Thursday, September 29, 2005

PokerStars Online Bloggers Freeroll

PokerStars has generously provided a nice $25k freeroll for bloggers:
Poker Championship

I have registered to play in the
Online Poker Blogger Championship!

This event is powered by PokerStars.

Registration code: 7422795

But.... dammit, it is running at exactly the same time as the biggest live tourament I will have played so far this year that I'm already registered for. (Actually the freeroll starts 2 hours after the live tournament starts, so if I'm faced with an extremely tough all in decision at the 1.5 hour mark, I now have this tiny bit of all in equity to gamble...just kidding)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

No (online) poker for a few days

Well, tomorrow is moving day. We are basically just moving across the street from one apartment to another. The reason for the move is that we decided we want to live on the top floor due the increasingly annoying noises of our upstairs neighbor.

Anyway, SBC tells me that our DSL isn't expected to be back up until Monday. Gasp! So does that mean no poker for a few days? Haha, yeah right!

I will have to make do with playing live poker this weekend. I'll probably play in 2 (~$125) rebuy tournaments and then mostly $20/$40 LHE besides that. For some variety, I may also try some $6/$12 Omaha for the first time. I probably won't even be able to remember my hole cards....


25 more days until my next big live tourney...

45 more days until my trip to Foxwoods...

71 more days until . . . another trip to Vegas... (I started to write "next" trip to Vegas, but who knows, I might take an opportunity again to go before that...hehe)

Turn play when there are few hands you can beat

From my recent $5/$10 online limit games, I've often found myself in a headsup situation with a tight aggressive opponent on the turn when there are very few hands that I can beat. How should I be playing in these situations?

My opponent for these particular situations is a tight aggressive (not tight agg/agg, nor tight agg/passive, basically the player that gets the Eagle icon in PT). I have the most doubts againist this specific type of opponent for this situation.

The easiest to describe situation is one in which I have a hand like QQ or KK.

Let me use QQ as the example.
- Preflop I either 3 bet or raise/cap and see the flop headsup. (neither of us was in steal position; one of us opened in ~MP, and the other was in mid-late pos, in a 10 handed game)
- Flop comes something like J79 with a flush draw (I have one of that suit), 2 or 3 bets go in on the flop
- An A comes on the turn giving me 2nd nut flush draw.

Now what? My opponent has good starting hand selection. I guess that any tight agg player would play that way preflop with any PP 9 or higher, AK, or AQ (perhaps AJ, AT if he raised/called preflop). The only hand I can beat is TT for which he still has 6 outs. If I'm behind, I'm waaaaay behind.

Assume he called the last bet on the flop. There is 6-7BB in the pot.

If I'm first to act, what do I do?
If he is first and bets? if he checks?

How to measure progress?

I've created a lot of goals for myself over the last 9 months. A few I've met (mostly just bankroll); a fair number I've abandoned after further consideration (mostly live or online MTT related ones).

In terms of actually quantifying progress, I've really only been keeping my eye on a few metrics:
- online LHE, BB/100h: the sheer number of hands I play (not absolute compare to internet pros, but relative to other forms of poker I play) allows me to use this simple metric. For given playing limits, I am somewhat comfortable with gauging results after 25k hands. I know that many 2+2er's advocate a much larger sample set, and I probably would too if I played full time, but given my time bank I settle for 25k.
- live LHE, I make my best effort to determine and track the number of mistakes I make (measured in BB) per hour of table play. Things like missed value bets, incorrectly protecting my hand (e.g. if I incorrectly protected my hand on the turn in a 3 way pot giving another player with a 5:1 draw better odds to see the river, I would penalize myself 20% of the pot size on the turn even if I win the hand), paying off when certainly beaten, folding reasonable winning hand on river, etc... (The pace of live play is so slow that I can do substantial analysis of all interesting hands, whereas online I to put less work into reviewing individual hands. Typically, I only mentally review some online hands that occur towards the end of a session when I end up doing something very mindless, like driving somewhere, immediately after playing. I should invest a little more time in reviewing my online play.)
- online and live MTTs: ROI and avg hourly rate, my sample size is probably way too small

My current short term goal is related to online bankroll so this is easy to measure.

I guess my high level goal is something like this:
- To develop the capability and resources to have an expectation to earn $200/hour online and $100/hour live from poker

I am envious of those who have quickly and successfully made the climb to mid-high stakes level. My emphasis is on quickly. I do wonder about the duration and peak of this poker boom.

Some people, like Dr. Schonnmaker, are reminding players to be make the necessary plans to be successful regardless of how the environment changes.

Fickle, fickle

Well, I had a pleasant +60BB session tonight. I guess that is all it takes to cheer me up. Fickle, I guess....

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Speed of progress?

I'm generally disappointed in my poker progress during this calender year.

The areas of development that I care about are, in no particular order:
- limit hold'em ring game skills (online and live)
- NL hold'em ring game skills (online and live)
- NL hold'em tournament skills (online and live)
- non-hold'em game skills (probably omaha, omaha hi-lo and triple draw are the games I care about. I think my memory is too poor to make the investment in playing stud. At some point, I will put effort into stud, but I think time invested in omaha or triple draw would be much better spent)
- bankroll size

Mostly from reading some other poker players' blogs, I'm feeling pretty inadequate about my rate of progress in the areas I care about. Naturally there could be a great deal of exaggeration in some people's blogs, but there are a number of players that I do suspect are being fairly honest and accurate with their status and the time period of their development.

I need to take some effort to analyze my overall strategy for pursuing my poker goals. Sometimes I feel like I just don't have enough time for my poker pursuits, but this may just be me lying to myself. I just don't know....

Are these other players just more talented? disciplined? focused? efficient? energetic?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Liking PokerAce more and more

Online $5/$10 games have been good this week. I've had a decent win rate for the last 3000 hands (3BB/100h), and I have taken a whole lotta bad beats over the last 1000 hands (and missed an above average number of chances to make 2, 3, 4 or 5 outers on the river when making good folds on the turn.... waah waah). No need to whine too much on the specifics by providing humorous bad beat examples, but anyways, it seems like any time I don't take any bad beats for a ~half hour period of time, my collective stack will grow 20-30BB without even winning any monster pots or having monster hands. The loose gamblers are really chasing and the maniacs and calling stations are doing their thing.

Although it is still a little early to tell, I actually think that part of it is related to better game selection made possible by using PokerAce HUD. Basically, I've been quad tabling Eurobet at $5/$10 limit, 10 handed. I'm probably playing at a given table on average for ~25 minutes. I use my Party account to continually scout for good tables. How is this different from when I was using GameTime+? Well, when using GameTime+, I'm not fast enough to be frequently checking for good tables. The few extra clicks to add and remove tables in GameTime+ (and do timely force imports in PokerTracker to get that first hand history in) is just a bit more time than I can spare when quad tabling (even when it is 10 handed).

I can't quantify it, but I strongly suspect this has significant value. There are so many pro and semi pro players at $3/$6 and $5/$10 that if you are 3-4 minutes slower in discovering a good table, you'll be 15-20th in the waiting list instead of 4-5th. That really cuts down on the number of hands you play at really good tables because if you have to wait in line behind a dozen decent tight agg/agg players, the table is far less profitable by the time you take a seat.

I'd guesstimate that I can poll the status of 2-3 times as many tables using PokerAce than using GameTime+.

Now, these factors are naturally just about maximizing $ results from low limit multitabling. Again, I'm in this phase of learning next to nothing from playing poker. To keep my sanity, I'll continue to play in the weekly live NL tournament on Saturdays and the occasional live $20/$40. As I've said before, I hope to progress beyond this stage in about a month. (Even at that point, I think it will be more of the same monkey business at $10/$20, but I will probably increase the live/online playing time ratio slightly.)


I decided to make more poker trips later this year. I've already made travel plans to go to Foxwoods in early November (to play in side game action during the World Poker Finals; thanks to UA for having a great seat sale rate) and Vegas again in early December for the next WPBT Winter Classic (which also corresponds to the same time as the championship event at the Bellagio World Poker Classic, so the side game action should be great that weekend).

Additionally, I will most likely make a weekend trip to LA to play some mid stakes limit games at Commerce.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Live for a change, and PokerAce

Well, it has been 3 weeks since the last time I played live (which corresponds to the last time I was in Vegas). The last 3 weeks I've been exclusively multitabling Party $3/$6 and starting $5/$10. My top priority is to build a $10k online bankroll. I'm hopeful to have adequate bankroll for $10/$20 in roughly 4 weeks (mostly depending on how many good hours I can put in). My online bankroll is currently about $6700, and my live bankroll is just sitting in the safe collecting dust.

I installed PokerAce HUD, and converted my poker tracker databases to PostgreSQL. I must say that I've very happy with PokerAce HUD compared to GameTime +. It is a better utility when multitabling because of 2 primary reasons - flashing losing hands on the showdown (saving the time of reading the hand history), automatically tracking a table when a new table is opened (instead of having to manually add the table in GameTime+ ~after~ a hand has been imported). The pop up info on users will likely be more useful against tricky opponents. I haven't encountered too many of those in the last few weeks of play. It is a substantially superior tool over GameTime+, for the same low price of $0. Get it here PokerAce HUD.


This morning I went to the local poker room to play in a $100+$25 NL rebuy tourney. The $25 vig is expensive, but almost every player does a $60 add on, and there are always ~1.5x $60 rebuys per buyin at the end of the rebuy period. In some ways then, it is really a $220+$25 tourney, so the effective vig is more reasonable. Additionally the short 5 minute drive to the poker room from my home makes this tournament a very simple choice to enter.

One drawback to the tournament is that it is always sold out early. The registration starts 1.25 hours before it begins, and you need to be there ~1 hour before the tournament begins to ensure you are not an alternate (or worse, not get to play at all).

I was already awake, so I showed up about 2.75 hours before the tournament. I sat in a $6/$12 game for roughly 2 hours. Prior to the 3 week break from live, I had been playing live almost every day. After only multitabling online for 3 weeks, I had really forgotten the pace of live. It is really slow! It is even more noticible if your opponents are the type where you don't really need to pay that much attention to them. I think my first raise was 45 minutes after sitting down. I can't remember the last time I went 5 straight minutes online without raising. Well, I guess it was a nice change of pace. Again, I also forgot how loose this $6/$12 live game is. It was far looser than any $3/$6 online game I played in the last 3 weeks, and it was pretty passive too. I lost a 14BB pot in my last orbit (with flopped top two to runner runner T high flush) to finish the session up 5BB - barely enough to pay for an extra rebuy in the tournament. ;P

Okay, on to the tournament:


150 entrants, prize pool mid $30k's, 20 minute levels, 10 places paid.

I did my standard rebuy on the first hand to start with $2k in chips. Nothing too interesting happened in the first hour, although I did get my chip stack up to $4500 after the 1st 3 levels. I took the $2k addon for $60 to enter level 4 with $6500.

The end of the 5th level and start of the 6th level were the ~10 pivotal minutes of the tournament for me. I got involved in 3 sizeable pots in the same orbit, winning the first two and losing the third. I don't have any doubts about the first two hands, but the last one I wonder if I misbet.

The lead up was important. On the immediate hand prior to the first, I had open stole with trash for 3BB successfully from middle position after a moderately long period of folding. On the next 6 hands I was dealt KJs, AKs, TT, AKs, TT, and 77 in that order. What a run of cards to get at in a tournament!

On the KJs hand, I raised a loose limper on my immediate right to 4.5xBB. Everyone folded to limper who called. I flopped an open ended straight flush draw on the QdTd4c board. Limper check called my 1/2 pot bet (My intention was to make a weak continuation bet to induce a check raise all in. In this tournament situation, I want us both to be all in on the flop). The limper pulled a stop N go all in when the turn came Ks for less than the pot. Without a preflop raise I didn't put him on a broadway, but felt he either had 2 pair or a bluff with my weighting at about 66% that he had 2 pair with the 2 pair more likely being KT instead of KQ (since he didn't raise preflop) or QT (since he didn't push on the flop), so I didn't hesitate to call. He was "semi bluffing" with Ad9c, and did not hit his 3 outer.

On the first AKs hand, I opened for 3BB and stole the blinds again. On the first TT hand, I opened again for 3BB, the short stack to my immediate left came over the top for 5.5BB total and the SB pushed for 4.5BB. No brainer for me to call there. 1st short stack had A2s and the SB had AKo. My hand held up, and my stack was starting to get respectable (40+ BB with 95 players left, so less need to take risks).
On the 2nd AKs hand, I opened my standard raise 3BB, and was called only by the weak tight BB. I flopped nothing. 2 overs and a backdoor flush. He checked, and my half pot bet took the pot (his remaining stack was only the size of the pot). I'm 95% sure he had a smaller A, with AQo and AJs being the most likely, so I would not have minded a call.

Now the last hand is a bit of a bad beat hand, but given the immediately preceeding hands (I raised 5 straight times, and in the only postflop action I bet 1/2 pot both times) and the stage in the tournament (~90 people left, 10 places paid), there were a few different ways to play the hand preflop and on the flop. So I want to give the hand a bit of thought.
Villain has some modest preflop standards: probably calls pfr's with AQ, AJs, ATs, TT, 99, 88, any suited broadways)

hand #1
8 seated, $300/$600 blinds, hero has ~$18k, villain has ~$9k, UTG has ~$13k, no one else has more than $7k.
preflop: fold, fold, hero picks up TdTc and raises to $1900, fold, villain smooth calls in CO, everyone else folds. (2 players, $4700 in pot)
flop: Th8c4s, hero asks villain for a chip count, and then bets $1500. villain calls (2 players, $7700 pot)
turn: Th8c4s9d, hero bets $2000. villain pushes for ~$5500 total. hero calls. Villain has KsJs. (2 players, $18700 pot)
river: Th8c4s9dQh

I think preflop my three choices are fold, standard raise 3xBB, and moderately larger raise 4-5BB. I didn't mention but 2 of the players behind me (not counting the villian) are moderately loose. I really don't know which of the 3 choices I like best.

On the flop, my task is, of course, determining how to get all of my opponent's chips in. I can check or bet a callable amount; I don't think I should bet more than 2/3 of the pot even if I think I can convince my opponent I am bluffing.

What amount should I bet on the turn, given the pot size is $7700 and my opponent still has $5500, and given my opponent's range of hands? The probability that my opponent had a J was moderately high, so I think $2000 was too little. I'm not sure about scenarios where villain would try to bluff me out on the turn. Both the villain and I were seated at the same table since the start of the tournament, and I had only folded one hand that I had shown strength with. (I'm not sure how attentive the villain is).

I didn't slow down on the next hand with 77, and made a standard raise. I was called only by a small stack with 3BB who had AA. It held up. I lasted just over one level longer, busting out around 65th. My decisions could have been better, but I'm not too displeased with the way I played. Let's say it was no Aruba....

Monday, September 12, 2005

Back from vacation

I'm back from a weeklong vacation to Canada.

I didn't take a complete break from poker though. I managed to put in a few hours of $3/$6 limit ring games on an oldish PC with a smaller (than I am used to) 18" LCD monitor without Poker Tracker and GameTime+.

The max resolution of 1280x1024 made it harder to multitable - so I mostly stuck to 3 tabling instead of 4 tabling. By far the biggest handicap was playing without Poker Tracker/GameTime+. I'm pretty sure this cost in excess of 1BB/hour when 3 tabling. It did force me to try and pay closer attention to the habits of my opponents, so in some respects the games were more interesting than usual.

This makes me think back to how long I had been playing ring games without Poker Tracker/GameTime+ even after I had read rave reviews from places like the forums at 2+2. More recently, I've been hearing online pros sing the praises of PokerAce HUD. I've been too lazy to download and install this. However, this past week of playing without Poker Tracker at all has reminded me that I should be keeping pace with the tools that online pros are using.

Sometimes reminders come in unexpected ways.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Quick summary, part 2

One other thing I forgot to write about was the Bellagio tournament. I played one single table satellite for the Sunday $500+$40. It costs $130 to enter, and it pays the final two players a $540 entry plus $30 cash. The satellites have 15 minute levels (unless the satellite starts less than 1.5 hours before the start of the tournament, in which case the levels are 12 or 7 minutes depending on available time). I finished in level 5, a disappointing 6th.

My excuse is pretty much the oldest and lamest one that tournament players make - I didn't catch any cards. I played exactly 2 hands during the entire SNG. Even the hands that I mucked didn't hit any flops, so at least I didn't have any regrets. Yup, I can whine and bitch like the rest of them....

My best hand was during level 4 when I was dealt the monster ATo on the button when I had about 6x BB. MP+1, with an average stack, open pushed. It was folded to me. I had been folding so much that, SB (a big stack, and a reasonable player) called out of turn. This made my decision easy, and I mucked.

How about the hands that I did play?

1st hand: A complete maniac who had built his stack as large as 3x the starting chips in round 2, had dwindled to 3x BB at the start of level 4. He open pushed in MP. It was folded to me in the BB (I had 10x BB). I'm getting 2.25:1, so I announced that I would call him in the dark. He flips over the computer hand (Q7o). I flip over....63o. Nice. The 65% favorite holds up.

Last hand: It is finally folded to me preflop (first time in about 2 orbits) in MP+2 while I've got 3x BB, and I look down and find a beaut J3o. I immediately push. Folded to the button who is a reasonable player. He thinks for 3 seconds. When he starts to put chips in the pot, I'm at least relieved to see that he pushed all his chips in the pot (~18BB). That's got to be a mid pair. Everyone else folds. He shows 88, and I don't improve.

Yup, I spent an hour and 10 minutes of my time to play 63o and J3o. Very productive...

There were no more satellites running before the tournament, and I elected not to buy in directly.

The satellite I played was entertaining though. It is amusing to watch players who have absolutely no idea how much to bet. Open for $700 with $50 blinds. $100 into an $800 pot. I certainly would intend to play more of these on subsequent Vegas trips.

Actually, does anyone know what happens if you win more than one of these? Does the TD allow you to take $570 cash for a 2nd win?