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What's the Opposite of a Monster Session?

What goes up must come down. A valuable lesson in life and at the poker tables. As hard as I hit the flops a couple nights ago, last night proved to play out in quite the opposite manner. I knew I was in trouble when I found myself playing over 30% of hands at three tables all at the same time. My game plan relies on starting out slowly, building up a solid image that will allow me to steal big pots later in the session. But when I pick up a never-ending stream of pocket pairs and suited broadway cards in late position, what can I do? I've got to play the hands dealt to me even if my table image might suffer a little because of it.

Unfortunately, I don't wear "LAG" all that well - and my opponents knew it!

I only played 260 hands last night at PokerStars. I knew things were going to end up badly fifteen minutes into my session. A constant stream of raise-worthy cards and piss-poor flops saw me bleeding chips all over the place. My opponents weren't 3-betting me: they were floating me, they were calling my raises, and they weren't folding after the flop. When you raise a hand from the CO or button (cards don't really matter) and the flop comes down dry as a desert, you need your opponents to fold to your c-bets. Otherwise, you'll come across as a chip-spewing LAG who'll bluff at all pots on the flop and fold to big bets on the turn.

My poor table image encouraged players to jump into pots with me. I found myself getting floated or check-raised on most hands. Unfortunately, the flops were missing me so badly that I couldn't really fight back. I'm not that big a fan of raising or 3-betting unknown opponents with no pair and no draw.

Of course, a little bad luck and losing a buy-in early in a session tends to make me tighten up and play solid ABC poker until I've regained some form of table image. And though I managed to win back some of my losses, I still ended the night down just under a buy-in. But I can't really complain: I've had a good month and I'm quite happy with my overall results.

I'll be back with July's recap tomorrow. However, I'd like to leave you with a hand that I played last night. How would you play this?

No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
Hero (UTG): $100
UTG+1: $205
CO: $97
Button: $83.90
SB: $171.80
Villain (BB): $227.20

(I've been at the table for roughly 50 hands. I've got a good table image in terms of VP$IP - I haven't gotten out of line on any hands. I've shown down one hand to the Villain where we both flopped a full house on a JJJ board but his pocket pair beat mine (44 vs. 77). Villain seems to be pretty solid (19% VP$IP, 16% PFR) overall.)

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is UTG with J♦ J♣
Hero raises to $4, 4 folds, BB raises to $13, Hero ??

(Raise, Call, or Fold? Why?)

Have a great day everyone!

Keep reading "What's the Opposite of a Monster Session?"

Monster Sessions

I was speaking with MJ on a coffee break yesterday. As usual, our topic of conversion was poker. MJ commented that he was getting sick of starting each of his sessions by dropping anywhere from a half buy-in to a full buy-in before finally picking up steam. Having gone through a similar stretch myself, I knew exactly what he was talking about. It's hard to get yourself psyched to play only to sit down and instantly find yourself down for the night. Poker is always interesting - but it's so much more fun when you're winning.

With our coffees finished, MJ wrapped up our discussion with one simple desire: he wanted to have one of those monster nights at the table. I had one really big night back in February. I managed to make about $450 in the span of an hour at the $200 NLHE tables. For many of my readers, $450 is a small score. For me, that session proved to be my best cash game session ever and I was suitably impressed with my super poker skills!

A couple weeks later (i.e. the dreaded month of March), I suffered my biggest losing session when I dropped $550 in just over two hours. Easy come, easy go. I was forced to re-examine my belief that I was the next Durrr or Patrik Antonius. As nice as it is to have a big winning session, it's important to keep things in perspective. Poker is a game of long-term results. Good sessions are just a way of padding your score until the next downswing hits.

Where am I going with this? Well, as luck would have it, I had a good session last night. In fact, it was one of those monster sessions that MJ and I had just talked about yesterday afternoon. It wasn't my biggest session ever but it was pretty close. I'd like to say that it was all skill but I got extremely lucky. My biggest decisions of the night came when I was holding the second nuts and trying to extract the most value from my opponents. When you're getting lucky, poker can be an easy game.

That's not to say that everything I did last night was great. I have a few hands that I'd like to discuss. The first two hands will look at some terrible misplays that cost me quite a few BBs. The final hand below was included to show that I'm slowly learning to extract value from my hands, even when I've got the board more or less crippled.

No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
5 players

Stack sizes:
Villain (UTG): $109.05
CO: $197.70
Hero (Button): $101
SB: $78.70
BB: $155.55

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is Button with T♠ T♦
Villain raises to $4, CO folds, Hero calls, 2 folds.

(Villain was a slightly-loose but solid player. I decided to forego three-betting and chose to call in position.)

Flop: 4♠ 2♠ 6♣ ($9.5, 2 players)
Villain bets $7, Hero raises to $20, Villain raises to $42, Hero calls.

(As soon as the Villain bet, I told myself to simply call the bet. The board was coordinated and a raise on my part would simply re-open the betting. Villain could then re-raise me off my hand with a draw, a bluff, or a better hand.

Unfortunately, I chose to raise and the Villain re-raised. My choices in this spot were simple: fold or push. I chose to call. Ugly. My reasoning at the time was that the Villain would might slow down after the flop and let me see a cheap showdown. I'm not sure why I thought that though.)

Turn: K♥ ($93.5, 2 players)
Villain is all-in $63.05.
Uncalled bets: $63.05 returned to Villain.

(Villain's bet on the turn coupled with his stats and flop play let me know that I was most likely behind. Villain probably knew that I didn't have AA-QQ so he could easily be betting any pocket pair from 77-AA , along with some suited Kings or sets.

I really hate how I played this hand. I really should have flat-called the flop against this particular opponent. I consider this hand to be one of those defining hands that I'll remember, for better or worse, for a long while.)

No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
5 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $104.80
Hero (CO): $207
Button: $115.20
SB: $118.15
Villain (BB): $100

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is CO with K♥ J♠
UTG folds, Hero raises to $4, Button folds, SB calls, Villain calls.

(Villain was a super fish.)

Flop: 6♦ 2♣ 7♠ ($12, 3 players)
SB checks, Villain checks, Hero checks.

(I didn't want to c-bet this flop with total air. These are the types of cards that hit my opponents likely hand ranges filled with pocket pairs and various connectors.)

Turn: 6♣ ($12, 3 players)
SB checks, Villain checks, Hero bets $8, SB folds, Villain calls.

(I don't know what I was thinking here. If I had a hand, why not bet the flop with position? My line makes no sense in this context, I think. When the Villain called, I put him on a a draw or weak hand.)

River: Q♦ ($28, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $18, Villain calls.

(I figured that I could get the Villain to a river bet. Unfortunately, given my play at this table and my read on the Villain, I had to think that he'd call me with many hands here. If I was in his spot and had a piece of this board, I'd probably call on the river as well. )

Final pot: $64
Hero showed Kh Js
Villain showed 3s 3h

(Villain obviously put me on air and he was right. I deserved to lose this pot. I seem to choose the worst times to put out big river bluffs...)

No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
Villain (UTG): $137.30
Hero (UTG+1): $113.35
CO: $113.20
Button: $48.55
SB: $97
BB: $104.75

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is Villain+1 with A♠ A♣
Villain calls, Hero raises to $5, 4 folds, Villain calls.

(In the past two orbits, I'd raised the Villain pre-flop. I'd picked up a number of hands and was playing very straight-forwardly; however, Villain was a LAG and I hadn't shown down a single hand at this table.)

Flop: 7♦ A♥ 7♣ ($11.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero checks.

(I decided to NOT bet this flop. Although I hate slow-playing, I had the board locked up. Unless the Villain bet first, I decided to sit on my hand until the last possible moment on the river. I needed the Villain to pick up some sort of hand at which point I felt that I might be able to win a bit of money.)

Turn: 8♥ ($11.5, 2 players)
Villain bets $10, Hero raises to $25, Villain calls.

(Although I could have flat-called, Villain had to think that I'd been f-ing with him since I sat down at the table. I was hoping that my raise might induce the Villain to jam with an ace, a seven, or a flush draw. When I got called, I figured the Villain for some sort of hand. I couldn't narrow his range that much given that he'd been playing 60% of his hands and going deep with many of them.)

River: 9♦ ($61.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $50, Villain raises to $100, Hero calls all-in $33.35.
Uncalled bets: $16.65 returned to Villain.

(When the Villain checked, I wondered if he'd perhaps missed his backdoor flush draw. Most likely, he had a hand that warranted a check-call on the river. I decided to make a slightly larger value bet and hoped the Villain would call.

When the Villain raised, I let out a little yell of "I've got the nuts baby!", though technically it was the second nuts. I was just happy to have hit a monster on the flop and finally extracted full value for it.)

Final pot: $228.2
Villain showed Jh Th
Hero showed As Ac

(Villain picked up a real monster hand on the turn. Unfortunately for him, he was drawing dead. I'm just glad that I held off on betting the flop. It let the Villain pick up a little something and helped me disguise my hand. For what it's worth, I played a similar hand a while back where I was the one hitting the straight on the river against the flopped boat. What goes around comes around, I guess.)

I'll be interested to see how last night's session affects my overall monthly stats. My primary goals while playing poker this month were to play a lot of hands for experience's sake, maintain a winrate of at least 8 BB/100 (not PTBB/100), and have fun. I've met all of these goals this month so I'm quite happy. I'm looking forward to maintaining my momentum through August and seeing just how much I can improve my overall game and outlook on poker.

As for my plans at the tables, I'll put in a session at Stars tonight and take tomorrow night "off" to spend some extra time with my wife. Look for this month's recap on Friday.

Have a great day everyone!

Keep reading "Monster Sessions"

The Learning Process

I wanted to post a couple hands today that display some of the weird plays that I've seen from some of my opponents over the past couple weeks. We've all heard that online poker games are getting harder but I think playing winning poker is just a matter of adjusting your game to changing table conditions. If you've read the same books and watched the same videos as your opponents, all you need to do is change up your game to exploit all that your opponents perceive as gospel.

Sometimes this is easier said then done. Many of your opponents will be quite good and that's all there is to it. But they're not the ones you want to focus your attention on: you want those Villains who believe that reading a few books and watching a few videos has given them a huge edge over their opponents (like me, for example). They see the true meaning behind their opponents' checks, calls, and raises. They know that they're ahead in the hand and they're not afraid to stack off to prove it!

Let's take a look at some hands where I ran into some pretty inexplicable plays on the parts of my opponents. I can only begin to guess what they were thinking at the time. If I can figure which books or videos preach the moves seen below, I'd love to get my hands on those quality pieces of instructional gold.

No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
UTG (Villain): $23.30
UTG+1: $36.60
CO: $284.60
Hero (Button): $98.50
SB: $104.50
BB: $16.60

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is Button with 8♦ 8♥
Villain calls, 2 folds, Hero raises to $5, 2 folds, Villain calls.

(Villain was loose and weak. SPR was less than 2 after Villain called so I was going to push the flop no matter what.)

Flop: J♥ J♦ T♣ ($11.5, 2 players)
Villain bets $8, Hero raises all-in $93.5, Villain calls all-in $10.3.
Uncalled bets: $75.2 returned to Hero.

(Villain donk-bet into me. But the flop was paired so I only had to dodge a Jack or a Ten to be ahead here. I jammed and Villain insta-called.)

Turn: 2♣ ($48.1, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $48.1)

River: K♦ ($48.1, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $48.1)

(I was not a big fan of the King on the river. If only PokerStars showed the hole cards as soon as all the money was in the pot.)

Final pot: $48.1
Hero showed 8d 8h
Villain showed 6d 5d

(I don't get it. Villain's stack was only 20 BB pre-flop. That's not enough to warrant playing 65s from UTG; it's certainly not enough to justify playing this hand in a raised pot while OOP. What's most surpising is the Villain's flop bet. He wan't committed to the pot post-flop. He could have check-folded. But instead, he bluffed at the pot getting zero fold equity though he probably felt (quite mistakenly) that he had a shot of getting me to fold). Even more surprising was that he instantly called of the last half of his stack with no pairs and no draws. I guess he felt that I was bluffing...?)

No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $295.65
UTG+1: $71.30
CO: $244.40
Villain (Button): $76.75
Hero (SB): $100
BB: $103.50

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is SB with K♣ Q♣
UTG raises to $4, 2 folds, Villain calls, Hero calls, BB folds.

(UTG and Villain were both loose and weak. UTG liked to raise and Villain liked to call. My KQs played very well against their ATC (any two card) hand ranges.)

Flop: 5♥ 3♦ K♠ ($13, 3 players)
Hero checks, UTG bets $8, Villain calls, Hero raises to $20, UTG folds, Villain calls.

(UTG liked to bet so I decided to try for the check-raise. It's a play I rarely use but I liked it in this situation. My primary purpose for the check-raise was to try and get the pot heads-up, preferably against the Villain. My SPR against Villain was 5.5: good enough to play for stacks.

If only UTG had called my bet, I would have let UTG be the aggressor for the rest of the hand given the dry nature of the flop. But heads-up against the short-stacked Villain, my plan was to bet for value on the turn and river.)

Turn: Q♥ ($61, 2 players)
Hero bets $30, Villain calls.

(Having improved to two pair, I was still looking to build the pot. I wanted to bet enough on the turn so that Villain could call off the rest of his chips on the river. My $30 bet would leave Villain with about $23 in his stack. If the Villain had paired the King, Queen, or held a pocket pair, would he be able to call off his last $23 to win a $140 pot? Most certainly.)

River: 4♣ ($121, 2 players)
Hero is all-in $46, Villain calls all-in $22.75.
Uncalled bets: $23.25 returned to Hero.

(Unless Villain had played an unlikely A3 or 67, the river card was safe. I pushed and Villain call instantly.)

Final pot: $166.5
Hero showed Kc Qc
Villain showed Ah 4s (Interesting...)

(I'm not sure what Villain was thinking throughout this hand. I can't think of a single street that he played well. His pre-flop call was a little ugly though not bad given UTG's raising range. Villain's call of UTG's bet and my check-raise on the flop were brutal; the calls on the turn and river were even worse. I'm not sure what range the Villain put me on when he called the river bet. It's one thing to make some loose calls earlier in the hand; it's quite another thing to throw away 23 BB in a situation where you can't possibly be ahead.)

Most of my profit in poker comes from playing pots against weak players. I tend to avoid mixing it up with the better players at the table - especially when out of position. And though it might seem a little mean-spirited to single out the Villains in the hands above for their poor play, every hand played is a part of the poker learning process.

I would hope that the Villains in question would alter their strategies the next time they find themselves in similar situations at the tables. In turn, they'll become better players and perhaps find themselves winning more often than losing. The lessons learned may have cost a little more than a book or a training video but I think they'll find that their money was well-spent when they look back and review these hands.

Then again, it's also likely that both Villains are busto and looking for new hobbies. Either way, I got paid and in the end, that's what matters most to my selfish self.

Keep reading "The Learning Process"

Zune State

I didn't really play that much poker over the weekend. I was looking to clear between one thousand and fifteen-hundred hands but only managed six hundred hands. I was a little too tired to play and took the opportunity to spend some extra time with my wife. I also made a small purchase yesterday afternoon...

After visiting my local FutureShop on Saturday and looking over the various portable video players available, I came to realize that very few offer the features available on the Microsoft Zune (80 GB). I made a decision right then and there that I'd pick up a Zune with my $250 FutureShop gift certificate from PokerStars (coming August/September 2008).

Yesterday morning, I checked my poker slush fund (money withdrawn from bankroll used to buy frivolous gifts for myself and family) and realized that I had enough money sitting there to buy a Zune.

Yesterday afternoon, I bought my Zune. I haven't really used it too much just yet but I think it's a really cool device. I can watch poker training videos, movies, TV shows, listen to music and FM radio, and view pictures all from the palm of my hand. The Zune's huge 3.2" screen is big enough to allow me to pick out a lot of detail. The sound is great. The software interface - on the Zune and on my PC - are top notch. It's a shame the Zune Marketplace doesn't seem to work for Canadians but that's okay: I'm already used to being neglected as a Canadian Xbox 360 user. But I've heard rumours that music and video content is available online for free.

My Zune's currently loaded with three training videos from PokerSavvy (
Foucault's 6-max Flop Fundamentals series), the first two episodes of ESPN's 2008 WSOP coverage, and a bunch of music. I'll be putting on more content as soon as I get the chance; I've only used 2 GB out of the 80 GB available. I do have the entire fourth season of High Stakes Poker at home so that should eat up a bit of my free space. I think I'll also put Rounders on my Zune. And, of course, I'm going to upgrade my PokerSavvy account and download a whole lot of poker training videos. It's time to kick my game up a notch!

Speaking of my game, I think the following hand best describes my weekend at the tables. Rather than complain about bad luck and donkey play, I'm just happy that I'm finally starting to get my money is as the favourite again. I really hope that I can continue that trend over the coming months.

No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
Villain (UTG): $69.85
Maniac (UTG+1): $100
CO: $236.75
Button: $116.80
SB: $272.05
Hero (BB): $135.15

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is BB with A♦ A♥
UTG calls, UTG+1 raises to $5, 3 folds, Hero raises to $12, UTG calls, UTG+1 folds.

(Villain was a super fish and UTG+1 was a maniac. I didn't want to flat call the Maniac's raise out of position against both players. But I was willing to make a slightly smaller re-raise hoping that the maniac might get a little frisky after the Villain called my re-raise. Only the Villain called but I liked my position: great hand, great SPR.)

Flop: 4♥ T♥ 3♠ ($29.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $20, UTG raises all-in $57.85, Hero calls.

(I was committed to the pot - time to dance!)

Turn: 8♥ ($145.2, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $145.2)

(Flush draw got there but I've got a redraw to the nuts...)

River: T♠ ($145.2, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $145.2)

(Top pair just became trips...)

Final pot: $145.2
Hero showed Ad Ah
UTG showed Td Qh

(Damn! Oh well, I didn't want the Villain's stupid money anyway...)

Have a great day everyone!

Keep reading "Zune State"

Another Leak

True to my word, I put in a session at PokerStars last night. I finished up on the night after putting in close to 400 hands. It wasn't my smoothest sessions. Over the past few days, I've noticed a disturbing trend in my game that's costing me money. It's not quite fancy play syndrome but it's definitely in the same ballpark.

After I've scouted out the tables a bit, I'll generally put myself on the waiting lists for the tables that I feel will give me the best chance of padding my bankroll. Typically I look for loose-aggressive players (LAGs are generally weak at the $0.50/$1 games) or fish.

Once I take my seat at a table, my plan is to sit tight for five or six orbits. I want to play ABC poker and help build my tight table image. Playing this way allows me to get a read on the table without taking silly risks. Once I've got a read on everyone, I start to change my game to better match up against my oppponents. The tight table image helps me steal pots from the tight players. And the LAGs still give me action because they want to prove to the table that they're not afraid of anyone.

Sounds like a workable strategy, right? In each session that I've played this week, I've failed to stick with my game plan. I sit down and play tight for a couple orbits. And then I start firing off bluffs all over the place. Raise weak, c-bet the flop, and fold to check-raises. Two-barreling and three-barreling against opponents who would never fold to obvious aggression and tend to react by ramping up their own aggression in turn. Making plays such as these against the wrong opponents or with the wrong cards is costly. And there's no worse feeling than finding yourself stuck a buy-in or two within 15 minutes of starting your session.

I'll give a couple examples of some hands where I tried to loosen up way too early into my session. Trying to make moves on unknown opponents is a sure way to lose money. This is a lesson that I'm learning on a nightly basis. But I'm hoping that I'll wise up soon and increase my hourly win rate.

No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
5 players

Stack sizes:
Villain (UTG): $101.50
Hero (CO): $115.15
Button: $133.40
SB: $125.55
BB: $100.40

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is CO with Q♥ A♠
Villain raises to $4, Hero raises to $10, 3 folds, Villain calls.

(I had no read on the Villain but AQ is a good hand if I can isolate...I guess.)

Flop: 4♠ 2♥ J♠ ($21.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $14, Villain calls.

(Seemed like a good flop for a c-bet. Villain called so I quickly put him on a draw.)

Turn: J♥ ($49.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $25, Villain raises to $53, Hero folds.

(Villain checked after the top card paired - time to fire a second bullet. Check-raise caught me off-guard, probably because I had no read on the Villain. I had to fold.)

No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $86.35
UTG+1: $12.10
Villain (CO): $129
Button: $112.30
SB: $151.50
Hero (BB): $100

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is BB with J♣ A♣
2 folds, Villain calls, 2 folds, 2 folds, Hero raises to $4, Villain calls.

(I had no real read on the Villain so I have no idea what sort of hands he'd limp with.)

Flop: 9♥ T♣ K♠ ($8.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $5, Villain calls.

(The flop's ugly but I figured I'd take a stab at the pot. Villain's call should have slowed me down...)

Turn: 5♦ ($18.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $12, Villain calls.

(...but I had 2 outs to the nuts. I had to see the river!)

River: 4♠ ($18.5, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain bets $22, Hero folds.

(I missed my draw and I was on the river out of position against an unknown player. When he overbet the pot, I wasn't too keen on keeping him honest. I could have saved myself some money by checking the flop and betting the turn. As played, I hate my turn bet.)

My plans for the weekend are the same as always. Watch a movie or two with my wife, play with the kids, get a little more sleep, and play some poker. I'd like to get a thousand hands in over the weekend. I'm still 4300 VPPs (1 VPP = 1 base FPP) away from clearing my bonus which translates to about 13K hands of poker based on my last four sessions. There's a whole lot of poker left to play!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Keep reading "Another Leak"

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Keep reading "Sponsored By: OnlineCasinosDir.com"

Plugging Away

I put in a short session of about 270 hands last night. I played one hand terribly - really, really terribly. I'm a little too ashamed to post it at the moment but I'll see how I feel in a few days. That terrible hand cost me 3/4 of my stack and a good chunk of my self-confidence.

The session wasn't all doom and gloom though. I managed to make back all my losses with a couple big hands. I could have made a little more on top of that had I not run a little unlucky with some all-ins. But I deserved to get a little unlucky given some of my dubious play in other key hands.

Before we go any further, let's see how things turned out in the hand I posted yesterday.

Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $100
UTG+1: $102.15
Hero (CO): $148.30
Villain (Button): $113.90
SB: $321.70
BB: $100

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is CO with Q♠ J♥
2 folds, Hero raises to $3, Villain calls, 2 folds.

Flop: 5♥ Q♦ 9♣ ($7.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $5, Villain calls.

Turn: Q♣ ($17.5, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain bets $12, Hero calls.

River: 4♦ ($41.5, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain checks.

(If Villain was floating me on the turn, he's got nothing so it's best to let him bluff at the pot. And if he's got me beat, I'd rather check-call than bet out and get raised. When Villain checked, I had no idea what hand he'd show.)

Final pot: $84
Hero showed Qs Jh
Villain showed 8s 7s

(I didn't expect to see that hand. Villain was tight but must have noticed that I was raising light from late position. He made a good move on the turn by semi-bluffing his gutshot draw on a fairly safe board. If he'd hit his hand on the river, I would have been thoroughly pwned.)

That last hand is a perfect demonstration of why I hate playing out of position in raised pots with mediocre hands. The situation is always much worse when the player in position is a smart player, such as the Villain in the above hand. I really hope that some more hands and more studying help to better prepare me for the various situations and moves that will become more and more common at the higher stake tables.

At the moment, I'm terrible at playing in three-bet pots and have difficulty pulling the trigger if I feel that my opponents are taking advantage of me. I'll probably put in another 10K - 20K hands at $100 NLHE over the next 2-3 months. I'm sure my game will improve drastically over that time. If not, I can always go on hiatus...

Here's a funny hand that I played the other night. In this hand, the Villain is a loose aggressive opponent who made it a habit to take small stabs at pots in an attempt to take them down cheaply. I guess he figured that small bets allowed him to invest less when trying to steal while also hiding the true strength of his hands. I wouldn't recommend that style myself but I play in a more straightforward, easily exploitable manner.

No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $95.60
UTG+1: $38.30
CO: $111.25
Button: $76.45
Villain (SB): $207.55
Hero (BB): $100

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is BB with Q♣ K♠
UTG folds, UTG+1 calls, 2 folds, Villain raises to $2, Hero calls, UTG+1 calls.

(I could have re-popped the Villain here. I can't remember if I was calling for deception or if I was just too afraid to raise; probably the latter.)

Flop: 3♦ K♦ 6♣ ($6, 3 players)
Villain bets $1, Hero raises to $4, UTG+1 folds, Villain calls.

(Value Raise #1)

Turn: K♥ ($14, 2 players)
Villain bets $5, Hero raises to $15, Villain calls.

(Value Raise #2)

River: T♠ ($44, 2 players)
Villain bets $1, Hero raises to $20, Villain calls.

($1 bet into a $44 pot?! He either wants a cheap showdown or is inducing the raise. I'm happy to disappoint/please him with Value Raise #3.)

Final pot: $84
Hero showed Qc Ks
Villain mucks Jc Js

(I have a feeling that Villain knew he was beat but just couldn't lay down his "premium hand". I'm just happy he wasn't playing a K3, K6, or KT.)

I'm going to hit the tables again tonight. I've put in about 4500 hands of poker this month: 1000 hands of $50 NLHE and 3500 hands of $100 NLHE. I'm pretty sure that my brain's on a learning plateau right now. I don't expect my game to improve that much over the next week but I'll keep playing. I'm sure my brain will let me know once it's digested and assimilated all the new poker information that's been pouring in over the past few weeks.

If I can put in another 1500 hands this month, I'll be good. 5000 hands represents a good chunk of my total no-limit ring game experience. I think I'd only played around 25K hands of NLHE prior to the start of this month. The bulk of those hands were played at the $25 and $50 buy-in limits. My win rates at those stakes were not very good; thankfully things are better at the $100 NLHE tables.

I really hope my persistence pays off. I'm willing to put in the time to improve my game. I just need to stay on track, keep focused, and let the chips fall where they may.

I'll be back tomorrow.Have a good one!

Keep reading "Plugging Away"


Have you ever had one of those sessions where nothing went your way? Pocket pairs fail to hit sets? Your pre-flop raises get shoved back in your face with large and frequent 3-bets? Continuation bets get called, raised, or check-raised? And above all else, very few of your hands connect with the flop, forcing you to make a choice between bluffing for stacks or sheepishly folding?

I just had one of those nights and it sucked.

There really wasn't much I could do last night. I wasn't getting many good hands and I didn't have any solid reads on my opponents. I was getting my fair share of raising hands; it's funny how hand values shrink when facing a big re-raise. Many of my opponents were TAGs and LAGs so the tables' dynamics were not a surprise. I just wish that I'd had a little more ammunition to fire back. I resisted the temptation to make stupid moves and stack off with second or third pair: does this mean that I'm finally learning? Or am I becoming too passive?

I'd post some bad beats from last night but there were none. In fact, I only hit top pair (or better) hands five times last night (out of about 60 flops seen). I won each of those hands; they were all small wins though. Other than that, I spent my night folding to my opponents various bets, pokes, and prods.

So let's take a look at a hand I played a few days ago. I'd like to know what you would do in my shoes. All you need to know about this hand is that the Villain seemed to be a solid player and the SB was a total LAG.

Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $100
UTG+1: $102.15
Hero (CO): $148.30
Villain (Button): $113.90
SB: $321.70
BB: $100

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is CO with Q♠ J♥
2 folds, Hero raises to $3, Villain calls, 2 folds.

Flop: 5♥ Q♦ 9♣ ($7.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $5, Villain calls.

Turn: Q♣ ($17.5, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain bets $12, Hero calls.

River: 4♦ ($41.5, 2 players)
Hero ??

(Check or bet? What range of hands do you put the Villain on? How likely is Hero ahead in this spot?)

I may take the night off tonight to play my Xbox 360. I've put in a lot of hands this month and a night off could be nice. I'm still a little tired and I drained the last of my energy drink reserves last night. Of course, my evening plans can always change if inspiration strikes!

Have a great day!

Keep reading "Whatever..."


When I started playing online poker a few years back, I didn't really know what I was doing. I saw an ad on TV for a poker room and signed up later that day. I knew nothing about the poker room when I fired up my first table. I didn't know that there were trusted poker rooms that offered a better experience for its players. I knew nothing about bonuses. I knew nothing about deposit methods. I jumped into the water head-first without first checking the water for rocks or sharks.

Things are very different today for new poker players looking to find poker game online (sic.). Why settle for signing up with the first online poker room that you come across? There is a site that can help you find the best poker rooms online. And that site's name is PokerIntensity.com.

Poker Intensity is not your run of the mill portal site looking for random Internet traffic to generate online poker room referral revenue. Just take a look at the site and you'll spot the difference immediately. PokerIntensity.com is a well designed site offering users many features that other similar sites (if such a comparison can truly be made) simply do not offer. Here's a quick rundown of what you'll find:

  • A "Contact Us" page: Good luck finding this feature on a typical poker room review site.
  • Online Poker Rooms: This section lists deposit bonus information, reload bonus information, promotions, incentives, and quality reviews for many of today's top online poker rooms.
  • Online Poker News: Read up on the latest poker industry news and happenings.
  • New Player's Guide: Get all the information you'll need to make informed decisions regarding online poker including legal issues, tax issues, and deposit methods.
  • Poker Odds Calculator: Don't be a fish! Do your homework and know the odds before hitting the tables.
  • And so much more!
I could say more about PokerIntensity.com but I think that their mission statement says it all:
Poker Intensity mission: To provide free, in-depth, knowledgeable, and objective information to the online poker playing community. We do this by providing three things:
  1. We recommend online poker rooms that have passed our tests.
  2. We supply as much up-front information as possible about these online poker rooms.
  3. We make available a list of online poker rooms to avoid.
Our goal is to make online poker easier and more lucrative for you.
Whether you're looking for the best poker rooms online, the best deposit and reload bonus offers, quality online poker room reviews, or even a list of blacklisted poker rooms, PokerIntensity.com is a great place to start! Please give them a visit today!

The preceding was a paid review for PokerIntensity.com.

Keep reading "PokerIntensity.com"

PokerStars, Plans, and Presto

After looking over the terms of the 2X WCOOP bonus at PokerStars, I decided to make my $600 deposit and start working off the bonus.

At 20 base FPPs per $1 of bonus, the bonus clearance rate works out to $6 - $7 an hour given my volume and stakes. I was clearing roughly the same amount in rakeback at Full Tilt. By the time I finish this bonus, I should also be quite close to obtaining a $250 gift certificate that will allow me to pick up a portable media player for next to nothing!

I played at PokerStars for about an hour and a half last night. I started my session using Poker Tracker 3 but quickly switched back to my trusty Poker Tracker 2. I'm really not digging the HUD for Poker Tracker 3. I can't figure out how to position the stats according to my personal preferences. Am I missing something here? Luckily, I didn't lose any money while juggling three tables and playing around with PT3.

I played close to 400 hands at the tables and cleared 160 base FPPs. Most importantly, the games were very good! There were quite a few weak players sitting in at my tables. I made a few bucks and have a number of hands that I'll be able to put up for discussion.

As for my current FPP totals and Stars VIP status, I've got about 8000 FPPs stored away and I'm a mere 550 FPPs from hitting Silver Star VIP status. If I can put in another 3-4 good sessions, I'll be a Silver Star VIP and start earning FPPs at a 50% increased rate. While these bonus FPPs don't count towards clearing my bonus, the extra FPPs will go a long way to earning the gift certificate. If my calculations are correct, I'll have about 14000 FPPs by the time I clear the $240 bonus leaving only 3500 more FPPs to earn.

But bonuses and gift certificates are secondary to playing good poker. Based on the number of FPPs that I cleared last night, it should take me another 43.5 hours (or 130.5 total table hours) to clear all 4800 FPPs required to clear $240 bonus dollars. Even if I clear a modest 80 hands per table hour, I'm looking at playing a total of roughly 10,500 hands. That's a whole lot of poker experience for a guy who's barely played 40,000 hands of poker! And from a BB point of view, clearing the bonus equates to an extra 2 BB/100 added to my winrate over the course of the bonus period!

If I average 8 BB/100 while clearing the bonus and throw in the extra 2 BB/100 from the bonus, I can give my bankroll a solid boost of 1050 BB. That's a good amount if I can pull it off. In fact, I'd be pretty close to trying my hand at the $200 NLHE games once again.

To sum things up:

  • PokerStars' 2X WCOOP bonus $240 bonus requires 4800 base FPPs to clear.
  • It will take me an additional 130.5 table hours to clear the remaining 4640 base FPPs to clear the bonus.
  • 130.5 table hours equates to roughly 10.5K hands of poker.
  • A winrate of 8 BB/100 coupled with the overlay of the bonus should see my bankroll increase by 1050 BB. Of course, short-term variance can be a real bitch sometimes.
  • After clearing the bonus, I'll be a mere 3500 FPPs away from picking up a $250 gift certificate for Future Shop.
  • A $250 gift certificate will allow me to pick up a portable media player.
  • A portable media player will allow me to watch poker training videos during my commute to and from work.
  • Poker training videos and a bigger bankroll will allow me to try the $200 NLHE tables again.
Those eight bullet points cover my plan of attack for the next couple months of poker. I just hope that the games at PokerStars and Lady Luck treat me right.

I started out clearing my bonus last night on a high note. After months of flopping air with my pocket pairs and not getting paid off by various Villains, I finally had a bit of luck. I don't have time to go over all my hands but I'll leave you with the following hand that exemplifies last night's games.

Poker Stars
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
5 players

Stack sizes:
Villain (UTG): $71.15
Hero (CO): $100
Button: $203.05
SB: $53.95
BB: $151.45

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is CO with 5♣ 5♠
Villain calls, Hero calls, 2 folds, 2 folds, BB checks.

(No real read on Villain. He was a little tight but I was focusing a little too much on getting Poker Tracker 3 working just right.)

Flop: Q♣ 5♦ 3♦ ($3.5, 3 players)
BB checks, Villain checks, Hero bets $3, BB folds, Villain calls.

(Multiway pot and a draw on the board meant that I was willing to bet my set. Honestly, I very rarely slowplay - probably a weak point in my game. When Villain calls, I put him on a hand like AQ, KQ, a smaller pocket pair, or suited connectors; his pre-flop limp told me nothing nor did his call on the flop.)

Turn: K♥ ($9.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $7, Villain calls.

(Even though the Villain hadn't shown any strength, I had to bet the turn. Although I wanted to charge draws, the main purpose of my bet was to increase the pot size. A bigger pot on the river allows me to make a larger value bet without seeming out of line.)

River: 8♠ ($23.5, 2 players)
Villain bets $15, Hero raises all-in $89, Villain calls all-in $45.15.
Uncalled bets: $28.85 returned to Hero.

(I didn't think that there was any way for the Villain to have either KK or QQ for set over set on the river. A smallish river bet following a show of weakness on all streets screamed one pair or a pocket pair like JJ or TT. Raising the Villain's bet was pointless given the size of the pot so the all-in push was the right move in my opinion. I wasn't going to let the Villain walk away with any of his stack remaining. I figured that I'd get a call from the Villain given what little read I had on him. I was getting the "I'm not going to let you bluff me off the pot with your mid-pocket pair vibe" from him.

I made the right choice because the Villain insta-called the push.)

Final pot: $143.8
Hero showed 5c 5s
Villain mucks As Ad

The Villain made the mistake of betting a moderate hand on the river. His overpair was better suited as a bluff catcher in this spot given the betting. If I'd missed my draw or if I'd been overplaying a weaker hand, why not let me bluff at the river instead of leading out? By leading out with an overpair on the river after being shown strength on the flop and the turn, the Villain loses value from those hands that he's beating while putting his stack at risk to an all-in re-raise from a legitimately strong hand.

Don't get me wrong: I won a big pot because I hit my set against a guy who slowplayed rockets and waited until the river to spring his "trap". What I like about my play in the hand - and this is obvious to most people reading right now - is that I bet the flop and turn in order to build the pot. If I'd tried to slowplay, there's a good chance that the Villain could have gotten away without losing quite so much money. There aren't many players who'd stack off in a small pot on the river with only an overpair.

I'll be at PokerStars again tonight. In fact, I'll likely play at PokerStars on most nights for the next two or three months. But don't worry Full Tilt: I'll be back!

Don't forget that you can sign-up to play at PokerStars and earn extra FPPs as rakeback! Just click here to sign up for a rakeback account with RakeTheRake.

Keep reading "PokerStars, Plans, and Presto"

PokerStars '2X' Reload Bonus: 40% up to $240 (July 2008)

It's PokerStars reload bonus time! Just when things had become crystal clear and I was enjoying my time at Full Tilt too! But the games are so fishy at Stars. Table selection is not quite as important when every table is chock-full of awful players.

Full bonus details after the jump.

Here are the full details regarding the PokerStars reload bonus:

40% up to $240 (deposit $600 for max). Use bonus code 2X. Must earn 20 base FPPs for each $1 in bonus money. Valid until July 31st at 11:59 PM ET. Bonus released in one lump sum. Bonus expires after 180 Days.
20 base FPPs per dollar?! I don't have the numbers in front of me but the rakeback I get at Full Tilt probably beats the heck out of that clearance rate.

Oh well - I'll figure it out tonight. I could probably clear the full bonus in a month's time of three-tabling the 6-max $100 NLHE tables at Stars. But I wonder if I could earn more than $240 in rakeback from Full Tilt over that same period of time.

I love it when online poker rooms fight for my love!

If you don't have a PokerStars account, sign up here or get a PokerStars rakeback account right here. (Note: rakeback at Stars is paid in FPPs and not actual dollars)

And if you'd prefer to play at Full Tilt with rakeback, sign-up through RakeTheRake by clicking here.

Both sites are great and you can't go wrong!

Keep reading "PokerStars '2X' Reload Bonus: 40% up to $240 (July 2008)"

Full Tilt, Cool Gadgets, and Conflict Resolved

Poker beat out video games for my free time this weekend. I've found my game again and I'm actually enjoying poker again. I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune once I start losing again but I'll enjoy the games while I can. I've got a few things to talk about today including the conclusion to the PokerTime saga, a little more about the Zune/iPod and poker training videos, and a some poker hands too!

After all that I said about PokerTime last week, things mostly worked out in the end. When I received the last e-mail from PokerTime informing me that my money was locked, I decided to try and make one last withdrawal. Instead of attempting to withdraw the bulk of my PokerTime account, I opted for a smaller sum of money.

I received confirmation from Moneybookers of a deposit from PokerTime on Saturday morning. In the end, I was reimbursed the $20 that I'd put in from my Moneybookers account along with an additional $20.

I then played some $50 NLHE with my remaining $26.13 at PokerTime. In three consecutive hands, my opponents hit their gutshot straight draws on the river and that was that. Easy come, easy go. I'm just happy to have had the opportunity to cash out some winnings before the doom switch was activated on my account.

I've decided that I'm going to purchase either a Microsoft Zune (80GB) or an Archos 605 (80 GB) (or Archos 705 (80 GB)). Why? I'd like to be able to watch poker training videos on my commute to and from work. Although the Zune is cheaper than the Archos media players, Archos' devices come with 4.3" LCD screens. Is it worth an extra $100 for a larger screen? I haven't decided yet.

I can confirm that I've decided to hold off on making any purchases until my bankroll is large enough to handle the swings of the $200 NLHE tables. I'd also like to make sure that I'm going to stick with poker before making any large purchases. When I forked out a wad of cash for my laptop back in March, I stopped playing poker within 3 weeks of my purchase. If I can avoid that same scenario again, I'll be happy.

If my win rate over my last 10,000 hands is any indication, I'll have to put in at least 20,000 hands before I'm ready to make a purchase. That's quite a few hands. Hopefully online poker will still exist by the time I'm ready to hit Best Buy...

I've been playing at Full Tilt almost exclusively over the past week. I never really gave FTP a chance until recently. So far, I'm finding the games to be pretty good. Not quite as many fishy players as there are at PokerStars but still good. And I have to say that the rakeback is nice as well (via RakeTheRake).

The only downside to earning rakeback is that any Full Tilt points that I earn are useless to me. Any points spent come out of my rakeback earned (past, present, and future); this precludes me from buying anything from the FT store, trying for Iron Man status, or even playing any freerolls (other than the $22.5K RakeTheRake monthly freeroll). Full Tilt is a little tight with their rakeback players. But with rakeback accounting for an extra 2-3 BB/100, I can't fault Full Tilt for their policies.

UPDATE: cmitch was kind enough to clarify how Full Tilt handles freerolls, bonuses, and other promotions for rakeback players:
This isn't correct. Those things don't come out of your rakeback at $1 for $1. They reduce your MGR (monthly gross rake) by the value, so in effect you are paying 27% of the actual cost of items from the FTP store and you are paying 27% of your value in the freerolls. The iron man store is a little different - purchasing tokens does not effect your rakeback at all, but purchasing bonuses does.

Example 1 - I am saving up for the 42" plasma, it is 370k ftps. FTP deducts $0.005/point from your MGR when you purchase an item in their store, so they value the 42" plasma at $1,850 (370k x $0.005) including shipping. $499.50 ($1,850 x 27%) will be deducted from my rakeback after I purchase the TV.

Example 2 - $10k freeroll that has 100 players. Your value in the freeroll is $100, so that is deducted from your MGR. You will then receive $27 ($100 x 27%) less RB, so you are still getting to enter a tourney for 27% of the price of a normal tourney.
Thanks go out to cmitch for clarifying this matter for me and my readers looking for rakeback at Full Tilt! And I guess I can safely opt-in for the Iron Man promotion now!

Speaking of Full Tilt, let's a take a look at some of the hands I played over the weekend.

Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $94.70
UTG+1: $183.45
Hero (CO): $149.15
Button: $110.70
SB: $57.15
Villain (BB): $59.45

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is CO with K♣ K♠
2 folds, Hero raises to $4, 2 folds, Villain calls.

(No solid reads on Villain. Seemed to play a standard game.)

Flop: 8♥ 4♦ 7♥ ($8.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $7, Villain calls.

Turn: 4♠ ($22.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $15, Villain calls.

(I had to bet again. No free looks at the river.)

River: K♥ ($52.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero is all-in $123.15, Villain calls all-in $33.45.
Uncalled bets: $89.7 returned to Hero.

(I was hoping that the Villain was chasing a draw. If not, maybe I get called by a weaker hand. Pot was already larger than the Villain's remaining stack so I anticipated a call.)

Final pot: $119.4
Hero showed Kc Ks
Villain mucks Ah 5h

(I don't understand Villain's call of $15 into a $37 pot on the turn. Whatever. Ship it.)

Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $81.90
UTG+1: $77.95
Villain (CO): $117.80
Button: $182.25
Hero (SB): $126.20
BB: $113.70

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is SB with T♠ J♠
2 folds, Villain raises to $2, Button folds, Hero calls, BB folds.

(No strong read on Villain other than "tight" given how few hands he'd played.)

Flop: J♣ 4♠ 9♠ ($5, 2 players)
Hero bets $3, Villain calls.

(Monster flop for me. I was hoping that Villain might raise my donk-bet. I had no reason to suspect a raise...but I still wanted one in much the same way as a little boy wants a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas.)

Turn: A♣ ($11, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain checks.

(I could have bet the turn. But I didn't want to get raised off my hand nor did I want to pay a lot with just one card to come.)

River: A♠ ($11, 2 players)
Hero bets $7, Villain raises to $20, Hero calls.

(I bet my flush for value since Villain had not shown any strength. The Villain's raise had me a little worried. Isn't there a theory in big-bet hold'em that says that all previous betting means nothing in the face of a large bet on later streets?

There were two flushes that beat me and I was losing to a set turned boat on the river. I decided against raising the Villain but I had to call. I figured that a raise on my part might only get called or raised by one of the hands that beat me. Do I belong in Vegas playing the day shift with the other rocks?)

Final pot: $51
Villain showed 5s 6s
Hero showed Ts Js

(Villain's hand really surprised me. I thought I was going to be shown either a bluff or a better hand. If the Villain had hit the flush on the river, I expected to see the K♠ or the Q♠. I guess Villain got sick of waiting for a hand and tried to mix things up a bit.

How would you have played this hand differently?)

Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.5/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
Villain (UTG): $49.90
UTG+1: $196.55
CO: $199.25
Hero (Button): $100
SB: $0
BB: $72.70

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is Button with J♠ A♠
Villain calls, UTG+1 raises to $2, CO folds, Hero calls, BB calls, Villain calls.

(UTG+1 and CO were both loose donkeys. Villain had been losing pot after pot to the "lucky" UTG+1 and CO players.)

Flop: 2♠ K♠ A♦ ($8.5, 4 players)
BB checks, Villain bets $1, UTG+1 calls, Hero raises to $10, BB folds, Villain calls, UTG+1 folds.

(I love hitting monster hands in family pots! I was pretty excited to see both the Villain and UTG+1 in the pot before I got the chance to raise. Unfortunately, UTG+1 found his fold button. For the record, he was most likely going to float the Villain yet again and hope to pick up a lucky card on the later streets to bust Villain.)

Turn: 5♠ ($29.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $15, Villain calls.

(Bingo! Villain didn't have much money behind and I wanted to get him committed to the pot before another spade fell or before he lost his nerve.)

River: 9♦ ($59.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $20, Villain calls.

(Villain had $22 behind so I bet $20, assuming that the Villain would push his last $2 into the pot. I should have just bet $25. Pretty stupid of me to leave $2 sitting there.)

Final pot: $99.5
Hero showed Js As
Villain mucks Kd 5h

(As you can see, Villain was clearly on tilt. K5o?! Ouch.)

I'll be back at Full Tilt tonight continuing to grind my bankroll back up to respectability. Hopefully I'll find a couple hands worth discussing.

Have a great day everyone!

Keep reading "Full Tilt, Cool Gadgets, and Conflict Resolved"

Watts, PokerTime, and the Weekend

It's Friday! I am so glad that the weekend is finally here. I've really been run down this week due to lack of sleep. I'm not sure why my kids aren't sleeping anymore. But I do know that sleep deprivation is slowly causing me to lose my mind. Today's post will be another sampling of poker-related news and such. I'm a little too tired to come up with anything more cohesive than the dijointed notes you'll see after the jump.

I just wanted to give a shout out to Watts! After failing to cash in the WSOP Main Event, he went on to play the WPT Bellagio Cup. He was the chip leader going into the televised final table yesterday. Watts had some tough competition in the form of David Benyamine and John Phan, to name a couple.

In any case, Watts ended up taking down the tournament! For his efforts, Watts takes home a cool $1,670,000! Unbelievable!

Great job Watts!

I received an e-mail response back from PokerTime yesterday. I am required to earn 50 MPPs (player points) at PokerTime's exclusive tables before I can withdraw any money from the site. With that in mind, I played one $20 NLHE table and two $10 NLHE tables last night (the traffic on the site is a little low). Over the course of one hour, I earned...3 points. Hey PokerTime: your stupid bonus requirements and loyalty point system suck balls!

I'm actually more upset at myself for having deposited $20 of my own money into the site. I guess I felt like throwing money away.

As for my games last night, I was down $14 total. I made an awful play on the $20 table. Here's the gist of the hand:
I raised first in with KJo UTG. Table was tight. BB calls.

Flop comes J♦ T 3♦. I bet pot ($1) and get called. Turn is the K♥ so I bet pot again ($3) with my top two pair; BB calls again. At this point, I'm putting him on a flush draw, pair of jacks, two pair (JT the most likely), or a pair/draw combo. In all honesty, Villain could have also had any two at this point due to the general doneky-ness of many of PokerTime's micro-stakes players.

River is a blank, BB checks, and I decide to shove for value against the BB ($15 into a $10 pot) hoping that my move looks like a steal. I felt that I could get this particular Villain to call me with a worse two pair or even something as bad as AJ.

Villain let's his time tick down and calls at the last second with Q9. The prick slow-rolled me with the second nuts. Hilarious...I suck...
I guess I deserved everything I got by falling in love with my top two against an opponent who clearly liked his hand. For what it's worth, Villain ended up being a real LAG-tard whose stack fluctuated from $10 all the way up to $90 and everywhere in between.

So I have about $76 left at PokerTime. I think I'll take it all to the $50 NLHE or $100 NLHE tables and try to play my usual game. If I bust out, it's no big loss. Getting stacked at PokerTime for $76 is not all that different from getting stacked at Full Tilt for $100. The players don't seem all that great at PokerTime; hopefully I'll come out ahead.

The guys at PokerTrainingGuide.com wrote me yesterday to confirm that PokerSavvy's (and DeucesCracked's) poker training videos are all downloadable to iPod (and Zune, I presume).

I'm going to hold off on picking up a Zune until my bankroll's ready to handle the $200 NLHE games. At that point, I'll definitely need to use all help available to turn me from a mediocre poker player into something a little more. And at $250 for the Zune and $25-$30 a month for poker videos, the tuition is not too expensive.

I'm going to take the night off from poker. I'm way too tired to play this evening. But I'm going to try and put in 1000 hands over the course of Saturday and Sunday. I'll most likely be playing at Full Tilt and PokerTime for now, with a little PokerStars thrown in. I'm pretty close to earning myself Silver Star VIP status again.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Keep reading "Watts, PokerTime, and the Weekend"

Blogs, Poker, Training Videos, and a Hostage Situation

I didn't play any poker last night. My youngest is still not sleeping leaving me a little groggy at times. Although I could have played some poker at 10:30 PM last night, my head was a little sore and my eyes were pretty tired. So I played some Lost Odyssey instead.

But I am still very much in "poker" mode. After the jump, I've got a new blog for all of you to check out, a poker hand or two (I'll see what I've got), a preliminary review of Harrington on Cash Games Vol. 1, a "hostage" situation, and an update on my Zune/iPod poker training video search.

What do you get when you cross The Onion with poker? The answer is Melted Felt (though I should also give props to Tripjax for his Onion-esque articles).

Melted Felt is a well-written and funny blog containing a bunch of hilarious articles. Melted Felt tackles many diverse issues such as Russ Hamilton and the UB scandal, Level 38 thinking, and poker blogs. Funny, funny stuff! There's so much to check out at Melted Felt that I urge all of you to go take a look.

Harrington on Cash Games...let's see...

What's good? General NL concepts and big hand vs. small hand considerations.

What's bad? Hand examples (especially in Chapter 3), the constant use of a wrist watch to dictate what action to perform, the overall nitty style of gameplay guaranteed to leave most online players scratching their heads, and a poor understanding of short-stack play and mentality.

Once again, let me just re-iterate that many live cash game theories and concepts do not translate well into the online arena. Many online players are aggressive, ruthless, fast, smart, and willing to gamble. Limping UTG with AKs when the second hand on my watch is between the 45 second and 60 second mark seems ludicrous to me. Am I wrong here?

I guess I should also mention that I don't wear a watch so maybe the Harrington book was not written for one such as myself.

Here's a hand that I played the other night at Full Tilt (rakeback available). I'm sure many of you have been in this situation: you flop the nuts and someone bets into you. Do you raise? Or do you flat call in the hopes of getting even more money (i.e. the greedy bastard approach)?

Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
Villain (UTG): $49.65
UTG+1: $154.80
CO: $14.60
Hero (Button): $100
SB: $135.65
BB: $20.95

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is Button with T♠ A♠
Villain raises to $2, 2 folds, Hero calls, SB calls, BB folds.

(Villain was a fish (56% VP$IP, 0% PFR). I could have re-raised from the button; however, Villain hadn't raised in over 60 hands so I decided to flat call. Players in the blinds were both pretty loose too so I didn't mind playing a family pot.)

Flop: Q♠ 2♠ J♠ ($7, 3 players)
SB checks, Villain bets $3, Hero calls, SB folds.

(I flopped the nuts! Now what? My options were to raise or call. I opted for the call because I wanted to keep the SB in the pot. I was just hoping that either Villain or SB had the K♠.)

Turn: 6♠ ($13, 2 players)
Villain bets $8, Hero raises to $16, Villain folds.
Uncalled bets: $8 returned to Hero.

(The fourth spade hit on the turn. When the Villain bet, I hoped that he'd hit the flush. Just in case, I went for the min-raise to string him along to the river where I'd either make a large raise if Villain bet or 1/2 - 3/4 pot value bet.

Unfortunately, the Villain insta-folded. I guess he didn't have a spade. The fourth spade hitting the turn completely killed my action. I misinterpreted the Villain's pre-flop raise, flop bet, and turn bet as being representative of strength instead of haphazard probe bets.

I don't mind my line given the presence of a somewhat loose SB on the flop. If we'd been heads-up on the flop, I would have probably raised the pot in the hopes that the Villain would put me on a draw or as simply defending a hand like top-pair. A raise on the flop would also get more money into the pot before a fourth spade kills any further chances to make money.)

Final pot: $29

In other news, PokerTime has decided to screw me over. They gave me $10 to use at their tables. I ran that up to $70 and tried to withdraw: no good.

I then deposited some of my own money from my Moneybookers account. I was hoping that the transaction had been denied because I'd never deposited using Moneybookers. Once again, my transaction was denied.

I contacted PokerTime support and finally receive an answer today. It seems that PokerTime does not allow any withdrawals until their players have earned 50 poker points at PokerTime's exclusive super user account "green" tables. Are you f*cking kidding me?! I even offered to reimburse the original $10 bonus that they had given me and simply withdraw my earnings and my recent deposit. As of right now, I believe that this is a no-go as well.

PokerTime is now holding $80 of my money hostage. I guess I'll have to go free my funds by facing off against POTRIPPER and friends. Who knows - maybe I'll get my money out more or less intact?

I'll keep everyone posted on any new developments to this completely uninteresting story.

I found a pretty good site that reviews the big poker training video sites out there: pokertrainingguide. It's a real site, it's good, and this is not an advertisement! Normally these types of site are crap but pokertrainingguide actually contains useful and valid information.

In any case, I found out that PokerSavvy has DRM-free downloadable videos that are iPod compatible. Is there anyone out there who can confirm this for me? I asked Foucault if he knew anything about this since he recently did some videos for PokerSavvy.

If I can download videos to a portable device, the only other questions I have is: How easy or hard is it to see what's happening at a poker table in a video being played on a tiny screen? I believe that most of the value from poker training videos comes from listening to the instructor describing the action and his thoughts; I'd still like to see the cards and chip counts though.

If any of you reading this have ever played a poker training video on an iPod or Zune, could you please leave a comment describing your thoughts on the subject? I'd appreciate it.

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

Keep reading "Blogs, Poker, Training Videos, and a Hostage Situation"