Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I, Poker Bot

My friend Wade forwarded a link about poker bots (which chained to another article). I've been brewing a post about bots for a while since my background in AI should make my opinion worth something (maybe 1.5 BB on a 1c/2c table).

I've been hearing rumbling about bots for quite a while from a number of sources. Of course the media is notorious for exaggerating the frequency of use and danger of poker bots. There is merit for some of what they are saying because online poker sites aren't really going to be releasing a lot of stats on how many robots they believe are in use. But, media articles generally are not written by industry insiders.

For instance, in the articles above, they mention 'poker pros' being involved in the scheme -- most people probably think of Doyle B. or Daniel N. when people say poker pros, but I doubt anyone that good would bother working on something that could tarnish their reputation. Overall, though, I don't think the bots out there are good enough to really hurt anyone's bottom line if you are intelligent about table selection (I'm not going to deny that bots are currently playing). In fact, a table full of bots would just look like a bad game, so why get involved?

At a Wednesday game I host about 6 months ago, one of the guys (not a regular) said he and some of his friends were working on a poker bot. You know, remote desktop, the whole deal. I don't know where that went (I don't remember his name) but I've definitely heard from people trying to do it.

Based on my experience, I don't think that bots are really worth the time and effort involved. These are my reasons:

  1. Bots really only work at low limits. High limit players are much trickier and I would expect it would be difficult to get really non-rigid play from a bot. Loki and Poki are obviously the first real successes and, oddly enough, Daphne Koller, one of the first researchers in the field ten years ago, is just down the hall from me. If I remember things correctly, it takes a decent amount of hands (thousands) to pick up on patterns. This is a reality that cuts across AI, actually -- usually humans can pick up on patterns with an order of magnitude fewer samples than any machine learning algorithm. Actually, my dream is to change that, but that's another post.
  2. The cost vs reward is too low. Realistically, a bots BB/hr could probably be around 5 at low limits (equivalent to a good human). But that will drop off as the quality of opponents increase. On the other hand, to get a good bot going, it is going to take lots and lots of hours of customization (even if you base it off existing software) and very few people are qualified to pull it off. Furthermore, you might make better money just by playing poker instead of programming :)
  3. Bots are easily spotted. Fitting with #2, trust me, throw a bot into a game at 10/20 online and it is not going to do very well. Not only that, I expect that human players will pick up on a bot pretty quick -- probably more from patterns and timing than anything else. Not to say all that stuff can't be programmed in, but again, cost vs reward. Furthermore, there is a really easy test to check for a bot: ask it a question in chat such as "What's your favorite sports team?" or "What's your favorite hand?". Trust me -- no bot will pass that sort of test (which is actually a true Turing test). The only way around it is to have the bot operator signaled when relevant chat comes through, but that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? And its dirt cheap to implement at online sites -- just have a support person dedicated to querying suspected bots.
  4. Risk vs reward is low. Obviously, getting caught will cost you money because your account will be frozen. Furthermore, expect a black book to exist made up of these people and more stringent screening in the future. Since you can't make big bucks anyway (I guess $100 an hour is reasonable, but difficult) tightening up in the online sites will really put pressure on these guys. The only good thing for the bot guys is they are pretty safe from governmental intervention since poker technically isn't legal anyway. That's one of the many reasons I would love to see a state legalize poker.
So, really, my point here is that, yes, bots are out there, and yes, more will be created and their AI will continue to improve, but don't expect them to fill up the $2/$4 tables at Party anytime soon. Furthermore, the online sites will want to protect their huge rake income and keep bots in check. Maybe I should get hired as a consultant to feret out bots -- I'm sure I could pull down a lot of money for that :)

Additionally, as players we can help prevent their infiltration of the online game just by getting active in chat and reporting any suspicions to support.

Another thing that will be an issue in the near future is the blend between bots and stat trackers like Poker Tracker. In fact, about 6 months ago I downloaded a program that gave me advice (raise, fold, etc.) as it was grabbing info from hand histories. I'm not sure if it is allowed anymore (and I can't remember the name of it) but this is definitely a gray area which will become more of an issue. As it is, sometimes when I'm two-tabling 1/2 running PT and GT+ I start to feel like a bot myself (and a bad one at that).

Friday, November 25, 2005

BB: Stupid Limit...

Just got ripped a new one two-tabling Stars 1/2. Just steady series of second best hands and not many premium hands (especially AK) until two hands in a row ripped $35 away from me, ending up -$60 overall (my 30BB stop-loss, coincidentally).

The first hand I lost $20 on -- EP (solid player) raise, I three-bet w/ AhKh, BB (fish) cold calls, raiser calls. Flop 9h 4h Qs, EP bets, I raise, BB cold calls, EP three-bets, I call, BB calls. That's where I should have put EP on AA, KK, AQ, maybe KQ, or QQ. Turn is 4d, BB bets, EP raises, and I cold called both raises on the draw. This is where I had my best chance of minimizing my losses on this hand. If I'm going to raise on the flop with the draw, I need to use the information I get, and seriously consider that EP has QQ and I'm drawing dead. The result -- hit the flush on the river, I raise and cap it (another chance to save a bet, at least), and lose. Pot was $55ish.

I can't really complain -- much of my loss was due to calling the raise cold on the turn when I could be drawing thin. Yes, I had good odds ($25.50 in the pot) but the paired board should have let me know my draw may not be completely live, making the odds about even, and I save money. Other than that decision, I can't criticize my play of the hand too much. My flop raise was a play to get a free card and gain information, my raise on the river is a value raise (sadly, the re-raise was just silly).

Next hand on the same table, I pick up AA in the cutoff and raise a few limpers. SB cold calls (fishy BB from previous hand) and BB three-bets. Limpers fold, I cap, SB cold calls both and BB calls. Flop all low cards (3s 7d 5d), BB and I get into a raising war and SB calls the whole way. I wasn't worried about the BB (figured he had a high pocket pair) but I wanted to get the SB out because he might have hit the board. Turn is 5c, SB leads out, BB and I call him down (river was 4s). SB had K5h and wins $37 pot. Tilt, here I come.

Again, don't regret much except maybe I could have gotten away on the turn when the SB led out -- a good chance he had a 5 or even a straight but I have a hard time giving these crazies credit.

Obviously, I have a lot to learn. One of my first lessons has been that limit really, really, leaves you helpless to the cards and variance. At least in NL you have a chance of stealing small pots -- in these games you really need to hit the flop.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

BB: Stupid Cowboys...

Yeah, I know, I know. Nobody likes to read about bad beats -- I usually tune people out as soon as they open their mouth.

But I don't like to think about them either.

So, I'm going to use the blog as catharsis and write my frustrations out so I can forget they happened. I do this with a lot of things -- chores, psychology papers, birthdates -- if it is on paper or in the computer I can let it leave my brain. To be nice, I'll use BB: to denote bad beat posts...

So, without further delay:

Three bad beats with pocket kings playing 1/2 on Stars:

  1. Guy has KQo and rivers the fourth flush card (I have a set) -$16
  2. Guy has JJ and rivers the jack -$40 (multiway pot)
  3. Guy has... QQ, I have quad kings:
    *** TURN *** [Kh Jc 8d] [Kd]
    Sting11165: checks
    Sl1mCracker: bets $2
    Sting11165 has timed out while being disconnected
    Sting11165 is being treated as all-in
    *** RIVER *** [Kh Jc 8d Kd] [Jh]
    *** SHOW DOWN ***
    Sl1mCracker: shows [Qc Qd] (two pair, Kings and Queens)
    Sting11165: shows [Ks Kc] (four of a kind, Kings)
    Sting11165 collected $8.25 from pot
    LOL. I had check-raised him but my click didn't go through -- lost at least $2 and maybe $6+ on it... And I rarely have disconnects, especially on stars. Tilting by a disconnection, priceless...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Gotta love Llama Spanking...

Got bored of my MP3s (mostly old 90's songs -- never thought I'd ever say that phrase) and switched to Winamp's SHOUTcast streams for my at work listening pleasure. Gotta love the fact that I just spent an hour listening to contemporary classical and now I've switched over to JPop (Japanese pop music for those of you not in the know).

Not sure what I'll try next -- deathrock really isn't my style, but apparently there are some Haitian stations and I've got a little celtic in me...

And now back to your regularly scheduled poker talk show.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Just trying to learn...

Editor's note: this post is the result of three days of editing so I apologize for any time inconsistencies.

I changed the name of this blog -- I'll explain the decision near the end. This entry has been a long time coming, so let me start with a quote. To set the scene, this occurred about a week ago at the dealer's choice cash game after a Saturday tourney. I was taking a bit of time on many of my decisions and one of the guys got a little impatient and said something like "This isn't the world series of poker you know". My reply was:

"I'm just trying to learn how to be a better poker player."

Lately I've been trying to figure out my overall goal for poker. Originally I started playing because I thought I would be good at it, I liked the competition, and I needed a hobby away from my family for my sanity. Now, about a year, 600+ hours, and $1300+ later, it is time to rethink things. Poker is a huge time suck, can be very frustrating when things aren't going well, and I'm not making a bundle of money. So why am I doing it? Should I find another hobby that exercises my mind and body in a different way?

Obviously, I'm not giving up poker anytime soon. In fact, I hope to play the rest of my life at least occasionally because it is one of those hobbies which you can pretty much do until you die or lose your mind (I don't expect I'll be too concerned about poker if that happens). But, as my bankroll grows, I'm going to need to make some decisions about bankroll, limits, and time that really need a solid foundation.

Before I go much further I think I should lay out some recent background (more than anything, this entry is meant to let me organize my thoughts and give me something to go back and focus on).


My party results are pretty much representative of my limit results (actually, they are slightly worse than I've done at UB) so I'll just list my PP stats:

6h 50m 2-tabling at 50c/1 limit
+$62.75 (with a $100 bonus) ~$9/hr tables, 8.0 BB/100, $20+/hr w/ bonus
814 hands, 19% VPIP, 7% PFR, 3.33 AF
Total Rake: $21.25

Of course, 800 hands is way too small to get anything statistically meaningful, but the stats are about what I expect. Overall, I'd say I had a slightly better than average cards (only one session really crapped on me) and not too many outdraws. More importantly, I was playing a solid tight-aggressive/aggressive game and felt very comfortable at the tables. My bankroll is such that I can easily support 1/2 or even 2/4, and based on my experiences, I am ready to move up. The things I think I do right:
  1. Tight. Easy to do when you use a hand chart like that in Small Stakes Hold'Em
  2. Aggressive. Generally bet whenever you think you ar in the lead, and they pay you off well at low limits.
  3. Decent Reads. Many times I made decisions based on a read (and PokerTracker) that made me some money.
But, I still have a lot of leaks to work on (none of which should prevent me from moving up):
  1. Overaggressive at times. Often I bet top pair out of position even on the river. Many times I could save some money by check-calling and avoiding the raise.
  2. Too attached to big pairs. A problem for everyone, but I need to be more willing to give up JJ or QQ without a fight if an A or K lands and there is action.
In my mind, I could easily be profitable at 1/2, maybe $5-$10/hr. Two tabling is pretty rough on me on any site other than UB and UB may not be the best for lots of limit play (last night there were only 4 full 1/2 tables going). Why is it rough on me? Well, I've been at a computer most of my life and I've acquired a variety of repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) as a result. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in bad shape, but committing myself to playing 20 hours of two-tabling in addition to my grad work without multiple monitors would be more clicks and typing than I should do.

Aside: I threw in the rake number above to illustrate just how nasty Party's 10% rake for the first $5 in the pot is. It easily accounts for 2-3 BB/100, which makes most players into losers at that limit. On the plus side is their high bonus clear rate at the low limits (almost $15 an hour -- awesome).

Update: Tried two-tabling Stars 1/2 today -- did pretty well making $33 over 40 minutes (hit two big sets though -- luck was on my side) and felt comfortable once I got over the shock of how much money was flying around. It seems like (at least during the afternoon) the players are tighter pre-flop compared to Party, but don't play too well after the flop. I think I'll move up for sure now.

I won't go into much detail, but lately I've been making a decent amount from tournaments when I get a chance to play them. I still think I'm being a bit tight during crunch time (I've gotten a lot of 2nds and 3rds, especially in live play, but very few firsts) but overall I think I am playing ok. Ultimately, though, most of my bankroll has come from ring games.


It's no secret that a grad student supporting a family of four in the bay area is not going to be living richly. In fact, we have a pretty steady burn rate (difficult to estimate but I think it is $500-600 a month) and we are almost though our savings. So it would be a huge advantage to be able to use poker as a second job (that I do for fun) and help support the family with it. Here are some numbers:

Taking into consideration bonuses, I've come out ahead by $1400 over the past four months (this does include the $400 from the stars tourney) and I've been steadily climbing limits. I've been running good though, so $1000 is a good estimate to start with. So, I've made about $250 a month (with previous months at a faster rate) and averaged about 4.42/hr (5.53/hr in ring games since 10/1/05 not counting bonuses). I've been averaging about 60 hours a month for the past 3 months.

So, lets say I commit to giving $100 a month to the family -- it seems pretty decent while still small, amounting to over a grand for the year. I don't think that would hurt me too much because I'd still come out ahead in the long run, but I've been running good lately. The sad thing is, I was seriously thinking about this a few days ago, and I got a sick feeling about losing bankroll if I hit a slow streak... I'm realizing I have some psychological hang-ups about steadily increasing my bankroll (which is one of the reasons I'm at lower limits than my bankroll can theoretically be able to support).

In summary, I'd really like to give as much as I can to my family without hurting my bankroll and keeping the growth going. $100 a month will slow down the disappearance of our savings, but not stop it. FYI, I'm not concerned long term, because my wife or I could easily get a real job or we could borrow money to make ends meet until school is over. Ultimately, once we both graduate, we'll have quite a bit of earning power.

CONCLUSION AND "What's my (blog) name?":

If you ask any poker player what their goal in poker is, you'll ultimately get a lot of different opinions. Some do it purely for the money (CardPlayer has a lot of writers that believe this). Some do it purely for the fame and prestige (I'd say 80% of the recognizable 'TV pros' fall into this category). For instance, my friend Brian has said a few times that his goal is to get one big hit (a big tourney win) and then be set the rest of his life. Some people do it to become the best -- a king of the hill, if you will. Finally, a lot of people do it for social reasons -- home games across the country are filled with those kinds of players.

But, what motivates me? Well, like everyone, I have numerous reasons, but here are my main ones:
  1. Challenge. Face it -- I'm the type of guy that likes to be the best at whatever I do, and I love the competition of poker.
  2. Social reasons. A hobby that gets me out of the house, 'nough said.
  3. The money. I've never really worried about money too much, but I do like earning it.
  4. Fame. Everyone wants to win the WSOP, but I realize it is a pipe dream (where's that expression come from -- marijuana?).
#1 and #2 are really the big ones -- the rest don't matter so much, although with my recent family funding issues, #3 is moving up. You see, I was thinking about it (and talking it over with my wife) and if I can come up with an extra $200 a month from poker, it would go a long way to decreasing our burn rate (read: lengthening the time before we need to get a job or borrow money). At first, I wasn't wild about hurting my bankroll even for the cause of putting food on the table (some parent I am, huh...). Mostly, I'm afraid if I am expected to contribute, my poker game will go to hell and I'll start hating table hours (killing reasons #1 and #2 above). Then, I had an epiphany: I can be a bonus whore for my family!

You figure I put in at least 40 hours a month anyway, and there is no reason I can't average $5/hr of bonuses (Bonus Whores is a great resource for this, BTW). There is really no reason to play without a bonus nowadays. But, $5 * 40 = $200... bam, family supported by doing nothing more than I'm already doing. And, my wife won't complain as much about the long poker hours if I help buy christmas presents with the money... Yes, I do have the condition that I reserve the right to hold back the bonus money if I hit a major bad stretch, but I don't think that will happen with my experience and the quality of the players at the low limits. Obviously, profits from poker play will go to build my bankroll.

I'm still not going to consider myself a poker professional (I prefer the term poker UNprofessional, hence the new blog name). Being a professional means a lot of things I'm not. Instead, I'm letting the poker sites support my family as I chase my hobby (and flushes, lots and lots of flushes).

So, that's it, when I have more time I'll post another set of goals for the next month.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Returning to the limit hold'em homeland...

Posts are going to be sporadic because, given a choice between posting on this blog and playing poker, I usually chose to play poker. I actually have a lot of ideas I want to get down, but blogging is pretty low priority for me.

Anyway, after burning the bonus on Eurobet I decided to start burning off some of my $400 bonus on UltimateBet. UB is awesome that the bonuses never expire and are released as you earn them (a few cents at a time if necessary) but the rate per hour is pretty low. So, I decided to focus on limit hold'em again for a little while because I feel like I am weaker than I should be.

Before I get into LHE, I should say that I decided to spend a little poker money and get some new cards: four COPAG decks, including two four-color decks (playing a four-color deck online is MANDATORY, btw). I'm psyched to play with a four-color deck in live play... Anyway, I also bit the bullet and spent $55 on PokerTracker. I've been holding of on PT because of the proportion of my bankroll it would require, but now that I'm pretty secure in my bankroll and I wanted to do more limit, I decided it was time.

So, armed with UB, PT, and GameTime+ I can set up a two-tabling system on my 800x600 monitor that requires minimal effort. Doing this on UB is especially nice since GT+, when you open the hand history window, will automatically download up to 200 of the previous hands on the table even if you weren't sitting down. Amazingly powerful -- just open two tables that look good, open the history window (with PT and GT+ on) and within a minute or two you'll have stats on everyone at the table. With mini-view, I can set up two tables to be constantly visible with the GameTime+ HUDs -- so all I need to do is click my moves. While the GT+ overlay doesn't work with tournaments, the auto-download option does work, which is useful for scouting new tables in MTTs.

PT and GT+ works well with PartyPoker too (grabbing histories even if you aren't sitting but just watching a table) but the constant switching between windows can be very disorienting. Haven't tried it on many other sites, but definitely worth a buy. I can't point to any cases where it saved (or earned) me money yet, but I guarantee it will pay for itself in the analysis of my play alone.

Of course, the important thing is not my set up, but how I've been doing in my LHE play. Honestly, I feel like I've been playing suprisingly well. I started out at 25c/50c and have moved up to 50c/$1. Honestly, I feel like I could easily beat 1/2 and 2/4 but I'm holding back a bit to see how things go. I've also started the IGMPAY bonus over on Party and it is amazing how soft those games are. Sadly, the rake sucks (10% of a pot, OMG). If I wasn't making over $10/hr in bonus alone I'm not sure if it would be worth playing there. My numbers are solid (up $93 over a bit over 8 hours, mostly long-hand with about 15 minutes of shorthanded limit).

In the interest of full-disclosure I think I have been an the positive side of variance, but honestly I've been suprising myself with some of the reads and plays I have made and I feel like I'm learning a ton. I had been feeling like I was on a plateau for NLHE, but I definitely feel like I'm making huge leaps in LHE ability. This is good -- because the first time I play ring in a casino it will likely be limit, and I want to feel comfortable.

So, in summary, I've moved to limit hold'em for a little while and am on a hot streak. My bankroll is at an all-time high (over $1,250) even after buying a few things. The only thing I need now is time to play :)

But, we'll see how I feel when I hit a negative variance slide -- that will be the true test. My near term goal is to move up another limit or two and still feel like I am comfortably beating the limit. I think it is very possible (and my BR would support it) but I don't want to rush myself.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Cuteness Timeline

Parents almost always have our minds on our kids. Father have an easier time distracting ourselves (*cough* *cough* poker *cough*) but generally kids, at least when they are small, take over your life. So, I suppose it is suitable that I write about my kids occasionally, so here goes.

My theory is that kids start out as really cute and with you constantly, to really annoying and with you a lot, to really annoying but MIA. Currently, my daughter Emma is making the first transition and my son Schuyler is solidly in the second stage (don't get me wrong, he has his moments and I love him, but dammit this post is about my daughter).

So, first the cute. To the right is my 26 month old daughter:

Everybody thinks their own kids are cute -- that's what prevents humans from eating our young (a common occurance among scorpions, according to Schuyler's library book). Let me submit to the jury that Emma is cute:

Exhibit A: Lately I've been drilling Emma on the two most important questions she will be asked. Two months ago, it went like this:

Dad: "What is your name?"
Emma: "Emma!"
D: "How old are you?"
E: "Emma!"

Last month it switched to this:

D: "How old are you?"
E: "Two old!" (holding up two fingers)
D: "What is your name?"
E: "Two old!" (fingers again)
D: "Emma, what is your name?"
E: "Twooo ooold!" (clearly pleased with herself)
D: "Emma, your name is Emma. Say 'Emma'!"
E: "Emma!"
D: "What is your name, Emma?"
E: "Two old!"
D: (gives up and eats daughter)

Then I got smart:

D: "How old are you?"
E: "Two old!"
D: "How old is Mommy?"
E: "Too old!"
D: (clearly pleased with himself)

I'm sure I'll need to take that down if my wife ever reads this blog again...

Exhibit B: This morning found me in my usual place in front of the computer and Emma was sitting on my lap watching Barney. The following conversation took place:

D: (hugs Emma)
E: "No!"
D: "Can't Daddy have a hug?"
E: "No!"
D: (goes back to working on the computer)
E: (hugs me) "One hug!"
D: "Oh, thank you Emma!"
E: (lets go and sits up, waits 5 seconds, then goes in for another hug) "Two hugs!"

(who says TV doesn't teach kids how to count!)

Exhibit C: An hour later I was upstairs getting dressed and putting some laundry away, and Emma got entranced by the full length mirror we have on our door. With my awesome memory (such an advantage at the poker table), I forget her exact words, but she was saying a random sentence she had said earlier -- for the purposes of this exhibit, I'll just assume it was "I like cream cheese". Anyway...

I wasn't really paying attention but I noticed her talking to herself in the mirror. It went something like this: "I like cream cheese!" (putting on her best cute face, tilting her head to the side and smiling). "ha ha ha ha!". A few seconds later: "I like cream cheese... Ha ha ha ha!" (with the same cute smile and head tilt). Who said girls don't fall in love with their own reflections early. What's even funnier is that she was at it for about 5 minutes, saying it over and over, then she toddled over to see what I was doing, and went back for 5 minutes more of her little self-affirmation exercise.

Exhibit D: Ten minutes after the mirror episode, I was trying to get Emma ready to go to the sitter. She had put her socks on, and I had her bring over her sneakers, but I needed to rearrange one of her socks as she was sitting on her lap.

D: (removes sock) "Here, we need to put this on better."
E: "Emma do it."
D: "No, we need to get going. Daddy do it."
E: "Emma do it!" (grabs sock)
D: "No, really, Emma. We're going to be late. Let me do it."
E: "Emma DO IT!"
D: "Ok, Emma can't go to Billy's house (sitters son) unless Daddy does it."
E: (not falling for Jedi mind trick) "EMMA DO IT!"

Anyway, that continued for like three minutes, but I eventually convinced her to let me do it (she never gets them on right, and if I jam her little size 4 1/2's into a size 4 shoe with a sock in the wrong place she'll be in pain).

So, there you have it -- evidence that Emma is in the middle of the transition from "I want to eat you up you are so cute" to "I want to eat you because you're annoying and I am hungry".

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Halloween Gonad Abuse

Two strange things happened Saturday night at Wade's place:

1. Came back from the dead. After losing a pot I was left with 800 in chips, or exactly the big blind which was going to hit me in two hands. Tossed it in with a K8o and won against 2 other hands by hitting a second 8 on the river (AK and KQ I believe, an A and 8 on the flop). Later pushed with 99 against two players who checked it down to the end (T4o and 22 I believe) and it held up. And later had KK hold up against Ax and was above average, ending up with 2nd place. I've always been jealous of people when they come back from the dead... now I've done it :) There's something liberating about knowing you just have to purely gamble and hope.

2. Witnessed the worst beat I've ever seen with both hands in pre-flop. I probably have some details wrong, but I'll try to set it up. Rob B. to my left limps (or raises, can't remember), Christian raises, and Edwin pushes in. Rob B. shows me his pair of 8s and asks me if he should stay in -- I tell him I can't say either way. He thinks a little longer and folds (and then I tell him it was a good fold with the action behind him since he was in for so little and had a large stack). Christian insta-calls and shows 99 (Edwin has a reputation for getting money in with the worst hand). Edwin shows... 88. It is at this point that Rob B. reveals he folded the other two 8s. Ripples of conversation cycle around the table as people say things like "ouch" and "wow". Flop comes something like 95J and people like me start saying "drawing dead". Turn 6, and everybody is convinced the hand is over, but Larry says "He's got a 7 still..." and Bam: river is 7. Christian has clearly been kicked in the testicles and looks sick (and continues to for quite a while -- I'm sure he's still thinking about it).

Getting out the handy poker calculator shows that Edwin had 4.2% equity assuming his suits were different than Christian and a paltry 2% equity if the suits were the same (I can't remember what they were). About as bad a situation you can get into preflop, even AK vs AA has a little better than 5% chance of winning. But, even with a 50 to 1 shot, you've got to figure that it'll happen occasionally given how many hands we see, especially on the internet. Still, it sucks to no end when it happens to you (and it is amusing when it happens to someone else). Yay poker!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Poker Dominated... Crap.

Well, PokerDominator, my favorite session tracking web site, has been down for the last few days, and I didn't think much about it -- just wrote my sessions down with the intention of entering them when it came back up. Well, it finally came back up this morning -- without the last month of stats. Argh... This past month has been my biggest and I'm pretty sad that I lost that information (not to mention I'm not completely sure what my balances are -- based on what I can figure out, I should be at about $1,145 -- and I'll reconstruct the rest as well as I can).

Needless to say, I have some digging through other records to try to recover sessions. Really, it isn't that important (it isn't like I lost any money, I just can't look at my pretty graphs anymore).

Friday, November 04, 2005

$50 NL (err, PL) update

Played an hour and a half of $50 NL today. Actually, it took me 45 minutes to realize I was at a pot-limit table. My style of play tends to very rarely use overbets, so I just didn't notice (should have been a little suspicious when people kept betting things like $2.25 though). Honestly, that probably means I am missing some moves in my NL games -- the ability to overbet should add something to strategy.

Anyway, had a good run of cards and steady earning, coming out ahead by $22. I hit some huge hands (a set at least three times, two of which turned into quads). In all cases I didn't really get a lot of action. Although the time I flopped kings full of tens with KK in the hole my lone opponent had AT in the hole -- if I had made a standard continuation bet on the flop he probably would have gotten all-in. Instead, I turned quads and he slowed down after making a min-bet so I only made $6 from him. Maybe I should be leading out with a standard continuation bet when I hit a huge hand like that -- usually I don't because I figure that flop left only 3 good cards for him to hold.

My main mistake was as follows: I raised with KQo on the button, small-blind re-raises (from $2 to $5 total). I called, hit a queen on the flop. At this point, I figured I was either way ahead or way behind, but since he only had $14 left I decided to check after him. He bets pot on turn, and I put him in without thinking about it. Honestly, the best play would be to lay it down pre-flop. He could have me in trouble in so many ways, and the only time I feel secure is if I flop trips or two pair (unlikely). With a bigger stack, calling would become better, but when he is short-stacked I'm better off avoiding the risk. Anyway, that burned $17 of profit.

The good news is I should only have about 90 minutes left of bonus-whoring -- hopefully I can finish it up tonight. Then, I get my $100 -- whoopee! Of course, I'm only about $3 ahead after 18.5 hours of play -- ouch. But I am learning how to play against tighter, smarter opponents at least.

Later: I finished off the bonus finally tonight, coming out about $5 ahead after 80 minutes of work. Man, players are pretty good at the ex-party skins -- most of the money I made was from big bluffs, not value bets. Difficult to keep those guys in a hand. But, I really felt like I learned a lot about aggression and selling a bluff. I probably also got lucky not to run into a call in some of my big hands, but it worked out.