Monday, October 31, 2005

Paradise rocks

I've never had a reason to have any interaction with the staff at Paradise Poker until today, and I must say that I was very satisfied with the whole experience. Given some possible complications in spending the week in Connecticut because of scheduling issues with my day job, I emailed their Promotions department requesting to exchange my $10k+$200 Foxwoods seat for a $9600+$400 Bay 101 Shooting Stars seat which runs in late February 2006. I was more than willing to make an even swap to let Paradise keep the $200 for the trouble.

The Promotions manager fairly quickly replied that although it was not their normal policy to allow such exchanges, they were willing to accomodate this request given how soon the Foxwoods event begins. As soon as I confirmed that I wanted to go ahead with this, she instantly credited my account for an additional $200 and just like that I'm a "member of Team Paradise for Bay 101 Shooting Stars".

It was a quick, easy, and painless affair. Try doing that at Party Poker. You'll be lucky if they even understand your request by the second exchange of emails, let alone actually let you do a switch. It is nice once in a while to have a company meet or exceed your expectations.

I'll still be heading out to Foxwoods during the weekend of the start of the main event (from a poker trip that I previously planned in September) to play in some side action cash games, but I will be sitting out the main event. The funny thing is that I'll probably get more table hours in from this trip then if I actually played in the main event. Dead money indeed.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Foxwoods Satellite

Whew, I'm currently in 1st in the $30 Foxwoods satellite at Dise (1 $11.5k package only), 20 players remaining...
"Don't do anything stupid!!"

Okay, 3rd break. I'm 3rd in chips with about 11.5% of total chips. That means I have an 11.5% chance to win, right? hmmmm, don't do anything stupid.

The structure of this tournament is pretty tough. The average chip stack has less than 8xbb.

Whew, 1st place w 6 left. DON'T DO ANYTHING STUPID!!!

Not sure what is wrong with their ranking list, some guy (Trod0018) got left on the list. But anyway, I did it!

I just plain got lucky. I won 3 coin flips for all (or essentially all) my chips, my KK held up to A9 for all my chips, my AA held up to AQo for all my chips. I can't count how many times I was all in. The AA vs. AQo hand was the worst one to sweat as the villian flopped a Q (with backdoor draws), turned a flush draw, and bricked on the river. Paradise has pretty dramatically long delays between the flop, turn and river.

Whew, I can't take this anymore. POKER IS TOO STRESSFUL!!!


While I was playing this satellite, I was also playing in a $3 qualifier for the $615+$35 PCA super, and I was one of the 5 winners! I decided to unregister for the $650 event, and convert it into W$. I think I'm going to try and save up these W$ for a WSOP event.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

PCA or bust

Whew, I'm 2nd in the $30+$3 PCA (PokerStars Caribbean Adventure) super tonight with 22 players remaining. Just one $12k seat and 5 $650 consolation prizes. Who the heck cares about finishing in the money? It is first or bust!

My QQ went in preflop against a smallish stack's KK and didn't suck out...

Damn, I'm an idiot. I was in the SB w AA w 19xBB. UTG+1 opens for 3xbb, CO flat calls, I pop it to 11xBB. Both fold.
17 more to go.

Woohoo, final table. I'm 2nd last.... :(

"I'm in the money. So little money...."

Well, just before the third break I lost an all in coin flip when my A9o couldn't hold off KQo. I've dropped from about 20% of total chips down to 8% of total chips with 5 players remaining. Boy, I feel so out of practice playing a winner takes all 5 person sitngo. I'm playing way too scared.

Well, I got my last 66k chips in with a dominated hand K9o vs AKo and did not suck out. I finished 5th for a pay out of $650.

I really hate myself for the way I played in the last hour. There were 2 occasions that I had a monster (AA preflop, and trips on the flop) in 3 way situations, and I bet my opponents out of the pot. In the trips hand (with ~8 players remaining), there was a flush draw on the flop so I made a definitive raise on the SB's flop bet from the BB to protect my hand. In this winner takes all format, I should definitely try to trap my opponents to get them all in on the turn.

Almost the bubble boy

I am 0/1 in my attempt to win a seat to a major event. $325/$3000 spent.

My first shot was today at a super satellite to a $10k WPT event in early 2006. This was a live $100+$25 NLHE rebuy event. The structure was $1000T for the buy in, multiple $100 rebuys for $1000T during the first hour (any time you have $1000T or less), and a single $100 add-on for $2000T.

I finished 13th/108, slightly out of the money where the payout structure was something like:
1st and 2nd: $10k seat to a WPT event + $240 cash
3: $2k seat, + $2100 cash
4: $2500
5: $1000
6: $700
7: $600
8: $500
9: $400
10: $300

A ~very~ top heavy payout. About 5/6 of the total prize pool going to the top 3 places. I would realisitcally say that finishing 6th is like finishing on the bubble; so I'm really stretching it to say that I almost finished on the bubble.

There were 20 minute levels and the blind structure was as follows:
25/25, 25/50, 50/100, break
100/200, 200/400, 300/600, break
500/1000, 1000/2000, 1500/3000, break
2000/4000, 3000/6000, 4000/8000, break
5000/10000, 10000/15000, 10000/20000

In the actual tournament, after all rebuys and add ons, there were a total of $389,000T chips in play.

How did I run during this tournament?
Starting level 4, I was slightly above average chips, 22.5xbb (~95 players remaining)
From level 6 onwards, my stack size never exceeded 10xbb.
Starting level 7, I had ~45% of average chips 3xbb (~60 players remaining)
Starting level 10, I had close to average chips 4.5xbb (21 players)

These were all of my major hands:
- I was all in exactly two hands during this tournament, including my last hand which was a coin flip.
- I was involved in 4 all in preflop coin flips, winning 2 and losing 2
- I was involved in 3 PP vs Ax (where x is an unsuited undercard, and I had the PP), winning all 3.
- I had 2 slightly smaller stacks both all in with AA vs their QQ and AKo and lost when the board came xxxKK.

So overall I ran better than average.

During the duration of the tournament, I was faced with a number of decisions. I'm not sure how good my decisions were so I will list them here to reflect on them some more:

#1: Should I enter this event at all (given I am willing to spend $3000 on satellite entries) given the structure? Actual Decision: enter Thoughts: Is this event just a crapshoot with $25 juice and average time consumed, door to door, ~4 hours?
#2: Should I rebuy at all, and if so when should I rebuy? Actual Decision: rebuy. During the second orbit I concluded that my starting table was the best table I had been at for a Saturday tournament in at least the last 2 months. There were 5 opponents (at a 10 seated table) that were extremely poor (willing to commit their entire stack on any hand where they had any pair or any draw on the flop) and no smart loose aggressive opponents. There is no need to give any examples, just trust me, this was the case, and it was demonstrated multiple times during the first hour. (total rebuys at this table were 10, but could probably have been closer to 15 if the chips hadn't moved back and forth a few times). Result: I finished level 3 with $2500T.
#3: Should I take the add on? There were roughly 95 players with average chips somewhere around $2200T, the overwhelming majority would be taking the add on, so average chips entering level 4 would be ~$4200T. Actual Decision: add on to start level 4 with $4500T.
#4: Having very recently been crippled in level 5 (200/400 blinds), it is folded to me in the small blind where I have $1500T. BB has $1200T and is very loose preflop. My hand is Q4o, which is slightly worse than 50% against a random hand. Should I move in or muck? Actual Decision: move all in. Result: My opponent went into the tank for over 30 seconds, and then called with 67o (very close to a coin flip); neither of us improved. Thoughts: I don't know if I made a mistake. I believe I should certainly push with any hand that is 50% or better than an average hand. My opponent's calling range is probably 90% of all hands, or put another way my opponent will lay down 10% of the worst possible hands. Any knowledgeable player should assume that SB will move in with any 2 cards, so any knowledgeable player should blindly call since even 23o is getting the right price at 2:1. Given an opponent that will fold 10% of his hands, what % of random hands do I need to beat to move in?
#5: In level 8 ($1000T/$2000T), I have been moved to this table in the last 2 orbits and played exactly one hand where I moved in and stole the blinds. It is folded to me in the CO and I find KcKs. Button is on the conservative side, SB has "average" preflop standards, BB is a little tight. I believe that BB is not sophisticated enough to recognize that a less than all in raise probably means a very strong hand. I have $9500T, button has $12000T, SB $16000T, BB $8000T, 26 people remain, avg chips ~$15kT. What's my play? Actual Decision: Move all in. Result: Button and SB quickly mucked. BB went into the tank for about 1 minute and mucked.
Thoughts:Should I have made a less than all in raise? Would this have increased the probability of getting action? Which hands to I want action from? I think I welcome action from any worse hands from all players, just so long as all the money goes in preflop. If only 1 player calls, how much of his stack do I want in before the flop?
#6: In level 10 ($2kT/$4kT), we are 6 seated (13 players remaining total), I have moved in twice already in this orbit where I was called once and showed AKo. I have $28kT, very close to avg chips, UTG and find pocket 5s. The 3 chip leaders at the table are on the button, SB and BB, who have between $45kT and $65kT. I am about 8th or 9th in chips. What's my play? Actual Decision: Move all in. Result: only SB called with AK and SB won the coin flip. Thoughts: At this stage of the tournament with my chip stack, I could probably have a 75% chance of folding my way into the money. Given the top heavy payout, this is a poor strategy. I think UTG, at this 6 seated table, I should push with any pair, any A better than A7o, any K better than K8o, and even some other hands as bad as QTs, J9s. The 2 short stacks at my table are playing very tight, and the big stacks are ~not~ playing particularly loose.
#7: Did I play too tightly during rounds 5-10 since I was hovering around 6-7xbb for the majority of that time? Overall, players were substantially tighter starting in round 7. I missed ~4 actual occasions where it was folded to me (somewhere between MP -> MP+2) where I had a trash hand, mucked, and it was folded to at least the SB.

$3000 to spend on satellites will go pretty darn fast if I'm spending $325 a pop. One other thing I should make a note of is that: I had fun. I enjoy these live $100 buy in tournaments much more than online ones, and I find them considerably more exciting that limit ring games.

The 2nd half of these tournaments are almost entirely about all in moves with 3-10xbb stacks which means a huge amount of luck. I believe that over 70% of the field have a poor grasp of the all in values of most hands, so in the long run I still think there is some "skill" in that stage of the tournament. Unfortunately, the long run dwarfs the number of entries I will make into these events.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Even a monkey could play it

My wife is often concerned that poker causes me way too much stress. My last live $20/$40 LHE session absolutely did not fit in this category. It was my 2nd best $20/$40 session ever, and I either completely hit or completely missed the flop, well defined turn cards would come, etc..... All in all, a very easy-to-play session. If only I could have more sessions like this one, I'd be a much more relaxed person.


Weekly review

In the past week, my playing time has been divided roughly 75/25 online/live. The online portion was approximately 80% $3/$6 6max HE at Party, 20% bonus clearing at UB and Stars at $3/$6 HE 10max. Live play has been roughly a 50/50 mix of $4/$8 Omaha HiLo 1/2 kill and $20/$40 HE.

My last 7000 hands of Party $3/$6 6 max has been an anemic +1.5BB/100h, despite what have been tremendously good games. I have felt overburdened when trying to play more than 4 tables at a time, and I think in the last week my average number of tables is slightly less than 4. When playing more than 4 tables, I think I miss far too much information. Generally, I try to play for multiple one hour sessions with at least a very short break between each session. More than half of the sessions were either > +50BB sessions or -50BB. Variance is really sick. I've been ramping up my aggression factor on the turn and river, and this may be contributing to increased variance.

The $3/$6 experiment could take a couple more months at this rate. After plugging my latest $3/$6 6 max WR/SD numbers into the spreadsheet, I'm somewhere between a -2.85BB/100h to +5.95BB/100h player. At $3/$6 10max, I'm a -0.55BB/100h to +2.90BB/100h. Yup, that is really helpful info...

New games

On the learning front, I'm enjoying the learning aspect of playing new games. I've read that the Wynn has started spreading a $10/$20 mixed game - Hold'em, Omaha8, Stud8, 2-7 Triple Draw and Razz. With a Vegas trip coming up in early December, it would be a nice goal to develop enough experience in each of those games to be able to take a shot at that mixed game. I would be content to play in this game even with an EV of 0 (just for the experience). I wouldn't be willing to play though if my EV is worse than -1BB/hr, which is very very possible. I can't see any way I can judge this, and it will naturally depend on the opponents who happen to be at the table.

I read a really good review of High-Low-Split Poker by Ray Zee, so I think I will order this book to help prep for the mixed games.

Intermediate plans

I haven't decided exactly what games I will play on my upcoming Foxwoods trips (naturally it depends on what games are running, but given that a WPT event will be running, there should be a ton of great games). My preference currently leans towards $30/$60 Limit Hold'em or $2/$5 No Limit HE.

I've decided to set aside $3000 of my bankroll (and just as importantly the correspondingly appropriate amount of table time) to play in satellites for major events in the next 3 months. In order of preference, I'm interested in: 1) the WPT event at my local poker room, 2) the main event of the 2006 WSOP, 3) any other event at the 2006 WSOP, 4) any major US based event, 5) any North American based event, 6) any European event.

I intend to focus a substantial amount of my effort on #1 since it should be the least intrusive on my day job should I qualify. (there will be satellites both online and live for this event)

The plan is to spend the entire $3k on various types of satellite entries, and see how many seats I can obtain. Any cash winnings from these events will go directly back into the general poker bankroll. Any tips I give (if I win a bricks and mortar satellite) will come from this $3k.

I'm going to arrogantly predict that with my $3k investment, I will complete the experiment with +$3k in seats and cash. I will track my progress and post my results weekly.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

To rakeback or not to rakeback

This is the subject that high volume players are considering these days. There have been countless numbers of posts on this subject at 2+2 and poker blogs (including this great one by suckout).

My Party account was originally signed up with no affilate (how little I knew about the online poker business back then......), and I had been only using it strictly for bonus whoring. All of my other play at Party was through a skin where I was receiving rakeback.

When the skins were broken off, I looked for a few offers from affliates that would quietly give rakeback. The offers I received were tiered between 20-25% rakeback depending on MGR.

I finally got around to emailing Party's VIP group to get an offer directly from them. Their initial offer was $200 for 7000k raked hands, and I "negotiated" to $350 for 10k (about a 22.5%/raked hand improvement). If I play above this threshold, my bonus will be increased on a pro-rata basis. This seems to be a fairly standard offer given the stakes and # hands I play when compared to what others were listing in this 2+2 thread.

I asked and was told that the offer is only for November, and that some different, but better (yeah right...), promotion scheme will be coming for their VIP club.

The question I ponder is if I should try to get a combination of rakeback plus bonus $. I think for now I will take the conservative approach to stick with my existing Party account for just the bonus $ and see how others fare.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Omaha H/L 8/B

During my last trip to the poker room, there were long lists for all games except for a small stakes ($4/$8) Omaha H/L 8/B game with 1/2 kill. While waiting for a $20/$40 HE seat, I decided to take my first shot at live Omaha.

I made a resolution not to post any hand histories in my blogging entries anymore, but I'll just say that it wasn't until after the completion of the first hand that I realized that we were playing a H/L game. :P

I really need to look up some info on starting hand selection in Omaha H/L! Omaha is a game with such a large number of possibilities, and H/L makes it even more so.

It was a very fun and interesting experience, and it re-inforces the idea to me that I should continue to search for new games and experiences to keep the game of poker interesting.

There were quite a few rules that I was unsure about ranging from whether straights or flushes affected your low, to whether or not a kill button affects the order of play preflop (in the only 1/2 kill hold'em game I have played in, the player with the kill button acts last preflop but normally postflop; but in this Omaha kill game, the player with the kill button acts in normal order on every street).
I was also occasionally struggling to view my 4 hole cards easily. I ended up viewing my first two hole cards as they were dealt, and then viewing the 2nd 2 hole cards seperately.

Anyway, I finished my first and only session of live Omaha in the black. Woo hoo!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Trash talking

On Friday night, I played in a $40/$80 game for the 2nd time in my life. The banter was just as trashy as that of a Party $15/$30 game, xxxx this and xxxx that. You know, everyone on the internet is a tough guy, but I wasn't expecting the same in a live game.

At any rate, I was pretty overmatched in the trash talking department. Yet another thing to work on....

No joy

I missed cashing in both the $1000+$50 Limit HE event and the $1500+$80 Spread-Limit HE event (and missed the PokerStars Blogger tournament entirely).

I actually felt physically sick after the bust out of the Limit Hold'em event. I busted very early in level 3, having won exactly 1 hand. Hand #1.
Overall, I played fairly poorly. Initially, I wished I could have gotten away from the last 2 big hands I got involved with, but after some reflection I think I can live with myself for calling down on the river in both hands. In both cases I had fairly decent 2nd best hand, and I think I'll never make it far in LHE events if I consistently lay those types of hands down with so much of my remaining stack in the pot.

The winner of the LHE event was this year's 4th place finisher at the Main event of the WSOP. The tournament director made a funny remark pointing out that "Aaron ~finally~ won a tournament!".

In the Spread Limit hold'em event, I was actually surprised that there were a few name pros playing. I busted close to the end of level 7, about 20 places away from the money. With the exception of one complete donkey, all 3 tables I played at were moderately tough. Unfortunately, I didn't get my hands on any of the donkey's chips when he busted in 11 minutes, 28 seconds when he got all his chips in preflop with JJ against, of course, AA and did not suck out.

I had above average chips for the first two levels only, and remained slightly below average for the remainder of the tournament. The last 2 levels for me simply degenerated down to all in blind steals or blind defense. My bustout hand was the classic coinflip where I called a slightly larger stack's EP all in from the SB with my best starting hand of the day, TsTc. Villain had AQo. A in the doorcard, and IGHN. I had allowed myself to drop to a mere 4.25x BB, so perhaps I should have made a move earlier to get above 10xBB or bust. hard to say...

The winner of the $1580 event was, again, a named pro. (Dan A.) Geez, can't they keep out the riffraff?


In terms of preparation to play for these tournaments, I slept very poorly the night before the LHE event, but got a very good night's rest before the SLHE event. I've got to be more consistent about getting a good night's rest before any big events.


I went pretty deep in a PokerStars PCA super. In the teens, I was at a great table where there was one player that was ~the~ sheriff. He was successfully able to call ~well over~ 2 dozen all in's. When I say successfully, I don't mean that he won them all or lost them all. He probably won close to 70% of them. When I say successful, I mean that he was successfully able to call every time with the worst hand. A2s, 22, JTs, it really didn't matter, his hand was always the underdog. In all fairness, there were only a few situations that his hand was truly dominated, but in the majority of the situations there was virtually no possibility that he could think that he was ahead when he called. He was the kind of player you want at your table in a super sat when you ~already~ have a large number of chips, and just want the remaining players to get busted by ~somebody~.

I went 0/3 with the sheriff, and busted 13th. Sigh... maybe next time.


In ring game play, I had my best session ever in multitabling $3/$6 6max, and my 2nd best session ever in $20/$40 live.
Overall, I would say that my confidence level is about 80% after all the tournament bustouts, but decent ring games.

I've been trying to read more poker psychology and lifestyle books lately. I'm hoping to strengthen the psychological aspects of my game.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Lately, my online play (not just results) has been very iffy. I decided to play live for a change since I've made increasingly poor decisions during the rapid pace of online play as my confidence deteriorated (playing alternatively too weak or too aggressive at precisely the wrong times). (nice run on sentence....)

Overall, my last couple of live sessions have been a real moral booster.

Table selection tonight was the toughest call to make. There were 2 main games at the $20/$40, and both featured 1 truly horrible player and 1 fairly bad player. I didn't have the best seat at my table, but I still elected to remain in the first main game. Fortunately, the fairly bad player at the other table decided to do a table change, so it worked out better for me anyway.

My next big tournament is on Saturday, and it is a Limit Hold'em event. It is fantastic that I had this confidence boost so close to the start of this event.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


Okay, in the last two days I have lost 15% of my entire online bankroll. What the hell am I doing?

This is probably the worst I have ever felt about my poker results. It has been a fairly rough 2 weeks, followed by a horrific 48 hours.

I don't believe that I am calling down too much on the river. I keep getting that sick feeling when a seemingly harmless card hits on the river when I am headsup and I am bet into or raised by someone who has been calling me all the way. I have been paying off the the majority of the time in 6-8BB sized pots (and catching very ridiculous bluffs approximately the same inverse ratio of the time), but the rivered ugly 2 pair or rivered set is what really has been driving me absolute nuts.

Are these types of situations driving me to uber tilt? Probably yes. I think I need to resolve myself to not play again until I carefully review my worst couple of sessions. I think I played like complete crap in the later half of those sessions.

Calm down. Rationally and honestly review the data. Find and plug the leaks.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Running bad

Well, I have been running fairly poorly over the last couple of weeks. This is both in tournaments and in cash games.

Today was a somewhat reflective example of my last couple of weeks.

During the first hour (3 levels) of the huge overlay ($87k overlay) rebuy tournament, I would have been perfectly content to get all my chips into the pot in even money or better situations to build a big stack. My starting chips were $800T, and I naturally elected to do a rebuy on the first hand for $1kT (for $40).

During the rebuy period I was able to get my chips all in on the flop twice where my opponent had 3 outs. Lost the first one, won the second one. I had about 3rd chip stack at my table with both big stacks on my right, so I limped on almost every hand that they did (which granted was no more than 3 occasions), but didn't encounter any interesting situations.

At the break, I had only a slightly larger than average chip stack. I took another 3 outer from a shortish stack (~1/3 of my stack) after getting him all in on the flop.
I had chipped up to an average size stack when I got crippled when my all in preflop pair over pair lost on the river to a set. I was left with a chip and a chair. Even after doubling up 4 times, I was knocked out about 2 orbits later. That's tournament poker.

I am pleased to have gotten my chips into the pot in such great shape so many times, but in some ways this was just luck as well. I simply recognized that several of the geniuses at my table were willing to put their entire stack into the middle with a huge range of hands after calling a preflop raise and catching any part of the flop.

Anyways, it was a pretty crappy day, but it is just as well to get knocked out early than to get knocked out on the bubble.

By the way, I was wrong about how loose the action would be during the first hour. The action was not significantly looser than a regular Saturday rebuy tournament first hour. I'm certain that many of the participants simply did not understand the overlay involved in the tournament (there was even a player at my table who did not do double rebuys, but did take ~4-5 single rebuys each time he went broke.)

Okay, I've got the bad feelings all out of my system. I want to be in a positive frame of mind for the next two big tournaments coming up next Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Triple Draw 2-7

For some new variety, I took at shot at some micro limit 2-7 triple draw. I have very little idea what I am doing.

I read D. Negreanu's chapter in SS2 a while back, and I tried playing with the book open. It is very entertaining to try and learn a completely new game.

I'm not even sure how to interpret the likely hand ranges for betting actions.
In a 6 handed game, 4 players call a bet on the 3rd round from the player on button. Everyone draws at least 1 card on the last draw. I make a number 2 in the 2nd position (BB). It is checked to the button who bets, SB check raises. What do I do? What is the liklihood I'm facing a wheel? I mean, is this the equivalent in Hold'em of having the best possible full house when an opponent has quads? I'm not sure if I should only be going for an overcall here. Anyway, I three bet and was 4 bet by the nuts.

Gotta live and learn.

The nice thing about this game is that it is always short handed. I like the environment where you need to make frequent and meaningful decisions.

finally, time for a break

Whew, someone just hit the bad beat jackpot. I can finally stop playing at Party with no rakeback. I think I'll get to work on my Stars or UB bonuses later today. For now, I need some rest....

nice jackpot action

Wow, the games are absolutely amazing right now with the Party jackpot exceeding 2/3 of a million $. I actually skipped my regular live tournament to put in more online hours.

The games are so great that I just dropped 73BB in 1.5 hours. Any pair, any back door draw are great reasons to stay in the hand. Whew, it was my 2nd session of the day. I'll take a short break before heading back. I've said before that it is hard to keep track of how you are doing when 8 tabling, but it wasn't hard to guess when I was only rebuying and had almost no tables with a stack larger than the buy in.

Hopefully, it won't be more of the junk kicking....

Friday, October 14, 2005

8 tabling

The Party Bad Beat Jackpot has still not been hit, and has climbed to close to $550k. Hence, I gave another go at 8 tabling $3/$6 10 max.

All in all, I would say that 8 tabling is quite busy, but noticibly less stressful than 6 tabling 6 max (or perhaps even 4 tabling 6 max). I think I contradict myself sometimes where I say I like all the decisions that need to be made in shorthanded play, and then the very next day I'll say how much I like the more relaxed situations in full table play. I guess I just need some variety.

I was pretty pleased with myself in the last session. I think I only "tsk'd" once, and the dreaded "I can't believe it" didn't make an appearance (even when pocket deuces made a set on the river to my overpair, waah waah).

I had a moment of (false) excitment in the middle of the session. I turned quad Qs when the rainbow board had no overcards and was check raised by a calling station! I three bet him and chanted to myself, "pair the board, pair the board, pair...the...board". He check folded the river, so I guess he was just bluffing with a PP. Surprising behavior for a classified calling station. I think I had over 200 hands on him. That is not a huge number of hands, but was still fairly out of character. He got me all excited for nothing.

For those of you who don't know, the bad beat jackpot is awarded whenever a player with a hand at least as good as four of a kind (8's) is beaten. Assuming a 10 seated table, the loser gets 35% of the total jackpot. The winner gets 17.5%. The other 8 players get ~2%. Here's an article on bad beat jackpots.
I'm sure I could have found a good use for $94k.....

Actually, the $100k bad beat jackpot at a local poker room was hit during my last tournament there. It was at a $3/$6 table where a lady's quad 4s were whomped by quad 7s (there is a lower qualification standard for bad beat; just any quads beaten). Surprisingly the cheering was not that long in duration. I have seen retards celebrate more after winning an all in coin flip in the middle of a tournament (long before being close to the money). I guess all those players were just so stunned. The lady got a check for ~$26k after IRS withholding. I can only imagine how many people asked her for a "loan" on her way out....

Thursday, October 13, 2005


With the Party Bad Beat Jackpot approaching $500k, I decided to spend some table hours there. For some variety, I decided to try 8 tabling for the first time (again $3/$6). The main thing that strikes me is that at any point in the session, I really did not have a sense of how well or bad I am running overall for the combined sessions. There are lots of big pots, and I always rebuy if I drop to less than 2/3 of a standard buyin. Without adding up all the totals from all the tables and rebuys, I have no idea how things are going. Perhaps this is a first time thing that I will adjust to.
I also have to kick myself from time to time to keep doing table selection in the background.
I have a 20" LCD monitor on the right and a 19" CRT on the left. (I've been waiting a couple of weeks now for a decent deal for another Dell 2001FP. Prices are a good 20% higher than the all time low. I already have a 2nd 20" LCD, but I decided to bring that to work to keep my eyes from tiring out during the day). I was tending to miss more of the action on the leftmost 2 tables. The CRT is a bit dark, and also I think I am seated more centered on the LCD mon. I should probably adjust this.


Pit of despair
I joined in a live $20/$40 game yesterday. The game was quite a mixed bag. There were 2 really terrible players at the table, a tricky but decent LAG, a semi aggressive regular (who is usually passive), a very good prop, a very ABC player, and a couple of semi-loose aggressives. I took my seat to the immediate left of the good prop. At the time I sat down, I was only familar with the regular and the prop.

I thought it would be a nice learning experience to sit next to the prop. I believe this gentleman to be the 2nd best prop at this poker room. He usually has a very good feeling for where he is at and gets good value from his hands. He is a grizzled veteran, who surely has taken a whole lot of bad beats of the years. So I would have expected it would take a lot to get him on tilt.

However, he went on tilt relatively quicker than I would have guessed. I think at the time I sat down he had roughly 3 racks, and I do remember him chipping up during the next 20 minutes. He took a couple of bad beats, and was still relatively composed. However, some other players, who rarely bluff, pushed him off hands on the turn, and then showed the bluff. He then proceded to take a 5 outer and then a runner runner in the same orbit, and from there on he was just quickly calling people down on the turn and the river. It was disturbing to watch him go down in flames. He left after his chip stack was busted.

I'm pretty sure he was at about the 8 hour mark of his shift, but he has been playing for so many years. How can that still happen to him? There may have been more history that occured before I sat down. However, at the very least, he could have at least gone for a walk to settle down. I guess anyone can go on tilt.


Well, just 2 more days until my $100k freeroll. I really can't wait...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I am really starting to test the patience of my wife when it comes to my poker playing. This month in particular, I've been pushing very hard to squeeze in as many table hours as possible, both live and online, both cash games and tournaments. The time constraints and stress of playing may be taking their toll.

Last night I was 5 tabling $3/$6 6 max where no table had a VPIP less than the high 40s. Some also had fairly high aggression. These kinds of great games will naturally result in a higher number of bad beats and huge variance. I'm sure you can see where this is heading. I really let my guard down, and started to mutter my old line "I can't believe it" after taking beats only as bad as 3 or 4 outers whenever there was a sizable pot.

About 2 hours into the session, (after saying "I can't believe it" no less than half a dozen times), I took a runner runner hit on a pot where I had 97% pot equity on the flop and the pot had 27BB in on the turn. (It may have been slightly less than 97% PE because only 2 opponents saw the river with me - both opponents needed runner runner on the flop, although I'm guessing that 1 other player had a runner runner draw on the flop as well) I've said before how I like the PokerACE feature of flashing mucked hands on the river, but in this case it quickly showed the degree of misfortune. My wife happening to be walking very close by my desk at that particular moment when I blurted out my "I can't believe it", and she said "don't you get tired of saying that?". It was a moment of weakness for me, and I retorted with some smart ass remark. It didn't strike me until much later how bad it was for me to say that to my wife. Gosh, it breaks my heart when I do something like that.

If I consider things from a certain point of view, I could rationalize "legitimate" reasons for pushing so many table hours. However, just to use an old cliche, perhaps I am losing sight of the big picture.
We are quite comfortable financially, and earning an extra $50 or $100 a day doesn't make that much difference. Especially since the money isn't really going towards "us", but really just into the poker bankroll.
I should not be rushing so much. I started playing poker about 16 months ago, and I have been very inefficient during that time. Perhaps that is part of the reason why I am so eager now? I should not be sweating it if I am proceeding in a manner which is 20% or 30% less than optimal. There is no rush. Cool down.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Shorthanded play

Boy, it is just amazing how many $3/$6 6 max tables you can find with VPIP over 60. Again, I'm thankful for the usability of PokerAce for doing table selection.


I think I really need to work on my short handed play.

I spent about 1 table hour playing headsup and 1 table hour playing between 3-4 handed, and particularly in the headsup game, my turn and river play could use some work. The time period was way too short, so I will try to experiment again in the near future.

I had been quad tabling $3/$6 6 max while eating dinner, and I got creamed in the first 40 minutes. I dropped approximately 65 big bets in that time, perhaps winning 3-4 tiny pots. All the worst possible situations; KK vs AA with a uber lag having the AA, AA vs a set, A high flush and river card pairs board (full house), etc. etc. And this was on 6 max tables! Towards the end of this period, I made 2 bad laydowns in 6-8BB pots, and made 2 bad call downs. Yuck. I remember reading an article by Annie Duke recommending that a player should essentially have a stop loss of -30BB. The reasoning was something like if you are losing that much you are either way overclassed, on tilt, being cheated, etc... This number seems somewhat appropriate for live play, but it is a bit low for short handed multitabling. I guess I would have a stop loss somewhere around -100BB. Certainly, I had (at least) started playing poorly when I made the 2 bad laydowns and call downs. I don't think I had hit what Mike Caro calls the "Threshold of Misery" (when the losses are so big that additional losses seem pretty meaningless), but I would definitely have been in bad psychological shape if I dropped over 100BB in that time period.

I moved the dinner plate out of the way and tried to settle down. The next 45 minutes was pretty much the opposite; I was definitely lucky, but I do think I made fewer mistakes including better value bets. The bounce back was somewhere in the neighborhood of +90BB. I guess that is just the variance of short handed play. It would have been a lot easier to take if I just won 1BB every 3-4 minutes instead, but that's just the way it is.

During the action, some of my tables started getting very shorthanded. The very first table that got down to headsup contained a significantly LAGgy player (although he didn't last much longer). Because of the LAG, I remained at the table. After he left, I didn't have time to leave before another player joined, so I continued with the headsup play. It seems to require much more attention both because the avg decision is more important and the frequency is much higher.
I ended up dropping down to 1 full 6 max table, 1 headsup, and 1 3-4 handed. Even with only 3 tables, I felt incapable of processing the situations quickly enough. I think I could manage 2 full 6 max tables and 1 headsup, or just 2 headsup tables. Maybe it will get easier if I have more headsup practice, but for now there is a lot of room for improvement. I should probably go back and read some Sklansky chapters on short handed play.


I've got 3 sizable live hold'em tournaments in the next few weeks (prize pools between $100k-$200k). My Foxwoods trip is in 36 days, and my Vegas trip is in 63 more days.

Lots to look forward to. :)


The last week of poker has been more stimulating than recent weeks. I've played a slightly different variety of games; however anything is more variety since I've generally been sticking to one limit and one game.

My ring games so far this week have been live $6/$12 LHE, $9/$18 LHE, $20/$40 LHE, $1/$1/$2 NL, online $100NL quad tabling, $3/$6 LHE 6 tabling. My ratio of live vs. online was very close to 1:1.

The slight adjustments that I should make between each game actually are making for less playing on autopilot since I've generally been sticking to one game/limit for less than 2 hours at a time.

It has been the better part of a year since I last played online $100NL, and I am rusty. Previously, when this was my main game, in my last 500 table hours, I averaged +12.5BB per table hour with ~extremely~ low variance. I was typically quad tabling, and I think it would have been hard to find blocks of 12 table hours where I was not very close to +12.5BB per table hour. This week I put in about 24 table hours with a ~+8.0BB per table hour rate.
I believe my most notable "mistake" I was making this week was slow playing monsters on the flop heads up with an opponent that possibly had a very good 2nd best hand, and in which the turn or river card killed the action. Bummer...
Boy it is amazing how much more rake I need to pay for low stakes LH vs low stakes NLH (per $ won)

In the $3/$6 LHE arena, I'm trying to play through a larger pool of hands to get a higher degree of confidence in my true win rate. To speed things up a bit, I increased from 4 tables to 6 tables. This will still take quite a while, since I think I will continue to play more variety of games.

I was involved in an amusing live $20/$40 LHE hand today. I was a bit of donk on the flop, but I love playing with a mix of "smart" and predictable players. It is by far my most enjoyable type of ring game situation because it creates more distinct situations to analyze given exactly the same cards dealt. This is one of the benefits of playing in a game with a lot of regulars.

hand #1
9 seated live $20/$40 LHE. Button is loose preflop, but a thinking player who is capable of making "good laydowns". MP+1 is a semi loose player who becomes a very passive caller on scary boards. I have played a lot with MP+1, only a little with Button (but enough to know he makes "good laydowns")
- preflop: MP+2 posts, I post in the CO (both of us just sat down). Folded to MP+1 who raises, MP+2 folds, I call getting 5.5:1 with 6c4h, button calls, SB folds, BB calls. (4 players, 9.5 small bets)
- flop: Ad6d2d; BB checks, MP+1 checks, I bet, button calls, BB folds, MP+1 calls. (3 players, 12.5 small bets)
- turn: Ad6d2d8s, checked around. (3 players, 6.25 big bets)
- river: Ad6d2d8s4d. MP+1 checks, I bet, button grimaces and mucks, MP+1 agonizes and calls showing AhKc.

After I tabled my hand, the button cursed saying there is no way he could call with a player behind him. There is no better feeling in limit hold'em to win a hand on the river when you make the best hand fold and worse hands call.

I'm comfortable with my preflop call because all players behind me are not the type to 3 bet with anything less than KK. I despise my flop bet, and would have folded to any raise (with this set of opponents). My interpretation at the time when I got called in two places was: MP+1 either had any combination of JJ, QQ or KK or a big A with no diamond, and button had an A with a J or T of diamonds.

On the river, the only better hand that MP+1 checks is JdJx. Button claimed to have mucked a diamond, but he didn't say which one and I didn't want to ask since he was quite pissed off. Maybe I should have badgered him to get him really on tilt. Anyway, this kind of "squeeze" play is more often likely to succeed in a No Limit situation, but it occasionally works in Limit as well. (Am I being to results oriented here? Was I just a lucky donkey that I wasn't betting into someone holding the nuts or 2nd nuts? I was planning on bet/folding the river here.)

I made sure that I tightened up considerably for the remainder of the session, and I got good value for my strong hands at this table.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Strategy for big overlay tournament

My local poker room is holding a series of tournaments at the end of this month. The immediately preceeding Saturday, a pseudo freeroll will be held for top 100 "points leaders" from the daily tournaments that have been run at the poker room for the last 6 months. I call it a pseudo freeroll because there is a $15 entry fee, and there are $40 rebuys and a $40 add on. "Points" are awarded for players that finish in the money in any of the daily tournaments at a rate of 1 point for every $10 won.

I know that some players play in a ton of these tournaments, so there are some sizeable points leaders. Still, I've somehow managed to climb up to 20th from playing in the bigger Saturday tournaments for the last 2 months. The rankings within the top 100 determine how many starting chips you are given. However, with rebuys allowed, this seems fairly irrelevant to me.
I had initially been under the impression that 4 $3200 prize packages would be awarded from this tournament, so I wasn't that excited about it. I had even been considering going out of town that weekend for a poker trip. However, it turns out that, conservatively, the tournament director had just listed the 4 $3200 packages as the guaranteed minimum payout.

It turns out that the prize pool for this "freeroll" is already over $90k, and the final prize pool will like be approximately $100k. (Apparently $5 is taken from every player's entry fee to every tournament to build this freeroll prize pool). The prize structure will likely pay out the top ten places with 1st getting roughly 27% and I guess 10th would be somewhere around 3%.

I will obviously give this tournament my full attention!

I believe that starting chips will range between $500T and $3000T depending on the player's ranking. Rebuys will be $1000T (I believe a rebuy can be done any time a player has $1kT chips or less), and the add on is $2000T.

What is the best strategy for this structure?

$40 $1000T rebuys for a ~$100k prize pool certainly means there will be extreme all-in aggression during the 1 hour rebuy period to amass a large chip stack. I guess there can't be much "strategy" during this time, but there should be a willingness to automatically take any and all coin flip opportunities to double up in the rebuy period. I will budget perhaps $400 for rebuys.

The extreme aggression will likely, but not necessarily, die down after the first hour. How are most people going to be playing during the middle stages of this tournament?

The tournament is on Oct 15, so I still have about a week and a half to think about how to play it.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Decent poker weekend

Well SBC didn't wow me by reconnecting our DSL any faster than they predicted. It is supposed to be connected today, though it wasn't at 10:00am this morning....

Anyway, that just meant any poker this weekend was all live.

I put in about 14 table hours split in the following ways:
7.0hrs NLHE MTTs (2 different tourneys, $100+$25)
6.0hrs small stakes NLHE ($1/$1/$2)
1.0hrs small stakes LHE ($6/$12, $9/$18)


The first MTT was my regular $100+$25, multiple $60 rebuy, $60 add-on. The prize pool was ~$36k, and the payouts for the top 10 out of 150 were essentially somelike like: 32%, 17%, 11%, 8%, 7.6%, 7.1%, 4.8%, 4.2%, 3.7%, 3.1%. The tournament was a pseudo super satellite type deal with a mix of cash and seats given to a series of tournaments at the end of this month.

I did my standard rebuy on the first hand to start with $2000T chips. Nothing too interesting in the first hour. I worked my way up to ~$3900T by the first break, and then did the standard add on to go into level 4 with $5900T. Come to think of it, I've been pretty darn lucky in the last few months of playing in this tournament that I have not had to do any additional rebuys. (however, perhaps I am playing too tight? or not aggressively enough in that first hour?... hard to say, I don't recall the last time that I have not finished the first hour without at least close to double chips, ~$4kT. However, I don't recall ever having more than $7kT at the break which is perfectly attainable at a good starting table.)

I had a moderate stack for most of the remaining tournament until fairly close to the bubble. My final result was 6th, netting a $1000+$50 seat into a LHE event, and $1500 cash.

There were two significant factors that had a big influence on both how I played and how I fared in this tournament. They were: 1) higher than normal percentage of ~very~ LAGgy players in the last 30 players, and 2) "seat selection".

The first factor caused me to play substantially less aggressive than I prefer to at that stage of the tournament. One of the extreme LAGs who joined my table with ~16 people left was a winner of a 2005 WPT event. If you regularly watch the WPT and can remember who the biggest donk ever to win a WPT event was, then you'll know who I'm talking about. His "rationalizations" for his plays are just as amusing as any you read in the Party Poker table chats. He busted out 9th, having only busted 2 other players but after having moved a huge number of chips around the table in about a 25 minute span of time. Another big donk that I have played $20/$40 LHE with before swatted out about 4 of the last 14.

The second factor that made an impact on me in this tournament relates to the retarded way that seat assignments are done. Tournament seating is done in a deterministic manner! Seats are sold in the following order: T(able)1 S(eat1), T2 S1, T3 S1,....T12 S1, T1 S2, T2, S2.....
Generally speaking, tables are broken down from highest to lowest.

I happened to be able to see in advance that my position in line would give me a seat at table 1, more specifically T1 S4. (Is this unethical?) I did not have to budge from that chair in the first 4.5 hours except for breaks, and only changed chairs when we redrew seats for the final table. It was a substantial advantage for me to not be frequently moving from one table to another.
There were two situations in the tournament where I was able to trap my opponent for all his chips, and one situation where I could value bet all in on the river with a mediocre hand because I had been seated with those opponents for at least 1 hour at the time.

Anyway, here's how the tournament ended for me...

When there were 6 players remaining, there were 3 small stacks with me having the slightly larger of these 3 stacks. The 7th place finisher was, in my mind, the last big donk left, and the payout jumped quite a bit between 7th and 6th but was flat for the next 3 spots. I was ready to open up my game at this point, though I only had a measly 4BB stack. The way the action went, both smaller stacks got all in with slight worse hands (40/60 type scenarios) and both doubled up making me the short stack. I opened all in from UTG+1, w A6o for 3BB. It was folded to the BB who had maybe 10BB (which was slightly less than avg in this fast structure tournament). He is an experienced player, and only slightly hestitated before calling with 73s. I'm pretty sure I'd make this call every time getting 2.25:1, and anyway his trip 3s knock out my A high. As they say, that's poker. I'm not complaining though, I seem to recall winning 2 coin flips with 25 players remaining, and 20 players remaining.

I still didn't feel like hanging around to see how things turned out.


The 2nd MTT took place at a poker room that I have only frequented on 1 other occasion (for a $500+$50 NLHE tourney that I have written about before). It was a $100+$25 NLHE with a single $100 rebuy. Top 10 get paid.

I busted very early in level 5, something like 90th/136. Yuck. However, I actually like this tournament more than my regular tourney since the blinds go up a little slower. It is a much much longer drive to this poker room, so I'm not sure how often I will come.

I had the pleasure of starting at table 12 of 12. It happened to be a pai gow table; smaller and shaped differently than a poker kidney bean table. On the very first hand, the dealer dealt a card that flew right off the table. Nice job.
The table had 1 donk and 7 rocks. Relatively speaking, an awful starting table, since the blinds are insignificant in the first few levels. The table was broken down just after the start of the 3rd level.
My next table, #7, was much better. I had a big chip leader on my immediate right. (Starting chips were $1kT, and the single rebuy was for $1.5kT) He had around $10kT at the end of the 3rd level. He seemed like a reasonable player, though I'm pretty sure than most of those chips were practically gifted to him. (at least I observed the last $2kT that was gifted to him when his opponent called off his last $2kT with QQ on the turn and river on a AKxxx board after only putting in ~$400T preflop)
I couldn't get much going. I tried open stealing in MP+2 for 3BB with only 12BB left, but folded to an all in push behind me.
In the 2nd seat to my right was a big donk who kept overbetting the pot. Waah, waah.. Here is my bustout hand: Donk pushes all in for 18BB UTG, fold, I call all in for 7BB with KK, everyone folds. Donk's KTo rivers a straight. Heehaw



One big difference about this poker room is that they spread NLHE ring games. I sat down in their smallest game for about 6 hours, and did fairly well. The structure is a little odd:
The buyin is $100 max, $40? min; button posts a live $1, SB $1, BB $2. It costs $4 to open. The time charge is a stiff $6/30 minutes.

I think I averaged about +$100/hr in this game (my tracking was a little messy because I also played some $6/$12 and $9/$18 while waiting for a seat in the NL game).

The hard part of this game seems to be building up a decent size stack. $100 means only 25BB. That is very little room to maneuver. I actually burned through almost 2 buyins before doubling up the first time.

Boy this game was a huge donk fest. The player on my immediate right told me shortly after I sat down that he was already stuck 11 buy-ins. I wasn't sure if he was serious, but it didn't take long for me to believe him.
(For example, during the 4th hour, I lost a 80BB pot to this gentleman when he called my all in on the flop for his remaining 30BB when his underpair hit a set on the river to crush my overpair)

I made an incredibly stupid mistake at about the 2 hour mark when I tried to bluff a calling station on the turn for $50. At least this was the only known major mistake I made this weekend. The only other thing I recall that I wish I hadn't done was to overtip ($3) on a very large pot when my set held up.

After I had over 75BB, the game was interesting and enjoyable for me. There were 2 people with much larger stacks, and 2-3 people with comparable stacks.

I had a table image of a tight player when the following hand occured during my 4th hour. In the past hour, I have shown down some hands where I had very good but vulnerable hands on the flop that I had protected by very large bets or raises.

I dunno about my preflop play on this hand, but it was a fun hand. You tell me how much of a donk I am here.

I had not played a hand for about 1.5 orbits.
I only recalls my chip stack was ~120BB, and BB has a comparable, perhaps slightly larger, chip stack. (BB had this large stack right from the start of my session)

hand #1 (9 seated, $1/$1/$2 live NLHE)
- preflop: fold, calling station limps, loose passive limps, new player limps, I look down and find KsQc in the CO. My right hand grabbed a stack of chips and had already started to move forward when I decided I did not want to raise and ended up limping. folded to SB who completes. BB raises to $13. Everyone calls. (6 players, ~20BB pot)
- flop: QdJh9d: SB checks, BB bets 5BB, calling station calls, fold, fold. I raise to 20BB, and all fold.

The BB has been playing extremely consistently for the last 4 hours, so I am 100% sure he has one of two hands: AQ(s or o) or AJs. He would have raised much more preflop with any PP JJ or higher, and he would not have made the small flop bet with TT or 99. He would have checked AK vs 5 opponents and this board. 8 ways for AQ and 3 ways for AJs, so I'm beat more than 70% of the time.

However, from my perspective this is one of those situations that DoubleAs talks about whereby I can apply maximum pressure at this exact situation with an exactly known amount of risk to myself (namely, my 20BB is the absolute last money I will put into this pot). If BB continues in this spot, he will have to assume that he is committing his entire stack.

I know that BB thinks and observes enough that I can represent QJ or 99.

My primary risk is SB, who I had mistakenly ignored, but SB has a fairly small stack. Thankfully, SB folded quickly.

BB thought for more than 1 minute, and openly muttered that I had made 2 pair before mucking. I'm 100% sure that he had AQ and that he expected me to put him all in on the turn if an A or 9 did not come. I believe calling station mucked because of what BB said.

I really didn't want to leave when I did because Mr. "I'm stuck 11 buyins" (actually by that point it was more like 18 buyins), had just doubled up to about 100 BB. However, without going into specifics, I felt compelled to leave because my plan had originally been to only play in the tournament before heading back home.