Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An amusing read

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

Mixed games

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Online shuffle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I am not a poker player

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

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

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

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


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

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

Friday, November 25, 2005

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

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

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

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

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

Thanksgiving death march

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

again and again and again

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

close but no cigar

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

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

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

Monday, November 21, 2005

A silly first for me

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

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

The play of the hand is very straightforward.

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

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

Woohoo, I feel like I finally popped my cherry.


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

Grinding on...

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

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

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

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bad Beat Jackpot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Put up or shut up

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Some changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

some hand histories:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foxwoods trip report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, November 10, 2005


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

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

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


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

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

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

click click

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

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

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

lateness dictating the schedule...

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Marginal day

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

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

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

Monday, November 07, 2005

Healthy mind, healthy body, health soul?

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Friday, November 04, 2005

Timing is everything

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Don't be so smug you donk

After running fairly bad in mid October in the live $20/$40 game, I've had a number of consecutive sessions that ranged from break even to great results; i.e. monotonically increasing bankroll :P. The first few of those sessions I think I was making good decisions in marginal situations.

During my most recent session I sitting around feeling very happy. I was smiling and joking around since I was having a great session. However, I made several incorrect decisions in marginal situations. I didn't think too much about it at the time and just continued to sit around in my Homer Simpson-like state.

This was in a live game where I had time to think about how the action went, and because of the slow pace of play, I can still remember most hands after the session is over. Whenever I am having a bad session, I am immediately reviewing in excruciating detail what I (think I) did right and wrong. It should make no difference if I am having a good or bad session. I wonder how often this kind of thing is happening in my online play. I should go back and review my "good" online sessions. I should, but I probably won't. But I should.....

Hmmm, my discipline is increasingly becoming questionable. So much for trying to work on my psychological game.

I made (at least) 3BB of mistakes today, and those 3BB are gone. Gone forever.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Online Satellites

I've been playing online rebuy satellites for the last 4 days; namely $20, $27, $33 satellites, and $2, $3 qualifiers at Stars and Dise. So far, I've played somewhere between 15-20 of these.

I see a number of "name" online players in these events. So far, I've been at the same table as 5 players from PocketFive's tournament ranking list. I am not surprised that the players that win a large number of packages play in a ~lot~ of satellites. I suspect their success is not only because of quality but quantity as well.

I've become comfortable in 6-8 tabling a mix of games; 1-3 NL satellites with 4-5 small stakes limit ring games. In the past, I've disliked mixing Limit and No-Limit at the same time, but I don't think it is a big deal anymore. If I am in decent shape by the late 3rd hour of a sat, I will substantially cut down on the multitabling.

Some thoughts
1) I always rebuy on hand #1, and am willing to rebuy anytime I am permitted to during the first half hour. I will do an add-on if I am below average. I will likely not rebuy in the last couple of levels of the 1st hour.

2) During the second hour when I have no larger than 1.5x the average stack, I am perfectly content to jam (preflop or on the flop) in any situation that I strongly suspect I will successfully get my money in headsup in a coin flip (or better). You don't need to desperately search for these situations as they are very abundant given the loose play in these sats. My reasoning is that a large percentage of the big stacks are playing very loose and aggressive, so I am willing to take even money situations (at that stage of the sat) to build a stack that is capable of becoming a monster stack.

3) A monster stack is overrated. :P In these satellites anyway. Don't count on using the stack to push too many people around until fairly late in the sat. In these events, it seems to me that the benefits of a monster stack is mainly that you can be more conservative against small and average stacks (in that you don't have to get involved with them without a pretty strong hand), and you can see more flops againist other huge stacks with speculative hands. I think these things are true given the amount of time I have available to pay attention to a particular satellite. It would probably make more difference if I was dedicating 100% of my attention to just one table.

4) I need to better incorporate re-steals into my repetoire during the 3rd hour.

5) The 12 minute levels at Paradise (for these buy in levels) make for noticibly more short stack play during the mid and late levels when compared to the 15 minute levels at Stars.

6) I like to keep the tournament lobby windows handy (to keep track of the blinds, number of players, time to next level, etc), so it gets harder to multitable if playing 3 tournaments. I wonder if I should get another video card so that I can use a 3rd monitor.

That is all I can think of for now. Perhaps I will have more thoughts after sitting through a few more of these.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

October update

October was quite a rollercoaster ride. I started the month by cashing fairly high at a live NL tourney. Cash games were respectable, though not great. In the middle 2 weeks of the month, I busted out of 3 substantially large tournaments without cashing (I had been hoping my tournament EV from these 3 events would be in the range of $6-9k, so this was a disappointment. and yes I know I am cocky). My cash games really went south.... really, really south. The last weekend of the month, I invested a substantial amount of effort in playing in satellite tournaments with very favorable results. Cash game results were steady in the last week.

Overall, results-wise it was a decent month.

My online bankroll is sufficiently funded to safely play $15/$30 (which was a goal I had in August), and my live bankroll is sufficiently funded to safely play $20/$40. For online ring games, I will continue to play almost exclusively $3/$6 6 max and $3/$6 10 max until I have sufficient data accumulated to statistically (with 95% confidence) demonstrate that I am a winning player.
0.95 CI lower bound $3/$6 6max: -2.64BB/100h over 11k hands
0.95 CI lower bound $3/$6 10max: -0.52BB/100h over 27k hands

I will attempt to grind out a large number of hands at Party in November to have some reasonable VIP status there (I will definitely have enough Party points to make it to Silver on 1/1/06, but it is unlikely that I will have the legs to make it to Gold). For live ring games, $20/$40 will continue to be my game of choice. I will occasionally take a shot at $30/$60 (when available) and $40/$80, particular when the game looks good.

Investment-wise, I purchased a 3rd Dell 2001FP so that I could use a 2nd one with my home PC (the other is in the office) and a new set of headphones (Sony MDR-V600). I purchased 4 more poker/gambling related books, and I will shortly be purchasing the released version of PokerAce HUD. I did not make any additional financial commitments for any new poker-related trips (although I already booked the expenses for my Foxwoods and December Vegas trips in September). I don't anticipate any substantial upcoming poker expenses, so I have a choice as to what to do with any near term earnings. I can either take some cash out of the poker bankroll or perhaps try to build up the live bankroll for higher levels.

On the learning front, I've tried to branch out and learn 2-7 Triple Draw and Omaha H/L. I am still a newbie, but I hope to put in an additional 15-20 table hours in November plus whatever reading I can squeeze in. My goal on the learning front is to be capable of playing in the Wynn $10/$20 mixed game on my December Vegas trip.

Satellite Update:
I only budgeted $3k for satellite entries for the next 3 months, but in typical donkey fashion, I went crazy in the first 48 hours and spent $627 of the budget (as well as 1000FPPoints at Stars, but hey, those don't count right??). At this rate, the budget won't last through the end of the year.

$ spent: $627
$ returned to general poker bankroll: $2150
Net W$ or $T: W$650
Other: $10k Bay 101 seat