Sunday, April 30, 2006

Cause for alarm...

Today I approached the fine line that divides the recreational online poker player and the degenerate online poker player....and crossed over. Yes, I did in fact relieve myself in a empty bottle.

No need for elaborate excuses (although they are available); I never imagined this day would come, but I suppose my priorities have shifted somewhat. Disturbing, but interesting....

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"Luck is when preparation meets opportunity"

Roman dramatist, philosopher, & politician (5 BC - 65 AD)
The above is a pretty cheesy quote, however I am a big believer in preparation and training. Event #1 of the 2006 WSOP is a mere 69 days away. The Main Event kicks off in 101 days. The clock is ticking. . . . . .

What type of preparation can and should be done in those days?

A very obvious area that needs substantial hours of work is limit mixed games (for the HORSE event). The danger though is that this could become a big black hole of time since there is just so much to learn. The law of diminishing returns will take effect at some point, but it is hard to predict if this happens after 50 hours, 100 hours, 200 hours....
i) studying the poker literature, with a particular focus on "7 card stud for Advanced Players" (no more reading fiction novels!)
ii) practice remembering other player's hands for stud games (both online and live; online for the convenience, but plenty of live practice is needed because of the additional need to remember your own hole cards)
iii) become very adept at calculating pot equity based on my outs vs. the number of exposed cards (an additional habit completely unnecessary in games with community cards, like hold'em)
iv) plenty of ring game experience with postgame analysis done on interesting hands (a Vegas trip might need to be thrown in to get some actual live experience in these types of games at non-trivial stakes)

Two other major areas related to stamina that will receive substantial time investment are: v) physical fitness training/healthly lifestyle and vi) practice concentrating for longer periods of time.

v) daily exercise (particularly cardio), better sleep habits (sufficient sleep at regular times), better diet (less fat and salt, more fruits and veggies), drinking more water, ginko biloba? (So long free radicals!)
vi) partake in lengthy (10-12 hour) live game sessions

I think (vi) is important because I've actually had very very little experience in playing live for prolonged periods of time, and the times that I have were plagued with plenty of terrible decisions in the later hours (e.g. both of my WPT events). Probably (v) will actually have a bigger effect, but somehow I think it will be good to practice (vi). (vi) could be started in a few weeks time to allow the benefits of (v) to kick in.

vii) more practice in deep stack NL tournaments, such as the Stars Deep stack tournaments. (this was an area that I talked about earlier in the year, but never followed through on) Additionally, I will continue to play supers for $10k events like FTP's Winners Choice or Interpoker's LOQ, with the intention of using the entry for WPT Mirage or WPT Mandalay Bay.
Another outlet for practice might be the $30 NLHE rebuys on Party. The number of chips in play becomes quite substantial due to the crazy first hour play, but also because of the rebuy bug abuse.


On a slightly different note, I've been reflecting a bit on how crazy things have been lately.

The last month or so has been quite a thrill ride in MTT/supers. For example, at some point in each event I have had at least $5k in real tournament equity in 6 different MTTs/supers and double this number with at least $1k of equity. This implies I was involved in a fair number of hands that had close to a 5 figure outcome. That is just sick. I don't know if I want to be able to become desensitized to such things, but I do know that I am very affected by these swings. I suppose I will either get used to it, or else become prematurally grey or bald or both.

In limit ring games, my swings were in the +/- 200BB ranges at some of the higher stakes I have played at ($10/$20->$15/$30 online and $20/$40->$40/$80 live). The difference was that these swings came over a longer period of time; hours or days, not seconds.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


I mean, YEEHAW. I took down the $1000+$50 WSOP super today at Interpoker for their $15k WSOP ME package. It is an awesome relief to "get this out of the way".

Here's hoping to paying mucho mucho taxes in 2006....

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bad Limit Hold'em decisions

In my last live $20/$40 LHE session, I made the worst possible mistake that can be made in Limit Hold'em....twice in the same orbit. I'll list them both here because I need a reminder to stop being such a weak-tight-passive retard. My preflop decisions are debatable, but the substantially dominating factor in both hands is that the cost of seeing the showdown is well defined.

First I should try to define my mental state prior to these two hands. In the only 3 hands I had been involved in during the previous 30 minutes I missed a very good opportunity to bluff at a 4.5 big bet pot on the river in a 3 way hand (Hero was in 1st pos, pfr was on my left: protected pot) and was outdrawn twice in ~5BB pots by the Donk on my immediate right. My confidence level was somewhat deflated at the start of these hands, and significantly impacted after hand #1.

hand #1
8 seated $20/$40 LHE
Villain #1: very large preflop limping range, plays draws very aggressively on the flop, very often slow plays the flop with hands like a set even on coordinated boards
Villain #2: fairly aggressive postflop, but slows down in the face of extreme aggression even with hands as good as bottom set
- preflop: Hero limps UTG w AcJs, fold, fold, Villain #1 calls, Villain #2 calls in CO, button calls, SB completes, BB checks (6 players, 6 small bets)
- flop: 2c5cJd, blinds check, Hero bets, V#1 raises, V#2 3-bets, folded back to Hero, Hero calls, V#1 caps, both call. (3 players, 18 small bets)
- turn: 2c5cJd6s, Hero checks, V#1 bets, V#2 quickly calls, Hero calls (3 players, 12 big bets)
- river: 2c5cJd6s3d, Hero checks, V#1 bets, V#2 very reluctantly calls, Hero mucks (final pot 14 big bets) V#1 shows QJo, V#2 takes the pot with KJo

hand #2
9 seated $20/$40 LHE (4 hands after hand #1)
Villain #3: appears to be a LAG, but I have yet to seen him get too out of line
Villain #4: has a very large preflop calling range, but generally has a good sense of where he stands in the hand postflop. Capable of tricky plays, but may be on a mild case of tilt from a couple of bad beats
- preflop: fold, fold, V#3 raises, fold, big Donk calls in the hi-jack, Hero 3 bets in CO w AsJs, button and SB fold, V#4 calls in BB, V#3 and Donk just call. (4 players, 12.5 small bets)
- flop: 3c9dJd, check, V#3 bets, Donk folds, Hero raises, V#4 calls, V#3 calls (3 players, 18.5 small bets)
- turn:3c9dJd7s, V#4 bets (and has 0.75BB remaining), V#3 raises (both V#3 and Hero are very deep), Hero mucks, V#4 calls all in. (2 players, 12.5 big bets)
- river: 3c9dJd7s? (brick). V#4 shows QJo, V#3 mucks.

The first hand wouldn't have been so bad if I had mucked on the turn (although I'd still be pretty sick). The player on my left is taking the lead, so probably 80+% of the time I will only need to call 1 bet on the river closing the action to showdown in a big pot. Additionally, I've played enough with Villain #2 to know that he calls much faster on the river with any hand that beats me.

I honestly think that given the information available at the time it was possible to deduce that a very significant % of the time I am at worst chopping the pot with one or both Villains.

To make matters worse, I foolishly admitted to mucking the best hand, yet another -EV decision. A terrible, terrible metagame slip up.

The second hand is slightly less bad than the first, although still incredibly weak. I was too flustered to comprehend the reasoning of Villain #4's turn bet. My current thoughts are that he had a hand like JT and was conscious that he had less than 2 big bets remaining that were going to put in the pot no matter what, and he bet on the possibility that I raised the flop on a flush draw.
At any rate, it is very straightforward that I will be paying exactly 3 big bets to see the showdown on a 12.5+1=13.5 big bet pot. Given the uncertainty of Villain #2's range and the pot odds, this is a simple calldown.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Interesting hand from my last live session. It is a classic small stakes hold'em hand. I am unfamilar with all players except for the BB (LAGgy) and the player on my right (Loose passive) (MP+2). Button appears to me to play very "tight and solid" (not a compliment). This was a $20/$40 game, as the $40/$80 looked tough, and I'm practicing good game selection. :P

Any comments or criticisms are welcome.

hand #1
Live $20/$40 LHE 9 seated
- preflop: 2 folds, MP+1 limps, MP+2 limps, Hero calls with JhTh, CO calls, Button raises, 4 calls, Hero re-raises, call, Button caps its, blinds calls, MP+1 folds, everyone else calls. (6 players, 26 small bets)
- flop: 8h8s9h, checked to Hero who bets, all call back to MP+2 who check raises, all call (6 players, 38 small bets)
- turn: 8h8s9h9s, SB bets, BB mucks, MP+2 calls, Hero calls, CO mucks, Button calls (4 players, 23 big bets)
- river: 8h8s9h9sKc, checked around, SB shows 9dTd, MP+2 shows Ac8c, muck, muck.

Preflop is standard with my average pot equity in what is likely to be a 7 handed flop. I can easily get away from my hand if I miss, and won't get too married to my hand with something like top pair. Button I put on KK+ preflop, but based on some later comments after the hand was over, I believe the range was actually JJ+, with JJ being the most likely hand.

On the flop, I bet with the intention of 3 betting the button's overpair. MP+2 loves to play Axs, and I was almost certain he was playing A8s when he revealed his strength (I would have a hard time paying off if an Ah hit on the river since there will almost certainly be people behind me given our positions and the pot size; I'd probably call a bet from MP+2 and fold to a raise from button). I did not put MP+2 on a boat or better since he would have waited for the turn. It was a mistake to not 3 bet the flop (assuming that the majority of the field would continue in the hand given the huge pot size). According to PokerStove, my pot equity is in the high 30s+ regardless of whether the button has KK+, QQ+, or JJ+ (ironically the looser the hand range for the button, the lower my pot equity since Qs represent a decent portion of my "outs").
At the time, I did not 3 bet because I did not have a clear enough picture on which PP button had with me out of position. The button's smooth call of my bet confused me. I wasn't sure if it meant the button had JJ/QQ and was worried about my potential overpair, or if the button had KK/AA and was waiting until the turn to make the field face 2 big bets.

On the turn, I'm down to 2 outs, but have an easy call. (although I hollywooded for 20 seconds to disguise my hand if a 7h hit on the river)

On the river, it sucks when you can't beat the board.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Spinning my wheels, but swinging for the fence


I currently have no juicy online promotions influencing me to play online limit ring games . As a change of pace, the last few days have been devoted primarily to live play and online MTTs and supers. The live limit ring games continue to go well, and to balance things out nicely the MTTs and supers ran for a big goose egg. The grand total for the last 3 days of work is an uninspiring -$50. (Net investments in securing a WSOP ME seat now exceed -$850)

The $216 FTP WSOP super last night was kind of fun. During the course of the MTT, I was seated with Andy Bloch, savemyskin (Chris Fargis), TheDonator (a highly ranked online MTT player), and a goodly number of loose passives and weak tights. I busted in the low teens and TheDonator bubbled in 3rd (the 2 seat guarantee was exactly met with 120 entrants). This was the 2nd time I have run this event, and the field was very soft on both occasions. I'll continue to play this event if I don't win a seat elsewhere.

Game choices for the short term

I've made some decisions on my game play for the next few months that deviate from recent strategy. In a nutshell, I plan to de-emphasize steady bankroll growth and variance minimization. My tolerance for going broke is increased. To quantify this, I would say that a tolerable risk of ruin in the next 12 months is 30%.

Over the last 4 months, I've entered an average of ~15 $100+ buyin MTTs or Supers per month. Until the WSOP, I plan to increase my entry rate into these class of events substantially. The schedule will be designed such that I will enter 60/month with the expectation that the actual number will be considerably less (40-50) either due to making it very deep in some events (and not wanting to start any additional events simultaneously) or missing some scheduled events due to busyness in my non-poker life. Satellites to big buy in events will represent a good 20-25% of the MTTs.

The ratio of live/online play will be maintained (to sustain/improve live play skills), and as such, time allocated for exclusively multitabling online ring games will be substantially reduced. I will still be playing 1 or 2 tables of 6max limit games during the early stages of MTTs, but I imagine the total number of online LHE ring game hands played per month will decrease by half.

Additionally, I intend to move up sooner than planned from playing $10/$20 6max to $15/$30 6max. My understanding is that the quality of play is comparable at both levels, so the difference (after adjusting for the 2/3 SB structure) is just in the stakes.

I intend to follow this plan, but will reevaluate if my results hit a combination equivalent to -50 MTT buyins and -300BB ring game loses.

Much of the motivation for making a strategic change is related to an increasing likelihood of staying at my day job for the forseeable future.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Thinking for myself...

is not one of my strongest fortes.

On the subject of the current and future state of poker, I really don't know what to think. Being unknowledgable about the majority of the concrete facts related to the health of the poker industry, I am restricted to guessing about the medium term future of poker through ancedotal information and the opinions of others.

My descriptions of even just the current state of poker would be like the tale of the 6 blind men describing an elephant taken to an extreme. Additionally, the poker world is a gradual but ever changing beast.

Mike May's latest blog about the state of the poker industry sounds reasonable and is something I would like to believe.

As usual, I just can't think for myself.

Monday, April 03, 2006

March recap

During March, my primary online game transitioned to $10/$20 LHE 6max, and my primary live game became $40/$80 LHE full. The most noticible impact of these changes was that the number of sessions with a swing in excess of $1k was almost three times higher than any month to date. My desensitization process for swings of this magnitude is still underway and it may take a couple more months to get past this.

I am very happy with my progress in the $10/$20 6max game over the last 2 weeks. I am getting very comfortable with 3 tabling, and can manage 4 if I am well rested. The two most significant areas of improvement have been:
1) decreased tendency to tilt
2) speed of recognition that I am tilting, and immediately decreasing the number of tables played (in some cases to 0) until my mental state has recovered

#2 is undoubtably the most important "good" habit I have picked up this year.

Other less important improvements have come from:
3) improved preflop hand selection based on position and opponent types
4) slightly improved discipline in game selection (my buddy list at Party is getting very very long...)

With my new "skills" at $10/$20 6max, I have only a small amount of data (less than 5k hands). My hope is that my winrate is above +2BB/100h when 3 tabling and ~+2BB/100h when 4 tabling. Time will tell.

The other significant area that kicked off in March was the 2006 WSOP qualifiers. To date, my net investments in WSOP ME supers is ~$600 (when taking into account booby prizes when reaching the money but not getting a seat). I final tabled 3 times without winning a seat. Those 3 final tables awarded a combined total of 13 ME seats! Just sickening, but I take it as a sign that my chances are decent for winning an ME seat.

I was able to luckbox my way into a $50,000 HORSE seat in a Party freeroll earlier in the month. Assuming I can obtain a ME seat, I am considering taking 3 weeks off from my day job, and entering up to 10 events.
10 events sounds like a lot, but it includes all those el-cheapo $1k and $1.5k events after the ME starts. Basically, I would need to get knocked out of each event quickly enough to enter the following day's event.

In the end, I'll probably end up playing in only 1 event, but it is nice to dream.

One tool that I have found very helpful in doing efficient postgame analysis, is the autoreplay of hands in Poker Tracker. I usually set the playback speed fairly high, and interrupt and rewind for any interesting hands.

In regards to 10/20 6max statistics, my Fold BB to Steal is a tad high. ~65%. I'll need to do more research on blind defense to get that down a few points. That will basically work out to defending my BB about 2-3 additional times per hour when 3 tabling, so it shouldn't be a significant adjustment.