Thursday, March 30, 2006

Virgin Stud

I played my absolutely first session of live 7 Card Stud (Hi) today. The only game running was a $4/$8 limit game with $1 ante and $1 bring in.

Probably no one will be interested to read this hand, but I'm posting it for myself so that I can come back and read my thoughts after gaining more experience. As this is a new game for me, I expect that there will be a large percentage of hands that will require postgame analysis. However, I don't even know how to write a hand history for Stud!

This hand occured fairly early in the session, and I had yet to see 4th street. In the meantime I had been asking the dealer quite a number of Stud rules questions. 3s has already busted twice and each time had done a short buy of $40. I had a very large stack of chips that I had brought over from an Omaha8 game and not bothered to cash out. 7s has a large number of stacks in front of him and seems like a decent player. 5s also seemed like a decent player.

hand #1
8 handed 7CS (Hi only), Hero is in the 8s.
- 3rd st:
1s: XX-2h
2s: XX-Th
3s: XX-Qc
4s: XX-Jh
5s: XX-Kd
6s: XX-Jd
7s: XX-3h
Hero is dealt 4s6s-2d, and brings it in for $1, muck, muck, 3s completes, call, call, muck, call, Hero calls (5 players, 7 small bets)
- 4th st:
3s: XX-Qc7h
4s: XX-Jh2c
5s: XX-Kd9c
7s: XX-3h5d
Hero: 4s6s-2d5s, and it is checked around (5 players, 7 small bets)
- 5th st:
3s: XX-Qc4hTd
4s: XX-Jh2cTc
5s: XX-Kd9c?
7s: XX-3h5d5c
Hero: 4s6s-2d5s7c
7s bets, (3s starts to call), Hero raises, all fold. (final pot 6.5 big bets)

After I raised, 3s went in the tank and eventually commented that I was raising with 257 offsuit? I replied that I have no idea what I'm doing and my plan was to get everyone to fold. After thinking another 30 seconds, 3s mucked and everyone else turbo mucked behind him.

I have no idea how bad or how good my 5th street play is, but my understanding is that aggression is important in limit poker.
- At the time, my goal was to win the hand without a showdown. If I get headsup with 7s, I will bet all the way unless 7s visibly improves on 6th st (and I do not). I will have position on 7s the vast majority of the time for the remainder of the hand.
- What is the value of my hand here? My 3 flush is completely live (but it is 5th st already), only 1 of my OESD cards is out. A 6 or 7 might improve me to best hand.
- What hands could my opponents think I am representing? I assume I am representing 2 pair or a set.
- The pot size seems to be right at that marginal size that it is big enough to semibluff, and yet not so big that I'd get too many callers
- What should I do if 7s (re)raises me on 5th or 6th street?
--- On a 5th street 3 bet, I would 4 bet and take a free card unimproved on 6th street. If 7s bet out on 6th street, I would muck.
--- If 7s called on 5th street and CR'd 6th street, I would muck.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Keep It Simple Stupid

I started writing a summary of my poker happenings for the last week, but it just came out as a long drawn out version of a "results" post that appears on so many other blogs. Instead a summary:

online MTTs and Supers: I feel the need to puke
online ring games: I play goot
bonus whoring: meh
live play: nada


Completed my Party VIP bonus this week with ~plenty~ of time to spare. There is a whole 9 hours before the next (and finally last!!) week of the current promo, so this means I have some time to actually play some live Hold'em. Who knows, there might even be some interesting hands played. One can only hope. $40/$80 here I come!

Back from the live session. Playing 10 handed full ring is like watching paint dry. However, there was one fun hand.
I raised UTG with 2 black kings, and it is capped coming back to me. Flop comes KKQ rainbow. The dealer wasn't helpful enough to put an A or J or another Q out there, but it was still a nice pot anyways. When you are running goot you wish you were playing in bigger games...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Been really busy the last few days due to the day job, so no time to post. There were a couple of comments on my last post that I didn't have a chance to respond to. Sorry!


I managed to make a decent comeback from my downswing of late last week, although I am still substantially stuck for ring games this month.

On a new note, I am starting to learn how to play Stud 8. It is really quite interesting learning how to play a new game, and I am starting at the lowest limits - $0.50/$1.00 (reading Ray Zee's Hi Lo split poker book during hands that I muck) and will try to work my way up.

When I play limit hold'em, I might finish a session up or down a couple of thousand $, and all I can think about is 2 or 3 BB that I left on the table. My mentality is substantially different when playing a new game. I was tickled pink with my first +$30 session. God know how many mistakes I made, but 30BB wow! It has been a long time since I had that kind of thrill.
Stud 8 is quite a swingy game, and it is just so much fun jamming on 6th and 7th streets when you've got a lock on one side and quite possibly the best hand for the other side.

On the other hand, the rate of hands dealt for Stud 8 is dreadfully slow. At some points, I am thinking this has to be the slowest table on the site; yet when I go to the lobby and check the hands/hr, the table turns out to be the fastest one.....

Saturday, March 18, 2006

An interlude for results-oriented thinking...

I'm on day 3 of a notable multi-day downstreak. The mix of play has primarily consisted of $10/$20 online LHE 6max and $40/$80 live LHE full. There was also been some BP5/BP10 online LHE 6max and $20/$40 live LHE full thrown in there . The hit is in excess of -225BB.

This is the only time I am going to allow myself to dwell on results. After I click on the "Publish" button, those thoughts will leave my mind.

I'm even....right now.....

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Off to the races

Earlier today, I started on a more introspective post but never got around to finishing it.

Anyway, I got a couple of good night's sleep in a row, so tonight I'm off to the local poker room to play some $40/$80 LHE. Hope the donks are out tonight. If not, I'll drop into a surely good $20/$40 game.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Great WSOP stories...

I'm going to start off a post that will contain links to my favorite stories from the WSOP (any year). I'll update it from time to time whenever I come across a worthy one.

Here is the first one:

1. hand for hand


In some ways I could consider the last few weeks to be a miniview into what it would be like to be a professional small stakes grinder. The main driving influence into this mindset has been the Party VIP Acceler-8-tor promotion.

Comparatively speaking, the VIP promotion I received was a decent one for my play level. Assuming aggressive bonus clearing rates, I can clear my bonus obligations by consuming 1/2 of my "normal" poker time each week. The bonus is structed in a way that the I am heavily encouraged to hit a weekly target for 8 consecutive weeks. A significant portion of the bonus decreases exponentially for each week that the target is not met.

My original and current intention is to hit the target for all 8 weeks to max out the bonus.

The first week, I had no schedule conflicts or other distractions, and I was able to hit the weekly target by the 4th day.

The second week, the target was artificially reduced by Party due to the outages that occured during the major software upgrade of their site. Hence, I easily hit the weekly target by roughly the 4th day again.

During the third week, there were a number of other distractions - I played in the Bay 101 Shooting Stars, I went deep in an online MTT, as well as some other distractions in my personal life. As a result, I staggered to the finish late on the 7th night just barely making the cut.

This week, the 4th week, for various reasons I am again cutting it very close to the deadline. Additionally, I do feel rather weary about the prospect of putting in these hours. However, due to the bonus structure, my "bonus-only hourly rate" is approximately $300/hr and that is sufficient motivation to get the job done.

Baring any unexpected day-job or personal life emergencies, I'll get those table hours in, although I'm not particularly happy or excited about it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Dead money Inc.

In typical Party fashion, when the play in the WSOP freeroll got close to the bubble (20 spots get some kind of WSOP seat; 20->11 get a $2k seat, 10-2 get a $10k seat, 1st gets a $50k seat), several remaining players start asking what the prizes are. One player believed this was a satellite for a big online tournament. Another asked where the WSOP is. Others get into an argument about whether or not hotel expenses are included with any of the prizes (they are not). Pretty funny stuff considering it was more or less bubble time.

I was fortunate to be in good chip stack shape from 30 on down to the final table, so it was not that stressful because there were so many shorter stacks that were letting themselves get blinded off. Inside the bubble, someone at the other table convinced a player that expenses were included in the $2k prize, but not the $10k prizes, so that he deliberedly busted early. Good stuff.

There really did seem to be a considerable percentage of the players that were very concerned about the expense of attending the WSOP. Understandable I guess, particularly as some players were from outside the US.

When the final table was reached, the undecided question in my mind was whether or not to play for the $50k seat. I hadn't given the topic enough thought in advance because before the start of the freeroll it seemed like too ridiculous a subject to spend time thinking about. During the first half of the MTT, I was preoccupied with 2 tabling $10/$20 6 max, and during the later half I was giving my full attention to the play at the table. (okay, this is a lie. I was frequently punching numbers into a spreadsheet calculating things like my tournament equity; bad habit, I know...)

At least 3 of the final tablers (and perhaps 4), did decide that they absolutely did not want the $50k seat as they pushed early and often with absolute trash. When we were down to 6, it did seem like everyone else was playing for 1st. As I hadn't made any decision, I was purely in small stakes SNG autopilot mode. Somewhere along the way, I settled on the argument that with 4.5 months left, I would probably have more chances at a ME seat, but pretty unlikely to have another chance at a HORSE seat. At that moment I remember having 20% of the chips, so my "decision" didn't really mean that much because any edge that I might have had probably didn't mean I had any more than a 25% chance of taking first.
Anyway, long story short, I eke out the victory to claim the $50k HORSE seat.


In retrospect, dumping off for the $10k ME seat was the better thing to do from the $EV POV. Despite the 1/5 size of the buyin, I'm almost certainly more than 5x more likely to cash in a NLHE MTT than a high skill required HORSE event (granted my chances of cashing in the ME are also pretty slim).

From a poker/lifetime experience point of view, it will be quite a thrill to likely be playing at a table filled with poker greats. Talk about Dead Money. In the ME, you'd expect (and hope for) lots of table time with donk internet qualifiers.

From a logistics standpoint, it will be easier for me to schedule time off work to play in the 3 day HORSE event.

Which would you choose - ME or HORSE? and why?

Saturday, March 11, 2006


Um, I'm almost speechless.
Today I took first place in the Party WSOP freeroll. I'm going to be playing in the $50k HORSE WSOP event.

More later... when I can be coherent....

Friday, March 10, 2006

WSOP satellite season..

So who's got WSOP fever? I do, for one.

All the major sites have finally kicked off their promotions for the 2006 WSOP. FTP and Party both look pretty serious about increasing the number of players they qualify this year, with Party literally giving away close to $2m in absolutely free seats (no real money play of any kind required). Stars, which is the behemoth in WSOP Main Event (herein now and forever referred to as ME) qualifiers, doesn't appear to be doing anything special so far, though they will still be the site to beat in terms of qualifying numbers.

The question for any semi-serious recreational player is: How much time and money should be invested in WSOP satellites?

From the purely professional, cold hard EV calculating mentality, it can be strongly argued that the time can be better spent in playing MTTs (or ring games) strictly for cash. If you have the desire, skill and bankroll to play in a WSOP event, then just buy in for cash. This seems to make a lot of sense, especially if you factor in potential issues like: discounting the value of the package based on some probability that you will not bee able to attend for unforseen reasons, the possibility of unintentionally qualifying for an event twice at two different online sites (this is not as ridiculous as it sounds if a great deal of effort is put in without a great deal of care), the fact that playing in a $10k MTT may be ridiculously outside of your bankroll (which is the case for virtually all players), etc...

What? You say that you really have your heart set on playing in the WSOP, and you don't care about all of the above. I completely understand. I'm a WSOP virgin myself, and I fully intend to change that this year even if I have to creep into one of the el-cheapo $1-$1.5k events at the end (Events 40-45) because even a small fry like me is bankrolled for these puppies. (In fact, I would even argue that the fields for some of these events might be on the soft side since such a large percentage of the playing pool will be pretty burned out from the preceeding 6 weeks)

So what should your game plan be? It all depends on your skill, bankroll, and time available.

I don't know what my plans are yet. I do know that I was not satisfied with my execution last year.

In 2005, I spent approximately $800 and < 25 net hours in failed qualification attempts. (I use the term "net" hours, because I would proportionally discount the time when I was multitabling some ring games into the mix). $-wise the efforts were spent on $30+3 nightly Stars rebuys, and disproportionately $-wise, but proportionally time-wise, the remainder of the efforts were through Party's qualifiers and subqualifiers (not the STEPS).

The Vanity-smurf side of me wants to qualify for the ME, though the Brainy-smurf side pipes in about how ridiculous this is. At this point, Vanity-smurf is speaking with the louder voice.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Focus on improvement

I've decided to make a focused and concentrated effort on improving my game.

In terms of online play, this will involve decreasing my multitabling and spending table time at higher limits than I have generally been playing. For now, this means my primary game will be 2-tabling $10/$20 6 max. When conditions are right (well rested, prime time), I will take shots at 2-tabling $15/$30 6 max.

Playing fewer tables has been quite fun so far with the ability now to actually pay attention to player tendencies instead of relying so heavily on just 3 PT statistics. It is easier to choose situations where inducing a bluff is more profitable, when to take a free card, when to take a shot at a pot that no one else wants, etc... Multitabling too heavily results in too much playing on autopilot. You often miss out on substantial temporary environmental conditions such as when a player goes on tilt.

The most fun so far has been 4 handed or shorter games. I will certainly be tempted to try strictly headsup games when/if I can get most of the leaks out of my short handed game.

So far (I have been at this for about 5 days to date), the most significant thing I have noticed is that I do have a lot of leaks. Through the first 1500 hands, I'm running at a little less than +1BB/100 and I have been leaking somewhere in the range of 3-4BB/100. (This means I have actually been running well, but stupidly leaving a lot of money on the table) The worst leak is probably calling down after a turn raise from a passive postflop player with a good but not great hand.
Another situation that troubles me is 3 bet/calling the cap on the river when my flopped monster (set, straight, flush) has been devalued by the river. I need to strike a good balance here because I don't want to be too passive on river situations when some runner runner scare cards come in, especially when the river is headsup. Paying attention to player tendencies is important. (An example of this is the player that will always raise/check-raise the turn when he/she picks up a draw.)

Finally, another important aspect of my time allocation will be to invest a reasonable amount of time reading and studying short handed play, reviewing hands in PT, discussing hands, etc.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Knowing your "outs"

There was an amusing hand from a live $20/$40 LHE game I played today. In order to set the context more fairly, I'll give a history of the immediately preceeding hand. (I was not involved in the hand as I was waiting to post having just arrived at the table)

hand #1
9 seated live $20/$40 LHE
- preflop: UTG folds, Donk (who I have never seen before this hand) calls, MP raises, fold, MP+2 cold calls, folded back to the Donk who calls (3 players to the flop, pot size 7.5 small bets)
- flop: AsTc5s, Donk checks, MP bets, MP+2 raises, Donk calls 2 cold, MP calls. (3 players to the turn, pot size 13.5 small bets)
- turn: AsJc5s6s, check, check, MP+2 bets, call, call (3 players to the river, pot size 9.5 big bets)
- river: AsJc5s6s9s, check, MP bets, call, call. MP shows AQo no spade, MP+2 shows AKo no spade, Donk shows 2s2c for the winner.

Here is the hand I was involved in. (By the way, I suck big time. I need to learn how to count my "outs")

hand #2
9 seated live $20/$40 LHE
- preflop: Donk calls UTG, UTG+1 calls, fold, call, call, Hero checks his Qh6h, CO calls, button calls, SB completes, BB checks (8 players to the flop, pot size 8 small bets)
- flop: Th3c4d, checked around (8 players to the turn, pot size 8 small bets)
- turn: Th3c4d5h, blinds check, Donk bets (tight player in the BB says "are you sure?"), fold, MP+1 calls, MP+2 calls, Hero raises, (BB and Donk cry out excitedly and BB says "see you should't bet here without the nuts..."), folded back to Donk who shrugs and calls, MP+1 folds, MP+2 calls. (3 players to the river, pot size 10 big bets)
- river: Th3c4d5h5c, Donk checks, MP+2 checks, Hero (aka Donk #2) surrenders like a frightened little child and checks behind.
Donk very reluctantly tables Kh8h (in fact he almost threw the hand directly in the muck), MP+2 mucks, Hero mucks. MP+1 exclaims he mucked a 5.

I raised on the turn because the pot was big and I wanted to buy my Q outs. (BTW, I did overhear BB say that he mucked his QJ on the turn). Shortsightedly, I imagined my outs were any 2,7 or Q or any heart. Little did I realize how mistaken I was in what my outs were for this hand.

I know that I am supposed to bet this river when I miss and it is checked to me, but I just didn't have the heart after watching the previous hand. Boo!

It is unethical, but I suppose I could have angle shot and started to pick up my chips to see if the 2 opponents would muck. This does happen fairly often in this game.

Friday, March 03, 2006


In my two years of playing poker, I've never outright won a multitable cash tournament; neither live nor online. I've chopped three ways in a midstakes live MTT, I've won a couple of WPT satellites, and I've final tabled at many different stakes both live and online. However, I just can't close the deal.

Last night, in keeping up with this tradition, I finished 2nd in the Party $100+9. I made an ugly mistake when we were down to 3 handed... when will I learn?

One of these days I'm going to put all the pieces together and get there....

The ugly details:

- Going into 3 handed, I had 67% of the chips. Both opponents had equal stacks. There are about 68x bb in play; I have ~43x bb and they have ~12.5x bb each.
- On the 3rd hand of 3 handed play, the button folds, I find A4o in the SB. BB who has given me his blinds on 100% of my steals (there probably have been more than 15 orbits at the final table), and has otherwise only reraised me 2 times (both all in) on the button; both times showing JJ. He has just less than 12x bb, and I retardedly push all in. He insta calls with AKo and no suckout occurs.

There is absolutely no reason for me to raise anything more than 3x bb. BB has been playing completely predictably where he folds over 90% of his hands and reraises all in otherwise. 3x bb is the correct amount to raise regardless of if I have 72o or AA. BB's actions easily define my behavior, as he will only play a hand that has A4o crushed. Even with BB having a stack as low as 9xbb, my strategy should be the same. I risked ~9x bb (aka 13% of all chips) with absolutely nothing to gain.

This mistake cost a substantial portion of the $4k diff between 1st and 2nd as it stopped me from being able to continue to run over the table; time to add another entry in my "MTT Notes to self..."