Friday, December 30, 2005

Bad beat stories

"9 out of 10 people don't care, and the 10th wishes you had lost more". Enough said...

(This quote was made by a law school student who is half heartedly finishing his degree while successful grinding up the online hold'em tables)

Monday, December 26, 2005

temporary RSI relief

Recently I have been having discomfort in my hand when using the mouse. I may be developing something like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and I have been stupidly procrastinating from going to see the doctor.

In the interim, I installed and modified an autohotkey script from This is a very welcome relief to my mouse hand. I modified the sample scripts they provided to use the F1-F12 keys. (F1-F4 for betting actions, F5-F12 for 8 tabling). I didn't like using any of the numeric keys or arrow keys because of the necessity to type numbers when playing no limit and the occasional need for arrow keys when typing comments. Multitabling is substantially easier with this new setup.

Speaking of multitabling....


I didn't succumb to the lure of attempting to win a Party Cruise package this weekend from the monthly VIP promo (1st 30 VIPs to earn 25k Party Points are awarded a $12k package), but I was pretty intrigued reading the exploits of MicroBob's and TheMetetron's attempts. I have to say that TheMet is truly sick.... with all the vigor and enthusiam of youth...

Reading that kind of a post really makes me wary of attempting such a marathon. Clearly it is essential to have Gold Status, and the most obvious effective tactic is to use a team. I'd rather attempt the marathon (from the probability-of-success point of view) with a team having a razor-thin $3/$6 bankroll (BBJ) than solo with no bankroll limitations.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Party till u cruise

Well it seems that Party has kicked off the promos to give out cruise packages for the Party PPM V for playing a ridiculous amount of hands in a very short period of time.

The current promo is for the first 30 VIP members who accumulate 25000 regular party points starting from midnight December 24. I strongly suspect that 30 people will hit this goal by Wednesday at the latest.

I'm not going to take a shot at this promotion simply because my status at Party is BLUE. I will have GOLD status on January 1st, and the GOLD level status of accumulating regular party points at double the normal rate is an absolute must for this kind of promotion. I would be shocked if any BLUE level member was able to obtain a seat from this promo.

Unfortunately, there are likely to be a substantial number of online pros that will also transition from BLUE to GOLD status on Jan 1.

The timing for this current promo would have been perfect for me as my wife is away visiting her family this week. I'm kicking myself for not bothering to at least have put my status to SILVER in the last quarter. On the other hand, if I had SILVER status I would probably squander time trying to accumulate enough points in a wasted effort. Oh well, I guess I can keep the MTT thing going.

It seems prudent to be ready for this type of promotion to be repeated fairly soon, and the preparations are probably:
1) keep at least 25k party points in your account
2) keep a sufficient bankroll available in your party account/neteller to safely 8 table $10/$20 6 max (600BB??)
3) pay attention since a promotion could start at any time (Party is absolutely terrible about making these annoucements widely known in a timely fashion)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Get it while you can...

Party is one of the few sites that provides for automated access to observed hand histories. The ability to have 10 simultaneously open tables provides access for a massive amount of data mining. I data mine from Party 24/7, and although I only started doing this seriously relatively recently, I have imported well over a million hands in the last few months.

There are some indications that in the very near future Party will be dropping support for observed hand histories.

The short-term implication for me is that I will give more thought to the types of games that I am spending my data mining time on. I think my database is light in the $15/$30 and $2/$4 games, very light in the $20/$40 and $30/$60, and somewhat light in the MTTs and $10/$20 6max. So I need to carefully consider which games are most important for me to mine before Party closes the door.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sleepless in San Jose

I didn't sleep well this weekend mostly due to disappointing poker results. That is not a good sign. I am not good at clearing my mood - good or bad - after finishing any late night session. I ended up needing to watch the boob tube or to read a novel to wind down. Quite a time waster.


Anyways, how about the poker?

My weekend poker exploits primarily consisted of 7 online MTTs and a very small amount of $10/$20 6 max - essentially another MTT weekend.

MTT results
Net $ results: -$1195
Events entered: 7
Total entry fees: $1195, plus 20k Party points for the $100k freeroll
In the money (ITM) finishes: 0
ITM %: 0%
Return on investment: -100%
Avg buy-in per event: $170.71
Total time consumed: 10.5 hours
Hourly rate: -$113.81

Ring game results $10/$20 6 max
Net $ results: -$48.76 (2.4BB)
Total time consumed: 1 hour
Hourly rate: -$48.76

I'm not unhappy about the ring game results. There were only 2 short sessions, and towards the end of the second session I lost a huge pot when I flopped a smaller boat. My opponent was fairly solid, so I probably lost 2BB more than I should of, perhaps 1BB.

The only good thing I can say about the MTTs was that I did follow through on the high level plan of attempting to go deep. I absolutely did not play to make it into the money. In 4 of the 7 events, I busted with less than 20% of the field remaining. In 2 of the 5 events, I had an above average stack at the start of my final hand.


My last hand of the $600+$40 Party Million Guaranteed event, level 9 $200/$400 blinds, ~530/1735 players remaining, 180 players paid, avg chips ~T$4900:
- preflop: Hero is dealt TT UTG with a $10600 stack (2x avg , ~26.5x bb). Hero raises 3.5x bb, folded to MP who flat calls with ~$14600 behind (~36.5x bb) , everyone else folds. (2 players, pot size 8.5x bb)
- flop: 832 rainbow, hero bets 8x bb, immediately MP pushes for 36.5x bb.

I used up my time bank on this one though I obviously called since it was my last hand. I had not seen this player get caught out of line. He had come over the top of an opponent twice in the last 3 orbits where the opponent mucked (once preflop and once on the flop), though his raises were not all in.

At the time, I put him on one of 4 hands: 77, 99, TT, JJ. I don't know if this is a reasonable estimation of his range. I'm offered 2.6:1 odds, and my lame assessment says my hand is good over 60% of the time, so I call. Villain has JJ, turn and river are bricks, I throw my stress ball across the living room and am thankful that my wife is out doing Christmas shopping.

Again the primary thing about this hand is whether or not I understand MP's range of hands. When the JJ was turned up, I felt like the donk of the day. I think I need a better model for calcuating my opponent's range of hands.

The way I thought about it at the time was:
- he has 6 ways of being dealt 77, 99 and JJ and 1 way of being dealt TT; so I'm ahead 12/19 times, tied 1/19 times, and behind 6/19 of the rest.

A simple but probably effective way to define the situation is consider what the probability is that MP would push with a worse hand than TT on this dry board at this stage of the tournament when MP has close to a 3x avg chip stack vs. an opponent who has 2/3 of his chip stack and has already fired 2 bullets. (preflop there was 1 bigger stack than MP in CO)

Given infinite time, I think I should have modelled it more like this:
- for each hand possibility, estimate the probability that the opponent would have played the hand in the manner he did, and then factor in the number of ways that hand could be dealt, and then factor in my EV against each hand and then sum them all up:
- My EV for folding is 0. If I call, I get +39.5x bb for winning, -15xbb for losing, and +12.25xbb for chopping.
- AA, KK: 20%, 12 ways
- QQ: 10%, 6 ways
- JJ: 50%, 6 ways
- TT: 50%, 1 way
- 99, 77: 50%, 12 ways
- 88: 10%, 3 ways
- AKo, AQs, AJs, KQs: 10%, 28 ways
Using poker stove and excel, I come up with a EV of +13.7xbb for calling (the weighted avg gives me the best hand 56% of the time). The dominating effect is made from the inclusion of the 77 possibility. If I completely drop the 77 hand, the EV drops to +8.7xbb. What EV should I call with given I can muck and have still have an above avg chip stack?

Naturally, the assumptions can be way off. If I changed AA, KK to 25%, QQ to 20%, JJ to 75%, drop 77, KQs, AJs from the picture, the EV drops to +3.7xbb. It doesn't take much more tweaking of assumptions to make it a -EV call. Clearly this is a garbage in garbage out type model.


Anyways, this is excessive analysis for 1 stinkin stupid hand. There were 2 other hands (1 in level 3 and 1 in level 4) that I did not get maximum value for my medium strength hand against a bad player. At the time, I was only a little upset with myself. On further reflection, I think that in the long run, these kinds of mistakes are just as bad as my play in the TT hand.

Overall, given an average distribution of hands, I suspect I am not playing well enough to build an above average chip stack. I am going to continue to try and adjust for this.


I'm 0/11 in the last week and a half of online MTTs, but I will continue to keep at it.

I've been favoring playing Party MTTs lately because I have a substantial amount of data mined from the larger Party MTTs. Also, my most frequently played event, the $100+9 9pm event, has a $2k overlay.

The structure for larger buy-in Party events is actually quite reasonable. In the Million Dollar guaranteed event I actually dropped below the initial buy-in level on hand #1 and did not climb above this mark again until after the 90 minute mark (late in level 5). There is a lot of room to play, and if I can improve my game, I think I may eventually have some good finishes.


I have a new hero.

Congrats to lordhutty for closing the deal on the $200k guaranteed on Saturday. I see lordhutty in every $100+ NLHE MTT on Party. He is frequently among the top leaders on the Party TLB (In the Monthly Party TLB in 2005, he was in the top 10 3x, top20 2x, and in the top 100 2x). Mixing quantity with quality pays off.

"I'll have whatever that guy is having"


Party's BBJ is in the $300k range again. I've decided my new cut-off point for playing the BBJ tables will be $538k. I'm basing this number on my estimate that at this size the Jackpot EV for playing $2/$4 BBJ tables is $0.10 per hand (all hands, not raked hands). I'm not a good enough player to pass on that kind of EV/hand.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Playing environment

Another common theme that was drilled into my head during the weekend in my conversations with online pros was the subject of concentration while playing online.

My playing environment is rife with distractions. In the background, I'm listening to music and/or the TV and/or chatting with my wife, reading/writing email, IMing, reading blogs, 2+2, news, scanning the web for deals and promotions, tweaking my data mining, running back and forth doing household chores, the list goes on and on.

Again this is something I know better than to do, but these bad habits have just slipped back in gradually and subtly over the last few months. The difference between good results and great results in LHE is 1 lousy BB/100h. How retarded am I to play with so many distractions!!?!!

Some thoughts on combating this issue:
- One thing that I suspect may actually help is to play less. Like a true addict, recently I have been filling up ALL available free time (and more) with table time. This practically forces me to multitask.
- I'm also considering buying a pair of noise cancelling headphones. The $ cost/benefit tradeoff in terms of improved concentration may not be justified, but I've wanted to get a pair for a while now anyways. Kind of silly, since I just bought a new pair of Sony MDR-V600's a few weeks ago, but I can find another use for those...
- When we last switched apartments a couple of months ago, we debated on moving up from a 1 bedroom to a 2 bedroom, but in the end decided to save a few hundred $ a month and stay in a 1 bedroom. The extra space would almost certainly have provided a better environment for focused playing. While I'm not willing to make any changes during this lease, I do regret not more strongly considering taking the 2 bedroom. Every decision is easier in retrospect.


After getting a few decent nights of sleep, I'm starting to feel human again. Still degenerate, yes, but human none-the-less.

In my typical "non-professional" mannerism, after my big wins this weekend, I've been taking it very easy these last few days, and put in very little table time - electing only to play in 1 online MTT and no ring games.

Status from the previous week of online MTTs
Net $ results: -$436
Events entered: 4
Total entry fees: $436
In the money (ITM) finishes: 0
ITM %: 0%
Return on investment: -100%
Avg buy-in per event: $109
Total time consumed: 4.2 hours
Hourly rate: $-103.81

I barely cracked the first hour in any of these last 4 MTTs. I've had no strategy changes, but the way the events played out I basically got substantially involved in exactly one hand in each of the MTTs after allowing myself to shrink to a short stack (8x bb or less). These hands were just push situations that resulted in coin flip scenarios.

Despite the poor showing in these last 4 MTTs, I'm still liking the $100+9 9pm Party event. The field is very soft. I'd rate the typical field to be 30% bad, 30% very bad, 30% avg, 10% good or very good. I constantly see players call (and overcall, and over-overcall) substantial all in over bets or raises in scenarios where they have a moderate chance of being in a coin flip situation, but a large chance of being dominated or drawing dead.

I would also like to play more $150->$200 buy in events where there will be more satellite qualifiers. Unfortunately my day-job schedule prevents me from playing in events like the Super Weekdays or Friday special.

I'm on the fence on whether or not to be mixing in cheap $3-$10 satellites to the weekend ~$200 events in my multitabling. In the past I have found I make questionable decisions when I have more than 2 different types of games running at a time. (This assumes that I'm playing a few LHE ring games and a $100 MTT. If I was just playing a couple of LHE ring games, then simultaneously playing a couple of $3 supers should be fine). The ROI for playing in these types of sats is very high, but I am sufficiently bankrolled for $100-$300 MTTs, so my hourly rate considerations may favor direct buyins.

I think I am going to make a slight increase on the number of hands I limp in on during the first two rounds. The reasoning is simply to increase my oppontunities to double up from scenarios where I flop a made hand.

I've also been doing more data mining from $100+ Party MTTs, so hopefully this data will occasionally help me to make better decisions.

I know that a lot of very successful players swear by sticking to the ring games. Perhaps after a few more weeks of playing MTTs I may raise the white flag, but for now, I'm going to keep at them.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Vegas trip summary

Initially, I was going to entitle this post "Vegas trip report", but after further reflection I don't feel comfortable writing much detail in this forum. This was my 5th trip to Vegas this year, and, like the others, the experience unfolded in unexpected ways. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Hence, I'm just going to post a few summary details.

- resultswise, this was my 2nd best weekend this year and my 3rd best weekend ever
- put in a decent amount of table hours at $15/$30 -> $30/$60 LHE at Bellagio, but unfortunately spent 0 hours in any type of mixed game anywhere. No MTTs (except for the WPBT thing), SNGs or Supers on this trip.
- finished 7th/107 in the bloggers tournament. Built up an above average stack during the middle 3rd of the tournament, but made a couple of decisions with roughly 30 people left that left me with a below average stack. From there I played a very unimaginative short stack game until I was busted by the Aussie. Ironically, I had to muck ~80% of my very best hands in the last hour and ~80% of my actual pushing hands were complete crap.
- by far, the most fruitful experiences of the trip (from the long term perspective) were the conversations I had. I spoke at length with some very successful midstakes pros, a couple of NY Times best selling poker book authors, and a couple of TV pros. These discussions mainly just reiterated things that I already know, but sometimes I just need a little reminder to set me on the right path.

- sleep management before and during road trips
- never, never forget to ask for a comp! I had more comps than I could use on this trip such that my out-of-pocket costs were simply transportation and tips. However, as I have so often done in the past, there were several occasions that I did not remember to ask for some kind of comp when I was likely to get one. Poker players are supposed to have a good memory, and the only excuse I can come up with is mental fatigue due to the previous point. (weak! weak!)
- maximize learning opportunities - I was much better in this area than I have been on past trips, but missing out on mixed games was a notable hole.
- drink more water in Vegas


Thankfully someone hit the Party BBJ early this morning, so my plans for the week are going to be $3/$6->$10/$20 SH LHE online and $100->$200 MTTs online. It is quite coincidental that some bloggers have been recently writing about SH play, but suffice it to say that pursuing the SH game is something that was very much beat into my head this weekend.


Luke Kim is getting to be one of my favorite poker bloggers. He had a funny post today about Parking Meter analysis.

Friday, December 09, 2005

time management

I've been reviewing my results for the last few weeks, and overall I've been pretty stagnant. I could probably group my play into 5 categories:
i) live mid stakes LHE ($20/$40 -> $40/$80)
ii) live small stakes NLHE MTTs ($100 rebuy MTTs)
iii) online small stakes LHE ($2/$4 and $3/$6 Jackpot tables - speaking of which, the Party BBJ has crossed into that +EV range again so if it is not hit by the time I get back from Vegas, it will be BBJ madness again...)
iv) online mid stakes LHE (currently $10/$20)
v) online medium stakes NLHE MTTs ($100->$200 non-rebuy MTTs)

Gains and losses in one category are just being offset by gains and losses in other categories. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I would have had a down month in November had it not been for bonuses.

These are just the games that can have any substantial bankroll influences. I didn't include the very small stakes Omaha 8, 2-7 TD, Stud, and Razz games that I want to pick up. (both the table time and the reading time)

Do I have a lack of focus? By spreading my poker time over a large number of categories, it takes even more calender time to reach the "long term" in any particular area. I don't know if I'm been an honest evaluator of my poker skills, so long term results are something I am very anxious to see.
The main benefit of the diversity is to keep the games interesting. It is definitely a trade off though.

The only thing I can say for sure at this point is, there just aren't enough hours in the day for my poker hobby.


Just another 22 hours before I'm sipping a Strawberry Julius in the Bellagio poker room. Woo hoo!

Monday, December 05, 2005

MTT weekend report

Executive summary

Net $ results: +$976.11
Events entered: 16
Total entry fees: $902.30
In the money (ITM) finishes: 4 (0/12 in first 12, 4/4 in final 4)
ITM %: 25%
Return on investment: 108%
Avg buy-in per event: $56.39
Total time consumed: 12 hours
Hourly rate: $81.34
High point of the weekend: simultaneously finishing in the 70s (out of 3545 entrants) in the Stars $500k guaranteed and in the 220s (out of 3155) in the Party $500k
Low point of the weekend: simultaneously finishing in the 70s (out of 3545 entrants) in the Stars $500k guaranteed and in the 220s (out of 3155) in the Party $500k (outlasting 6400+ entrants but not cashing for any significant $)

"No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy"

It turned out to be a bad joke that I was planning on playing a "massive" number of online MTTs this weekend. I started suspecting from the first set that I am not well suited to be playing in multiple simultaneous MTTs. The first set of MTTs was intended to be 4, but it quickly became six since the first 2 MTTs lasted a grand total of 5 hands:
1st MTT, 1st hand: folded to MP who raises 4x bb, fold, hero raises to 12x bb w KK, folded back to MP who reraises to 20x bb, hero jams for 75bb, MP thinks until clock has 2 seconds remaining and calls w 88. 8 on the flop. wait, it gets better...
2nd MTT, 4th hand: UTG raises 3x bb, fold, UTG+2 flat calls, hero in MP who reraises 16x BB in MP w QQ, folded through BB, UTG and UTG+2 call. Flop comes KQ2 with 2 suited cards. check, check, hero pushes for ~50x bb, UTG calls, UTG+2 folds. turn comes 4, river comes 4, UTG shows 44.

No, neither MTT was a rebuy tournament.

In the remaining 4 MTTs, I made some bad decisions:
1) called pot size all in bet on turn when 3rd flush card came and I had an overpair.
2) blinded out in turbo satellite (I should ~never~ just blind out in any MTT. I'd rather go down in flames jamming 4x bb with any two cards).
3) called ~1.8x pot size all in bet on turn w K high flush draw and bottom pair against an opponent that I had not seen get out of line. He, of course, had a set and I missed my 7 outer.
4) called all in on river getting 3:1 with 2nd pair

One thing that I repeatedly slipped up on mentally was forgetting which buy-in stakes applied to which table. The hand ranges of typical opponents varies immensely when playing in a $3 rebuy satellite compared to a $100 non-rebuy.

The way I had my windows organized was to have the 4 tournament tables open across the bottom of 2 screens, and the corresponding tournament lobby windows above them. Thus, I would only need to glance up at the tourney window to recall which tourney was which. There were still several occasions when I made a decision at a table not realizing the buy in level.

I had the windows such that they were opened chronologically from left to right with the leftmost being the most newly started tournament. In retrospect, this is a stupid ordering. I should have them ordered by buy-in stakes to aid in the "context recall" speed.

So I was batting 0.000 from my first 6 MTTs. At the time, I was partially blaming my poor multitabling MTT skills but also blaming myself for playing tired. I resolved to start another set when I was well rested. In a testament to discipline, I then proceeded to play 6 hours of 2-4 tabling $10/$20 9 and 10 max. By the time I hit the sack, the sun was already shining.


The "next day" I ran errands for a couple of hours and played a 1 hour session of $10/$20. It was fitting since my planned theme of the weekend was MTTs.

I managed to start my second batch of MTTs early on Saturday evening but was not terribly comfortable multitabling this batch either. I don't recall the specifics of these events too well, but I see from my notes how I finished in a few of the events:
i) got remaining 2/3 of my stack in postflop w AA after my lone opponent flopped trip 2s.
ii) got all in preflop w QQ vs JJ when JJ proceeded to make a straight on the river
iii) flopped set ~under~ set, got all in on the flop.
I have no notes on the next 2.
At that point, I was down to 2 MTTs, and had decided to stop entering any subsequent ones and concentrate on these last 2 (and also not start any ring games). I finished pretty close to the bubble in one event and cashed about half way through the money place finishers in the second. While there is definitely a huge amount of short term luck involved in any given MTT, I felt that I made much better decisions when it came down to just 2 simultaneous MTTs.

After checking on the schedule of the major $200 events, I decided that I would focus on just 2 events for Sunday, the Party $500k and the Stars $500k which both started at the same time on Sunday afternoon.


I woke up a couple of hours before the start of the $500k events and instead of jumping into some ring games, I used the time to reorganize and clean up our apartment. (I hope my wife likes it) I also hooked up the massage chair, that we had not used since we moved a couple of months ago. During the last half hour before the MTTs began, I sat through a nice relaxing massage to start the tournaments fresh.

Well, it turns out that watching the early parts of 2 MTTs is unbelievably boring. So after about 5 tedius minutes, I tried searching for some of the popular bloggers and also the leaders of the PocketFives tournament leader board (savemyskin, jacksup, shumoney, zeejustin, johnnybax, samenole, etc...). Turns out I would have done quite well in a last longer pool with this gang since the majority of them busted out of both events fairly early. SamEnole was good to watch. He got fairly lucky a couple of times, but I admired all the decisions that he made (from what I could see).

In an MTT, there are frequently times that you'll be discarding hands like TT or JJ preflop with a medium size stack seeing too much action in front of you, but then call all in bets from the BB from very short stacks for a non-trivial amount of your own chip stack with a hand like 94o. Such are the paradoxes of MTTs.

Notable things from the $500k events

- The Party tables play MUCH faster than the Stars tables (at least for the first few hours). I averaged 1.5 hands per minute at Party, and 1.0 hpm at Stars.
- Structure for the Stars tournament is brutal. I've read people complaining about this in the past, but I never really appreciated it until I sat down and played the Party and Stars events side by side. The much faster structure just mows down the field at Stars. There was a ~10% larger field at Stars, but the money bubble was burst well more than half an hour faster at Stars.
- the stalling isn't too bad at Stars, and it was not too noticable at Party compared to the regular Party $100+$9 (9pm PST) that I have been playing. At Stars they only institute hand for hand at 1 player before each bubble level.
- fold equity is unbelivably critical at the short-stack-all-in-post-bubble stage.
- during 3rd hour of both MTTs, I had 3x avg chip stack, but was unable to "close the deal". BOO!!!
- Blind and ante stealing near the bubble and even after then bubble burst was noticibly more successful at the Stars $200 event than I am used to. I only have this 1 sample to make this observation from, but at any rate I stole an unreal number of times. During the 3rd hour I managed to get a very large stack (somewhere in top 30 overall chip leaders) by winning a coin flip with the chip leader at my table with 539 players remaining (money bubble was 378). From between 500 players remaining well through 300 players remaining (particularly at the ~400 mark) I was attempting to steal the blinds on average ~2 times per orbit with a success rate that felt like close to 95% (this has to be a short term aberation). Note that this actually worked out to close to 50% of the time that it was folded to me. It was quite strange because each time I had to convince myself to try to steal again. It felt so much like Doyle Brunson's comments on No Limit Hold'em aggression in Super System when he said that he stole so frequently that he thought there is ~no way~ they would fold this time, but still forced himself to be aggressive.
Anyway, this was extremely convenient because it corresponded to the period of time in the tournament that I picked up very few legitimate hands. I was electing to open for 3x bb. I'm not sure if this is the ideal number. The blinds and ante's totalled ~2x bb, so the steal has to work 67% of the time to be profitable.
- I was happy with virtually every decision I made in both MTTs, including one that turned out to be actually wrong, but theoretically correct:
hand #1
- preflop: folded to hero in MP who looks down and finds KQs, hero raises 3x bb (with more than 20x bb behind), folded to CO who jams for 10x bb, everyone else folds. CO is neither very loose nor very tight. Hero calls getting 2:1, CO has AKs and it holds up.
I believe that CO's range is 77+, AK, AQs which Poker Stove tells me that I have 37% pot equity against. I would be happy with myself if I make these kind of decisions every time.

A first for me

In Sunday's 9pm Party $100+$9, there was an interesting hand right on the money bubble. It was a first for me.

hand #2
- preflop: folded to hero in CO who looks down and finds TT, hero pushes for 6x bb, folded to BB who has 5.5x bb. BB sits and thinks and thinks and with 1 second remaining BB calls with AA.
- flop: comes T high, and BB does not improve.

BB is the bubble boy.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Weekend challenge

My wife is going to be out of town this weekend, so I'm looking at a nice block of completely uninterupted time to partake in degenerate poker activity.

I've been brooding for most of the day in my cube (by the way, PokerSweetHome wrote a great post on the life of a full-time-corporate-worker-part-time-poker-player) about how best to utilize this opportunity, and I'm considering 2 primary choices.

1. Travel to Commerce, CA to play for 48 hours in the biggest poker room in the world.
2. Play in a massive number of online MTTs at home in my underwear.

I initially was heavily in favor of option #1, but the more and more I think about it, option #2 is actually more of a unique opportunity for me.

I'm going to budget a maximum of $2500 to play a continuous stream of between 4-6 simultaneous NLHE MTTs. I intend to play in all the $200 Sunday events at the major sites, and pretty much any NLHE events between the $3 - $50 range (including plenty of satellites) such that I can be continuously in 4-6 events. If I have trouble staying in the targetted number of events, I will fill the gap with $10/$20 LHE at Party.

I really have no feel for how much of the $2500 I am likely to blow through since I've never tried anything like this before.

I also don't have any particular goals. However, my theme as it always is in MTTs is that I will play to finish deep and not to finish in the money. I will bear no shame in being the bubble boy. Okay, okay my exception is going to be if I am a very short stacked on the bubble which I will roughly define as having all of the following conditions:
- my chip stack is less than 25% of average chips and less than 10x bb
- my chip ranking is slightly better than 'n' where 'n' is the number of places being paid
- the # remaining players is less than 105% of 'n'.
No sense throwing money away if I'm not in decent chip shape anyways.

Given my typical tendency to bury my head in a hole when things aren't going my way or to brag brag brag if things are going well, I will either post a mid-weekend update or wait until Monday morning to post the results of all the damage.

Yo yo

Today was a down and up day. I dropped another 20BB in the live $20/$40 game. The game conditions were good but worse than yesterday. I was involved in only 2 large pots which I both lost.

I had a couple of short but decent $10/$20 sessions at Party which bounced me back a fair amount for the day.

I noticed that Party has been adding $2000 to the $100+$9 9pm (PST) NLHE MTT, so I signed up tonight. With over 500 entrants, the overlay turned out to be worth less than $4 (way to find that value Dave!). I was able to cash in the mid 30's. No coin flip situations, no bad beats given or taken. Amazing.
Anyway, I have yet to make it very deep in this event. However, the field is so much softer than comparable MTTs at Stars, so I would like to continue playing more of these $109 9pm weekday events.


I finally got around to updating my spreadsheet. I finished in the black for the month of November only due to bonuses. Yuck.

Summary for satellite entries (since 10/29):
$ spent: $627 out of max $3000
$ returned to general poker bankroll: $2150
Net W$ or $T: W$29 (spent W$621 on $33 PCA supers)
Other: $10k Bay 101 WPT seat

I really didn't put in the time I intended for online supers in the later half of the month. I finished a few times in the low 20s in the $33 PCA supers, but with only 1 seat being typically awarded, I've got to do a better job of building a stack in the early - mid parts of the tournament.


UB is having a silly promotion where they are giving away 7 50" Plasma TVs to players for accumulating Ultimate Points. I say it is silly because of their implementation. They are basing the promotion on the % increase in play in December compared to November. It required a minimum of 50 points being earned in the month of November.

I can see the strategy that UB has which is to essentially target the player who has only been giving a small amount of business to the site. However, it provides no incentive to high volume players.

Hence, players who had slightly over 50 points earned are at a huge advantage over players who put in a lot of table time. It is so much easier to have a 1000% increase in points when starting from such a low number.

I myself earned 65 points in November, and this is pretty darn lucky considering the way they structure the promotion. However, I really don't know how interested I am in the prize. In theory, if you win such a prize, you are required to report the value of the item on your tax return. Hence, this will effectively mean that if I win a TV, I will actually be buying the TV for about 60% off MSRP. By searching for a deal online you will likely be able find a decent deal without having to take a specific model (that 50" is way too large for our apartment). Anyway, I'll worry about that if and when I'm on the leader board. :P

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Yesterday I had my first down day in excess of $1k in quite some time. This came from 1.5 hours of live $20/$40 LHE and 5 hours of 2-3 tabling $10/$20 LHE at Party. I am mostly pleased with the way I played, though naturally not with the actual results. I will not whine about the bad beats other than to say that I put in a lot of table hours in some very good games.

I am happy because I felt like I missed very few value bets, paid off far fewer hands on the river (and these are the problems I felt I have been having the most lately), and didn't change my playing style or standards after taking bad beats. The first item is relatively easy to validate, while the second is much trickier because there can be the tendency to fold too much.

My most common mistake in yesterday's sessions (though not necessarily the biggest) was folding too often to flop or turn check raises from frequent bluffers in the blinds (when I was the pre-flop raiser) on ragged or paired boards in the online $10/$20 games. I was probably check raised on the flop or turn in these possible situations on the order of 20 times, and I suspect I laid down the best hand between 20-50% of the time. At one particular table, I had mucked after being check raised so many times that I felt comfortable calling down a flop check raiser with AT high. In general, I need to pay closer attention to identify the players and situations that I am most likely to get pure bluffed check raised (given the history of the session) and also to a lesser extent semibluffed check raised. (I say a lesser extent because this situations are easier to identify and handle).


The only interesting hand for me from the whole day is this one. I made a bad laydown. Am I too weak?

hand #1
Party $10/$20 LHE, 9 seated
- preflop: fold, wild man (55/18/1.8) UTG+1 raises, folded to hero in CO with QQ, hero reraises, button folds, tight agg passive (11/7/1) in SB caps, BB folds, wild man and hero call. (3 players, 13 small bets)
- flop: flop comes A high rainbow with 2 junk cards, SB bets, wild man raises, hero mucks, SB calls. (2 players, 17 small bets)
- turn: K making 1 flush draw. check, check. (2 players, 8.5 big bets)
- river: blank, check, check. SB shows JJ, wild man shows 88.

At the time, I only considered 2 possibilities on the flop, raise or fold. I absolutely did not consider calling. (mistake? since I'm either way ahead or way behind) Wild man had been making absolutely ridiculous flop raises all night long (his PT stats don't reflect the degree to which he was lagging it up in the actual session). His range was any 2 cards, but for the sake of argument I will give him an A 20% of the time. My main concern is the TAP SB. I think that SB's range is (AA-JJ). That puts him ahead only 9/16 56% of the time.

I hate situations where I don't know how much it is going to cost me to see the river. How do I compute my pot equity on the flop if I'm modelling that wild man is ahead of me 20% of the time and SB is ahead 56% of the time? How should I model how many bets it will take to see the river?

I have position here, so should I invest the 3 small bets on the flop (with 16 small bets already in the pot) to test out the waters (with the intention to call a flop cap, and folding unimproved on turn)? Anyway, it seems like if I do continue in the hand my primary goal is to make it to the showdown as cheaply as possible.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An amusing read

The following is a recent post from the blog of a Wharton-MBA-turned-poker-pro. I found it pretty darn funny. My sister's ambition.

Mixed games

Variety is the spice of life, and I deviated somewhat from my routine tonight. After dinner the first thing I did was plop down on the sofa and watch a movie. Talk about relaxing!

I was actually planning on taking the entire night off from poker, but after the movie I wasn't at all sleepy so I sat down in the only good $10/$20 game I could find at the time. Nothing too interesting happened, and the game broke after less than 20 minutes when the two biggest producers left.

There happened to be no particularly good looking $10/$20 games at the time, so I fired up a couple of tables of $0.50/$1.00 Omaha 8, and $0.25/$0.50 Crazy Pineapple 8. I know that these are extremely low stakes games and I am still very inexperienced in these styles , but I am actually starting to be more hopeful that I won't be over my head in the $10/$20 mixed game at the Wynn. My confidence is high enough now that I think that if there is at least 1 big donk at the table or 2-3 people that don't know the rules of all the games being spread, I should be able to break even (I mean 0EV in the theoretical sense). Yup, nothing like having a false sense of security to blanket yourself in...

I still have yet to put in any significant table time at Stud or Stud 8. I will definitely need to run these games for a few table hours before Vegas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Online shuffle

I've occasionally wondered what technique is used for the online shuffle at Party.

From what I understand there are two main techniques that online poker sites use: 1) the shuffle of the deck is completely finished at the beginning of the hand, like in a bricks and mortar casino (the 5 board cards that will come out are already determined by the time the first hole card is dealt) OR 2) the rng is applied to obtain a new card whenever one is needed.

In a hand I was dealt last night in the $10/$20 game, if technique #1 was used, a technical glitch probably cost me ~90% of 7BB. If technique #2 was used, I saved 1.5-2.0BB.

Since we moved about 2 months ago, I have been experiencing intermittent but brief internet outages. I have done no investigation of the cause. e.g. perhaps 1 day a week, I will have 3-4 interuptions of internet service for 3-20 seconds in duration over the course of 2 hours.

hand #1
preflop: UTG folds, hero is dealt JsJd and internet connection is lost..... connection resumes about 18 seconds later, hero has been folded, folded to semi-lag in MP+1 who raised, absolute Rock (9/2/2.0) 3 bet, everyone else folds, semi-lag calls. (2 players, 7.5 small bets)
flop: Jh3h6c, semilag check folds.

I have over 2000 hands on Rock, so I'm 90% sure he had Aces, and 99% sure he had Aces or Kings, so I just wonder if my internet outage cost me $122 or saved me $30?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I am not a poker player

If anything, I'm a pokah playa. My last 2 sessions (~ 5 hours total) of online $10/$20 LHE, I've been playing terribly. At least 10BB of mistakes: 5x paying off an almost certainly better hand, 1x betting into an obvious made hand on the turn, 4x missing somewhat reasonable value betting opportunities (I am not a man, I am a mouse)

For most of the second session, I just felt like I was playing with my cards face up. It is so frustrating to feel so naked. Giving free cards at the wrong time, not taking free cards at the right time, showing too much turn aggression when all opponents are likely drawing dead, etc...

I did manage to finish both session in the black, but I left way too much on those tables. Another really bad thing is that, despite any other excuses I can come up with, the main reason I left the tables when I did was simply because I was up at that time. Most of the tables I was playing at were still at least reasonably good when I left. However, I just couldn't stand to have the rotten feeling of finishing a session in the hole, particularly when the amount of mistakes made exceeds the amount of the loss.

I know that the decision to stay in the game should be primarily based on the conditions of the game. My psychological state is just too fragile to take advantage of good games.


Busted early in both Party $10k and $25k freerolls yesterday both times w AA. runner runner gutshot in the first, flopped set in the 2nd. yuck; at least I managed to get all the chips in when I was ahead though.

I completely forgot to enter the special UB tournament. Damn, I've got to remember to pre-register for tournaments that I am interested in....

Friday, November 25, 2005

"I played all those raked hands and all I got is this lousy t-shirt?"

Well, not exactly. After the BBJ was finally hit (lucky bastards...), I started doing some serious multitabling of low limit Omaha 8 and $3/$6 6max at the cryptos. At the same time, I played the $10k and $25k freerolls that Party gave for playing 200 and 500 raked hands respectively yesterday (I played a wee bit more hands than this in my BBJ adventures....). I busted a couple off the bubble in the $10k, and I made the money in the $25k but not very deep. Interestingly for me, I encountered exactly only one situation where I could call anyone's bet or raise. My last hand of the $25k, it is folded to the button who pushes all in for 5x bb, folded to me in the BB with 4.5x bb, I have A9o, I call, he has A8o, 8 on the flop, it holds up, IGHN. Did I mention how much I love MTTs?

So no, I didn't get a lousy t-shirt (though I suppose I did earn enough Party points to order one). I received $162.50 for finishing in the 20's. Ya gotta finish deep in an MTT to make any dough. C'est la vie.

Boy the 6 max tables at Caribbean Sun were bonkers. Maybe I have just been playing too much 10 max lately. I really hate how you can't go to the Cashier until you leave the table. How the heck are you supposed to know when you've hit your raked hand target? Sneaky sneaky.... I guess I can just check my Poker Tracker database from time to time for the raked hand count.

UB has a special tournament on Saturday ($3+$0.30 rebuy) in which the top 10 finishers get to automatically release up to $1000 of their bonus dollars. I have well over this amount, so it would be nice to skip playing 20,000 raked hands if I can make the final table. Hopefully, I will be around tomorrow afternoon to play.

Thanksgiving death march

I put in a very long day at the Party BBJ tables again today. Over 11 hours at the $2/$4 tables, and for some "variety" at the end of the day, I mixed in some $3/$6 as well.

The very long online sessions I have been putting in lately have gotten me to thinking about last year's Party till you Cruise promotion. I never attempted to get a seat, but from what I understand there were two promotions:

first promo:
- first 20 players to earn 30k party points (they didn't specify regular points) were given a seat
about a week later, second promo:
- first 10 players to earn 15k regular party points were given a seat

Microbob was able to hit the target in the first promotion by playing 20k hands of $10/$20 6 max in 4 days during happy hours (to get double points).

If Party were to run another similiar promotion this year, I wonder how difficult it would be to get a seat. If they did it with a counting mechanism using regular party points, then it seems like Silver and Gold level members would have a tremendous advantage since they accumulate regular points at a faster rate.

I suspect there are a fair number of online pros that are capable of 8 tabling $10/$20 or higher to grind out those points in very short order. In last years promotion, in typical Party fashion, the information about the promotion was dumped out in a sudden fashion without a clear explaination of the rules. Many online pros were not aware of the start of the promotion and didn't get started until a half day or more into it. Some people used "teams" on the same account to play 24 hours a day.

I wonder if I would be capable of getting a seat in such a promotion. It probably would not be good for my health to try...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

again and again and again

I'm almost as tired of writing about Party's bad beat jackpot as I am playing at those tables. As of ~3am Saturday EST, the BBJ is $514k. Its current growth rate has slowed down to less than $3k/hour, but assuming it is not hit, the jackpot growth could easily exceed $5k/hour during most of the day tomorrow.

By my back of the envelope calculations, the EV of playing each hand at a $2/$4 BBJ table is currently ~+$0.094 per hand. This is every hand, not raked hands.

How did I come to this number? Here are my assumptions.

- The probability of a bad beat hand being dealt is ~155000:1
- The biggest assumption is that the likelihood of a possible bad beat hand being played out is 66%.
- the weighted average percentage of the jackpot that you would win if it is hit at your table is 5.43%.
- Jackpot EV per hand is ($514k * 0.667 * 0.0543) /155000 = $0.120
- At $2/$4 BBJ tables, an average of 52% of all hands are raked. (and hence the average jackpot drop per person at a 10 seated table is ($0.50 * 0.52) /10 = $0.026

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

close but no cigar

For the first time in about a month my heart started pounding like a madman during a poker hand. $2/$4 Party BBJ table:

hand #1
- preflop: UTG limps, UTG+1 limps, folded to Hero in CO who has TcTs, Hero raises, folded back to UTG who calls, UTG+1 3 bets!!, Hero and UTG call (3 players, 10.5 small bets)
- flop: ThTdAd, OH MY SWEET LORD! UTG checks, UTG+1 bets, Hero calls, UTG calls (3 players 13.5 small bets)
- turn: ThTdAdQc, UTG checks, UTG+1 bets, Hero raises, UTG 3 bets, UTG+1 caps, both call (3 players, 18.5 big bets) Dammit put an A out there!
- river: ThTdAdQc4d, UTG bets, UTG+1 raises, Hero 3 bets, UTG calls, UTG+1 caps, both call (final pot 30.5 big bets)
UTG+1 shows AA, and UTG shows KJo

Everyone else said they didn't have an A, so on the flop I was about 14.5:1 to win $131k. Damn damn damn... I took 3 one outers this weekend, why oh why Party couldn't you do it to me tonight?

Monday, November 21, 2005

A silly first for me

Someone finally told me (in the table chat) that I'm a donkey. All this time I've been playing, I've only wondered, but now I've got the word.

While playing the $3/$6 Party BBJ tables last night, I put a pretty bad beat on one of my opponents (a 40/12/0.8). It occured during a lull at the tables where for no particular reason, the number of statistically favorable tables had suddenly dipped such that I was only playing on 4 tables and had enough time to pay attention to the table chat. I've probably been called a donkey plenty of times, but just never noticed.

The play of the hand is very straightforward.

hand #1
- preflop: Hero open raises in EP w AcQd, folded to MP+2 who cold calls, CO 3 bets cold, button cold calls 3, both blinds call, Hero and MP+2 call (6 players, 18 small bets)
- flop: Kd8d3h, checked to CO who bets, all call (6 players, 24 small bets)
- turn: Kd8d3hTd, checked to CO who bets, button calls, blinds fold, Hero calls, MP+2 folds (3 players, 15 big bets)
- river: Kd8d3hTdJc, Hero bets, CO calls with his KK, button calls with 99. (final pot 18 big bets)

CO was positively livid. He asked if I realized just how big a moron I was. I admitted that I probably had no idea. A couple of minutes later he asked if I had ever made a cashout before. I explained how the first thing I do after cashing my paycheck is to run over to Western Union to pump some $ into my Party account, is that what he means? Yet another couple of minutes later, he made the typical remarks about how I should keep playing at his table, and then he concluded with the ultimate insult: "Hey moron, I just made on note on you that you are a DONKEY!".

Woohoo, I feel like I finally popped my cherry.


A couple of things on the subject of the BBJ tables.
- I wish that Party would have "subfolders" for the various limits that are offered (the way they do with standard limit hold'em games). It would make it much easier to do game selection in the background by sorting by highest avg pot size without mixing up games from different stakes.
- Is there any way to check the current size of Party's BBJ on the www? (i.e. without starting the Party application) I couldn't find anything on their website.

Grinding on...

Really nothing new to report. I played online exclusively this weekend.

I put in about 6k hands this weekend. This is likely the most hands I have played in a weekend so far this year. About 1/3 of the hands were at $10/$20. I estimate I'm making on the order of 1BB/100 hands of mistakes; the most frequent being calling down on the river. If I can trim this particular leak down (without going too far to the other extreme), I should do well in these games. I think my second biggest mistake is to bet marginal hands headsup into players that extremely frequently will bluff when sensing weakness. As I am generally playing 2 tables, I should be able to pick up on these situations more readily. (i.e. distinguishing between making a value bet with a marginal hand with a very loose caller vs. inducing a bluff from a player who won't call when I make a zero value bet)

The remaining 2/3 of the hands this weekend were at $3/$6 and $2/$4 jackpot tables. My rationalization was that with Party's Bad Beat Jackpot well into the +EV range, I will use the opportunity to grind out a large number of hands for my Party VIP target. With the BBJ in the $330k range, I will pretty much exclusively play the jackpot tables until it is hit.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bad Beat Jackpot

Last time I checked, Party's bad beat jackpot had climbed above $170,000. I am curious as to how to calculate the EV for playing the jackpot tables.

To avoid having lazy me delve into the math, I read this article by Brian Alspach that concludes $158,300 is the magic breakeven number when making reasonable assumptions of how real people play. I'm not certain if this number needs to be scaled up to account for the 20% of the jackpot that is used to seed the next jackpot and the 10% skim by Party.

According to bonuswhores (see the Bad Beat Jackpot section), the magic number is between $130k- $190k, depending on the stakes played. They provide absolutely no details on the assumptions used for these calculations.

For the sake of argument, let's use the $158,300 number. Assuming a 10 seated table, then each players' contribution to the jackpot is $0.50/10 or $0.05 per hand. I guess that means if the jackpot was $316,600 that the jackpot EV from each raked hand at the jackpot tables is +$0.05? That seems like a lot of free money. In a low stakes game, $0.05/h is on the order of magnitude of 1BB/100h.

How am I supposed to know who's magic number to go by? I guess to make things simpler for me, I will wait until the jackpot exceeds $250k before considering to bring my business there. The +EV below this point is pretty small anyways, and god forbid that I actually play on these tables when there is negative Jackpot EV in case the assumptions on bonuswhores are too optimistic.

Another factor to consider related to jackpot tables is the quality of the opposition. From the threads on two plus two, the general consensus is that at smaller jackpot sizes and lower limit tables, the average player is worse than average compared to non-jackpot tables. The reasoning is that i) tougher +EV seeking players will avoid playing in the -EV jackpot environment resulting in better games, ii) the minimum stakes of $2/$4 is higher than the minimum stakes at non-jackpot tables forcing some jackpot seeking players to play higher limits that their norm.
However, as the jackpot size grows very large, the consensus is that the tables start becoming highly populated with tougher multitabling TAGs. I suppose you could combine the pluses and the minuses to be a wash. (yes, a great analysis cop out...)

A final point to consider is which stakes are most ideal to play at in a high jackpot environment? It stands to reason that on a per capita basis a lower stakes table is likelier to hit the jackpot than a higher stakes table since the supposedly looser play should result in a higher percentage of potential qualifying hands to be played.

I recall reading on Scurvy's blog that he multitabled the $2/$4 jackpot tables the last time the jackpot was large, although he normally seems to play between $15/$30 and $30/$60. I wonder if his decision to play at the $2/$4 stakes were influenced by the higher likihood of the jackpot being hit.


My latest initial foray at the Party $10/$20 tables is off to a decent start, but only after a very small number of hands. After ~700 hands, I'm running at ~+11.5BB/100h. I hope the regression to the mean does not come in a particularly painful fashion.

It is going to take some time to get a decent number of hands in. I've probably been averaging slightly less than 2 tables at a time. I only went up to 3 tables for a brief 30 minute period when a 3rd overwhelming good table was available.

I've also noticed that games at $10/$20 are more heavily centered on the providers. Once those players go broke and/or leave, the table quickly breaks down, often as quickly as within 1-2 hands.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Put up or shut up

Not much to say today, but I liked DoubleAs' post today about putting in the hours. I'm sure that my time management skills can and should be a lot better. Back to the grind....

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Some changes

The Foxwoods trip has inspired me to do some macro-level thinking about my poker life. I've decided to make some changes to the time allocation of my online and live play.

I've decided that I am burning myself out by trying to play too many hands of $3/$6 6max and 10max with very little medium term or long term gain. I plan to substantially substitute my playing time with single or double tabling $10/$20 9 or 10 max.
In parallel, I will generally play no more than 1 super satellite, MTT, or non-LHE game. In the non-LHE game category, I plan on playing $1/$2 or $2/$4 full table Omaha 8, Stud 8, 2-7TD, or Crazy Pineapple on Party and/or UB. I may also play some low limit Razz on FTP. If I'm not simultaneously playing LHE, I will probably 2-3 table the non-LHE games. The reason is that for games like Omaha 8 at low limits, my starting hand selection is so small that I'm playing so few hands, and time spent watching how low limit opponents play doesn't have substantial value.

This is my online plan substitution for the remainder of this month. I think this is a good choice for my continuing poker development. During periods of time that I don't feel like thinking or perhaps am on the tired side, I may grind out some $3/$6 hands at Party/UB/Carribean Sun.

In live play, I intend to completely drop $4/$8 Omaha 8 from the lineup. This 1/2 kill game is the highest stakes live regularly spread Omaha game that is conveniently available to me, but it is far too time-inefficient to play in.
Although to date, I have only played a grand total of 7 hours of live LHE above the $20/$40 level, I intend to substantially increase the % of my live ring game time in the $40/$80 game. $40/$80 may end up representing between 10-25% of my playing time with $20/$40 taking up the balance. I will be more disciplined with my time; if both the $40/$80 and $20/$40 games are bad, I will just go home and play online.

Given my bankroll, I do have a reasonable possibility of going broke playing in the $40/$80 game (lol, especially if I am a losing player). I think I am willing to permit my live bankroll to take a hit as high as 50% before I would be willing to cut $40/$80 from the line up. Naturally, if I feel that I am frequently outclassed, then I will also cut it sooner.

I've also decided that I need put more effort to think about hands played. I will start posting hands that I have any doubts or interesting thoughts on. On that line of thought, I'm going to post some hands from the Foxwoods trip.

some hand histories:

hand #1
live 10 handed $50/$100 LHE. This hand occured about 1 hour into the session, and I realistically expect that any of the players who pay any attention have pegged me as tight as I have been sitting out most hands. However, I have not made any particularly weak plays before this hand. I'm seated in MP, MP+1 is a tight agg player, MP+2 is a loose donkey, CO is tight passive, button is a smart aggressive player, SB has been a very tight preflop, very agg postflop player, BB is a weak tight player.
- preflop: folded to me in MP, I open raise with 6c6s (with a best case goal of stealing the blinds, and a second best case goal of seeing the flop headsup with donk), fold, donk calls, button three bets, blinds fold, I cap it (electing to represent a big pocket), both call. (3 players, 13.5 small bets)
- flop: Tc4h4d, I bet out immediately, donk folds, button quickly calls (2 players, 15.5 small bets)
- turn: Tc4h4d7h, I bet out immediately, button calls fairly quickly (2 players, 9.75 big bets)
- river: Tc4h4d7h2s, I check after thinking for 2 seconds, button bets after thinking for 3-4 seconds, I fold

Gawd, after writing this hand out, I almost want to puke because of how I played it.

Anyways, what hands can I put button on? 99, TT, JJ, are the likely better hands he could have, I believe I get raised on the flop with QQ (and of course KK and AA). The hand I am very suspicious about is AK. At the time of the hand, I had stupidly thought he would check behind with big slick. The more I think about it, when I check the river, he will almost always bet AK since there is a reasonable chance that I also have AK and there is virtually no chance he will scoop the pot in a showdown.
Are there any worse hands besides AK that he will call a turn bet with given the preflop action?
If I did put him on 99 (6 ways), TT ( 3 ways), JJ (6 ways), QQ (6 ways, but slightly scaled down because of no flop raise) and AK (16 ways), I'm assuming there is zero value in check raising the river given the pot size (in the hope that he would lay down 99)?

Probably if I am weak enough to cap it preflop 3 ways (and stupid enough to do so out of position), bet the flop and turn headsup, and then check/fold the river, I should have called the 3 bet preflop, check/folded the flop, and then went back down to $20/$40 after I had played up to my blinds.

hand #2
This hand falls in the "how can I win a bigger pot?" category.
live 8 handed $20/$40 LHE, I've only joined this table about 20 minutes earlier.
- preflop: fairly loose player limps UTG, folded to unclassified button who limps, unclassified SB completes, I raise for value w AhQh, all call (4 players, 8 small bets)
- flop: 2h5hTh, SB checks, I bet, UTG calls, button raises, (I see SB checking his cards, so I decide to do the same but at that time I forgot to watch if UTG did the same), SB calls, I call (assuming that button either has a baby flush or a set), UTG calls. (4 players, 16 small bets)
- turn: 2h5hThAd, SB checks, I bet (because I'm hoping that to get extra bets from UTG if he is drawing with any heart, and from the point of view of button, to represent the naked Ah who is stupidly betting into a better hand), UTG folds, button calls, SB folds (2 players, 10 big bets)
- river: 2h5hThAd5c, button looks visibly upset (which worries me as a reverse tell), I bet with the intention of calling a raise, button fairly quickly calls with his baby flush.

I suspect that button foolishly decided to slow play the turn, and then panicked on the river when the board paired.

Any thoughts on how to win a bigger pot here? (naturally I'm not talking about assuming I know what anyone actually had)

Foxwoods trip report

The trip to Foxwoods was a quick one, but it was enjoyable and educational nonetheless.

Summary stats:
- I was at Foxwoods for ~26 hours, of which time I spent 20 hours at the Hold'em tables.
- I finished down exactly -$110 (including all time charges and tips).
----- $2/$5 NLHE, -$65, 1.5 hours, (-8.7bb/hour)
----- $20/$40 LHE, +$1205, 15.5 hours (+1.9BB/hour)
----- $50/$100 LHE, -$1250, 3 hours (-4.2BB/hour)
- The low water mark for the trip was around -$1500 and the high water mark was around +$1300.
- Complete trip expenses were $381 (including all transportation, accomodation, meals), so my net hit for the weekend was -$491.

I was somewhat disappointed with game selection at Foxwoods. I played from 1:30am Sunday to 5:00pm Sunday, and 11pm Sunday - 3:30am Monday (Flight 1 of the Main event started at 12pm Sunday). During those time periods there were (in the limit hold'em category) between 2-4 $20/$40 LHE tables, 0-1 $50/$100 LHE tables (nothing in between), 0-1 $100/$200 and higher tables. I was unable to play at my desired limits of $30/$60 or even $40/$80. There were a huge number of low limit LHE and NHLE tables. Incidentally, there did seem to be a decent variety of mixed, Omaha, and Stud games across a wide range of stakes and a moderate number of mid->high stakes NLHE games.

I'm not sure if it is the same for all levels, but for the stakes I played, the players were essentially comped $1.50 per hour. Although dealers were relatively competent, the tables did not have shuffling machines.

I was very pleased with the amount of quality table time I put in. On most of my previous poker trips, my percent of trip time spent at the poker tables ("tooth-to-tail ratio") was far too low. I plan to keep this up in the future.

The $20/$40 LHE games were very soft. I played at 3 seperate tables. All three of those tables featured 2 truly terrible players. I would say that 5 of the top ten worst opponents I have ever faced at $20/$40 were at those tables, including my personal favorite - a mid-50 year old dried up prune who called himself 007. My guesstimate is that I played with roughly 50 distinct opponents at $20/$40 during my 15.5 table hours. The table turnover is far lower than at my local poker room. The reason is because most people are on some kind of gambling trip when coming to Foxwoods whereas at my local poker room, there are far more locals that may just be spending between 2-4 hours at the table. For example, in my longest single stretch at a $20/$40 table of 10.5 hours, 5 of the players who were present when I sat down were there when I left. I probably only faced around 15 distinct players during that time stretch.

Out of the 50 distinct opponents, I estimate about 4-5 were very decent midstakes pros and triple that number were semi-decent recreational, but experienced players (for a $20/$40 game). There were a couple of people who told me they were midstakes pros, but appear to me to be fairly poor players who will either have to learn or go broke when they go on an inevitable bad streak.

Perhaps it is a case of selective memory, but as far as I can recall, I completed exactly zero flush or straight draws at the $20/$40 tables (although I did flop the nut flush once that I will write about some other time because I have some thoughts about how that hand progressed, and I did flop and turn several boats). Many of my nut draws were in 4-5 way pots, so my results from the 20 game don't reflect how juicy the games were. Naturally, I have little idea of how many times my opponents missed. 007 ran exceeding well including runner runner'ing 2 ugly pair countless number of times. 007 was amusing to play with. During the 10.5 hours, 007 received exactly 2 bad beats, and he would simply not stop talking about those bad beats whenever either of those players entered a pot with him. No one was willing to point out the irony to him, though surely he saw it?

One of the fun parts of the $20/$40 experience was the first game I sat down in. There were 2 empty seats at the table. I recognized a winner of a WSOPC main event and elected to sit on his immediately left. He was fun to chat with about the game play at our table. Additionally I was pretty interested in his explanations of his 2 sponsership agreements with Stars and FTP after his WSOPC win. He wasn't necessarily bragging; the info just came because I asked a lot of questions and he seemed willing to answer.

$50/$100 LHE
I was rather nervous for the first couple of orbits in this game. I found myself strangely to be almost shivering until I found out that this table and its 2 direct neighbors were directly beneath an A/C vent and had a reputation of being the coldest tables in the room to play at. It wasn't just my nervousness....

Within 1 orbit, it became very apparent that I had been seated 2 seats to the right of a very laggy donk. He did a live straddle whenever he remembered, and was a very reckless player. All players had their eye out for him, and seat changes were not an option for me during the duration of my session because the people ahead of me on the seat change list all moved to get position on the donk and no one else left the game.

The line up for the game was a mixed bag. It appears to me that there were 3 extremely good (aggresive and smart) players at the table (one on my immediate right, and the other seated on the opposite side of the table with position on the donk). There was also a writer for Card Player magazine who didn't strike me as playing particularly well, but I didn't see enough of her play to make a fair judgement. A calling station who wasn't familar with a number of rules sat in the game for about an hour. It was actually amusing as you could almost see those good players start salivating when the calling station was asking for some clarification on some of the rules. There were also a couple of tight passive players that I was not involved with on any hands. I was the weakest player at the table, and I was punished for this on a few hands until I started to push back.

I emerged from the experience with one particular lesson reinforced in my mind. That lesson is to ~think~ before acting on every street when playing against very smart thinking players. I'm not wording it very well, but I think another way people word this is to think at another level. The river decisions made by some of those smarter players are more heavily influenced (than I am used to) by what my opponents think that I think that they think about the hand.

What came as absolutely no surprise is that the whole game broke down within minutes of the donk leaving.


My most incomprehensible slip ups of the trip were completely non-poker related, but are so shameful that I will list them here.
1) When I picked up my rental car, I gave the agent my bank debit card instead of my bank credit card which basically made me forgo the insurance coverage on the rental car. Both of these cards look extremely similar, and when I travel on trips like this I don't carry a wallet so it is easier for me to mix up my cards. The uninsured car was my biggest potential financial liability of the trip, not the $50/$100 game... No incidents occured with the car, so no damage done.
2) When I went to the cage to get chips for the $50/$100 game, I gave the teller a $6000 wad of $100's with the mistaken impression that I was giving a $5000 wad. ~She~ pointed out the mistake. I had wrapped up that wad of $100's after a different poker trip, and for some reason, it had just been implanted in my mind that I had wrapped a wad of 50. Because of this, I wasn't paying too much attention when she was counting out the bills. Terrible. I'm just trying to give money away.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I leave for Foxwoods on Saturday for a quick weekend trip. It is doubtful I will do anything more than play hold'em all weekend. I'm excited about the idea of playing new games (such as Omaha/8 or 2-7 TD), but I'm just not ready for midstakes live games. Maybe I am being overly cautious, but I think I will err on the conservative side. Perhaps in a few more weeks I won't feel like I would be such a donator in those games. Hopefully, I'll be able to make my debut in Vegas next month.

One positive aspect of this trip is that I will be forced to play a lot of live poker. I have really been playing a lot of online lately, and it has been almost mind numbingly boring. I swear I haven't played one interesting hand of limit hold'em for more than a week. I think this has to with the way I am spending my time. Live play has probably been representing about 1/2 of my playing time, but within that MTTs and $4/$8 Omaha/8 have been really cutting into the $20/$40 game time (which is only interesting if the game is tougher than usual).

One goal I will have for this weekend is to learn ~something~. I don't know what that is yet, but I would at least like to come back a little more "educated" (although preferably not because I'm broke).


I made it home early enough tonight to play in the PCA super. I also found out today there is a good chance that I won't be able to travel to Atlantis when the PCA is running. Bah, there is a far better chance that I won't win a seat, so I stubbornly enter anyways. I made it moderately deep but really blinded down late in the 3rd hour, until I took a stand w 8xbb (since this was a winner take all MTT) and got called by that monster hand A3o. 0/2 in MTT coin flips tonight, which is a good thing because I'm saving up all my winning coin flips for the big one.

The reason I might not be able travel to Atlantis is that my immigration status might impose international travel restrictions at that time. I should look into which sites will be offering supers to the US based WPT events in January (like Full Tilt's winners choice), or otherwise save my efforts for when sites start running WSOP supers.

A good thing about being knocked out from the PCA super already is that I can try to book a little more sleep tonight to save up for the weekend....

click click

I did something today that I have not done for a very long time. I accidentally misclicked (clicked call instead of fold to a preflop raise). I was 6 tabling 6 max at the time.

In the past, I had misclicked a relatively frequent number of times while multitabling. The frequency was once every few thousand hands. For the longest time, I was using the mouse that came with my PC; a Dell branded Microsoft mouse. After one occasion where I accidentally clicked fold to a flop bet when I was holding the nut set on a rainbow flop in a $100NL game (where the LAG bettor had a ~$150 stack and I had him covered), my immediate next action was to point my browser to Amazon to order a gaming mouse. I chose a Logitech MX510 for about $30. That has seemed to turn out to be a very good investment.

In the hand today, I happened to flop 2 pair and won a sizeable pot. That is besides the point... The PFR with his overpair was not impressed, so to really piss him off I played up to my big blind, and then typed "hit and run, baby". I probably should have hung around a while longer, but I had too many tables open and that one had the "worst" avg table stats.

lateness dictating the schedule...

Work commitments kept me late enough that I missed the start of the PCA super again tonight. So again, I sat down in the $100+9 MTT at Party. I managed to finish about 10 places higher than last night (28th/460), but this still only translated to a miniscule increase in prize money because of the extremely flat payout structure of the 11-50th places. Oh well, any cash is better than nothing I guess.

The slow play stalling was just as bad or worse tonight. Even during the hand for hand periods there were players on almost every table that would stall. It is a complete crapshoot at that point with between 7-10 hands being dealt per 15 minute level. It is pretty frustrating to have a decent size stack near the bubble then basically sit through 45 minutes to an hour of slow playing; then probably playing a couple of coin flips to see if you can make the final table. (or really just one coin flip if you lose your first one)

One thing I noticed is that there seems to be a bug in Party's s/w for the hand for hand logic. Frequently the first table that finishes a hand gets dealt another hand. I didn't have a chance to understand the exact pattern for this (i.e. if it was timing related, or depended on the state of the other tables, or if it just depended on if a raiser on the first table steals the blinds, etc...) partially because my table was never first to finish.

During the first couple of hours of the MTT, I signed in to Carribean Sun for the first time. I'm not sure if it was because it was relatively late, but there were only 1 $3/$6 6 max table and 2-3 $2/$4 6 max games going. (There were about the same number of games in other currencies. I'm not sure quite how that works yet, so I only sat in on US$ games). I worked off about 100 raked hands for the bonus from 1 $3/$6 and 1 $2/$4. I was worried at first that the $2/$4 6 max might not have enough qualifying raked hands, but quickly realized that the $20 pot size was not much of a problem. Small samples apply, but the $2/$4 was absolutely donkerific. There were 3 seperate hands vs. 3 seperate opponents where the genius opponent called a preflop raise or three bet, then proceeded to cap the flop and the turn and fold for a single bet on the river? My personal fav was 3 betting the turn and then folding to the cap from the 80/40/5.0 player. Nice...

I'll probably be kicked in the teeth on my next session there for talking about it. Hmmm, it is bad luck to be superstitious.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Marginal day

I managed to cash in the $109 NLHE at Party, but only in the 2nd lowest possible payout tier. I don't like the way I played on the bubble or after the bubble. The payout structure was so flat from 11-50th, that from 60->50, I folded my way into the money during which time I was constantly in the bottom 10 chip stacks. I was very conflicted about whether or not to attempt chip up on the bubble but chickened out since the structure was so flat. During my last few hands, I had the misfortune to have my table shut down right after taking my blinds, and then being moved into the UTG+2 position. And then I proceeded to push my 3.8BB stack from the UTG+1 position w A4o. I was called by a big stack's TT and a smaller stack's A5o and didn't suck out. Perhaps I didn't have much choice in my decisions. Oh well...
There were plenty of "slow players" at the late stages of this tournament. In my mind, the structure of the live ~$100 NLHE MTTs I've been playing are no worse than Party's $100 given the slow playing. In the 30-odd $60-$100 buy in Live MTTs I have ever played in, I have yet to see a person "slow play" late in the tournament (well, no more than 1 or 2 hands after which he/she will get severely scolded by others). I'm sure that there are people who do it, but to me it seems less likely to happen since being physically present with 8-9 other people that would get very mad at you is a big disuader.

My live game feels fairly solid these days, despite the lack of results (I'm up about 1.5BB in the last 5 session hours at $20/$40). For example, in today's 1.5 hour session up, despite making 1 zero value bet on the river, I otherwise think I bet all of my marginal hands correctly (getting calls from worse hands on the showdown, getting opponents to make incorrect folds on the turn, etc). Correct marginal decisions are the most satisfying aspect of playing limit hold'em.

I am still pretty bummed out from my online ring games. Tonight, I was playing 3 $3/$6 10 max tables, 2 $0.25/$0.50 Omaha/8 tables, 1 $2 omaha/8 MTT, and the 1 $109 NLHE MTT for a period of ~3 hours (I was too late to play in the PCA super).
At the low, I dropped over -35BB in the $3/$6 games. Roughly half a dozen outdraws on the river in medium (6-10BB) size pots, 2 cold deck situations (KK vs AA, set under set). By the end of the session, I was able to stem the loss at -17 BB.
I am currently -150BB off my peak at $3/$6 6 max and -160BB off my peak at $3/$6 10 max over my last 18k hands. Yuck. Nothing to be in a panic about, but losses don't give me that warm fuzzy feeling.
At least the MTT cash kept me in the black for the day.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Healthy mind, healthy body, health soul?

Last night I was writing a very detailed post on my tournament and ring game escapades for the weekend. After blogger ate my post, I considered the marginal utility of a re-write. On further reflection, the whole story can be described in a far more abbreviated fashion: I had a losing weekend in live and online tournaments, a losing weekend in online ring games, and a break even weekend in live ring games. Any further comments or analysis by me would just be a whole load of b.s.


I had a major maintenance tune up on my car done this weekend, and it made quite a noticible difference. The tune up had been loooooong overdue. I had really forgotten how much I liked to drive my car, and the experience of driving to the office today actually put a smile on my face.

This simple thing got me to reflecting on my lifestyle over the last year. For at least the last 6 months, I have completely stopped exercising or participating in any sports. 110% of my free time is devoted to poker and nothing else.

I have never been a good sleeper, and the last year has been no better. The combination of poor sleeping habits, no exercise, poor eating habits, and stress leaves me in a state where my body never feels particularly good.

Zip back to about 3 years ago, my obsession was marketedly different. I was playing volleyball maybe 18 hours a week, with a comparable amount of time working out at the gym. The feeling of "runner's high" or the satisfied exhaustion after a tough workout compared to how I feel these days is like comparing night and day.

It is ridiculously stupid of me to not exercise, and my lifestyle of the last year probably has taken a few years off my life.


On the mental health front, I'm wondering if heavily multitabling low stakes limit hold'em games is a really bad thing for me psychologically. I personally consider myself to be a significantly above-average multitasker, but I might not be cut out for 6-8 tabling.

Should I be doing something different with the major of my online table time? (which currently is 8 tabling $3/$6 10 max and 4-6 tabling $3/$6 6 max, with occasionally some tourneys or sats mixed in if I can commit up to 4 hours in that session)

The psychological pounding that I take during a bad 8 table session (or a bad 4 table 6 max session) may not be worth any potential net $ profit that is made from the combined results of winning and losing sessions.

Bankroll-wise, all of my major breakthroughs have either come from low stakes online NLHE, online MTTs, or live MTTs. Is it worth it for me to highly multitable limit ring games? This may be a "the grass is always greener", "results-oriented" way of looking at things. I just don't know.

At an earlier stage of my poker career, my ring game strategy centered on quad tabling $100NLHE on a Party skin and bonus whoring. This yielded me consistent reliable profits in the 50xbb/hour range (including rakeback), but was very boring because I was using basically a waiting-for-nuts/semi-nuts-trapping-morons strategy (and from what I can tell, probably wouldn't scale much beyond the $100NL level). I played in the range of 100k hands in these games, so I suspect I proportionally took the same number of bad beats that I get in the limit ring games. However, my playing style dictated that I would be involved in a far fewer number of hands at the show down, so the actual number of bad beats seen was hugely less.

It is CLEARLY more profitable for Party for me to be multitabling limit rings games than NL ring games. The amount of rake that I paid for limit games is an order of magnitude higher than the no limit games with less hands played (although, in part due to short handed limit play). What kind of a sucker am I?

Perhaps a reasonable alternative limit ring game strategy would be for me to 2 table $10/$20 level games. It should definitely be better from a "learning" perspective.
When I started playing limit games for the first time, I already had a relatively large bankroll, so I preceeded too quickly through the limits. I really don't know what online limit I should be playing at now.

Another comparison might be between tournaments and ring games. Which is better for me psychologically? The absolute worst I have ever felt after playing poker was when I busted out of the main event at Aruba in 2004. (the 2nd worst was when I busted out of the $1k LHE live event last month) On the other hand, not surprisingly the absolute best feelings I have ever had were from winning or finishing very deep in live or online MTTs.

Results-wise, tournaments are very feast-or-famine. The overwhelming result from playing in tournaments will be finishing out of the money. The majority of the time in an online tournament and the slight majority of time in a live tournament are very boring. There are frequently a number of times in a tournament that are far more exciting than any ring game I have played in (although, I have never played in midstakes or high stakes NL ring games)

Again skill-wise, I don't know what stakes I am best suited to playing for online tournaments.


I'm not sure where I'm going with all these thoughts. I think a big simplification for my mental state is that I feel somewhere between fine to happy when I'm winning and somewhere between indifferent to extremely frustrated when losing. The dangers will be if I spent too much time at the extremes.

Intellectually, I've gotten far more satisfaction from playing in low limit Omaha 8 and 2-7 TD compared to the hold'em ring games (I've made plenty of donk plays, but I am learning lessons). This is a pretty strong argument for maintaining or increasing time in this area.


This was a very muddling post. Hopefully, my thoughts will become more clear to me in the days to come.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Timing is everything

So I'm sitting in a must-move live $20/$40 LHE game (there are 2 main games). As people are coming and going, the game is varying widely all the way across the spectrum from just plain tight to loose passive to tough aggressive. It was a weird series of transitions if you ask me, but I digress. Anything can happen when you have a few random people come and go.

While the pendulum had swung about 3/4 of the way from passive to aggressive, I check raised semi bluffed a couple of times on the turn (during which time the involved players in those hands had played with me a fair number of hours; and whom had rarely seen me bluff or even semibluff, as far as I recall), missed on the river but my opponent had enough or caught enough to call me down. Ugh. No big deal. Bad timing, it happens.

A few hands later, I get involved in a three way hand where I have second best hand all the way and missed a very good opportunity to raise out the best hand. Too damn chicken to do it, and the best hand drags down a 9BB pot that was mine for the taking. Ugh, gotta keep looking for those right opportunities to be aggressive.

Now I've got time constraints such that I will have to wrap up my session fairly shortly. I'm thinking that I will probably need to leave before I even get my seat in a main game. At that point I'm looking around the table and trying to figure out where the money is coming from. I can see that there are no obvious donators. What am I doing in this game? I have to leave soon, so why don't I just leave now?

Well, a couple of minutes later a new player wearing a fairly nice suit sits down on my left. He happens to say something that makes me realize that he is a fellow Canadian. I'm sure you can guess what that was, eh? I start chatting with him. I see that 4 of his friends (readily identifiable by their similar nice suits; this is not the Bellagio, let alone Vegas, so this type of dress is not at all common) are also waiting for a seat. Turns out they are all NHL (that's National Hockey League for the ignorant few) players in town for a game that isn't until tomorrow night; so they have ~all~ day to play. They all bought in for a large amount of chips, and they are here to have fun.

I was only able to sit through 1.25 orbits with 2 of these guys before I absolutely had to leave. They had certainly played hold'em before, but are definitely providers. They had the sense not to play every hand, but for the hands they did play, they would see it down all the way. 5 guys, 2 main games, so even if they don't end up all at the same table (which I imagine they would try to do) there would be a minimum of 2 of these guys sitting at one table. I could be totally wrong; perhaps the other 3 guys are absolute sharks. Somehow I doubt it. For one thing, the room was spreading games as high as $100/$200. They appeared to me as a bunch of guys who were interested in playing in the lowest midstakes game available. I would be willing to bet they were all in the same skill range. Good games, good times, and unfortunately for me, time to go.

Like I said, timing is everything, and today mine was way off.