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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!

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