Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Perfect Perfect

(Perfect Perfect......actually not - see edit at bottom)

I have played live limit hold'em for about 7 years, and today I can "proudly" say that I have hit perfect perfect for the first time ever. (I have lost to perfect perfect 3 times in live play, and that ratio of just 3:1 is on the low side....)

My play is poor on every street of this hand. How's it possible to do the wrong thing 4 times in a row? My only "defense" about this hand was that the hand occured in the first hour when I like to do my advertising....

hand #1
live $8/$16 LHE, 9 handed
preflop: 4 limpers, Hero raises in SB with 5d4d, everyone calls (6 players, pot size 12 small bets)
flop: Tc9d5s, Hero checks, check, check, MP bets, everyone calls (6 players, pot size 18 small bets)
turn: Tc9d5s4c, Hero checks, check, check, MP bets, muck, muck, Hero raises, BB mucks, EP 3 bets cold, MP tanks and mucks (something like A5s), Hero asks how much EP has left since he was fairly short stacked (answer 1.75 big bets), Hero calls (2 players, pot size 16 big bets)
river: Tc9d5s4c5c, Hero bets, EP raises all in for 1.75big bets, Hero makes crying call

EP tables 44 for a 1 outer for the Hero, and given MP's hand, more completely - a perfect perfect.

Woot! Hilarity ensues....

(edit #1) ok, I have come to my senses and realized that this is not a perfect perfect hand. My record is still intact at 3:0.
As you might have noticed, there is a runner runner diamond draw on the flop for Hero.... (which was noticed by Hero in the actual hand)

(edit #2) ok, I ran Poker Stove on EP's range in this hand (which I comfortably put as TT-99, 55-44, T9s, 54s) and our equities are 93.388% and 6.612%. This works out to a ratio of 14.124 and the pot is offering me 14.5:1 (including the rake, and not including tip). This works out to a 0EV call (after tip). So I think I may have only made bad choices on 3 of 4 streets....

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tomorrow

"Once the worse thing possible in your life happens, be assured, you have nothing else to be afraid of"

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Life's 2nd chances...

It was a clear and sunny day. I was driving in the #1 lane eastbound on Interstate 80 to Reno, approximately 5 miles east of Nyack Road in Placer County California. I went into a slight bend in the highway which happened to be in the shadow of a hill.

As I passed the transition point between bright daylight and the darkened shadow of the hill I saw the dark patch of pavement. My right foot came off the accelerator and started to gently press the brake. The dark patch was from snow melt and had very recently refroze as ice.

The instant my tires hit the ice, my car started to rotate clockwise. A feeling of dread flooded through my mind and body. The vehicle completed a 180 degree spin as it slid into the snowbank on the right hand side of the highway.

My vehicle was at a stop, and my hands still clutched the wheel. I started to breath in a deep sigh of relief and reflect on how close a call it had been. At this instant my eyes darted up drawn by some movement.

As my car had rotated completely around, it was now directly facing oncoming traffic (though gladly on the shoulder of the highway).

I look up and see a large black SUV coming down the same lane that my car had previously taken. (It was an LX470 which is basically a Land Cruiser; not as big as a Hummer, but certainly it was no RAV4) It hit the same patch of ice with predictable result. The rear end of the SUV slid around, and once the vehicle had rotated 45 degrees, the entire truck rolled over and was flying through the air directly headed for my car. An oversize SUV at highway speed, utterly out of control is looming large in the windshield.

The testimonials people give about big accidents always include "It all happened so fast." and "My life flashed before my eyes." The experience felt exactly like this. My brain had only sufficient time to conclude "oh my god, I'm going to die!" I'll never forget that feeling.

I don't know which part of the SUV made contact with my car, but the front of my vehicle was crushed past the front tires. My car bounced around and ended up skidding half-way out into the right most highway lane.

During the crash, the airbags deployed (both fired as I had a modestly heavy travel bag on the passenger side seat), and the air was filled with a smoky acrid smell. My mind was processing things in slow motion. I smelled the smoke, and for an instant I thought that maybe my car was on fire, but then realized the smell was from the airbags.

I don't recall feeling any pain though I noticed my right hand was bleeding. (the deployment of the air bag had smacked my hand/arm which then collided with the rear view mirror; I later found the rear view mirror on the floor in the back seat of the car; I would also later discover that my legs and chest must have hit something as I had some moderate bruising)

I was deeply disturbed that the occupants of the SUV were seriously hurt. I mean how could they not be? At that moment in time, I was actually afraid to get out of my car and see them. Like a coward, I didn't want to get out and look, so I called 911 on my cell phone. I spoke with the 911 operator who took my info before I hung up. This had probably taken about 60 seconds.

At that moment, I see a blur passing my car. Someone had stopped their vehicle a short distance down the highway and was running back to the scene. The man ran straight past my car and went to the SUV.

I opened my car door and staggered to my feet. Standing just outside of the car door, I started shaking quite noticeably. Part of it was from the very cold temperature, but in retrospect I think mostly from the shock of the event. I was shaking so much that I reached back into my car to get my coat. By the time I put my coat on and looked up, I noticed a lady walking along the top of the snowbank near my car. I didn't comprehend it at that moment, but she was the driver from the SUV. (She was the lone occupant, and amazingly she was unhurt. Seat belts really make all the difference in the world...)

She turned to me and asked me if I was alright. I replied that I thought I was okay. I turned my head back to look at my car, and then turned back to her. I said "You know, this is probably not a very safe place for us to be right now."

At precisely that moment, I caught size of a white blur. Another sedan had come around the corner and hit the same patch of ice. It took spun out and came flying across the road towards us. The lady standing on the snowbank screamed and jumped away. The white sedan crashed into the snowbank at a 45 degree angle about a foot in front of my car causing no injuries. (my car and the SUV were probably only about 2 car lengths apart) Amazingly the white sedan had hit neither of our vehicles, just the snowbank.

A young lady got out and looked around at the crumpled and destroyed front end of my car. She quipped, "Did I do that?". I replied that amazingly no, she completely missed both of our vehicles. The young lady got back into her car, pulled out of the snowbank, and drove off.

Miscellaneous post accident thoughts/notes
- 6 cars slid on the ice and crashed in that immediate area in about a 10 minute span of time. The snow melt must have just frozen over within the few minutes leading up to my accident(s).
- It was very dangerous to remain in my car for so long after the crash. I think that if I had someone else in the car with me, I would have responded much more quickly to the situation to get our bodies away from the danger zone. As I was alone, I acted much more slowly. I don't know why I have this tendency.
- the man who had run back to the scene was actually the husband of the driver of the SUV (they were driving separate vehicles). I spoke a little with the man and he remarked that my comments about the accident were so similar to his wife's. Apparently, when she lost control of her SUV she thought she was going to die, and she saw my vehicle and also thought that she was going to kill not just herself but whoever was in my car.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Continuous repeat

Desperately searching for someone who appreciates the concept of emergency jogging......

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Optimism

I feel very optimistic about my short and medium term poker prospects. I feel close to the top of my game (both cash games and tournaments) in many regards - game selection, psychological conditioning, hand reading, opponent profiling, playing endurance, etc. Each time I play, while there are still moderate numbers of missteps, I feel that I'm identifying and decreasing the frequency with which I repeat these errors.

I'm a much stronger player now than I was 6 months ago. I'm very proud of the work I have put into my game and the progress I have made. I sincerely hope that my future results can match my current enthusiasm.

I depart on Thursday for an 11 day trip to the Pot of Gold series in Reno. I likely won't be making any blogging updates until I return....

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Pay off wizard

Yes, the title describes me. I have to play better than this if I want to keep playing in the big game.

hand #1
live $100/$200 LHE, 10 handed
preflop: Hero raises UTG w KsKd, loose player (LP) calls, relative-newbie (RN) calls, muck, tight but tricky player (TP) calls, muck, muck, solid button calls, loose and bad SB calls, BB mucks (6 players, pot size 13 small bets)
flop: Qs9h6s, check, Hero bets, muck, RN calls, TP calls, muck, muck (3 players, pot size 16 small bets)
turn: Qs9h6s7c, Hero checks, RN bets, TP raises, Hero 3 bets, RN calls, TP calls (3 players, pot size 17 big bets)
river: Qs9h6s7c4s, Hero bets, RN calls, TP raises, Hero throws up and calls, RN mucks. TP tables As8s

The moment that TP raised the river, I immediately recognized what had happened on the turn. TP semi-bluff raised his A high to buy 2 outs in a big pot against my apparent AK. Despite "knowing" this I paid off to see the hand anyways.

When the spade came, I was supremely confident that RN was not on the flush draw, and I fell into the trap that TP had a top pair type hand. I really didn't think the hand through since TP will not call on the turn with a top pair/no redraw type hand in the face of such a strong turn 3 bet check raise from the preflop/flop leader.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The big game

My LHE session today spanned a solid nine hours of play. It started in the $20/$40 game, transitioned to the $40/$80, and finished in the $100/$200 game (which is the highest stakes game in the room and city). I was able to play close to my A game for the majority of the session, although I found I was having difficultly concentrating (most easily detected by how my mind would often wander after I mucked and didn't follow the action of others) by the time I reached the main game in the $100. This made for a very easy decision to call it a day.

This was my first foray into the $100 game. I have been monitoring the $100 lineup closely over the last few days, and I have put my name up on the waiting list a couple of times when I thought the lineup looked favorable. The good lineup didn't pan out by the time I reached the head of the queue, on those occasions.

There is a moderate overlap of the player pool between the $100 and $40 games, and to an even smaller extent, into the $20 game as well. I am certainly aware that there are a number of soft spots in the $100 game, but I haven't done enough "data mining" to be able to identify more than a handful of these. However, this afternoon I clearly saw 3 very weak spots in the game with an additional 2 juicy call-ins on the board and quickly seized the opportunity to get into that game at a time when I had, relatively speaking, great table conditions and my maximum amount of opponent knowledge (meaning I had moderate amounts of prior table time with some of both the good and bad players at the table in lower stakes games, roughly about 3/4 of the players at the table).

The $100 feeder game was great until 2 really bad players went broke, 1 left after sucking out in a monster pot, and another left for dinner. The game actually became short handed, going down to as few as 3 players. After about half an hour of short handed play, I was moved to the main game. Hence, in my roughly 2.5 hours of $100 play, I was able to span the whole gamut of full ring loose play, short handed play with very strong players, short handed play with loose players, and the main game which had a majority of decent to very strong players. A fairly comprehensive experience all around; I really couldn't have asked for much more.

I did butcher a few hands, and shamefully, here they are:

hand #1 - Passive journey to Zero-valuetown
live $100/$200 LHE, 8 handed
preflop: Hero raises UTG w AsAd, loose player (LP1) cold calls, tight player (TP1) cold calls, mucked to loose player (LP2) in CO, button mucks, solid SB calls, strong player (SP1) calls in the BB (6 players, pot size 12 small bets)
flop: 7h7sTh, check, SP1 bets, Hero calls, LP1 calls, TP1 mucks, LP2 calls, SB mucks (4 players, pot size 16 small bets)
turn: 7h7sThJh, SP1 bets, Hero sees LP1 ready to muck, Hero calls, LP2 calls (3 players, pot size 11 big bets)
river: 7h7sThJh3d, SP1 bets, Hero raises, LP2 mucks, SP1 tanks and calls. SP1's 6 high flush is good

Hero calls on the flop to hopefully preserve the ability to have the field face 2 big bets cold on the turn (assuming a turn brick). On the actual turn, Hero is way behind the majority of SP1's turn betting range and calls to improve his pot odds by having callers behind. On the river, Hero loses his mind and makes a zero value raise despite being behind on the majority of SP's holdings (at least comfortable in the knowledge that SP1 will never 3 bet a worse hand). Not only is this a zero value bet, but additionally it typically means that Hero will have to reveal his hand to the table. What a bonehead move!!!

hand #2 - doubt on the river
live $40/$80 LHE, 8 handed
Villain is a strong semi-LAG who is a winning player in the $40 and $100 game, his open ranging range is fairly wide given his style and also the way the game has been playing for the last few orbits. Suited hands like K6s, Q8s, etc are easily in his range. He seems more aggressive preflop and on the flop, but less so on the later streets.
preflop: muck, Villain raises, mucked to loose CO who calls, muck, loose SB calls, Hero calls in BB w 7d7h (4 players, pot size 8 small bets)
flop: JdTs4d, check, check, Villain bets, CO mucks, SB mucks, Hero calls (2 players, pot size 10 small bets)
turn: JdTs4d5h, Hero bets, Villain calls (2 players, pot size 7 big bets)
river: JdTs4d5hQh, Hero checks, Villain bets, Hero tanks and mucks

On the flop, Hero's hand stands to be ahead of Villain's range. However, there are abundant draws on board. Hero calls and hopes to see a blank on the turn before making further commitment in the hand.

Turn is a blank, and Hero fires. Villain will never muck a worse hand here, and would always raise a better made hand (many of which would just be for a free showdown), but may also raise here as a total bluff. A call almost certainly means a worse hand with some type of draw. Straight draw, flush draw, perhaps a small pair and a flush draw. In retrospect, given this hand range, I believe the Villain will bet 100% of the time on the river regardless of the card when checked to.

The river brings a moderately scary card. However, it still really only improves the straight draw type combinations. Given the 8:1 pot odds, this should be an easy call down for Hero.

Friday, September 21, 2007

More two pair hands

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Two pair hands are the bane of my LHE existence.

Here are 3 more from my session today.

hand #1
live $40/$80 LHE, 9 handed
preflop: muck, loose player (LP1) limps, muck, semi-lag limps, average player (AP) limps, button raises, loose player calls in SB, Hero calls in BB w KhJc, all call (6 players, pot size 12 small bets)
flop: Kd6h3d, blinds check, LP1 bets, muck, AP raises, button mucks, SB mucks, Hero cold calls, LP1 calls (3 players, pot size 18 small bets)
turn: Kd6h3dJs, check, check, AP bets, Hero raises, LP1 calls after a couple of seconds, AP immediately calls (3 players, pot size 15 big bets)
river: Kd6h3dJs4d, check, LP1 immediately bets, AP immediately calls, Hero mucks.

I keep telling myself not to muck hands as good as top two pair in big pots on the river closing the action. That is especially true since, given the action, AP's call means nothing other than giving Hero even better odds to make a crying call. At any rate, I lay the 17:1 that LP1 plays completely straight up, and fortunately LP1's flush is good.

I still don't like my laydown, and I'm going to give myself gray hairs or a receding hairline if I keep doing this.

hand #2
live $40/$80 LHE, 7 handed
button is an excellent player who's regular game is the $100/$200 game, but he is waiting for a seat in the $100 game. He has been at the table for about an hour, and has open raised from the hijack or better on 100% of the opportunities. Villain has been quite successful thus far in blind stealing (and in most cases was given some modest action without going past the turn too often) Hero has perhaps under-defended (although the specific number of incidents where Hero was BB was probably only 2. One which SB called and Hero mucked, and one in which both blinds called, but Hero check folded flop)
preflop: mucked to button, button raises, loose SB mucks, Hero calls in BB w AhKc (2 players, pot size 4.5 small bets)
flop: QcJd6h, Hero checks, button bets, Hero raises, button calls (2 players, pot size 8.5 small bets)
turn: QcJd6hAs, Hero checks, button bets, Hero raises, button calls (2 players, pot size 8.25 big bets)
river: QcJd6hAsKd, Hero bets, button raises, Hero calls. button's QdTc scoops.

Hero's preflop 3 betting range is going to be fairly wide. I would definitely 3 bet hands like AJo, ATs, 88-JJ. More premium hands, such as AKo, I had already pre-decided I would only call with to hide the strength of my hand.

Postflop, I planned to check/call the flop and turn if I flopped top pair as my pot equity against his range would be huge. Instead I flopped a gutshot and 2 overcards, and decided to check raise the flop given that my pot equity is probably more in the 60/40 range, and I'd prefer to end the hand on the flop or turn. Given that Villain calls the flop, I put his range on at least 1 pair or a draw.

Turn, I like this card as I represented no strength preflop, and a relatively meaningless check raise (i.e. any pair) on the flop. The A looks like a great scare card for Villain to represent. Hence, I try and successfully get a CR in. Villain's call on the turn likely means he has a pair and a draw.

On the river, I definitely wanted to see a blank. However, I improve and have a choice between check/call and bet/call. check/fold and bet/fold are out of the question. I elect to take the higher volatility bet/call line. I don't know if this was best.

hand #3
live $40/$80 LHE, 9 handed
preflop: muck, muck, bad player limps, muck, Hero raises w AsTs, muck, semi-tight button 3 bets, SB mucks, loose BB calls, both call (4 players, pot size 12.5 small bets)
flop: Th9c4s, check, check, Hero bets, button raises, BB mucks, bad player calls, Hero thinks for 2-3 seconds, Hero 3 bets, both call (3 players, pot size 21.5 small bets)
turn: Ts9c4s3d, check, Hero bets, button calls, bad player mucks (2 players, pot size 12.75 big bets)
river: Ts9c4s3dAc, Hero bets, button raises, Hero mutters "crap, was I drawing dead?" and makes a crying call. 3 players observing the hand all call out to button "AT is good!!!". button shows AQo, Hero straightens out his skirt and stacks the chips.

My hand reading skills are just awful on the river. Against this opponent, and the flop and turn action (including the existence of the bad player) I'm never getting less than half this pot. Clearly one big missed value bet.

One other observation about this particular hand. It occurred towards the 8-9 hour mark of the session (with essentially no breaks), so probably fatigue was a factor. Given that the $40 game is a must move setup, periodically switching games (including optionally taking breaks between this games) is typically not convenient (particularly when some juicy players are next up for the main game). Additionally, this poker room charges a $5 lobby charge per round if you sit out of the game. This factor causes me to take very few breaks when playing the $40 game.

I think I need to come up with a better plan for how to take sufficient breaks in a reasonably $ wise manner.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sleepy and the maniac

I played a lengthy 10.5 hour session today. It was actually not one continuous session because I initially started in the $40/$80 LHE game, and then dropped back to the $20/$40 game when the forward/reverse/current line severely declined. When the lineup improved, I moved back.

For the entirety of the day, I was in the black. Not substantially so...about a rack and a half. I usually don't talk about results like this, but I only mention it in this context to clarify that stuck-induced tilt was not a factor in the 2 hands I will describe below. (although perhaps tilt might be a factor in the 2nd hand).

In the first hand I make a few minor, but simple mistakes. In the 2nd, I make the granddaddy of LHE mistakes.

hand #1
live $40/$80 LHE, 8 handed
SB is a strong winning player in the $40 game, who is very good at maximizing value from his hands. BB and CO are a loose players.
preflop: muck, Hero raises w KcQc, mucked to CO who calls, muck, blinds call (4 players, pot size 8 small bets)
flop: KdKh2c, blinds check, Hero bets, CO mucks, SB calls, BB mucks (2 players, pot size 10 small bets)
turn: KdKh2c4c, SB bets, Hero thinks for a couple of seconds, takes a tall enough stack for 2 bets but then only cuts out enough chips for a call (2 players, pot size 7 big bets)
river: KdKh2c4c8s, SB bets, Hero thinks for a few seconds, Hero raises, SB immediately 3 bets, Hero makes a crying call. SB's AKo is good.

SB's combined preflop and flop range is 22, Kxs, and KXo (where X is A or Q). Since SB's K rag holdings are always suited, there is no way he has K's full on the flop or turn.

It certainly makes more sense for Hero to raise the turn, I really can't justify not raising. At any rate, given the turn action, then consider the river. A river raise is definitely justified for value, however I think that Hero's river line must be raise/fold vs. this opponent. This Villain is never raising the river with a hand that does not beat KQ. (Interestingly, given the turn mistake by Hero, it should be possible for Hero to save 1 big bet on the river; i.e. if Hero raises turn, Villain will always 3 bet and bet the river; In that case, I think Hero has to call down since Villain may put Hero on a hand like AcQc)

The 2nd hand occurred right at the end of the session (10.5 hours). I left as soon as the big blind reached me, and I'm certain that this was the right metagame decision.

hand #2
live $40/$80 LHE, 9 handed
UTG has a fairly loose limping range, UTG+1 just came to the table this orbit, is fairly LAGgy and has already stated her intention that this will be her only round at the table (but has been playing a lot of pots with the intention of winning as many pots as possible before she leaves)
preflop: UTG limps, UTG+1 raises, Hero 3 bets w AsTs, mucked back to UTG, both call (3 players, pot size 10.5 small bets)
flop: Tc7s5h, check, check, Hero bets, UTG calls, UTG+1 raises, Hero 3 bets, both call (3 players, pot size 19.5 small bets)
turn: Tc7s5hJs, check, check, Hero bets, both call (3 players, pot size 12.75 big bets)
river: Tc7s5hJsAd, check, UTG+1 bets, Hero thinks for 2 seconds, Hero raises, UTG mucks, UTG+1 thinks for 1 second and says "I don't think you 3 bet with 98", and then UTG+1 reraises, Hero immediately mucks. UTG+1 shows Ah7h and is 100% sure her hand was good.

During the duration of the hand, I was somewhat tired. I didn't keep a running track of the pot size (which I always do when I am alert). All of my actions in the hand were automatic, including my muck on the river to the 3 bet. I absolutely felt that UTG+1 was very confident about her hand. I didn't consider that she could feel comfortable reraising with a worse hand. I didn't even take a few seconds to agonize over whether or not to make a crying call.

** edit ** one other factor that I didn't mention is that about 1.5 hours earlier when I was in the same feeder game as the Villain (UTG+1) , Villain had rivered me 4-5 times, and I had paid off on each occasion. (by either calling when in position or check calling out of position). In other words, I had given this Villain no reason to suspect that I could be bluffed out of a pot.

Sigh... 17.75 big bets is not pocket change. This was a $40 game. That is some people's monthly nut.

I'm not sure how carefully the other regulars in the game were watching during this hand, but for those that were watching, I'm sure at least most of them would suspect, that given the action in the hand, that I mucked the winner on the river. This type of occurrence is a terrible metagame factor. In fact, I am definitely considering playing in another cardroom for at least a few days until this hand drops out of people's memory. I definitely don't want people taking a shot at me in big pots by pure bluff raising the river.

Getting paid off with tougher players

One problem that I am spending a lot of time worrying about lately is how to get paid off the maximum when playing in pots with particularly tough players. (The issue doesn't contradict with game selection issues as I've been doing a good job of this, but the good games still often feature a number of tough players.)

I have a pretty big tell on the later streets. Whenever I 3 bet the turn or raise the river, I have a very big hand. I honestly can't recall the last time I have done so without a hand at least as good as top two pair. Against all but the loosest players, I will have probably 5th nuts or better.

This behavior is hard to miss by my opponents. Even the weaker opponents will notice this, but the reason they pay off is just to see what I have. Tougher players simply don't do this.

It should be very easy to counter this: Simply balance more bluffs, semibluffs and slowplays.

This is an example of a hand that I wish I had taken a little differently on the turn:

hand #1
live $40/$80 LHE, 8 handed
Villain is a very tough player who thinks at several levels.
preflop: mucked to Hero in MP, Hero raises w 6d6h, mucked to Villain in CO who calls, everyone else mucks (2 players, pot size 5.5 small bets)
flop: 6c4dQh, Hero bets, CO raises, Hero pauses for 1 second, Hero 3 bets (2 players, pot size 11.5 small bets)
turn: 6c4dQhQs, Hero bets, CO raises, Hero pauses for 1 second, Hero 3 bets, CO mucks

Preflop range for Villain is difficult to narrow down.

Flop action is pretty standard. Hero's 3 bet clearly indicates that Hero has at least a high pair (say 99+).

The turn is definitely the most interesting street. Villain's turn raise can be for one of 3 reasons: i) raising for value with a big, but worse hand, such as trips or 44 ii) raising for free showdown with some medium strength hand e.g. AA, KK, 88, iii) a complete bluff (the board is completely dry with no draws).
Note: Given the preflop action, Hero's hand will always be good here vs. Villain's range on this board.

For the first category (i), Villain will shut down, but will call down UI. For the 2nd (ii) and 3rd (iii) categories, Villain will immediately muck. The number of combinations for (ii) and (iii) compared to (i) is larger, but not substantially so. Perhaps 2:1 would be a good estimate.

A line that I think would work far better on the turn would be to only call the turn raise, and then lead the river. (In my mind, Hero's hand looks something like JJ, KK or AA.)

Very little value is lost with this line vs category (i), as Villain is still likely to raise/call the river (which gets more bets in the pot vs. 3 betting the turn, although this is somewhat balanced with the times that Villain only calls on the river and also the times he raise/folds making a great laydown with a hand like QJs and also the times Villain improves to a better hand).

With category (ii), Villain is often going to make a crying call, which increases the value although ~10% of the time Hero gets outdrawn (Villain improves to better full house) and absolutely must pay off given the way the hand is played.

Most importantly, with category (iii), Villain will occasionally raise to "outplay" the Hero. No value is lost by only calling the turn raise, as Villain is drawing dead. I strongly suspect that the biggest gain in value in taking the turn call/river lead line comes from this scenario.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tough session

Today I played a moderate length (by my standards) $40/$80 LHE session of about 9 hours. It was challenging and draining.

In Limit Hold'em, there are often hands in which you raise preflop with a big pocket pair or big Ace and flop an overpair or TPTK and just bet all the way for value against one or even a few opponents and just get called down by worse hands (or until the river when they miss). No thinking required. In the 9 hour session, this scenario occurred exactly ~1~ lousy time.

I think I need to monitor more closely my emotional and psychological state, as these balances get drained more quickly when a session involves more thinking and tougher situations. The negative result that typically emerges as a consequence is that I play more hands preflop. This just ends up getting me in more and more difficult postflop situations when I do things like open raise UTG or UTG+1 with hands like AJo, KJo or be the 2nd or 3rd cold caller with a hand like K9s or T8s (when the hand only ends up being 4 or 5 handed to the flop)

When I get too drained, I need to end my session regardless of the players in the game. Instead of feeling compelled to stay in a "good" game, I should more broadly consider how to make decisions in the overall session to drain less of my mental and emotional energy. Also, in the overall picture, I should take steps to lead a healthy lifestyle (sufficient sleep, diet, exercise) to bolster my stamina.

Here are two hands from today's session that I wanted myself to review:

The first hand involved me forgetting some crucial piece of information from an earlier street. The second hand just relates to tilt, and how easily it causes me to make poor decisions (and not factor earlier "decisions" I made in the hand to the ones I have to make on later streets)

hand #1
live $40/$80 LHE, 7 handed.
Hijack is probably a (28/20/1.5); SB is Hero, BB is probably (25/10/2.0); both opponents are sane and thinking opponents
preflop: mucked to Hijack, Hijack raises, muck, muck, Hero calls in SB w As8s, BB calls (3 players, pot size 6 small bets)
flop: Kd8h4c, check, check, Hijack bets, Hero raises, BB calls, Hijack calls (3 players, pot size 12 small bets)
turn: Kd8h4cKh, Hero bets, BB immediately raises, Hijack mucks, Hero tanks for ~2 seconds and calls (2 players, pot size 10 big bets)
river: Kd8h4cKhQs, check, check

Firstly, regarding the preflop decision. Hero should definitely be more inclined to 3 bet in this situation. However, semi-recently in the session, Hero had been caught 3 betting fairly light in the SB and BB so this is a small excuse for not 3 betting. (although perhaps this could just be an argument for mucking preflop and avoiding a complicated postflop situation)

On this flop, given the number of players at the table and the actual 3 players in the hand, BB will CR 3 bet close to 100% of the time with any K. Big hands that BB will slow play are a set (88 and 44) and top 2 pair. It is less clear with what frequency BB will raise with 2nd pair; it might depend on the kicker. With a PP between K and 8, BB will raise close to 100% of the time as well as with bottom 2 pair.

Given this flop range for BB, a substantial number of hands that BB will raise the turn with are worse than Hero's (the raise is positional and defensive, with the intention of knocking out Hijack and getting a free showdown). Given that the pot already has 9BB in it when Hero faces the turn raise and Villain's range, my thought (granted, this may be influenced by actual results, and this is a big part about why I am taking the time to write out the hand history) is that Hero should 3 bet the turn with the intention of folding to a 4 bet and also not putting in another bet on the river unless a K or 8 hits. This line doesn't cost any more than just calling down.

BB has to be as worried as Hero is about the K (if he is not already filled up). If BB has a worse 8, then calling gives BB a free card to hit his 3 out kicker and another 3 outs (8 or K) to chop (blending these together is essentially the same thing as saying the Villain has 4.5 outs). BB has to automatically fold to a 3 bet with only an 8. Assuming Villain has A8 (granted this is unlikely because Villain is extremely likely to 3 bet this holding on the flop), it is a big victory to win an extra half of the pot. It is a huge victory if he folds a better hand like 99.

It is also possible that BB will only call with 4s full, in which case Hero does not get punished and still can draw to 4 outs.

Anyway, the result of the hand was that BB held Q8o and scooped the pot. I'm actually surprised that BB didn't value bet the river. I think if Villain had been more alert, he would not have missed this bet. I guess he was just happy he got his free showdown and I didn't hold some K rag holding.

hand #2
live $40/$80 LHE, 9 handed
Hero was on tilt prior to this hand, although opponents may or may not be aware of this.
preflop: semi-solid UTG limps, mucked to Hero in Hijack, Hero raises w AsAh, Loose CO 3 bets, button calls, SB mucks, UTG calls, Hero 4 bet caps, all call (5 players, pot size 20.5 small bets)
flop: Ad9d4c, check, UTG bets, Hero calls, CO calls, button raises, BB mucks, UTG 3 bets, Hero caps, CO mucks, button and UTG call (3 players, pot size 33.5 small bets)
turn: Ad9d4c6d, check, check, button bets, UTG mucks, Hero calls (2 players, pot size 18.75 big bets)
river: Ad9d4c6d3d, check, button bets, Hero mucks.

Yes, I mucked on the river getting 19.75:1 with a set (on a 4 flush board). I mucked because I was on tilt. My hand is probably good here considerably less than 10% of the time, but I think I need to make what is at least close to a 0EV call on the river for metagame reasons. Yes, my hand is so clearly defined. However, my preflop and flop 4 bets, which so strongly help to define my hand, extracted enough value to pay off here on this river. In other words, the decision I made on the early streets to extract value (at the cost of defining my hand) should determine my decision to call down despite the awful board.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why What How

"What I need is someone who will make me do what I can" Ralph Waldo Emerson

I don't know why it is, but this is me in a nutshell. I have always been this way. I suppose I always will....

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Need a break

The quick version of this post is that today's result was not a happy ending. For the longer version, keep reading....

Going into today's final event (multiple rebuy), I was in 7th place in the points race. Mathematically, only 2nd place was possible. By the end of the 2nd break, only 2 other players are also capable of finishing 2nd (my partner, J, busted during the 2nd hour, so it was only on me at this point). By the 3rd break, only 1 other player was in the running.

With 23 players remaining (top 18 places pay $ and earn points; I need 4th place or better to earn enough points to get 2nd place in all around top player), I'm presented with the following scenario:

- Hero UTG
- Hero has 8% of the chips in play, but still only 13xbb
- Table is 7 handed, BB has 10xbb, UTG+1 has 10xbb, CO has 9xbb (and taken a bad beat 2 hands earlier), everyone else is 5xbb or less.
- Hero has been moderately active including open raising 2.75xbb on the immediately prior hand and successfully stealing the blinds.
- Hero and BB have a lot of history, and despite Hero's early position, BB is likely to have a substantially large range for re-raising all-in to a preflop raise from Hero. (probably 66+, ATs+, AJo+). i.e. it is perfectly believable to the BB that I would try to steal his BB even from UTG in the position of table chip leader because of all of our banter and interaction over the last few days.
- UTG+1 and Hero have little direct history (though I have carefully observed his play) except for 1 hand roughly 1 orbit ago when Hero open raised 2.7xbb from SB. Villain defended his BB, and Hero pushed on QJ8 flop to which Villain folded. UTG+1 is a very loose player - his preflop playing range is (22+, A2s+, A5o+, any two broadways, probably 87s+), his preflop reraising range is probably (88+, AQo+, ATs+, KJs+). He is capable of bluffing, and he doesn't like to get pushed around. He is not a sophisticated or knowledgeable player.

Surprisingly to me, I received substantial criticism for the way I played this key pot. I suspect that many of the commentors didn't really think that carefully about the hand and the situation, but at any rate, here is the hand:

hand #1
7 handed, NLHE MTT near the bubble, Hero has 13xbb, Villain has 10xbb
preflop: Hero raises 2.75xbb w AdAc, Villain thinks for 10-15 seconds and calls, everyone else mucks (2 players, pot size 7xbb)
flop: Jd4h3c, check, check (2 players, pot size 7xbb)
turn: Jd4h3c2h, Hero pushes, Villain insta calls.

I'm happy with how I played this hand, and J absolutely agreed with me. At any rate, Villain turned a straight with As5s and improves to a 6 high straight on the river.

Given our history and his tendencies, I don't mind giving a free card on this flop. On any more coordinated flop, I would have insta-pushed. Given that Villain checked the flop, I think I have to bet the turn.

During the rest of the tournament, I was lucky. I had exactly 4 coin flips in big pots, and I won all of them.

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I've been putting in substantial table hours for the last 10 days, probably averaging about 9 table hours per day. (which I'm happy to say that easily more than 7 hours per day I was playing my A game) I am somewhat exhausted, and probably need a day or so to recover. Reno's Pot of Gold series starts in 11 days, and I hope to be in good shape for that. In the meantime, I will continue to grind away at the cash games. Also there is a nice monthly $330 MTT at another local poker room (that I have never been to) coming up on Saturday that apparently draws a nice field, and it has a good structure. I intend to enroll in that one.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thing that made me go hmmmm?

I'm always the first to laugh out loud when people spew conspiracy theories regarding the fairness of the dealt cards in public card rooms that utilize Shufflemaster machines. However, today I saw a hand that had me literally laughing out loud for the better part of an hour. It is a hand that I will long remember.

The reason the hand is so conspiratorial is that the Villain in this hand is the father of the owner of this public cardroom. I would estimate that this poker room is probably in the top 10 largest (definitely top 15) poker rooms in the USA, so it is no small mom and pop operation.

hand #1
live $40/$80 LHE, 9 handed
MP is quite LAGGY, MP+2 is a fairly solid player, but always makes adjustments for LAGs. BB is the Villain, and he is typically super solid.
preflop: muck, UTG+1 limps, MP raises, muck, MP+2 3 bets, mucked around to BB (Hero mucks some random hand in the SB), BB calls, UTG+1 calls, MP calls (4 players, pot size 12.5 small bets)
flop: Ad6c8h, BB checks, UTG+1 checks, MP bets, MP+2 raises, BB calls, UTG+1 mucks, MP calls (3 players, pot size 18.5 small bets)
turn: Ad6c8h4c, BB checks, MP checks, MP+2 bets, both call (3 players, pot size 12.25 big bets)
river: Ad6c8h4c7s, BB bets, MP mucks, MP+2 calls; BB's 5c2d is good.

nh sir!! flop 12 outs to a gutshot, 4 to an OESD, and 6 outs to a two pair or trips draw. Whee poker!

I consider myself very lucky to have been there to witness this hand. I would absolutely NEVER believe this if heard 2nd hand.

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In today's NLHE MTT, I busted late in the 3rd round in an unavoidable QQ vs AA situation. No points today, so just two events left. The weekend events are bound to be huge. Time to run good....

Late stage blowup

In yesterday's event, I cashed for the minimal amount in 10th place (10th-18th pay an identical nominal amount) for the final table bubble in a very poor spot. I've made this mistake plenty of times probably because the majority of the time, I don't get punished for it. This was a sobering reminder of poor risk reward decision making at very critical times.

- the table was 5 handed
- average stack was 8.5xbb
- Hero in CO has the table barely covered w 11.75xbb; SB 11xbb; BB 10xbb; UTG 7xbb; button 7xbb
- Hero has not been particularly active since the table redraw for the final 2 tables
- no players are playing particularly wild or crazy
- Hero open pushes in CO w 7s7c

I think I tend to do this to avoid having to make any decision when re-raised, but on this occasion the ugly scenario of SB (AKo) and BB (KK) both having big hands arose.

It is 5 handed, so I like my hand. Given the playing conditions a 2.5xbb raise gets the job done. I will very likely call a push from a single opponent, particularly the shorter stack button. The only beneficial scenarios for pushing vs a small raise is if the BB would call a small raise given the situation with 2 overs that he would have mucked to a push. I hadn't observed the BB to be playing this way; I would expect this particular player in the BB to have either mucked or pushed.

Anyway, with a small raise, if there is action from 2 or more opponents, I am done with the hand (unless I am just called and flop a set). Sigh, sloppy play gets punished...

From the points I received yesterday, I should be in about 5th place in the overall standings. 1st place is still mathematically in reach with 3 events to go, but realistically even catching up to 2nd place would a great result considering the overall leader's point count. (Top 5 places pay)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Points race

I lasted a whole 8 hands in today's event. I slept in and arrived a few minutes late, missing the first 4 hands. Yes, this is my blog, so I'll tell my bad beat story since I found it amusing.

4 hands later, I make a modest overbet reraise w QQ (to a limp/raise/call) from the BB putting in half my stack. Limper and original raiser muck, caller tanks for a while and asks "how many chips do you have left?". I say nothing but move my hands out of the way; my immediate neighbor comments "he has the original starting stack, he hasn't played a hand". Caller muses for a few more seconds "hmmm, raise, call, big reraise. Aces or kings?" then calls. Flop comes J high with 2 rags with 2 to the flush.
I pick up my stack and am just about to start moving it forward, Caller picks up his stack and starts moving it forward. I think he is doing one of those fake calls to dissuade me from pushing, so I push (which I was going to do anyways). He beats me in the pot. I'm sick to my stomach expecting him to turn up AA or JJ. I flip over my cards, but my hand slips and only one card turns over. Caller immediately and cheerfully remarks "Oh, Queens are good". T on the turn, and its over. With poker, sudden surprised joy can last a very short period of time.

Anyway, no points earned today, so I possibly dropped out of the top 10. 4 more events to go, and the current leader is intending to miss the next 2 events. I decided today to do a swap with another player who has only slightly less points than me. Hopefully, at least one of us can have a few good cashes in the last few events. I don't know why I care so much, but I certainly am emotionally invested in this.

2 more hands

hand #1
live $40/$80 LHE, 7 handed
BB is young asian player with whom I have had no history other than 2-3 orbits.
preflop: mucked to Hero in CO, Hero raises w Jh9d, mucked to BB who calls (2 players, pot size 4.5 small bets)
flop: KcTs9h, check, check (2 players, pot size 4.5 small bets)
turn: KcTs9h7d, BB bets, Hero tanks and calls (2 players, pot size 4.25 big bets)
river: KcTs9h7dJs, BB checks, Hero bets, BB tanks forever and calls. Hero's 2 pair is good.

Open raising in the CO with J9o is outside of the recommended stealing range in Stox's book (although it is in the button's range), however that is a matter beyond the scope of this hand discussion.

At the time this hand was dealt, we are at the main game of a must move setup; hence the players ~may~ be in the game for extended periods of time; additionally the table is a little quiet because there are only 7 people where 1 person is lobbying and 1 person just left and the must move player has not yet arrived. The players at the table are, on average, paying more attention to the play than usual.

My line of play for this hand could certainly be questioned, however this was my thinking: On the flop, I elected to balance my play (such that I am cbetting the flop about 90% of the time in position; ). The intention was to check the flop, and raise a turn rag. The reasoning is that I expect that when cbetting the flop, I will be getting CR'd a very very substantial amount of the time on this board (80%+) with a blend of hands that are better and worse than my own.

Checking behind on the flop and raising the turn puts the same number of bets in the pot as bet/calling the flop and calling (or betting) the turn. However, it conveys more strength, and it may cause a better hand to fold the turn or river. (a T or a better 9 such as Q9 if the river is a brick). A safe turn card would be deuce through 6 (20 cards, or a little less than half the deck).

Additionally, an A turn card will frequently be more of a scare card.

The actual turn card presented an addition gutshot (now Hero has a double gutter), and this changes things. Hero now has more ways to improve, Villain may have improved. Hero calls the turn with the intention of calling or betting the river.

Finally, considering that Hero's hand is shown down, my future play has to be adjusted to compensate for adjustments that my opponents will be making in the short term. Essentially, tighten up preflop raising range.

hand #2
live $40/$80 LHE, 9 handed
UTG is a semi-LAG, BB and button are absolutely terrible (with BB frequently making terrible raises or bluffs), the other players in the hand are reasonable and experienced, although somewhat loose.
preflop: UTG raises, Hero 3 bets w 8h8d, mucked to CO who calls, button calls, SB calls, BB caps its, everyone calls (6 players, pot size 24 small bets)
flop: KhQh8c, SB checks, BB bets, UTG calls, Hero raises, call, call, call, UTG 3 bets, everyone calls (6 players, 42 small bets)
turn: KhQh8c4s, check, check, UTG bets, Hero raises, muck, CO calls, muck, BB calls, UTG 3 bets, everyone calls (4 players, 33 big bets)
river: KhQh8c4s5d, check, UTG bets, Hero calls, muck, BB calls. UTG's KK is naturally good.

I suppose that preflop call or 3 bet are both reasonable decisions. At the time, I felt that UTG was a little frustrated and may be open raising considerably lighter than normal.

On the turn during the actual hand, I really considered that I can safely fold to UTG's 3 bet. UTG is LAGgy, but he is never 3 betting the turn after all the previous action with KQ.

I was actually getting a little tired when this hand was played, and lost track of the pot size (other than the fact that it was huge). Hero is looking at a 32:1 shot at a 1 outer. Hmmmm, given the action, the maximum implied odds is probably 40? (+8 bets on the river; UTG bet, Hero raise, BB calls, UTG 3 bet, Hero caps, both call) Wow, I didn't even realize until now the turn call was so close to 0EV.

Probably the strongest argument for calling down on the river is that mucking would have a substantial change in Hero's table image. There would be a substantially likelihood that there would be increased bluff raises and tough semi-bluffs in this session.

Weak late street play?

hand #1
live $40/$80 LHE, 9 handed
UTG semi-loose passive ~(22/5/0.5)
MP is loose semi aggressive player ~(30/15/0.8)
preflop: UTG raises, mucked to MP, MP 3 bets, mucked to Hero in SB, Hero 4 bet caps w QdQh, BB mucks, UTG and MP call (3 players, pot size 13 small bets)
flop: Ac5d4s, Hero bets, UTG mucks, MP calls (2 players, pot size 15 small bets)
turn: Ac5d4sJd, Hero checks, MP bets, Hero calls (2 players, pot size 9.5 big bets)
river: Ac5d4sJdTc, Hero checks, MP bets, Hero mucks

The flop line seems standard - continuation and value bet. UTG's preflop range is (99+, AQs+,AKo) and MP's preflop 3 bet range is probably something like (88+,AJs+,AQo+,KQs). If the turn and river bring rags, Hero should bet all the way.

On the actual turn, Hero's hand still looks very much like JJ+. The conundrum is that Hero is usually far behind against Villain's range, yet weakness can be exploited by Villain's worse hands if Hero is not committed to showdown. A check on the turn is essentially conceding Hero's range to be QQ-KK (and Villain is not a frequent enough player that Hero can achieve balance by occasionally checking the turn OOP with a set here)

As played, Hero's river decision is to consider whether Villain will call the flop with 99 and/or 88 and is capable of firing 2 bullets on the turn and river.
vs. a range of (99+,AJs+,AQo+), a river muck costs Hero -0.78BB.
vs. a range of (88+,AJs+,AQo+), a river mucks costs Hero -1.99BB.
vs. a range of (TT+,AJs+,AQo+), a river mucks saves Hero 0.84BB.

Seemingly an easier line to take would be for Hero to bet/fold the turn and check/fold the river UI. (although against the wrong opponents, this will too frequently be exploited)

In the actual hand, I called on the turn with the intention of calling on the river to induce a bluff from worse hands in this standard way ahead/way behind scenario. The Tc is another scare card for me, and Villain did visually look comfortable when he bet. Hence the muck.