Sunday, July 31, 2005

Some Limit Hold'em Tournament situations

I've been having so much fun playing tournaments, I ran down this morning to play in a live $60 + $10 limit hold'em tournament with 1 $60 rebuy at the local poker room. There were about 110 entrants, and the prize pool was roughly $13k where they paid 18 spots.

I played reasonably within the limits of the situations I faced except for 1 hand where I made a continuation bet on the river with A, Q high after missing both my nut flush draw and gutshot where my opponent was very likely to call (which he did). It was a very bad bet on my part; I should have just checked behind him on the river.

I took a brutal 1 outer with about 40 players remaining where the pot had roughly 3.5% of all tournament chips, to leave me with just a chip and a chair. This was not one of those all in preflop situations, but 2 big stacks going at it preflop, on the flop, and on the turn. Another person at the table later told me that my opponent always gambles with very risky hands. I'm was thrilled with everything about that hand except the end result.

Amazingly, I staged a comeback to have slightly above average chips with about 22 players remaining. Certainly I was lucky to make the comeback, but I believe that the decisions I made during several of those hands maximized my chance for a comeback.
The structure of this tournament is brutally fast though.

Once we reached the money, an interesting situation came up. I currently believe I made the right decision, but I'll post this hand for comments.

hand #1
Just in the money, ~16 players remain, 8 seated, avg chips ~20k. Blinds are $3/$6k. I have $13k on the button. CO has $4k, SB and BB have me covered, CO is a semi-solid player, SB is a very straightforward player, I have no experience with the BB player.
- preflop: folded to CO who pushes for $4k. I look down and find QJo.

What's my play?

I am 100% certain CO has me beat, but he has a huge range of hands that I believe I have 40%-50% pot equity if I can get him headsup. If I can get the blinds to fold I will only be risking $2k to win $13k. However, probably any hand that BB will call with will at best be a coin flip for me, and more likely he will have me dominated.
If I gamble and win, I'll have $26k, and have some breathing room or more likely the comfort to try to steal the blinds a couple of times. I don't care about moving up in the money until there are around 6 people remaining.

In the actual hand, I elected to push all in. The blinds folded. CO showed A9o and his hand held up.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

"An ace on ~every~ flop"

It was so refreshing to play a live MTT (multi-table tournament) that I played 3 more small buy in no limit MTTs ($5, $10, and $40) respectively. No cashes in any events. I finished in the top 20% in the first two, and lasted 4 hands in the $40, when I reraised a LAG (who had played or raised all of the first 3 hands) with QQ, and he pushed with his AKs.

I faced AK and AKs 6 times with a pocket pair. An A flopped on all 6 occasions, however in one hand, I rivered a set.

I try not to be superstituous, but by the end of the day I couldn't help feeling dread whenever the cards are turned over and I see the dreaded AK.

I love the comments people make online, "Finally, AK holds up". lol

Hmmm, all these tournament entries without a cash can add up. It is odd. I feel fine with the 7 odd hours of poker I played today, but I'm down several hundred dollars. Playing limit side games well for 7 hours rarely produces negative results. Oh well, at least it was a break from the usual.

"An Ace on every flop"

In an effort to keep poker fun, and not just "interesting", I decided to again enter the weekly no-limit $120 buy-in $60 rebuy/addon at the local poker room.

I was quite happy with the way I played. My tournament life was never at stake until my very last hand. I was completely card dead for the first 2 levels, but I picked up enough playable hands in later rounds.

In the middle rounds I was very lucky because I picked up a number of medium strength hands that I got all in preflop where I had my short stacked opponent dominated, e.g. 99 vs 77, AK vs A9.

I made one bad laydown in level 3 where I didn't make a continuation bet on an A high flop when I flopped a pair of Ks, and folded to my opponents bet. He flashed an underpair 8s.

I was able to steal enough blinds in the 5th and 6th rounds to keep a big enough stack to afford to keep stealing. That's kind of funny, but that is the way no limit tournaments work.

In early level 8, I was almost exactly an average stack with 45 players remaining. I had only 8 BB remaining (the structure is very fast in this tournament, and the blinds had just doubled). It was folded to me 2 off the button, and I looked down and found 2 black Kings. I made the minimum raise because the player on the button had a tendency to come over the top all in with hands as low as any medium Ace. The button did push all in, and he had me covered. I called, and he showed ATs.

The title of this post says it all, and I didn't catch up.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Vegas trip summary

I am disappointed in the way things went in Vegas. I failed to achieve my primary two goals of the trip: 1) gaining experience in high limit action games, 2) playing well

Due to lack of sleep, I elected not to play in any game higher than $15/$30. Probably also due to lack of sleep, I also made mistakes in excess of -1BB/hour. Ironically, my net results were very good > +$100/hour, but this was only due to pure dumb luck. My results would have been considerably better had I been playing well. The actual results kept the trip from being a disaster, but I am quite ashamed of how things went.


My flight to Vegas was at 5:30pm on Saturday. I was planning on being as well rested as possible for playing $30/$60 games from midnight to 4am. So my original plan had been to wake up early on Saturday and then take a 4 hour nap at around noon. My reasoning was that if I just tried to sleep in until around noon, there was a high probability that I would wake up (for any number of reasons) well before then and be unable to fall asleep for an afternoon nap.
I woke at 6am, and decided to head over to the local poker room for a few hours of additional practice. At around 8am, I made the first poor decision of the day. I elected to sign up for a no limit tournament. I was under the impression that the tournament started at 8:45am because of poor annoucements and my failure to diligently confirm the schedule before signing up, but it actually started at 9:45am. My borderline thinking at the time was that I would likely be done in 3 hours or less which would be a good time to go home and take a nap. If I was still in the tournament after 3 hours, I was likely in the money, and had a good chance to cash in a high position. Thus, my cashing in a high position (1st place was $11k, on a $120 buyin, $60 rebuy) would compensate for losing part of my nappy time.
An additional consideration was that this type of fast structure no limit tournament actually would be much more relaxing than playing side games for a couple of hours because the decisions tend to be very simple - push all in or call all in. I was planning on heading home immediately after the tournament.
I received a slightly above average number of good hands, and took only 1 modest bad beat until I reached the money at the last 18 players. This was roughly at about the 3 hour mark, so about 1:15pm when including breaks. I had an above average stack, and by the time there were 15 players remaining I was the chip leader with approximate 16% of all chips in play.
Perhaps at this point I was a little bit tired from sleeping relatively little the night before, but at any rate, I made my 2nd notable mistake of the day. This was the worst mistake you can make when you are chip leader in a no limit tournament. Namely, I got involved in a huge pot with the 2nd chip leader with a marginal hand losing close to 70% of my chip stack. For the remainder of my tournament I had less than 4 big blinds, and ended up busting out in 10th place for a $510 finish.
It was very disappointing, but additionally, it was already 2:45pm. I rushed home, got packed and was only able to lie down for about 25 minutes before heading out to the airport. I believe I only slept for about 15 minutes on the plane. Daytime flights can be quite rowdy, especially on Southwest.

Saturday night I played mostly $15/$30, and I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. I spent a considerable amount of time chatting with a middle aged pro from the east coast. Actually come to think of it, one theme from the weekend is that I had numerous opportunities to chat with professional players (although, this should be a tip off that I was often not in particularly good games). This helped me learn quite a bit about the Vegas poker scene, so in retrospect, the trip was not a complete waste.

At around midnight, I think I should have gone to bed and gotten a good night's rest so that I might at least have the option of playing in a higher stakes game on Sunday. Instead, I got seated in an $8/$16 game and it was a fantastic game. It featured the worst player I have ever seen at an $8/$16 game (it seems like every few weeks I keep encountering another "worst player ever" and I hope this keeps up...), and I was able to win my fair share of pots from this tourist. However, in the middle of the session I made a mistake that I want to avoid making in the future. Basically, on one hand, I trapped the tourist with a set and then check raised him on the river. He was very upset about it. I basically made a fool of him, and he didn't call my river check raise. I understand better now what some professional players talk about in their books about trying to keep the game slightly friendly and to avoid upsetting the tourists. I think I got considerable less action from him after that incident. Another good learning experience.

Hmmm, I think overall I failed to meet my primary objectives for the trip. However, after reviewing the sessions, I did learn some things and also encountered some situations that helped reinforce things I already knew. The trip was also fun. All in all, it was not a wasted trip, but I hope to execute better on the next trip.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Ready, set, Vegas!

I had a very good night's rest last night, and I hope I can get an equally good night's rest tonight. On Saturday afternoon, I'm off to Vegas for my first serious poker trip. I will be in town for roughly 36 hours, and will probably play for roughly 18 hours. I intend to take a shot at the well-known loose $30/$60 tables at the Bellagio. From what I have heard, this is a very high variance action game. I hope that my gameplay is adjusted correctly for the loose game mid limit action. I have been doing a lot of preparation to consider what aspects of my playing style need to be changed.
I have done all the preparation I can reasonably expect to do. There is no substitute for experience.

The one mistake I want to avoid in this game is to "fold the winning hand on the river" when the pot is anything larger than 8 big bets. I'm going to favor the "paying off on the river" mistake in big pots until I have a good feel for my opponents. I guess another way of saying this is that I am going to model my unknown opponents with a considerably higher bluffing % than the average $20/$40 opponent I play with at my local poker room. Additionally, I will have to increase the range of hands that I will bet or raise with on the turn.

I wonder if there will be more multiway (vs. headsup) river situations that will present me with tougher decisions (e.g. facing a river bet from a LAG with a medium str hand with LAG players behind me to act). Quite possibly yes, so I think I want to ensure I am well rested before any of my $30/$60 sessions.

My plan is to play 3 hour sessions. I do not have the mental stamina to play my A-game for longer than 3 hours at a time without starting to play sloppy.

I've had about 5 session hours of experience at $15/$30 Bellagio tables, and I'm quite comfortable with this limit and the "average" player in that game. I may also try an afternoon session at the Mirage $20/$40 game. Based on reviews I have read, I think I should do fine in the Mirage $20/$40 game.

I need to remember to keep a $1 chip from any casino I play in for my collection.

Rules of engagement
Here is a general list of tactical rules I will follow on this trip.

- I will limit all of my mid stakes limit game sessions to 3 hours even if the game is good. (If the game is exceptionally good, I will force myself to walk away from the table for 20 minutes to take a break. Even then I will only continue for a max of 2 additional hours)

- I will have no stop-loss limit for playing $30/$60 (other than complete loss of bankroll). I will stop when the 3 hour session limit is reached, if the table is too tough, I am tired, or I suspect any collusion.

- I will not take a shot at $40/$80 this trip unless my bankroll is up more than $5k. If this is the case, I can attempt a 2 hour session if I am rested. Given the schedule of the trip, it is extremely unlikely for the gating condition to be met. (at a $30/$60 game, that is +83.3BB!)

- If I am tired, but not sleepy I will restrict myself to playing $8/$16 or $4/$8 with drunken tourists.

Goals for the trip?
I'm not sure what my goals should be. If I played non-stop from the time I landed until the time my return flight left, I would be playing less than 2000 hands, and realistically I expect to play less than 1000 hands. This is too small of a number to have a BB/hour target goal.

I think I will resort to my olde "mistakes" method of counting things. After every 3 hour session, I will make some notes on any mistakes I think I made during the session. I should be able to estimate the cost of each mistake in BBs (even if it is a statistical guess). My goal will be to make less than 0.5BB/hour in mistakes.

I can't see any other reasonable way to judge success of the trip. This is of course my rational opinion now. If I come back up $3000 I'll probably have a grin on my face, and if I'm down $3000 I'll probably look pretty glum even if I made 0 mistakes.

I'm expecting to put in approximately 18 table hours this trip with avg table stakes of $40 per BB. Long term for this type of trip, I would like to have an avg result of +1.5BB (net after tips and food). Hmmm, after my travel expenses ($300) this means my goal would only net $780. That seems incredibly lame. I'm not sure how much to value the "learning experience" aspect of this trip. Probably it is not worth that much other than psychological conditioning.

Hmmm, I wonder if +1.5BB is the right number. For example, in my one prior 3.5 hour Bellagio $8/$16 session with sleepy tourists my result was +10.0BB/hour. My hand situations were not too extraordinary. I had an average number of good hands, perhaps a slightly below average number of bad beats, and perhaps a slightly above average number of times I outdrew my opponent. I just earned a large number of extra big bets because some tourists were paying off ~over~calling all the way with any pair (e.g. 3rd pair lousy kicker, pocket pair when board has 4 overcards, etc) chasing gutshots or runner runner draws (proud to show when they missed...). Given those same conditions, I think +5.0BB/hour should be very reasonable. I may have more thoughts on the expected long term results after this trip.


I still have high confidence in my mid stakes limit hold'em game. In my last, $20/$40 session I lost 14BB in 75 minutes. The result was disappointing but I believe I made absolutely no mistakes - losing the minimum and winning the maximum on all interesting hands. I was dealt AKs 3 times, completely missing the flop the first 2 times, but made top pair top kicker when my lone opponent hit a set. Made reasonable laydowns on the river in situations like when two opponents called me to the river which brought runner runner 4 to the straight and 4 to the flush vs my top two pair (9 high flush bet, and got called by unimproved 3rd pocket pair). By contrast, the donkey 2 seats to my left managed to win the minimum and lose the maximum finishing up around 12BB during the same time period. The donkey could not miss a flop though, and opponents had a hard time catching up even when donkey gave free cards. This was the kind of player that had good starting hand selection, but absolutely terrible postflop skills. I'd love to play with a table full of these players every single day.

Patience and discipline. If I can continue to play well, and actually go through some decent situations I should do very well this weekend.


I've delayed deciding what my poker bankroll penalty will be until I come back from this trip.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Mid-stakes snob?

I think I'm becoming a bit of a live mid-stakes snob.

Often times I will find myself at a low limit table $3/$6, $6/$12 while waiting for a seat in a bigger game. I've noticed that I'm starting to have pet peeves.
- dealer incompetence (misdealing, not following the action, misreading the cards at the showdown, burn and turn prior to the completion of action, not noticing incorrect number of chips, etc). The cardroom tends to put the less experienced dealers on the lower limit tables, and there is an enormous difference in skills between a good dealer and an average one. A bad dealer really poisons the experience.
- slow players. Some players frequently take 10 or more seconds (and sometimes much more) to act when there is virutally no decision to make, not realizing it is their turn to act, not following the action, etc.... Players at the mid stakes tables are almost always experienced players, and since everyone is experienced, the table won't tolerate a slow player (although thinking for a moderate period of time for an obvious tough decision is perfectly okay). This can also be influenced by the competency of the dealer who should be working to keep the action flowing smoothly (verbally repeating players' actions, like raises, reraises, indicating it is a certain player's turn to act, etc)
From my one Vegas poker experience, I did encounter a much larger percentage of slow to act players who obviously had little or no experience - the Tourist. I certainly understand the importance of being nice to the Tourist. I can put up with slow-to-act players if they are bad enough, but I do get annoyed when a rock constantly slows the game does.
- acting out of turn. It is much more common for low stakes players to act of turn, and this can often have an influence on the outcome of a hand. It is just disrespectful to others to act out of turn.
- exposing cards. I have found that it is only slightly more common for players to expose cards in the low limit vs mid-stakes limits. Interestingly, some of the players at $6/$12 who most frequently expose their cards are small stakes pros that expose their cards out of frustration postflop. It is amazing inconsiderate, and I really resent them because they act so selfishly. They are relatively good players for that level, but they don't show any consideration for anyone but themselves.
- table coaches: seem a little more common at low stakes games than midstakes games.

Live poker is definitely more enjoyable than online, but sometimes these factors spoil the experience.

Okay, enough bitching and complaining for today....

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

buh-bye bankroll??

A few weeks back I said I would give up my entire poker bankroll if I made a particular type of mistake related to "incorrectly protecting my hand" again this summer.

In my last playing session, I essentially made the same mistake again. I'm not certain if the mistake is as bad as the last time, but if not, it is pretty darn close. I don't know what this should mean. Does it mean I have to give up my entire poker bankroll? Compare this hand with the previous one.

hand #1
9 seated live $20/$40 limit hold'em game.
- preflop: loose player limps UTG, avg player limps UTG+1, unknown player limps in MP+1, LAG (but smart) player raises in MP+2, folded to me in SB where I find QsQh and I reraise, BB folds, everyone else calls. (5 players, 16 small bets)
- flop: 9d7c2h, I bet, everyone calls (5 players, 21 small bets)
- turn: 9d7c2h3d, I bet, BB folds, everyone else calls (4 players, 14.5 big bets)
- river: 9d7c2h3d7s, checked to MP+1 who bets, LAG folds, I call, UTG+1 folds, MP+1 shows 7h4h. MP+1 wins 16.5 big bet pot.

With 5 players to the flop for 3 bets, I definitely should know that ~any~ opponent with ~any~ pair or ~any~ draw will chase me down to the river. I must either check the flop or the turn to get a check raise in to have the best chance to survive at the river.
It could be argued that I should only call preflop, but I raised hoping to get a few players out. In prior hands, there had been opponents who had been capable of folding to a 3 bet after already limping.

Postflop, the only possible scenario where I can win given what MP+1 actually had would have been to get a check raise in on the turn with LAG betting. Even then, MP+1 may still call 2 cold with 2nd pair (I don't know him well enough to guess a probability). I'm also not ~certain~ LAG will bet the turn for me given I had 3 bet preflop (I guess he will at least 50% of the time, maybe more like 80% of the time if I check both the flop and turn).

Given what my opponents likely had, I think I could have won the hand (with fairly high probabilty) by calling preflop, check calling on the flop, and check raising the turn. However, this is "results oriented" thinking. I think my 3 bet preflop was fine, but I should have checked the flop and turn (when I saw that I had 4 opponents, but probably still even if I only had 3 or 2 opponents).

Now, the real question I am pondering is if this hand qualifies as a bad enough "incorrectly protecting my hand" mistake such that I need to fulfill my promise. In the hand from a few weeks ago, I had AA, so there were more overcards I was worried about when holding QQ. However, in the AA hand there was a flush and str draw on the flop vs just a str draw in the QQ hand. In the QQ hand, I have more opponents. In the AA hand, the button capped it preflop so I can be 100% certain he will bet the flop.

Some of these factors balance each other out, and the mistake in the QQ hand seems equal in magnitude to the AA hand. It seems like I owe my wife my bankroll. I know she doesn't want my bankroll, so I'll see what I can negotiate with her. I certainly think I must penalize myself seriously in some way.

Talk about bad timing. I'm heading to Vegas this weekend....


Now purely for entertainment value, I'll post the hand that immediately proceeded the one I just listed. It cheered me up quite a bit after the last hand.

hand #2
- preflop: avg player limps UTG, unknown player limps in MP, LAG player limps in MP+1, loose player #2 limps in MP+2, CO folds, I'm find QsJs on the button, I mutter "steam raise" and put in 2 bets. Amusingly, the dealer loudly announces "steam raise!". SB folds, loose player #1 in BB calls, everyone else calls. (6 players see the flop, 12 small bets)
- flop: Tc4cKh, BB bets and says "let's see where I'm at", avg player calls, unknown player raises, LAG folds, loose player #2 folds, I reraise (trying to buy a free card). BB grumbles and folds, the other 2 call. (3 players, 22 small bets)
- turn: Tc4cKh9d, (BINGO!) avg player checks, unknown player bets (YIPPEE! even with a set, he's only got 10 outs), I raise, avg player calls 2 cold (OKAY DEALER - NO CLUBS!!!), unknown player just calls (WHEW, probably not a set, either drawing dead or 4 outs). (3 players, 17 big bets)
- river: Tc4cKh9d8d (GOOD JOB DEALER!), checked to me, I bet, both call, I show the nuts, avg player mucks, unknown player disgustedly throws his top 2 pair at the dealer (What's the matter buddy, you never outdraw someone? Think back 1 hand...). I win a nice 20 big bet pot. Very emotionally satisfying. Winning a big pot is always nice therapy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Pay attention to the stacks

People generally acknowledge the crucial importance of keeping track of the chipstacks of their opponents during a tournament, particularly a no limit tournament.

However, it can be occasionally relevant even in a limit cash game.

Here is a very simple hand where I think I cost myself a big bet because I didn't pay attention to the chip stacks.

hand #1
9 seated live $20/$40 limit hold'em game.
- preflop: LAG open limps in EP+2, good player limps in MP, fold, solid player limps in MP+2, folded to SB who completes, I check in BB w 8s3s (5 players, 5 small bets)
- flop: 2c3d8h, SB checks, I check, LAG bets, good player calls, solid player folds, SB calls, I call. (4 players, 9 small bets)
- turn: 2c3d8h9d, SB checks, I check, LAG checks, good player bets, SB folds, I check raise, LAG folds, good player calls all in. (2 players, 8.5 big bets)
- river: 2c3d8h9d2s, I show, good player mucks.

On the turn, I should be almost 100% certain to have LAG drawing dead, and 95% certain that I am substantially ahead of good player (the only possible better hand that he could have based on the way the hand was played that beats me is 89)

LAG: Based on the way the hand was played, LAG either has 1 or 2 overcards. If he had any pair or any draw, he would have continued to bet the turn. Thus, I should have let him in on the turn for 1 big bet. (if the right card comes on the river I may even try to check raise him)

Good player is either substantially behind or way ahead. I think his range of hands is pocket pair smaller than 8, 2nd pair 8s with moderate kicker, top pair of 9s with moderate-good kicker, and flush draw with 2 overcards. I think the latter 2 are more likely because I expect him to raise with either of the first 2 on the flop. With the latter 2 possibilities he has 8 and 9 outs respectively. He probably won't pay off on the river if he misses a draw (although there is a slight possibility since some people have a tendency to make a crying call with the last of their chips especially with A high even if they usually play well), but most likely would pay off with a pair. I don't think he will bluff bet the river if he misses his draw, so I would have to bet the river headsup.

I believe the reasons why I should try to get LAG to overcall the turn are: the pot is only of moderate size, LAG is likely drawing dead, if good player outdraws me on the river it doesn't matter if the bet goes in on the turn or river (since I would have to call his bet on the river). Basically, I believe I am only risking a fraction of a big bet of EV from good player (if he misses a draw and folds) by calling the turn bet. I'm guessing LAG overcalls the turn bet at least 50% of the time, and he'll probably improve enough on the river ~15% of the time to put in at least 1 more big bet.

I very roughly estimate that I have faced this type of situation (i.e. a very short stacked opponent that influences how I might play a hand) about once every 1000 hands, so it matters little to make this mistake every single time. However, it would have been quite satisfying to win an extra big bet or 2 from making a good situational analysis.

I think in this case I had just been playing in automatic mode making the standard check raise on the turn from the blinds with either a set or 2 pair.

Monday, July 18, 2005

I need to think faster

Limit hold'em looks like a simple game. Yet, there can be fairly interesting betting situations on the later streets.

Here is a hand that I had a high probability of winning if my mind had just been able to process the given data just a little more quickly. I was a little tired during this session.

hand #1
9 seated live $20/$40 limit hold'em game. I haven't been involved in too many hands yet. The SB is an unknown player. The BB does a moderate amount of thinking. I'm in seat 1, and SB and BB are in seats 5 and 6.
- preflop: I open raise in MP+1 w JhJs, folded to the blinds who both call. The SB only has 1 small bet remaining behind, and both I and the BB have deep stacks. (3 players, 6 small bets)
- flop: Tc4c2d: checked to me, I bet, both blinds call. (3 players, 4.5 big bets, SB is all in)
- turn: Tc4c2d5c: BB bets out, I think for a couple of seconds and notice that SB does not look particularly happy. I raise. BB calls. (3 players, 4.5 big bets in main pot, 4 big bets in side pot)
- river: Tc4c2d5cKc: BB checks, I check. SB shows AsQd, BB shows 4d5h, I muck. BB wins both pots, 8.5 big bets total.

Given the data available to me, I should have bet the river (and folded to a raise - although I don't expect to be check raised by any hand except one containing the Ac).

My read on the situation when BB bet the turn and called my raise is that he had a medium-ish club (maybe 7,8,9,J, or Q) and a T.

When the 4 flush came on the river, I just gave up on the pot. However, there were 4 big bets in the side pot. The SB looked legitimately weak, and there were 4.5 big bets in the main pot. I should invest 1 more big bet since I cannot expect to win a showdown with BB. With a small club, say 8 or lower, I think it is a difficult call for BB. Additionally, I think that the SB being all in should make the BB think my likelihood of bluffing to be smaller than normal (BB doesn't have a good viewing angle on SB because they are seated side by side, so he probably doesn't see how weak SB appears).

I would venture to guess that BB folds 25% of the time with a small club, and 50% of the time with any 2 pair, a straight or a set. I'm not sure how it would have affected BB's thinking if I had spent 15 more seconds thinking and then bet the river.

I just didn't put the pieces together fast enough to come to the correct decision. When I raised the turn, my reasoning (although incorrect) was that I wanted to get an extra big bet in on the turn if I was ahead; if I was marginally behind BB would call and then check unless he improved, and that BB would 3 bet the turn with a monster. When the 4 flush came on the river, it just didn't click in my mind fast enough that whatever I had thought on the turn was irrelevant and that I had a decent chance to win if I bet.

I probably should have been thought things out in advance a little more on the turn before raising.

Aggression was the key to the hand, and I would have been happy with my table image had I played the hand more aggressively. Regardless of the outcome, my bluff on the river would provide me with more action on my later legitimate hands.

A seperate question. What should I do if BB 3 bets the turn? I probably would have folded, but how weak does that look? I guess another way to ask the question is, what is the likelihood that I am drawing dead if BB 3 bets and how many outs do I reasonably expect to have if I am drawing live? I don't really care how weak it looks, I would fold if I knew I was drawing dead.


[update 7/22/2005]
I've gotten feedback from a number of players who opinions I greatly respect, and there is unanimous agreement that I cannot bet the river. In the words of CF, "It is like taking $40 and lighting it on fire".

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Random musings

Money? I don't think about the damn money!
Below is an excerpt from Barry Greenstein's new book, Ace on the River. It seems like a very accurate statement. I remember watching interviews with Doyle Brunson and Phil Hellmuth who both made statements to the same effect.

Knowing the value of money is negatively correlated to being a good poker player. I have
never heard anyone say, "He is not afraid to bluff for his last dollar, but he is a careful shopper."

I definitely play better poker when I make no consideration for what actual money is being wagered. Sometimes, it is hard to put it out of mind. The key point is to utilize the correct strategy for whatever type of game you are in, and ignore the stakes. It is not uncommon for there to be looser action at higher limit tables. I think the only consideration for stakes is whether or not playing at a particular limit introduces significant risk of going broke (i.e. is your bankroll sufficient large to prevent a minor bad run from wiping you out?)


Sticky chips
The chips that are in use at my local poker room are coated with a surface that gives the chips a tendency to sometimes stick together. This can often lead to minor difficulties when counting off chips to make a bet or raise.

Typically whenever I bet or raise, I have been taking a stack of twenty chips and then breaking off groups of 3 or 4 chips in a pile (depending on if I am making a 3, 4, 6, or 8 chip bet or raise). For example, when I am making an 8 chip raise I make 4 piles of 4 chips. However, when I am making the 4 piles, often a pile will only have have 3 chips because the 4th chip is still stuck on the bottom of the stack in my hand. I will jiggle the stack in my hand so the 4th chip falls off.

Related to this is the well known tell that when a player making a bet or raise has a very powerful hand, he/she will often have a trembling or shaking hand.

I have played enough hands of Hold'em to have seen essentially every possible situation (~150,000 hands of no limit, and 50,000 hands of limit). I generally think I should be able to contain my joy when I make a monster hand. However, I've only played about 8,000 hands of live poker.

I have a small worry related to the tell. In a live game when I have a monster hand, my concern is that my hand may still have a slight tendency to shake (perhaps if I was being not focused enough on the situation) and having to jiggle with the chips might magnify the tell.

One technique that I have noticed that many of the experience players use is to count out chips in advance (e.g. while the dealer is in the process of dealing) so they can just fire off the appropriate number of chips in one quick motion. This is probably the best solution to my minor concern when playing limit hold'em at my local poker room.


Running well

Things continue to go well in the live $20/$40 game. I am generally happy with my micro and macro decisions.

For example, when I started my most recent session I sat down in the only $20/$40 table running. It was actually quite a tough table. Of the 2 bad players who were at the table when I sat down, 1 busted in the first 5 hands, and the other spent a substantial amount of time away from the table on his cell phone. During the 1st hour, I was involved in ~zero~ showdowns. I was playing no different than I have been recently. Showdowns were not happening because no one was ever calling. Raise or fold in every instance. It was really tough. I was actually down over 13BB at one point during the first hour. I never picked up any good hands in good situations, and had to make a number of tough decisions with marginal hands.

At any rate, by about the 1 hour mark, 2 more $20/$40 games had started. One game was a must move, and the other was a main game, like my current one. I asked the floor for a table change which happened within a few minutes. You could argue that I should have left the table within about 30 minutes. However, I am satisfied I did move before taking any more punishment. Another alternative that is probably more optimal bankroll-wise would have been to drop to easier lower limit games until there were sufficient $20/$40 games to make a good table selection. On the flip side, playing in a tougher game is actually quite interesting, challenging and educational.

The move to the other main game coinicided with my first ever real rush in a $20/$40 game. It was a rush that was on and off for about 2 hours. My stack increased by roughly 35 big bets during that time period. It was no where near as good as rushes I have seen other players go on, but it was the best one I have experienced thus far. (I have seen rushes in the +75-80BB range within 2 hour periods) I only list it now to help me remember in the future that occasionally rushes can happen to me too. In the past, my winning sessions were much more of a grind.

To be realistic, I don't expect to have many extended rushes given my playing strategy. I will be very content to not have any substantial bad streaks. (I'm talking about in $20/$40 and higher games. Lower limit games is a completely other matter. I have had +40BB rushes in 1 hour periods in $6/$12 and $8/$16 games using the same playing strategy but having sufficient terrible opponents to make those results possible)

I'll list a few hands from the rush:
- The first time I took the big blind, it was folded to the button who raised. BB folded, I called with 33 (planning to check raise if rags flopped). Flop came A37 rainbow. I check called the flop, and check raised the turn when a 2 flush came. Unfortunately, the button didn't have much of a hand because he folded. Pity, if he held an A, it would almost certainly have meant 2 more BB for me.
- I was dealt AA 4 times and it held up on each occasion ~~~unimproved!!~~~ (although 1 hand was when I was in the big blind, and it was folded to the blinds where we chopped). In each of the other 3 scenarios, I slow played the Aces until the turn. (I did have legitamate reasons for slow playing them though. In each of those 3 situations, the way the action occured, the hand was going to be played multiway no matter what I did preflop or on the flop. Tactically, I needed to wait until the turn to maximize my chances to knock out other players. Actually on 1 of the 3 hands I did raise preflop, but I check called the flop. I was very lucky not to have been outflopped or outturned. In those 3 hands, the river showdown ended up being headsup with the opponent's hand being top pair top kicker twice, and KK unimproved once. (In the hand vs. the KK opponent, I still believe I didn't lose any money by slow playing. The opponent was a very smart player, and I strongly believe the result would have been close to the same. When I check raised the turn, he called my hand as either Aces or a set; although he did pay the $80 to see my hand. Quite possibly some other one pair hands might have been able to reach the river if I had been more aggressive preflop or on the flop)
- I cracked Aces of a solid player. UTG+1 open raised, MP called, SB called, I call with 2c6c in the big blind. Flop comes 2h6h9h. I check, UTG+1 bets, MP and SB fold. I check raise to see where I am at. UTG+1 3 bets (which I interpret as most likely an overpair). I call. Turn comes offsuit T. I check raise again. UTG+1 calls. River comes offsuit 8, putting 4 to the straight on board. STUPIDLY I let it be checked down. My opponent almost certainly has a big pocket pair here, and I definitely missed a value bet there. The only reasonable hands that beat me are 99 and TT, and even then I don't expect to be raised even if my opponent holds those hands. Turns out my opponent had AhAx, so I dodged 14 outs on the flop and 17 outs on the turn! Yikes! When you are runnning good, no one can seem to catch up.
- I limp in MP with 55 and see a 4 way flop with me in the best position. Flop comes T73, 1 flush draw. Checked around. Turn T737, 2 flush draws. Checked to me, I bet, 2 callers. Board pairs on Ts on the river, and I'm stuck with a 5 kicker (TT775). My opponents check fold to my bet. Whew, this is how a rush feels!
- I raise one limper in MP with KhQh. Blinds and limpers call. Flop comes AhTh5c. Checked to me, I bet, everyone calls. blank comes on the turn. Checked to me, I bet, everyone calls. 6h comes on the river. BB bets, limper folds, I "think" for about 10 seconds, and notice that SB is going to fold (so there is ~zero~ point in only calling for an overcall or a check raise, besides even if SB might call only 1 bet, I should still raise with the nuts). I raise, SB folds, BB calls with his small flush. I show, Limper exclaims, "Damn!!!! My A was good."

The game actually got much better for the next 2-3 hours, with a VERY loose aggressive player, a total donkey, and a third somewhat loose player who sat down saying "I'm here to gamble". However, in this type of situation, the hands tend to be very multiway and almost certainly require having the best hand to win. I won very few pots in this period. That is just the way these situations go. The donkey put out some amazing suckouts during that time (runner runner, rivered gutshot when flop and turn was capped, etc), and paid off a very large number of river bets with truly ridiculous hands (e.g. bottom pair of 2s, 6 kicker when the board had 4 to the flush. The showdown was with the VERY loose player who had "bluffed" with 4th pair 3s, lousy kicker. Nice value bet.) Quite a sight to see. It was actually a pretty entertaining few hours, although pretty uneventful for me. I tried on every opportunity to see a flop with suited connectors, but missed every time. I was also "lucky" not to get any big pocket pairs during this time.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Comfort zone and Miscellaneous topics

I've played close to 1000 hands at $20/$40 live since moving back up, and I'm starting to get significantly more comfortable in that game.

The cost of my mistakes are running at -0.55 BB/hour (-$22/hour), and my net results are a little better than +2.0BB/hour (+$80/hour). My target goal for 10000 hands is to have my mistakes at less than -0.25BB/hour (-$10/hour) and net results at > +1.5BB/hour (+$60/hour). I think these are reasonable targets. The "mistakes" goal is almost fully in my control, and the "net results" goal is extremely reasonable given the average $20/$40 player I have encountered.

Assuming the 10000 hands go according to plan, I should be ready for $40/$80 at that point. If my net $20/$40 results are in excess of +2.5BB/hour after 5000 hands (from playing well, not just from going on an amazing rush), I may start "taking a shot" at $40/$80 when the game looks good. Timing may also be influenced by how my online results contribute to my bankroll.
(By the way, my assumptions are that 10000 hands take approximately 220 hours to complete)

Generally speaking, I don't want to take substantial risks. Conversely, time stands still for no one, so I want to minimize the time it takes me to advance through levels. I would prefer not to have to stop playing because my bankroll reaches $0. Given my time constraints, I would be willing to take a 30% overall probability of going broke (in my poker bankroll) in my quest to move up in limits.
I do not know what level I can achieve. Maybe I will top out at $20/$40. Maybe I have been a lucky donkey, and I actually belong at $8/$16 or lower. My gut feeling at this point is that my max attainable limit is above $20/$40.

From what little I have observed of $40/$80, the game looks reasonable to good. My guess is that I require a moderate amount of additional live play experience (emphasis on learning to read people and the avoidence of giving out tells) and a solid bankroll.

I know that during his early years Daniel Negraneau played at $80/$160 with a mere 20BB, and that a very large % of world class cash game pros have gone completely broke during their early times.

My entry requirement for seriously playing $40/$80 will be less than -0.25BB/hour in mistakes at $20/$40 for the last 40 session hours and a 250BB bankroll.


As an aside, I wonder if there are any other metrics besides "mistakes" and "net results" that I should track.

I really don't think I need to track my VP$IP (volunterily put $ in pot), PFR% (preflop raise %), or postflop AF (aggression factor), because I have a relatively good feel for how these statistics should look for me given that I know my online statistics, and my starting hand selection and playing style would be fairly comparable. Besides, it is infeasible to track those metrics live.

I love to count things. For now, I'm not sure what else to count.

My new method for counting mistakes is simply to estimate the cost of a mistake in BB's. This often requires estimating the probability of actions taken by my opponents ~if~ I had made the "correct" play and also taking into account pot equity. Determining what someone ~would have done~ is not an exact science, but I thing my estimates should be reasonable enough for my purposes.


Good game.... better game?
I was playing at a 9 seated $6/$12 game while waiting for my seat at the $20/$40 game. During a 15 minute timespan, there were 3 occasions where the action was capped preflop with at least 5 players. It was the loosest preflop action I have experience at the $6/$12 level. This was definitely a good game. My evaluation was that there were 3 maniacs, 2 very loose aggressive, 1 loose aggressive, and 2 tight aggressive players at the table.
I estimate that in the long run I could earn more than 5 BB/hour in such a game (with a high variance).
When I was called for my $20/$40, I observed that there were 4 players that I had never seen before at the $20/$40 table. In my recent sessions, I have been playing with roughly 70% regulars, so from a learning experience point of view I thought it would be a better use of my time to take the $20/$40 seat depite the good $6/$12 game.
The table change was a good one however. 3 of the players were very loose aggressive.
In the first 3 major hands I was involved in, I won big pots where either the looseness or the over aggresiveness of the involved opponents provided me with 6BB more than I think I should have won.
The net quality of the opponents was noticably higher than the 6/12, but in this case, the higher stakes overcame this factor. Based on the information I had at the time, I made the incorrect choice to change tables, but the actual choice turned out to be better anyways.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Strategic conerns

Lately I feel that I'm making substantially less mistakes in my live limit hold'em play. I'll still spend a great deal of effort in this area. I'm making this generalization based on my last 10 session hours. However, it is entirely possible that the situations in my last 10 session hours were so easy to play that mistakes would inherently be rare. Time will be the judge.


My live play and results have been respectable lately, and my online play is possibly questionable with awful results. I'm trying to objectively determine if my live experiences are affecting the way I play online.

Generally I don't like to discuss actual results because it usually serves little purpose, but in this case I will try to give some context. The sample size is small, but I don't want to wait until I have 10000 hands behind me to determine a major strategic flaw.

Lately, my plan has been to play live at $20/$40 and online to multitable between 1-4 tables at $5/$10 depending on the availability of good games. My general feeling is that I should be able to have an earn rate 3x-5x times higher online (see my analysis on this in an earlier post)
As a general rule of thumb, online players are better than their live counterparts at the same level. However, perhaps my thoughts from the $20/$40 live are too strongly influencing my play in the $5/10 online.

My current run rate is about +1.7BB/hour live over the last 15 hours. My current run rate is about -4.3BB/hour online over the last 1500 hands. Yuck.

I've really been trying hard not to curse, swear or even grumble during my online sessions because I know how much it upsets my wife. I haven't come close to mastering this yet. (perhaps I should record myself playing an online session to see how bad this is.... serenity now, serenity now....)

The question I am pondering is if I'm being too liberal in making value bets on the river. I'll give 2 examples, and I'm honestly not posting them because they are bad beats but rather questioning whether I made incorrect value bets on the river (an area I have been really focusing on in my live game).

hand #1
10 seated online $5/10 limit hold'em
opponents: 3 tight aggressive, 1 tasmanian devil, 1 calling station, 2 gamblers, 2 loose passive
- preflop: tasmanian devil (TD) limps UTG, folded to Loose Passive1 (LP1) who limps, Gambler1(G1) raises, folded to me in CO. I reraise with KdKh. Folded to LP2 in BB who calls, everyone else calls (5 players, 15.5 small bets)
- flop: 4c7dJs, checked to me and I bet, LP2 folds, TD calls, LP1 folds, G1 calls. (3 players, 18.5 small bets)
- turn: 4c7dJsQs, checked to me and I bet, TD calls, G1 folds. (2 players, 11 big bets)
- river: 4c7dJsQs3c, TD checks, I bet, TD check raises, I call. TD shows 3s3d and wins a 15 BB pot.

hand #2
I don't recall the details as well.
- preflop: I raise UTG w TT and get called by 5 players including the blinds. (6 players, 12 small bets)
- flop: T62 with 2 suited cards. SB checks, BB bets, I raise, 2 cold callers and folded to BB who calls (4 players, 20 small bets)
- turn: T62A still with only 1 flush draw: BB checks, I check, 3rd player checks, 4th player bets, BB raises, I reraise, 3rd player folds, 4th player calls, BB calls. (3 players, 19 big bets)
- river: T62A8 no flush: BB checks, I bet, 4th player folds (nice bet on the turn buddy), BB check raises, I call. BB shows the nuts 97 offsuit and wins a 23BB pot.

In hand #1, I believe TD is capable of paying me off with a large range of worse hands and is even capable of bluff check raising on the river at least 20% of the time. I readily acknowledge there are quite a number of hands that beat me.
By the way, should I consider checking this safe flop to increase the probability of being able to get a raise in on the turn?

In hand #2, I have 3rd nuts, and I had trouble putting BB on either AA or 97. Reviewing the hand some more, AA is really a reasonable hand for BB to have. However, my analysis is still similar to hand #1, where I believe my value bet would get paid off by a very large range of hands and that my call will also win over a still sizable range of hands (smaller set, 2 pair, big A, etc). BTW, given that I have 3rd nuts and the way the hand is played, is there any value in 3 betting the river (forget about what BB actually had)?

Again my primary question is: am I being too loose in value betting the river? I have lost 2 extra big bets on the river a moderate number of times in these kinds of situations (though I haven't kept good statistics on the number of times I successfully value bet the river).


On another note: I think I also need to more strongly remember that table image has very little weighting online. One exception to this may be an opponent that likely has me in their poker tracker database - the likely candidates for this are the tight agressive winning opponents for which I have a huge number of hands (indicating their are likely to be online pros who are very likely to be datamining). The relatively large amount of live play lately has probably subconsciously affected me into thinking more often than is correct that my opponents might consider my playing style in their situational analysis.


I have an upcoming trip to Vegas in about 2 weeks. My current plan is to spend a moderate amount of time at $15/30 and/or $20/$40, and take a shot at $30/$60 if the game is decent (particularly if the $15/$30 or $20/$40 games are not good). If conditions are poor and/or I am somewhat tired (but not sleepy), I may play elect to play $8/$16. Anything above $30/$60 is beyond my current bankroll.

Friday, July 08, 2005

"How would ~you~ play it?"

Well, after the Vegas trip, I feel a lot more comfortable playing in mid-stakes games, so I have moved back to $20/$40 limit hold'em.

I am generally making fewer mistakes. However, that being said, here is a hand with a wide variety of mistakes made by yours truly. I think I need to study this hand some more. I am quite ashamed of the way I played this hand; there is no doubt who the donkey is here.

This hand is an exception to the norm, but boy does it stink!

hand #1
8 handed live $20/$40 limit hold'em game. My opponents are 2 solid props, 3 loose players, 1 good and sneaky player (who very freq limps preflop), and 1 straightforward player.
- preflop: A loose player in early pos limps, folded to Mr. Sneaky in mid pos who limps, Ms. LooseyGoosey limps on my right, I limp in the CO with QhJh, button folds, Mr. Prop in SB completes, and loose player in BB checks. (5 players, pot size 5 small bets)
- flop 4d8h9h: Mr. Prop bets out from SB, BB folds, Mr. Sneaky folds, Ms. LooseyGoosey raises, I cold call, Mr. Prop calls (3 players, pot size 11 small bets)
- turn 4d8h9h2c: Mr. Prop bets, Ms. LG calls, I call (3 players, pot size 8.5 small bets)
- river 4d8h9h2cQc: SB checks, Ms. LG checks, I think for a couple of seconds and Ms. LG impatiently says to me "checked to you...". I check. SB shows J9, Ms. LG mucks, I take the pot.

So could I have played this hand any worse? I think I made the wrong decision on almost every street. I essentially only put money in the pot whenever I did not have the best hand (with the possible exception of preflop).

preflop: 3 loose players have limped in front of me. I have good position, and a hand that plays well multiway. It is a definite raising situation because of my relatively decent pot equity. I should have raised preflop, and only made a continuation bet on the flop if I hit the flop - pair or draw (and otherwise check or fold). To be honest, I was a bit scared to raise because I was afraid of how to play a flop against Mr. Sneaky if I only partially hit.
flop: it was bet and raised in front of me. I strongly have to think that SB has a single pair (since he will definitely check a set and possibly 2 pair), I don't know what Ms. LG has at this point (I believe she would raise with TPTK, 2 pair, set, flush draw, straight draw). I should reraise here for a few reasons - i) strong drawing hand gives me good pot equity, ii) I want to put pressure on hands like T9, T8, J8, J9 (if SB folds a pair or 8s or 9s with a J or Q kicker, it is a major coup since I would have bought 2 more outs - and I believe Mr. Prop is capable of making such a laydown if not on the flop, possibly on the turn - my guess is that he folds on the flop 20% of the time, and 25% of the time on the turn), iii) possibly buys a free card, iv) I do not fear a reraise. I probably felt a bit rushed to act. I could have called time for 5 seconds, and then made a confident raise. It could easily sell as 2 pair or a set, and even if Ms. LG has a set, I will still outdraw 33% of the time. Again, my good position matters greatly in this situation.
Gosh, how good would it have felt if I had 3 bet the flop and bet the turn causing SB to fold, and then won the pot on the river with Q high (if a brick had come on the river)!??!
Note: the flop anaylsis here is completely dependant on my ~not~ raising preflop. The logic would be very different otherwise.
turn: given the choices made preflop and on the flop, calling is reasonable. If I had 3 bet the flop, I would have made a continuation bet hoping not to be check raised.
river: when it is checked to me, how likely is it that I have the best hand? Did I miss a value bet? My play up until the river was extremely indicative of a draw. The Q on the river complete the JT open ended str, but will SB check a hand that beats me? I can't tell if I missed a value bet. I'm reasonable sure that Ms. LG would not have checked the nuts to me on the river. I guess a better way for me to think about it is what range of hands will SB call me with?

In order of importance, the mistakes are:
- missing 3 bet on the flop
- not raising preflop
- possible missing value bet on the river

Given that Ms. LG mucked to SB's pair of 9s, does this definitely means she was on the flush draw as well? I would say almost certainly yes, with 50/50 chance of a better/worse flush draw. She certainly didn't have JT. I can't comprehend her raising the flop w a worse pair than SB.

This was one of those hands where it was right to have been much more aggressive, and I would have made at least 1.5BB and possibly substantially more by being aggressive. And I wouldn't have had to show my hand.


In general, my primary mistakes are 1) calling a bit too much on the river when I am almost certainly beaten (but don't get the wrong idea, I reach a showdown on the river less than 3% of the hands) and 2) checking too much when I am likely (~55%-75% sure) to have the best hand on the river. On average I may be making each of these mistakes close to once every 2 hours. That is way too often.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Vegas trip report

My first Vegas poker experience was satisfactory.

I managed to get in a combined 10 session hours during the trip at Aladdin, Bellagio, and Wynn. Given the situations I encountered, my results were reasonable: ~3BB/hour. For example, during a shorter session at the Bellagio, I was able to extract the maximum from my hands and lose the minimum when at a table with 5 tourists and 3 locals. During a later session at a much tougher table, I lost two large pots to a very LAGgy player with strong 2nd best hands. So the sessions kind of balanced themselves out.

Quality of Games
I may not have enough playing time to make a good comparision, but my initial thoughts are that the Vegas games are moderately better than the games at my local cardroom - perhaps 1 BB/hour better, perhaps much more. The obvious scenarios this derives from is the tourist. The "I didn't come all the way to Vegas to fold" mentality (although this can introduce bigger variance in short term results because there will naturally be more outdraws). Also, during a 3am-6am session I noticed ~20% of the players in the cardroom were falling asleep at the table. (a.k.a. The "I'm only in town until tomorrow, so I'm going to play all night long" mentality). It was amazing to me that players would often need to be woken up when it was their turn to act, yet they would still remain at the table.
The alcohol factor was also present. However, I didn't have the feeling that this differed all that much compared to players at my local cardroom during an evening or weekend session.

Bad Beats
By rough guess, I would estimate that I gave and received approximately the appropriate number of bad beats. (It is much harder to estimate bad beats received live since you generally will not see mucked hands in river showdowns. Naturally, it is just as easy to count the number of bad beats I gave live vs online. :P) Anyway, my only point is that it felt like the number of outdraws for and against was not out of line, and hence my results are not too skewed.

As far as I can recollect, I recall only wasting 3BB the whole trip in clear mistakes. (1 call when I was clearly beaten, 1 missed value bet against a loose passive player, 1 poor river bluff where my opponent would clearly call) I did make 1 other crying call on the river with TPTK because I was getting too concerned my play had become too weak tight in one particular session.
In terms of macro decisions, the most notable thing was that I did not elect to leave a table where I had a weak table image.

Table image
During ~70% of my table hours, I interpretted my table image to be strong. The discussion of table image assumes that opponents pay attention. I believe my sesssions ranged from having as few as 2 opponents paying attention (at a 3am session) to having all opponents paying attention (at a 6pm session).
It is difficult to pin down the value of strong table image, but I would venture to guess it was worth ~2BB per hour from 3 major types of situations: 1) opponents are considerably less likely to try bluffing you, 2) higher probability to steal the pot when scare cards come on the board, 3) opponents give you more free cards to avoid getting raised or check raised.
A big part of table image gets built up in the first half hour or so after being seated. Sometimes just the way the cards are dealt, you can't really help ending up with a very weak table image. When that happens, I need to remember to switch tables or just call it quits.

My play
Generally speaking, I was satisfied with my postflop play. I usually bet or raised correctly to protect my hand. I selectively raised to get free cards with good draws. I built large pots on the flop with monster draws (quality pair with nut flush draw, open ended straight flush draw, etc.) (though I actually missed my hand on all of those occasions!)
I'm not completely sure I caught enough turn or river bluffs (when I had hands like big unimproved As and mid pocket pairs w many overcards in short handed pots). Possibly I did not call down on enough hands. Hard to tell, but my feeling is that I didn't catch enough bluffs.
I also think I don't pick up on enough tells. I have to work on this more.
During all sessions, I was playing somewhat tired. It was almost unavoidable in this trip. This likely had a modest impact on my judgement. It may also have affected how many tells I might have put out (the most likely scenario is that I didn't get maximum value for my big hands). I need to plan more carefully how to be well rested before any further Vegas poker adventures.

Other notes on the trip: I saw MicroBob at the Bellagio, so I introduced myself. There were some name stars in the poker room that day as well - Mel Judah, David Chiu, Chao Giang to name a few.

Poker rooms
The Bellagio and Wynn poker rooms are both very nice. The rooms are both non-smoking, but since smoking is permitted in the rest of the casino, then smoke can filter in from people standing on the rail. The chairs at both rooms are comfortable, although the Bellagio seats don't have wheels which I prefer. The lighting is reasonable, although I'd prefer brighter. The way I read my hole cards, I could rarely see the color of my cards because of the lighting so it would often take me longer to look at them. (i.e. I would often be determining suit by shape instead of color and shape) I usually only look at my hole cards when it is my turn to act, but since it was taking me a second or two longer to read them, I eventually starting reading them in advance.
The rake at Vegas poker rooms is much more reasonable than my local cardroom. I estimate for an $8/$16 game, the higher rake would probably cost me $5/hour more at my local cardroom. This I would consider significant.
I found that the # hands per hour was probably 5-10% less than at my local card room, even though all places I have played used card shuffling machines. Factors that had an influence on the fewer number of hands included: far more inexperienced players (e.g. not noticing it was their turn to act), when players were slow to act (for whatever reason) the other players and the dealer did not push very hard to speed up the action, more dealer interuptions (e.g. dealer exchanging chips for whatever reason), possibly slightly more dealer mistakes than I am used to seeing.
The wait list system at the Bellagio is too primitive for my liking. I have heard the wait list system is nice at the Wynn, but I didn't see it since I was immediately seated.