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Fancy Moves

I played about 400 hands of break-even poker last night at Full Tilt. I got down early when I got it all-in pre-flop with QQ against a shorter stacked player (50 BB) sitting pretty with AA. I also had another pair of Queens fall flat on an A K x flop. But today's post isn't about the sheer crapiness of finding yourself down a buy-in or two within the first ten minutes of your session. Instead, I'd like to look at a couple hands where certain Villains decided to get tricky.

I hate raising pre-flop, getting called, and then finding myself guessing on the flop. In one scenario, I raise pre-flop and get called by an out-of-position opponent. The flop is pretty dry and before I can make my c-bet, my opponent makes a pot-sized donk-bet. Typically, Villains will get away with donk-betting me once or twice before I'll shut them down. But I'm wondering if I should start re-popping donk-bets from the get-go and adjusting my frequency downwards once the Villains start compensating for my aggression.

Seriously - I hate donk-bets...

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $103.20
CO: $125.30
Hero (Button): $100
Villain (SB): $48.55
BB: $380.40

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is Button with 3♣ 3♥
2 folds, Hero raises to $3.5, Villain calls, BB folds.

(Villain is a terrible player. The only thing that's saved him so far is his short-stack and my inability to hit a hand on the flop. As much as I love stacking off with overs, I've found this to be a losing strategy against short-stackers. I probably should have adjusted a little better to this Villain though by tightening up my stealing range. In any case, I've got a pair this time so it's time to play a hand.)

Flop: 8♠ K♥ K♣ ($8, 2 players)
Villain bets $8, Hero raises to $20, Villain folds.

(Villain has made this same donk-bet numerous times before. Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice, shame on you; fool me five times, we're stacking off every hand we play together.

I make my pot-committing raise and Villain instantly folds. For what it's worth, Villain stopped donk-betting me entirely for the rest of my session. Then again, he took me to value town a number of times so I guess he won this round.)

Results:
Final pot: $24


The next problem that I have is when I end up c-betting the flop out-of-position and my opponent min-raises my bet (i.e. the "click-it-back" strategy). I don't read the 2+2 forums right now, opting for watching poker training videos instead. But I'll have to do a little research myself (or maybe MJ could look into it for me?) to see what conditions Villains are using before attempting this move. In the past two weeks, I'm sure I've folded way too many hands to this flop min-raise.

In any case, here's a hand where I had a premium hand and a good flop. Let me go on record saying that I hate the "click-it-back" move; that may change once I figure out how to exploit this strategy...

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $105.25
Villain (UTG+1): $226.35
CO: $219.95
Button: $150.65
Hero (SB): $109.55
BB: $43.40

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

(Villain's PT3 number don't seem that strong but he's been doing quite well at the table.)

Flop: 9♥ 2♦ 9♠ ($13, 2 players)
Hero bets $10, Villain raises to $20, Hero raises to $60, Villain folds.

(Villain gives me the old min-check-raise move on the flop. Thankfully I have a hand to counter this time and re-raise. When the Villain insta-folds, I had one of those "Usual Suspect" moments where my brain quickly went back to all those times that I'd had my c-bet or flop bet min-raised. All those times that I'd folded. I'd probably mucked the best hand a number of times without knowing it.

I hate it when my opponents use canned strategies on me. I'll really have to start checking out the forums from time to time to see what is being praised as the new hotness.)


Results:
Final pot: $53


I'll be putting in some more hands at Full Tilt this weekend. I think my game's coming along nicely and I'm happy to be putting in the hours. I feel like I'm on the verge of a breakthrough in terms of my poker ability. I guess we'll see how things go over the next month.

I'll be back on Tuesday after the long weekend. Have a safe and happy weekend everyone!

Keep reading "Fancy Moves"

Videos, Plans, and Monster Hands

Another night, another session at Full Tilt. I played fairly well though there are still a number of spots where I find myself a little lost.

For example, I'm still not sure how to handle min-raises on dry boards when I c-bet out of position in a 3-bet pot. Another classic example is betting KK on an Ace high flop and having your opponent min-raise my bet. Without a read on my opponents, I tend to fold in both of these situations and I think that's a leak. I guess I'm just unfamiliar with the typical betting lines that my opponents would take when facing off against me in these situations.

Thankfully, I'm really learning a lot by watching my collection of PokerSavvy videos on my Zune. I think Andrew "Foucault" Brokos' videos are terrific. After my session last night, I watched a short video of Foucault playing a couple tables of $3/$6 6-max NLHE at PokerStars. I am constantly amazed by how much he knows about poker and how little I know myself.

Rather than feel discouraged at how far I still have to go to become a feared poker player, I find myself excited. Watching Foucault systematically dismantle and outthink his opponents gives me the drive to become a better player. The higher stakes games are beatable if you're willing to put in the time at the tables and learn the theories and strategies behind winning play. Foucault proves that with every video he makes.

As for my poker play, I've put in just over 5,000 hands this month. I don't think that's too bad given that I took the first week of August off to play video games. I'm hoping to put in another couple thousand hands before the end of the month. As for moving up to the $1/$2 NLHE games, I may give those games a shot next month. I'll start with a couple tables and see how things go. Moving up in limits can be pretty stressful as you try and figure out how the games play and what adjustments need to be made to your own game in order to start profiting.

I'm not in a huge rush to move up though I am curious to see how things play out this time around. According to Poker Tracker, I am a (barely) winning player at $200 NLHE over a small sample of hands. I'm currently undecided as to how big a bankroll I want to have before tackling the higher-stake tables. I guess there's no minimum size required if I'm self-aware enough to step back down if things aren't working out. I guess I don't have any answers right now except to say that I will give $200 NLHE a shot soon enough.

I'd like to end things on a positive note so here's a hand that I played last night against a random LAG villain. No profound observations this time. The hand played itself and I was happy!

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $105.70
CO: $93.55
Button: $100
Hero (SB): $143.95
Villain (BB): $112.65

(UTG and CO are both loose and somewhat passive players. Villain in BB is LAG.)

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is SB with 9♣ 9♠
UTG calls, CO calls, Button folds, Hero calls, BB raises to $6, 2 folds, Hero calls.

(I considered raising my 99 in this spot but neither of my opponents would likely fold post-flop. I figured I'd be able to value bet them to death after the flop if I did hit so there was not point in bloating the pot while out of position. The Villain was pretty LAG and opted for the pre-flop squeeze play. I figured my 99 were worth the call given that Villain would likely pay me off post-flop if I used the old rope-a-dope strategy.

I'm sure there are some out there who might 3-bet 99 against a known LAG making a squeeze play but didn't feel like flipping for stacks if the Villain decided to 4-bet all-in. Leak?)

Flop: 6♥ 9♦ 3♥ ($14, 2 players)
Hero checks, BB bets $8.9, Hero raises to $17.8, BB raises to $55.9, Hero calls.

(Great flop for me! In order to get the Villain playing as aggressively as possible, I decided to play my hand like a draw. I wanted the Villain to think that he could push me off my hand or price me out. I went for the instant min-check-raise to further my image as playing a draw. Villain took a while before deciding to re-raise the flop. I tanked for a bit and reluctantly called.)

Turn: 2♦ ($125.8, 2 players)
Hero checks, BB is all-in $59.65, Hero calls.

(Turn is blank and I insta-check to the Villain. He pauses for perhaps a second or two before jamming; I insta-call.)

River: 2♠ ($245.1, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $245.1)

Results:
Final pot: $245.1
Hero showed 9c 9s
BB showed Kh Ah

(I guess it didn't matter how I played the hand. Both the Villain and I flopped monsters. Oh well, I got lucky this time around and took down a good-sized pot.)


Have a good one!

Keep reading "Videos, Plans, and Monster Hands"

Tricky or Stupid River Play?

Even though I was tired, I ended up playing a little $100 NL at Full Tilt last night. After spending an hour fixing up my PT3 HUD, I had to give the new overlay a test run. The new HUD will take some getting used to but I think it'll do the trick. Unfortunately, my "test session" ended up being more or less break-even, meaning that I lost about $16 over 200 hands.

I had a few difficulties in finding good tables last night. And once I had found a number of great tables, I was unable to cash in on the action. Each of my tables had one or two LAGs and they were controlling the tables. Since I was tired and using an unfamiliar HUD, I wasn't really in the mood to "play poker" - I just wanted to grind for a bit and look at the pretty PT3 numbers on screen.

Whenever I'm in a grind-only mood, my numbers get really weak-tight. It takes me quite a while to start getting action. I'm able to steal a few pots here and there but getting called or 3-bet pre-flop when I'm holding AA or KK is next to impossible. I was able to horribly misplay AK in one hand and ended up folding on the river getting 5:1 on my call (while also clearly pot-committed). Maybe I'll show everyone the hand at some point but I'm not sure if there's any value in doing so. If you'd like to see a similar hand play out, go check out any ($0.01/$0.02) NL table and watch for a few orbits. I'm such a donkey sometimes.

I made one tricky river play in a hand though I'm not sure if the risk was worth the potential reward. Take a look at the hand below. I had a strong feeling that my opponent would both bet and call a check-raise on the river. For the record, I bet my made hands almost 100% of the time when first to act on the river. Checking OOP when a scare card hits is a sure way to see the hand checked down. In any case, I'm either brilliant or a donkey, the latter case being the most plausible at this point in time.

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $172
Villain (UTG+1): $103.05
CO: $100.70
Button: $214.10
SB: $102.30
Hero: $117

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is BB with T♦ K♦
UTG folds, Villain calls, 2 folds, SB calls, Hero checks.

(Villain is loose pre-flop and pretty aggressive post-flop. No reads on SB but, as you've undoubtedly ascertained, he's not important to the retelling of this hand.)

Flop: 3♦ 8♠ 6♦ ($3, 3 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $2, Villain raises to $4, SB folds, Hero calls.

(I bet my draw and two overs into the Villain and SB. Villain's min-raise doesn't really tell me much. Since he limped pre-flop, it's hard to narrow down his range. I think Villain's capable of raising any pocket pair, set, top pair, middle pair, or a draw in this spot. But the min-raise seems to imply that he doesn't have a super-strong hand so I'm guessing Villain is more likely to have top pair, middle pair, 22, 44, 55, 77, or a draw.

I could have reraised the pot when SB folded since my flush draw and two overcards is pretty good. But the pot's too small to make a big move right now. My plan is to play my draw super-standard against this particular Villain.)

Turn: A♠ ($11, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain bets $4, Hero calls.

(I don't want to lead out into the Villain and get raised off my hand though I'm sure this type of thinking is super weak. Have I mentioned that my "Won Without Showdown" stats are pathetic? Anyway, Villain's small turn bet seems to indicate either a draw or a follow-up to his flop bet with a pair or pocket pair. I don't think Villain has an Ace here or he'd probably bet more. Then again, my read on the opponent is probably not good enough to say anything with much certainty.)

River: 8♦ ($19, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain bets $13, Hero raises to $40, Villain calls.

(The river card completes my flush draw but it also pairs the 8 on the flop. If my opponent was on a flush draw or if he'd flopped top pair, I'm going to get paid off. Rather than bet out and hope to get raised, I decide to go for the check-raise. Generally, this is a poor play since the Villain is not going to bet and call a check-raise in this spot unless he has a big hand like a flush or boat. Against this particular Villain, I also imagined that he'd pay off a check-raise with trip eights and possibly some worse hands.

Note that I go for a big check-raise in this spot. Check-raises are scary. Any check-raise is this spot screams "flush"; I doubt Villain puts me on a full house or quads. If the Villain thinks I'm bluffing, he's probably just as likely to call a larger check-raise as he is a smaller check-raise. Mind you, if I'd pushed all-in, I'm sure Villain folds everything except a boat or an ace-high flush.)


Results:
Final pot: $99
Hero showed Td Kd
Villain mucks 8h 9c

(My tricky play paid off. Even so, I'm unlikely to use this play very often (if ever) since it usually ends with the Villain checking the hand down and laughing at me.)


I've been watching many poker training videos lately and I've really got the urge to keep playing and improving my game (the hand above notwithstanding). I'll probably play at Full Tilt tonight, though I've been thinking about branching out and trying my hand at some of the other sites supported by PT3. According to PokerDominator, I'm a big-time losing player at Titan Poker: this is something I'd like to remedy by year's end.

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Tricky or Stupid River Play?"

More Poker, More Tweaking...

I put in a good session at Full Tilt last night. Things went well and I finished up on the night. It was one of those nights when I happened to flop some big hands at the right time against the right opponents. Aside from playing poker, I spent a good chunk of the night revising my Poker Tracker 3 HUD layout again. After having played a session with the new layout, I think I'll be making some more revisions this evening.

There's an ongoing battle between being able to see important HUD stats at a glance and creating too much clutter on your virtual poker tables. The HUD layout I designed last night gave me quite a bit of information but I couldn't see the table for all the stats I was tracking. I also found that there were a number of stats that I like to have readily available that I was missing.

I'll be making some changes to the HUD layout discussed in this post from last week:

  • I'm going to enable HUD transparency. I'm hoping this will help to reduce the claustrophobic feeling I get while playing poker with a number of stats crowding the screen.

  • I'm going to place all HUD stats in one big box (per player). By keeping all players' stats centralized in one HUD element, I should be able to greatly reduce clutter.

  • I'm going to remove the "Went to Showdown" and "Fold to Turn C-Bet" stats from my HUD. I'll make these available in the pop-up stats since I feel that do have value.

  • I'm going to start tracking the following stats on my HUD: Cold Call Pre-flop, Raise Steal Attempt, Call 3-Bet, and street-by-street Fold to Bet numbers.

  • I'm going to clean-up the pop-up stats displayed per player. I'm going to avoid replicating any stats already displayed as part of the HUD.
Finding, testing, and accepting a new HUD layout is a lengthy process of constant refinement. I know that there's an ideal layout for me: I just need to find it. I really hope that my newest HUD iteration is the one that does it for me.

Tonight I may play at Full Tilt or I may take the night off. Sleep has been hard to come by over the past couple nights so we'll see how I feel come 10 PM this evening.

Let me leave you with a hand that best exemplifies why I hate playing draws out of position against aggressive players...

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $114.10
UTG+1: $24.90
Hero (CO): $100
Villain (Button): $119.95
SB: $78
BB: $100.90

(Villain was a strong player. He'd been LAG-ing it up a bit and controlling the flow of the game though he hadn't yet accumulated a big stack. I was preparing to leave the table since I knew that I'd be unable to win any money at the table with this particular Villain sitting on my left.)

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

(Given that the Villain liked to float pre-flop and on the flop, I think my raise was a little loose here. I was trying to use my squeaky-tight table image to take down the blinds or win a pot with on the flop. )

Flop: 8♠ K♥ T♣ ($13, 3 players)
SB bets $4, Hero calls, Button calls.

(I picked up the draw and flat-called the SB's bet. I think a raise would have been preferable. There's no reason to think that either the Villain or the SB couldn't put me on a big hand. I should have raised to take control of the hand and to isolate the SB. Instead, my call tells both of my opponents that my hand is weak or that I'm on a draw.)

Turn: 2♠ ($25, 3 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $16, Villain raises to $48, SB folds, Hero folds.

(After calling on the flop, my turn bet looked like a bluff. Although I'm sure that the Villain had some piece of the board, I think that he'd have made this raise with as little as a single pair. If I'd raised on the flop, I'd have know where I stood in the hand. As played, I had to fold to the Villain's raise since he was putting me to the test for my whole stack and I wasn't getting odds to continue.)


Have a good one!

Keep reading "More Poker, More Tweaking..."

Busy Weekend

I had a really busy weekend. I attended a wedding on Saturday and a baptism on Sunday. Lots of church, lots of food, a few drinks, and very little poker. I did manage to play a couple sessions at Full Tilt. Luckily, I came out on top and was able to end my losing streak at 5 buy-ins. Unfortunately, I don't have my laptop with me right now so I can't give you any further details of my weekend poker play. But I do have some hands worth discussing below.

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $102.65
UTG+1: $300.05
Hero (CO): $100
Villain (Button): $104.15
SB: $167.10
BB: $105.20

(Villain is a LAG. We have a little history but nothing memorable. I know that the Villain loves to 3-bet. He's 3-bet me enough times in the past that I've taken to 4-betting him lightly a few times and have picked up a few good-sized pots pre-flop.)

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is CO with J? J?
2 folds, Hero raises to $4, Villain raises to $8, 2 folds, Hero raises to $20, Villain calls.

(I'm not folding JJ pre-flop to this particular Villain. My options after getting 3-bet are to call or raise. I don't want to give away the intitiative in the hand by calling so I need to 4-bet. Although I could shove, I know that the Villain has folded to my 4-bets in the past. And I don't want to raise so much that the Villain is only calling me with hands that beat me.

I decide to make a small 4-bet, giving the Villain close to 3:1 on his call. With an SPR of less than 2, I plan to stack off on post-flop as long as I don't see too many Aces, Kings, or Queens flop.)

Flop: 6? 8? Q? ($41.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $30, Villain folds.

(Pretty good flop for me. I throw out the $30 bet and hope that the Villain isn't playing AQ. I like the fact that there are a lot of hands that the Villain should be calling with that will see me ahead on the flop. For example, I'm sure that the Villain calls or raises my c-bet with mid-pocket pairs and any flush draws.

Although the Villain folds, I was happy. Taking down a 40+ BB pot holding second pair in a 4-bet pot is always a good result.)

Results:
Final pot: $41.5


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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $63.70
CO: $124.65
Hero (Button): $130.55
SB: $137.65
Villain (BB): $20.40

(Villain has been losing money since I sat down at the table. Both his stack and his temper are getting short judging by the Villain's comments in chat. He's been sucked out on a couple times and he has started making a number of mistakes in the hands he's playing. His biggest mistake has been an inability to properly tighten up his range based on the his diminishing stack size. He's also failed to notice (or adjust to the fact) that his chances to push his opponents off their hands are next to nothing given his stack size and current table image.)

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is Button with 6? 6?
2 folds, Hero raises to $4, SB folds, Villain calls.

(I've tightened up my stealing range against the Villain. I'd rather not play for stacks with a hand like K9s against this Villain. He's a little volatile and I'm expecting him to make a mistake for his last $20 at some point.

Villain's call doesn't mean much. If his hand wasn't good enough for a raise, he must be playing some random crap because I'm sure he shoves a good hand.)

Flop: Q? 3? 2? ($8.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $7, Villain raises all-in $16.4, Hero calls.

(Good flop for a c-bet. My plan is to bet and call a push. After my bet, Villain tanks and uses up all his time before shoving. I insta-call and hope that I'm ahead and that I don't see an A or K hit the board.)

Turn: 7? ($41.3, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $41.3)

River: 6? ($41.3, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $41.3)

(Nice. The six on the river makes things infinitely easier for me. The pot is undoubtedly mine.)

Results:
Final pot: $41.3
Villain showed Kc Qs (Whaddy know? He actually had a hand.)
Hero showed 6c 6h

(Villain handled the bust out with class and simply left the table. I was a little surprised by the reaction but some people will surprise you. Of course, the Villain's quiet departure didn't stop the player sitting in the SB from trash-talking the Villain on his way out. Now that's class for you...)


Tonight I'll continue to play at Full Tilt. I'm going to stick to playing there until September 1st rolls around. A new month means I'll have to return to Stars to continue working off my bonus while trying to hit SilverStar VIP status for a third month in a row. Once that's done, I'll once again stick with Full Tilt and possibly a little Titan Poker as well.



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Have a great day everyone!

Keep reading "Busy Weekend"

LAGs and VIPs

Last night ended up being more about downloading poker training videos and less about poker. I also didn't get much of a chance to just sit and relax with my wife. I really hate it when that happens and it's something I'm looking to correct this evening. I'll play poker tonight but I'm going to make damned sure that my wife and I get some quality time too.

I ended up playing a short half-hour session at half-past eleven last night. The few hands that I saw were enough to earn me my PokerStars SilverStar VIP status for a second month in row. And I managed to bank one and a half buy-ins over the session too! It's always nice when things work out.

My session was really defined by a couple hands; I've posted both hands below. The second hand was punctuated by some risky, gut-feeling play against a really aggressive player. In my defense, this guy was not the best of the best in terms of poker skills. He was a real maniac (70/35/3.3) and I nearly cleaned him out in these two hands:

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $17.65
UTG+1: $200.85
Maniac (CO): $141.35
Hero (Button): $100
SB: $106.40
BB: $50

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is Button with A♠ K♥
2 folds, Maniac calls, Hero raises to $5, 2 folds, Maniac calls.

Flop: 8♥ 9♥ 2♥ ($11.5, 2 players)
Maniac bets $7, Hero calls.

(I opt to flat call the Villain. I've got a flush draw and I believe that my A-high has some showdown value against this particular Villain. I didn't want to raise and scare the Villain off. If I was sure that he'd have called or re-raised a flop raise on my part, I would have gladly gotten all the money in on the flop.)

Turn: 4♥ ($25.5, 2 players)
Maniac checks, Hero checks.

(I need to disguise my hand's strength a bit. This particular Maniac might fire again on the river if he believes I'm weak.)

River: 9♣ ($25.5, 2 players)
Maniac bets $13, Hero raises to $40, Maniac calls.

(Maniac makes a pretty brutal bet out of position. Easy value raise on my part and Villain insta-calls.)

Results:
Final pot: $105.5
Hero shows As Kh
Maniac mucks Jc 9d


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

Stack sizes:
Maniac (UTG): $169.05
Hero (CO): $143.50
Button: $112.50
SB: $71
UTG: $17.65
BB: $105.30

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is CO with T♦ Q♦
Maniac raises to $2, Hero calls, 2 folds, BB calls.

(I guess I could have raised to isolate the Maniac here. But the rest of the table was really, really tight and passive. I was planning on playing my hand like a drawing hand and I wanted others in the pot. The Big Blind in this hand was a pretty standard player. I wasn't too worried about him since Maniac would likely force BB to tip his hand strength early, leaving me ample warning to fold a losing hand.)

Flop: T♥ 6♠ 6♦ ($6.5, 3 players)
BB checks, Maniac bets $9, Hero calls, BB folds.

(Maniac's bet says - "I see three cards on the table and I happen to have two cards in my hand." I make the call here because it's unlikely that the board's hit the Maniac's hand and I'm probably best. Given the Villain's playing style and the fact that I made the Villain look ridiculous in the last big hand we played together, I'm planning on calling the Villain down unless he gets too crazy.)

Turn: J♣ ($24.5, 2 players)
Maniac bets $48, Hero calls.

(I still think I'm ahead. I don't think that the Maniac has a 6 but he should let me know on the river. I've invested $59 of my $143 stack. Although the Villain's disgusting overbet on the turn has forced me to invest more than 1/3 of my stack, I don't plan on calling another big bet on the river unless I improve. If the Maniac has the guts to shove on the river, he's got me. But I'm willing to call off another bet on the river if I'm getting good odds on my call.)

River: 9♥ ($120.5, 2 players)
Maniac bets $24, Hero calls.

(I'm being laid about 6:1 to make this call on the river. Do I think that I'm ahead here more than one in seven times? I really do. When I make the call, I have a strong feeling that the Villain's gonna show me a bluff or a crappy pocket pair.)

Results: (in white below)
Final pot: $166.50
Maniac showed Ts 2c (If he's shoved the river, his play would have worked...)
Hero showed Td Qd


My wife and I are guests at a wedding tomorrow. The rest of the weekend will be spent relaxing with my family and a little poker. I'll most likely hit up Full Tilt until the end of the month. However, I'm a little interested to check the traffic numbers at both PokerPlex (now on the iPoker network) and InterPoker (now accepting Moneybookers). Both of these sites offer a ton of extras (i.e. cash) for playing at their tables. But it's a moot point unless there's enough traffic to warrant my attention.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Keep reading "LAGs and VIPs"

Tweaking and Training

After spending the night shopping with my family, I wasn't really in the mood to play poker. I figured I'd better not put any of my bankroll on the line as my eyes struggled to stay open. I guess I could have downed an energy drink but I think I made the right choice. Instead, I spent a couple hours playing around with Poker Tracker 3 and my PokerSavvy Plus account.

First and foremost, I decided to pay for a premium account with PokerSavvy. The premium account gives me access to the downloadable videos that I can play on my 80GB Zune. They have a download limit of 30 videos per week for all premium members. Hold on a sec - 30 videos a week?! I think it's fair to say that PokerSavvy offers the most bang for your buck. No initiation fee, no strings attached. $25/month payable by credit card and you're in! Of course, you can also prepay for 3-months, 6-months, and 1 year memberships (I think I got that right) using PayPal and Moneybookers. I'm sure there are other payment methods but I only paid attention to the ones mattering most to me. I'm going to throw up some links and baners to PokerSavvy in the next few days since I'm sporting a pretty big man-crush on them right now.

Tonight I'll be loading up my Zune with a whole bunch of poker training videos. Hopefully these videos will help bust me out of the poker funk I'm in. I'd really like to regain my confidence at the tables. I have been watching some of IStrong's earlier videos to help me see how a successful online poker player tackles the tables. Although I've watched these videos before, I'm just trying to burn common betting lines and standard poker scenarios into my brain.

I learn through repetition. While attending university, I really thrived in those courses that weighted exams above class work and projects. When 60% or more of my mark depended on a solid showing in my final exam, it behooved me to come up with a quick and painless method of studying for exams and earning good grades. I typically studied for exams in the following manner:

  • Session 1: I'd go through my text books and class notes, highlighting whatever seemed important. (4 hours)
  • Session 2: I would physically write out any text that I had highlighted in the class notes or textbooks. An entire course could be condensed down to roughly 10-20 pages of handwritten text (much less if the course was math- or programming-related). (4 hours).
  • Session 3: I'd then go through the handwritten notes and highlight whatever seemed important. (1 hour).
  • Session 4: I'd take the highlighted handwritten notes and write out the highlighted text to a separate sheet of paper. At this point, the entire course curriculum was neatly summed up in 1-2 pages of handwritten text. (1 hour)
  • And that was that! By the time I finished writing out the super-condensed text, I found that I'd managed to memorize a course's worth of knowledge in 10 short hours of studying.
I'm now going to apply these same study methods to my poker game. Rather than writing stuff out, I'll be watching poker training videos on my Zune ad nauseum. I typically watch 2 hours of videos a day during the work week; a bit less on weekends and holidays. I hope that this gives me an edge at the tables sometime down the road, assuming I'm able to continue putting in 5,000+ hands a month.

As I mentioned earlier, I also toyed around with my Poker Tracker 3 HUD settings. While I appreciate Poker Tracker 3's seemingly infinite customizability, there are times that I feel PT3 went overboard. I may change my tune when there is a thriving PT3 community developing cool little plug-ins and reports for PT3; I'll continue bitching until then.

I think I've got everything good to go in PT3. For those who are interested, I'll be tracking the following stats in my HUD:
  • VP$IP: Standard.
  • Pre-Flop Raise: Standard.
  • Went to Showdown: One of my biggest leaks is trying to get calling stations to fold. I'll use this stat to help me identify those Villains who just won't fold no matter how grim things might look for their hands.
  • Number of Hands: I like knowing how many hands I've played with a Villain. The higher this number, the more faith I put in the other HUD numbers. It's also nice knowing when a Villain is more or less familiar with my game too!
  • 3-Bet: Poker's a lot more aggressive today than it was a few years back. It's important to know when a Villain likes to 3-bet. And though I'm not really confident enough in my game to do something about it, such as 4-betting light or calling the 3-bet with the intention of taking the pot away after the flop, I still think it's good to know how often a Villain will re-pop my raises.
  • Fold to 3-Bet: I know that there are players who exploit my unwillingness to play out of position in a re-raised pot. If I can find players who I can exploit in similar fashion, I should be able to keep my head above water as my game continues to improve.
  • Attempts to Steal: If a player really likes to steal, I'll sometimes make a few loose calls from the BB or I'll re-pop the stealer's raise. This is another part of my game that needs work; however, defending one's blinds doesn't seem that important at the low-stakes tables. There are easier ways to make money.
  • Folds BB to Steal: This is one of the stats that I use the most while playing. I like knowing when my pre-flop raises will go uncontested.
  • C-Bet: When a Villain's c-bet percentage is low, I'm a little more likely to play weaker drawing hands to a raise and most pocket pairs in position and out of position. A tight player who rarely c-bets but likes going to showdown matches up well with a number of drawing hands that I might choose to play.
  • Folds to C-Bet: This stat is crucial to my game plan. I make most of my money in NLHE by raising pre-flop and taking the pot down on the flop. If a Villain's fold to c-bet percentage is high, I can more or less c-bet all flops with impunity. But if a Villain's fold to c-bet percentage is in the mid to low range, I'll typically c-bet only those flops that I feel are less likely to have hit a Villain's pre-flop calling range.
  • Raises c-bet: If a Villain likes to raise c-bets, I'll c-bet less often with some of my hands that have showdown value. I'm going to play around with how I use this stat in conjunction with a Villain's other HUD stats to make good plays on the flop.
  • Fold to turn c-bet: This is a stat that I'm sure will end up being useless. In theory, I'm planning to use this stat to identify Villain's who'll fold to a second barrel. But I might be misinterpreting this statistic's real meaning. Maybe I should look that up?
  • Street by street aggression: I like to know how often my opponents will make aggressive plays on the flop, turn, and river. I'll play weaker hands against passive players in the hopes of seeing all five community cards to make hands that can win pots. And I'll let the more aggressive players hang themselves with their big bets and marginal bluffs.
I'm not sure how well my current layout will work until I've put in some time at the tables. I'm hoping to hit PokerStars and Full Tilt tonight. I'll let you know how things went tomorrow.

One last thing before I go: I've finally lost enough weight to be considered "overweight" and not "obese". As of yesterday morning, my current BMI sits at 29.8! Only 30 - 40 more pounds to go and I'll finally be able to go out and buy myself some thongs to wear at home, at work, and at church! I'm kidding, I'm kidding...I don't wear underpants at home...

Have a good one!

Keep reading "Tweaking and Training"

Not my finest hour...

Although I was slightly up for the month before last night's session, that's no longer the case. I played about 600 hands last night and followed a path with which I'm all too familiar.

Play solid poker. Get sucked out on. Start missing every flop. Begin to feel that my opponents are playing back at me (a.k.a. pulling a Tuff_Fish). Take a stand and donk off a couple stacks. Shut down laptop and lay awake wondering why I didn't stop playing earlier.

I find it very difficult to continue playing my A-game when I keep missing flops. And I really hate it when this happens while seated with a bunch of loose-passive or loose-aggressive players. There's nothing worse than knowing that a good hand will easily double you up...and then missing an endless parade of flops.

I even had problems with AA and KK last night. I was either winning the pot pre-flop with those hands or running into terribly coordinated boards and sick river bets by my opponents. The problem with playing for pot control sometimes means that other players will interpret your play for weakness. However, I'm not sure how to call of my stack on the river when a Villain will push for 3x the pot on board of low cards. Sure - I might be up against a middle pocket pair that my opponent thinks is best. But without a good read and a good SPR, I don't know how to make the big call on river.

Of course, it's this type of constant pressure from my opponents that causes me to donk off a stack with second pair. Which I did. Twice. I played so badly towards the end of last night's session that I'm actually embarrassed. I guess that's my ego talking and that's never a good thing when it comes to poker.

I'm going to take a night off from the tables; I'll probably play a short session tomorrow night. I'm only about 150 hands away from clearing SilverStar VIP status. As soon as that's done, I'm jumping over to Full Tilt for a bit. Maybe a change of scenery will help me overcome some of the demons that have clawed their way into my game as of late.

I'll also be downloading some more poker training videos for my Zune. In particular, I'd like to find some videos that cover:

  • How to combat Villains who like to pick on me by 3-betting every raise I make. I never know what sort of hands to play in situations such as these, whether in position or out of position.
  • The best ways to apply pot control given flop textures, turn cards, and opponent types. As I mentioned above, I feel that many Villains overvalue their hands against me due to my tendency to keep pots small with many hands. In turn, I have problems reading their true hand strength when they make a play on the river.
  • How to best play different hands on the river given opponent tendencies, board textures, and my current hand strength.
  • What to consider when I find myself raised or check-raised on the flop and turn. I'm throwing away way too many hands. I know it. My opponents probably know it too! I need to know how to fight back and if that's not possible, what sort of tables I should be looking to play given my playing style.
  • A comparison of 6-max and full-ring NLHE in terms of pre-flop considerations, street by street aggression, and final hand values.

  • And most importantly, how to not suck at poker. When will I learn to stop tilting off my stack...?
I'd also like to download some more High Stakes episodes and some WSOP 2008 episodes for my Zune. And finally, I'd really, really like to find a PokerEV-type program that is compatible with Poker Tracker 3's Postgres database. I have a constant need to see if I'm running hot or cold. And I like knowing whether I'm getting my money in good or bad throughout my hands.

You know, I may end up playing tonight. I'm undecided. On the one hand, I like poker. On the other hand, I've lost five buy-ins over my last thousand hands and I hate losing. I guess if I can control the desire to "get back to even" by month's end, I should be alright. I know what I did wrong last night and over the weekend. I just need to be more attentive to my feelings while playing and have the willpower to shut 'er down if I find myself falling victim to a bruised ego or poker paranoia.

Keep reading "Not my finest hour..."

The Weekend Hammer


I ended up putting in a number of hands over the weekend. I'm aiming to play at least 5000 hands of poker a month for as many months as I can before I inevitably "give up poker" yet again. In any case, poker over the weekend was both good and bad. I played fairly well if a little too robotically at times. I made some good plays, a number of bad plays, and a couple good lay-downs in spots where I might have called (and likely lost) in the past.

Many of my costly leaks all involve the psychology of the game. I keep thinking that people are playing back at me. In turn, this type of thinking justifies some disastrous "hero calls" on my part. Another big leak that I have occurs when I adjust an opponent's range of hands based on how I'd play the hand in question. And I constantly overestimate the amount of fold equity that I have in some situations while grossly underestimating my fold equity in other profitable spots.

What can I say? Poker's tough. I'm learning but it's a slow process.

My month-to-date totals are less than stellar this month. I'm only running at about 3 BB/100 which is quite a ways below my average win rate over my first 15,000 hands of $100 NLHE. I had a bit of bad luck over the weekend, especially with my big pair hands. But hey, what goes around comes around, right?

Here's a hand where it definitely came back around...

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $101.25
CO: $116.30
Villain (Button): $62.50
SB: $179.90
Hero (BB): $100

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is BB with Q♦ Q♥
2 folds, Villain raises to $5, SB folds, Hero raises to $15, Villain calls.

(I'm new to the table so no reads on the Villain. My 3-bet and Villain's call puts the SPR for this hands at somewhere between 1 and 2. I'll be willing to stack off as long as an Ace doesn't hit the flop.)

Flop: 7♠ 3♣ A♠ ($30.5, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain checks.

(Damned Ace! I check to allow the Villain to bet. If I bet, I may only get action from Villain if he has an ace. If I check, Villain may take a stab at the pot with a number of other hands. When Villain checks through on the flop, I plan to bet the turn.)

Turn: J♣ ($30.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $16, Villain calls.

(I'm pretty sure that I'm ahead. I bet just over half the pot in an attempt to induce a bluff from the Villain.)

River: 4♦ ($62.5, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain checks.

(Again, there's little point in betting the river. Villain called on the turn. If I bet, Villain will likely fold many hands that I beat. I'd rather check and induce a bluff in this spot. When Villain checks, I'm expecting to see a hand like KQ or a pocket pair.)

Results:
Final pot: $62.5
Hero showed Qd Qh
Villain showed 7c 2c

(That is not how you play the hammer...)


Have a good one!

Keep reading "The Weekend Hammer"

Birthdays, Weekends, and Answers

Tonight marks the beginning of my wife's birthday weekend. My wife has told me that she'd like me to take some time and play a bit of poker this weekend. So I'll probably hit the tables for a little bit over the next few days; however, I'm well aware that this could be a trap of some sort.

All kidding aside, I think I'll be able to put in about 1,000 hands. A few sessions of poker will leave me with tons of time to watch the kids and spoil my wife silly with gifts and fancy birthday meals. But the proof will be in the pudding (or birthday cake, in my case).

I didn't play any poker last night: I was too busy hanging mirrors on various walls in the house. I hope that these will stay up though I'm not holding my breath. I'm cursed when it comes to manual labour and mirror-hanging is not one of my strong suits (see here). In any case, I thought I'd take this opportunity to review the "quiz" hands from a couple days ago.

Without further ado...

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $200.10
Hero (UTG+1): $175.55
CO: $108.15
Villain (Button): $150.35
SB: $24.70
BB: $138.50

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is UTG+1 with K♠ K♥
UTG folds, Hero raises to $4, CO folds, Villain calls, 2 folds.

(Villain seems pretty good. He's been playing quite aggressively but seems to have a good handle on the table. He's prevented me from winning a number of hands by three-betting me liberally pre-flop or raising my post-flop bets. My table image at the time of this hand is solid although Villain may see me as being pretty weak-tight given how I've handled myself against his liberal raising schedule.)

Flop: 4♣ 2♦ 4♠ ($9.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $7, Villain calls.

Turn: 3♠ ($23.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $20, Villain raises to $60, Hero raises all-in $164.55, Villain calls all-in $79.35.
Uncalled bets: $25.2 returned to Hero.

(I ended up three-betting the Villain all-in on the turn. I thought that he was likely screwing around with me. I couldn't put the Villain on many hands that beat me and figured that my KK was in pretty good shape against his range. Of course, when Villain insta-called, my cowboys were in bad shape.)

River: 6♥ ($302.2, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $302.2)

Results:
Final pot: $302.2
Hero showed Ks Kh
Villain showed 5h 4h

(Where did I make the mistake on the hand? I should have slowed down on the turn and played for pot control. The SPR for this hand was around 16. An SPR of 16 not great for top pair and overpair hands. And this is never more true than while playing out of position against a good, aggressive opponent.

In fact, the SPR really favoured hands like 54s being played in position against tight, straight-forward opponents. The Villain had me in his sights, poked and prodded me until I reached my breaking point, and waited for me to take a stand at the wrong time with the wrong hand. Villain played this hand perfectly.)


Steeser's analysis of the hand was probably best: "I think I fold, though it's close. Most of the times in these situations I tend to call and hate it. I don't think he takes this line with something that you beat."

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $102.25
UTG+1: $100.50
Villain (CO): $214.55
Hero (Button): $100
SB: $64.15
BB: $23.70

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is Button with J♠ J♦
2 folds, Villain raises to $3, Hero raises to $9, 2 folds, Villain calls.

(Villain is pretty loose-aggressive. Fifteen minutes ago, he stacked me when my KK ran into his AA all-in pre-flop. Since then, I've been three-betting Villain's pre-flop raises quite liberally. His VP$IP was around 43% with a 35% pre-flop raise percentage.)

Flop: K♦ T♥ 6♦ ($19.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero checks.

(I could have bet this flop but I didn't want to let the Villain check-raise me off my hand. The board has some draws possible and Villain is capable of check-raising with two diamonds or hands like AQ, QJ, Q9, J9, etc.)

Turn: 7♦ ($19.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $10, Villain calls.

(Unless the Villain was holding a 98, the turn card was safe. When the Villain checked a second time, I knew that I could safely bet despite the third diamond. I interpreted the Villain's call to mean that he was still drawing or had a medium strength hand. My plan was to call a bet on the river from the Villain or check it down if given the opportunity. I'd be too afraid to bet the river against this particular Villain out of fear of getting check-raised off my hand.)

River: 4♥ ($19.5, 2 players)
Villain bets $21, Hero calls.

(Villain's betting range on the river was pretty wide. I imagined that he'd take a stab with a whole slew of medium strength hands and various busted draws.)

Results:
Final pot: $39.5
Villain showed Jc Qd
Hero showed Js Jd


Zanekinetic made the right call with this hand: "To me that river bet is [full o' crap]...But overall I think I call here since he is a LAG."

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

Stack sizes:
Villain (UTG): $99.50
UTG+1: $57.30
Hero (CO): $120.30
Button: $172.80
SB: $216.30
BB: $103.20

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is CO with A♦ A♠
Villain raises to $4, UTG+1 folds, Hero raises to $12, 3 folds, Villain calls.

(Villain is pretty loose-aggressive. Fifteen minutes ago, he stacked me when my KK ran into his AA all-in pre-flop. Since then, I've been three-betting Villain's pre-flop raises quite liberally. His VP$IP was around 43% with a 35% pre-flop raise percentage.)

Flop: 5♥ Q♣ Q♥ ($25.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $20, Villain calls.

(SPR was an outstanding 3 for this hand. There are zero flops that are causing me to slow down.)

Turn: K♠ ($65.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $60, Villain raises all-in $67.5, Hero calls.

(Both Villain and I were committed to our hands, whether he knew it or not. Time to get it all in and hope that the Villain wasn't playing AQ, QQ, KK, or 55.)

River: J♣ ($200.5, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $200.5)

(I didn't like the river card but I wasn't necessarily beat.)

Results:
Final pot: $200.5
Villain showed Qs Qd
Hero mucks Ad As

(Given the Villain's playing tendencies and SPR, I don't mind my play in the hand. I was trying to get all the money in and I succeeded. Unfortunately, I was way, way behind...)


Comments were divided on this hand between checking the turn/calling a river bet and betting the turn/betting non-heart, non-King river. This is a tough hand. Do I think Villain would have called on the flop and turn with a single pair or pocket pair? Given the size of the pot and my read, I thought that there was a good chance that I was ahead. When the SPR is as favourable as it was in this hand, I find it quite hard to lay down my hand against this type of opponent. And although I could say that I wouldn't play a hand similarly in the future, I'm worried that this take on the hand is too results-oriented.

Again, thank you to Zanekinetic and Steeser for their answers.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Keep reading "Birthdays, Weekends, and Answers"

Pleasantly Surprised

I really don't have time today to discuss much of anything. I wanted to talk about the hands I posted yesterday but that's not going to happen today. Instead, I want you to take a look at the poker hand below.

I want you to guess what hand the Villain was holding at showdown. The results are in white so just highlight the text with your mouse when you think you've got an answer.

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $344.60
Hero (UTG+1): $121.85
CO: $93.50
Button: $194.45
Villain (SB): $201.60
BB: $33.30

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is UTG+1 with 5♦ 5♠
UTG folds, Hero raises to $4, 2 folds, Villain calls, BB calls.

(I've got a pretty good table image. I've won a few pots off of the Villain in the past hour.)

Flop: 9♥ 5♥ J♣ ($12, 3 players)
Villain bets $1, BB calls, Hero raises to $15, Villain calls, BB folds.

(Presto! Board's wet - raisy daisy...)

Turn: 7♣ ($43, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $30, Villain raises to $60, Hero raises all-in $102.85, Villain calls.
Uncalled bets: $42.85 returned to Hero.

(Villain's check-raise was instantaneous. After I pushed, he went into the tank and used up his full time bank before calling.)

River: 3♦ ($205.85, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $205.85)

(What do you think the Villain had?)

Results: (results in white below)
Final pot: $205.85
Villain showed Ts Ah
Hero showed 5d 5s


Hands like these make me feel that I made the right choice in sticking with poker.

Have a great day everyone!

Keep reading "Pleasantly Surprised"

A Night Off and a Hand Quiz

I took the night off from poker last night. And I didn't fire up the Xbox 360 either. My wife said I looked tired. I felt tired. I went to bed early and managed a more-or-less solid eight hours sleep for the first time in five years. And now that I'm fully rested, I'm ready to hit the tables pretty hard tonight! I've got bonuses to clear, a steadily improving poker game to nurture, and a real hankering sit incredibly still save for the slight clicking motion of my right index finger.

According to Poker Dominator, I'm still about $1000 shy of making the jump to the $1/$2 NL game. Given my current win rate at $100 NL over the past couple months, I'd say I've got 30 or 40 hours of poker left to play before I'll have enough to make the jump up. That should give me enough time to clear my Stars bonus and get back to Full Tilt for some sweet poker with rakeback action. I really love rakeback. And at the $1/$2 games, rakeback should contribute quite a bit to my bottom line if I can manage to put in 5000+ hands a month.

But enough talk about what I'm going to do a month or two from now. Let's take a look at some poker hands. I won't show the results from these hands for those of you who like to play along at home. I'll post the full, un-edited hands in the next day or two and we'll see who gave the best answers.

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $200.10
Hero (UTG+1): $175.55
CO: $108.15
Villain (Button): $150.35
SB: $24.70
BB: $138.50

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is UTG+1 with K♠ K♥
UTG folds, Hero raises to $4, CO folds, Villain calls, 2 folds.

(Villain seems pretty good. He's been playing quite aggressively but seems to have a good handle on the table. He's prevented me from winning a number of hands by three-betting me liberally pre-flop or raising my post-flop bets. My table image at the time of this hand is solid although Villain may see me as being pretty weak-tight given how I've handled myself against his liberal raising schedule.)

Flop: 4♣ 2♦ 4♠ ($9.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $7, Villain calls.

Turn: 3♠ ($23.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $20, Villain raises to $60, Hero ??

(Call, raise, or fold? Why? What range do you put Villain on?)


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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $102.25
UTG+1: $100.50
Villain (CO): $214.55
Hero (Button): $100
SB: $64.15
BB: $23.70

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is Button with J♠ J♦
2 folds, CO raises to $3, Hero raises to $9, 2 folds, CO calls.

(Villain is pretty loose-aggressive. Fifteen minutes ago, he stacked me when my KK ran into his AA all-in pre-flop. Since then, I've been three-betting Villain's pre-flop raises quite liberally. His VP$IP was around 43% with a 35% pre-flop raise percentage.)

Flop: K♦ T♥ 6♦ ($19.5, 2 players)
CO checks, Hero checks.

(Why do you think I checked here? Was I wrong to do so?)

Turn: 7♦ ($19.5, 2 players)
CO checks, Hero bets $10, CO calls.

River: 4♥ ($39.5, 2 players)
CO bets $21, Hero ??

(Villain's range of hands here? Fold, call, or raise?)

Results:
Final pot: $81.5


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

Stack sizes:
Villain (UTG): $99.50
UTG+1: $57.30
Hero (CO): $120.30
Button: $172.80
SB: $216.30
BB: $103.20

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is CO with A♦ A♠
Villain raises to $4, UTG+1 folds, Hero raises to $12, 3 folds, Villain calls.

(Villain has been playing a lot of hands and doesn't appear to be a very good player based on the interactions he's had with some of the other players at the table. On numbers alone, he's down on his session and playing quite loose with some mild aggression thrown into the mix.)

Flop: 5♥ Q♣ Q♥ ($25.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets $20, Villain calls.

Turn: K♠ ($65.5, 2 players)
Villain checks, Hero ??

(Villain's range? What are your plans for the rest of the hand?)


Have a great day everyone!

Keep reading "A Night Off and a Hand Quiz"

Reads and Stats

I got Poker Tracker 3 all set up last night. Although I was fairly happy with the PT3 as my one-stop session tracking tool, there were a few minor annoyances.

First off, there is a bug in the current PT3 version (Beta v15) that prevents the HUD from hiding the Hero's stats. It's very distracting (and useless) to have my lifetime stats show up in the HUD.

A second problem had to do with the inclusion of certain useless stats in my HUD and the exclusion of some fairly useful stats. The blame for this annoyance lies squarely on my shoulders since I set up the HUD's stats myself. I guess it's just a matter of tweaking and re-tweaking until I find the setup that best fits my playing style.

And finally, I was a little disappointed to see that both PokerEV and my Poker Lucko-Meter software fail to work with the PT3 Postgres database. I'll have to examine this problem a little further to see if I can come up with a solution. I've really come to rely on this software to help me unwind after my losing sessions.

All that aside, I think Poker Tracker 3 is pretty slick. It's going to take me a while to learn the ins and outs of the application before I can take full advantage of the software. And I'm pretty sure there's a way to replicate many of the PokerEV features using PT3's powerful report building functionality.

Even though I spent a bit of time pissing around with PT3 while playing poker, I still managed to come out on the winning end of things. I was a little unhappy to donk off a full buy-in in the first couple minutes of my session (good old Big Slick) but I turned things around soon thereafter.

I was pretty happy with my play against certain tight players at my tables. I had some good reads and I was getting a good feel for my opponents' games. Here's a hand that I played against one of the more solid players at one of my tables. I'd developed a good feel against this guy and was able to steal quite a few pots.

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

Stack sizes:
Hero (UTG): $115.25
CO: $114.50
Villain (Button): $178.45
SB: $103.15
BB: $112.30

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is UTG with 6♥ 6♣
Hero raises to $4, CO folds, Button calls, 2 folds.

(Villain was pretty solid. Not too tight, not too loose, aggressive at the right times, and definitely thinking past level 1. I'd been raising quite a bit at this table but I didn't think Villain's range was that wide: pocket pairs, suited connectors, some suited aces, and suited broadway cards were most likely given his call in position.)

Flop: 5♣ 9♠ J♥ ($9.5, 2 players)
Hero checks, Button checks.

(Gross flop for a c-bet OOP. I was deciding whether to check-raise or check-call and lead on the turn if the Villain bet.)

Turn: 4♣ ($9.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $7, Button calls.

(My pair could be good so I pulled the trigger on my delayed c-bet. When Villain called, I put him on a pocket pair or a hand like A9s, T9s, or 98s. Naked draws were pretty unlikely given the size of my bet and Villain's style of play. I had no doubt that I was behind in the hand. I was pretty well done with the hand at this point unless...)

River: K♦ ($23.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $15, Button folds.
Uncalled bets: $15 returned to Hero.

(The King on the river was a great card for me. I'd played the hand like a missed AK-type hand. My turn bet could have meant any number of things. But I felt that the Villain could have easily put me on AK or KQ and seen the river as giving me the best hand. I fired out a good-sized river bet: big enough to be taken seriously without making it look like an obvious bluff. The Villain insta-folded.

Some people could say that I turned my hand into a bluff on the river; however, I honestly believe that I was behind. If I'd checked, I'm sure that the Villain would have checked behind and taken down the pot.)

Results:
Final pot: $23.5


Looking at my stats for $100 NLHE, I've really taken notice that my Won W/O Showdown stats are pretty pathetic. It's the price of playing a weak-tight style, I guess. I'm going to work hard on winning more hands post-flop. I'm sure my win rate will be affected for a little while as I try to find the right amount of aggression and steadfastedness required to persevere in a game of imperfect information.

A hit to my short-term win rate is a small price to pay for improving my poker game.

Keep reading "Reads and Stats"

Weekend Recap

Poker's a funny game. One minute I love it, the next minute I couldn't care less about it, and then I'm right back to loving it again! I played a little over the weekend (about 1000 hands) and I'll be playing again tonight. I've got a couple hands that are representative of how things went at the tables over the past few days.

Poker and some other stuff after the jump.



First and foremost, I finished off Half-Life 2 over the weekend. Great game and scary as all f*ck!

I've actually started playing Half-Life 2: Episode 1 and plan on playing Episode 2 later this week as well.



I've finally got Poker Tracker 3 set up and ready to go! I resolved my PT3 HUD woes last night. I played around with my HUD layout late into the night. I've just got to configure my pop-up stats to my liking and then I'll be good to go.

Tonight, I'll take PT3 for a test run at PokerStars and Party Poker - this is gonna be fun!



I've only managed to clear one third of my PokerStars 2X Bonus. At my current rate of 100 VPPs per hour of three-tabling, I've got another 32 hours of poker to play before trying my hand at Full Tilt again.



In response to the question I asked in this post, the Villain was holding TT. He'd flopped a set and decided to slowplay. The turn card and my continued betting seemed to slow down the Villain and he decided not to play his set hard.

If I'd shoved on the river, I think that the Villain might have made a crying call. But it's hard to say given how passively he played the hand. For what it's worth, I'd have bet or check-raised the flop and probably taken down a small pot.



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Want to know how poker went this weekend? After starting the month down a buy-in, I managed to lock in a good-sized win on Saturday.

Some hands worked out quite well...

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

Stack sizes:
Villain (UTG): $100
CO: $120
Button: $100
Hero (SB): $150.40
BB: $246.90

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

(I had a pretty solid table image at this point. Villain was pretty standard: semi-tight, somewhat aggressive.)

Flop: 9♦ T♥ 5♠ ($13, 3 players)
Hero bets $9, Villain calls, Button folds.

(As Fuel55 says - "Bet your sets." Given my read of the Villain, I put Villain on an overpair.)

Turn: T♠ ($31, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain bets $21, Hero calls.

(Gave Villain one last chance to pick up a monster...)

River: K♦ ($31, 2 players)
Hero is all-in $116.4, Villain calls all-in $66.
Uncalled bets: $50.4 returned to Hero.

(I hoped that the Villain had KK or AA and shoved, hoping that I'd get my quads paid off; Villain insta-called.)

Results:
Final pot: $163
Hero showed Tc Td
Villain mucks 9h 9c

(Looks like Villain just got extremely unlucky...)


...while some other hands left me somewhat unsatisfied...

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

Stack sizes:
UTG: $100
Hero (CO): $100
Villain (Villain): $113.85
SB: $253.90
BB: $130.65

Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is CO with K♠ K♥
UTG folds, Hero raises to $4, Villain raises to $12, 2 folds, Hero raises all-in $100, Villain calls.

(Villain had made a few loose calls for some big bets in the past three or four orbits. I figured that a shove on my part might look like AK and get a call from a pocket pair. Of course, I sometimes (though rarely) shove with KK pre-flop just as I would with AK.

Villain called pretty quickly. I only hoped that he didn't have the AA...)

Flop: 2♦ 3♠ 9♠ ($201.5, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $201.5)

(...or 22, 33, or 99...)

Turn: 7♥ ($201.5, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $201.5)

(...or 77...)

River: 9♣ ($201.5, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $201.5)

(...or any 9x hand for that matter...)

Results:
Final pot: $201.5
Hero showed Ks Kh
Villain showed As Ah

(Damn!)


Have a great day everyone!

Keep reading "Weekend Recap"

Weekend!

My plans for the weekend are pretty simple: family, poker, and video games. And maybe a little beer too!

Speaking of beer, I've been doing pretty well with my diet: 21 lbs. lost since June 2nd and 35 lbs. lost since April. I'm still pretty husky but at least my gut doesn't hang over my belt quite so much anymore.

In terms of weight lost versus bankroll gained, my bankroll's definitely winning that fight thanks to a good month of July. I thought I'd be a little more hyped to play poker this month given my success at the tables but things haven't worked out that way. I blame Half-Life 2 for my current lack of poker play.

However, I am planning on logging some hours this weekend. I figure a thousand hands or more is quite do-able if I can just fire up my laptop and get on a bit of a roll. I really wish that I could get my PokerStars bonus finished up so that I could go back to Full Tilt. The games at Full Tilt were crazy good!

One last thing: Party Poker gave me a little more free cash to use at their super-juicy tables. Unfortunately, it's only $10 so I'll have to hit and run the $50 tables and hope to get lucky.

Have a great weekend!

Keep reading "Weekend!"