Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Tournament Prep

I haven't played much lately; just the .10/.20 game last Friday (lost $1.20).  I also played some baby stakes online and won a few bucks.

Part of it is that I just haven't felt like doing the prep work -- like writing in this blog.  And if I'm not willing to do the prep, I'm not willing to put a decent amount of money at risk.

But, tomorrow night I have a one-table $50 tournament, so that is worth prepping for.  I'm going to play a couple of SnGs online in a few minutes, but I wanted to get down my notes from the last tournament I played.  I believe my points (primarily from not being aggressive enough at the final table) are valid for tomorrow night.

The result of the tournament was an overall win of $58 by finishing 5th.   I felt like I played a pretty good tournament (getting 5th out of 40 players is not bad at all).  Where I really felt like I made some mistakes was not enough aggression in spots where other players showed a lot of weakness.  For instance, when we were on the money bubble the SB limped, and I really should have shoved on him, since he was quite active and usually raising, so the limp really meant weakness. 

The other place I thought I might have made a mistake was against an UTG push for 4x.  I ended up folding A7o in the big blind.  I had about 8x the big blind.  Ultimately, though, the UTG was a pretty knowledgable player, and I was likely ahead of his range, even before the odds I was getting.  So I should have called there.

So, for Thursday night, these are my goals:

  1. Start small.  There is a rebuy, but I'd rather not, and stacks should be pretty large to start.  So play plenty of pots, but play tightly once a few bets go in.
  2. Open it up and attack weakness once the rebuy period is over and everyone else tightens up.  The goal is to pick up plenty of dead money and not worry about going out before the money.
  3. If I get short-handed, steal a ton.  

Friday, March 05, 2010

Prep For Tonight

Just doing a quick post to prepare for tonight, the 0.25/0.50 game I played last week.

First though, I should post my notes from Tuesday's game (0.5/1.00):

+$16 ($9 of that profit from Chinese poker before everyone showed up)

Early on, I raised in the CO w/ ATo to $4.  Called by 3.  Flop comes A53.  We all check.  Turn comes 3 (with a flush draw).  Host in the SB, very aggressive and loose, bets $6, one caller, I call.  River is another 5, and he leads out for $25.  The pot is about $30.  What to do?

I should mention that the host is generally very tight to my raises, especially out of position. In fact, before he looked, he said "I'm going to need a big hand to call this." but then he called pretty quickly once he looked.

I spent a lot of time on the decision for the call. With a large, almost pot-size bet, and he has made big bets into me for value in similar spots, but he has also made big bets on the river to bluff.

Anyway, he had 44 and was bluffing. I ended up folding, but I think a few things could have helped me with the call. First, he made a big value bet into me before when it was heads-up -- in that spot, I think he'd bet less with a full house to try to get a call. Plus, it was a good card for him to bluff. Ultimately, though, I made two mistakes: 1) not betting the flop and 2) not raising the turn. Either of those could have made my decision much easier on the river. I was VERY close to calling though.

Later, I doubled with aces -- a pretty tight but aggressive guy makes it $7 after a limper.  I call since I have $40 behind, he'd likely fold to a raise with the majority of his hands, and my stack size will let me push over his continuation bet on the flop.  Of course, two others called, so I was regretting my decision until the limper makes it $20 more.  Pfr folds, I push, only the limp-raiser calls. We ran it three times (he had AK) and I won every one!

* * * * *

I have some thoughts on my overall strategies, but I'll save them.  For now, some goals for tonight:
  1. Take my time and range hands from pre-flop action.  There is a reason this is back to #1 -- I think it is the most important thing I can do.
  2. Look for openings to bluff the turn or river.  This is something I need to work on, and I could add a lot to this goal, but I'll just keep it simple.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tonight's Goals

The 0.50/1.00 game is tonight.  Time to get my goals down...


  1. Too afraid, too tentative in this game.  
  2. Making bad plays late in hands (turn/river).  This includes both calling in bad spots (see the AJo hand in the last post, calling against odds, weak-ace hand for stacks a few games ago) and folding in bad spots (see the hand over the weekend).
  1. For issue #1 above, I need to get more aggressive in position.  Granted, I don't want to go overboard (I'm a tight player by nature, and playing too far outside of that in a big game will not be profitable), but I need to:
    • Float a bit more.  I'd like to have a gutshot, but sometimes do it with nothing.
    • Fire one bullet into flops with as little as a gutshot.  Not necessarily fire the second.
    • If checked to me in position, fire once on the flop, any two cards.
    • Re-raise loose raisers a little lighter than I generally do.  Re-raise tight raisers a little lighter than my inclination (for instance, re-raise JJ).
  2. Issue #2, and due to my first goal, think through the hand from the beginning and come up with a range.  My reading has been improving by focusing on this.  I'm also doing much better on taking my time.
  3. Leave at 11 pm. I'm especially tired tonight, so I need to leave by 11, and if I lose two buy-ins, sooner.

    Monday, March 01, 2010

    On a roll...

    Gotten a bit behind in updating the blog.  So I'll do a few updates all at once:

    * * * * * 

    Last Tuesday, .5/1 NLHE, $60 buy-in: +$55
    I don't really remember very many specific things from this game, although it is notable because it is my first win in the game in five (six?) tries...

    The most notable part of it was that I really didn't have any hard decisions or close situations where it wasn't clear what I should do.  Also, I didn't really have any second best hand situations, so that helped.

    I did play props for most of the night -- that was probably the most profitable decision of the night!  I started by playing $1 red/black with the host who plays about 50% of the hands yet sleeps his prop over 50% of the time.  I was probably up $10-$15 from his slept props alone, and I may have slept one prop the whole time.  On the other hand, I hit very few of my props, so I definitely would have lost in the props if he'd been paying attention.  I definitely plan to play the props again!

    One thing I realized coming out of the night is that I won no hands with the worst hand.  I believe that is an important long-term ingredient to winning.

    Let's be honest, I'm never going to be a very loose player.  That is just my natural style, and I need to work with it rather than against it.  On the other hand, I need to pick up pots when other people don't want them and it is something I should be working on.  Generally, that will mean firing at the flop more, and making a few bluffs late in hands each session.  

    * * * * *

    Friday night was pretty interesting.  I was planning on playing the 0.10/0.20 game but when I showed up at his door his first words were, "Did I forget to e-mail you?"  With that game cancelled, I was free to attend another game a few miles away with .25/.50 stakes.  Because I crashed the game, we were playing 11-handed, although a few people dropped off pretty quickly.

    I had a pretty rough go of it early with a few second best hands and set-over-set (granted, it could have been a lot worse, though).  I bought in for $40, added $20, and was down to a little under $20 when things swung the other way and I ended up with a profit of $96 on the night.  I doubled with AK (three-bet all-in vs AQ), won a strange hand (below), and had a number of other big hands.

    Here are a few hands I wanted to bring up from that night: 

    I limp in late position and see a flop four ways with AJo.  It was out of the ordinary that I didn't raise it -- I can't really remember why I didn't given limpers and my position (mistake #1).  Anyway, the flop comes A93 rainbow and it checks to the guy to my right who bets $1.5 into the $2 pot.  I think for a while about raising, then decide to take it slow and call (mistake #2).  Everybody else calls.  Turn comes 6 putting two flush cards on board, and the small blind, an experienced player but he was playing pretty tightly that night, pushes for about $8.  Everybody folds to me and now I've got a decision.  I was pretty sure I was good on the flop but the 6 doesn't seem to complete anything scary.  I was very, very close to folding, but I ended up calling and was shown A6o.  I feel like this was a larger mistake that night -- leading into a bettor on an ace high board typically means he can at least beat an ace.  Possibly AT would do that because he's committed anyway, or maybe a flush draw, but it was a very strange play if he didn't have a big hand.  Oops!

    Here's another crazy hand.  I raised 55 to $2 in CO and promptly got re-raised to $7.  With three callers though, it is a must-call for me.  The flop comes A65 rainbow, it checks to me, I check, and the pre-flop raiser checks (darn).  The turn was a 7 (flush draw now possible) and the BB bets big ($14 into $28... wait, maybe it wasn't as big as I thought at the time???), I raise to $30 w/ $12 behind, he calls.  On river a nasty card drops, an offsuit 4.  He instantly pushes me in...  I'm debating the call and start counting out my chips when he immediately says, "You have a set, right?  I have an ace"...  So I called :)  I'm not sure what I would have done in that spot otherwise -- I really did think I was beat by an 8.  But... with only $12 behind and a $90 pot, I doubt I would have folded.  But I'm glad he made it easier on me.

    The thing that really confused me was that I had him pegged as one of the better players and was really surprised by that push.  I guess my min-raise looked really weak on the turn.  My goal was to keep him from folding, and it worked, I just didn't expect the desperation push on the end.  Thank goodness I didn't have more chips or I could have made a big mistake!

    Final hand -- KK vs the host.  He was in pretty early position (maybe a limper?) and raised to $3.50.  I bumped it to $8 and he called pretty quickly.  It was late in the game, I was just about to leave (one more hand), and I was up quite a bit.  I didn't want to piss people off by running over the table at the last minute and I didn't want to get too committed and lose a big pot right before leaving (he had about $100 in front of him).  I know, these sorts of emotions aren't necessarily the right thing when in a hand, but I have to be honest.  That said, after he just called, I assumed I was ahead and I knew he was a pretty savvy player who would realized I had a pretty strong hand.  I had him on a pair, AK, AQ, etc.

    The flop came good for me, 6 4 3 rainbow. He checked, and I checked. The goal there was to get him on the hook for more and plant some doubt that I had a pair. He is the type of player that will immediately fold once I show decent strength after the strength pre-flop. The turn came a jack, which was a little scary, but he made a tiny bet -- $2.50. That told me he likely didn't have a jack but had a little something. Again, from similar hands, he made tiny bets and folded the instant I raised. So I called the turn, and the river came another small card. He led out $3.50, and again, I called. He ended up showing tens.

    I think I missed quite a bit of value on this hand.  I should have probably bet the flop, because he could at least call a decent bet with most overpairs, and there's really good value for me.  Yes, he could raise me and leave me with a decision, but I can handle it -- wimpy plays like this are costing me money in the long run.  I also could have made a smallish raise on the turn or river -- he may have called one or two small bets before he let it go.  But, probably the flop is where I lost most of my money.

    Anyway, enough for now, I'll post goals for tomorrow's game tomorrow sometime.  I also played a tournament over the weekend and I have a few comments on that too.