Monday, February 22, 2010


Boy, I never seem to do well online.  And it's usually the big pots that give me trouble.

Tonight, for my 'training', I first played two tables of 0.02/0.05 full table.  I basically broke even over 25 minutes, and the tables were super-tight, so I decided to switch to a single table of 6-max to work on aggression.

And I did work on aggression.  But I lost two big pots and never won a single big pot.

First decent pot I lost:

PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, $0.05 BB (6 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from

SB ($5.85)
BB ($6.69)
UTG ($6.15)
Hero (MP) ($4.97)
CO ($5)
Button ($4.79)

Preflop: Hero is MP with 4, A
UTG calls $0.05, Hero calls $0.05, CO (poster) checks, 2 folds, BB checks

Flop: ($0.22) 2, 3, Q (4 players)
BB bets $0.15, 1 fold, Hero calls $0.15, 1 fold

This was a thin call, but there's a decent chance he has a queen, I have position, and an ace works for me on the river.  The gutshot and over is the only case where I'll make this call.

Turn: ($0.52) A (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $0.35, BB calls $0.35

Boom.  I hit it.  I put out a decent bet for value.

River: ($1.22) 8 (2 players)
BB bets $0.60, Hero ...

This was surprising.  I had to put him on two pair at this point, but it is hard to lay down top pair.  He also may be trying to do a blocking bet to prevent my bet, although half-pot is a big blocking bet.  Should I lay this down here?  He was a medium range player (not tight, not loose).

I ended up calling because I could beat a queen and I've seen players do stranger things. 

PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, $0.05 BB (6 handed) - Poker-Stars Converter Tool from

SB ($5.68)
BB ($7.84)
UTG ($5.98)
Hero (MP) ($6.09)
CO ($5.17)
Button ($4.59)

Preflop: Hero is MP with 9, 9
UTG calls $0.05, Hero bets $0.20, 2 folds, SB raises to $0.70, 2 folds, Hero calls $0.50

This guy is the tightest player at the table, and always comes in raising, 18% VPIP, 13% PFR.  I called because I figured if I hit a 9 there was a good chance he'd stack off, and I was getting 2:1 plus another 10:1 implied odds.

Flop: ($1.50) J, 10, 2 (2 players)
SB bets $1, Hero calls $1

Yikes, I think this is where I started going wrong.  I initially figured I'd just fold on this flop, but then I decided that I should float one.  Uh... yeah, I don't think I have the odds to float one against a tight player.  6AA, 6KK, 6QQ, 3JJ, 16AK, 16 AQ...  maybe I'm ahead of about half his range (the AQ seems less likely), but I'm depending on him checking the turn.  I shouldn't have called, and it got me into trouble...

Turn: ($3.50) 8 (2 players)
SB bets $1.75, Hero calls $1.75

This was straight math, but bad math...  When he bet again, I figured he had the overpair... or worse. In that case, at best I have 8 outs, or just about the right odds.  But if he's got QQ, I only have 6 outs.  Actually, even with 8 outs I'm not getting the right price with implied odds.  But, for some reason, I did the math wrong and called.

River: ($7) Q (2 players)
SB bets $2.23 (All-In), Hero ...

Nice, I hit it!  But why did he push?  Maybe he has AK...  call.

Uh, yeah, he had AKo.  The river is pretty automatic though once I made the mistakes earlier in the hand. 

Ok, so, now I need to regroup.  Not a great night for me, but there's got to be a lesson here for me.  Let's see...

Recently, I've lost a number of large pots.  That could be bad luck.  The first was AQo where I hit top two but bet half my stack on the river when I didn't need to and lost to a set.  That was a hand-reading mistake plain and simple.  I lost a major pot by re-raising and calling a raise with a king high flush draw on the flop.  I lost a big pot with 99 when I floated against a super-tight player, called against odds on a draw, then hit my draw on the river but lost anyway.  I lost my stack at the $1 game when I overplayed a weak ace and attacked weakness.

I seem to lose my big pots when I'm making/doing big bets with weakish hands (one pair).  Maybe I need to look at slowing down more?

Well, I need to do goals for tomorrow night (the $.5/$1 game).  Here we go:

  1. Think through the hand from the beginning and come up with a range.  This is always on my list because I'm still not doing it.  Any time I'm presented with a bet over $10, make a plan!
  2. Do odds conservatively.  The 99 hand above was me clearly doing the odds wrong.  Try to convince myself that I don't have the odds instead of the other way around.
  3. Be aggressive from late position.  I feel like I've been doing better on this.
  4. Leave at 11 pm.  Seems silly, but this can save me a ton of money since I'll be up early in the morning and I know I play weak-tight-dumb when I'm tired.
The #1 thing on my list, hand ranging, is still not clicking with me.  I take the time, but I seem to get lazy and not think through actual hands in a range and miss things.  Maybe I need to just watch some poker and try it?  I'll do it tonight on some HSP and maybe try some hands on 2+2 tomorrow.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


First, my notes from the little bit of online play I did:

I won the first night, ~80BB (.01/.02).  This was single table, 6-max.  Lost the second, two-tabling 0.01/0.02, down about 250 BB.

What I learned...

  1. When I'm aggressive and CB, I get a lot of folds on the flop and take down small pots
  2. When people fight back, they've usually got something.  Slowing down is a good thing.  Small pots should make up for the occasional larger pot that I give up on.
  3. Fault: sometimes I fire too much, and try a second or third barrel in bad spots on bad boards.
  4. Fault: sometimes I hit a big hand, bet river, then insta-call without reading.  This is side effect of two tables.
  5. I'm better playing one table at a time and concentrating
  6. Online is good for practicing control and patience.
Tomorrow Night (last Tuesday's .5/1 game):
  1. Fire more first bets on the flop.  I'll get more folds than I expect, especially in the Tuesday game where I am considered quite tight.
  2. Raise in late position more with any hand that can be a favorite or could get some folds.  Vary the size of my raises to attack weakness.
  3. Don't play as tricky.  
  4. Floating = good.  But, on the turn and river, don't get too attached...
  5. Re-raise LAGs more to pick up pots.
  6. TAKE THE TIME every time I get bet/raised on the turn and river.  Hand range FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE HAND.
* * * * *

$1 game -- lost $18

Very first hand on a 10-handed table, EP-MP.  I had Ah3h, limped, raise to $4, I called and guy to my left called.  On flop of AJ5 rainbow, check, check, pfr $5, I make it $18.  Next guy folds, and pfr thinks for a LONG time and calls.  I don't know much about him but he looks pretty solid and I know he is week.  I'm thinking his most likely hand is QQ or KK.  Turn come blank, and I push for $38 or something like that.  He again, thinks a long time (during which time I realize he has an ace) and finally calls.  Oops -- I rebuy after he shows A9o.

In hindsight, I think this was a little reckless because I didn't know him and he didn't know me.  He just through that weak CB out there and I attacked it thinking I had the best hand.  Usually my table image is so tight that I get folds from mid-kicker aces in that spot all the time.  Also, I should have considered my stack a little longer and considered the size of the pot -- once he calls the flop, it makes it much more likely that he has an ace and is committed to calling the river too.  I don't mind my play too much, but it was a bit dangerous.

I also regret not talking more to encourage the fold.  He was right on the fence and I might have been able to push him over (tough to say -- at first I thought he was likely to just fold).

Later on, I tripled up with QQ three-way against two AJs...

At one point, I think I made a bad play by folding AJo to a raise (reasonably tightish player raised, but I think a call was warranted there).  These might be some of the places that I've been playing a little too tight, especially if I've got position and should be able to read players pretty well after the flop.

I basically never bluffed since hands were often 3+ way.  I played very few flops and hit even fewer.  Somewhere in there is my primary weakness in the game -- I think a combination of loose play and decent stakes makes me clam up and not fire as much as I should be.

I need to work on playing against LAGs.  Improving though, and opened with some stranger hands...  I just need to fire more on the flop, float more, take a card off more, etc.  While watching that I don't get too aggressive.

* * * * *

Today, tried playing 10-handed .02/.05 on Stars.  The thought was that a single table would help me read better and avoid getting too hectic, and the long-handed table would be closer to the Tuesday game.

I'd say the experience was similar, although the average player is MUCH tighter online.  I just don't think I can find the similar game.  I should probably play one table of similar stakes but short-handed to work on my aggression and reading ability.

Overall, I was down about $8.50, but it all came to one hand.  I was in LP, MP raises to $0.20 (he'd be relatively active), I cold-called with AQo, big blind, a super-tight player, calls.  I considered the three-bet, but opted not to.

Flop comes Q83 rainbow, and I like my hand.  BB checks, PFR bets .45 into 0.65ish, I re-raise to 1.20 to define my hand.  BB cold calls(?), PFR calls.  Turn is an offsuit ace giving me top two.  Checks to me, I bet 2.50, and only BB calls.  That's really odd to me because he is super tight (never raising pre-flop, playing < 10% of hands).  River is a blank and he checks to me.  Now, the question is, do I shove my last $6 in for value, or check?  Well, I shoved.  Think for a second -- was that a good play?

My mistake here was not ranging back to the beginning of the hand.  I shoved because I thought he could have two pair.  But, a really tight player calling a huge bet cold on a Q83 flop is not two pair.  There's no two pair he could logically hold!  No, he had a set of 3s (of course).  These are exactly the hands I need to improve on!!!

So, I'll play another session tomorrow, short-handed.  I may also try two-tabling the 10-handed tables, but I think short-handed is the priority.  I'll work on my aggression, and I WILL RANGE FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE HAND!  Yes, in that hand I probably was going to lose half my stack, but the river bet is a pretty huge mistake.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A win!

So, the .25/.25 game went pretty well,  I bought in for $40 and left with $102.

It was one of those nights when (almost) everything was going right, I hit a lot of big hands, and only had a few second bets hands.  I also had a least three decent-sized bluffs, so that helped the bottom line quite a bit too.

I don't have too many hands that I feel I made a large mistake on, but I do have a few I'll bring up because I thought they were interesting.  The one sizable pot I remember losing was really just bad luck (two jacks on the flop with no action, I hit the full house with a set of deuces on the turn, but my opponent resucked out on the river and I paid very little to see the showdown).  So, these are both pots I won.

First hand: I have AA in MP and I raise it to $1.25.  The host, two spots to my left, re-raises to $2.50, one caller on the button, and it gets back to me.  I thought a while, and popped it to $7.50 (I think).  The host calls, the other guy folds...

Flop came out all low cards, something like 852.  Based on the action pre-flop, I thought it likely the host had a big pair or AK.  Knowing he was definitely good enough to fold even an overpair, I checked to him, he bet $7, and I thought a while and called.  My goal was to get him more attached with an overpair, and make him think I had AK.  Of course, this plan backfired when a K came on the turn.  I checked to him, and he made a very weak bet, something like $6.50.  On the flop and turn he'd urged me to push, so I finally obliged him on the turn -- and he instantly folded QQ face up.

I think I may have left some value on the table there.  If I led out on the flop, I think he would have called at least one bet... but I'm not sure.  If his range was TT+, AQ+, there's a lot of unpaired hands that he might bet but would fold to my bet...  Although, KK he'd definitely come...  I wonder if I should have played it a little faster to try to sucker him in.  Either way, I made a good chunk of change in that pot.

Second Hand.  This one I'm pretty proud of, but I'm not presenting it just to toot my own horn.  I believe these are the types of plays I need to make more often.

I had something like 76o in MP and a bunch of people called a raise to $1...  I honestly don't remember the exact action, and it may have been a straddled pot.  Either way, the flop came out 9d8x2d or something like that.  S-, to my right, lead for about half the pot (I believe it was $3).  Since I had an open-ended draw, I called, hoping another player or two would come in.  This is a little loose, but his lead was also a bit weak and I'd noticed earlier that he'd often fire into a pot out of position in weakness.  He'd also fired three barrels then folded to a small re-raise, so I thought there was a decent chance I could make some money.

The turn came an overcard (blank to my hand and the flush), and he fired $3 again.  I knew he was pretty weak at this point, but was content to get the discounted card.  I also started setting up a bluff in my head if I missed.  And I did miss, although the flush hit on the river.  And, he once again fired $3.  So, I thought a little bit, then popped it to $12.  He took quite a while, but finally folded his hand because he was afraid of the flush, and I told him that I had had the flush (I never showed).  This is a pretty bread and butter bluff that I have been too chicken to do lately.  The reason it worked was:

  1. My opponent could... nay... liked to make lay downs.
  2. The turn and river came out nasty to many hands on the flop allowing me to represent a big hand.
  3. He exhibited a lot of weakness.
  4. I made a big bet.
The last point, making a big bet, is something I've struggled with in the past, but it worked out this time.  I honestly could/should have made it a bit larger to ensure he would fold (he was really close to calling!).

 * * * * *

Ok, my next game will likely be Tuesday night in the $.50/$1 game.  Carrying over from my previous post, my goals will be:
  1. Open up my starting hands and aggression with position.  I need to practice opening in position, and raises/re-raises designed to win the pot out-right.
  2. Hard 11 pm stop time.  
  3. Hand ranging when I get faced with big decisions.
  4. Practice online!  I hope to log-on to Stars tomorrow afternoon to get some practice in, with a focus on #1.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pre-game Warm Up...

I'm back-dating this post for Friday because that is when I wrote it.  The next post will detail my results Friday night...


Played last Friday in the .10/.20 game and lost $19.50.  Considering the loss, I wasn't that disappointed in my play.  I lost a $40 pot to a two outer (actually, the back door straight draw) so that obviously makes a winning night hard.  I did make two larger mistakes though:

I had 62s on the button and somehow got into a hand with the small/big blind.  I believe I limped from the button (probably a mistake), and bet the A x 2 flop to represent the ace.  I got one caller in the SB, so I fired again on the turn on the off chance he had middle pair and he might drop it.  When he called, I was done with the hand unless I hit a 5.  Well, a five came on the river, I value bet, he called, and I was surprised when I flipped over the 6.  I should have checked my hand before betting, or at least on the turn...  Other than the value bet on the end, I don't think I would have played the hand very differently.

Mistakes: probably too loose in the first place (62s?), might have held back on the turn bet since he has a weak ace there a decent amount of the time, or I need to at least make a bigger bet to get him off the hand (it was about 1/3-1/2 the pot on the turn, and a bad bet).  On the river, that's just a brain fart...

Second hand: 96s in MP and a limped pot.  The flop came 643 rainbow and a tightish player in the big blind leads for .50.  I raise to $1.70, and he made it $5.70. I called (mistake!), got a flush draw on the river and called $5 or so, then called $5 on the river because the pot was huge.  He had two pair

Mistake: That flop 3-bet was the decision point, and I should have just folded.  After that, the play was pretty standard because he does have three barrel bluffs in his range...

Tonight, I'm playing an alternate $20-$50 buy-in game (either .25/.25 or .25/.50) and I'm going to keep my goals simple:
  1. Be active and aggressive with the first act of aggression.  Especially in opening and in position.
  2. Focus on ranging hands, going back to the pre-flop action (something that I keep forgetting to do, but am getting better at)
  3. Be a little more conservative when it is likely I'm beat.  I.e. take the second or third act of aggression seriously, and in fringe spots (like the 96s hand) just fold it.

In other news, the .5/1 game didn't go this week, but I wasn't planning to play it anyway since I hadn't practiced online.  Mostly, I was just not feeling like I wanted to play, and I learned a while ago that I should hold off on playing if I'm not really wanting to play.

I want to play this Tuesday though, so I'll get some practice in this weekend.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Will I ever learn?

Tuesday night was, in a word, disappointing.  I had some specific notes, but I'm not sure it is worth keeping all that written down.  I will give you the Cliffs Notes version though:

In the first hour, I got up a bit over a buy-in (.5/$1 game, $60 buy-in). Then, I lost a big hand (me: flush draw, top pair, and gutshot draw on turn, him: two pair) and my cards got really, really dry. Fluctuated around the buy-in, dropping to $30, then back to $60, and then I just kind of imploded after 11 pm. I lost half my stack with JJ played too passively, then I lost a chunk re-raising a LAG (and not getting it all in) to be called and pushed on by another player, and finally I tilted off my last $18 in a pot I really shouldn't have even been in.

I'm realizing something though -- in the $.5/1 game, I'm playing too tightly and passively, probably because the players are pretty aggressive and it is for more money.  In the .10/.20 $20 buy-in games, I'm playing too aggressively and much looser (but probably not too loose).  I seem to flip-flop back and forth -- trying to apply what I learned in one game to the other game when it really doesn't apply that much.

So my goal is to come up with a strategy for each game.  I'm playing the $20NL game tonight, btw.

* * * * *

First, the $1/2, $60 NLHE game:

I'm depending too much on my cards and missing some great spots to pick up pots. Playing tightly is fine, but I'm getting into so few pots that I can't win money. Furthermore, sometimes I felt like a bet or raise would take down the pot, but my cards were garbage, so I didn't do it.  But, it is easier to bluff if you have no draws -- then you don't lose more money!

It is almost like folding is a reflex.

Overall, I play WAY too tightly and I need to work on situational aggression.  In a more aggressive, but tighter, game, cards have a value beyond just what they'd win if I ended up getting all in and seeing a showdown.  Any two cards have some value simply because I can get other people to fold, something I don't get as much in the looser $20 NL game.  Furthermore, any two cards in position have more inherent value because of the position and the possibilities for bluffs.

Of course, I shouldn't play garbage hands in position if I'm not willing to bluff with them.  That's something I need to work on.

Action Items for $0.5/$1 $60NL game:
  1. Open up my starting hands and aggression with position.  Button, LP raises, re-raise LAGs.  Big raises pre-flop to steal pots and increase the chances I'll get called later -- like the call, call, call, $10 bets...  Bets on the flop to steal pots.  Doesn't matter my cards -- if the situation feels right, do it.
  2. Hard 11 pm stop time.  After 11 pm, I start getting too tight with fits of idiocy.  There is a reason I busted at 11:30 Tuesday night.  I plan to pack up at 11 pm, no matter what.
  3. Do not play short stacked (below $40).  I play worse when short and I can't put proper pressure on other players.  Leave if I'm not comfortable rebuying.  Limit myself to $150ish total buy-in.
  4. Hand ranging when I get faced with big decisions.
  5. Practice online!  This is something I should be doing, but haven't.  I plan to practice this strategy at some very low stakes tables online this weekend.  That should get me used to the adjustments and fix my folding reflex.

    * * * * *

    Second, the $.10/$.20 $20 NLHE game I'll play tonight:

    I'm already getting into a lot of pots although I'm not raising as much as I would in the $60 game, but I'm not sure that's the correct thing to do with loose-passive players.  If I raise too much or bluff too much, I'll inflate the pot when I have the worst hand. So, for this game, I'm going to focus on continuing the aggression, but reading hands better and not making wimpy bets.

    The last part is because most of my bets are around the half-pot range.  I think I'd be better served to protect my hands and extract value by varying the bets based on the situation.  So that is something I'll work on tonight.

    Action items for the $.10/$.20 $20 NLHE game:
    1. Focus on hand ranging using the pre-flop action too.  The ideas below will get me into a lot of pots and a lot of tough decisions.  So the main focus is hand-ranging.  Items 3 and 4 in this list will fall into place if I hand range correctly.  The main thing I need to do is go back to the beginning of the hand when I hand range -- I think that is something I'm taking a shortcut on.
    2. Continue to open and limp into a lot of pots, especially in position.  This has been working so far, and I believe I need to play more pots to exploit my edge.
    3. Avoid over bluffing.  These are not the guys to bluff as much.  Try to bluff with outs and think through the hand ranges before I fire multiple barrels.
    4. Vary my bets more.  Mostly, this is betting the full pot when appropriate, but I should also look for spots where a smaller bet or raise is more appropriate for what I want to do.
    Ok, this is a good list.  I'm excited about tonight!

    Tuesday, February 02, 2010

    NLHE tonight

    I have the $1/2 ~$60 buy-in NLHE game tonight.

    The table is generally pretty loose and aggressive, and there are a number of good players (and some bad ones).  In the past, I've been too passive and it got me into some sticky situations.

    I haven't played NLHE in a while, but I know my issues are... passivity... multi-barrel bluffing in bad spots / for small amounts... making big mistakes on the turn and river (missing value, call-downs, etc).

    So, my goals for tonight are, in order:
    1. Range hands.  Any decision in big pots on the turn or river, think through my opponents' hand range. Then consider my options.
    2. Really, range hands.  I talk about it, but I get lazy -- this is my main focus tonight!  If I lose, but I think I thought through each hand, I'll be happy.
    3. Bluff intelligently.  This means, if I'm going to put in a bluff, think it through, and select a bet size that will not be too weak.  It is better to not bluff at all than to bluff an amount that can be called pretty easily.