately, my youngest decided to start crying and fussing at 9:32 PM. After my wife finished feeding him, I helped soothe him as best as I could while encouraging my wife to relax. What a long, crazy night...

Once all was said and done, I finally got some free time at midnight. But I was too tired to even fathom loading up any tables so I went to bed. Having kids is one of the best decisions that my wife and I ever made, but it sure as shit isn’t always sunshine and lollipops. The past week has been quite trying in terms of mine and my wife's collective sanity, but we're managing and taking it day by day.

I'm going to try and play poker tonight. I'll continue repeating that phrase until it becomes reality. I want to play poker. I want to get better. I'd like to someday be able to play in the Ultimate Blogger Grudge Match. It'd definitely be -EV for me but I'd like to play with those bloggers who take poker seriously and have the skills and bankrolls to prove it. As fun as it is to constantly read about who won this week's Mookie and MATH blogger tourneys, I'm more of a cash game player myself and I like to read about big pots won and lost. All exceptions aside, I also believe that cash game players tend to play better than tournament-only players though I'll admit that I'm biased in my view since I can't stomach the variance of tournament poker.

And while I'm at it, let me just say for the record that I hate it when people post hand histories and abbreviate Ace-Ten as "A10". Everyone knows that "AT" is the better convention!

I also hate the seats on the buses I take to and from work everyday. They all suffer from at least one of the following problems:

  • The seats are too small.
  • The seats are too contoured, hard, and downright uncomfortable.
  • There's little to no leg-room.
I spend most bus rides either sitting ass to ass with Stinky McGee, thong-ing the hard plastic edge of the seat between my cheeks, or trying in vain to sit comfortably as my knees are grated to shreds by the textured aluminum backing of the seats directly ahead.

I'll also be cleaning up the list of blogs maintained on my site and adding some new blogs to the mix. Regrettably, I'll be removing all links to blogs that haven't been updated in the past few months. If I happen to remove your blog and you'd still like to be linked up again for whatever reason, just e-mail me and I'll put your link back up.

I'll also add the blogs of those playing in the big blogger cash game, namely:By the way, if there are any bloggers out there focusing primarily on the mid- to high-stakes cash games (Hold'em, Omaha, Stud, whatever), drop me a line and I'll add your blog to my list. While I'm not looking to really learn much in terms of poker strategy from the higher-stakes players, I'm fascinated by the psychology of it all. I believe that the mental game is a large part of a poker player's success and watching how these players cope with hot streaks and losing streaks makes for good reading.

By the way, just a quick congrats to Al on his 1000 posts! Al's blog was the one of the first poker blogs that I ever read and he's the reason I decided to start blogging. And though our blogs could not be any more different, I do owe Al some thanks for introducing me to my biggest time sink in recent years.

I'll be back tomorrow with a recap of my first full month back at poker. Of course, by "full" I mean five hours at the tables but that's beside the point.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Late Night, No Poker"

Peek-a-boo!

Rather than playing poker last night, I played peek-a-boo with my youngest son. I didn't win any money nor did I lose any money. I did, however, get to hear my son giggle his diaper off so it was definitely a +EV move. But if I get the chance to sit down down tonight at some time before 10:45 PM, I'll definitely be playing poker. I haven't played since last Friday and I really want to get a good session in before January's over.

I did play quite a bit of Mass Effect last night. Of course, I save all my video game discussions for my other site - The Greedy Gamer! There are a lot of great games coming out in 2008 (see my top 5 list here) and poker has afforded me enough money to buy any and all games I could possibly want.

Regardless of the video games coming out this year, poker will still be a major influence on how I choose to spend my free time. I'm serious about making it to the $1000 NL tables. The dream's alive though still in its infancy: I'll need more time at the tables before any of my poker-related ambitions get realized or cast aside. On Friday, I'd like to take a look at how things went in January and determine whether or not I'm still on course for some high-stakes poker starting in Summer 2009.

I'm pretty busy today so that's it for me. Have a good one!

Keep reading "Peek-a-boo!"

Surfin', Readin', Gamblin'

Every since I started taking poker seriously again - something which I aim to do at least once or twice a year - I've been reading a lot. I estimate that I read three to four poker-related books a week. You can imagine how much I'm looking forward to receiving my four new books from Amazon in next couple months. In the meantime, I'm re-reading the Sklansky/Miller opus No-Limit Hold'em: Theory and Practice. I'm starting to feel like I'm back in school again with all the studying that I've been doing...

Tonight I'll put my ever-refining poker skills to the test at Titan Poker's $100 NL tables. I'm still playing short-stack poker because it suits me quite well. The tables' big stacks think they can bully me and try to put me all-in on marginal holdings: of course, I'm happy to call with my typically solid hands.

I've also continued to look over countless notebook computer specs in a vain attempt to find my perfect poker computer. I've decided that I'd be happy with a notebook that has a WSXGA+ (1680x1050) LCD screen. A WSXGA+ screen would allow me to play two tables with zero overlap or four tables with some minor overlap. Unfortunately, WSXGA+ notebook computers are even harder to find than the poker-perfect WUXGA (1920x1200) notebook computers. Why do I drive myself crazy with this stuff? I think some might argue that I have an obsessive personality at times.

I've also looked briefly into the prospect of completing a player to player transfer on InterPoker in order to facilitate the extraction of my $100 worth of casino money at InterCasino. No luck. Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe I read that InterPoker has not allowed PTP transfers for quite some time.

But I'm getting ahead of myself with all this supercomputer and money-transfer talk. Tonight is about the poker. Tomorrow, I'll see if I can post a session review to help me better understand and accept the bad beats or lucky hands from tonight's session.

Have a good one.

Keep reading "Surfin', Readin', Gamblin'"

Quick Weekend Recap

I don't have much time to sum up this past weekend.

Here's the long and short of it:

  • Played a little $100 NL at Titan Poker late Friday afternoon and lost a half buy-in after getting all-in pre-flop with my TT versus an aggressive player's AK.

  • Lost $20 of free bonus money from InterPoker and lost it on my first hand at a $50 NL table. I posted in the big blind and got stacked in a heads-up pot where both my opponent and I hit our flushes on the river: my Queen-high lost to his King-high flush.

  • I managed to run the $20 I had remaining at InterCasino up to $100; however, I can't touch the money until I've cleared an additional 93 MPPs at InterPoker. Unfortunately, I have no money at InterPoker and very few options for depositing there so I'll have to look into player to player transfers. Failing that, I may just gamble like a madman and try to win enough in the casino to make it worth my while to deposit via cheque or wire transfer at InterPoker.
I'm still feeling good about my game at this point. I've been playing pretty solid poker lately, though the games can be predictably dull at times since there's little room for creativity when playing the short-stack.

I'm nowhere near reaching my 5 hours of poker a week mark for January. Even so, I may take a little time to play more Mass Effect this week. I am aiming to play poker once or twice more before the month is up.

Oh, and I ordered a some more poker books for my birthday. I'll have to wait a few months before any of these books show up at my door but I'm not in a rush. Lots to keep me busy until then.

That's it for today! Have a good one!

Keep reading "Quick Weekend Recap"

Session Review #13: It's all in the flop


I managed to put in about an hour at Titan Poker's $100 NL tables last night. Although I made a few good plays here and there, I ultimately ended up down about 10 BB. The main obstacle that stood in the way to untold riches was my oppponents' insistence on not laying down their cards to my continuation bets. We've all had nights like that, though, and I recognize that this is just a part of the game we all know and love. Sometimes you just need the cards...

I've got some hands for review today. The first few are from my adventures at InterPoker's 6-max $50 NL tables a couple nights ago. I had a good session and just feel like discussing three of the hands that all but determined my session's outcome that night. I've also got a couple hands from last night's play at Titan Poker: in particular, I wanted to focus on a neat little play I made with a guy who loved to defend his blinds.

But first, let's start with InterPoker. This session took place after InterPoker/InterCasino gave me $20 to take to the poker tables. Although I was the short stack at this 6-max $50 NL table, I still had enough money to make a go for it. After sitting down, I quickly ascertained that two of my opponents were pretty loose and I was hoping that either one of them would be able to double me up.

It didn't take me very long to kick off the festivities...


InterPoker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.25/$0.50
6 players
Converter

Stack sizes:
UTG (LAG): $157.60
UTG+1: $94.55
CO: $14.75
Button (Hero): $19.25
SB: $54.75
BB: $61.30

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is Button with T♣ T♥
LAG calls, 2 folds, Hero raises to $2.5, 2 folds, LAG calls.

(With an SPR of 4, I was willing to commit post-flop with a set or overpair. I was still new to the table and hadn't seen the LAG play many hands.)

Flop: T♦ 8♦ J♥ ($5.75, 2 players)
LAG checks, Hero bets $5, LAG calls.

(I hit my set but the board was pretty scary. I bet close to pot in the hopes of taking it down but the LAG called. With two likely draws, I figured to push on the turn as long as I didn't see a diamond, a seven, a nine, or a queen fall.)

Turn: 9♠ ($15.75, 2 players)
LAG bets $1.5, Hero calls.

(Yuck! I didn't like the nine but the LAG's bet was small enough to give me odds to draw to the boat.)

River: 7♣ ($18.75, 2 players)
LAG bets $5, Hero raises to $10, LAG calls.

(They say "think long, think wrong" and I'd tend to agree. My first instinct was that I was beat on the river to my opponent's Queen-high straight. But then I thought that the LAG's bet on the turn might have been bigger had he held the Queen-high straight. In the end, I decided to simply raise on the river hoping for a fold that I knew would never come. )

Results (in white):

Final pot: $38.75
Hero shows Tc Th
LAG shows 9d Ac


With a terribly played hand behind me, I set out to take advantage of the LAG's poor choice in starting hands and questionable post-flop play. And let's not forget that I was seeking a little redemption myself after having embarrassed myself with my awkward river raise.


InterPoker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.25/$0.50
6 players
Converter

Stack sizes:
UTG: $42.72
UTG+1 (LAG): $160.14
CO: $93.58
BUTTON (FISH): $30.03
SB (Hero): $16.67
BB: $53.46

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is SB with Q♠ Q♦

UTG folds, LAG raises to $1, CO folds, FISH calls, Hero raises to $5, BB folds, LAG calls, FISH folds.

(Now this is what I'm talking about: holding QQ with a raiser and a cold-caller already in the pot! I raised to $5, hoping to get two callers but I was quite happy that the LAG decided to stick around for the flop. With an SPR of about 1, I was committed to this pot no matter what happened on flop.)

Flop: Q♣ A♥ A♣ ($11.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $5, LAG raises to $10, Hero raises all-in $11.67, LAG calls.

(Normally I'd slowplay such a strong hand but my stack was so small that I doubt the LAG would have given much thought to folding. I find that playing the short-stack in a no-limit hold'em cash game seems to be an invitation to my opponents to try and stack me.

When the Villain raised my bet, we were both committed to the pot and I simply raised my remaining $1.67.)


Turn: T♥ ($34.84, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $34.84)

River: K♠ ($34.84, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $34.84)

Results (in white):

Final pot: $34.84

Hero shows Qs Qd
LAG shows As 7s


I've got to think that the LAG knew he was behind when I pushed behind his raise on the flop; however, he can't fold for $1.67 more. He got lucky in his A9 hand above and I caught a dream flop with my Pocket Queens. The moral of the story is that playing ace-rag from early position, even in 6-max no-limit, can be a tricky proposition - especially when facing a raise or re-raise from a tight-player who has position on you.

In this last hand, the FISH at the table decided to get in on the action.

InterPoker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.25/$0.50
6 players

Converter

Stack sizes:

UTG: $51.21
UTG+1: $49.15
CO: $142.17
Button: $50.70
SB: $34.88
Hero: $30.14

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is BB with 8♣ Q♦

4 folds, SB calls, Hero checks.

(I love seeing a free flop in a blind vs. blind situation. I knew the SB didn't have anything and I'd have position on him for the rest of the hand. Even if I completely missed the flop, a pot-sized flop bet would probably win me the pot.)


Flop: 3♦ 8♠ Q♣ ($1, 2 players)
SB checks, Hero checks.

(I flopped a monster but I decided to hold off on betting. On a previous hand, I'm checked the flop in position and bet the turn when checked to a second time. The FISH had then check-raised me and forced me to fold my hand. My plan for this hand was to follow that same betting pattern of check-check/check-bet-raise. This time, however, I was planning to 3-bet the turn instead of folding.)

Turn: T♣ ($1, 2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $3, SB raises to $6, Hero raises to $17, SB calls.

(Continuing with my plan and hoping the ten on the turn or possible flush draw had conected with the FISH's hand, I overbet the pot. As before, the FISH raised and I re-popped him in the hopes of getting all the money in. Instead, the FISH simply called forcing me to wait until the river to give this pot my final push.)

River: 4♥ ($35, 2 players)
SB checks, Hero is all-in $15.64, SB calls.

(Although I didn't know whether the FISH was on a busted draw or whether he held a monster hand, I was committed to my hand. I figured that the FISH would just as soon call a large bet as he would a small bet so I jammed. The FISH called so quickly that I was a little worried that I'd be shown QT, J9, or a set.)

Results (in white):

Final pot: $66.28
Hero shows 8c Qd
SB shows Ah Ad


How many times have you heard that slow-playing Aces pre-flop is silly? Although the SB would have only won my 50 cent blind had he raise pre-flop, he could have saved himself from losing $30. Still, I like the way he played this hand...

--

The next couple hands are from last night's session at Titan Poker.


Titan Poker 0.50/1.00, hand converted by the iPoker Converter at Talking-Poker

saw flop | saw showdown

Button ($99.00)
SB Hero ($53.65)
BB Villain ($30.49)
UTG ($100.00)
UTG+1 ($72.40)
CO ($102.20)

Preflop: Hero is in the SB with 9 Q
4 folds, Hero raises to 3.00, Villain raises to 6.00, 1 fold

(After sitting down at my first table of the evening, everyone folded to me in the small blind on just my second hand. Even though I knew nothing about the big blind, I figured that my hand deserved a raise. Unfortunately, the big blind liked his hand even more and pushed me off my hand. Oh well...)


Whenever someone plays back at me like this, I start to watch them closely. Over the next fifteen minutes, I watched the Villain defend his big blind at least 80% of the time. I don't really care about defending my big blind all that much in no-limit hold'em but there are others who view a blind steal as a personal affront.

I also noticed that the Villain seemed to pride himself on being tricky and outsmarting others at the table. He'd shown down some big bluffs and seemed to be having a little too much fun pushing others around. It was only a matter of time before knocked the Villain down a peg.

Titan Poker 0.50/1.00, hand converted by the iPoker Converter at Talking-Poker

saw flop | saw showdown

Button ($111.78)
SB Hero ($50.65)
BB Villain ($34.86)
UTG ($97.50)
UTG+1 ($69.40)

Preflop: Hero is in the SB with T K
3 folds, Hero raises to 3.00, Villain raises to 5.00, Hero raises to 12.00, Villain calls 9.50.

(I was pretty sure that the Villain would re-raise me if I tried to "steal" his blind. My plan was simply to 3-bet the Villain pre-flop and have him fold after being called out. When the Villain called my re-raise, I could only hope for a good flop.)

Flop (31.00) A 4 5
Hero moves all-in for 35.15, 1 fold

(With an Ace on the flop, I saw my chance. I didn't want to do anything fancy. If I'd gotten greedy and tried for the check-raise, the Villain may have felt more tied to the pot and called with a variety of hands that beat my KT. In the end, I decided to open-jam the flop. Luckily, the Villain's brave facade crumbled before the might of my $35 bet.)


This last hand seemed to deflate the Villain and he busted out a few hands later. Although I don't make plays like this very often, it's always nice to find the right opponent and right situation to try out a move or two.

--

It's the weekend and I'll be starting it off right! Tonight, I'll be doing a little post-birthday drinking and gambling! Wish me luck!

I'll be back on Monday with more hands and more poker-y goodness. Until then, why not enter yourself in the contest I'm running. Come on! Free poker analysis software! What else do you want?

Keep reading "Session Review #13: It's all in the flop"

The Presents Keep Comin'

A couple days ago, InterPoker sent me an e-mail informing me that they'd placed $10 into my account as a birthday present. Pretty sweet of them considering that I haven't had the opportunity to play at InterPoker ever since Neteller pulled out of the online gaming industry. In any case, I figured I could take my $10 to a 6-max $25 NL table and try to run it up to a respectable amount then cash out. And that's when I remembered that I'd also received an e-mail from InterCasino...

In that e-mail, InterCasino offered to add $20 to my real money account if I wagered as little as a penny on any of InterCasino's table games or slots. So I took the free $10 that InterPoker had given me and spent $0.01 on a single spin of the Spider-Man slot machine. I then e-mailed InterCasino to let them know that I'd fulfilled my end of the bargain and that the ball was now in their court.

Last night, I received notice that InterCasino had kept up their word (not that I had any doubts, mind you) and deposited $20 into my account. I then opened up InterPoker and went to sit down at a $50 NL table. I figured that a 60 BB buy-in would be enough to get me started. Unfortunately, the $10 that I'd used over at InterCasino to get the $20 bonus was unavailable to me. I e-mailed InterCasino support once again to find out why my $10 was being held hostage and then got down to playing some poker.

With only $20 available and with no $100 NL tables running, I bought in for 40 BB at a 6-max $50 no-limit hold'em table. As I waited to post, I watched the table and quickly spotted the two seats that would undoubtedly make or break me. There was a LAG with $150 in chips sitting three spots to my left and a loose-passive player sitting to my direct right. Although position is not as important when playing short-stack poker, I liked the fact that I had pretty good position on both these players.

I knew I'd have to wait for a hand before I could really play. With only $20 in my stack, I couldn't really play any of the suited connectors or other speculative hands and expect to meet with any real success. I was looking for either two big cards or a pair.

I'll wait until tomorrow to discuss the three important hands that played out at the table. For the time being, here's a quick overview of what happened:


  • I lose about $1 when I split the pot with TT against the LAG's A9.

  • I double up to just over $30 when I crush the LAG's A7 with my QQ.

  • I double up again when my Q8 crushes the fish's slowplayed AA.

Like any good "rat-holer", I left the table up $40. With a whopping $61.18 in my InterPoker account, I figured that I was happy to call it a night and requested a cash out via cheque. As I was shutting down the laptop, I noticed that InterCasino had sent me another e-mail. They told me that my $10 was not trapped at InterCasino and that I needed only wager another $0.01 on any casino game and they would give me another $20 bonus (redeemable only at the casino only, it seems). So I took another spin on the Spider-Man slot machine and then tried to access my remaining $9.98 from InterPoker.

Unfortunately, my $9.98 was still completely inaccessible. I guess InterCasino and I differ on what I meant when I said "trapped". So I did what any gambler would do: I took my money to the blackjack tables and started gambling. I played a couple hands at $2 a bet and lost both. I then figured what the hell and bet $5 on my next hand and won. I did the same again with $10 and doubled up again. At that point, my InterCasino account was sitting at $40 and, lo and behold, I could now pull $20 of my casino roll over to InterPoker.

In the end, here's where I stood at the end of the night:Not too bad for 30 minutes work using only a free $10 birthday bonus!

I'll probably play at Titan Poker tonight since I'd like to continue playing $100 NL. However, I'll probably visit InterPoker on Friday night for some drunken short-stack poker and reckless micro-stakes blackjack! Bonus money is so liberating!

I'll be back tomorrow with a session review of the three hands I played at the $50 NL tables.

See ya!

--

PS: Only 20 days left to enter yourself for into the free draw for one of three retail copies of Poker Academy Prospector. Seriously - this is a free full version of some great software that comes with no-strings-attached! Don't miss out!

Keep reading "The Presents Keep Comin'"

Book Worm

I haven't had much of a chance to play any poker since my "monster" one hour session on Saturday. I was hoping to play a little poker on my birthday; however, I thought that a little poker might mean more than 15 minutes of hurried poker while my youngest son whined and cried. The poker bug has now taken over once again and I'm eagerly looking forward to my next session. In the meantime, I've been doing my best to work on my game away from the tables.

Your average B & M poker player would probably make fun of me for spending so much time reading poker books. Professional No-Limit Hold'em: Volume 1 is currently being re-read for the fifth time. I felt it necessary to break out the big guns after finishing off Chris Moneymaker's book, aptly name Moneymaker, for a second time. When I first read the book, I felt that Chris Moneymaker's thoughts about gambling and poker showed a certain amount of immaturity, naivety, and just plain ignorance. In his defense, Chris did win the 2003 Main Event so I may simply be jealous.

Still, Moneymaker's reasoning while describing hands seem a little flawed at times. Every time Chris found himself in a big pot, he needed a lot of luck to pull himself out of the fire due to his comically faulty thought process. Here's a example of Chris's reasoning:

  1. Geez, the player sitting under-the-gun doesn't play many hands. Oh wait, he's raising! I'll call with my J9 on the button and see what happens.
  2. Okay, the flop's showing A K 9 and UTG is betting into me. I can't see what he could possibly have here so I'll call.
  3. Turn's a 5. Oh man, UTG is betting again! I'm gonna raise him and push him off his hand. He's tight so he'll fold. Shit! He called and he's showing AK! Well, I'm gonna have to get lucky here!
  4. River's a 9! I win! I'll high-five everyone and mock the tight player to put him on tilt.
  5. I really think I could win this tournament even though I'm a nothing accountant with nothing but a stack of bills to his name and wife at home with a baby that we can't afford! Oh, and I only paid $40 for my seat to the big one!
The book is a quick read and quite entertaining for the "train-wreck" qualities of Moneymaker's life. It's always nice to read about a degenerate gambler who gets lucky and earns enough money to get his bail his family out of debt. Of course, the debt was almost solely incurred by Moneymaker and his penchant for sports betting.

It's a shame that Moneymaker chose to blow $25,000 at a strip club immediately after winning the Main Event instead of calling his wife. Moneymaker's wife later divorced him and I'm not surprised in the least: when you're married, it's probably best not to spend $25,000 on strippers and booze. But hey - I'm just an average family man trying to get through life without causing any waves.

Besides reading about poker, I've started re-watching Wes's poker videos that he put out last year (see here and here). I really enjoy watching him play, though I do wonder if Wes would consider me a "rat-holing piece of shit" for only buying in short for 50 big blinds whenever I sit down at the table. Probably. But I'm not about to buy in for a full stack and let better players push me off hand after hand after they realize that I'm not comfortable losing a lot of money on any given hand.

I've also been thinking about posting my thoughts on what it means to play winning poker. It's something I've been thinking about lately, but I'm still not sure how I'm going to get my point across. We'll see if I can figure things out and put something up.

In any case, that's all I've got today. Hopefully I'll log a bit of time online tonight and keep up my semi-hot streak. If I win, I'll stick with poker. And if I lose, then it's game time! That's what I call a win-win scenario!

And speaking of winning, don't forget to enter yourself into my Poker Academy Prospector contest. It's free to enter and you could win yourself a nice piece of software! Check out the details here! Good luck!

Keep reading "Book Worm"

Win your own copy of Poker Academy Prospector!

***Click here for contest details!***

Poker Academy Prospector is a poker analysis software tool that allows online poker players to review every last detail about their past poker sessions. If I was to compare Prospector to existing tools out there, I'd say it combines the very best of what other software packages offer and more. Poker Academy Prospector is slick, easy-to-use, and infinitely valuable piece of software for any poker player looking to learn from his past mistakes and improve his game. Most importantly: Poker Academy Prospector will help you earn more money at the poker tables!

When I first launched the software, I had Poker Academy Prospector load up all the hand histories I had stored in a single directory on my computer. Within seconds, Prospector had loaded all the ring game and tournament hand histories that I had saved in the past year from my time at Party Poker, PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker. For what it's worth, Prospector also supports Tribeca and Ultimate Bet too!

With my hands loaded into Prospector's database, I was able to review every single hand of every single session that I'd played in the past year for both my tournament play and my ring game play. I was able to see every conceivable stat for each and every hand that I'd played as well as my overall stats across all my sessions. I could replay every single hand in a replay window, allowing me to better visualize what had happened over the course of my sessions and easily pinpoint where things had gone well and where things seemed to have tanked. I was also able to see how long my sessions had lasted and my win/loss amounts - invaluable for proper bankroll accounting.

My favourite feature of Poker Academy Prospector is the ability to run reports and print out graphs showing how well I'm performing (or how poorly I'm under-performing) at the tables. If you're serious about poker, you know how important it can be to monitor your win rates. Prospector allows you to quickly ascertain how well you're padding your bankroll and allows you to quickly identify the situations or the hands that are costing you money.

Even though I spend most of my time playing at Titan Poker (the iPoker network is currently unsupported), I was able to review my recent Party Poker sessions. I'm a real stats junkie and I loved the amount of detail that Poker Academy Prospector was able to give me about my play, my opponents' play, and my sessions' win/loss ratios.

If you're looking to improve your poker, why not give Poker Academy Prospector a try? You can download a free trial right here: http://www.poker-academy.com/hand-history/!

--

To show how much faith I place in the Poker Academy Prospector product, I'm running a little contest for all of my fellow poker bloggers.

Here's how the contest will work:

  1. The contest will run until February 14, 2008.
  2. Make a post on your blog and include a link to this page (http://klopzi.blogspot.com/2008/01/win-your-own-copy-of-poker-academy.html). I'd like to spread the word about this excellent product!
  3. Leave a comment below that includes the URL of the post you made.
  4. For each post you make, I'll enter your name into the draw.
  5. You may make as many posts as you like; however, I'll only count valid and readable posts (ie. a post containing only a couple words and a link will not be counted). Of course, saying nice things about me and my blog will greatly increase a post's validity in my eyes...
  6. On Valentine's Day, I will randomly draw three different bloggers' names from my virtual hat. Each of these randomly selected bloggers will receive their very own full-retail copies of Poker Academy Prospector!
I also invite anyone who's used the Poker Academy Prospector software to leave a comment.

Good luck to all who participate! For the rest, get out there and buy yourself a copy of this invaluable poker analysis tool!

Keep reading "Win your own copy of Poker Academy Prospector!"

Distinguished or Just Plain Old?

According to the radio this morning, psychologists have declared January 21st, 2008 to be the most depressing day of the year. Short day, long night, frigid temperatures outside, and Christmas expenditures all make today the worst day of the year for most people.

It also happens to be my birthday...

I had a busy weekend, filled with cleaning, more cleaning, baby-sitting and a bit of the whole Sunday worship thing. I also ate my own body weight in spinach dip and snack mix too, which has probably not helped my waist-line. And, wonder of wonders, I managed to put in a couple hours at Titan Poker as well.

After reading Scott's recent post, it seems silly that I still look on poker as an honest-to-goodness way to generate income. But you know what? I like poker. Sure, there are times when I hate it...but I'm of the forgive and forget school of thought. Even with all the lows that poker has offered me over the past two years, I still feel that the highs have made it all worth while.

When I put in a couple hours on Saturday, I was first treated to the highs of pulling just over half a buy-in at the $100 NL tables. Although I failed to play any big pots, I did manage to take down a $50 pot by virtue of my A J against another player's overplayed A 6.

Unfortunately, I gave it all back (and then some) a bit later when the following hand occurred:


Titan Poker 0.50/1.00, hand converted by the iPoker Converter at Talking-Poker

saw showdown

Button Hero ($47.00)
SB ($95.00)
BB ($112.00)
UTG ($254.00)
UTG+1 ($52.00)
CO Villain ($98.00)

Preflop: Hero is in the Button with Q Q
2 folds, Villain calls 1.00, Hero raises to 5.00, 1 fold, BB calls 5.00, Villain calls 4.00

(The Villain in this hand is a typical calling station. Nice and loose pre-flop and willing to call off large post-flop bets on a wing and a prayer. With the BB joining in the festivities, my stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) for this hand is 3. I'm planning to stack off as long there is no ace or king on the flop.)

Flop (15.50) 8 9 2
BB checks, Villain checks, Hero bets 12.00, 1 fold, Villain calls 12.00.

(The flop is perfect for my hand, so I'm committed. The flop is pretty safe: I'm now looking to build a big pot that will allow me to get all the money in on the turn or river. When the BB folds and the Villain calls my near pot-sized bet, I'm not surprised and start licking my chops. )

Turn (39.50) Q
Villain checks, Hero bets 15.00, Villain raises all-in for 81.00, Hero calls 15.00.

(When I hit my set on the turn, I was just hoping that the Villain would be willing to get all the money into the pot. I gave a slight pause before betting $15, hoping to induce a call. I probably could have pushed all-in but I was greedy and wanted the call. I'd still be offering the Villain 6:1 on his money if he called the turn bet and had to call another $15 on the river.

When the Villain instantly re-raised all-in, I called quickly. I was hoping to see a set or two-pair; instead, I saw...)


Hero shows Q Q
Villain shows J T

(Damn...Well, I had ten outs to fill up on the river and take a good chunk out of the Villain's stack.)

River (101.00) 3

(Damn...)

I played the hand well, executed my script according to plan, and ran into a monster hand. These things happen and I'll no doubt recoup my losses at some point. All told, I finished my session on Saturday down about $24 which is not too bad. One interesting note: pocket Queens are now my biggest loser in terms of money lost. It seems that my opponents like to hit monster draws on the turn when I'm holding the Hilton Sisters.

Although I'd normally celebrate my birthday with some cake, beer, and poker, things are a little different with kids. My plans include giving the kids a bath, ordering chinese food, watching TV with my wife, and then falling asleep...

...ok, I may squeeze in a short session at Titan if I'm not too tired after the festivities...

Keep reading "Distinguished or Just Plain Old?"

An Uphill Battle

I made two New Year's resolutions this year. First, I wanted to play more poker than I did in 2007. Ultimately, I want to be playing at least $200 NL by year's end. The second resolution involved weighing myself on a daily basis and allowing my shame to be a strong catalyst to a good bit of weight loss.

Poker is coming along nicely. I've been playing - just not as much as I'd hoped. It's still early in the year, so there's plenty of time to make up for some missed hands. I mentioned yesterday that I've laid out a plan of attack for moving up the ladder to increasingly higher buy-in games.

Unlike my previous attempts to move up, I've decided to really test myself this year and take a few more calculated risks with my bankroll. In the past, I played it too safe. At one point, my bankroll was fast approaching $10K and I was still playing the $10 NL tables. I realize that it takes time to be able to play with the big boys and that experience is a key to success, but I also believe that "you'll never know until you try".

My bankroll currently sits at around $2,000. Considering that I had only $1000 last July after cashing out, I think I've done pretty well given my limited playing time. I don't know of many business investments that offer a 100% ROI in less than 6 months!

The table below outlines a reasonable advancement schedule for moving up in stakes. Here are the rules and assumptions that I made while building the chart below:

  • I'll play only two tables at time.
  • I'll see 60 hands per hour at a 6-max NL table.
  • My desire to play poker will increase as I move up in stakes, resulting in more hands played per week.
  • My win rate will decrease as I move up in limits.
  • My rakeback percentage is set based on my current deals with RakeTheRake.
  • The numbers below are completely theoretical. I'm well aware that the games get much more difficult as the stakes increase;, so there's no need to piss in Corn Flakes and tell me that I'm in for a shock when I first sit at a $400 NL or $600 NL table.

StakesBankroll Req'd$$/hour (incl. rakeback)Hours/WeekExpected Start Date
100 NL$1500$135December 2007
200 NL$3200$207May 2008
400 NL$6400$297November 2008
600 NL$9600$3410March 2009
1000 NL$16000$4010July 2009

Don't you love the way that basic math makes everything look so easy? I wonder how long I'll be able to stay on target. If I was playing $400 NL by the end of this year and making good progress to towards playing $600 NL, I'd be pretty damned impressed. That's the great thing about setting goals for yourself: they can be as lofty or as unrealistic as you like!

As for my second New Year's resolution, I'm sad to say that the following video best describes my current eating habits:


Have a great weekend everyone!

Keep reading "An Uphill Battle"

Session Review #12: Klopzi versus The Sneaky Bastard

When you play as few hands of poker as I do, there are upsides and downsides to the short sessions. If things go well and I get lucky at the tables, my winning streaks can last a month or two before I start losing again. On the flip-side, a losing streak can seem interminably long if it lasts any longer than 1000 hands (typically one month or more of poker for me).

Well, I've been winning so I'm happy. I've got some hands from my last session: whaddya say we take a look?

No matter the buy-in, no matter the limit, there are always people out there who derive ridiculous amounts of pleasure from outsmarting and outplaying their competition at the tables. I've seen players go out of their way to tackle the toughest players at the table rather than sit back and pick off the weaker players. Honestly, I don't get it. When I play poker, I play to make money. That's not to say that I don't mind the times when I get up on a player who's been running over the table...


Titan Poker 0.50/1.00, hand converted by the iPoker Converter at Talking-Poker

saw showdown

Button ($252.90)
SB ($124.55)
BB Hero ($48.50)
UTG Villain ($113.20)
UTG+1 ($204.50)

Preflop: Hero is in the BB with A A
Villain raises to 3.50, 1 fold, Button calls 3.50, 1 fold, Hero raises to 9.00, Villain calls 6.50, 1 fold.

(The Villain in this hand has been running the show for a while. We've all played with his type before: floats quite a bit, makes tricky plays, loves suited connectors and tries to bust players who overplay their "top pair" hands.

I opted for a small re-raise this time round because I was hoping to have both the Villain and Button call my pre-flop raise. Why? Well, AA plays well against one or two opponents, especially when I can get a nice low stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) .

Even though the Button eventually folded after mulling it over for a while, a pre-flop pot-size of $24 gave me a nice SPR of less than 2. I was prepared to commit my entire stack regardless of the flop, hence taking away any positional and skill-based advantages held by the tricky Villain in the UTG seat.)


Flop (24.00) A T 8
Hero bets 15.00, Villain calls 15.00.

(Flush draw? Whatever. I wasn't going to fold my hand given the enormous pot size compared to the effective remaining stack sizes. Although I could have bet pot, I wanted to keep the Villain in the hand. I figured that a $15 bet might encourage the Villain to try and raise me off my hand: no such luck. I decided that I'd push on the turn regardless of the next card that hit the board, though I was really hoping for a non-heart.)

Turn (54.00) 7
Hero moves all-in for 23.50, Villain calls 23.50.

Hero shows A A
Villain shows 7 8

(Villain called quickly and rightly so getting better than 3:1 odds ($23.50 to win $73.50). I hoped that he didn't have the flopped flush and expected to see AT, A8, a set, or possibly a pair and flush draw. When the Villain showed his hand, I was a little surprised that he'd called my re-raise pre-flop with his hand. )

River (101.00) 2

(River is a blank! Klopzi: 1, Sneak Bastard: 0)

Hero wins 101.00 with Three of a kind, Ace's

(The Villain was a victim of his own tricky play here. I'm not sure what possessed him to make the call on the flop. I guess you could argue that he knew he'd get my stack if he hit his flush on the turn, but I don't see how the Villain knows that I wasn't going to show him the K, Q, or the J as part of my hand.

I believe that committing to the pot with only bottom pair and a terrible one-card flush draw is losing poker. I'll stop complaining, however, since I won the hand after getting my opponent to commit the rest of his effective stack drawing to eight outs.)


Not every player tries to play a tricky-style of game. At one the tables that I was playing during this session, I found myself sitting to the immediate right of a fishy player. I'd noticed that he'd defend his big blind or button against most steal attempts and that he'd fold on the flop unless he caught a card. Perfect...

Titan Poker 0.50/1.00, hand converted by the iPoker Converter at Talking-Poker

saw showdown

Button ($121.32)
SB ($106.10)
BB Hero ($54.80)
UTG Villain ($176.80)
UTG+1 ($131.05)
CO ($100.00)

Preflop: Hero is in the BB with 7 Q
Villain calls 1.00, 3 folds, Hero checks.

(Villain was a loose player but I'd never seen him limp under-the-gun. I decided to simply check my option and make a bet on the flop regardless of the flop.)

Flop (2.50) Q 6 8
Hero bets 2.00, Villain calls 2.00.

(I hit top pair so I was probably ahead. Although I wasn't willing to play a huge pot here, there's no harm in putting out a pot-sized bet in the hopes of taking the hand down or causing the Villain to pay too much for a draw. When Villain called, I put him on a flush draw or a pair.)

Turn (6.50) 8
Hero checks, Villain checks.

(When the turn paired the board, I decided to check to the Villain and let him define his hand. If he bet, I could lay down my pair of queens knowing that the Villain had trips: he just wasn't aggressive enough to warrant any other hand. If he checked, I figured I could bet the river if the flush draw missed.

Please note that
had I been playing with a full-stack, I might have bet the turn without fear of committing too many of my chips with a marginal hand. If the Villain then raised my turn bet, I could have safely folded my hand.)

River (6.50) 8
Hero bets 3.00, Villain calls 3.00

(Full house! I was sure that the Villain did not have quad eights and if he was drawing to the flush, he missed. If I checked in this spot, the Villain would have checked behind with most hands. Since I want a little value for my hand, I opted for the half-pot sized bet on the river and expected to get shown a queen, a six, or even an ace or king by the Villain.)

Villain shows 9 6
Hero shows 7 Q

Hero wins 12.50 with A fullhouse, Eight's and Queen's

(I scored a decent win with a crappy hand so I was happy. More importantly, I liked the fact that I made a value bet on the end in a situation where I'd normally check without thinking the hand through and figuring out how to extract a little money from my opponent.)

In this next hand, the Villain is a little another slightly-loose, slightly-tricky player. I'd been playing air tight for the last few orbits so I figured that I might be able to steal a pot if I played my cards right.

Titan Poker 0.50/1.00, hand converted by the iPoker Converter at Talking-Poker

saw showdown

Button ($117.20)
SB ($144.64)
BB Hero ($50.00)
UTG ($103.00)
UTG+1 ($124.45)

Preflop: Hero is in the BB with A 4
2 folds, Button calls 1.00, 1 fold, Hero checks.

(I wasn't about to raise ace-rag against a tricky player while out of position. There were too many ways for the Villain to punish me if the flop didn't come down just right.)

Flop (2.50) 6 6 7
Hero checks, Button checks.

(Given my opponent's tricky nature and given the paired board, I decided to play my hand as if I'd flopped trips. Most players will incorrectly check trips in this spot so I decided to do the same after an ever-so-slight pause.)

Turn (2.50) J
Hero bets 1.50, Button calls 1.50.

(I made a small bluff at the pot on the turn, hoping that the Villain would think that I was looking for a call with my trip sixes. When the Villain called the bet instantly, I wondered if I he might have a flush draw and had simply checked through on the flop in the hopes of hitting his hand cheaply.)

River (5.50) 4
Hero bets 3.00, 1 fold

(Normally I'd refrain from betting on the river in this spot since a call would usually mean that my bottom pair was well behind. However, in this case I'd represented trips, albeit in weak-tight fashion, throughout the hand and could reasonably expect the Villain to some hands that would beat me if given a showdown opportunity.

Most importantly, I was afraid that a check on my part might induce a large bet on the part of the Villain: I wasn't willing to call off a large bet on the river with only bottom pair.)


I'm enjoying playing short-stack poker because it really simplifies so many of the decisions that I need to make while playing no-limit hold'em. I also appreciate the fact that short-stack poker helps me overcome the disparity in skill level between me and my opponents. As this gap closes and once I've managed to pad my bankroll a little bit further, I'll start buying in full and opening up my game to take advantage of the tight players (by stealing more pots) as well as the loose players (by getting them to call my large over-bets when I'm holding the nuts).

I've also set up a schedule for upping my limits that I feel offers me a far better chance of hitting the $200 NL tables and beyond before the year is up. Of course, I'll need to back up my plans with some solid play and good-sized wins at my current stakes. We'll see how things turn out, I guess.

I'll probably stick with video games tonight and hit up the cash game tables tomorrow night. The tables really loosen up quite a bit on weekends when the drunks and crazies come online to play.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Session Review #12: Klopzi versus The Sneaky Bastard"