Sunday, December 30, 2007

Post GC 12/29

After 20 minutes, I was up $250.

After 60 minutes, I was down $50.

After 3.5 hours, I was down $340.

After 3.75 hours, I threw in my last $20 chip on the river. But I won.

After 4 hours, I quit, down $270.

Maybe a hit and run after 20 minutes wouldn't have been a bad idea.


I started out winning four hands in a row soon after I sat down with 99, AA, K8 (big blind), and an unpaired AKo. I've never had a run like that, and I single-handedly eliminated the guy to my left (it was he who asked me to change a $20 chip).

Then, things went bad. My cards went cold and I had second best hand after second best hand. I lost with top set in a four-way pot capped on the turn:

I raise in early position with 99. Tricky/aggressive guy to my left three-bets, yet we still get six players to the flop (I didn't cap, so 18 small bets). Flop comes 973 with two hearts. I bet, because what else can I do at this point? Build the pot and hope the guy to my left raises. He does, but we only lose one player.

Turn is an offsuit 4 (14 big bets). I check, hoping to trap the field for a bet after the tricky guy bets (I feel like he won't raise if I bet). But he checks, the next guy bets, the next guy raises, one cold call out of the BB, and on me. I can't fold here, but I'm not sure I can raise either. The raiser on the button has been pretty solid, and I feel like he's most likely got a straight, or I've got him slaughtered with two pair or a set. So I cold call. Raising won't knock out any draws and with all four of us in I'm getting odds. Guy to my left folds, original better raises, raiser caps with no hesitation, and now I'm almost positive he's got a straight (the other guy, he's been over-aggressive and doesn't need a straight to cap there).

River is an offsuit 5 (30 big bets), collectively the table groans, it checks to the guy on the button and he bets. I make the crying call (there's at least a 3% chance he's got a set of fives), and he shows a 56o.

And that is how you lose with top set and get a capped turn without making a single aggressive move. My only question is: against the raisers range on the turn, should I have three-bet?
I also lost with another set in a strange way -- was my value bet out of line on the end?
I have 33 in the cut-off and limp after some limpers. We get 6 to the flop of 234 (two diamonds) for one bet (6 SB). I forget the action, but I think someone in early position bets, I raise, and there are two callers. The turn is a non-diamond 6 (6 BB). It checks to me, and I feel pretty safe that nobody has a 5 yet there is a decent chance someone has a flush draw. So I bet again and both players call. River is an offsuit jack (9 BB). Checks to me and I throw out another value bet. One caller, I flip my set, and he shows a set of 6s. Ow.
Wire to wire, I dropped $600. Luckily, my ace-king hit on the end or else I'd be down $400.

It was a combination of really dry cards and getting out drawn when I had the best hand. I did have a few marginal calls and missed bets. I was definitely playing a bit timid at times, but not excessively (I usually had a reason):
AA in mid position. I raise it, and the button and BB called. The BB also gives a speech about me not playing a hand in forever. Flop comes 668 with two spades, checks to me, I bet, and only the BB calls. BB is a very aggressive guy who is way too loose preflop but plays decently postflop. Borderline maniac but he respects aggression. Turn is a blank (offsuit jack?), check-bet-call. River is the four of spades -- of course, at this point, I'm thinking 'no spade, no spade'. Damn. He hesitates then leads out and I'm positive I'm beat. I've never seen him bluff into an obvious strong hand. But, I'm getting 7:1 and call him. No flush though, he had a straight with 57o.

Can I fold here? At the time, I didn't bother considering it (reasonably large pot, good hand, crying call). But I think he'd be bluffing/have a worse hand less than 10% of the time. As Ed Miller says, making big laydowns on the river is playing with fire. But in my experience, people seem to fold the river way more than they should at GC (I had a woman who I raised on the turn with top set fold her two pair on the river...). Am I calling the river too much? I should look at SSHE again.
Another quick example of a marginal missed bet:
I had 99 MP, few callers, flop is 874 with two hearts and turn is offsuit 2. River is the Qh and I had one opponent left (a decent-playing, semi-aggressive, but loose woman). I checked behind her reasoning she might check-raise, but she had an 8. I think I should be betting against her range there.
Probably my worst fold of the night:
I have 83o in the big blind. We get four limpers, I check, and the flop is 9T7. UTG bets, the loose/aggressive guy that cracks my aces calls, and I call. I'm evaluating my chances, and I figure a 6 is much better than a jack, because then I'd have the low end of the straight. Of course, a jack falls, and I check. Partly it was a scared check, partly it was to check-raise the bettor (although, many guys won't bet there with four to a straight). But he does bet, LAG raises, and I'm facing calling two cold (or three-betting) to chop. I think for a little bit, and I fold. And it makes me feel so weak when the bettor folds and the raiser says he has a 'big 8'. I think I should have called there, or better yet, lead out with a bet. Again though, not a horrendous fold since it was a marginal situation for a chop at best, but still.
An example of putting too much money in:
Early in the session, I was still running really well. I had 76s in late position and flop comes K62 rainbow. Checks around to button who bets, two callers, and I call. Turn pairs the deuce, checks around. At this point, I think it is likely I have the best hand and the button guy was taking a shot at the pot. River is a 3, it checks to me, and I bet. SB calls and shows a K8o. He was an old guy, and as old guys do, he never bet or raised once.

After the hand, I realized my bet on the end was pretty worthless. Yeah, I might get called by a 3 or pocket 4s, but it is really thin. The chance of someone even with 77 is pretty decent, or I won't get called. Think I should just check that through against a large field, planning to call a single bet from the button (but not over call against two callers).
Another example of putting too much money in, but first, some background about a player. He was a youngish guy, probably college student. He had a book and headphones, which would have made me think he was pretty tight, but he played a decent number of hands. He raised often and seemed to play pretty well. Over the course of the night he won a decent amount of money.
In my first hand with him, he raised UTG. Folded to me in late position, and I three-bet with TT. My goal was to get it heads-up and take the betting lead. Folded to him, and he called. Flop was AQ3 rainbow, he checked, I bet, he called. Turn was a 9 (4.5 small bets). He checked, I took another shot, hoping to get him off KK, JJ, or a queen, but he called. Check-check on the river blank. He rolled over AKo. Was I out of line on the three-bet pre-flop? Should I have slowed down earlier (i.e. the turn)? I think I played it right, but it seems like a horrible flop for my hand.
My second hand with him:
I got QTs in medium position, and limped after a limper (the illusive big-suited connector). Folded to the young guy (YG) in the BB who raises and we each call the bet. Flop comes T83 rainbow with one diamond (my suit). YG checks, limper checks, I bet, YG raises. Turn comes jack of spades and I think a long time, struggling to compute my odds and outs. YG's range is relatively large, including a big pair, better 10, small pair on crack, set, etc. I figure I'm most likely up against a large pair but with 9 outs (3 Qs, 2 Ts, 4 9s) I'm trying to figure out my odds. Doing it now, I was getting 6:1 with 9 outs (although some may not be good, and if he has TT, I've only got four outs). I think the call was borderline. River is an offsuit king, he bets, I fold. He shows me a queen, then says he had pocket queens. The thing is, any raising hand including a queen had me beat on a KJT8 board. Unless he had QT to chop. But I think he did have queens and just pulled a strange move on the flop. My turn call was marginal but not horrible.
Of course, later on I saw him pull this move:
I forget the exact action, but YG was in EP and had raised and gotten a ton of callers. The flop comes QQ9 with two clubs. YG checks, the guy to his immediate left (super-fish who I've talked about before, although he was playing better (or getting better cards) last night) bets. YG folds his aces face-up for one bet on the flop -- super-fish shows QJo. What? How'd he know?
Makes me wonder. Is this guy really playing a few levels above me (reading me well enough to check-raise and force out the third (fishy) player) on the QT hand and then knowing that the guy next to him has trips?


If I had to point out one big difference in the tables last night vs during the week, it'd be the aggressiveness of the table. There were a lot of guys (one in particular) who were betting a ton, and without many hands, I never had a chance to get in there and gamble. I had very few large suited hands, which would have been perfect to three-bet the loose aggressive guy. And when I did have a hand, I was betting pretty much the whole way, resulting in a loss of a large pot when I got sucked out on, and a win of a medium pot if nobody hit.

Overall, I think I played pretty well other than getting a little timid at times. I didn't have any major mistakes, but I feel like a made a number of smaller ones.

The odd thing was, it was Saturday night, after 9 there was always a list and four 6/12 tables running, yet the players seemed better than average on both tables I played on. Are weeknights softer than weekend nights?


Verdict on my goals:
  1. Take a little extra time. I feel like I did this, enough that I was considering river value bets and the dealer reminded me a few times it was on me. B+
  2. Count the pot. Failed miserably at this. I am getting better at counting it, but I often was just staring at the pot on a decision and wondering what I should do. D
  3. Consider small pot vs large pot strategy. Feel like I did this pretty well, but not always. Sometimes my check vs bet vs raise decisions were good, sometimes they weren't. More study needed. C+
  4. Don't leave before 10:30 if I'm winning. A+. Of course, I left after 10:30 when I was losing, and my only opportunity to hit and run was 20 minutes in, and that was a little too soon.
  5. Switch tables if my table gets bad. I switched around 9:30 and it helped, at least at the beginning (I was down $-150 when I moved, got back up to $-50, then plummeted to my low of the night). The new table wasn't a ton better, but had some soft spots. A
  6. Have fun! Didn't do a good job of this. I think I should loosen up at the table a bit, both to get rid of the tight-nit image I've been getting (doesn't help when I don't even get suited connectors to play) and then I'm losing most of the night. C

Saturday, December 29, 2007

GC Goals for Tonight

Leaving in 15 minutes, so I should get some goals up:

  1. Take a little extra time before close decisions and count my pot odds and consider the outcomes for calling vs raising (vs folding).
  2. Count the pot. Work on counting it even when I'm not in the hand.
  3. Consider small pot vs large pot strategy. AKA WWEMD (what would Ed Miller do?)
  4. Don't leave before 10:30 if I'm winning.
  5. Switch tables if my table gets bad. I've never done this, but I should.
  6. Have fun!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Garden City Two Nights Ago

I've been delayed, but I played Garden City on Wednesday night with a friend. I won $214 in a bit over 2.5 hours, then headed out because my friend left and I was getting a headache.

I know what you're thinking -- I chickened out again once I got ahead.

Well, kinda, but not really.


GC was hopping, and I expect it will be for the next few weeks since people loosen up (and get time off) around the holidays. I've never had to wait more than five minutes to get onto a 6/12 table, but it took about 1/2 hour to get a table on Wednesday night. The place was so busy they used a blackjack table for 3/6!

So, we got on the 3/6 list and played there for about ten minutes before they started a new 6/12. Long enough to get my aces cracked, but my friend did the cracking and I was able to read him for a flush easily on the turn and get away from my hand, losing only $9. I also flopped top pair in the big blind with 62o (653 with two hearts was the flop). I checked it, UTG bet, a bunch of callers, and I didn't like my chances against 5 other players, so I mucked. After all, what safe cards can I really expect to hit? Well, the 6 on the turn would have tied me to the hand. And the 2 on the river was a pretty good card too. You know, if I was still playing... Sometimes I'm a bit too tight for my own good. The raiser ended up having K7o (he bet the whole way???) and the lone caller on the river had Q5s. Oops, shoulda called there.

Gotta say though, the 3/6 players are horrendous. Like cold call three bets cold with K3o horrendous. Or the guy on my left who raised before the black granny UTG acted. Of course, it took her two minutes to realize she had cards, and by that time it had called around to the cutoff... and she raises! I had already folded by that point ("Hey, she hasn't acted yet! Time? Please? Oh, forget it." ). It was pure hilarity, because now the guy on my left three-bets! Still, a few others called, flop of QQ8, she bets, he raises, maybe a caller. Turn blank, check-bet-call. River, check-bet-call. He's got Q7s and her KK. Yikes. Good luck reading these people, but there is a ton of money to be made.

Yet, I don't think 3/6 is a good idea for me. First, yeah, the table was ramming and jamming on Wednesday night, and I'd say the win-rate on 3/6 would approach the win-rate at 6/12 even with the rake doubling in relation to the stakes (Rake and toke a big bet in almost every pot? Don't mind if I do...). Yet, the swings will be brutal as you watch hand after hand go down in flames. Even more brutal was the fact each hand took twice as long because THE PLAYERS HAD NO CLUE ABOUT THE RULES. Clueless players are a double-edged sword: they make tons of mistakes but you can't get as many hands in against them to exploit your edge. Also, if 6 people call every bet, it actually makes their calls slightly more correct, something I like to call the schooling of the fishes (maybe I read that somewhere). For the record, I still think tons of players calling bets and raises with few outs increases your expectation, but the result is more variance. And crazy nasty runner-runner beats while hands go by at the speed of molasses.

But if you get a tight 3/6 table (which I've seen more often than you'd think), good luck beating the rake. 3/6 can definitely be profitable, but table selection is important.

Needless to say, as soon as I could get a seat in a new 6/12 table, I moved.


Our new 6/12 table was deliciously passive and I really felt in control the whole night. Not getting outdrawn once will help you feel in control. On the other hand, I got very few good hands, they just all held up (or flopped a set or trips).

On my left I had 4-5 really passive regulars who called to the turn with very little but only raised if they had a good top pair or better. On my right, I had two pretty experienced women who actually raised draws and read hands pretty well. There was also a tricky guy in the 9 seat, but he was playing tight enough that I never tangled with him. And there were two-three guys in revolving seats who paid off pretty much everything with any pair.

So, at face value, the table was decent but not great. But the passivity (passiveness?) of the table made me so much more comfortable than 3/6. I could read these people; one time I folded top pair weak kicker on the flop because there was a bet and a raise ahead of me. Another time, a guy who won a bundle of chips after he sat down raised me on the flop and lead again on the turn -- he had to have my second pair beat.

Again, I'm starting to get an idea of the average 6/12 player: someone who has graduated up from 3/6, knows the rules, but doesn't have the aggressiveness or hand-reading of someone who plays higher. They'll typically miss raises and semi-bluff opportunities, rarely raise or check-raise without two pair or better, and call a few too many bets on later streets. While these are different (and less serious) leaks than those the 3/6 players have, I feel like they can be exploited for more money than 3/6 (but less big bets) with less risk. I expect that the variance at 6/12 is only slightly more than 3/6, maybe 200 big bets ($2400) is a good bankroll. Of course, I may feel like an expert with 5 sessions under my belt, but I'm far from it.

That's another post entirely -- I need to keep working to stay sharp and keep progressing. But I'm definitely getting better and gaining confidence.


Back to that whole chickening out thing.

Once I sat in 3/6 (and subsequently 6/12) I didn't leave my chair until my friend left at 9:30. At that point, I was feeling in control and I had no real fear of losing money back to the table: there were three good players but the rest of the table was passive enough and loose enough that I didn't see a problem.

Still though, I debated about staying for physical reasons. First, I had been up pretty early that morning and I knew fatigue would set in soon. Second, I had had nothing to eat or drink since dinner over three hours ago. Third, I was getting a head-ache. So I got some water and watched the table for a few minutes while I debated. The dealer eventually noticed me and let me know that I had 5 minutes left before my 20 minutes of sitting out was up -- and also recommended that my tablemates would get angry at me if I sat out too long. So I made the quick decision to take off, and I don't really regret it. Sure, I could have played for another half an hour, but I don't think I gave up too much (once I got home, I was exhausted).


As far as strategy, I've really learned nothing. I did play a ton in the UB $.5/1 bad beat tables, and I've decided that those games are unbeatable with the extra bad beat rake (it makes the rake approximately 15%!). But, I logged a bunch of hands and I hope to spend a little analysis on them to check my results. I've also got some conclusions on the difference between the online game and the live game.

And I'm definitely heading back to GC this weekend. The games are running hot after the holidays and I've actually got time to play, so I need to take advantage.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Leak, Small Pots vs Big Pots Style

Here's a hand from UB last weekend which really hit me as far as a small pot vs big pot leak. Ed Miller's general idea of small vs big pots is this:

In small pots, fold marginal hands because, if you have the best hand, there is a small reward for the amount of money you'll need to put in if you have the second best hand. In big pots, stay in and do everything you can to win the pot, especially by freeing up your outs.
Those are my words, not his. He says it much better in his book, Small Stakes Hold 'em: Winning Big With Expert Play. Buy the book, it is brilliant if you play small limit games live. Online, it is less useful, IMHO.

Put another way: fold marginal hands in small pots (i.e. if someone raises you and you don't have top pair/top kicker or a monster draw, you probably have a marginal hand). The penalty for being wrong in a small pot is big since you won't have odds to chase.

In large pots, you'll almost always have the odds (or near the odds) to chase so folding marginal hands is less of a mistake (schooling of the fishes at 3/6). Instead, try to put pressure on other players to free up outs for yourself; you'd stay in anyway, right? A side effect of aggression in big pots is you'll grow the pot and could get a better hand to fold.

Miller also puts a lot of emphasis on reading the flop; sometimes it appears you have a strong hand but in fact your hand is marginal. Again, well worth the read. I don't recommend trying to finish it in one sitting though, because many of his ideas require table time for them to percolate into your game.

Try to figure out how and why I misplayed the hand below:

Ultimate Bet 0.50/1 Hold'em (10 handed) Ultimate Bet Converter Tool from (Format: HTML)

Preflop: Hero is UTG+1 with Kc, Jd.

Hero calls, UTG+2 calls, 3 folds, CO calls, Button calls, 1 fold, BB checks.

Flop: (5.50 SB) Ks, Ad, Td (6 players)

BB checks, Hero checks, UTG+2 bets, CO calls, Button folds, BB folds, Hero calls.

Turn: (4.25 BB) Jc (4 players)

Hero checks, UTG+2 bets, CO calls, Hero calls.

River: (7.25 BB) 6h (4 players)

Hero checks, UTG+2 bets, CO calls, Hero calls.

Final Pot: 10.25 BB

So, do you know what I did wrong?

The pre-flop call might be a little loose, but no big deal. Folding might be better preflop (the table was loose, but a bit aggressive). If it is a mistake to call, it isn't a big one.

The flop is six-handed, which Miller calls a 'big pot'. Realistically, it is on the border of a big pot and a small pot.

Analyzing the flop for me, I have second pair, decent kicker, and a gutshot. So that'd be 9 outs for two-pair or better, right? A strong hand!

Look again...

I could already be drawing to a chop with the straight. Any diamond will make a flush, taking away one of my straight outs. If I hit two pair, any queen has me in bad shape (4 outs for a full house).

Also, think in terms of playing tendencies: most people play any two face cards. So I could easily be up against other jacks, an ace, straight, two pair, etc, or an AJ! Trips is unlikely but possible with JJ or TT if someone didn't raise. And this guy is betting into me. He could have anything from a gutshot to two pair, although most likely he has an ace or two pair.

Realistically, while I have 9 outs to two pair or better, my effective outs are more like 3 (the three non-diamond queens, although some will be chops, and some other cards will work depending on what others have). I get 8:1 on my call, with only 15:1 odds. And the pot isn't that large, plus I'll never really be able to bet with too much confidence.

Clear fold on the flop.

In reality, UTG+2 had AQo. I realized on the turn that I had made a mistake on the flop, but couldn't get away from it with the money in the middle.

If you play a lot, these kinds of pots come up all the time: smallish pot, marginal hand, not as many outs as you'd think at first glance. These pots are a major post-flop leak that most live players have!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Play along at home...

Here's a hand I was involved in today so you can play along at home. I won't tell you which player I was so you can make your guesses as if you were sitting at the table with us. But, later on, you'll be able to highlight the white text to reveal the details.

Situation: $6-$12 LHE at Garden City. Our table had been going for about 30 minutes, and while it was pretty loose, there were a few decent players. I wasn't afraid of anyone though, so that is a good sign. In this case the two players in question are the SB and cutoff (CO).

Action: Folds to CO. CO raises, button folds, SB calls, BB calls
Flop (5.5 SB): 8c 6h 3c ; SB and BB check, CO bets. SB calls and BB folds.
Turn (4 BB): Ac ; SB checks, CO bets, SB calls.
River (6 BB): 2h ; SB bets, CO says "That sucks," and calls quickly.

Who won? What did each of them hold?

If you'd like to know about the SB first, highlight below:

The SB was my opponent. He had 88.

Think about that. Let it sink in...

Preflop, he cold-called a raise with 88 in the SB. Not a bad play by any means. Could have three-bet it though, although I had been playing tight.

He flopped top set. The check was reasonable if he was looking to check-raise. But he didn't. Maybe he planned to check-raise on a safe turn card (which is why maybe I shouldn't always bet the turn when I still only have ace high). There was a flush draw out there but even a check-raise would give the BB the right odds to call. A check-raise would have forced the BB to have bad odds with a gutshot though. I guess I'm ok with his check.

On the turn, the flush draw got there. Why check it again? If it checks through (which it could easily, if I have overs and no club) he's given a free card on a very dangerous board for him. I expect he was probably afraid of the flush, but honestly, it was unlikely he was up against it. And, by all means, if you check and get bet into, raise. Again, chances are I don't have a flush or trip aces. In fact, if I hit the ace, I can't have the flush. Gotta bet or check-raise there...

On the river. What's my most likely hand? An ace. A check-raise will likely work. Betting out is a good option too, but it takes a monster to raise him there.

What bugs me (and what made me clueless to his holding) is that he flopped top set but waited until the river, leading out in a way so that there was no chance of getting extra bets from me if he was ahead (which was most likely).

If you'd like to know about the CO first, highlight below:

You may have guessed (from the verbal comment) that the CO was me. I had A9o, with the 9c. I felt like an A9 was enough to take a shot at the pot pre-flop, but wasn't surprised when the SB and BB came along. The SB, in particular, was slightly loose PF, and a little more than slightly loose post flop. Not a bad player by GC standards, but not very aggressive.

On the flop, they both checked, so I figured it was worth a bet even though the board was pretty coordinated.

On the turn, I was really happy. Now I had top pair, a flush draw as backup, and I just didn't feel like either of them had the flush.

On the river, I knew I was screwed. Granted, I had no clue what he had, but that's a strong bet there and I was expecting a flush, a crazy two-pair, or a straight. Getting 7:1 I had to call though, because he could have missed a draw or had a weaker ace which he chose to value bet there. Hell, even TT or 87 could bet there.

My comments:

I feel like this is a great example of why there is money to be made at GC. I like pretty much every single one of my actions, simply because my opponent didn't do a single thing to tip me off that he had me beat. Yeah, I said it, I liked my flop bet even though I was nearly drawing dead. Because more often than not, they've got a crappy second pair with a gutshot, low club draw on the turn, or even a pair of tens they slow played. So against my opponents' range, I made every correct choice. Against the hand he had, well, I was drawing slim.

More importantly, notice how I paid the minimum yet was betting pretty much the whole way? What was he afraid of, a flush? The board pairing? If he had raised on the turn, I would have lost another bet (minimum, I might have three-bet there, probably not though). He could have check-raised me on the river if he realized I had an ace. Hell, he probably should have three-bet the flop with his hand. But this is passivity in action.

And a bet the guy didn't make me pay is a bet I take home at night.

Bonus hand:

There was one super fish sitting to my right when the table started. He's a middle-aged guy, overweight, and I've seen him around GC before. He was loose preflop and called down with pretty much any piece. The annoying part was he'd say something like: "He's got the ace!" on a board of A83 and then call down to the river with a pair of 8s just to see. Gotta love guys who will announce a read and then do the exact opposite of what the read calls for!

He eventually moved across the table and I got into a hand with him I'm pretty proud of. I limped pre-flop with KJs in late position, and the flop came down QJ8 rainbow. Six people in, checks to me, I bet, and three (including the super-fish) called. Turn was an offsuit 3, checks to me, I bet again, and just super-fish calls. River comes 7, he checks, and I bet. And before I bet, my thought was: He doesn't have top pair. He has a jack, and he'll pay me off. Value Bet!. He hems and haws, calls, I flip my cards and say, "I've got a jack." He says "I can't beat the king," and I pull the pot.

While the hand seems simple, I would have never made that value bet on the river a few weeks ago. Hell, I'd probably be too afraid of the queen to bet the flop, even in position!

I used to think limit poker was just robotic betting and calling based on the hand you hold and reads didn't matter much, but now I'm seeing the usefulness of reads and aggression with medium hands. Sure, one read won't make or break your night, but getting value bets against the right players make up a large percentage of your profit. And with more bets available, you can hone in on your opponents hands pretty well (although it is still hard to fold the river based on a read due to the odds).

My point is, I'm getting the hang of this game!

GC Today: Disappointed

Ok, time to debrief my trip to GC this afternoon. As you can see by the time stamp, I'm home early and I'm pretty disappointed with myself and feeling a bit guilty. I'm sure your expecting to hear about another loss, some bad beats, some leaks, and some mistakes...

The thing is, I won $159 today.

I'm disappointed because I hit and ran.

I had my reasons at the time. When I got to GC at 11 am, the room was really empty, the morning tournament was winding down, and there was only one 6/12 table going. I scouted around a little, and got on the lists for 3/6 and 6/12. Five minutes later, I was called to a new 6/12 table, and it was a pretty darn good table: one definite calling station, a few more guys that called down way too much, some tighties, and generally a passive table. In an hour I got up $150.

Then, my cards went dead and all the bad players busted or left. The people who replaced them were tight and clearly pretty experienced. We went two rounds with only a few decent pots and a lot of chopped blinds. So I left.

And I feel guilty.

Because this is a leak of mine -- I hit and run too much. Granted, this clearly wasn't a good game, and I knew going in that weekend mid-day is not a great time, especially before the holiday. Our table had 6 players left after I left (there were two other 6/12s running) but it filled up quickly and one or two of the new players were obviously not that great.

If I had been stuck, I still would have been playing.

A lot of it was that I was kinda tired, and I was too lazy and scared to get more aggressive to combat the tighter table. I doubt I would have been worse than break-even against the lineup, but I would have needed to do more bluff raises and it would have increased my variance. The last thing I wanted to do is destroy my first decent winning session. But I still feel like I left work early on a Tuesday afternoon...

Oh well. I guess I'm ok with it. For now, I'm happy to just log a decent win after three losses. I felt super-comfortable when I was playing. To address my concerns:

  • Be more deliberate before acting. I didn't have too many close decisions, but I definitely thought through my options. B
  • Count outs, consider the strength of my hand vs the field, and be aggressive. Consider small pots vs large pots, and whether I'm trying to eliminate players or build the pot. Fold marginal hands in small pots. Definitely did this. On one hand, I had 57 of spades in the SB and the flop came 678 with one spade. I led out, a loosish passive guy to my left raises, one cold caller, and I called. Check-fold the river. I'm pretty proud of that, that might be a spot I'd call down with a pair and OE straight draw, but not all my outs were live and my back door flush was not live on the turn. He turned out to have a set, but I could have easily been drawing dead. A
  • Be aggressive, but not stupid aggressive, like continuation betting an unimproved AQo into four players on a 754 board with two spades. Actually, I never had an issue with this. The few times I missed the flop I had someone bet into me, so it was a non-issue. But I was thinking about it at the time.
  • Don't be afraid to semi-bluff raise and check-raise on the flop and turn against a tighter player. GC players will back down. I got in one check-raise with a big hand (top pair, flush draw) but overall I didn't get a chance. C+
For now, I'm going to enjoy the small win. I'll play after Christmas and for that I'll avoid hitting and running (it will be easier because my friend will likely be there). In the meantime, I'm going to keep studying SSHE and play some micro-stakes online to work through some of the ideas.

Another GC Trip

Still need to debrief the last GC trip ($-98), but I'm going again this afternoon. I feel like my game is finally starting to come around. Although with the holidays, the tables are getting tighter and harder. Hopefully they'll get better after Christmas. That said, if needed, I'll drop to 3/6 to get the practice and avoid a large loss.

I also got a hold of this book -- it is clear to me that most of my leaks are post flop. I ended up flipping through it for 90 minutes right before bed last night.

Things to work on for tonight:
  • Be more deliberate before acting.
  • Count outs, consider the strength of my hand vs the field, and be aggressive. Consider small pots vs large pots, and whether I'm trying to eliminate players or build the pot. Fold marginal hands in small pots.
  • Be aggressive, but not stupid aggressive, like continuation betting an unimproved AQo into four players on a 754 board with two spades. That's just dumb.
  • Don't be afraid to semi-bluff raise and check-raise on the flop and turn against a tighter player. GC players will back down.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

GC Tonight

Another night, another shot at Garden City 6/12.

Tonight, I'm focusing on only one thing: aggression. A.K.A. don't be a chicken.

  1. The general rule is to bet/raise anytime there is a decent chance I have the best hand including out of position or when nasty draws come in, yet pay attention when I get raised or three-bet.
  2. Play the player type. Don't bother re-raising a super tight player, but don't fret about throwing in an extra bet against a loose player.
  3. Attack weakness if I have a decent number of outs and a read. Not as concerned about this, though.
Specific things I can do (which I'll review before I leave) are here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Concrete Ways to Fix an Aggression Leak

It's easy to say, "I need to be more aggressive." But in the heat of the game, that doesn't always really work. So I'm going to come up with some rules... Not hard and fast rules of course, because that's just bad in any poker game.

I guess, maybe I should call these reflexes -- I want to fundamentally change how I react to certain situations, so I want to tune my aggression reflexes.

  • Bet/raise the flop when I hit a pair and a good draw (like flush or OE straight). I don't have much trouble with this one. But it can knock out better hands, protect my hand if it is best, and build the pot when I have great equity. The turn should be bet again, unless I'm positive I'm beat (i.e. someone else bets or raises me).
  • Free showdown play. I've always considered betting the turn in position if I'm willing to show down for one more bet the free showdown play. I think that's more of a no-limit play though, since in limit, betting on the river is usually more of a value bet vs an opponent's range, and in those cases, I'll usually consider betting the river too. So, according to Ed Miller, the free showdown play is raising the turn in position. For example, with TT on a Q94 board with two spades, it might be a good idea to raise a single player intending to fold to a 3-bet and check the river. I'm drawing thin way, I could have the best hand, and I'd call the river. This way, if they're drawing I'll get them to pay more and it is conceivable something like JJs or a really weak queen would give it up. It only works with passive players, but luckily GC abounds with them.
  • In unraised pots, lead out with top pair or second pair. Possibly even third pair if I have other draws and/or position. I've been chickening out when I'm out of position and flop top pair (AJ hand) or second pair, and I have no need to. If they raise, I have a ton more information than if I check and then call, yet it only cost me a small bet. If everyone just calls, lead again on the turn unless a really horrible card comes off.
  • Bet a big ace, third pair, or better in late position on the flop if it is checked to me and I have a decent chance of the best hand (i.e. a relatively safe board). Yes, I can be beat many times, but it sets me up for a better read on the turn and if I show a hand like that down, they'll have to give me more action. Plus, if they all check to me, I could easily have the best hand.
  • Semi-bluff in position if checked to me and I'd call a bet anyway. Great for flush and OE straight draws. Occasionally semi-bluff in earlier position too.
  • Bet even after I bet the flop (with the best hand, AFAIK) and a scary card comes on the turn. Obviously, unless I pick up a very reliable tell on someone else in the hand (like they load up for a bet). In other words, just cause a draw hits, don't assume the other guy has it, unless I'm up against a ton of players or I catch a tell. Save pots, not bets.
  • Don't make any heroic folds. Yes, I can fold if a tight player raises me and I'm positive they have me beat (i.e. a semi-bluff doesn't make sense). I can fold if two people are jamming it up making me positive I have the worst hand. I can fold if my CB on the flop with ace-high is called and they lead into me on the turn. But don't check-fold top pair or even middle pair without a strong read. That's just silly.
  • Take a card off more often on the turn with second or third pair. I only need about 9:1 to hit a five outer, and often I'd fold in that spot without truly counting the pot. I think I had the odds a few times. If there is a good chance the bettor is weak (i.e. I've seen them fire two barrels with overs) and I act right after them, check raise into the field to free up some of my outs.
  • Raise in position pre-flop and post flop with a larger range. Small bets are cheap yet three-betting happens so rarely in the game that it has a lot of power. Also, raising the flop can get me free card on the turn or a free showdown. If I'm going to call anyway, I should consider raising if it can narrow down the field. Obviously, only in the right context though, and not on a pure bluff.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My #1 Leak: Not Being Aggressive Enough

After all the bad beats I posted last night, I probably owe everyone $5. Surprisingly, the beats didn't get me too upset and I played pretty well the whole night, although I did get a little gun shy and missed some bets that I might normally make. The two trip 9s hands I posted about happened pretty much back to back and dusted off $150 or so in 5 minutes. I'd be lying to say that didn't effect me.

Anyway, thanks to Thuan, I think I'm closing in on my #1 leak: not being aggressive enough.

According to Thuan, the main mistakes players make in the 6/12 game are:

1) They are loose PF.
2) They go too far w/marginal hands.
3) They are curious.

You can exploit #1 just by playing tight preflop (check -- I'm definitely doing this) and raising hands that tend to be ahead like AJ or KQ (I'm not always doing this). You can exploit #2 by betting your hands that beat marginal hands -- this includes second pair (I'm not doing this). You can exploit #3 by betting the river with anything that has a decent chance of winning (second pair, maybe even third pair). Again, not doing that.

So, adjustment number one:

#1. Bet down any top pair, any second pair, and sometimes even third pair until I get raised. I'm definitely not doing this, but I should. The good part is, if I get raised on the turn, I can pretty easily throw away second or third pair if I don't have odds to chase.
Adjustment number two:
#2. Be more aggressive in position. Don't be afraid to bet and raise with weak top pair, flush draws, etc. IF I AM IN POSITION. Many cases I think it is likely I don't have the best hand and I'm missing chances to grow the pot and/or steal the pot. Doing it out of position isn't a great idea, but in position is good.
Adjustment number three (maybe):
#3. Raise more in position with weaker hands that may not be the best but that benefit from taking the lead and have high card strength. I haven't (but think I should) be raising hands like 88, ATo, A9s, KQo, KJo, QJo when I am in the cutoff and on the button. I think I should loosen my three-bet standards a bit too, especially if it is a loose raiser. In many cases, the reason to raise is to take control of the hand, not because I'm sure I have the best hand.

To put this stuff in another way, I think I'm playing pretty well pre-flop, or at least well enough to have a decent advantage on the loose players at GC.

But post-flop, I'm giving up a lot of edge by simply playing too tight. I saw a bunch of hands last night that I would have won if I stayed in. Some of them were good folds (like raising TT preflop then folding to a tight player's flop bet on a board of K98 where I would have runner-runnered a straight). On second thought, according to #1, I probably should have probably raised the flop to test him, although I was pretty positive he had top pair. Some of them were bad folds like the K9 hand where I had second pair.

A great example is the KQ hand that follows:

This is later in the maniac's reign, and I was in the cutoff. There were 2 limps, maniac raises, and I cold called with KQo. At the time, I thought to myself that I'd be behind any ace. But really, I was playing chicken, and I should have three-bet to get some of the blinds out, take control, and get the button out. Aggression mistake #1.

Both blinds called, so we hit a flop of 864 with two spades six handed. Surprisingly, it checked around to me and I checked too. I don't think this is a bad check, because they'd call me down with any pair, and I likely didn't have the best hand. Although, maybe it was. If I could get anybody out it would have made me that much better and I could get a free turn card. Aggression mistake #2 then.

Turn was a 9. Checks around. At this point, I don't think it is worth stealing this pot since it is so draw heavy and I'd likely get into a situation where I'm up against a made pair on the river and I can't bet to win it.

River is a ten. Checks around, and big blind takes it with a 97 suited.

The big problem in this hand came from me not three-betting. If I had, I could have knocked out the big blind and maybe a limper or two, gotten some dead money in while I had a good hand with position on the maniac. It most likely would have been my pot, all because I tried to save the small bet pre-flop. And with KQ, I want less callers.

Also, if I'm betting or raising with overs, that makes it so the good players HAVE to pay me off when I hit better hands. Although, I don't actually recall not getting paid off on my good hands all night. So I never had a problem with my table image hurting my action (a good thing about the 6/12 game).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Post GC Comments

Well, I'm back. I'm pretty wiped out, but I'll get down what I can remember.

I played for 4.5 hours and lost 185. Which isn't too bad, because at one point I was down over $300 (then I got back up to down only 140 or so, then I lost missed a few draws).

Overall, I think I played ok, but I think I wasn't nearly as aggressive as I should be and was on the losing side of some big pots. I'm not going to blame only bad beats though -- I made my share of mistakes. I finally left around 10:30 when I couldn't really spot any fish at my table... there were one or two guys that played too many hands, but everybody was pretty tight. To put it in perspective, we chopped blinds maybe 3 times a round, and maybe once we had more than three to the flop each 9 hands. I thought Saturday was when all the party people are supposed to be there!

Focus Items:

  1. Pay attention to the table and trust my reads. I feel like I did this pretty well. I knew who was solid and who wasn't, and who was tight and who wasn't. There was one maniac that was raising 80% of his hands that really kind of tightened everybody up. I made some folds on the turn when I thought I was beat, and sometimes on the flop. Yet, I know I was folding too much (more later). I'll give myself a B-.
  2. Don't chicken out on turn and river value bets. This was a tough one today because I didn't really have that many situations where I had clear river value bets. Usually, I was obviously way in the lead, or obviously behind. Give myself a B? The corollary to this was I was chickening out on a lot of other raises -- raising in position, raising KQ preflop, etc. Maybe I should give myself a C- instead.
  3. Respect raises. This I give myself a C-. Not because I didn't respect raises, but I respected them too much. See the chickening out part on #2. The part I did well was thinking about their range when I was raised, but often I felt like I still needed to call based on the odds I was getting.
A few topics I should mention from the night:

The Maniac:

I have never seen someone run a limit table like this guy. He really did raise 80% of his hands and bet down to the river. The crazy part was he kept hitting two pair, straights, flushes, etc. and got paid off, so he had $800+ stacked in front of him. Typical action would go limp, limp, maniac raise, I fold K2o, cold call, cold call, call, call so we'd get these jacked up pots with 5 players in them. Then he'd fire on the flop, turn and river unless someone raised him. If he had a piece or draw, he'd call down, and occasionally he'd fold.

I tried to adapt since I had position on him and look for places to three-bet him to isolate, but my best hands were K9o (should I isolate him with those? I'm more worried about having the others call or raise me with better hands...). Seriously, I got Q2 and 84o so many times it isn't even funny. I did finally three-bet him with 99 in position, flopped an overpair (774 board), filled up on the turn, and he paid me off to the river. Did I mention all my luck wasn't bad tonight?

Bad Beats:

I had a few MONSTER pots where I took beats in, all of them related to trip 9s:

Hand 1. Early in the session, I hold AJo and raise in late position and get 4-5 callers. Flop comes J94 with two suits. Guy in mid position bets, I raise, and pretty much everyone else folds (someone may have gone along for the ride, but they don't matter). He calls. He is one of the fishier guys at the table, playing 50% of the hands and doing a lot of calling. His lead bet concerns me a little, but not after he just calls. I figure I most likely have the best hand here.

Turn comes an ace, he checks to me, I bet, and he insta-calls. At this point I love my hand -- if he has two pair, I'm beating him. I still think to myself "Ace or Jack, ace or jack." Because now there's a flush draw out.

River comes a blank, he checks, I value bet and he tries to beat me to the pot again with his call. I figure he has top pair at this point, so I roll my hand over and say "Top two." He rolls over 99 for the set. Wha? How does he not three-bet me on the flop? In a way, I think I lost the minimum on this hand. All he could say was "I was afraid you had pocket aces." Ok then, sir. Good luck getting value for your hands.

Hand 2. Later on, in mid-early position I limp behind the maniac with A9o (yeah, sometimes he doesn't raise). I didn't feel like I could raise it at that point. Flop comes 965 or 965. I bet, three-four players call. Not wild about my hand right now, especially if any over cards come off. Turn is a 9, putting a flush draw out there. Checks to me, I bet, and I lose everyone but the big blind and the maniac. At this point, I'm positive I have the best hand. Then, the river is a 7 and the maniac leads into me. Crap -- I know he has it, but I have to pay him off (can I really be 10:1 sure? No...). The BB hems and haws, flips over QQ, and finally convinces himself to call too. Maniac rolls over suited 84 (not the flush draw) and rakes the pot. So I sucked out on the turn, then the maniac re-sucked on the river!

Hand 3. In the small blind I cold call a raise with 97 of hearts. Again, the maniac raises, and I'm sure we'll get 6 players to the flop. The flop is QJ9. The guy in the AJo hand (who at this point I know will generally not bet without a good hand) leads out, a few callers, and I almost throw away my hand but then call to see if I can hit. Turn is another 9-bingo. Checks to the flop bettor, he bets again, I check-raise, and he looks at his hand and clearly isn't happy. At this point I know I have him. Until the ten hits the river, and he leads out quickly. And I pay him off (he had AKs... what? -- what was he doing betting?). I was so positive he had me beat, but the chance of two-pair made it so I had to call.

Big Pairs:

I had KK hold up at least once (against a real solid guy who had either top pair jacks or QQ) and a few other pairs work out. But I also took my share of beats.

Hand 1. AA in late position. I raise, there's 6 of us to the flop of KJ8 or something like that. Checks to me, I bet, three or so call. So far so good. The turn is a semi-blank (didn't complete any flushes or straights that I could tell), checks to me, I bet, and solid guy across the table check-raises me. I think I'm screwed, and he has either a set or two pair. But I call, because I can't lay down aces and I know I have 2 outs plus whatever outs two-pair gives me. The river is a beautiful ace, he checks, I bet, he looks sick... and calls. I think I sucked out on his set, but I can't be sure. Definitely, I don't have the will-power to fold an overpair to a single opponent. And I can't say I didn't get lucky sometimes in the session.

Hand 2. JJ in late position. New player to my right (replaced the maniac) bets, I three-bet him, and we get 2-3 callers before he just calls. Flop comes 457 with two spades, and while I hate the flop, I bet when it checks to me since I don't want to wimp out. The big blind raises me (the QQ guy in the earlier hand). At this point, I'm positive he has me beat. But, for whatever reason, I don't feel like it is a straight. Either a set or two pair, and I'm hoping for two-pair so I have some outs. But maybe I shouldn't make this call, but it feels so weak to fold to a check-raise on the flop. So I call, and the turn brings a 6, which is a pretty decent card for me, since it gives me more outs against two pair, and open-ended straight draw chop outs. He bets, I call. Turn pairs the 4, he bets, I call, and he rolls over 55.

In hindsight, I think I should have dumped the jacks on the turn here. He obviously had me beat, but I couldn't get past the chance I might have the right odds and the size of the pot since it was three-bet five-ways pre-flop. Is it always right to call down with an overpair in decent pots against one opponent?

Wimping out:

I definitely wimped out in a number of hands and really regretted it after the fact.

Hand 1. There's a ton of limpers, maniac bumps it on the button, and I call in the small blind with AJ of spades (I decided not to three-bet because I was out of position and wasn't wild about getting some people to fold... that was probably a mistake). Flop comes J65 all hearts to my horror, so I turn tail and check. Mid position bets (relatively solid guy), maniac raises, and I fold when it gets to me because I didn't like the spot I was in. I would have definitely called for one bet, but not two. Long story short, no more hearts hit the board, and maniac wins a nice pot with a J8o. Crud.

Hand 2. I limp K9o in mid-position against four opponents including the button (should I be raising this against three opponents and no raise? I don't think so). Flop comes A9x with no real draws, and I bet when it checks to me, but the old asian guy on the button (relatively tight) calls along with the maniac. On the turn, a low card comes, but I slow down and check, and old asian guy bets. At this point I'm nearly positive he has an ace, probably a weak ace since I figure he'd check behind with anything less. Maniac calls, I fold. Turn is a blank, and turns out the old asian guy had 94 suited. Crap!

I don't think this was a huge mistake because it was a pretty small pot, but still. I think I should be betting again there, since I can beat all second pairs and nobody has done anything to make me think that I don't have them beat.

Anyway, that's it for tonight. I'm tired...

Another GC Trip: Focus Items

I'm heading to Garden City again tonight and I won't have nearly as many constraints on how long I can play, so hopefully I'll be able to post a winning session. I have a ton of things I want to work on, but I'll boil it down to a list of three to keep it from being overwhelming.

Focus Items:

  1. Pay attention to the table and trust my reads. This pretty much leads to the following two items...
  2. Don't chicken out on turn and river value bets. If I've been the only one betting the whole way, and I think I have everyone else beat, value bet the river. 6/12 is so passive I shouldn't fear the CR and they love to call with middle or bottom pair just to see.
  3. Respect raises. That means take a few seconds to think about their range, what I know, and how my hand fairs against their range (redraws, etc). Just because I have top pair doesn't mean I have to call down a tight guy who raises me on 4th. That being said, err on the side of calling, especially on the river.
That's it. I'll post again tonight or tomorrow after the session to tell how I did.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

12/9 GC: Are all paths the same?

Ok, last hand from Garden City. I'm already forgetting most of the details of the hands, thank goodness I wrote them down. This one I thought about a bit on the ride home, and my conclusion was there was really no difference in my two options.

I'm in mid position and call with ATo after two limpers (that could be a mistake, but AT unsuited feels like it should be raised in late position but not mid or early position than that). Flop comes AT6. Bingo! Checks to me, I bet, get a few callers. I'm pretty positive I'm solidly in the lead. Turn is another ten. I can't remember the suits, so lets assume it's rainbow. Checks to me, I bet, BB raises. My impression is that the big blind is a very solid guy. Youngish, clean-cut, clearly knows what he's been doing. Has played pretty tight the whole time. I check my cards again, think for a bit and just call. This is just me wanting to check-raise him on the river and be fancy. I figure him for trip tens or a flopped set. Very unlikely he has AA with the way the action has gone down.

River is a blank, he bets, I raise pretty quickly, and he looks pained. He calls after about 10 seconds, another guy asks "Ace-ten?" and I flip it up. He mucks quietly.

Afterwards, I wondered why I bother to wait until the turn to checkraise. If the board had any obvious draws, it might have netted me some money and disguised my hand. But on this board, it was pretty obvious what I had. Is there any EV advantage between three-betting the turn or check-raising the river? Against a good opponent I feel like the next time I show strength he'll realize I've got a full house. But, waiting until the river, there's always the chance he'll check-call and I'll lose a bet. Maybe I should always three-bet the turn in that spot?

One thought:

12/9 GC, Missed Bets?

Three more hands where I may have missed bets.

1. I had KK in mid position. A few limpers, I raise, something like 6 of us go to the flop for two bets. Flop was A82 rainbow. Checks to me, and I check. Should I bet there? I just figured someone had to have an ace.

Turn is an A, maybe two of a suit. Checks to me, I check again (probably another mistake), and the button bets. A few callers, and I call too (did I mention I played this hand bad)?

River is a blank (6ish) and it checks around. Better had an 8, so I take down the pot. Obviously, I missed a bet here, but it'd be an awefully risky bet. I was just planning to call down. Is there a different line in this hand which is more profitable?

2. I have QQ in the cut-off. Three limpers to me, I raise, and we get 5 players to the flop and I'm last to act. Flop comes K94. Checks to me, I bet, 3 call. Turn is an 8, checks to me, I chicken out and check behind. River comes another blank (maybe a 3), checks to me, I think about value betting and chicken out again and check behind. Of course my queens take the pot.

I'm positive I missed a bet here. Would anyone call? Not sure. But in last position I think I need to bet the river, and possibly the turn.

Another trend is I'm slowing down in multiway pots when I don't have top pair. Should I wait until someone bets to slow down?

3. KQo in the cutoff. I raise after about four limpers, lose the blinds, but the limpers all call. I think this is a clear raise for value here (what about KJo?).

Flop comes AK3 two spades. Checks to me, I bet. Two guys call. Turn is blank. Checks to me, I bet again, figuring I may have the best hand or maybe I can get someone off a weak ace. At minimum, I can buy a showdown and charge anyone drawing. This is a good bet, right?

One guy calls. He's older, seems pretty experienced, but he just sat down a few hands ago. He had limped UTG. No idea what he has, but a weak ace is possible. Once he calls the turn bet, I'm done with the hand. If he bets, I fold, if he checks, I check.

Anyway, the river came. What was it? No idea, I think it may have been a low spade, but it didn't help my hand. He checks, I check behind, and he says ace or king good. What the hell was he calling with? Later, the floorman asks him if he wants a 20/40 seat. Yikes. Maybe TT or 99? QJ or something for a gutshot? Can't really put him on a good hand in that spot. Should I have bet the end if a spade didn't come?

12/9 Hands: Missing AQ

Ok, two more hands from the other night, both AQ, both early position. I feel like this is one of my leaks, and I've posted about it a long time ago. The fact of the matter is that it is just a crappy situation, and there isn't much you can do.

1. I get AQ of hearts in early-mid position after a limper and I raise it. The old guy to my left pretty much beats me to the pot with his call; I couldn't tell if he was planning to raise, or what. My read on him at this point was that he was relatively tight, but he dusted off $100 when he sat down, rebought, and then managed to quadruple up with AA when he had $40 or so left).

Anyway, a few more callers, and there are maybe 4-5 of us to the flop. The flop is something like T 8 3 rainbow with one heart. It checks to me, I bet out (hey, I've got overs and a backdoor flush draw!). Only the old guy calls and he has position on me. Blank turn (in the 4-5ish range, not a heart) and I fire again, hoping he releases third or fourth pair. He calls, so I shut it down on the end and check when another blank comes. He bets, but now I'm in a tight spot -- essentially, I could have induced a bluff, so I decide a call is necessary. Granted, the old guy doesn't seem like a huge bluffer, but I pretty much giftwrapped the bluff for him. So I call and he has a set of threes. Oops.

So, what's the plan there? I think I should have shut it down on the turn, hope he checked behind me (since the table is pretty passive, and he wasn't excessively aggressive). I often find myself making that turn bluff because many people will call a flop bet but not a turn. But I don't think it is EV, because I feel I've been called many times in the past. And if I'm going to call the river bet, should I lead out? Probably not, since the value of checking is catching bluffs. Hmmm...

2. This was an oddball hand which I should have taken more time to think while I was in it. One guy posted in late position. I was in very early position with AQo and raised. Old guy to my left folds, and youngish hotshot to his left three-bets. This guy was clearly experienced, got bent out of shape earlier when a guy made a horrible call and hit runner runner, but was playing rather tight. Folded around to me, and I just called, although I briefly considered putting in the extra bet, since he could be isolating me in position with the poster's dead money in there. But I didn't.

Flop was all tiny cards. I checked, he checked. Turn was a blank; check-check. River was another blank; check-check. He told me ace-high was good, I flipped my AQ, and took the pot.

I feel like I had some options. Pre-flop, four betting would let me take control, but I would have lost a bunch if he had a large pair or AK and an ace flopped. On the flop, I think the check was deserved, and betting the turn might have been a good idea. But I'm beating all hands but AK, and he'd bet any hand that beat me on the flop. On the river, I suspected I had the best hand, and was prepared to call a bet, but it seemed pointless to lead out.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Garden City 12/9 Results and Hands

Ok, the first entry about Garden City last night. Real quick, because I need to leave in ten minutes.

Overall, I felt pretty comfortable. I definitely felt like I belonged and I was better than at least half the table. I also felt quite bored a few hours in (stupid limit) and I also felt like I made a number of mistakes. Not huge ones, but mistakes. Overall result was losing $238 in three hours.

The table in general was really passive, with the exception of one guy who was quite aggressive (but he made tons of mistakes, including raising the river on a AKTJ9 board, three diamonds, after the guy who'd raised pre-flop checked, another guy bet, and then he raised. Should be a flush, right? No, A9o, which lost to a set of tens. On the flip side, a number of guys were reading me pretty well, which was kind of annoying, but there were enough calling stations at the table that I can't really do much bluffing, and I rarely got chances to semi-bluff.

So, some hands (more later too):

1. Probably the hand I screwed up most. I had 99 on the button, and 4-5 limpers in front of me. What should I do?

(highlight text below to see my comments -- think about it first)
I called. I think that I have a clear raise for value, and possibly to get some dead money from the blinds (maybe). But I can almost raise for set value alone, plus I likely have the best hand or second best.

Flop came 433 rainbow. Checked to me, I bet, 3-4 players call. I still like my hand except for the BB who called -- he looked at his chips before checking, but I couldn't tell if he was weak or strong.

Turn came 6, and now two diamonds on the board. Checked to me, I bet, BB folds (yes, I'm good) and aggressive guy I mentioned earlier raises. Guy to his left calls them cold. I put the raiser on trips, straight, possibly 77 or 88 (probably not, he would have led flop). The problem was, he might also make that raise with a flush draw (he'd been making a number of out of line raises, although I did show strength). I figured the cold-caller for a flush draw. So, what should I do? What does he have?

(highlight for my response)
I called, but I think this is my first opportunity to get out of the hand. I am drawing to a two-outer in most cases and I don't think he'd get too out of line here. Plus I'd have to call him down.

River came a non-diamond ten. Raiser leads out, cold-caller calls (???), and action on me. What do I do? What do they have?

(highlight here for my answer)
Against just the raiser, I've gotta call. But I don't know about overcalling. First, I'm not sure the raiser would lead into two of us without better than two pair. Second, the caller may have lucked into tens up. But, it is a monster pot, and it'd be horrible to lose it here for one bet -- the first guy could be bluffing, and the second guy could have a 4, 6, or even 77 or 88. So I called -- raiser had the straight, other guy mucked.

Ok, gotta go. More later.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I dream of... Gus?

I guess playing 6/12 is worrying me more than I thought, because I had some poker dreams last night.

Somewhere when I was tossing and turning between 7 (when I usually get up) and 7:45 (when I actually got out of bed) I dreamed the following:

Apparently, I was playing high-stakes PLO8 with a bunch of pros. While I wasn't nervous or worried about losing money, they could read me like a book.

Then, in early position, I was dealt AQxx with some suits and played it. The flop came out AQQ and I checked, doing my best to act uninterested or whatever I do when I check and fold a hand. But it checked around. So on the turn (a ten), I led out trying to make it look like a bluff, but I totally expected it to fold around (because I never get action on my monsters).

Surprisingly, Gus Hansen called, which I interpreted as him trying to snap off a bluff or trying to hit a crazy card. The river came another ten and somehow I still knew I had the best hand. I just had a laser-like read; there was no doubt I had Gus. So I grabbed some chips to value-bet, and Gus started his folding motion. Thinking fast, I dropped just one $5K chip in the pot and Gus pulled his fold back because I bet so little. Then he started making those faces as he did some math, trying to get away from his hand based on his read (since I'm so super-tight), while I did my best to pretend that I was bluffing. Finally, he called, and I was really proud of myself for getting that extra little bit of profit.

Then I flipped over my hand. Q99x. What? Where'd my ace go?

Anyway, Gus dragged the pot (although I never saw what he had). And I came out of my dream wondering what the hell it meant...
If I had to psychoanalyze, I'd say I'm confident in my play, but concerned I'll make an idiotic play to lose money. Of course, it's limit, so no mistake will hurt me that much.

One thing that always boggles my mind (and one of the reasons I gave up limit long ago -- check out previous posts where I mention limit...) is that your expectation in a limit game is approximately one large bet each hour. So if I make a bad call once every hour; poof -- profit gone.

The thing is, which I'm just starting to wrap my head around, is there are very few situations where a bet put into the pot will truly lose you a full bet based on the range of hands your opponent could be holding and cards to come. For instance, I'll often beat myself up for calling on the river in bad shape -- but my opponent will be bluffing some percent of the time, so I'm not really losing a full bet! And in a 10BB pot, he only needs to be bluffing 10% of the time for it to make me money.

Enough of that now though, more on my leaks in a later post.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Limit Poker Resources

Some good limit poker resources to get me ready for $6/$12. In a way, a link list for my use.

I'll probably keep this updated as time goes on...

Thursday, December 06, 2007


I'm officially resurrecting this blog again. Not really for general consumption, more for notes than anything.

The past few months I've been trying to figure out how to beat Dave's game. I've gotten hammered in that 1/2 NL $100 buy-in game. Lost about $1,650 in the past year. Definitely bad luck is a part of it, but playing tight and scared is probably more the reason. I've been protecting my bankroll of approximately $1,650 to take one more shot at the game (and once I was below $1,500 I would hunker down and build it back up).

But now I've got a better idea.

Two friends have been telling me for a while how soft the 6/12 game at Garden City is. So, with the help of a 50% stake, I'm going to take a shot at it.

And I'll use this place to stockpile my notes, hands, and results.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

6-max NL

I need to be more aggressive. Yes, even at $10NL 6-max.

My stats: 39% VPIP, 2.31 AF, 9.7% PFR

From Poker Fool: 26% VPIP (don't you get bored?) , 18% PFR

  • "If my cards are good enough to limp in with, and it hasn't been raised yet, I will raise it up."
  • "And I have been re-raising people pre-flop a lot more. When you do that, most people will assume you have a huge hand like Kings or Aces. I know that if I get played back at, they will most definitely have a really good hand too, and it makes it easier to fold."
  • "Getting someone's full stack in an unraised pot is pretty difficult."od
Also, a good tool: PokerEV

(apparently I'm actually running good right for the last 1000 hands at UB $10 NL)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Moving on...

I've moved on. My new hobby is photography and a maintain a photography blog at:

I won't be updating this blog as far as I can forsee, but I also see no reason to take it down.

Oh, and I do still play poker, just not enough to write about it on a regular basis.