Wednesday, May 30, 2007 laid plans...

often go awry...

I'm leaving for Vegas in less than 48 hours. My original plan included playing in Saturday's event #3 (the $1.5k NLHE large field televised event). The last few days have thrown a wrench in those plans as I have not been able to sleep for the last few days (averaging less than 3 hours of sleep per night). Due to travel plans and scheduling, tonight will be deciding factor. If I can get in a good solid night's rest, I intend to register for event #3 when I arrive on Friday. Otherwise, I will utilize the time to rest and put in some cash game hours. (I may bank some hours in at the Wynn to take advantage of the $100k freeroll)

I'm about 75% sure (mostly depending on availability - either due to being still in an MTT or exhausted from cash game or more likely lack of sleep), I'll enroll in the split pot bracelet events (events 5 and 9). I will likely pass on the NLHE rebuy event.

The over/under for the number of WSOP events I'll play on this particular trip is 3.

I sincerely hope that my game/MTT selection stays level headed during the trip and that I don't start making very bad meta-choices due to exhaustion or tilt. I imagine, from an EV perspective, this will be the most significant factor for this trip....

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Some equity notes

Note: There is really no point to this post. I just wrote it up because there was a situation I was surprised about after doing an analysis. I tend to remember things better when I write them out.

I think that as I've recently started devoting a portion of my playing time to short stacking (to diversify the income streams), I'm starting to spend more time thinking about preflop equity situations. I never seriously put a lot of effort into developing my SNG skills, and guessing vs. calculating ICM numbers is surely more non-intuitive. However, I think that while shortstacking, I'll be running into far more multiway preflop equity scenarios than in an SNG.


So I'm shortstacking small stakes NL tonight when a simple hand came up:

3-4 limpers, Hero jams for 20xbb with JJ and gets called in 3 spots. The respective calling hands are QJs, AKo, and 75o. All callers have Hero covered.

I was curious about my equity in this situation, so I ran poker stove.
JJ - 24.385% or 19.5bb
QJs- 23.926% or 19.1bb
AKo - 34.325% or 27.5bb
75o - 17.364% or 13.9bb

Unfortunately, it turns out that the middle pair (JJ) is losing about 1/2 of a bb in Sklansky bucks in this type of situation. Yuck!

My immediate, but incorrect, feeling was that middle pair's equity was hurt by the over-overcall.
However, here is the 3-way equity:
JJ - 33.391% or 20.0bb
QJs - 26.164% or 15.7bb
AKo - 40.445% or 24.3bb

As you can see, middle pair's equity is almost unchanged by 75o's over-overcall (but variance increases by about 25%). The other two hands benefit almost equally by 75's awful call. (Although QJs gains just slightly more, which is not surprising since it has more drawing potential).

Friday, May 25, 2007

Amusing bad beat story

I was sitting next to a player from Minnesota today in my local $20/$40 LHE game. The nice gentleman told me about a hand from Cantebury Park that is easily the worst bad beat story, in relative terms, that I have ever heard about in LHE.

hand #1
$8/$16 LHE Jackpot table (Jackpot is $80k, Aces full or better beaten where both cards must play in both hands and an Aces full hand requires the holder to have at least one Ace, 50% goes to loser, 25% goes to winner, remainder of players at the table split the last 25%)
There is a 5 bet/street cap in this cardroom. I don't know the position of the players or the sequence of bets, but it is not important.
preflop: betting is capped preflop with at least 3 players who hold the hands AA, KK, and 77.
flop: AKK, the betting is capped, and at least those 3 players continue in the hand
turn: AKK7, some action
river: AKK77, some more action

The AA player has over $39k of equity on the flop. Mister 77 has about $2.5k of equity.

To put things in perspective, a 300BB bankroll for $8/$16 is $4800. The number of Sklansky bucks that AA lost is 7.6x a full bankroll (almost 2300BB). positively sick!

Friday, May 18, 2007


This is a link to the blog of Mike Watson (a.k.a. SirWatts), an up and coming player who has really blossomed over the last 12-18 months.

He is also from my home town, St. John's, and my alma mater, University of Waterloo.

Seems like he is occasionally fading the variance of $200/$400NL. Sick!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Deer in the headlights

This is a hand that I recently messed up on. I think the root cause of my problem is that I didn't take enough time to think through my plan on the turn when I am raised.

The end result of the hand is probably the same given my opponent's actual hand, however the decision making process is what is important here.

In retrospect, the river decision should be very easy. I will not be making this type of mistake any time soon.
The flop play might be debatable, but this is a trade-off situation between maximizing the number of bets that get put in the pot and maximizing the chance of winning an already big pot.

This is the hand as played:

hand #1
9 handed live $40/$80 LHE
pf raiser is a fairly solid player
button is loose passive, somewhat inexperienced player

preflop: UTG limps, mucked to hijack who raises , button cold calls, Hero calls in SB w 9c8c, BB calls, UTG calls (5 players, 10 small bets)
flop: Jc8h8s check, check, check, pfr bets, button calls, Hero raises, muck, muck, pfr calls, button calls (3 players, 16 small bets)
turn: Jc8h8s7c Hero bets, pfr mucks, button raises, Hero calls (2 players, 12 big bets)
river: Jc8h8s7cQc Hero bets, button raises, Hero calls

During the actual hand, I bet with the intention of calling an insta-raise and mucking if button tanked and then raised. (The reason behind this is that button's hand reading and board reading skills were suspect, and he could easily miss the flush possibility if he held a str)

The playing lines for the river scenario can be generically characterized as:
- the bet/call line wins 1 bet when Hero is ahead and loses 2 bets when behind
- the check raise line wins 2 bets when Hero is ahead and loses 2-3 bets when behind

Calling vs mucking to a river 3 bet is very opponent-dependent. In this particular hand, I think the Hero could safely avoid losing the 3th river bet by tanking before check raising to make it easier to fold to a 3 bet. I would never intentionally do that against a more experienced player . Against this type of newbie player (he was inexperienced, but not a moron), I believe that tanking and then raising would give him pause to think and prevent him from 3 betting me with a worse hand (but still always paying off with a worse hand).

Result: button shows 8d7d

"And that's just one of them..."

I played a VERY embarrassing hand in my latest session tonight, so I thought I would write about it while the hand is still fresh in my mind. At the time at which this hand occurred, I had been having quite a difficult session. I was likely beyond the point at which I should remain in the game (both in terms of mindset and table image).

I make at least one blatant obvious mistake in this hand, but I additionally make one somewhat uncommon mistake (uncommon in the sense that the situation does not arise very frequently). It is this second mistake that I particularly want to keep in mind for the future.

SB is a smart, tricky, and aggressive player. SB is aware of Button's tendencies.
Button is a loose player who also almost always does not 3 bet with his big PP's preflop. Button's hand reading skills are questionable, and his opinion on what constitutes a big hand is questionable. Over the course of this long session, Hero and button have had a number of pleasant conversations and button is legitimately nice to Hero.
On flop, Button will always bet any pair when it is checked to him.

hand #1
live $20/$40 LHE
preflop: Hero raises UTG w AcKs, mucked to button who smooth calls, SB calls, BB mucks (3 players, pot size 7 small bets)
flop: AsQcJh SB checks, Hero checks, button bets, SB mucks, Hero calls (2 players, pot size 9 small bets)
turn: AsQcJh9d Hero checks, button bets and says "I've got it", Hero tanks and calls (2 players, pot size 6.5 big bets)
river: AsQcJh9dKh Hero checks, button bets and again says "I've got it, I've got it, I've got it", Hero tanks and mucks, button turns over one card, Jc, and says "and that's just one of them..." (meaning??)

Regarding the unconventional flop play: This was something of a fps (fancy play syndrome). Button will auto bet any pair (including an underpair), and SB will check raise any pair on the board if pfr checks. SB would slow play a hand like 2 pair or better by only calling. Hero's intention is to 3 bet the SB. When SB mucks, Hero smooth calls with the intention of check raising the turn.

On the turn, Hero becomes legitimately concerned about button's claim and conservatively calls.

On the river, Hero's muck with top two getting 7.5:1 is ridiculous as button's range is most 2 pairs or better. Doing a straight baysian analysis (J9, QJ, AJ, A9, JT, QT, KT, JJ, QQ, KK, AA) (dropped AK and AQ as he always 3 bets these preflop) shows that mucking the river to be a -2.64BB mistake. OUCH!

A big miss on the part of the Hero during the river action was ~neglecting to ask the button to show his hand~. With this type of player and this type of relationship between players, asking for a peek is extremely likely (perhaps 75% of the time) to result in one or both cards to be revealed.
If button even only shows the J, with the revised range, mucking the river is a -4.23BB mistake.

This is the type of scenario that arises with sufficient frequency in live game situations that I should keep the "can you show me?" play in my arsenal.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The inconsequential -$7EV decision

The following hand featured the largest cash game pot I have ever played.

In one important way, this hand reminds me very much of a hand that EricE wrote about last year.

In regards to the title of this post, my preflop 3 bet is an intentional -$7EV raise (with 6 opponents). However, this well documented type of slightly negative EV preflop/positive EV postflop play is perfectly reasonable especially considering that SB and UTG are in this hand.

Note that the substantial multiway play in this hand was not typical for the game. A number of hands involving the super LAGGY SB did have inflated pots due to some outrageous late street bluff raising/reraising/capping. Hero has tight pf image and weak/tight postflop image in this session.

hand #1
9 handed Live $40/$80 LHE
preflop: super loose player limps UTG, Hero limps w 3h3d, very solid MP limps, typically solid but occasionally tricky MP+1 raises, MP+2 mucks, tricky player in CO cold calls, button mucks, super LAGGY donkey SB calls, tricky BB calls, UTG calls, Hero 3 bets, all call (7 players, pot size 21 small bets)
flop: 3sTcKs checked to Hero, Hero bets, MP calls, MP+1 raises, CO cold calls, SB mucks, BB cold calls, UTG 3 bets, all call (6 players, pot size 39 small bets)
turn: 3sTcKs6h checked to UTG, UTG bets, Hero raises, MP cold calls, MP+1 3 bets, CO 4 bet caps, BB calls all in for 2.875BB, UTG tanks and mucks, all call (5 players, pot size 39.375BB)
river: 3sTcKs6h7s checked around.

On the turn, UTG tanked for 30 seconds while considering calling the 3 raises that came after he bet. During this time, I had plenty of time to analyze MP+1's and CO's hand ranges and mentally re-count the pot size. I put him on only 2 possible hands given the action on every street - TT and AsTs. (he will always cap pf w KK and would never have raised preflop and on the flop w 66)

He is definitely capable of raising on the turn in a big pot w 2nd pair and the nut flush draw, however given all the actions that have occurred thus far in this actual hand I am EXTREMELY skeptical that his hand is anything other than a legitimately represented hand.

CO's hand range includes 66, KT, OESD, the plethora of pair and a flush draw combinations, and a lot of wacky 2nd best hands, and any hand that he intends to take to free showdown. He is certainly capable of cold capping with a drawing hand with the rationale that "it is going to be capped anyways...".

Regardless of my feelings on MP+1's and CO's (particularly MP+1's) hand range and my equity even if my hand is currently good, I can't find it in myself to make a fold here.

Result: MP+1 shows TT to take the puny side pot, BB's Js?s takes the main pot.
Final pot: $3145 (after a $5 drop/rake)

Regarding CO's hand, he didn't show his hand at the time, and I didn't have the opportunity to question him.

MP flashed QcJc in disgust.

Note to self

It is commonly accepted that winners of online poker sites' WSOP satellites will have $10k credited to their online accounts as Harrah's appears to be sticking to their guns.

My promise to myself is that I will bank any online seats I win this year, and I will not enter the Main event unless I win a B&M sat...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

LHE ramblings

The trend of NLHE killing off LHE games has been well reported and is, in general, very widespread. However, in large part due to municipal laws, live LHE games in my area are still very much alive and well.

Local municipal laws disallow any single bet to exceed $200. The motivation for the law is to help protect people (who, of course, are incapable of protecting themselves) by limiting players' overall rate of losses. States like Florida and Colorado have similar statewide laws, although much more extreme. Florida has a $2 max bet (although rumors are that legislators are considering a modest increase), and Colorado has a $5 max bet. A lot of points could be made on this whole subject matter, but I digress.

At any rate, in regards to how this local law affects the types of games that get spread locally, the effect is this: All high stakes hold'em games are of the limit variety. The relative stakes of a $100/$200 LHE game positively dwarf any type of NLHE game (or actually spread limit HE as it is called) that is restricted by a $200 max bet.

The end result is that there is a very healthy size player pool for midstakes games in the $20/$40, $40/$80 and $100/$200 range. (The area I live in is very affluent)

I'm fine with this as I do enjoy LHE more than NLHE, in spite of the substantially higher number of bad beats taken.

an LHE hand

I joined a local $40/$80 LHE game for the first time in an extremely long time. After having played in the $40 game at Commerce a few times this year (which is an absolutely great game), I told myself to restrict any $40 play to the times I can make it to Commerce. There is a frequent tendency in card rooms that the toughest games in a card room tend to be at the 2nd highest stakes. In the case of the largest local card room, the $40/$80 game is the 2nd highest stakes, and I do believe that the above trend applies to this case.

However, one local club that previously had $20/$40 LHE as the highest stakes game in the room recently added a $40/$80 table.

Here is a hand from that session that I found interesting. In this hand, it made a substantial difference to me that it was a live (vs. online) hand.

hand #1
9 handed $40/$80 LHE
Villain #1 in the SB is an observant thinking player who I believe has a fairly good understanding of people's hand ranges. He has been losing, but I do not believe he is even remotely on tilt.
Villain #2 on the button is a talkative, observant, thinking and moderately aggressive player who has not gotten involved in a single hand with me thus far in the session. He is having a good session.
I've been playing a solid, unimaginative style for ~1 hour that I have been at this table. However both players have a moderate amount of previous table time with me, so they would understand my late position open stealing range is fairly wide. Both I and SB understand that button's pf 3 betting range is also somewhat large.
preflop: mucked to Hero in CO, Hero raises with AhKc, button 3 bets, SB cold calls, BB mucks, Hero calls. (3 players, pot size 10 small bets)
flop: Kd9s9c, SB checks, Hero checks, button bets, SB just calls, Hero check raises, button pauses for less than 1/4 second and calls, SB calls (3 players, pot size 16 small bets)
turn: Kd9s9c3h, SB and Hero both check call (3 players, pot size 11 big bets)
river: Kd9s9c3h5c, SB checks, Hero checks, button bets, SB mucks, Hero calls.

On the flop when facing the button's bet and SB's call, I make Villain #1's range to be QJs, JTs, T9s, J9s, 98s, etc. I don't put him on any K as he didn't CR, and no big PP as he didn't 4 bet pf. Button's range at this point is very wide as, naturally, he will cbet the flop 100% of the time: 33+, ATo+, KTo+.
I CR this somewhat dry board to define my hand (I assume I am representing any Kxo or better) and observe both opponents' reactions.

My line of decisions beyond this point was substantially influenced by the fact that the button did not react in any upset manner when CR'd on the flop. I was quite surpised that he had no visible reaction as he is a talker, and this to me represented strength (AA, AK, KK).
Thus my read is the scenario is a way ahead, way behind situation vs. the button and SB, although I put them on very different hands.

On the turn, I felt a check was prudent for the above reason. My check was with the intention of folding to a SB CR. Button's turn bet and mannerism re-enforces my earlier read. However, as I mentioned earlier, he is an aggressive player and a very small % of the time he will have a worse decent made hand , and if so I would expect him to fire both the turn and the river given the way the hand has been played since he will always bet when the pot is big and he is sure he can't win in a showdown. (This playing line is essentially described in Stoxtrader's new book "Winning in Tough Hold'em Games" in the section on postflop play - "Check-Raise/Check-Call line when playing out of position")
SB's turn call actually made me revise his range to JTs, QJs, and include some very passively played medium K's like K7 and K8. I have definitely ruled out trip 9's by this point, and I think he will also not slow play a full house at this point. I do not want to see any broadway card other than K on the river.

The river card changes absolutely nothing. Button bets and SB mucks giving me 12:1, but really 5.5:1 to chop vs his legitimate hand range and 12:1 for his bluffs.

This is a straight bayesian analysis. The only unknown is how small a % of the time button has a bluffing hand. Let's assume 5%.
AA - 3 possibilities
KK - 1
AK - 6
The EV of calling is +3.3BB; an easy call.

Assume for a moment that SB calls the river, and that 90% of the time it is with a worse K, and 10% of the time it is a worse non-K hand. (A King in SB's hand SUBSTANTIALLY reduces the % of button's legitimate hands that I can chop with...)
The EV drops to +1.85BB; also an easy call.

Assume for a moment that SB calls the river with the above guidelines, and that button is NEVER bluffing.
The EV drops to +0.75BB. (I was actually surprised this number was so high until I did the calcuation)

Doing a similar analysis on the turn is substantially more complicated due to the necessity to factor in scenarios like SB drawing to the best hand, Hero improving on the river to beat a legitimate button hand, Hero improving to a still 2nd best hand, etc..

Anyway, on to the results.
End Result: Button's AA is good.

Regarding the live vs. online thing with respect to this hand: online I would definitely played the hand much more aggressively and lost 2-3BB more. Playing live provides more information, and is also more entertaining.... :)