Saturday, May 22, 2010

Goals For .5/1 Cash Tonight...

  1. Straight from SSNLHE: Don't overcommit in small pots...
  2. Raise my button often...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cash Game Tonight

Playing a new cash game tonight with some players that I know.  I believe it is .5/1 NLHE, but we'll see when I get there.  I've started reading SSNLHE and finding some good ideas in it, but I'm purposely going slowly, especially since I haven't had much time to play lately, especially cash.  So my goal is to start playing online occasionally, and choosing one or two things to work on each time.

For tonight, I'm going to make some specific goals:

  • Play more deep stacked.  I think I'll bring $200, leaving me money for two $80 buy-ins and one half-rebuy (if I get low).  The goal will be to keep my stack about $80, and leave if it drops well below (i.e. if I'm into the game for $200 and I've only got $40 in front of me, I should leave rather than gamble with that $40).
  • Don't enter pots where I don't have strong card equity or strong bluff equity.  This will likely tighten me up in early position which is not a bad thing in a loose-aggressive game.  Notably, I'll probably be letting suited weak aces go in early position along with suited connectors.
  • Play position.  Specifically, this means raising limpers.  While I'll be tighter in early position, I think I should raise more in position and aim to take the pot with a continuation bet or two on the flop.
  • Don't play scared; it is ok to get stacked.  I think this is my big issue.  It also follows along with Ed Miller's recent post about loose players that don't fold.  Often, it is ok to get in with a single pair against a loose opponent -- and it is ok to make a pot-sized bet if I believe my opponent is drawing.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tourney Today (deep-stack)

Got a deep-stack tournament tonight, I believe a $60 buy-in, although $10 of that goes toward bounties.

Based on recent tournaments, I think I'm feeling pretty comfortable.  I do have some specific goals:

  1. Early on, play small ball.  With no rebuy, I don't want to get a large portion of my stack committed with a weak hand or do a large coin flip.  On the other hand, there is a lot of value early on so I don't want to play extremely tight.  Just small jabs, try to steal pots, and build slowly.
  2. Later on, towards the money bubble, get much more aggressive.  This generally hasn't be a problem.  I do need to avoid playing scared when it could cost me my stack yet I believe I have the best hand.
  3. Short-handed (if it gets that far) make more three-bets/resteals in addition to opening a lot of pots.  This was a big issue last time, and I let myself play too many hands OOP with large blinds.  I'm pretty good at pre-flop play, so I shouldn't be afraid to put in a three-bet if I'm playing against an opponent that will lay down a lot of hands.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Small Stakes No-Limit Hold'em

Given my recent troubles in NLHE cash games, and the fact that I've had my eye on Small Stakes No-Limit Hold'em for a while, I think I will probably take advantage of the current deal for 40% off SSNLHE.

After all, if they happen to mention in the book that I shouldn't shove 60BB with AKo over a 5BB bet, I'll make the cost of the book back right there!

More seriously, I think it is time to get some external input into my overall strategy so I feel less like a ship without a compass.  Given the stakes I play, I should be able to easily make back the price of the book in a month or two.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I'm doing something I don't usually do: immediately recording my stats and blogging after a loss.

Admittedly, I'm getting pretty frustrated. I lost two buy-ins ($120 total in a .5/1 game) tonight. And the worst part is that I'm pretty sure I played poorly in a number of spots; as much as I'm trying to make my NLHE cash game better, it does not seem to be working.  I never really felt comfortable tonight.  I just felt like I was playing too tight, too aggressive, to impulsively.  I feel that I should be able to beat small local live NLHE cash games by now, but realistically I'm not a winner.

First, I'll list the main hands I can remember playing, then I'll post some general thoughts about my overall strategy. Feel free to comment on anything and everything...

Cast of Characters (in their respective seats):

  1. Me
  2. Tim.  Pretty tight guy, known for limping his big pairs.  Was distracted tonight with his laptop or IPhone.  Often calls raises pre-flop, but can fold a hand.
  3. Ryan.  New guy -- if you looked up 'rock' in a dictionary, this guy's picture would be in there.
  4. Melanie.  New girl, a Russian.  Seems to have played a decent amount, but pretty loose and passive.  Called down with second/third pair in some cases.
  5. Toby. Older guy, retired, plays a LOT of poker. Tends to be loose preflop, fine with calling raises, rarely raises himself, does not seem to bluff much. Can make good lay downs.
  6. Mickey. Experienced Asian guy. Pretty tight/aggressive, can mix it up with Andy (below), aggressive. Always buys in for $100, not afraid to bluff or call big bets if he believes he is ahead.
  7. Wayne. Loose Asian guy who usually buys in for the minimum ($40) and often rebuys.
  8. Andy.  The host.  Super loose, super aggressive.  Raises most of his buttons if it limps to him, and often raises in middle position or early position.  Pretty loose post flop but good at putting pressure on you.  His main weakness is bluffing a little too much, and sometimes calling all-in with weak odds.  Doesn't like to play out of position.  Usually folds when I put in a bet.
  9. Nate.  Indian guy, pretty solid player.  Always seems to have a hand when he hits showdown, but seems to be playing quite a few hands.  Likes to call raises, both in and out of position.  Bluffs occasionally.  He was the winner of the last tournament I mentioned.

Hands that I can remember (both good and bad):
  1. Early on, I added about $10 to my stack by raising AQ and taking it down on the flop with a CB.   
  2. Tim and Mickey limp, Andy raises to $3.50, Nate calls, I call in the big blind with 98o, Tim and Mickey call.  Flop comes A52 with two spades, and it checks to Andy and he bets $8 into $16 or so.  Nate folds, and I decide to make a move, since Andy will bet almost any hand in that spot.  I raise to $22, and Tim cold calls with only $9 behind.  Andy hems and haws but folds.  At this point, I'm in full abort mode, and will fold unless it somehow gets to the river and I think putting him in might get him to fold.  Until the 8s hits the turn.  Now I have a pair.  So I check, and he pushes.  I start thinking out loud about the hand and he says, "I have a flush."  He then shows me 6s 3s.  Well, now I have to call, with a pot of $60...  I miss.
  3. I forget the exact action, but I think I limped into a hand with Ac3c UTG.  A bunch of other limpers, and we see a flop of 8c6c4d.  I lead for half the pot, Toby and Wayne call.  Turn comes a club, I check, Toby checks, and Wayne shoves for $26.  I try to hollywood it, but I call and Toby folds (saying he is folding a straight).  That one I won and got up to about $100.
  4. I'm on the button with 8d5d and about $100.  Folds to Nate, he raises to $3.50, I call, Tim calls.  Flop comes As4s2.  Tim checks, Nate bets about $7.  I feel a little weakness in the bet, so I raise to $18.  Nate thinks for a while (and I realize he has at least an ace) and then he makes it $40.  I fold, and he admits he had AKo.  I realize that shoving on him would probably have taken it!
  5. Jacks UTG + 1.  I have about $32 at this point, and I make it $7 hoping to get one or two callers with and easy shove on the flop.  Four players call me (Tim, Mickey, Wayne, and Nate) and see a flop of K72 rainbow.  Wayne and Nate check, and I just shove my $25.  It seemed very possible I'd have the best hand, but I know it was a risky play.  I didn't expect so many callers.  It folded to Nate, and he called with two pair (K7s).  I miss and rebuy.
  6. Mickey raises to $6.50 UTG.  Wayne calls, Andy calls, Nate calls, I call with KcQc, Toby calls.  Flop comes K72 or something like that, no suits, checks to Mickey, and he bets $20 into the $30 out there.  It folds to me, I think for a while, then muck.  Mickey would usually slow down against so many opponents, so AK and AA are a big part of his range.  He could have bet JJ, QQ though, but it is very hard for me to call $20 in that spot when I only have another $20 behind.  Should I be making this call?
  7. I raise AJs to $7 after some limpers, only Melanie calls, flop is Axx, I bet and win.
  8. In the big blind with 5s3s.  Flop comes AK3 rainbow, Tim bets $3 into $5, Toby, Mickey, and I call.  Turn is a blank, checks around.  River is another 3, and I lead out for $7 (about half the pot).  Everyone folds.
  9. Final hand: I was in the SB, and Tim (the big blind) accidently folded.  Mickey limped, Andy raised to $5 right after Tim noticed he folded.  I was talking at the time, and said something about I was likely to fold unless I had a monster, and I looked down at AKo.  Without thinking about it, I just pushed my $65 into the middle.  Mickey folded, Andy called instantly, and he had KK.  We ran it three times, I bricked them all...  This was a huge mistake -- I'll pretty much only get called by QQ+, AK here since it is a big raise.  I was afraid to raise because if he re-raised me I'd probably still call anyway, but realistically he respects my raises and I doubt he'd reraise without KK+ if I made it $15.  Dumb, dumb move.
I now remember why I don't usually blog after the game -- it takes too long and I'm tired!

I'm not going to go into a lot of overall strategy talk right now, but I will make a few overall comments that will jumpstart a later post:
  • In 8 sessions, I'm down $288, or about 6 buy-ins.  I've only won twice.  I usually win or lose small, with a couple of two-buyin losses.
  • I'm a tight player.  I'm probably playing only 10% of my hands.  The word 'nit' comes to mind.
  • I am seen as a very tight player.  I have a hard time getting other players to commit their stacks against me when I have them beat.  They don't seem to have a problem getting their stack in when they have me beat :)
  • When I do play, I often overbluff or overplay hands.  For example, the AKo hand, possibly the JJ hand.
  • I'm afraid to play on the turn and river when the bets get big.
  • Most of the bluffs and moves I make are on the flop.  Most of the moves and bluffs I make are called.
  • I'm ok with the amount of money in play, but I will admit it makes me nervous.  That is why I usually only bring two $60 buy-ins.
  • My short stack game is usually pretty bad.  I'm quite uncomfortable in the no-mans land of 30 to 40 big blinds.
  • I tend to make big bets preflop (6-9x BB) in order to limit the field I play against.
  • Even raising to $7, I'll often get 3-4 callers.
  • I raise rarely in position, and almost never out of position.
  • I rarely float or make loose calls on the flop.
  • I don't think I am doing a good job of keeping pots small.