Friday, December 23, 2005

Accidentally Hitting The Raise Button Never Seems To Work

When you multitable and are too cheap to use a high resolution monitor (me!), you have to overlap the four tables. As your quickly flipping from table to table, once and a while you hit the wrong button (usually the raise button), and this never seems to be a profitable move. I will have something like T3o, and accidentally reraise a rerasier preflop, then catch a small piece of the flop, try to steal and lose even more money.

Last night, I had 55 in one of the blinds, and called a 3x preflop raise. The flop came T84 rainbow, and I checked intending to fold unless I got a free card. I flip to some other tables, and when I came back to my horror, I had just reraised to $10, from a $5 initial better and a smooth caller. That sucked! But, wait a second. The initial rasier just folded and smooth caller looks like he is in the tank. Wow, the check raise on the flop looked real strong like I had flopped the set. Ooops, he called it, I am screwed. But look what came on the turn. My 5!!!! Wow is my hand disguised here. Only an idiot would have made that flop play with pocket 5s. I bet $10, get reraised to $25, and reraise the guy back for his entire stack which was another $12. He flips up pocket Ts for the nut set, and I need to catch a 1 outer on the river. No such like. Accidentally hitting the raise button never seems to work out.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The New Home Game

We have a regular home game NL tournament the second Wednesday of the month that attracts a loyal following of 10-16 players each time. There is also the occasional special event tournament on weekends at various locations and usually for higher stakes. The other night I was playing online as usual. The monitor faces towards the street and can be seen through the window. I get a knock on the door, and its my neighbor's son from over the back wall inviting me to a home game. I guess he sees me playing online through the window as he comes home late at night. So I agreed, and played a dealers choice game with $50 buy-in. The dealer could choose NL holdem, PL 7-Card Stud, or PL Draw. Lets just say that I don't have a clue about draw, and have never really played 7-Card Stud seriously. I was pretty card dead, and sucked as expected in Draw and Stud, and played for about 3 hours before losing my $50 and calling it a night.

Well last night, I got another knock on the door. The game was on again, and I was invited. This time it was a $100 buy-in. I said I would be over in about an hour. Time to study up on Stud and Draw so I won't make a fool out of myself. I grabbed Super System 2. They covered 7-Stud high/low, not high only, and did not cover draw. I grabbed Phil Helmouths book. OK, stud is covered here, cool. I read the chapter. Wow some strict starting hand requirements. It will probably be like last time where I just give up and fold away my ante, and wait for the next hand of holdem. I ran to the ATM machine and over to the neighbors house.

Only six players were there, with me making 7 (last time it was 9). But cool! They are only playing NL holdem this time. So much for studying, but I will be in my element tonight. I got seated to the right of the neighbors Son. He is a maniac pushing hard preflop with hands like 53o, calling down any gunshot he gets, and betting third pair on the board with an A and Q up like it is gold. His Dad was there this time. He is a contractor, but has spent the last two years on the tournament circuit playing in nearly every event on the WPT and WSOP. I asked what his best result was, and he replied cashed 118k by making the final table in a 10k buy-in. His son who was 21, has played in at least 8 tournaments with 1k+ buy-ins and cashed once for 80k!

Dad had a great story about a hand he had with Marcell Luske in a 15k buy-in event. Marcell popped it preflop 5x with pocket Ks and dad called with JTs. Dad flops the outside straight flush draw. Marcell bets, dad calls. Turn brings a K for the straight, and a set for Marcell, and all the money goes in. River hit Marcell for the boat, but gives dad a Royal, and Marcell is eliminated. I want a story like that one.

Anyway the game starts and I am cold decked at first. Someone is inevitably poping it 3-5x preflop, and the whole table calls, except me of course. This goes on for about 3-4 orbits. There is some crazy stuff going on. Big bets coming out on the river with third pair, crap kicker beating forth pair crap kicker. I am licking my chops but can't seem to get a hand worth playing. I hate that the son (maniac) is on my left. Finally, I pick up JJ in the BB. Son pops it to $7 total (blinds 1/2), and gets 4 callers. I push all-in. Whole table folds. Can you blame them? This is like the first hand I played. I wake up to AA a few hands later, and a player before me raises to $6. I instinctively want to reraise here, but I feel they will all fold based on my image, and I might be able to trap one of these third pair playing mofos. I call, and so do three others. Flop comes 345 rainbow. Initial better checks, and I bet $15. The Son calls. Turn brings a 6, and now I feel like I am screwed. This guy could be playing anything here. I check, he bets $20, and I am in the tank. I make the crying call. Turn brings a K, I check, and the Son checks behind flipping up 23o for the straight. I show my AA, to prove I am as retarded as the rest of the table. I pick up 99, pop it 4x get two callers. Qxx flop, and I bet $20, only the son calls. Turn is a Q, I bet $20 again, son calls. River is a K, I check, Son checks behind with Q4o and takes down a nice pot. I ask him why he didn't bet the river. He says "thought you might have KK for the boat". I am down to $12 so I rebuy another $100.

I Start catching a few flops. Call a 4x bet with the rest of the table with A2s. Flop comes A82 with two suited. They check to me, and I bet $20 and take the pot down. I show my A2 to prove I am loosening up a bit. A call another 4x preflop with most of the table with ATs, and catch a TT3 flop with 2 clubs (I don't have one). I bet $10 and the Son calls. Turn brings the third club, and I tell the Son "I am putting you all-in". He thinks for a while and folds. I don't show this time. The game is about to break up so they say last hand. I get Q9s. Dad pops it 5x. I guess to make for a good last pot. I want to muck, but it is the last hand so I call. The Son pushes all-in for $95 total. Dad calls. I am honestly thinking of calling here. The Son could have anything, and Dad knows this. My Q9s don't look to bad three way. I tell the Son, I am thinking about calling, and he tells me he has me beat right now. I fold, he flips up KK, Dad has K9. Good fold! I end up slightly down for the night.

The quote of the night was the Dad saying "the neighbor don't like to play cards". He is pretty observant!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Why I Can't Move Up To The Higher Limits

I am writing this post more for myself than anything, but I am sure many of you have been through the same thing. I want to be able to read this a year or two from now and laugh about how pathetic I was. Warning: there is a bad beat story included, well really just a bad luck story, as when most of the money went in I was well behind, but I digress.

I have been playing some pretty good .50/1 NL Holdem cash games lately. I used to make something like $15/hr multitabling, but that win rate is up closer to $40 an hour lately. I think I am playing pretty solid, and have tried to move up to the 1/2 level in the past. I usually do pretty good for a while, then get beat back down to the .50/1 where I am clearly more comfortable. I got PokerTracker about two months ago, and before that I used a spreadsheet to calculate my win rates. I have been giving 1/2 a try here and there lately on FullTilt with pretty much zero success. I have not played 1/2 for a couple of weeks, trying to build back up my confidence and bankroll at the .50/1 tables since my last unsuccessful attempt. I decided to take another shot today and opened up a single 1/2 table that looked pretty soft while I was playing three other .50/1 tables. Below are my stats per PokerTracker for .50/1 and 1/2 for the two months I have had it.

.50/1 - 14,765 Hands Played - Up $1,628
1/2 - 1,885 Hands Played - Down $392

In general my other stats seem comparable at the two levels. I am slightly tighter at 1/2, raise slightly less preflop (probably due to a lack of decent cards, and not a big enough sample of hands to correct for this), and win a higher percentage of showdowns at 1/2. I think it boils down to I have been getting pretty unlucky at the 1/2 level and have not played enough hands for the luck to even out. The bad luck at only this level, where I want so badly to compete at, does a huge number on my confidence. So I bounce back down to .50/1 and crush the competition there for a while to get my confidence back. The cycle repeats over and over. In the 14k+ hands of .50/1, I lost my whole stack at the table twice (once was my KK vs. AA preflop). I have lost my whole stack three times now at 1/2 in 1.9k hands. Pathetic!!!

So, I thought I would give it another try today. Normally, I buy in for the max amount, regardless of the limit for the obvious reasons, but this time I decided to underbuy for just $120. The table had several players that had bought in for the minimum ($40), and a few people who had the full amount, but statistically (according to tracker) were average players at best. I dropped about $10 waiting to pick up a decent hand, and then won a few small pots to get back even, when the hand below occurred.

FullTiltPoker Game #346952749: Table Broadbent - $1/$2 - No Limit Hold'em - 15:14:22 ET - 2005/12/21
Seat 1: WillyGolf ($166.55)
Seat 2: Dead Deal ($117.70)
Seat 3: Lil Bud ($121.75)
Seat 4: adahl24 ($47.80)
Seat 5: Blinders ($116.80)
Seat 6: svepan ($16.75)
Seat 7: CoachWEEZ ($203.95)
Seat 8: johnpmaniac ($259.60)
Seat 9: Dubness 1 ($203)
svepan posts the small blind of $1
CoachWEEZ posts the big blind of $2
The button is in seat #5
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Blinders [Kc Th]
johnpmaniac folds
Dubness 1 calls $2
WillyGolf calls $2
Dead Deal folds
Lil Bud folds
adahl24 folds
Blinders calls $2
svepan calls $1
CoachWEEZ checks

I was on the button with KT0 and a lot of limpers, so I thought I would take a cheap look at the flop in position.

*** FLOP *** [Kd Ts 5s]
svepan checks
CoachWEEZ checks
Dubness 1 bets $6
WillyGolf folds
Blinders raises to $18
svepan calls $14.75, and is all in
CoachWEEZ folds
Dubness 1 calls $12

Sweet, I flopped top two pair. No raise preflop, so probably no AK out there. KK and TT are also very unlikely. 88 is the only realistic hand that I am behind at this point. The $6 bet from early looks like a decent K, or the flush draw to me, and I don't want to give this guy drawing odds, so I pop it back $12 more. The guy only calls, so he probably has a scared K or the flush draw.

*** TURN *** [Kd Ts 5s] [Qd]
Dubness 1 checks
Blinders bets $28
Dubness 1 raises to $56
Blinders calls $28

The Q is not too scary to me. It was not a spade, and would this guy really have called the preflop reraise with just a gutshot draw (AJ)? The minimum check raise though is a little strange. The pot is getting pretty big, and I have outs to the boat. I guess I will just call. Probably a mistake in hindsight as I was pot committing myself here. All-in or fold was the correct move.

*** RIVER *** [Kd Ts 5s Qd] [9d]
Dubness 1 bets $41
Blinders calls $40.80, and is all in
Uncalled bet of $0.20 returned to Dubness 1

Ok, well the J beats me now, but would this guy have played it this way holding a J. I pot committed myself on the turn and it is just my last $41 to call. I make the crying call.

*** SHOW DOWN ***
Dubness 1 shows [Js As] (a straight, Ace high)
Blinders mucks
Dubness 1 wins the side pot ($199.80) with a straight, Ace high
svepan mucks
Dubness 1 wins the main pot ($51.55) with a straight, Ace high
Blinders is sitting out
svepan is sitting out
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $254.35 Main pot $54.25. Side pot $200.10. Rake $3
Board: [Kd Ts 5s Qd 9d]
Seat 5: Blinders (button) mucked [Kc Th] - two pair, Kings and Tens
Seat 6: svepan (small blind) mucked [Td 5h] - two pair, Tens and Fives
Seat 9: Dubness 1 showed [Js As] and won ($251.35) with a straight, Ace high

This was not a bad beat, but more of a bad luck story. This guy had the perfect draw to crush me with. The exact two cards that would take all of my money. Without the gutshot + nut flush draw, he probably folds on the flop. And what does he hit on the turn? ?His gutshot! The card I can't believe really helped him. If he hits his flush on the turn, I can get away from my hand. If he hits his gutshot on the river, He will not be able to get all my money. It was a combination of him having the perfect draw on the flop and hitting it in the perfect way on the turn that cost me my stack. Plus I have zero luck at 1/2. Hitting the boat on the river would have been nice for me, but that's not going to happen.

So what do I do now you ask? Well I have had it with 1/2 on FullTilt. I need to play 1/2 elsewhere, where the poker gods don't have it in for me. This will probably be at DolyesRoom when I clear my $550 bonus. I have $1300 there currently from my initial $500 deposit, and should have well over 2k when my bonus clears in a couple of weeks. That's a nice amount of house money to continue my cruel experiment with. If I can crush the 1/2 there for a couple grand profit, I may be able to stomach the 1/2 game at FullTilt again.

One last note for my future self who will hopefully get a laugh out of this post. Why am I letting a hand like this get to me. If this would have happened at the .50/1 tables, I would have just laughed it off, chatted "nh", rebought, and continued playing my A game. It crushes me because I feel like the poker gods hate me right now, and want me to continue playing my patheticly tiny stakes. Is there a poker devil that I can sell my sole to? I think I am ready to sign.

Is The Aquarium Drying Up?

I was playing around with PokerTracker last night looking at the summary tab for filters with different numbers of minimum played hands. What I found was quite interesting. See Below:

Min # Hands - Win%/Lose%
10 - 44%/56%
30 - 46%/54%
50 - 48%/52%
70 - 49%/51%
100 - 50%/50%
150 - 52%/48%
200 - 55%/45%
300 - 59%/41%
400 - 63%/37%
500 - 62%/38%
600 - 68%/32%
700 - 63%/37%
800 - 71%/29%
900 - 71%/29%
1000 - 80%/20%
1500 - 100%/0%

This is not exactly what I was expecting. I read somewhere that only 10% of the people can be long term winners at poker, with 90% being long term losers. It always bothered me that the summary tab was reporting something like a 46%/54% split. In the short term luck will dominate and you should get close to a 50%/50% split before the rake. I figured that as you moved to the long-term (more hands played), the win% would start to drop off. It does not! First of all, these stats are for NL holdem only (.50/1 mainly). What this tells me is that the fish don't last very long. They give it a try, and if they are unlucky at first, they are gone in only a few hands. If they catch lucky at first, they may play a bit longer, but probably not much more than 500 hands before they bust out and quit. I am not sure if they drop down to lower NL tables, switch back over to limit, or quit entirely. The point is that they don't really come back. This is a big problem. To support the long term winners, you need a constant supply of new fish. This is not a problem right now due to the huge popularity of poker, but we are going through fish at an incredible pace, and they are bound to run out at some point. The Aquarium may be drying up! Now, you may think that the for the best players, this is not an issue, but believe me they will be effected as well when the aquarium dries up. Lets break the poker food chain into three simple groups. The fish, the midgrade player who can eat up the fish, but gets beat up by the best players (The eagles). The eagles can feed on the fish or the midgrade players. The midgrade players earn enough from the fish to make up for what they give to the eagles and can play break even or slightly profitable poker. When the aquarium dries up, the midgrade players will not have the fish they require, and will start to become losing players due to the eagles constantly circling overhead. Some of these midgrade players, especially the break even ones, will give it up at this point. So the eagles will no longer have a supply of fish to eat, and will also have fewer low end midgrade players to munch on. This will reduce the win rates of the eagles as well. The whole food chain is effected when there is a crisis at the bottom. This is simple evolution (Intelligent Design not required here). So what am I trying to say here? Enjoy it while it lasts. Things will get tougher going forward. Raise your game to the level of an eagle before your brand of play becomes extinct. And when you get there, don't expect you win rate to improve that much. You will need to constantly improve just to maintain your win rate. Many years ago they used to spread NL cash games in casinos. The games eventually dried up as the best players took all the money and the average players gave up. It then was limit city for many many years until the latest rebirth of the NL cash game. Watch for history to repeat itself.

Monday, December 19, 2005

You Can't Put An Idiot On A Hand

I play mainly .50/1 NL Holdem ring games right now. You get a pretty good mix of decent players, gamblers, and beginners at this level. You can get yourself into some trouble, if you try to overanalyze what someone is doing when they don't really have a clue. You really should figure out who the total idiots are as soon as possible, and avoid trying to figure out what they are trying to do in a hand. They probably don't know what they are doing, and you will be wasting your time. Below is a very interesting hand from DoylesRoom over the weekend. I will state what my thoughts were at various points in the hand, and what I thought the likely holdings of my opponents were at the time. Follow along, and see if you can put either of these guys on a hand. Good Luck!

.50/1 NL Holdem Ring Game - DolylesRoom
Seat 1 : bums-r-us has $76
Seat 2 : plan B has $186.50
Seat 3 : sydom numspa has $191.36
Seat 4 : Blinders has $111.25
Seat 5 : glissdaddy has $110
Seat 6 : Speedwolf has $54.50
Seat 7 : rags2rich has $43
Seat 8 : Low Voltage has $59.98
Seat 9 : rr11 has $23
Speedwolf is the dealer.
Seat 4 : Blinders has Jc Js
rr11 folded.
bums-r-us folded.
sydom numspa called $1 and raised $3

I would rather be the open raiser with JJ, but this guy just beat me to it. I need to reraise him back to get see if he has my JJ beat.

Blinders called $4 and raised $3
glissdaddy folded.
Speedwolf folded
rags2rich called $6.50 and raised $3
Low Voltage folded.
sydom numspa called $6
Blinders called $3

Wow, a re-reraise preflop. That is a strong move. This guy probably has a big pair (AA or KK), or might even have QQ or AK. The initial raiser just called. No way he has a big pair. He could have AK, AQ or a small pair. He is taking a big chance that I don't reraise again an amount that he can't call with those hands. Well it's only 3 more for a $30 pot, I have to call, but I will be playing my JJ like a small pair hoping to hit my set.

Board cards [Jd Qd Kh]
rags2rich bet $33 and is All-in
sydom numspa called $33
Blinders called $33

I hit my set, but I hate that flop. The re-reraiser could already have a higher set, but why push all-in at that point. He may be protecting it from the straight and flush draws out there. He would also likely do the same thing with AA and AK so I still am probably a favorite here. The other guy just calling that, and I am convinced that I am ahead of that guy, as I have pretty much eliminated KK and QQ from his holdings. Even if I lose to the first better, I can probably get some money out of the caller on the later streets, as he is getting close to pot committed. I call.

Board cards [Jd Qd Kh Ad]
sydom numspa checked.
Blinders checked.

Now that was about the worst imaginable turn card for me, and I am starting to not like my set anymore. I am getting beat right now by AA, KK, QQ, any two diamonds, any T, and the KT of diamonds would fill the Royal. If this guy bets big, I am going to have to fold my set. He checks, and I fear the trap, so I check behind.

Board cards [Jd Qd Kh Ad Ks]
sydom numspa bet $148.36 and is All-in

Cool, I hit my boat and this guy is all-in. Now this is something I have never seen before in a ring game. A massive all-in bet into an empty side pot with no more cards to come. This has got to be one of the strangest moves ever. What does this guy have, that would make him make this move. I have shown zero strength in this hand since I reraised $3 preflop, and have been pretty much a calling station. He can't think he is going to get a call here if my hand is weak, why not more of a value bet. AK is one of the holdings he could have. To him that is the second nutz behind AA, but I did not pop it again preflop, so how could I have the AA. If this guy has the nuts, why does he not want anymore money from me. Something is real fishy here, and I have a boat that will beat a lot of hands, and the pot will be real big. Before looking below, what do you think this guy has, that is consistent with how he played the hand. I am going to call and find out.

Blinders called $68.25 and is All-in

Seat 4 : Blinders has Jc Js
sydom numspa has Kd 5d
sydom numspa has Flush AKQJ5
Blinders has Full House : Jacks full of Kings
Blinders wins $134.96 with Full House : Jacks full of Kings

Whew! This guy only had the flush. He open raised with K5s, a loose aggressive preflop move I guess, but then he calls two preflop rerasies after that. He needed to fold that to pressure preflop. He did call, and flopped a flush draw with a pair, so the flop call seemed ok, as he was hoping I would come to. He turned the nut flush and did not bet it. I would have folded to a decent size bet on the turn with that board, and it would have been a good fold. The board pairs on the river and he shoves all-in to a player that has shown zero strength. He is only going to be called by a boat there, or possibly a lower flush, but lower flushes really were not possible with the preflop betting. He would have been better off just value betting that, and I probably would have only called saving him some money. Ok, what about the other guy who went all-in on the flop. See if you can put him on a hand before looking below. I had him down to AA, KK, QQ or AK.

Seat 7 : rags2rich has 2d 4c
rags2rich has Pair: Kings
Blinders wins $128.54 with Full House : Jacks full of Kings
Low Voltage : nh
Hand is over.

42o, are you kidding me! This guy min reraises an open and a reraise with that preflop? He had to fold, but I guess he was pot committed in the SB. If he is going to raise that, with his short stack, all-in was the only option. If he had went all-in preflop, we both will probably fold, and he wins the hand. On the all face flop, he can't make that all-in bluff, because that flop is going to hit the preflop callers hand everytime, and probably hit it hard. He would have been better off going all-in on an all small flop.

Did anyone come close to putting these guys on a hand? I guess not. You can't put a total idiot on a hand.

Online Bankroll

I will start posting from time to time my online backroll. This will show where I have been playing and where I have been successfully. I use Neteller to store some of my online winnings, so I am ready to take advantage of a new bonus at any time. If I move funds in/out of neteller I will report this going forward.

PokerStars: $1416
FullTilt: $2035
DoylesRoom: $1279
Bodog: $431
Neteller: $1301

Total: $6462

I have cashed out 3k of my online winnings to date, and have also transferred $680 to other players (in exchange for cash), so my total lifetime online winnings are just north of 10k as of today.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bonus Whoring

I like to chase bonuses. If you can play online for a profit, why not make a little extra money while doing it? If it was not for the lucrative bonuses offered by other sites, I would still be playing exclusively at PokerStars. I haven't played much at all on Stars lately because they rarely run a bonus. The key to bonus chasing is to play on sites where you can do well, and will allow your game to progress. The styles of players can vary wildly from site to site, and your style may be right or wrong for the new site that you are playing on. The first site, that lured me away from PokerStars was FullTilt. I love their software. I consider it to be a few generations beyond what PokerStars has. This site was designed by players for players and they did a pretty good job. When I 4 table on FullTilt at the .50/1 ring games, I earn about $10 an hour extra in bonus money. They run a 50% reload bonus about everyother month, and it takes me about 2 weeks to clear the $300 bonus. After clearing the reload last month on FullTilt, I went over to DoylesRoom chasing the $550 initial deposit bonus. I have done well so far over there, earning about $40 an hour through my play and an extra $10 an hour in bonuses which is very similar to what I do on FullTilt. I also started playing on Bodog which has a permanent 10% bonus on all deposits. What is cool about the Bodog bonus is you get it right away, and only can lose it if you withdraw funds before you clear it. The players are pretty bad at Bodog, but after clearing bonuses from $600, $1000, and $600 deposits ($220), I was only break even for my table play. For some reason I was not winning on this site (probably a statistical fluke I think), but with other bonuses to chase I decided enough was enough, and pulled most of my money out. Bodog does have a 100k tourney every Sunday that always is underfunded. I would check it out if you can. Anyway, FullTilt just announced another 50% reload bonus for the last part of December. They also have a 10k a day drawing, so it is like a double bonus. I am about half way clear on the DoylesRoom bonus, and have been playing there almost exclusively lately. There is no time limit to clear the DoylesRoom bonus. I went ahead and reloaded my FullTilt account, and plan on playing there exclusively through the end of the month. My DoylesRoom bonus can wait for now.

DoylesRoom Bounty Tournament

I played in the DoylesRoom Bounty Tournament last night. It is a $25+2.50 buy-in that has three Pro's in it with a bounty for knocking them out. If you knock out more than one you get an even bigger bounty, and if you knock out all three, you get 25k. Also if a bounty player wins you get your buy-in back. DoylesRoom has a promotion that lets you play in your first bounty tournament for free (via rebate) just for signing up, and this would be the first tournament I have played on the site. Before I get into what happened, let me make a few comments on DoylesRoom, and hopefully Doyle you are out there somewhere listening. I am a little spoiled, having been raised by PokerStars and their quality tournaments and tournament interface. On PokerStars, right in the tournament lobby is all the information you could want to know about a tournament. It shows the blind schedule, the time between levels, what the payouts are currently, and what they will be if more people sign up. Unfortunately, this information is a complete mystery on DoylesRoom. There is no blind schedule or time between levels to be found in the lobby or anywhere on there site (believe me, I looked everywhere). It does show the current payout schedule, but does not show how it is derived. After some searching the site I did find a page that explained the payout structure based on number of entries, but this info is not in the tournament lobby, and not that easy to find. Now Doyle, would you sign up for a tournament without knowing what the blind schedule was or how fast the levels would increase? I guess to get this info, you would need to email support on a tournament by tournament basis which is pathetic. The only other site I have played which does not typically show this info was bodog, but that was for S&Gs only. The MTTs had this info available. Anyway, since I was going to be freerolled in this tournament, I went ahead and played it blind to the blind schedule. I did see that they were only paying 27 spots out of 517 entries which is a little light. It turns out that that is the most spots they ever pay, even with 999 entries.

You get $2000 to start the tournament with the blinds starting at $20/40 and going up every 10 minutes. Mike Caro, Todd Brunson, and Mihn Lxxx (sorry cant spell the last name) were the bounties. After getting cold decked for the first 2-3 orbits and not seeing a flop, I got in from the blinds a couple of times with marginal hands and stone cold bluffed down a couple of pots to get slightly up. The third level was 50/100. You get to that level in 20 minutes on DoylesRoom vs. Like an hour on PokerStars, so clearly the levels are just flying up, and you don't have time to start making moves like you would on Stars. I pick up my first real hand of the tournament (AKo) in MP. A guy in EP who just lost most of his chips the hand before pushes all-in for $700. This reeks of tilt, and I am sure my hand is probably good against this guy who wants to end this thing. The guy to his left is thinking (probably what I am thinking), and just calls. OK, this guy knows the all-in was weak, so he did not need much of a hand to make that call, so it folds to me, and I just call as well. My thinking is lets see a flop. If I catch the A or K it is mine. If the caller checks the flop to me, I will probably try for the steal. Well the guy to my left pushes all-in for 3k+, and now I am in a little trouble. Initial caller calls, and it is my turn. I already have 700 of my 2k committed, and am looking at close to a quadruple up if I can make a hand. As long as I am not against AA or KK, I should be OK. I don't think the first two guys have that kind of a hand, but the guy behind me who just pushed in might. I hate taking coinflips for all my chips early in a tournament, but with the levels flying up, and only 5% of the field getting paid, I had to take a shot here so I called. Tilt boy flips up AJo, first caller flips up 55, and all-in to my left flips up TT. Not too bad here. I have 5 outs to the best hand if no-one improves which is slightly better then 50/50 with the entire board to come. There are only 4 outs in the other hands that will better mine if I hit so this is a pretty good situation. Well the board comes down with two Js and no A or K, and I am eliminated in 350th place. TT won a nice side pot. I got to believe I made the right decision, but just got a bad result. A quadruple up would have put me in good position to make a run to the final table, so it was worth the shot. Todd Brunson eventually took 7th place.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Betting a Draw From EP With An Ace On The Board

I love betting draws on the flop. I am generally looking for any reason to bet the flop, and a draw qualifies bigtime. It is one of the best semi-bluffing opportunities out there. You can take the pot down right there, and if you don't you start building the pot, and disguise your draw at the same time. When you hit on the turn or river, you are way more likely to get paid if you have been betting it down the whole way, as it is very hard to put you on a draw. The one exception, is when I am in early position with an A on the board. My thinking used to go something like this. People at this level love to play any Ace, and if I bet my draw someone with an A is going to come over the top of me big, and make me release it. It would be better to check, see what happens, and call if the price is right. My thinking here is starting to change. First, if I go ahead and bet from EP with an A on the board, I am representing that I have the A, and it is probably a pretty good one. If nobody behind me has an A, or a good draw I will probably take the pot down right there. Also, I may get someone with a weak A to let it go, because the EP bet appears strong. I might even slow down a decent A, and get them to just call, with the drawing odds where I want them. If I do get called, I can be pretty sure he's got the A, and I can really make him pay if I hit my draw. The other reason is if I check it instead of betting, I am inviting a steal from LP (that I can't call) if it checks around, even if no one has the A. A couple days ago I got to see the flop for free from the BB with 74o. The flop came down A65 rainbow with three others seeing the flop. I went ahead and bet $2 into a $4 pot. I got reraised to $4 from MP and it folded to me. OK, I need to call $2 more for a $12 pot which is good pot odds for an outside straight draw. The reraise told me he had the A, but the size indicated it may not be that good. The turn came a 3, and it was time to start building the pot. I bet $5 hoping for another reraise. I just got called. River came a blank, and I fired out $10, again hoping for a reraise, but just got called. So I won a $40 plus pot by betting my draw with the A on the board. It felt right, and I am sure this guy was pissed his pair of As lost to a 74o. Last night I picked up a flush draw with a similar board (included an A), and fired out 1/2 pot bet and took it down right there. I am starting to like this move!

Aggression + Luck Beats Skill

I was watching the best damn sports show the other day, and they had poker pro Erick Lindgren (Edogg) as a guest. The host asked him what he thought it was like playing with amateurs. He stated that an amateur has no chance against a seasoned pro. He compared it to an amateur trying to hit a homerun off a major league fastball, or competing effectively on a pro football team. Well I am sorry Erick, you are way wrong in this assessment. Amateurs can and do regularly beat the bigtime pros at there game. Lets look at the WSOP 10k buy-in. The structure for this event with the 2 hour levels and deep starting stacks heavily favors the skill aspect of the game. There is absolutely no rush to get anything going before getting short stacked. The patient pro should have a field day in this event, and an amateur should not stand a chance. Well amateurs have won the last four events in a row. I know the latest winner, Joe Hatchem is advertised as a pro, but he also has a mortgage brokerage business on the side. My definition of a pro, is someone who makes there living playing poker exclusively. If you have a "real" job on the side, you are not a pro yet. How do the amateurs do it? They do it with aggression and luck. A good amateurs game is a lot closer to a pro's game than many people think. They can probably play 90-95% as effective as a pro. The last few percent are the hardest to get, but with a little luck, it is not required. The luck factor in tournaments will generally determine the winner. The key is for the amateur to be aggressive. You have seen these guys before in tournaments. They are constantly pushing and are clearly not the best players, but when they get called down by the skill player they suck out the winner, or happen to have a monster hand. You simply can't beat this no matter how well you play. Of course, luck will even out over time, and you will not see the same amateurs at the top from tourney to tourney, while you will see some of the name pros having success over and over. In last year's WSOP, there was a lot of talk about Tiffany Williamson, and how bad of a player she was. I agree, she had been only playing for 1 year but it looked more like 1 week. She was aggressive though, and very lucky. When she thought she had the best hand, she would not hesitate to push right or wrong. This would force better players to lay down the better hand, and when they would call there was always a lucky flop, turn or river to bail her out. You can't beat this Erick (and you didn't by the way). The other example was Steve Danneman. This guy had only been playing a short time, but seemed to grasp the game much better then Tiffany. He knew the all-in move is the ultimate equalizer in NL holdem, and he used it to great effect. Yes, he also caught lucky over and over, but the key was the aggression. I think he pushed all-in 20+ times at the final table on his way to second. No one else at the final table came close to that level of aggression and look what it did for him. The three real pro's at the final table Matsow, Black, and Barch did not stand a chance. So the next time, you see someone taking down a tourney with nothing more than aggression and luck, don't let it bother you. You can't beat that combination. The luck will even out in the long term, and someday your combination of skill plus luck will get it done.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

To Show or Not To Show, That is the Question

In my last post, I said I would try turning off the always muck winning hand option so I could show the hammer when it wins the pot. I tried this on Doylesroom last night. With the option disabled, it gives you about 1 second to decide to show or muck. If you do not make a decision, I assume that your hand is mucked, but it is impossible to tell what it does. What I found out was very interesting. You become very tempted to show some of your hands when you have this option. I would be in the BB with something like 52o, and everyone would fold to to the SB who would complete. The flop would come down something like AQT, and the SB would check. I bet the pot ($2) and the SB folds, and I am so proud I just have to show this bluff. Or I would get JJ and raise preflop, and get 2 callers. Flop would come Kxx, and I would bet 2/3s of the pot and then show the JJ after everyone had folded. Or, I would win a couple pots in a row, pick up QQ, pop it 4x and show the Qs after getting no callers. In hindsite, I think showing your hands is a horrible idea, especially if you are multitabling. You are giving up way too much information about your game, for little or no gain. If you are going to show a hand, it should be for the purpose of confusing your opponents because you are about to shift gears and start playing differently. With 4 tables going, you do not want to be shifting gears all over the place, but should really be playing a consistent solid style that includes some deception. It is just about impossible to keep track of what table you showed the stone cold bluff on, and what table you showed a bet with a solid hand. I would highly recommend that you do not show your hands under any circumstances when multitabling. I can see some value of doing it in a live tournament, if you just made a play that you will probably not be making again to throw off your opponents. It is much easier to manage this at a single live tournament where you have the time to really keep track of your table image. Do not show, that is the answer!

Quick hammer update. Picked up the hammer in the SB and everyone folded to me. Popped it 5x, and the BB went all-in over the top. I folded. It seems strange that a hand like 72 does not hold up all the time. I guess that's poker.

Monday, December 12, 2005


I play a tight aggressive style that works pretty well for me. A trash hand like 72o ("the hammer") is an automatic fold unless I'm in the BB or I am getting huge odds in the SB. There is a lot of talk about playing the hammer amongst the bloggers, including some contests for winning a hand with it. I once won a massive pot with it when I completed the SB with 6 others already in, and the flop came 722. Lately I have made it a point to try to get out of line and play the hammer when I normally would fold it. The only way to play "the hammer" is for a preflop raise, with the intent of a continuation bet to take it down post flop. I have played it now twice and I am 2 for 2. First time, I am in the BB, one limper and the SB folds. This is a play I have used before, and it makes no difference what hand you hold. What you do is pop it 4x from the BB. You will be heads up against the limper (weak), and will have the first opportunity to bet post flop. The key is the SB must fold. Odds are the limper folds preflop, but if he does not, a pot size continuation bet will scare him off unless he hits the flop big. In this case the limper folded and I won. The second time was earlier today. I get the hammer on the button and its folded to me. I pop it 4x and both blinds fold. I am not a big blind stealer in a cash game, as I do not think there is a ton of value there. Tournaments are different. I will steal with decent cards, but I am not going to automatically pop it with crap just cause I get folded to on the button in a ring game. Steals gone wrong can get expensive in a cash game. Because I am not constantly stealing, when I do come in for a raise it usually gets respected. I may be getting too much respect though, so stealing with the hammer can be profitable in two ways. I can win the steal, and I will get less respect when I steal with a solid hand. The key for me is to show the hammer when the steal works. Unfortunately, I have muck the winning hand set for all the sites I play on. When you play 4 tables at once, you don't want to add show/muck decisions to all the other decisions you have to make. I will probably try to disable the automuck winning hand and see if I can work with it. I imagine that if you time out on the show/muck decision your hand will get mucked, so it should not hurt. If you are ever at a table with me, and I steal from the button, watch out. I either have a pretty good hand, or it hammertime!

Got Tilt?

DoylesRoom, .50/1 Ring

Seat 1 : DAVIACES has $166.50
Seat 2 : beet420 has $83.82
Seat 3 : danio29 has $46.25
Seat 4 : Blinders has $162.50
Seat 5 : Dratj has $95.50
Seat 6 : floridacom has $199.82
Seat 7 : phillyboy88 has $202.62
Seat 8 : leighgd has $41.66
Seat 9 : ferdousi has $115.50
Dratj is the dealer.
Seat 4 : Blinders has 9c 9h
leighgd folded.
ferdousi folded.
DAVIACES folded.
beet420 folded
danio29 folded

Ok, I like to mix up limping and raising with 99, but with the number of folds in front of me, and the opportunity to open raise, I go ahead and pop it to 4x.

Blinders called $1 and raised $3
floridacom called $3.50 and raised $3
phillyboy88 folded.
Blinders called $3

Well, I did not want someone to play back at me here. I would rather just take the blinds, or take it down on the flop with a continuation bet. A $3 call for a $15 pot means I am getting decent pot odds to flop the set, plus the implied odds are huge based on our stack sizes. I call putting this guy on a big pair or AK.

Board cards [Ac 9s Tc]
floridacom bet $8
Blinders called $8 and raised $8
floridacom called $8

Jackpot, I flopped the set! Looks like he does have the AK, or is trying to take it down with a pair like KK or QQ. Based on the preflop action these are his likely holdings, but I need to be sure that he does not have AA so I min. reraise him back to find out. He just calls, confirming that he does not have AA. I can't see how he would just call there with a set and possible flush and straight draws on the board. The fact that I reraised him back there against two rounds of strength, means that I probably have the AK or a set.

Board cards [Ac 9s Tc Jh]
floridacom bet $16
Blinders called $16 and raised $123.50 and is All-in
floridacom called $123.50

Wow, this guy is going to continue to push with his AK. There is no way he has AA, JJ or KQ, as I have already eliminated those possible holdings. The way this guy has been playing I don't think he can laydown TPTK, and I don't want him drawing to the Q for a straight that beats my hand, so its time to push!

Seat 4 : Blinders has 9c 9h
Seat 6 : floridacom has Ah Qd

OMG, this guy called that bet with an outside straight draw. After reraises from me on two consecutive streets, he can't really believe his pair of As is good. In his mind he has either 8 or 10 outs (if another A would do it) . So he calls with a 16-20% chance of winning, while getting 38% pot odds.

Board cards [Ac 9s Tc Jh 8c]
Blinders has 3 of a Kind: 9s
floridacom has Straight QJT98
floridacom wins $323 with Straight QJT98
danio29 : wow
ferdousi : ul
leighgd : damn
DAVIACES : oouch
Hand is over.

Of course he hits his straight, and I am steaming. I have only been playing on Doylesroom for about a week now and this was easily the biggest pot I have been involved in. A few hands later on another table I pick up AK on the button and call a 4x open from middle position. The flop comes K83 rainbow, and the open raiser pushes all-in for $80 more. There is no way he makes that move with a set, and there are no draws on the board, or two pair opportunities with the preflop action. Without too much thought I make the call, and he flips up AA and takes down a nice pot. Several hands later, back at the table from the $323 pot, I pick up AK early, pop it 5x and get called by nearly the entire table (these guys must think I am tilting, and they may be right). Flop comes KQx with a flush draw, and I bet $18 to see where I am at and thin the field. I get two callers. Turn comes the Q without the flush, and I start to get concerned. Way too many people saw this flop, and I might be getting slowplayed, so I check. One guy bets $16, one guy folds, and I decide to call based on the pot size. River comes a blank, I check, and the other guy bets $38. Something does not seem right here. Would this guy really call the flop bet holding only the Q? Why such a small turn bet, if he was afraid of the flush. I decide to go ahead and call, and he flips up 52s for a busted flush draw, and I win a $160 pot. Normally, I don't let a big loss on a hand effect my play, but it seems like I am way out of control. Time to stop playing for the day. Got tilt?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Good Read, Bad Result

DoylesRoom .50/1 NL, I have a about $110, and get QQ on the button. One limper comes in and then from semi-late it gets raised to 3x. I pretty much have to raise here. First, if I just call, this will invite the blinds and limpers to come along for the ride, and I don't want that many seeing the flop. Second, the late raiser could have a huge range of hands, and I need to narrow his holdings down sooner rather then later. I min raise to 5x, and to my horror, the BB, limper and initial raiser all call. Alright, at least I can be pretty sure that I am not up against AA or KK, but I am still not very happy. Flop comes 228 rainbow. This is a good flop for me! I would rather it come down all low with a small pair, as it reduces the chances that someone flopped a set, plus no A or K to kill my QQ. The only hand I fear here is 88, as 22 is just to unlikely, and 23s, A2s is not very likely given the preflop action. BB bets out 4x and it folds to me. This is a little strange. 4x into a 20x pot is weird. Is this guy weak or trying to trap me. Now, I need to give him credit for a possible smooth call with AA or KK preflop. I need to find out, but don't want to pay to big of a price, so I reraise to 14x total, and BB just calls. Ok he doesn't have AA or KK and probably not 88. I put him on JJ, TT, 99, 89s, A8s, or possibly a small pocket pair. On the turn comes a beautiful 2, and BB bets 14x into what is now a 48x pot. My read says I have him, so enough is enough and I reraise him (third reraise this hand!) for all his chips. He thinks for a while and then calls with TT. I am about to win a $134 pot when a T drops on the river, and I lose to a bigger boat. I chat "OMG, nice catch". NL cash game sessions are usually defined by how the big hands go down, and my session looked like it would be defined a loser. To continue playing I had to just shake this one off, so I did and rebought my chips back to $100. About 10 hands later, the winner of the above hand got all-in preflop with QQ vs AA and lost his whole stack. I chatted "nice!", "he desereved that". That made me feel a little better. I played for a while longer, won back my losses and ended up with a nice gain for the session. I love DoylesRoom. It seems that whenever I take a bad beat, or pull some donkey move that cost me a bunch of chips, if I relax and keep playing my game they will all come back and then some.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Poker Goals for 2006

These are my goals for next year in no particular order.

1) Start playing higher stakes on-line. I would like to be playing successfully at 5/10 NL which is 10x my current stakes. If I am still playing .50/1 at the end of next year my game is going nowhere

2) Generate $100+/hr profit long term playing online.

3) Play in the first $2000 buy-in event of the WSOP. This one starts on Saturday July 1st, and I have the following Monday/Tuesday off from work for the 4th of July holiday. Of all my goals, I will guarantee this one right now.

4) Play in the WSOP main event. It would not crush me if I miss this one next year, but I got to make it a goal. If I cash in the 2k buy-in, the main event is a given. I love the deep stacks and slow levels of this structure which play right into my game.

5) Win the season for the company online tournament

6) Play more 3/5 NL live casino games. I have been pretty much beating up this level, but it is still a little out of my comfort zone. By the end of 06, I need to start thinking that 3/5 NL is low stakes and it is time to move up.

7) Play in some big home tourneys and get some big wins.

8) Upgrade my monitor so I can see all four tables at once. I am so cheap, that for some reason I will not do this yet. Now I have to tile the four tables, which can lead to an occasional accidental raise as you switch from table to table. Also you can't follow all the action as you can only see parts of all four tables.

Newport Poker Open 15

Last night was our company online tournament. It is on PokerStars. It was the third event of the second season. I was sitting in third for the season, after two third place finishes in the first two events. I was pretty card dead in the early going, but picked up a small pot or two. I was at 1200 in chips when I picked up TT under the gun. I made my standard raise to 200 (4x), and got called by the player on my left. Then smokkee reraised me to 500. I have played with smokkee many times and he is pretty much a maniac, but he also knows my typical game which is tight aggressive. Smokkee eliminated me from the last Newport Open late by playing bigstack poker, and pushing all-in under the gun with "the Brunsen" (T2o). He was pushing everyhand once we got down to three way, so I had to call with A4o. He caught the deuce and I was eliminated. He had about 3k in chips when he reraised my TT, so I was in a tough spot. I have two options here, push all-in or fold. I figured the smooth caller would fold, so I would be getting decent pot-odds for a coin-flip. I decided to push, and they both called. They both had AA, and I got no help and was eliminated in 8th. I know it was a donkey move by me. I should have thought it through more. Now if smokkee had open raised 4x, pushing all-in there is a no brainer as he could have anything. But he reraised me back after I opened 4x UTG. As tight as I play early in a tourney, he had to know I had a big pair or at least AK. He also knew I would play back at him with most of my likely holdings. TT is just not a good enough hand to make that move right there. In a cash game, I am folding that everytime, unless the reraiser is shortstacked or a complete idiot. Bottom line is my tournament game is a little rusty, as I have been playing cash games exclusively for the last few months. I will make it a point to play some two table S&Gs before the next online tourney.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Playing AA post flop when you flop a monster

Ok now for the good stuff, my first hand analysis. This was a hand I played today that I am very proud of. I think I extracted every last penny I could get, but let me know if you think other wise.

.50/1 NL table at FullTilt. I have a full stack of around $100, and wake up to AA in the SB. Early position player raises to 6x and it folds to me. I put him on a medium to big pair or AK. Could be a small pair too, this is only .50/1. Anyway, I am not going to let him see the flop cheap with a small/medium pair so I pop it to 15x total. BB folds, initial raiser just calls. Ok now I have reduced his range to a big pair or AK most likely. Flop comes down A33 and I am licking my chops. I will be first to act on all streets. I rarely like to slowplay, but this was the perfect situation. I want this guy to think the A scared me, and I have something like KK or QQ. Clearly I had a big pair the way I played preflop, but I did not want this guy thinking I flopped the boat. I check and he checks behind me. Turn comes a 5 adding a flush draw to the board. Well I wanted him to bet, and he didn't so it's time to build a pot or end this. I bet $10 into a $30 pot. This looks like a "weak-lead", and hopefully He will think its time to steal. Well he pops me back for a min reraise of $10. Now I got some thinking to do. Do I reraise here, and if so how much? Do I just call, and if so what do I do on the river. I decided to just call to make my weak lead look like a steal and make this guy think what he has is good. I also planned on betting out on the river no matter what comes down. Why play it this way? For some reason people seem to be more willing to call an open on the river, then a re-reraise on the turn which looks way strong. I wanted this guy to think I was weak, but then got the courage to steal on the river for some reason. I call, river comes a Q with no flush. Pots about $70 right now, so time for another weak-lead. 1/3 of the pot worked last time so out comes a $25 bet from me. I am crossing my fingers hoping for him to push, but he just calls and shows the AK for 2 pair best kicker. I drag back a $120 pot thanks to my monster flop and tricky play. Could I have got more from him? I am not sure. I left him with about $40 after the hand.

Moving up and getting beat back down

I have been playing .50/1 NL online ring games for a while, and have been pretty successful. I pretty much always mutlitable 4 games at a time. And have a longterm average win rate of $10/table hour or $40 per actual hour (4 x $10). I want to move up to 1/2 and higher, but it seems like whenever I do it, I get beat up and come crawling back to the .50/1. This annoys me to no end, because it make no sense. The 1/2 players can't really be that much better than .50/1? It must be me, but why? My bankroll can take it! My first try at 1/2 was about a year ago on Pokerstars. I had great success at first, swelling my bankroll up, but it only lasted for a week or two. After that things went south, and I lost all that I had won at that level and then some. I did not have pokertracker back then, but I always kept a spreadsheet detailing my play. I went running back to .50/1 and that was it for 1/2 at Pokerstars.
I then went to FullTilt chasing the 100% sign-up bonus ($600). Might as well get paid to play right? I went on an incredible run on FullTilt at first. It seems like this always happens when you first start playing a new site. Don't think the software is rigged, but it is kind of strange. Probably could be the regulars not adjusted to your game yet, but just a theory. Anyway, within about a week I almost had to move up to 1/2 to find some real competition and I did. I started crushing that game as well making something like $100/hr for the first 10+ hours of play, but as before I crashed, burned, and gave it all back and then some. Back to .50/1 for me. Back to $40/hr but I will take it. I took off several months from the 1/2 tables, but I have been trying it from time to time. Usually 1 or 2 of my 4 tables open with the rest .50/1, and only if a table looks soft. No big run up this time to start, but a slow drift down. Was down about $170 after a while, then rallied to down just $10, and about to post a win to put me in the black, but could not book it. I am down $260 currently in my latest attempt with about 1700 hands played. Hopefully writing this stuff down and analyzing my play will get me over the hump. We will see!

My First Post

Hey everyone! I am late to the game but here it goes. I created this blog to follow my poker life. I came across the doubleas blog and was very impressed how he documented his way to the top from a semi low-stakes player. Well, I am where he was a year or so ago. I have been playing NL Holdem for about 2 years now. I play mainly online, but also have a regular home game, and frequent some private home tourneys in Orange County, CA. I also play in casinos from time to time, but not very often. I hate limit holdem in casinos, so I am very happy more and more NL games are being spread. I started online at PokerStars, but I also play at FullTilt, DoylesRoom, and BoDog. Lately I have been spending most of my time at Doyles and FullTilt in the .50/1 NL Ring games. Mostly because the bonuses are better, and the players are softer then on PokerStars. I started playing online with a $100 deposit on Stars. I have worked that amount up over time, and have never had to make another deposit into netteller. I figure I am up about 18k in the last two years broken out something like this. Up 10k online, up 4k in homegames/tourneys, and up 4k live. I am only a partime player, as I have a fulltime job, and am "married with children". I try to play as much as possible though mainly late at night and on the weekends. I will try to use this blog to document my progress moving up in stakes and playing in some big live tourneys. Hopefully, I can follow in Doubleas footsteps, and make a quick move to the top.