Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Bet You

A quicky for now...

I'm really enjoying Laak and Esfandiari's I Bet You on MOJO. Of course, I don't get MOJO, but I do get YouTube...

It appears most if not all episodes are up, and episode 4 (the first part linked above) is the best once I've seen out of the first 4. There's a little gem of a bet in the middle of episode 4 that even made Laak cringe and stay out of it. And giving a sound guy a free-roll on a run in the dessert... hilarious!

In other news, I closed out a profitable April (up almost a grand total, mostly do to two winning sessions in the 1/2 NL game) and I'm super busy so I won't be playing much poker in the near future. May includes a lot of tutoring work, my parents visiting starting tomorrow, and a trip to LA for a conference (but I will play some poker in LA).

Friday, April 18, 2008

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Now, about that live NL game I was talking about...

I came out ahead $470 after 4 hours!

We were playing five-handed and it seemed like everything was going in slow motion. I was very at ease, felt like I had good control, and never really got unlucky. I mean, a drunken lemur could have made a profit with my cards. But really, the hundred hours I've played in casinos has definitely helped my NLHE game a ton.

I think everything I talked about in the last post helped me succeed, but the biggest thing was just being comfortable with being stacked. Before, I was always afraid of losing money, making me shy away from the right play which would put my stack at risk (but also put pressure on the other players). Winning and losing $400+ at Garden City has definitely made me more comfortable with losing a few buy-ins, which let me play the game right.

Other major items were playing the player, thinking through my actions, and something I didn't mention the first time through: managing the pot. You see, in a $100 buy-in game with $3 blinds (30 big bets), you are pretty much committed if you flop a pair. In a $100 buy-in game with $2 blinds (and no rake!) you can actually avoid getting pot committed if you size your bets correctly. Before, I played the game very aggressively, raising big pre-flop and getting myself committed with hands that missed. This time, I wasn't afraid to raise to $5 or $6 pre-flop, I never committed myself pre-flop (except for AA once), and I didn't bet the flop or turn sometimes if I only had top pair to keep the pot small.

I was also reading players pretty well. I never really had to depend on a read for a big lay down, but a few times I clocked other players based on tells. I was also able to push people off hands with semi-bluffs and raises.

A few hands:

77 UTG, five-handed, $100 effective stacks. I raised to $6, folds to the blinds, and the game host calls in the BB. $13 pot. The flop is AAT, he checks, and I check. The host is a pretty good player, but bluffs a lot yet is way too quick to fold against me if I show strength. He's had a losing night, so that makes him even more timid when I show strength.

On the flop, he checks, then I check. In this spot, I wanted to keep the pot small if he hit, yet the check should scare the hell out of him. The turn is an 8. He leads out for $7, and I call. At this point, I think it is still likely I have the best hand (i.e. he's taking a shot at it), but again, no point in raising and building a big pot.

The river is a T, and my hand is crap now. He checks, and I know he doesn't have an ace. In fact, it is very unlikely he has a T also, but he most likely has me beat. So I bet $12 or so (into $27) and he insta-mucks. That is not necessarily a bet I would have made before because I was scared of monsters, but it is obviously a profitable bet.

Ts7s in the BB. I get a free flop, with four players in total. $8 pot. Flop is J9s7, I check (the game is relatively passive, I don't mind my hand, but again, keep the pot small out of position). The guy to my left (aggressive, takes a lot of shots at pots, but probably the best player at the table and a good hand-reader) bets $7. Folds to me, and I think a while. Obviously, I've got a backdoor flush, gutshot, and a pair. Against his range, I'm not in too bad shape. So I call. We're talking back and forth, and it is clear he thinks I have a draw of some sort.

The turn comes 3s with $22 in the pot. Now I've got a flush draw with my gutshot. I check and he bets $15. Normally I'd call here, but he didn't seem that strong (just a general feeling and the betting patterns). He's got about another $100 behind and I have him covered. So, I thought, then check-raised to $40. He starts thinking out loud, then folds his top pair saying I had two pair. I take the pot and agree with him.

Again, this is a great example of the difference between now and then. Before, I'd chicken out because $40 seems like a lot of money. But, this time around, I was willing to put my money at risk and got rewarded for it. And the threat of a bet on the river forced him to fold his two pair also.

One of the secrets of my success was that my opponents were not making such semi-bluffs against me, probably due to my stack. That helps a lot.

In poker, chips are not money. Chips are ammunition.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Back to Live NLHE Ring

So there's this game I thought I talked about before in the blog, but maybe I haven't. It's a local, long-running $1/$2 NL game with a buy-in of $100 that's been running twice a week at a guy's house.

Oh, and did I mentioned I lost $1300 in the game? Nobody likes to see the graph above when relating to poker profits...

Well, I'm going to take another shot at it tonight, hoping that my experience playing limit live and sufficient bankroll will power me to a win. Because a while ago I vowed I'd beat that game. It's just too bad it isn't closer to my house, otherwise I'd play it more. Of course, that's if it happens, there may not be enough players for tonight...

Keys to my success tonight:

  • Expect to be stacked. Playing scared is what lost me most of the money in the first place. If I am at peace with being stacked, then I can put pressure on the other players. For that reason, I'm prepared to pull out 3 $100 buy-ins at most.
  • Take time, think through my actions. Consider bluffs, raises, everything. Don't play fast, because these guys have played a lot of hands and any mistakes could kill me.
  • Consider bet sizes to apply the most pressure / allow me to apply the final pressure point bet.
  • Play position -- tighter up front, looser in back.
  • Play the player -- avoid good players if out of position, do what I can to get into hands with bad/tilty players.
  • Take advantage of my image. I was always very tight/nitty before. So I'll start off playing tight, then raise, bet, and check-raise with hands to put pressure on the other players.
  • Semi-bluff like a mo-fo!
I'm pretty excited. At the minimum, it should be fun to see these guys again...

(oh, and if the game doesn't go off, then it is 6/12 or 8/16 at Garden City)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Goals for Tonight

Goals for Tonight:

  1. Play 8/16. Do my best to get in an 8/16 game unless I get in a really awesome 6/12 game first. I need to push myself a bit to play higher so I learn faster. For the record, if I didn't have the backing arrangement, this would probably be a dumb move.
  2. Rethink pre-flop hand selection. I think I've gotten into some habits which work for a loose 6/12 game but lose me money in the long run. Like limping suited connectors in EP in a tight game. Open my raising range in LP and look to isolate bad players. Fold small pairs if a lot of people aren't going to be in the pot.
  3. Think through my options on late streets. This has been on my list a lot, but I'm still trying to make decisions too quickly. Like folding to one bet on the river when the flush comes.

Hands and Analysis from 3/30 GC

Played 6/12 again tonight. Lost $96 total.

The worst part is around 9:30 (I'd been there for 2.5 hours) the drunk guy left along with the really loose calling station lady. I was up $44. I took a break, almost left, but decided I'd play another round or two even though the table was a lot tighter and most of the players were pretty decent.

And I quickly lost $150 or so. And then I lost even more, including getting bluffed on the river. Oops.

I made some back, but I regret my decision to stay. I also realized just how much some of those guys can outplay me (one guy in particular I thought was too loose, but I realized that he'd been trying to play pots with the loose drunk guy). There was another hand too where he was just playing a level above me...

Anyway, I'll post hands on the blog, but I'm pretty frustrated because I'm not progressing as fast as I'd like.
That was an excerpt from an e-mail right after my session. I'm feeling a bit better now, and definitely have an urge to play poker tonight. I'll start a separate post for tonight's goals, in this post, I just want to analyze my play a bit.

Before I get to the hands, I played online Wednesday night, and I dropped 30 big bets. Good thing I was only playing 6-max .25/.50! But it was a very educational session because I realized a few things:
  • Online is much more aggressive than live, but it is much harder to bluff (probably because more people do it).
  • I can open with a lot more hands on the button or cutoff if players are tight and nobody has entered yet. I think I need to be looser on the button, especially if I can put in the first raise.
  • I have to throw away more hands to a raise on a tight table. Hands like T9s, QJs, ATo, 66, etc should just go right in the muck if it's a tight table and I can't plan on anyone playing behind me.
  • In early position, drawing hands (suited connectors, small pairs) need to go into the muck too. I don't get enough players.
  • After I lose a hand or two, I tilt by playing borderline hands (see above). I also tend to resist folding and look for reasons to call (maybe he doesn't have the flush and my gutshot draw is live). I know this happens in real life because it happened last session in one or two hands I went too far with.
  • As a corollary to above, I'll try to blast may way out of trouble sometimes when I'm likely beat. Only keep firing if I have outs and/or I have a reason to believe they'll fold the turn or river.

The Hands:

I'm not putting too much discussion, just some hands for now. Some of these are 'play along at home hands' and the result will be in the comments. I should mention, there was a drunk guy in the 8 seat (I was in the 5 seat) who was playing 90% of hands and raising at least 60% of them. He had a monster stack built up, then lost it over the first two hours of play. He and the guy next to him also got into a little conflict ("Don't put your hand in my face!"). I'll call him drunk aggressive guy, DAG.
  1. KTo on button, I limp, 5 total see the flop. KJ9 flop, SB bets (pretty tight, knowledgeable player), one caller in MP, what should I do?
  2. Notes are spotty on this one and I can't completely remember the outcome. But I'll make it up. I have KQo UTG and limp. One more limper, then DAG pops it. Two more callers (one in BB), and I three-bet. It was a three-bet for value more than anything, and an attempt to get rid of the limper to my left (it didn't work). Everyone just calls (5x3 = 15 SB). Flop KdT8d, I bet, two call (including BB, but DAG folds). Turn is 3d, I bet, only BB calls. River is a 9, BB leads. I called, and I think he had a smaller pair (so I won). My real question is: am I getting too fancy with the limp, three-bet with the KQo?
  3. 7d6d on button. DAG bets from UTG (meaning he has two cards), we get another caller, and I cold call (plus the BB). Flop comes A8s4s and DAG bets. I'm the only caller. I figured I was getting nearly the correct odds for a gutshot. He'd bet a number of hands to the river with jack high, so I would also get committed if I made any pair. Turn is the 9x, so I called another bet from him since I'm now open-ended. River is the 5s. He bets, I raise, he three-bets, and I groan and call, asking him if he has the flush. He rolls over 3c2c. To say he was simultaneously confounding and exciting the table is an understatement.
  4. It was around this time that DAG left. I can't remember if this hand was before or after that though. AA in MP, I raise and there are 5 players to the flop. Flop is AQcTc and it gets capped (can't remember the exact betting sequence, but I put in the last bet). I didn't bother waiting until the turn since it was a draw heavy board and I was able to put some double bets in to put pressure on other players. I think there were two other guys in with me, so total pot is 11 BB. Turn is a K, person to my right checks, what should I do?
  5. AKo in EP. I raise, get four to the flop of 875 rainbow. I bet, the only caller is a loose aggressive player (I'll call him Shades) on the button. The turn is an 8, and I'm pulling chips out to bet again, but Shades has already bet. I say, "Whoa, whoa, what about me?". He takes his bet back, and then I check, he bets, and I immediately count out two bets. He instantly three-bets. Wow... So I fold. He shows K7o, and in my usual fashion, I've already forgotten the board. I ask if that was a bluff with a gutshot, but someone else reminds me there was a 7 on board. I think Shades thought he was bluffing me off an overpair, when in fact, if I have capped, I might have gotten him to lay down. Maybe... Thoughts? Did I go off the deep end in that hand? What do you think of Shade's play?
  6. Qd2d on button. Two limpers, and I limp also, getting 5 to the flop. Flop comes Q9c5c, Shades in MP bets, and I raise. I'm going to call the guy Shades. He plays a lot of hands, maybe 40-50%, bets a lot especially in position, and has a nice stack built up. He's shown down all sorts of hands, including situations where he bet draws. Anyway, my raise gets it heads-up, and I figure he's got either a weak queen, a 9 or 5, or flush/straight draw. The turn is the Ks. I bet, he calls. At this point, I'm thinking 'No club, no club!'. Well, as luck has it, the Kc comes on the river. He bets, neither slowly nor quickly. What should I do? (I'm getting 7:1).
  7. Yikes, this is a lot of hands. Well, two more. At this point, the table has tightened considerably and there is no one I'd say is a fish. The only thing keeping me in my chair is the fact I'm stuck $150 (which is very bad). Anyway, I get AsTs on the button. I think there were two limpers to me, so I raised, and we got four to the flop. Flop is 4d3d2d. Checks to me, I bet, BB calls, player to my right check-raises, I call, BB calls. At the time, I knew I shouldn't even call the bet, but I was hoping I wasn't against a made flush. Let's just say I was probably tilty. Player to my right is a relatively solid player but he is on the loose side. The turn is the 7d and both players check to me. So I bet. Why not? I figure the bluff could succeed 10% of the time, and my play is consistent with one big diamond. BB calls, guy to my right raises, and I instamuck. Ooops! I don't think I need much help analyzing this hand, this is just evidence of how I play when I'm tilted.
  8. 55 in UTG+1. I limp, and we get six total to the flop of 653 rainbow. Checks to me, what should I do?
Ok, that's it for now. I'll have analysis in the comments and in my next post, along with my goals for tonight.