December 29, 2009

A guide to beating Micro and small stakes? Maybe.....

Looking back over the past year, here are a few things I have learned about micro cash games. Don’t apply this to your average donkament poker unless you play really deep (and why play them anyway?) as much is different in that type of poker, having been through the sitngo and MTT route myself prior to cash.

1. Don’t play cash under-rolled.
It will tilt you when you lose. Your life will become fucked up.

2. Don’t tilt
This I can’t help you with, and I have realised it’s the most important thing, after bankroll management. Many otherwise good players simply cannot deal with running into bad variance, and end up losing far more than they need to. If your all time graph, over at least 100k hands is not smoothish, but instead very jaggedy and up and down, then I suspect you have this problem. Deal with it. Don’t watch videos by Jared, don’t read books, they can’t ultimately help you. Only you yourself can. So no advice. It would be wasted.

3. Don’t be a scaredy cat.
If you’re not prepared to put your stack on the line sometimes, play darts or snooker instead. You’re pissing it away. Its No-Limit for Christ sakes, which is positively made for bluffing, and where the boring maths geeks and nits play second fiddle to the real players, those who are prepared to gamble based on look and feel of boards and histories. But most importantly, stop always checking the river without the nuts. Learn to value bet.

4. Don’t be obsessed with winning.
Unfortunately most ignore or are simply unable to comprehend this very fundamental advice, which is very specific to poker.

5. Learn to hate your opponents without being in the slightest bit emotional.
And NEVER be emotional when a player who annoys you proceeds to bust you. Learn how to deal with this. But respect players while hating them, and switch off the hating after playing.

6. Don’t be a lazy student of the game.
Everyone watches training vids, reads books and the WSOP on the telly. That’s the easy part. The hard part is the analysis. I started to post examples on this blog, but that just scratches the surface. Its subjective and complicated, but you will learn. Work hard, or stop moaning when you lose.

7. Don’t cry about coolers and bad luck
Aside from the fact it’s boring, it fucks you up and tilts you.

8. Don’t be scared of making mistakes. Experiment. Think of it as an investment rather than a cost.

9. Don’t let yourself be run over
Although all good players 3bet, many play terribly post flop in these inflated pots. If you follow this blog you may know that much of my bankroll has been provided by the aggrodonks and the spewtards. They infest the low limits.. Although each has subtle differences, both will bully the hell out of you if you let them. And many do. Sometimes you just have to make a stand.

Here a 22/16/11%3bet aggrodonk bets my button steal for the 3rd time in around 5 attempts by me. I want to let him know he cant get away with that. So I call with a trash K4o with the aim of either taking it away from him on the turn, or losing my stack to him but letting him know that I will be calling him from now on every time, as he sees the trash I floated with.

$0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash Game, 5 Players
Poker Tools by Stoxpoker - Hand Details

BB: $213.55 (213.6 bb)
MP: $59.05 (59.1 bb)
CO: $157.90 (157.9 bb)
Hero (BTN): $111.55 (111.6 bb)
SB: $165.10 (165.1 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is BTN with K of clubs 4 of hearts
MP folds, CO folds, Hero raises to $3, SB folds, BB raises to $9, Hero calls $6

: ($18.50) 9 of clubs 7 of hearts 2 of hearts (2 players)
BB bets $12, Hero calls $12

Turn: ($42.50) 2 of clubs (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $28, BB folds

Results: $42.50 pot ($2.10 rake)
Final Board: 9 of clubs 7 of hearts 2 of hearts 2 of clubs
Hero mucked K of clubs 4 of hearts (a pair of Twos) and won $40.40 ($19.40 net)

Needless to say he never 3bet me again for that session.

Hope that is of interest. Thanks for reading.

December 15, 2009

A Year Blogging - looking back

I started this blog 1 year ago, and so I thought I would look back at both the content of my posts and how they evolved, whether I think I have actually improved and similar stuff.

Using money I had won through a freeroll and grinded up playing up to 10nl, I deposited $510 onto Fulltilt in November 2008. I have managed to grind that up to a tidy 5 figure bankroll, without ever having added to the initial deposit. So as far as the Chris Ferguson $10K Challenge goes, I proved it’s perfectly possible. Hurrah for that.

With regards the stakes I played, I went from 10nl to 25nl, back to 10nl then from 25nl to 50nl and up to 100nl. In February I invested in a HUD and tracking software, which didn’t really make a huge difference to either my play or my results, in hindsight. Throughout this time I played full ring and I experimented with playing up to 18 tables. I found this somewhat boring.

In order to combat this boredom, I decided to muck about in late spring with a bet fold experiment. As Pokerstars was doing a promotion players at the time, I hopped over to that site, where I used a separate bankroll that I had grinded up, from an initial $100 deposit, to around $1000 playing solely sitngoes, almost all at $5.50 buyin level. I played 100nl full ring. Although I ran badly, I realised that when you start doing daft things like repping a set on any low board without either the relevant experience, but more importantly, while playing 16 tables, it’s a losing mentality. I tried this for a month without any real progress.

During that time I noticed how dreadful the problem has become, especially on Stars, of 20bb mass tabling push bots, which makes poker for non 20bb'ers (be they regs, fish, tags, nits, lags, fullstakers, half stacker and so on) far more difficult, to just have a game of No Limit Holdem. I think its worth noting that here, it being a micro and small stakes problem. I posted an entry about my feelings here, and a particular vocal response was effected by the "shortstack heroes", Lorin and Travis here. Although the discussion was constructive (you need to read the comments with my response as well as their post), my opinion of the mindset of someone that wishes to mass table at 20bb is still somewhat low, to say the least, and in fact it depresses the hell out of me that a) so many people seem to want to do it, and b) the sites continue to allow 20bb mass tabling. What is as depressing is that these guys genuinely aspire to this kind of activity and therefore they are defo here to stay. Durrrrr recently gave an interesting interview on his thoughts on it, and where the real skill lies, which I found highly encouraging. Not to put the boot in to just shortstackers however, I do feel a similar disregard to the 24tabling full ring 100bb autohotkey Reg Stars/Fulltilt bots, although they are far, far easier to exploit than good shortstackers, and have kindly provided me with a healthy amount of my current bankroll.

At this time, therefore, I was becoming frustrated with poker, but thankfully, through some very formative sweats from a 6max player and fellow blogger whom I now consider a friend, I realised that this 6max format was the game for me, despite my good winrate when nitting it up at full ring playing 9-10 tables. I therefore left a profitable situation to pursue something I thought I would enjoy more.

Enjoy = happy
Happy>Poorer (maybe)
but …….long run?
Happy = rich person
Rich person>rich

I moved back down to 50nl and played 6max for the first time and ran well for my first month, cementing my loving relationship with semi-deep-stacked short handed no limit poker. (200bb is really where its at if you’re a skilled player in my view)

From July onwards I have played 6 max exclusively, with the odd fun stab at Heads Up, at 50nl and now up to 100nl, and over a large hand sample, 4 to 5 tabling, I run at just under 4ptbb/100. I am absolutely delighted with it. Especially since I think I still can improve much more.

Looking back through my posts, its funny to see some of my early ramblings and how I would probably do a lot of things differently with my limited experience over the year. But that’s the joy of the journey of blogging, and I am glad I have got this stuff down as a record. I also posted my thoughts on player types, which I may extend into a 2plus2 post shortly, as I have never posted anything of note on that forum, and yet which is read by so many microstakes bloggers.

As the year went on, I posted more on interesting spots and hand reading, and less on associated stuff such as software, poker sites and books. I hope to build on hand reading discussion in this blog next year too. I have deliberately avoided posting about non poker stuff such as sport or politics, and I have also tried to stick to micro stakes in terms of poker talk. Next year I hope to bring some discussion into small stakes up to 400nl.

I had one brutal day, in October, spread over 2 sessions, where I lost 14 buyins at 100nl. It took me 10k hands to get it back. It was devastating at the time, but I came out of it better, as I know I can now go through these swings and recover from these beats without too much hassle. The first time is always the worst in poker. (nevertheless I hope I never go through it again soon…)

In terms of people commenting on what I have posted, almost all of it has been constructive and informative which encourages my opinion that the vast majority of poker players at these stakes, and especially those who blog, are thoughtful, modest, generous and intelligent. You know who you are as you read this, and I hope you go far, there is still plenty of reacreational money to go around for all. Re the scummy haters and slaggers that do pop up in the online poker community, keep on doing it if you like, its water of a duck’s back to me, I assure you, and you’re the real losers.

I will post about where I hope to be this time next year under a separate post in the next few days, as I think this has gone on long enough, no? Hell, I might even post the graph for the past year…….

December 08, 2009

Making Laydowns?

One of the things I don't think I have been that good at over my time playing poker, and where I still need some help, is knowing when to fold. I had a couple of hands recently where a little voice was screaming at me to fold, whilst my gamble side was saying call call call. Still not sure if I made good decisions so would be good to get some input.

villian is 19/18/4%3bet over 128 hands

$0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash Game, 6 Players
Poker Tools by Stoxpoker - Hand Details

UTG: $107.90 (107.9 bb)
MP: $101.50 (101.5 bb)
CO: $112.15 (112.2 bb)
BTN: $98.50 (98.5 bb)
SB: $110.55 (110.6 bb)
Hero (BB): $207.95 (208 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is BB with Q of spades Q of hearts
UTG raises to $3.50, MP folds, CO folds, BTN calls $3.50, SB folds, Hero raises to $14.50, UTG raises to $38, BTN folds, Hero folds

Results: $33 pot
Final Board:
UTG mucked and won $33 ($18.50 net)
Here I squeeze, due to the loose passive who had called from the button, to avoid a 3way pot with Queens, and for value as I think I have the best hand. UTG thinks for a while, presses time, and then re-pops. My experience here is almost always a monster, yet I have seen many of the coaches say that, at 6max, always get it in with qq, as you are up against AK so many times. My thinking here, against a tightish, non spewy utg player, is more likely to be AA-KK, and a shove from AK but would be happy for comment. For example, if you factor in JJ it is correct to shove here.

villain is 32/25/8%3bet and one of the worst, most spewy aggrodonks at this limit, and who is a big loser over a decent hand sample.

$0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash Game, 6 Players
Poker Tools by Stoxpoker - Hand Details
CO: $207.90 (207.9 bb)
BTN: $129.65 (129.7 bb)
SB: $110.30 (110.3 bb)
Hero (BB): $100 (100 bb)
UTG: $446.15 (446.2 bb)
MP: $138.45 (138.5 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is BB with 9 of spades 9 of clubs
UTG folds, MP folds, CO folds, BTN raises to $3, SB folds, Hero calls $2

Flop: ($6.50) 6 of hearts K of clubs J of diamonds (2 players)
Hero checks, BTN checks

Turn: ($6.50) 9 of diamonds (2 players)
Hero bets $5, BTN calls $5
So now I am a bit suspicious. This guy cbets 90% of the time, yet he checked the K high flop.

River: ($16.50) 5 of clubs (2 players)
Hero bets $12.50, BTN raises to $121.65 and is all-in, Hero folds
I can't see anything here beyond QT, KK and JJ. It's a common thing amongst losing players to slowplay monsters, especially ones like this guy, who just plays the notion of being able to bet people of hands, without considering what they may have. It's also a common thing for same losing players to shove all-in-overbet at some point, but usually the river, because they think it looks like a bluff and they will get called, when they have the mortal nuts.

It turns into a pretty easy fold for me, because I do not think he is nearly good enough to know how to elicit a call from me, and the action just reeks of a monster. But, please tell me otherwise, grateful for any comment.

Results: $41.50 pot ($2.05 rake)
Final Board: 6 of hearts K of clubs J of diamonds 9 of diamonds 5 of clubs
BTN mucked and won $39.45 ($18.95 net)

December 02, 2009

Funny chat box stuff

I know many guys swear by the chat box "off" option, to avoid tilting when a drooler gets mouthy, but I think it's worth it always on, just to see the gloriously funny bits of conversation that come up during a session.

Thought I'd share this with you. I was not involved in the hand, but it went as follows:
CO raise, SB 3bet, BB cold call, CO 4bet, SB fold, BB call (he was a fish btw....)

flop is rags, BB check, CO bets 2/3 pot,BB call
turn is rag, BB check CO all in, BB call
CO had AA, BB had KKand is busted for around 130bb (pot was 270bb total roughly).
As he is sitting there, busto, BB says

CHARGERFANINBM: go f ur self
CHARGERFANINBM: like i did not know u had aces


November 30, 2009

November results

Yeah, well, everyone wants to see everyone elses' graph, so here is mine.

I havn't been able to get the volume I want due to other things going on. Really not much point in posting a graph with less than 20k hands but.......

Actually quite happy with most of my decisions though, 1 or 2 silly mistakes but less and less as I carry on at 6max. Rakeback and bonuses take it to around $1100 at 4ptbb/100.

Really want to get 25k hands minimum in for the last month of the year if I possibly can.

November 28, 2009

Calling all-ins v Pushing all-in

We had an interesting discussion regarding All-in EV in my post a few days ago here, and that it doesn't take account of fold equity. I played a relevant hand today where I thought some of the ideas may make my own thinking a little clearer of how I act in these pots, with regard to FE.

Villian is a standard aggrodonk running at 35/25 with 11%3bet, and (naturally) a big loser at both 50nl and 100nl over a large sample.

$0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash Game, 5 Players
Poker Tools by Stoxpoker - Hand Details

Hero (MP): $133.20 (133.2 bb)
CO: $25.70 (25.7 bb)
BTN: $17.50 (17.5 bb)
SB: $103.45 (103.5 bb)
BB: $135.80 (135.8 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is MP with 6 of hearts 6 of diamonds
Hero raises to $3.50, CO folds, BTN calls $3.50, SB folds, BB calls $2.50

Flop: ($11) 3 of hearts 7 of clubs 6 of clubs (3 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $8, BTN folds, BB raises to $25, Hero raises to $129.70 and is all-in, BB calls $104.70

When he raises, I think he thinks he is committing himself to the hand. No preflop 3bet from him seems to me almost certainly to be either an unlikely set, or much more likely, a draw, due to the nature of the board. So lets think about things from his scenario for 1 moment. What could I have, that I shove over his check raise? Well I am going to be generous to him and include in my range overpairs from AA-JJ, which, on a bad day for me, I may indeed shove here. I could also have 77-66,33,AcJc,AcTc,9c8c,5c4c. Against this range he is 36% (see the spoiler below if you want to know what he had) and the pot odds are offering him 39%. But we were 135bb deep at the start of the hand. Similarly, and usually, I may be just folding the overpairs, which only gives him 26% equity. Would you call here?

Now lets switch that around. Lets say he donk bets 8bb, I raise 25bb, and he shoves 104bb over the top. Now factoring in the fold equity it becomes a far more reasonable play. Because I must include all sorts of mega combo draws and the 77 that crushes me in his range, making me only 54%. I still always call here against this particular opponent, but I am feeling sick.

But back to the scenario, him calling the allin with such mediocre equity, especially at these limits, seems pretty spewy, especially when you take account of the type of opponent I am (a shove from me usually means something, especially to even aggro-donk regs such as him)

Finally, by building the pot with the CR, when he is deep, he is just setting himself up for difficult decisions on later streets.

Turn: ($270.40) 5 of clubs (2 players, 1 is all-in)
River: ($270.40) 5 of hearts (2 players, 1 is all-in)
Results: $270.40 pot ($3 rake)
Final Board: 3 of hearts 7 of clubs 6 of clubs 5 of clubs 5 of hearts
Hero showed 6 of hearts 6 of diamonds (a full house, Sixes full of Fives) and won $267.40 ($134.20 net)
BB showed Q of clubs K of clubs (a flush, King high) and lost (-$133.20 net)

November 23, 2009

Nothing wrong with being a calling station sometimes

I wanted to post an example of where 3betting is sub optimal. and where you should always try to make a strategy for how you want to play the hand, based on reads and situation. So here we wake up with QQ from BB versus a TAG player on the tight/nit side of things. Now I guess the vast majority of regs 3bet here. Personally I think they do this for 2 reasons, a) they can't hand read very well, and they know it and b) they have read everywhere that you cannot play out of position without the lead.

So with QQ here, the mouse hovers over the 3bet pot button (if it exists) in auto mode. But we really need to think. Villain is 18/14 and raising 3bb from cutoff. He has a 100%cbet. He's 4betting AK, AA-KK for sure which, as a range, crushes us, and MAYBE flatting JJ-TT but he might even fold these. All other hands he is folding. Why on earth therefore would you want to 3bet him therefore???

$0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash Game, 6 Players
Poker Tools by Stoxpoker - Hand Details
MP: $124.90 (124.9 bb)
CO: $140.90 (140.9 bb)
BTN: $34.50 (34.5 bb)
SB: $50.35 (50.4 bb)
Hero (BB): $101.50 (101.5 bb)
UTG: $66.50 (66.5 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is BB with Q of spades Q of clubs
2 folds, CO raises to $3, 2 folds, Hero calls $2
We make a decision at the start of the hand how we want to play it (extracting max value through opponents mistakes after concealing our strength), and we stick to that throughout the hand without info to suggest we should be beat.

Flop: ($6.50) 6 of hearts 5 of clubs J of spades (2 players)
Hero checks, CO bets $4, Hero calls $4
Plan is to check call all streets, as villain spazzes once he is in the pot, as previously mentioned with cbet. If he checks the turn, we bet all cards on the river no matter what. (I would even bet if an A rivers, but I leave that to you to decide why I would do that)

Turn: ($14.50) 7 of clubs (2 players)
Hero checks, CO bets $10, Hero calls $10
Keeping to the plan. 8-9 beats us now, as do the sets, and absolutely no reason on Gods earth to raise therefore.

River: ($34.50) 8 of diamonds (2 players)
Hero checks, CO bets $42, Hero calls $42
So the mother of all scare cards comes, and he overbets the pot. Would YOU bet like that if you made the straight? Or would you value bet to get a call from a weaker hand such as 2pair? 9-10 is the nuts, and if he does have this, then it's a very, very advanced play. I don't often see a tighty raising mid connecting cards from the cut-off, and he is always checking those on the river to such a draw/set heavy board, if by chance he has indeed made 2 pair. Meanwhile our plan was to check call to extract max value using his spazzy betting, and nothing indicates that we should deviate from that. We beat 22-44, 8-9, 99,TT, all broadway and any Ax hand, as well factoring in our suspicion on his overbet, so I have to carry on with the hand.

Results: $118.50 pot ($3 rake)
Final Board: 6 of hearts 5 of clubs J of spades 7 of clubs 8 of diamonds
CO showed K of diamonds T of spades (high card King) and lost (-$59 net)
Hero showed Q of spades Q of clubs (a pair of Queens) and won $115.50 ($56.50 net)

Sure sometimes they draw out on you, and sometimes you need to re-evaluate post flop, but you will not learn to play cards and start to become able to hand read if you cannot stop auto-3betting and learning post flop strategy. And so you'll never move up.