January 26, 2009

Fish at 50nl

I have read lots on the so-called glory days of online poker, I am guessing from 2004-2006, before I played online. I see the words like “crushing” and “donk-fest” used, as if all that is passed and now poker is filled full of good players.

The more I play 50nl the more I see this is nonsense. There seems to be, at Fulltilt any way, at least 3 players at each full ring table playing a 35/5 game. Many are above 50% seeing flop. They limp, you raise from button, they call. On and on they do it, still they lose, occasionally they suck-out (drive you mad when they hit 2 pair with their J2suited against your 3 streets of value betting with AJ), but all in all they seem to want to just give away their cash.

Today I was stacked as I had KK in the bb and my button stealing opponent 4bet me all in with AA. Next hand I had QQQ beaten by a fish who thought JJ was AA and ended up catching the straight by the river, us all in on the flop. So 200bbs down in 2 consecutive hands. Gritting my teeth, I grinded it all back within 2 hours and 800 hands, I had rubbish cards, never hit a set and I don’t feel I played that well. I was just handed the cash back by the aforementioned fish. So a break even session.

But I am cool with it. I just don’t get where they come from or what they must be thinking.

January 24, 2009

Live Poker v Online Poker

I played in my home game last night, where a group of us get together around someone’s house and play some pokaaaa. It’s a standard no limit texas hold’em, but with a healthy dose of cigars, chat and alcohol thrown in too.

Sometimes the pots get pretty big and some of the players are pretty good, but it differs from the online microstakes grind as follows:

Much more players seeing the flop
More open limping and / or calling raises
Less 3 betting
Smaller bets in relation to pot size as we get to the turn and the river.

Player types are the same as any game, a couple of TAGS, a maniac, and lots of loose passives.

So do I play this game for any competitive / learning point of view……? Well a bit. I certainly do not go for the expectation of winning loads of cash. I just want to catch up with my friends and get a bit pissed. However, live play in poker is important for all of us because it introduces the 3rd dimension to the poker table as follows:

Betting patterns and tells in relation to the physical presence of the player (highly overrated in my view)
Verbal clues (more relevant)
Table chat (getting used to it with friends is good for when you sit with a bunch of wankers you don’t know at some random casino MTT, don’t let them intimidate you)
Ability to deal with pot size and bets (in my view one of the most important aspects of live play. Its such a giveaway when you have a monster and you can't easily push that pot bet in without it looking like you have the nuts)

I could go on.

But why bother learn live poker, when its all online for you. Well if you like online poker, and you get good at it, you are going to slaughter the live cardrooms, I guarantee it. 25nl plays like 200nl live. 100nl plays like 500nl live. At least from my own limited experience.

Try it and see.

January 20, 2009

Bad Beats at 50nl

2 things I decided not to dwell on in this blog:

1. No big long hand history descriptions and how I played the hand. Maybe I will change this, but when I read someone's poker blog, I can never usually be bothered looking at the hand histories, regardless of how they are presented.
2. No bad beat stories, or coolers or whatever. It happens to us all, so who cares.

That said, I have had my first experience of running bad at 50nl, where I have been making around 1-2 buy-ins per session up to that point. Got it all in v deep stack opponents within about 5 minutes of each other on the flop, being 80% favourite in both cases to see runner runner and thank you very much….down 5 buy-ins.

The point of this post is to see whether it affects me and how long I take to bounce back. Bad beats at 10nl or even 25nl just don’t seem as hard, despite my having a healthy bankroll for 50nl. It’s the first real hammering I have had for a long time.

So we shall see.

Meantime I am testing out Hold'em Manager version 1.07 and will report back with that too.

January 14, 2009

Variance and Microstakes

This is a bit of a run on from my previous post, but reads fine on its own.

I want to see flops.

I don’t want to build big pots unless I am 70-80% sure I have the best hand, or a monster draw, or I am reasonably certain my opponents are weak. (monster draw being something like straight flush draw with the top end, or at least nut flush with overs and a pair). I generally like juicy little pots to roll around in. I guess I like the “smallballer”.

I generally 8 table 50nl full ring, and, as is typical, I watched 5 different instances in today’s session of deep stack guys 4 betting with QQ in one case, and JJ in the other 3. In 2 cases they were up against AK and the other 2 were AA (JJ v AA donk sucked out naturally).

JJ they 3bet and they have just been 4 bet. And still they shove. Just go back to sitngos. You only get called by a better hand. I think they know this but still they do it. Variance they say. Or Cold deck. Bollocks.

Me? I want to see flops.

Ahhhh the AK. I have a love/hate relationship with AK. It’s a tournament hand. I never like it much in full ring. As such, it’s the one hand I really mix up my play with. I limp with it, I standard raise, I call a raise, hell I even 3bet it sometimes. But going for a coin flip for your full stack is not something I am ever going to do unless I have a rock solid read. Against a small stacker I will 4 bet him all in, if he hasn’t already, but otherwise, when the dreaded shove 4bet comes, I dump and lick my wounds.

Because I want to see flops.

I read plenty of microstakes posters bragging about the CRAI, the 4bet and how aggressive they are. They say if you can’t take the variance, you’re scared money. I say bollocks. At full ring, I reckon at very best, it’s a break even play in the long run. At very best.

And as I said before, break even play is just dumb at microstakes, when there are so many better spots for you to shove. I am getting a high ptbb/100 at 50nl just from my smallball. Sure I fold when I am pretty sure I have the best of it against a fish sometimes as he presses the pot bet button on the turn. BUT I DON’T CARE.

So I want to see flops, and then, if I play it right…..the beautiful turn.

January 11, 2009

The 3bet Pot at 50nl

I am trying out a rather crrrrazy new strategy at the moment. All you guys are gonna shout TAG TAG TAG NIT NIT Nit.

When I get 3 bet and I am OOP, I do something really uncool in today's aggressive games, unless I have KK or AA………I fold!!!!!

TT-QQ…..fold, AK….fold.

Implied odds with 98s?…fold.

Set mining 100bb with 33? Fold.


Because whilst there are plenty of players 3 betting with TT-QQ, AK-AJ etc. and whilst I may be flipping in a lot of situations…..I don’t care!!

I am gonna have the opportunity so often to get it all in as such a bigger favourite so many more times I don’t need the variance.

If I am playing 600nl and I am the fish at the table, well that’s a different story, I am going to take any coin flip going, but at 50nl, I am happy to let it go.

January 10, 2009

WSOP Europe London 2009: Terrible TV Coverage

Wow, I have just watched the TV coverage of this event and it is the worst I have ever seen. The coverage of the USA world series, by ESPN with Chad and the other buffoon, is very tiring with not enough poker and too much nonsense that they think is entertaining, but this was way worse. There was hardly any hands of poker shown, no post flop play, and a load of crap about nothing at all.

The worst ever. They must think we are morons deserving nothing better.

January 08, 2009

Harrington on Cash Games volume 1 & volume 2: review

Since I am taking a break from poker over the (extended) festive break, I thought it would be worth doing a mini review of these full ring cash game books from the micro stakes players perspective.

There has been plenty of reviews written on these, from early 2008, and I don’t want to repeat things. Instead I want to look at the books in the context of the microstakes online full ring game, which is what this site is about.

I bought these books in July 2008 and up to that point I had been a pretty prolific sitngo player without a huge experience of online full ring play.

There is a good introduction on how tournament play is different from cash play, and this essay alone is worth reading for the sitngo and MTT guys who want to get into the game.

Unfortunately the rest of vol 1 doesn’t live up to this good start. As is usual with the “old school” authors, the emphasis is on mid stakes games, and although Harrington states in his examples that the play is online, it certainly doesn’t play out that way. Much more loose passive than you would ever get online. So the worked examples don’t have much relevance in my view.

The 2 big things for microstakes players, especially at full ring, are overvaluing TPTK TPMK and overpairs (JJ-AA in particular) on a low board. Although this is discussed, its not drilled home in a big way, which is the 1st holy grail for the micro players. Understanding when you’re beat is touched on, but equity calculations and implied odds just are not delved into deeply enough, and that’s what you need to know when deciding whether to call the donk’s CRAI with your AK on a f2 flush flop. Are you a coin flip, and is it worth it? Will there be a better spot?

Vol 2 was more about the turn and river play, and for micro players these are, in my opinion slightly more interesting and important topics. But I don’t think Harrington emphasises how important extracting value is (for a micro player) on these streets. Its your bread and butter at the micros, especially the turn.

There is a section in LAG play which is ok, although I didn’t find it particularly like the LAGs you get at the micros, and the bankroll stuff has all been said before, nothing new there. There is also lip service paid to the online microstakes through a section on 25nl, but I couldn't see anything new or particulary insightful.

I like Harrington’s (and the other guy Robertie I guess) writing style and clear structure but all in I think I would rate the books just slightly above average. Worth a read if you are making the transition between tourneys to full ring, and I would read this book before NLHE Theory and Practice by Sklansky and Miller if you are a tourney player. (I do recommend NLHE Theory by the way, but its quite advanced for a new full ring player)

In conclusion then, books ok, just bear in mind there is more to learn on full ring for us micro slummers in the forums.

Rating 5.5/10

January 06, 2009

Poker Goals for this Year (2009)

Like most poker bloggers, I guess I should set out my aims and goals for this new year. So here goes…..

Immediate goals
Clear full bonus on Fulltilt (has to be done by end Feb 09)
Make 50nl my comfort zone and grind at least 20-30k hands, aiming for 4ptbb/100
Take a shot at 100nl

Long term (3-5months)
Try out another poker site once Fulltilt bonus done and get their bonus and rakeback
Multi table 100nl full ring comfortably (ahem)
Investigate the options of acheiving the Pokerstars Supernova status and its associated benefits by the end of 2009 as opposed to bonus whoring with rakeback through other sites.

By year end
Investigate the possibility of whether it is possible for me to make an income from this game, either at 100nl or 200nl. (I have other skills I can use to contribute further income) where I can avoid being a wage slave.

Lets see how it goes….