Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hands from Today... Err, Four Days Ago

I'm lazy. I admit it. At least I remembered to make a note of the hands I wanted to think about later on Saturday night.

Saturday night was an odd one because I went to Bay 101 and the list was SUPER full. I asked the brush what the wait was and he looked at me like I was crazy, saying "A couple of hours. Fridays and Saturdays are our biggest days!" It didn't help that the Shooting Star $1K satellite was winding up and still taking up a table.

The odd part was the Omaha H/L 4/8 with a half-kill had about 10 people on the list but I got called for the table in less than a half-hour. In fact, when I was sitting at the table, it was churning over really fast, with at least 5-8 players moving to it within 45 minutes (and the list got emptied out).

The 4/8 LO8 has a bit of a strange structure but I prefer it to GC. It has a half-kill, meaning the stakes rise to 6/12 when the kill is on. The kill is put on any time someone scoops a pot over $40 and the stakes increase plus the winner posts $6. The kill acts in turn, so the rest of the hand is the same except there's an extra $6 posted, meaning one more player in the pot most of the time. While I was playing, the kill was on maybe one third of the time.

One really aggressive guy sat down and started running over the table -- he was older and pretty knowledgeable, but was raising a lot of hands pre-flop. He also won a big string of pots and had a monster stack in front of him.

I spent about 45 minutes at the table and was down around $50 most of the time... Until I flopped top set against the loose guy and he missed his draws, putting me up $9. At that point, my 6/12 got called, and while I wouldn't have minded staying at the Omaha, I figured it was my duty to scout 6/12 at Bay 101.

The 6/12 had a few bad players and a few good ones (similar to an average table at GC). I quickly won a few pots, but then bled most of the rest of the hour and a half that I played. Admittedly, I was playing quite aggressively and a bit looser than usual. Not really sure why, but I was in an aggressive mood; it may have been that I had to leave after a relatively short time. I don't think I was playing badly, although I made a few mistakes.

Some hands:

  • 44 in the SB. Raised in MP after a limper by a tightish guy, cold called by one or two behind him, and I called. Looking to flop a set, and I checked the 299 rainbow flop when I missed. It checked to the raiser, was called by one behind him, and then I, on impulse, raised. I figured for the caller behind for overs (he was an aggressive player would would have raised a pair in that spot) and I wanted to see if the raiser had AK or not (I felt like he might). He called, so I was quite confident I had the best hand. The turn was the 7s (putting two spades out) and I bet again. Raiser slowly folded, the caller called after a little thought. River was a horrible card, the Js. I checked, he bet. I wanted to fold, I really did, but this guy had been bluffing a lot and I felt like I had to call in this spot because he was capable of the bluff. But he had a flush... I'm both proud of this hand and a bit ashamed. Is 44 in this spot too small of an edge since I'll be against a ton of overs? Knowing they both had high cards helped a lot. Can I fold on the river?
  • AKo in the BB, 4 players in, I raise, 225 flop. I bet, only the small blind calls. On the 3 turn I bet, he raises, I call. On the 5 river, he checks, I immediately bet what I feel is the best hand. He calls and asks if I have a 5 (always a bad sign) (he had A2o). I think I royally screwed this hand up, not considering his range when he raises me on the turn. It was a hand played without thought, and it cost me (at minimum) the river bet -- he'll call for the chop or anything that beats me. Not sure if I can fold the turn (I have two overs which may or may not be good, a 4 which may or may not be good). Hell, maybe I shouldn't even have bet the turn. What would be a better line in this spot?
  • QJo in late position, I limp with a bunch of others (maybe 5 total). JT9 rainbow flop, MP bets, I raise, button thinks a while and then calls, MP three-bets (I've been raising him/three-betting him quite a bit) and I cap (assuming I have the worst hand) hoping to either get the button out or get check to on the turn and get a better read. Turn comes 9, checks to me, I bet. Button raises behind me, MP folds, and I think for quite a while then fold thinking I'm drawing dead or nearly dead (figuring him for a set or two-pair that just boated). Button, BTW, wouldn't bluff this spot. Button said he had KQ and MP complained about me always raising him and he knew he had the best hand (KJo). That I liked, he was marginally on tilt after that... If he's three-betting me with top pair and a gutshot when he's out of position, I'm happy. But, was there a better line in this hand given my hand? The flop is really nasty, and while it is excellent for my hand, there are many ways for me to be in bad shape as more cards come.
  • A little mistake: I raise A9o in LP and get two callers, J94 flop with two clubs, I bet, MP raises (tightish guy, 90% he has a jack or better) and I call. Turn is a blank, and I call a bet. This was a bad call, I think. 6 big bets in on the turn, 7 with his bet, so I'm getting 7:1 while my five card draw is more like 8:1, and he may not even pay me off with an ace. On the bright side, my draw is quite clean. River is a club, and we both check. At the time, I thought my turn call was pretty bad, but in hindsight, especially with implied odds, I don't think it is that bad. But once I get to the river, I pretty much need to call another bet there too getting 9:1. So maybe folding the turn is lower variance in an even EV situation.
  • I missed a bet with T9 (ten on the flop) on the river. My opponent was tight and quite solid (I raised his flop bet). He called me down and I thought he might have a flush draw or top pair, but it turned out he had T7. One of the two top pairs I could beat :) FYI, he limped (which was rare) in MP. A little later his 20/40 seat opened up.
Here's some food for thought. When I sit down, I can usual tell how good a player is based on look. Well, maybe not just look, but how they look around themselves (how aware they look). Against stronger opponents, I wonder if it would be worthwhile to look like an idiot. How could I do that without spewing chips in bad spots?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Garden City vs Bay 101

From my visit to Bay 101 today, let me present you with a quick review/comparison of Garden City and Bay 101...

Reasons why Bay 101 is better:

  • Brighter and more saturated. Seriously! The chips are brighter colors, the outside is very new, and even the sign outside is more colorful!
  • Cleaner. Not that hard, I know. There was even someone washing the wall behind me while I was sitting in 6/12. Right behind me, bumping my chair... But at least it is cleaner!
  • The dealers are better. They seemed very efficient and on the ball. In fact, the whole staff seemed more with it, more energetic, and younger. Garden City has some fossils around (nice fossils though).
  • More 6/12 games. When I signed up, there were 5 6/12 games and 3 3/6 games running. When I got a table, I expect there were at least 6 or 7 6/12 games running (compared to GC's usual 3 or 4).
  • The Omaha (LO8) seems to be an easier game. I didn't play long, but there was a ton of turn over and no real list even though every other list was packed. The 4/8 with a half kill (the kill going on anytime someone scoops a pot over $40) it is slightly smaller than 6/12, but the decreased rake ($5) makes up for that. If I was interested in only Omaha, I'd go straight to Bay 101.

Reasons why Garden City is better:

  • Atmosphere. Garden City is much more welcoming, at least from my point of view.
  • Chips. I hate Bay 101's chips. They are a plasticy ceramic, which makes them both slippery (when in stacks) and sticky (when counting them into the pot) at the same time. I love the colors though.
  • The Board. Bay 101 still uses a big white board for the brush to track players. GC has an electronic board with card sign-in (quite handy) and plasmas around the room.
  • Temperature. I was actually cold at a few moments. I think they have the heat turned down a few degrees lower.
  • Wait time. On a Saturday at 2 pm, there shouldn't be a 90 minute wait for 6/12.
  • Proximity. Ok, this is just for me -- Garden City is on my way home from almost everything. Bay 101 is on my way home from nothing (when do I ever go to the East Bay or North San Jose?).

Things that are about the same:

  • 6/12 game quality. My 6/12 table was pretty much the same as an average table at GC (approx 5 to each flop, chopping blinds every once in a while, and a mix of good players and some bad players).
  • Access. Both are similar distances from a main freeway, and if you know where you are going, easy to get to.
  • The clientel, while maybe slightly more Asian, seem to be similar as far as income goes.

Personally, I'll probably usually be hitting GC more just because it is on my way home (relatively). On the days I only go to the casino, I may hit Bay 101 instead because it is slightly closer and it is fun to mix things up once in a while.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Is Limit Hold'em Dying?

If you talk to old-timers, they'll talk about the days that California card rooms were built around five card draw, jacks to open, and lowball. Mike Caro's earlier work focuses on those games, but when was the last time you saw a draw game in a casino? Draw is almost completely dead now.

Or, if you're an East Coast type, you probably grew up with 7-stud. I expect it is a lot harder to find a good game now that's not populated by really old white guys.

Evolution is natural whenever there is a population with differing traits and external pressure for natural selection. I have a hypothesis that poker is slowly evolving away from limit hold'em. In this case, the population is the games (and the players, to some degree), the different traits are the type of game and the rules, and the external pressure is the desires and feelings of the players.

And the winner of this evolutionary war?

No limit texas hold'em.

Originally, I thought the no limit games would dry up because poor players tend to lose money faster in no limit than limit. In fact, the opposite played out online, where evolution happens much more rapidly. Trying to find a good limit game online is super difficult, unless you go down to the micro limits. I guess capped buy-ins (reducing a bad player's exposure) and numerous books and TV shows (bringing the lowest level of play up) the stabilization I expected to see never happened. Plus, if gambling is a high, then no limit produces a bigger high than limit, and that will bring the players to the table.

From what I've heard and read around the net, in blogs and in casino reviews (like PokerWiki), many casinos are spreading larger no limit games than limit. I was surprised to learn that many Vegas casinos now spread 4/8 as the highest limit in the room. Is this the beginning of the end for limit texas hold'em in live casinos also?

Maybe, maybe not. If it is, I have to ask myself why I'm spending my time learning a dying game. Granted, it probably won't die for at least 20 years since so many players in their 40s and 50s started and will stay in LHE. And definitely, the rules around the bay area preventing no limit games will keep limit games in action longer. But in 20, 30, or 50 years, what will the most popular poker game be?

I asked Thuan about this and he said:

It appears that low limit games aren't too prevalent in vegas.... yet lots of 200 buy-in NL. In a way, I would say these games are equivalent in terms of the bank roll you need. I suppose people in vegas just want to try NL because they see it on tv. But I don't think limit will go away at least not in CA. Even if it does, I think we can adjust to the game. Basically, newbies will feel better at limit stakes, so I don't think it will be marginalized. Hopefully, I'm right.
I do agree with Thuan that new players have a better shot at limit than no limit. But they'll focus on the low games (2/4, 3/6, 4/8) and not the middle limits (6/12 and up). Besides, many new players want to play no limit because that's what they've seen on TV. Will enough of them switch to limit or stay at limit to keep the game going strong?

Robert at The Vegas Year just posted about switching to limit after a long period of no limit because he'd have less variance at limit. Here's a guy who's spent a year working hard on his no limit game and he's decided that limit is a better option for a long term earn. Kind of scary -- I thought no limit was where all the bad players lost their stacks?

Ultimately, though, it doesn't matter. Most necessary skills for limit, like:
  • Reading the board.
  • Reading players.
  • Maintaining emotional control.
  • Managing a bankroll.
... transfer very well to no limit. Some traits that are more unique to limit (like proper strategy in multi-way pots) also transfer to the small, super loose, no limit games. So no matter what, my time learning the game now will help me later on. But I can't abandon no limit completely; I need to be competent in both (and limit omaha, and pot limit omaha eight or better, and whatever else comes along in the next few decades).

If limit hold'em is in fact dying, then I should just enjoy it while it is around!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

GC Last Night

Played again for three hours last night and went $-100. Overall, I'd say I played pretty well but made a few mistakes.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, but I actually made it to even after Tuesday night (for playing at Garden City) then dipped back down into the red again. At least I'm not $500 in the hole anymore!

A few hands:

  • 76s. Called pre-flop, bet the flop, bet the turn and took it down with third pair. Of course, I think I had the best hand, but still...
  • 64s. Must have gotten in from a blind. I have a note, Do I call when getting 6:1 with bottom pair? Answer: No, unless I'm unlikely to get raised on the flop (so I'm getting a true 6:1) and hitting my second pair won't complete a draw. Even then, it is borderline, because I have to depend on implied odds and not be drawing dead to a set or a bigger two pair. I think my fold was good.
  • KTd. This maybe falls under creative plays. Bunch of us limped in, my main opponent was GPG (Good playing girl) in early position, and she leads the Q4d2 flop into 4-5 players. One or two others call, and I took one off on the flop since I had an over and a backdoor flush draw (that was a bad move, against odds). On the turn, I got a flush draw with the 3d. Since I was in position, I might have been successful semi-bluff raising and then betting the river no matter what hit. Alternatively, when the offsuit 4 hit the river, I might have been able to bet her off top pair, but probably not.
  • TT. I raise in the CO, only the big blind (loose, aggressive Asian guy, also a chip-runner at GC, on a short stack) calls. No real reads on his hand, but I know he doesn't have a really big one. Flop comes K75 rainbow, he checks, I bet, and he raises. Normally, I'd call here and fold the turn, but against this guy, I thought he may not have a king. So I three-bet and he caps. I call, planning to fold the turn, because he's got to have a king now. He bets... 5 chips, or $10. Crap, I can't fold now when I can see one more card and the river for $10. He flips over KJ on the river. My problem was I didn't consider his stack; if I knew he had less I would have taken the call-fold line when he raised. But 3-betting locked me into a line where I lose $22 more on the hand. Oops. The main mistake I regret on the night.
  • QJc. Don't remember the details, but GPG was my main opponent again. I believe I bet at the pot with the open-ender, two overs, and backdoor flush, but she raised me so I slowed down. (Note to self: maybe that's a good spot to three-bet the flop and induce her to fold later in the hand). The turn gave me a flush draw too, she bets, I called. Neither the OE or a club hit the river; a jack did. She checked, I picked up some chips thinking about value betting, but decided not to (the chip I picked up had a monster chip out of it and really surprised me). I ended up beating her (she said a T) but I think that'd be a really thin-value bet there. She could easily have a crappy two pair there and she'd also be able to fold a pair of tens or worse. Should I value bet?
  • AKo. I only mention this because it is my favorite line with AK in these situations. One raiser in EP (a pretty aggressive guy) I three-bet, tight guy in the blinds cold-calls, raiser calls. They both check dark. Flop is QT7, 9 small bets. I bet (I'd bet no matter what came out, maybe not 772 or something like that, but wait to see the flop anyway) and they both call. At this point, I know I need to hit, but I bought a free card. Turn is a blank, we all check. River is a Jack (bingo!), they both check talking about me having AK, I bet, and original raiser calls. He had a set of jacks. Essentially, any time I have AK and hit a gutshot on the flop in position, I'll bet so I get a free river card. It isn't a strong enough draw to be able to push the action, but it is a strong enough draw that I want to see the river. If I hit, I almost always get called on the end because they suspect a possible bluff.

And, some of Thuan's hands we e-mailed back and forth about:

Hand #1:
Me: MP w/Jd9d.
Good Playing Girl (GPG) in EP raises. I call. Solid Asian Guy (SAG) in LP reraises, GPG caps. I'm getting 10:2 and I put them both on big PP or AK so my hand is live and is a nut cracker, so I call.

Flop: 9Tdx (12 small bets)

GPG bets, I call, SAG calls.

Turn: 5x (not a diamond) (7.5 big bets)

GPG bets, I call, SAG raises, GPG reraises. (13.5 big bets) I'm getting 6.5-1. What do you do?

Ok, so I know GPG's range pretty well. SAG, if he was in the 7 seat to my left, was pretty tight. He 3-bet me w/ AKo at one point and actually had to think about it. He also told me he folded T9s in the SB for two bets with 3-4 other players in.

PF, if GPG open-raises and the people are still playing tight like when I left, I would have mucked. Not enough chance to get the 4-5 other players I want to play the hand. Your position isn't great either (I'd be more likely to call on the button). Assuming the table is loose, the call isn't bad. After the initial call, you have to call the cap due to odds. Although, folding isn't too bad either, because if the flop comes all low you might be facing a capped flop too to try to draw.

On the flop, you have second pair and backdoor straight and flush draws. Your two-pair draw is devalued slightly because it'll put a straight out there with KQ (not too likely considering the capped action earlier). Calling is fine, and you should feel happy it isn't raised by SAG.

On the turn, I probably release after GPG leads out. With 5 outs (actually slightly less, one of them could have JJ, TT, or 99 leaving you in bad shape or drawing slim). It is also possible neither of them paired. In that case, maybe raising the flop would have been a good line to put some pressure on SAG if he has KQ or something like that that takes your outs. Still though, 9:1 or 8:1 is right around your odds for a five outer, but you have someone behind you. I think it is around 0 EV either way, and in those spots, I usually fold. Raising the turn is also possible, but dangerous. I think raising the flop would have been a better plan if you thought they both had unpaired high cards. Assuming you call, you gotta get the hell out with the three-bet. SAG's call the flop and raise the turn means a big hand. GPG almost definitely has KK or AA or a set. You aren't getting odds to chase, fold. Plus, it will likely be capped.

Hand #1. I figured 2 pair would be good... so 5 outs doesn't give me the correct odds. But for some reason, at the time I thought I had more outs or better odds (maybe GPG didn't reraise)... shoot , I must've missed something. Anyhow I called and hit a J on the river. Check, check, SAG bets. GPG folds QQ! I call and get a really dirty look from SAG w/AA. Ok, I play bad.

Hand #2:
Me in LP: Jc5c
I limp. 5 to the flop.

Flop: 4x6s7s (5 small bets)
Bet, raise, reraise to me. (11 small bets)
What do you do?

This one is easier. You have 6 live outs, maybe 7, considering your jack is likely no good and a spade draw may be out there. You could also be chopping. Also, given the action, the pot will likely be capped 3-4 ways. Assuming 3-way capping (I always assume the worse) + you, you'd be putting in 4 small bets to win 17 small bets, plus implied odds (not great considering flush and full house redraws and the transparency of your draw). 7 outs = <>

Hand #2. I fold. I'm only in for 1 bet and not even getting 4-1 for a tainted draw. Turn is a 3 and river is a 2. I would've won. Darn.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Catching Up...

I've been procrastinating updating the blog, but I'll give you a quicky now. Well, maybe it will be quick.

Played 1/19: +174

I played for about 3.5 hours and had a really strange day: no big pairs, no AK, AQs only once. In other words, no premium hands. On the other hand, my table was awesome (I remember think how I loved my table about an hour in). Every pot was getting 6-7 players to it, even if it was raised, so I could play a lot of suited connectors. As Thuan mentioned, suited connectors probably have much less variance than big hands because you get in cheap, build big hands if you hit, and otherwise don't need to invest much.

In particular there was a middle-aged Russian next to me who was playing almost every hand. He did a lot of betting (some raising pre-flop) but mostly he stayed in if he could. He did have some reading skills, but he was way too loose to make up for that totally. Since he was in every pot, that got the whole table in almost every pot. A few hands (in abbreviated form):

  • Q9s I see a cheap flop of 844, everyone checks. Turn is a 9, somebody bets, I raise, called. River is jack, I take a little time but make the value bet, and win against T9o (the Russian). I'm pretty proud of the value bet. Like Thuan says, they'll lead into you out of fear of missing the bet with two pair or better, so value bets have a high percentage of success.
  • 65o in the big blind. I call one bet to see the flop 4 handed. Flop of 668 rainbow, I check, young aggressive guy to my left bets, call, button raises, I cold call both to not tip my strength just yet, young guy raises, button caps. Turn is an ace, I check. They both check. Damn. River is a blank, I bet, they both fold their pocket pairs. Yes, they both folded in that monster pot. I know I misplayed this, but I'm not sure what line is the most profitable.
  • An illustration of why crying calls are good. 64d in SB, a bunch (5?) to the flop. Flop is 9d4x2d, I bet and am called in 2-3 places. Turn is 8d, I bet again, two callers (youngish, decent guy and the Russian to my right). I start thinking, "no diamond, no diamond". The river is the Ad. I check. Decent guy bets. Russian moans and groans but calls. What do I do? Well, I called. If the Russian was any happier about calling (he was clearly hating to do it, and I suspected he had two pair with no diamonds) I couldn't call. But in this case, I threw my bet in. Decent guy shows 99, for trips. Everyone was surprised he didn't raise, but I've played hands like that in the past -- he should have raised the flop though, or maybe the turn. I show my hand, and Russian has the lost the pot body language. Yet he shows an ace and a diamond... the five of diamonds! I felt like this pot was a gift from the gods...
  • AQs. My one good hand. I'm in MP and the Russian raises it. For whatever reason, I don't re-raise. At the time I was thinking he hardly ever raised preflop, but in hind-site, I think I just had gotten so few good hands I didn't want to raise preflop. We get 5-6 callers. The flop is QJc9c, checks to me, and I bet. I don't have clubs. Guy to my left raises all-in for two bets. Only the Russian calls, and I add another bet on. Turn is the 3c, I bet, he calls. River is a 6x, I bet, he folds. All-in guy rolls over KTo... Crap. This hand bugged me later because if I had three-bet the Russian then I could have gotten him out (maybe, he might have just gone all-in).
  • A haunting hand: 22, 7 players in for two bets pre-flop. Flop comes KJ4 rainbow, SB bets, I call with marginal (but implied) two-outer odds to a set, and both my outs are clean. Button raises, SB three-bets. Damn, now I have to fold (something like 24:2). One of them could even have a set. As luck would have it, a two hits the turn. And it would have won in the end. This one bugged me a little, but I played it right and the other players protected their hands correctly.
  • QJs. I didn't write this one down, so I'll make up as much detail as I can. It is a notable hand and I'm kind of proud of it. I get to the flop with 6 players for two bets. The flop is T54 or something like that with two of my suit. There's some action with late position betting and maybe four of us see the turn for two bets (10 big bets). The turn is an offsuit 7. A guy in early position, who's been pretty tight and playing by the numbers, leads out into the field. For some reason, I feel he's really strong. Like a straight strong. I call with one other player behind me and a Q hits the river (13 big bets). Without hesitation, he fires again. I fold. Yes, I folded top pair getting 14:1. But I had no doubts in my mind it was a good fold -- my read was just so strong. He had to have two pair or better. And he did turn over the 86 when the other guy called him. What do you think, am I nuts? At the time, I really didn't even have to think about it much...

Played last night (1/22):

A few minutes after I sat down I had this hand (as told in an e-mail):

Or the AA hand last night (three bets pf with 6 in, I bet the JJ4 rainbow flop and almost everyone calls). I bet the offsuit 7 turn and everyone folds except this one guy who check-raises me. In a smaller pot, I might let that go. But in that spot (approx 14:2 for me to call down) I felt I had to. Let's be honest though, I'd say he'd be bluffing there less than 10% of the time. What swings it to a call is I have 5% chance to draw out on the river.
Literally the next hand, I flop top pair with QJo and lose to a flush (I bet turn and he called with the flush made, then called the river). Literally the next hand after that, I get KK but win it, making value bets even after an ace hits the river (he thought for a long time, then called). I remember thinking two things here: first, I'm shocked I'm not tilting even though I dusted off $120 in two hands. Second, wow, I'm back up to $50. I'm not doing so bad.

Aside from that, the session (less than two hours so I could get my beauty sleep and play again tonight after I teach) was one of those dream sessions. I rarely had the second best hand and all my decisions were automatic and easy. My AQ turned a queen, my AJ turned an A, I flopped two pair and it held up, I turned two pair with Q4s to beat a flopped two-pair with T4o. One of those easy nights.

Overall, I'm in the middle of a winning streak. Two/three straight wins at GC (if you count $4 a win), almost $200 at our home game last Wednesday (which is monster if you know our game). The key is to keep working and not get too overconfident. Because these win streaks are always followed by losing streaks.

Goal results:

  • Count the friggin' pot. I'm getting better at this, but still occasionally forget to do it in a hand. I haven't had any moments when I need to know the pot and don't though. My usual trick is to count the number of players to the flop (and the number of bets). Then, on the flop, turn, and river, count as each bet goes in OR count the total. B+
  • Don't miss value bets on the river. I don't think I've missed any river value bets and I've made quite a few. A
  • Be aggressive, but think before I bet. Hard to say, but I definitely am taking some time to think in many hands. My aggression level is getting up to where it should be, with the exception of that AQs hand. B-
  • Open-raise in position / steal when appropriate. I've made a few, but there is still plenty of improvement here -- looking for +EV situations when the table tightens up. C+

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Garden City Goals for Today

Goals for this afternoon:

  • Count the friggin' pot. Count it when I'm in the hand, when I'm not in the hand, etc. If I continue to have trouble, figure out a trick for counting it. The goal is to always know so I can use the pot size in my computations.
  • Don't miss value bets on the river. Consider folding if I'm raised, but don't miss value bets.
  • Be aggressive, but think before I bet. I don't have to instantly continuation bet, so if I miss, sometimes check, especially against a lot of players.
  • Open-raise in position / steal when appropriate. Keep the wider hand raising range, just be a little more selective with aggression.

Friday, January 18, 2008

San Mateo/Meetup Bust

I hear periodically about poker games getting busted, but never in the Bay Area. Sadly, I never played in the game in question, but if I had known about it (which is surprising, because I did look in Meetup for a poker game a few times) I would have tried to make it a few times a month as time permitted. So, I'm mostly dissappointed that this really good game that I didn't know about is now gone. I doubt any of the charges will stick, and there should be enough media coverage to keep it from happening again, at least for a game this small (and relatively innocent).

Info from players there:

The funniest part is the undercover cops that played in the game were notable for playing really, really badly. So if a new player plays in your home game and plays horribly, make sure they're not a cop :)

For my home game, as long as I don't take a rake, even for food, everything should be fine.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Garden City 1/14 Results

Ok, post-Monday Garden City results.

Overall, up $4. 6/12 LHE, 2.75 hours, up $17. LO8, 1.5 hours, down $13.

When I got there there was a single LO8 table running so I got on the list as the 7th or 8th player. In the mean-time, four 6/12 tables were running and I got a seat immediately. As is my way, I quickly won a few pots, then lost more than I won to drain back down to about even. I made a few mistakes (hands in a second) but the other notable thing was that I was really tired after about 90 minutes. I kept giving myself a pep-talk, took a break, kept concentration, and did ok. I know my reads and some of the little things were off; I need to avoid playing after a full day of work.

One of the dealers warned me the LO8 table was bad, so I went over and took a look, and it didn't look great but I figured I'd sit anyway to see how it played. A big factor was the LHE table got really tight and we chopped blinds or raised and take it a ton. Nothing holding me to that seat. After almost three hours my name was finally at the front of the LO8 list -- of course, at times, the list didn't move for 30 minutes or more. I decided to pick up my chips and get some refreshments. Right after I stood up, they called my name...

The LO8 table was mostly older regulars. There was one super-fish who kept calling down with a non-nut hand which could only go one way and he was getting cut up like the unnamed extras in the Kill Bill series. In a way, it was kind of sad -- he kept rebuying. While I was tired and the rest of the table didn't have too many soft spots, he was getting killed. He alone kept me from getting up.

In one hand I raised As237s. Flop comes A28 and I bet, he calls. Turn is another 2, I bet, he calls. River is a J, he bets, I call after a little thought. He flips over a bare jack. Yeah, that's it. I scoop, and regret not getting another value bet on the river (I thought we were chopping, but even if we're chopping, I should raise just in case -- it is very unlikely he has me both ways since all four of his cards would need to play).

Sadly, I played very few hands with the strategy I outlined earlier. So much so that the guy to my left was making tight player jokes at my expense (when I got up, he said, "This will loosen up the table!" -- funny guy, missing a few fingers on his right hand, ex-military contractor). So while the fish was spewing chips (and another black guy, although not as bad) I got very few of them. Hands I did play were KsJx9s8s (flop KT8, I raised... K on turn, guy calls me down with straight draw that hit). I took a cheap shot with KcQQ8c, folded QQxx, JJxx in EP (both hit sets, one won, the other didn't). I also raised AhKKJh from the big blind for value, but check fold when the flop comes all low cards. There was also the hand I limped in LP with QJhT6h and flop comes JT7, I bet and get one caller. Turn is a 9, I bet OOP, he calls. River A, check-check, and he shows ATxx. Couldn't play that one any better.

Oh yeah, and one old guy got so tilted when his decent hands went down that he start swearing and slapping the table. Apparently that's normal for that game. All the old guys knew each other -- since only one table runs usually, I expect they're all very familiar with each other. Still though, while a lot of them were reasonably tight and aggressive, it seems like they were playing a touch too loose. I'd bet there is some money to be made on that table (especially when bad players sit down) but the win rate has to be less than limit hold'em, both because there are less fish, and because you a lot less hands. The basic strategy is probably a little too tight -- if you loosen up a bit, get in cheap where you can, and play smart poker post flop, you can probably turn a steady profit with less variance than hold'em. Two-to-three guys had over $800 sitting in front of them.

Some hold'em hands:

  1. I limped with Q9s in late position, 6 see the flop. Flop comes 956 rainbow. I bet and get called flop and turn. I think an ace came on the river. I check behind on the river and get shown J9 -- possibly missed a bet there.
  2. In late position, I raise with KJs (I'm new and more aggressive, remember?). Two callers, flop comes 943. I bet, he calls. Turn comes Q, I bet, he raises ($16 more), and at this point, I say screw it and call since I'm essentially pot committed (planning to put in the last $4 on the river). Without the gutshot I'd never call though. Anyway, the river comes T, and I apologize for hitting as soon as he throws his money in. He had QJ. My one suck-out of the night.
  3. KK in late position, called in three spots. Flop comes TT9, I bet, three call. Turn is a jack or queen, I bet, two call. River is a blank, this other guy leads into me and I call. He shows a full house -- way to get value, buddy, gotta raise the turn :)
  4. I fold K8s with nobody in the pot in the CO. Realize a split second later that new improved aggressive me need to raise there. Oops.
  5. This is a hand I wonder about. I limp with Kd2d in late position with 5 players in. Flop comes TT8 with two diamonds, checks to me, I bet, and two players call. Turn is another low diamond, checks to me, I bet, and the guy to my right raises. Now I go into the tank. I specifically remember watching him see the flop and didn't have a read at the time but when he re-raised I strongly thought he had been slowplaying trips. Don't ask me how, I just had a strong sense. So, I ended up three-betting, and he called. The river is a third ten, and he leads into me with a slightly shaky hand. FYI, he's a relatively aggressive, slightly too loose, player I've seen before. He'll often raise with hands he shouldn't but plays pretty obviously post flop, with a few tricks thrown in. So now I have him on quads, and I think for 30 seconds about dumping my hand. Yeah, even after three-betting the turn. Part of my problem was I didn't know how much was in the pot (more on that later) but I was REALLY close to folding. Any pair and I'm screwed. The only thing I can beat is a bluff or an idiotic flush or straight. Thinking through it now I was getting 11:1... So he needs to be bluffing less than 8% of the time. Given my show of strength on the turn, the hand tell, and the dangerous board, I think I can save a bet there. Thoughts?
  6. I fold 73s on the turn with a board of A85A with two of my suit. I was getting 5:1, but didn't know that, because I hadn't been counting the pot. For my next session, my goal has to be counting the pot, I'm definitely getting limited by not counting the pot.
  7. I limp with 65s in early position with a flop of J76, one of my suit. I bet, get two callers. Turn blank, I bet again and get raised. Ok, done with this hand. I think I carried aggression too far in this one.
  8. I'm in the BB with a straddler on my left (relatively good player, a touch loose, he's leaving the table after this hand). Gets to me with four in, I have 99, so I raise for value and everyone calls. Flop comes K65, I bet, he raises, a few callers, and I call. Check-fold turn. That sucked... Should I be raising 99 for value in that spot?
  9. I raise KTo in the CO pre-flop and the small blind (semi-loose, but decent playing and seems to be able to bluff) calls. BB folds. Flop is all babies, check, I bet, he calls. Turn another baby, check-check. River is no help, he bets and says "AK no good", I fold. Figure he had to have me beat in that spot, with the call out of the SB and the board.

My goal review:
  • If Hold'em: mix it up a little more. I did mix it up, but I think I put money in in bad spots. I also missed a few obvious steals. B-.
  • If Omaha: play tight, exercise solid starting hand choices, and RAISE FOR VALUE. Did fine, but not great. B+
  • If Omaha: count the pot and divide by two. In terms of counting the pot in general, D-. At least two/three times I needed to know the size of the pot and didn't. Definitely my top priority for next session is to force myself to count the pot until it is second nature.
  • For either: Write down big hands in my notebook. Yeah, I did this. Maybe not as much detail as I could, but I did it.

In terms of general rambling, I think my LHE games needs to loosen up slightly like I did this last session, raising with weaker hands in position and leading out more. Along with that though, I think I need to consider who my opponent is before I make my continuation bets, especially on the turn. I didn't pick up one pot with aggression in this fashion -- that should tell me I'm putting in too many bets while I'm behind. And the key is to consider player tendencies and patterns.

Poker After Dark Season 3, a.k.a. "Who is this Marianela Chick?"

I remembered to DVR the new Poker After Dark shows this weekend, and watched the first episode of the second week last night. Quality, quality episode. I've never seen Sam Grizzle before, but I see how he got his reputation. I'm a little confused where he got the $20K from to be on the show without any visible sponsors, but he's got a pretty grating personality.

If you haven't seen it, the lineup: Gavin Smith, Grizzle, "Sheiky", "The Mouth", Jean-Robert Bellande (looking good since his Survivor run), and Hellmuth.

The highlights were pretty much every player berating Matusow for a bad push and giving another well-respected player a lot of chips. And Hellmuth and JR getting into a monster argument (including Gavin yelling at the tournament organizers -- I can't tell if it was in jest) over who shows their cards first (FYI, I think Hellmuth was totally in the wrong, but maybe I don't know 'poker etiquette'). I will say, this is a great example of why Hellmuth is a good player -- he's playing amazingly.

BTW, did you know Matusow went on a date with Kathy Griffin?

Also, there's this Marianela girl who's replaced Shana. While she's not as horrible as some of the hosts, she definitely comes off a little ditzy. We'll see how she does in the long run. On this first episode, she definitely had that 'Ew, gross.' look when Matusow put his arm around her and held it there for a whole minute. Pretty funny. Her site is here.

I kinda wish I'd DVR'd the first week, but I'll catch it in the re-runs. Sounds like it was a good one too.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Limit Omaha Hold'em Poker, 8 or Better

There's a 6/12 Limit Omaha 8 or better table at GC that's been running consistently. For whatever reason, Thuan and I have gotten interested in it as a way to grind some money.

Here's some excerpts of our conversations:


Are you thinking of GC this weekend? I'm probably gonna go Sat. afternoon, but I might play Omaha to switch things up a bit.

As far as Omaha, since it has dropped to 6/12 it seems to be holding on pretty well at GC. From what I've heard, O8 is easier to grind in by just playing tight which might fit my abilities. This is of course in the vacuum of not ever sitting in the game and only watching that one time.
Well, I only have 4 hours of GC Omaha experience. My sense was that initally I was playing too loose and you'll fare much better w/stricter starting hand standards. Even so, I haven't come to a conclusion about where to draw the line on hands... i.e. do I play 2347 single suited for 1 bet? How about 2 bets? What if it's 6+ handed? From LP? etc.... I also took some losses in the blinds playing for 1 more (half) bet, so I need to figure out how not to chase that... maybe just give up more often.

I'm also not positive yet on PF raising... when to do for value vs. isolation (if that's even possible). I've read and will reread the Omaha section in Doyle's book, but I think they're a little too tight for this game. I also noticed that at my table, people did play lots of PP and it seemed like boats were the normal winning hand (but I think that's my imagination).

I'll let you know how that goes.
A great Omaha resource is Badger's pages:

Omaha favors tighter standards and punishes looseness, unlike hold'em where loose/aggressives can survive because it is harder to make a hand. Personally, I think Omaha is better suited to my strengths, and a while ago, I tried to grind limit omaha online. It didn't work, mostly because most players were also pretty tight and aggressive. I ended up winning pretty reliably in the small games (2c/4c) but losing when I played higher. But I think a pretty simple strategy will earn money pretty reliably and gradually in a live setting, if players are as bad as I think they are.

From what I've heard, 2347 suited is borderline garbage. Maybe call in late position, but throw it away to a raise or in early position. You should play tighter in LO8 than PLO8 because you can't put any pressure on anyone. Main reason is you have very few ways to make the nuts in either direction.
Thanks for the link... it was pretty elucidating. I guess I always thought that it's ok to play junk for half a bet bc of pot odds, but now i see it really just gets you into trouble. In fact, I remember losing more than a couple of hands w/ the 2nd/3rd nut flush.

After losing my first buy-in... I tightened up and fared much better... winning back everything... (until I loosened up again).
btw... badger says that you need a smaller bankroll for 3/6 Omaha than 3/6 Hold'em.... he didn't really explain why. Do you know his reasoning?
Fits with his 'anti-schooling' argument. LO8 is all about starting hands with big edges, growing the pot with large draws (big edges), etc. I'm sure the high/low aspect helps too since you'll usually get part of the pot and if you are playing well you'll rarely get scooped after putting in a ton of bets.
Thuan (after a Saturday session):
So I went... They started a 2nd omaha table... but it was short-handed almost the entire time I was there. I played for 2.5 hrs before the table broke. Overall, I was getting pretty bored folding all the time. In fact, I think the only times I won were when I was playing out of the blinds. The table wasn't overly loose... averaged 4 to the flop. I bounced between +/- 100 until the last 6 hands or so when we were 5-handed. I got aggressive and lucky and ended up +100.

Anyhow back to Omaha... After an hour, I was up 50. I missed some hands and went down 50 (damn A2 got counterfeited on the river in a big pot). So it was up and down and I think I left during an upswing. The rake does hurt because the pots were mostly small. I don't think that game is always so tight, so it can still be profitable... just not sure at what rate. Give it a try... but make sure you sign up on a hold'em list too bc the omaha list moves slow.

So, while I wasn't initially planning to play Omaha when I got to GC tonight, my conversation with Thuan kind of convinced me otherwise. I'm going to check it out and if the game looks good, take a shot. Or get on the list and when my name comes up 2 hours later take a shot :)

For those reasons, I've reviewed a lot of the basic strategies (Badger's site is awesome for that). Here are my goals for tonight:
  • If Hold'em: mix it up a little more, mostly by raising pre-flop with slightly lower standards than I normally do. Also, be aggressive on the flop and with semi-bluffs. Maybe even a little more aggressive than the right mix, to try it out and see how it feels. Of course, my loose is probably a good player's normal game :) Specific pre-flop: raise more weak aces, play unsuited connectors (in position) raise more borderline hands if the table is tight (i.e. KJ, A8, if the situation is right).
  • If Omaha: play tight, exercise solid starting hand choices, and RAISE FOR VALUE. The biggest danger is playing too many hands because I get bored. The other big danger is missing bets and raises.
  • If Omaha: count the pot and divide by two. Well, in the cases where I have a naked low draw or a high draw and a low is possible (or will be possible).
  • For either: Write down big hands in my notebook. Not all the hands, just quick notes on the ones I get involved in so I can judge my play.

Omaha starting hand guidelines (mostly from Badger's discussion):
  • AAxx (raise in any position)
  • A2xx (raise limpers if the xx is coordinated, call in EP position to get other players in)
  • Axxx suited (raise limpers if I'm coordinated, otherwise call; call in EP)
  • A3xx (less raises with this one, unless suited or connected)
  • Four cards ten or bigger (not trips) (get in for cheap, probably no raises unless I've got suits or something else with it)
  • KKxx with two decent cards (probably not raise unless I can reduce the field or I'm really coordinated)
  • Consider other reasonable hands with aces (AK54 suited, AKQ4 suited) These are more marginal and I don't want to go overboard.
  • In position for one bet, large pairs (QQ, JJ, TT, 99) with some coordination if it is a smaller pair.
  • DON'T PLAY 23xx! A scoop is very unlikely, and if I hit the ace, for the low, someone else will have top pair. Thuan says play 2345, and I suppose I'd play that, but barely...

Friday, January 11, 2008

GC 1/4: Putting it to Bed

Time to summarize the 1/4 session and move on (especially since it is a week later). First, I'd like to address Thuan's comments:

Just a note on my PF hand quiz. A lot of the marginal hands where I say fold/limp, etc... really depend on the game situation. Have I been showing down strong hands? Is the table tight? What's my image? Who's in the BB? Have I been raising a lot lately? Have I been out of the action a while? At your level, I think you can benefit from being flexible with your starting hand strategy.

Also... a couple of times you mentioned that you folded a hand PF bc the table was tight... for example JTo in 1 away from the CO. I said limp... but if the table is tight and it folded to you, you should raise if the table has been tight. (You didn't mention if players had entered in front, so I assumed not).

As far as middle unsuited connectors go... I think you'll be fine if you avoid them, but you are passing up opportunities to hit some big hands. I'm also not advocating always playing them...
The main difference between Thuan's hand selection and mine is he plays the weak aces strongly in position (which I should be doing -- obviously not A2o, but A8o in position is a good hand to raise, and suited aces too), plays middle unsuited connectors period (which is definitely against SSHE's suggestions, and I'm not wild about it), and essential steal-raises with marginal hands in late position (which I agree with).

I'd say this is a decent leak for me -- I'm not playing as many hands in +EV situations. I need to be more situational when I decide to play or not, and especially consider position. Again, I don't think I'm giving up a lot of EV in each situation, but since the situations come up quite a bit, it ends up being a decent amount of money. Ed Miller has a nice post on Taking the Training Wheels Off that relates to this.

As far as the insta-call tell... I thought we talked about this... they are obviously saying, I have a hand that I wouldn't bet, but will call. You will also see players in front of you pretend to bet and check to make you think they'll call. If you have anything, you should bet when you see these tells.
That's the thing -- I keep getting nailed by this because they aren't pretending... They just want to get their money in to see the turn card as soon as possible. I just need to realize that they'll do that, and bet my hand anyway. If I really want to distinguish between the tell and them betting out of turn, hesitate for a second, and they'll throw their money in if they are trying to bet. I feel like an idiot falling for it so often (about once every other session).
I think you played well, but I'd like to see you take more shots at pots... (though admittedly, I didn't see any decent opportunities from your hand history) and take the initiative PF and on the flop more.
I agree, although lately, I haven't seen so many openings. The worse the players are, the less you can pick up pots.

I do need to open up my game a bit more, both pre-flop and post-flop, and give myself permission to mix it up a little more in spots. Maybe, that's just a matter of realizing that I know I'll make some mistakes, record every hand I play so I can reevaluate it later, and chalk any -EV up to learning. Honestly, I have always been a conservative player, so opening it up really won't hurt my earn rate that much...

So that's my one goal for the next session:

I have permission to open up my game a bit.

Other observations from my notes (I'll ignore 3/6 and focus on 6/12 now):
  • The table was pretty good, with about pretty bad players on it at one time, plus some medicre players, and nobody I was really scared of.
  • I had relatively bad luck with some good mixed in. I had:
    • large wins: 45o, ATs, AQs, AA
    • small wins: 44, KK
    • small losses: AJo, QJo (bluffed), A2s
    • large losses: 99, KK, AA, K9s
    • I had premium pairs (QQ+) 4 times and won 2 of them. One of the two I won was just the blinds.
    • I flopped a set 2 times and won 0 of them. At least I flopped a few sets though!
    • I won 6 hands out of 94. That seems low. Ten hands would be my fair share, but you've gotta figured I'll win less just because I play tight. It still seems 1-2 hands low for my average, but, all but two were pretty big pots.
  • As far as mistakes go, I can only think of a few (Thuan, feel free to chip in a few too):
    • Missed bet on the turn against the lady when she tried to insta-call me.
    • Hmmm... I feel like there were more, but I can't find them. It was a pretty straightforward session, honestly. Probably my biggest mistake was not playing a few more hands.

As far the goals for 1/4:

1. Take notes to give me a hand-history. A+. I took notes the whole time, and learned a lot from them.

2. Lead out more. I did lead out a few times, and even got away from hands in certain cases. B, just because I'm sure I could have been more aggressive.

3. Loosen up a little in late position, raise more, and open-raise more. Other than QJo, I really didn't do this. This goal needs to carry over to the next session. D+.

4. Early on in the session, don't assume everyone is bluffing me. Near the end of the session, don't tighten up to protect my stack. I didn't slack at the end of the session, but the 3/6 session I felt pretty disjoint and made some mistakes. Not horrible ones, but mistakes. B-.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

GC 1/4 Hand History: $6/12

This is the second part of the hand history from this post, containing the hands after I got my 6/12 seat.

Before I begin, I've gotta say that the whole hand history process (taking notes, entering them in, expanding and formatting them, posting, etc.) has been a huge time investment. Granted, it is worth it because it gets me thinking about my game, but I can't imagine I'll do it again in this detail. At minimum though, I'm going to take notes on the hands I get involved in, especially larger hands. It is really great to be able to confirm my feelings (wow, that was a bad day) with actual notes, or not, as the case may be.

Another thing I should mention is that I think taking notes probably HURT my win-rate to some degree. After all, if you write down your hole cards after every fold, plus the other notes and thoughts you have, that's time you can't pay attention to how hands are unfolding. One thing I found that helped was to watch the action until the dealer gathered the chips into the pot before the flop, then write down hole cards then so you don't miss much. Of course, when I was in the hand, I never wrote down my hole cards in case someone could see.

Anyway, here's the rest of the night at 6/12. It was a wild ride, as you will see, although I've had larger swings before. Again, as before, if there are no notes after the hand, assume I folded pre-flop.

$6/12, Garden City, Friday Night, from 8:30 to 10:30 pm 94 hands total, -$73

When I sat down, a number of the players were laughing and joking. Always a good sign. I didn't immediately spot any players I'd played with before that I thought were weak, but I recognized the guy to my left and a few others. Realistically, I didn't think it'd be a super profitable table, but see what happens early in the session:

  • 69o (BB) (raised to me, 3 players) Easy fold.
  • 25o (SB)
  • 83o (But) In this sequence, I noted that it folded to the blinds at least twice. The table seemed relatively tight.
  • 63s
  • 77 (CO) Limp (four players to the flop). Flop T93, fold to a bet. Probably could/should have raised since it is LP, but that'd trap me in the hand a little more. [Thuan says limp or raise.]
  • JTo Fold. [Thuan says limp here, but I think that's too loose given the position and since the table was relatively tight. Suited I'd obviously limp.]
  • Q2o
  • 92o
  • 45o (BB) I checked my option, obviously, with maybe 5 players in total. Flop comes 654 and I lead out even though I'm not wild about the board. Another 5 on the turn makes me a little more secure, and the guy to my left calls me down. I don't have a ton of notes, because I played the next hand too. One funny thing I remember is that the guy to my left had queens -- he didn't raise pre-flop for some reason, and he was lamenting it. Along with that, a guy in middle position admitted AKo, which HE ALSO DIDN'T RAISE. I got really lucky just being in this hand in the first place, because I'd most likely folded to a bet (even with good odds, 45o isn't great). I told them that too (a little innocent tilt never hurts anyone).
  • ATs (SB) When it got to me, 6 total players were in, and I actually remembered to raise. The flop came Axx and I bet it down the whole way with one guy calling. I think he had a weaker ace or second pair. I was nervous about a better ace, but since he didn't make any moves at the pot, I just kept betting, and it worked out this time.
  • AJo (But) I limped this. At the time, I had just won two pots in a row and I already felt like I was frustrating the other players. But in position, I have no excuse for not raising. Flop came Axx with two diamonds, checks to me, and I bet, and two call, a tricky guy (TG) in EP and an old guy (OG) in middle position. TG had been betting a reasonable amount and OG was predictably old man tight, plus a little frustrated. On the turn a third diamond came, checks to me, I bet, TG calls, OG check-raises. I looked down, and I had no diamonds. Plus, OG gave a speech ('Oh, what the hell, I'll raise.'). So I mucked right there. TG calls, no diamond comes on the river, and OG bets and gets called and shows down the nut flush. Pretty happy with the play there -- OG wouldn't have raised me on a semi-bluff.
  • 83o (I take a hand off and scribble notes like crazy on the last three hands)
  • AQs (LP) Raise. (this time, I'm not going to be an idiot). Bunch of callers (5ish?) to a Q55 flop. While the 55 makes me a little nervous, but I bet it down and aggressive asian guy (AAG), two seats to my right, calls me down to the river. Didn't find out his hand. My stack is now $380ish.
  • A5o
  • K2o Fold. Around this time I'm having some 'Winning tilt.' Hard to describe, and I don't think it effects my play too much, but I'm happy to have won so much so quickly (over $200 in less than a circuit of the table). At some point I should figure out how I play in winning tilt (in losing tilt, I usually tighten up a bit and get too attached to my premium pre-flop hands).
  • 52s
  • 53o
The guy to my left is a lot of fun -- I'll call him Happy Asian Guy (HAG) for the purposes of this post. I was going to call him Fun Asian Guy, but the acronym didn't work out quite as well. Anyway, I've seen him around, he he always seems to be happy, always gambling, very experienced, but plays a ton of hands. A great guy to have at the table.
  • 42o (BB) Check, fold flop when I miss.
  • 96o (SB)
  • A2o It is five- or six-handed now, a few people busted or went for a walk.
  • Q3s
  • K7o
  • 64s
  • 64s (BB) (straddled, 4 in to me) Called, missed flop, folded.
  • 72o (SB, chopped)
  • A7o (But) Fold, but this is one hand where I probably should be raising, according to what Thuan says. I think I should be playing weak aces more in late position and getting more aggressive with them. [Open raise, read dependent, raise if just one limper]
  • QJo I open-raised this one when it got to me, but the big blind and HAG (on the button) call. Flop comes A58, I bet the flop, and both call. Turn comes offsuit 7, checks to me, and I take another shot at it and bet. HAG raises me, I show my hand as I'm mucking for advertising. My thinking on the turn is that often the ace will scare people enough that they won't chase quite as much. If they both fold 20% of the time, then it is +EV. [Thuan says call QJo -- I was getting a bit aggressive, but I think it is ok since I was first into the pot and it really was just a blind steal.]
  • 99 There's maybe 3 players in the pot already, and I raise it up. Everybody calls. Flop comes K98 rainbow. Checks to me, I bet, tricky guy (TG) raises, and I call to keep some people behind me in. A raise won't protect my hand here but on the turn I plan to check-raise. Which is exactly what happens when a blank comes, and it's me against tricky guy. Of course, a Q falls on the river, TG leads into me, and I make the crying call. He had JTo. At this point, I made a mental note that TG likes to bet and raise his draws, so call him down more than usual. [Thuan says raise one limper or less -- I raised more than one limper. Maybe I was too aggressive with a medium pair?]
  • T9o Fold. [Thuan says: "Call if pots are usually unraised." This is maybe another leak, I'm not sure. Thuan definitely likes the middle unsuited connectors, while I never play them. Maybe I should loosen up, but I actually don't think this is a good play here because it's middle position.]
  • T3o
  • 52o Fold. My chip count is now $266. I took a $100 hit in those last few hands.
  • ?? (BB, maybe chopped?)
  • 44 (SB) Limped, HAG checked his option. Three players in. Flop came out J82 and it checked through. Turn was a J, and I bet out, nobody called. I figured I most likely had the best hand and it'd be hard for anyone to call on a draw.
  • 76o (But) Fold. [Thuan says, "Call if 3+ limpers in front." I don't think there were in this case.]
  • A4o
  • 84o
  • J3o
  • K6s
Around this time, someone actually said something about the notebook. Took them long enough. HAG was joking about what I was writing down, so I just told them I worked for the IRS. No problems, nobody gave me any flack. I'm sure it gave me a more serious image though. I told them that I was just keeping track to see why I was losing so much. HAG also confides that he kept track of his losses one month and he lost about $1500. So he stopped keeping track :) Perfect guy to have at the table, plays loose, has fun, knows he loses overall but doesn't care.
  • Q4s
  • Q7s (BB)
  • Q9o (SB) (raised EP, 3 players) Fold.
  • Q3s (But) Fold. I have $271.
  • 93o
  • A7s Limp. Flop comes 89J, I check, button bets, I fold flop. It is now 9:25 pm. [Raise if 3+ in front, otherwise call.]
  • K3o
  • 75o
  • 92o
  • T9o
  • AA (BB) Raise, obviously. Flop is 965 with two spades. I bet, two call. King of spades on the turn, I lead out since I have the ace of spades, one caller (HAG). River comes an ace, I bet, he folds (he said he had a 9 with an OE draw). Although, in hindsight, I'm not sure how that is possible. Maybe I have the board wrong. It is nice to recover some chips, and I'm now up to $306 again.
  • 94o (SB)
  • K2o (But)
  • T9o
At this point, a new woman sits down (although she looks familiar). And she says, "What table is this? 20-40? 6-12?" Wow, never heard that before. It's the real deal, later they offer her a seat in the 20-40 by name. I'll call her LL, for loose lady. Actually, here's a table map at this point (from memory, I didn't write it in the notes):
Seat 1: OG. Old guy, kinda tilty, pretty loose, on a short stack. Tends to call down too much.
Seat 2: AAG. Seems to play solid, but aggressive. Relatively tight. By the end of the night he has a mountain of chips in front of him.
Seat 3: TWG. Tight white guy. Seems pretty solid, doesn't usually bet or raise without a good hand. Not that he can't mix it up, but he's familiar and I know he plays pretty well.
Seat 4: Me
Seat 5: HAG. Happy asian guy. Loose, has reading ability, plays decently post flop but his pre-flop looseness is hard for him to overcome. Will bluff.
Seat 6: Loose older guy. Didn't get into any hands with him, but he rebought a few times.
Seat 7: ??. A few different people, nobody scary though.
Seat 8: LL. Loose lady. Aggressive, will raise a lot of hands, calls to the turn with anything, but can fold nothing on the river.
Seat 9: TG. Tricky guy. Likes to bet/raise his draws, maybe a little too loose, but seems to not make a lot of mistakes.
  • J5o
  • QTs I limp along with a bunch of others pre-flop, including loose lady. On the flop of KQ6, she leads out, OG raises, and I fold. None of my suit and I can't chase for those odds. She ends up showing down Q2o, but loses to a king (OG).
  • A8o Fold. I have in my notes that OG shakes a ton. Usually with decent hands, but not always.
  • 42s
  • KK Raise it. Get 4 callers. Flop is K98 with two spades, I bet. TG raises, I have the nuts, but just call to check-raise him on the turn. The turn is a third spade, I check, TG bets, TWG calls in the big blind, and I call. Raising won't help now, and I figured TG was on a flush draw. I do have the king of spades though. River is a blank, we all check, and I say, "Shit, I missed a bet." Until TWG turns over 42 of spades. Crap. Maybe I should have raised the turn, but it wouldn't have gotten anyone out and I'm likely behind with the action the way it is. If the board pairs I could probably check-raise the field on the river too. Although, this may be fancy play syndrome. The way it went down, I lost the minimum.
  • 94o (BB)
  • A2s (SB) Call. Flop is J34 with one of my suit. There are six in, and we all check the flop. Turn is another 4 of my suit, so I bet out. Only LL calls. River is an ace, I bet for value, she raises, I call. She shows 52o. Darn.
  • 92o
  • A4o I have $216 on the table. I have a note saying, "Is it an act?" about LL. I wonder if it's her thing, to make everything think she sucks. Yet, I've seen enough to know she sucks. She's just got plenty of money and plays poker to take a break from 21. Another great person to have at the table.
  • J3o
  • K7o Around this time HAG tells me he's "catching up" to me. He's not trying to be mean or rude, he's just making an observation.
  • K5o
  • AA Raise. Five players call me. Flop is J64 with two spades. I bet, LL raises, OG three-bets all in. I cap it, LL calls. Turn is the king of spades, and I grab chips to bet but LL already has chips in her hand crossing the line. So I check, and she checks. Damn it. That gets me every time when they try to insta-call me. I've got to stop getting tricked by that. Jc river, I bet, LL folds. And OG turns over JTo. At least I won the small side-pot, but I missed LL's bet.
  • 86o Fold. I've got $176 left.
  • K5o (BB) Check, fold flop.
  • K6o (SB, chop)
  • 93o (But)
  • 84o
  • J4o
  • Q9o
  • 73o
I take a break around 10:05 pm. HAG gathered his chips and left about ten hands ago. I'm starting to get tired so I go and get a drink of water during my blinds. At most another hour of play in me. LL is still around, but she's spewing a lot of the chips she won earlier. The table in general has tightened up a bit.
  • 83o (Post, CO) I miss buying the button, so I post in the cut-off. Flop comes AK8, someone in EP bets, someone calls, and I fold. Maybe that's weak, but I just didn't feel it there. My outs would likely be clean though.
  • 73o
  • Q4o
  • 87o Fold. [Thuan says Call if two are in]
  • 33 Limp. Fold on an 865 flop.
  • K2o
  • K3o (BB) (Raised, 3 in) Fold.
  • 82s (SB) Limp. KT2 none of my suit, LL bets, I fold. LL and another woman get into it, the other woman wins because LL had AJo. This may have been the hand that busted LL.
  • K9s (But) I call, 972 flop, rainbow, but one of my suit (6 players). AAG leads, I raise him, and it folds around to OG who says, "What the hell, three-bets." He's definitely got something, and it could be a set. So I call after AAG calls. Turn is something like a king which puts two hearts out there (not my suit) and it checks to me. I take some time. OG is on a short stack, and I honestly think I have him beat. So I bet it. OG says, "What the hell, let's get it all in." He raises for $20 total, AAG cold calls after a little thought, and I call. River is the ten of hearts completing a ton of draws. It checks to me, and I check behind. OG has K9 and AAG has A9. It really is too bad we couldn't force AAG out, but I doubt he'd be folding to me on the river. Besides, I thought I had him beat :)
  • 97o
  • A6s Limp. Flop comes 987 with one of my suit, and I call a bet. Turn is a blank, and I get out. [Call... raise if 3+ limpers. Wow, raising A6s seems really loose, no matter how many limpers.]
  • J4s Fold. I have $93 left now.
  • Q3s
  • Q9o (BB) T73 flop, SB leads into it, and I fold. Nothing for me there.
  • Q6o (SB, raised, 2 in) I fold. Flop comes QJ6 and I curse my fold. Turn comes 6, and I really curse my luck. No showdown though. At this point, I decide it's my last round. Eyes burning, getting pretty tired.
  • A7o (But) Fold. [Thuan says: raise 1-2 limpers depending on my read of the players]
  • KK Raise, take the blinds.
  • 83o
  • T7s Fold. Blinds chop. Again. Table is super tight now.
  • Q9o
  • K4o
"Seat open!"

It is 10:35, and I cash out $91. I'm pretty tired now. Plus, it is no fun when you don't even need a chip rack when you leave...

More analysis tomorrow, but at least I got this stuff finally typed up.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

GC 1/4 Hand History: $3/6

I filled 8 pages of my notebook on Friday night, about a third of that spent in 3/6, and the rest spent in 6/12. I'll record my hand histories here, along with my other notes and comments that I remember now. To aid in reading, I'll color code as much as I can. If no notes after a hand, assume I folded.

Thuan took a look at the hands before I gave him the results, so I've also noted where his actions would differ from mine, in purple.

So, here we go:

3/6, Garden City, Friday night, from 7 pm to 8:30 pm
52 hands total, +$24

7:00 pm, buy in for $100

  • A3o (SB, bought button), checked after 5 limpers. [6 SB] Flop A25 two hearts. I lead into it (I'm being aggressive, right?) and get raised from the button, I call with chop outs and a straight draw, 3 players to the turn, a blank [6 BB]. Check, check, bet, call (me) fold. I thought about dropping out here, but the straight draw kept me in. I didn't think I was in the lead. Check-call river (can't fold for one bet here), and get shown 43s. -$25
  • 22 (But) Limp after 3 limpers, blinds in. Checks all the way to the river and I win with a pair of 2s :) +$10
  • ATs (CO) Limp after a bunch of players, miss flop, fold. [Raise. I agree.]
  • AKo (MP) Raise, 6 players call, flop something like J84 two spades. I check after the field. Turn another 8, I bet it after everyone checks. Two callers, I check river, can't remember what took it down, but it wasn't my hand :( -$12
  • 39o
  • A3o
  • A3o
  • KJo (UTG) Limp, fold when I missed flop. [Fold. I somewhat agree but this is a close one. I also know you would have played it :) ]
  • K6s (BB) Check, miss flop, fold to bet.
  • J7o (SB) Call, check flop, fold to turn bet. This was too loose, although Thuan says call with 5+.
  • 55 (But) Limp, fold when I missed flop.
  • K6o (CO) Fold.
Notes say I had $61 at this point.
  • A5o
  • K8o
  • J6o (BB) (raised to me, approx 2 players in) Fold.
  • J4o (SB)
  • A3s (But) Two bets to me with four players in, I cold called. Flop is TTT. Everyone, including the pre-flop raiser, checks. I'm ready to fold to any bet. Turn is an ace, and suddenly I'm interested again. Checks to me, I bet, two players call. I expect I'm chopping, but assume I have the best hand. River K, checks to me, I bet, one fold, pfr raises (which gets him all-in), I call expecting a chop. He flips over his cards, I see an ace (I'm most afraid of a T), and I flip over my ace, but the dealer doesn't chop the pot. Instead, he points to the other guy's hand again and everybody starts to explain why aces full beats tens full. Oh yeah, he's got a second ace under the first. Nice. I don't dislike his play from the turn on (he was nearly all-in and he wanted to make sure he got another bet in) but I hate his check on the flop. A lot of 3/6 players will take a card off with any two overs on a board like that, and if he loses to a ten, oh well. Not sure about my play though -- a very thin value bet once the ace comes out, since most players know that they'll be drawing dead.
  • Q7s (CO) Fold. [Call with 5+. The table was tight at this point though. Calling in EP with Kxs and Qxs seems loose to me, but I think it probably is correct in a 3/6 game.]
It is about this time that I realize I'm not even on the 6/12 list any more. Since I'm in the tournament area way to the back, I can't hear the announcements very well and it looks like I missed my call. Which is strange, because usually they repeat the names enough until they're annoying. Given the fact that the 3/6 and 6/12 were 50+ names long though, I understand if they go a little faster.

So, I tracked down the floor man and got put back on the list. From this point I'm, I'm looking at the list every chance I get, but with the note taking, playing, and looking at the list over my left shoulder at the limits of my slightly declining vision, I'm pretty distracted. Not a good thing for poker, but at least it is 3/6.

Also, around this time about 3 players get up and walk, leaving us pretty short-handed and the table really tightens up.
  • J9o
  • 76o
  • 98s (UTG) Limp but nobody else limps behind me, leaving me alone with the big blind, an older guy. Hell, what am I saying, other than the AA guy, the whole table seems to have one foot in the grave. To be nice, I offer to check it down to the river with him, since after the drop, there's $4 left in the pot. We show our hands, and he has 84o. Flop comes 567 with two of my suit! Really regret checking it down, although in general I don't think it reduces EV that much in this situation, other than my positional advantage. In this case, I'm pretty positive I would have gotten at least four big bets out of him. Oops.
  • 23o (BB) No notes, I think I missed the flop and folded.
  • K5o (SB) Fold.
  • Q9o (But) Fold. [Call if 6+. Probably true, since position helps. This is probably a place where I can play more hands in a favorable situation (position).]
  • J3o
  • K3o
  • 92s Fold. It is now 7:45pm.
  • 95o
  • 25o
  • A4o
  • 56o (BB) (raised, 5 players in, raiser is all-in). Since the raiser is all-in and I'm getting 11:1, I call it. Of course, I flop nothing, and fold to a bet at some point.
  • KQo (SB) I just call, with maybe three other players in. I generally think I should raise here, but it is close. Suited I definitely raise. Unsuited, it may be helpful to have a smaller pot so I can actually (maybe) give bad odds on the flop. In this case, I flopped nothing, no draws, and let it go on the flop. [Thuan says raise with <3>
At this point I rebuy, since I've been playing the last couple of circuits with about $35 in front of me. I've been steadily moving up the 6/12 and I'm 4th on the list. I add on $40 though because I'm getting below 5 big bets, and I want to be able to exploit any edge I have.
  • A8s (But) Limp, fold to bet on flop when I miss everything. [Raise. I think this is out of SSHE too, and probably where I'm missing some EV.]
  • A5o
  • K6o
  • T5s
  • 45o
  • 44 (UTG) Limp, call a raise behind me. Flop is 358, I check, middle-aged Asian guy bets in middle position. A few callers, I let it go. I take a look at the 6/12 list, and when I look back to the table, the river was a 4. That sucks. Even worse: the raiser on the flop had 42s, and takes the pot down with a pair of 4s. Thanks poker, just stick the knife in and twist it. As if hitting the case ace earlier wasn't enough :) Admittedly, when you make a note of every hand, you see a lot more times where you'd win when you'd usually just forget your cards.
  • A2o (BB) Check, fold flop.
  • Q7s (SB, raised in LP, 5 players in) With the raise and so many players in, I decide to take a chance and am glad I did. Flop comes 569 with two diamonds (my suit) and I like it. I lead, raise in late position, I call because it really won't help me to force anyone out and I've got great equity against over callers. I believe we get two more players for five total. Turn is a 4 putting two hearts on the board and it checks through. I'm not wild about it, but I don't have a hand yet. River comes 3 putting three hearts on the board, and I start thinking about whether a value bet is worth it. Of course, meanwhile the rest of the players ignore me because I never called time, and it checks around. I don't protest, and take down the pot. Nobody had a 2 as far as I can tell, although I probably missed a bet in that spot. Not sure about betting the turn, I was kind of hoping LP would bet it again for me and I didn't want to pay two bets for my draw against one player. In hindsight, I think I should have bet the turn and river. [Thuan said fold.]
  • K2s (But) Fold. I've got $112 now.
  • A5o
  • J9o [He would open raise at 6/12. Wow, that seems loose to me -- although he thought it was the CO because I mistyped...]
  • AKo (MP) Raise, K64 flop, I lead the whole way and am called down by one of the calling stations. He shows a K8 when he mucks. This puts me up to $150.
  • 23s
  • T4o Fold.
It is now 8:15 pm and I'm still 4th on the 6/12 list. It literally hasn't moved in 30 minutes. Then I had a brilliant thought, or at least it appeared brilliant to me at the time. At busy times with a long waiting list, the 6/12 tables probably get harder, not easier! Two words: natural selection. Assuming similar numbers of bad players and good players showing up at any given time, it stands to reason that the good players won't bust nearly as fast as the bad players, since they play better and tend to re-buy if they get cracked. On the other hand, the bad players will run through what they brought with them faster, and get replaced faster. The end result is that more good, tight players will be left at the tables, resulting in less turn over. Survival of the fittest, Darwin in action!

And me being stuck in the same place on the list for half and hour.

Well, it seemed to be an amazing revelation at the time at least.

Also notable is that no one has mentioned my notebook, even though I write in it after every hand. I guess they're way more tolerant, unobservant, or uncaring than I thought. Maybe I should pull out shrunken head and polish it between hands the next time I go.
  • 69s (UTG) Fold. Then, four players call, five players see the flop, and I would have flopped an openender with a backdoor flush draw with plenty of action. On the turn I make the nuts. Curse of the notebook, I tell you!
  • 52s (BB) (raised, 4 players) Called a raise, flopped nothing, fold.
  • K8s (SB) No notes... Maybe I folded? Unlikely if it wasn't raised. I probably called and then folded the flop.
  • T9o (But) Four players, I limped behind. Yeah, a little loose. Flop came T54, LP bets, I raise, two callers. The turn is a Q, checks to me, I bet, and original bettor calls. River K, and I check behind him -- he'd only call if he had me beat. Of course, he shows 22, so I take those tasty chips. What the hell was he doing calling me down? [Thuan says call, so I guess it wasn't too loose.]
  • T5s Limp, fold on a missed flop. And my name comes up on 6/12, so I have them lock it up for me. [Fold. Yeah, I should have.]
  • T2s Chips are in the rack, so I let this big hand go...
At this point, I moved to 6/12 with $164 off of a $140 buy-in. It was 7:30 pm and the interesting stuff hadn't even happened yet. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow to read that!

By my take, I made a two big mistakes and (maybe) a few small ones.
  • Minor Possibly the first hand, A3o, I think I should have let it go on the turn. Really, at best I'm drawing to 7 outs, and could be much worse. It is very unlikely they don't have me beat or drawing only to the open-ender. I'm not sure, but I think there was a flush draw on the board too.
  • Major ATs in the CO. Should have raised, textbook Ed Miller, and he calls it a major mistake. I was a little off after the previous two hands.
  • Minor J7o hand early on. Should call there. Still, very minor.
  • ?? Really undecided about the A3o vs AA hand. While I can't be scared of the ten or pocket aces (or even pocket kings), my bets on the turn and river are very unlikely to be called by a hand that doesn't beat me or tie me. But I also feel like I can't check there after the whole field checks. I think the turn bet is good, I'm not sure of the river. Obviously, though, once he check-raises, I gotta call.
  • Minor 98s hand UTG. I've got a decent advantage with position in that spot, and a hand that is about average against a random hand. In many cases it will check down anyway. But in those cases where we both hit something, my position is profitable. I think it is enough of an edge that I shouldn't offer to check it down to make me look like a nice person. If he asks, I probably should though.
  • Minor KQo in the SB. Probably giving up a little EV to not raise there, but it depends on who and how many are in.
  • Major Q7s in the SB. The pre-flop call is a tiny bit loose, methinks. No big deal though. I think my flop play is fine, but it is close between raising for value and calling to let more players in. The turn I should lead out on, since I've got a solid 14 card draw giving me 2:1, and I only need two players to call to make it about break-even, and three players to make a profit. On the river, I think I need to bet and not be scared of the flush. Two pair, bottom straight, even one pair might pay me off. Oh, and I need to call time when I'm thinking!