April 25, 2009

Where Semi Bluffs Take A Life Of Their Own

Listening to a bit of Joni Mitchell just now, chilling out to Ladies of the Canyon, one of the loveliest 45 minutes of music I have experienced. So chilled = a bit of thinking poker blogging……

I am generally one to avoid high variance poker. If you think you have a bigger edge than others, I think its better to avoid flips (prefl with say AK or post flop, the all in 15outer flush/str8t draw check raise v nit/superdonk with the overpair/tpnk who is gonna call you) as you will get better spots and avoid the stress of high variance play. But I have talked about this before in previous posts. That said, I have been experimenting this month, and decided to try this high variance style. Its difficult to say if its been profitable as I truly have had the worst run I have had, and still having. But ignoring that, I have started to see some patterns emerging, where a small check raise, or 4bet or whatever will elicit the information you need by your opponents bets in his reply,

I use this hand as an example. Opponent is a winning player, playing 12/9 over a small hand sample, both of us 100bb.

Opponents MP 3bb raise is really difficult to pin down here, as I have no history, some players 4bb AA and 3bb speculative hands, few mix it up, but I never worry about the size of the raise at this stage. No way I am 3 betting here versus his very tight range, but type of player that offers great odds to set mine (as opposed to someone raising a far greater range).

$0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash Game, 9 Players

Poker Tools by Stoxpoker - Hand Details

BTN: $137.15 (137.2 bb)
Hero (SB): $106.50 (106.5 bb)
BB: $100 (100 bb)
UTG: $74 (74 bb)
UTG+1: $84 (84 bb)
MP1: $101.90 (101.9 bb)
MP2: $100 (100 bb)
MP3: $100 (100 bb)
CO: $112.95 (113 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is SB with 6 of spades 6 of diamonds

UTG folds, UTG+1 folds, MP1 raises to $3, MP2 folds, MP3 folds, CO folds, BTN folds, Hero calls $2.50, BB folds

Flop: ($7) 5 of clubs 4 of clubs 2 of diamonds (2 players)

Hero checks, MP1 bets $4, Hero raises to $11, MP1 raises to $18, Hero calls $7

Flop hits and I have a gutshot, plus quite possibly the best hand….time to find out. I check raise….and he does something that really throws me…he min 4bets me….it’s the worst possible thing he can do as he is almost giving me the correct odds for hitting my 6 outs plus my implied odds of stacking him. But worse it’s polarising his range to an overpair, 99-AA. AK-AQ offsuit I think is very unlikely as he would be mucking to a check raise. AK of clubs, well if he isn’t pushing with that then I am very surprised, so I am eliminating that. A set? He’s raising a bigger amount to charge me, surely??

Turn: ($43) 8 of spades (2 players)

Hero checks, MP1 bets $15, Hero calls $15

Turn brings me a further 4 outs and I am thinking about giving up, but then he makes another mistake. I am checking and if he checks behind I am giving up as it is certain he has me beat. But he makes another mistake, he bets 1/3 the pot giving me 4-1 on a river with 10 outs plus the aforementioned implied odds. I eliminate the set possibility entirely. Therefore I am playing as if we are in a limit game and playing the odds, therefore I call, something I would never ever do normally on the turn without the near nuts.

River: ($73) 5 of diamonds (2 players)

Hero bets $70.50 and is all-in, MP1 folds

River bricks. I am certain I am beat but we both have 70bbs behind and I know that he knows that I could very possible have a set, as I never call in the blinds without a holding that can improve, (I am 3betting all my “non improvables” like AA 80% of the time). In fact I only ever call from the blinds if I think I can stack one of the opponents who has position on me on later streets, and AA is not one of those.

Now I need to complete the “story” he has allowed me to make. I cannot call ANY bet here, unless its like 5bb etc, which it’s why I need to push all in, making a pot sized 70bb bet. No way I am doing this against a poor player, but against a good player, he is going to lay his overpair down at least 50% of the time, and make it impossible to make any attempt at bluffing an unlikely busted draw . I know I would……..

I would add the circumstances for making this play are as rare as actually hitting the set on the flop. Position, flop texture, player type, history etc…but making these plays I think is the only way you can learn no limit, and another of my motivations for playing full stack poker against other full stack players. I just love it. It also gives you that wafer edge against the break even players.

Any comments welcome on whether I have misread something.

Well Joni is finished and I am going to see my friend playing in a gig.

April 20, 2009


Since my last post I have gone through my worst ever period of playing poker ever, with all the usual bad beats and coolers and some again. I have had to take a step back to get some relief. I have been playing / learning full ring since August 2008 when I started at 5nl. Never have I lost 10buy ins before. The most before has been 4 or 5. The bet fold experiment lost me a bit, I made one or two bad plays, but I lost a bit of confidence too, as literally every hand I played I would be raised out of the pot. I would raise AA and would have 1 caller, and be check raised, or baluga’d or……. Every time. I finally started to get paranoid. Then, when I did look them up, they always had it. Sets, straights, etc etc

The most demoralising I have ever felt playing poker.

I have gone down to 6 tables and I am going to try grind it back at least to where I was by the end of April from my last post.

This hand sums it up nicely. This spew box aggrodonk had been 3betting, check raising, and spewing generally over the 100 hands or so that I had been sat at the table, and playing 38/30. I had already doubled up through him as he shoved my river bet, repping what I actually had (flush), with him on a busted draw.

I know his check raise is at best a draw, (he's a slow playing donk with his monsters too, predictably) so on the turn I am looking for a brick to get it all in, as I was sure he would still call. Turns out he had complete air on flop, and caught runner runner to double through me. although I have played bigger pots, and had bigger coolers, I cannot remember feeling more demoralised when this asshole sucked out through me.

$0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash Game, 9 Players

BB: $77.65 (77.7 bb)
UTG: $100 (100 bb)
UTG+1: $114.05 (114.1 bb)
MP1: $108.90 (108.9 bb)
MP2: $101 (101 bb)
MP3: $117.25 (117.3 bb)
CO: $34.65 (34.7 bb)
Hero (BTN): $192 (192 bb)
SB: $180.85 (180.9 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is BTN with J of spades Q of spades
6 folds, Hero raises to $3.50, SB calls $3, BB calls $2.50

Flop: ($10.50) Q of clubs T of hearts 2 of diamonds (3 players)
SB checks, BB checks, Hero bets $7.50, SB folds, BB raises to $17, Hero calls $9.50

Turn: ($44.50) 5 of diamonds (2 players)
BB bets $57.15 and is all-in, Hero calls $57.15

River: ($158.80) A of hearts (2 players, 1 is all-in)

Results: $158.80 pot ($3 rake)

BB showed 4 of diamonds 3 of diamonds (a straight, Ace to Five) and won $155.80 ($78.15 net)
Hero mucked J of spades Q of spades (a pair of Queens) and lost (-$77.65 net)

April 15, 2009

Shortstacking Post Pt2, Graph, Trying A New Strategy

My last post was replied to in a very detailed way, by an accomplished shortstacker which took me a bit by surprise. Nevertheless, it made me think a lot about what I said, and if you are interested I suggest you see the discussion at Short Stack Hero’s blog here.


He is someone I would like to meet one day, as I don’t really have any friends who like to talk about the game, its just me and the ‘puter. Girlfriend hates it, as do my family, so I have to avoid mentioning it most of the time. He’s one of the poker bloggers who does expand on thoughts within his post, rather than only talking about his winnings/losses. He is a winning player too, by the way.

Anyway……I want to try something different for in the run up to the end of the month. My results continue to surprise me. I am going to use the $861 I have won since the start of April to freeroll a bet fold experiment. I intend to bet fold every situation post flop, regardless of wether I am the PFR or not. So it will be a mixture of check-raises, check-folds, cont-bets, cont3bet/fold, and so on, on all streets. In other words, no calling, except preflop. It will include triple barrelling, regardless of my cards. It could be a disaster, and not usually my style of play, but I am prepared to risk 8 buyins as a “cost” for learning. Why? Because I cannot afford not to learn different mindsets/styles if I want to move off the 100nl milestone level.

I wanted to post the graph so we have a marker to refer to. And here it is.

Running at 4.2ptBB/100 over 10k hands at Pokerstars. I hope I don’t lose it all…..

Finally i have added a followers gadget to my blog. For some reason I get very few comments on my posts compared to others, I don't know why, but I have added that gadget just in case.

April 10, 2009

Shortstackers at 100nl

Short post to say I am finding it a bit of a grind these few days. Winrate still ok, but a grind. Not sure why, but perhaps its due to the amount of nitty regulars at Pokerstars, who stick to the 50bb tables. And I cannot blame them. The reason they do that, is because it’s very difficult to play many tables and then deal with the shortstackers.

I don’t know what to say about it, but I think it certainly is killing the game. People come to poker because they want action, and that is what all regular players need and want, to generate action. More players come, with more investment into the game, and so it continues.

The least attractive thing for a new player is to see some twat push bot folding with his minimum buy-in. Yeah I know shortstackers don’t care, after all, if they make money who cares right??? Well sure if you only want to play the game for 12 months, but this shitty strategy is growing like a rash and its killing the low stakes game. On a normal table, often there are up to 4 shortstackers on a 9 ring table at Pokerstars right now. It's impossible to play poker with that going on. Lorin Yelle (see short stack hero, one of the blogs I follow) loves this type of play, and you can get a glimpse into the mindset there. Imagine if eventually at a full ring game there are 8 shortstackers and just me, the full stack. Its me they rely on, not their playing skills or their fellow shortstackers. Like parasites.

Trying to keep my emotions out of the whole making money thing, but I seriously cannot understand how anyone can glean any pleasure of just sitting there push/folding without any post flop play. It’s the sheer selfishness and laziness of these people that irks me the most.
Just study law or accountancy or something boring like that if you’re too scared to stick your head above the parapet, and let the rest of us play some poker.

Selfish “fuck you” people = sign of the times

April 07, 2009

The Agony and the Ecstasy

I lost my biggest pot yesterday, nearly $440 in Pokerstars, when my full house was done in by quads. I was closing down the tables and this was one of the last hands to play, with both myself and the opponent sitting on deep stacks. It’s the fourth time I have been in such a situation since February, and only once have I had quads. Each time I have lost my stack. Whilst that may seem obvious, at least twice I feel I could have at least limited my losses. Yesterday the only possible hand he could have had was quads (he was as nitty as you get) but I was a non-believer.
Each time I take a beating at the tables, my immediate instinct is to play, play, play. I closed down the tables after that beat with the quads and couldn’t relax. It was eating away at me. Fortunately I don’t suffer from tilt that much and don’t believe in superstitious stuff, so, to avoid the turmoil, I waited for the girlfriend to go to bed, and then I returned to the tables to make back what I had lost within around 400 hands. Although I got some decent opportunities, I played as well as I think I could, and maximised my winnings.
I went to bed more satisfied than I would, had the quads hand never happened, and I had learned a thing or two as well.

April 01, 2009

Pokerstars v Fulltilt

When I first started playing online, Pokerstars was where I played all my sitngos. When I moved to cash I wanted to try out bonuses and rakeback. So I signed up to Fulltilt. And I HATED IT. The software, the timeout features, the lobby everything. I persevered and spent the last 5 months there.

Well I have just spent a session at Pokersars which, although very profitable, was just not as I remembered it. I MISS FULLTILT!!!! The notes, the pot buttons and stuff. I think Holdem Manager sits better within their interface too.

Life is full of those contradictions isnt it??

I am sure it will take a few sessions and I will be just fine. Then I might go back to hating Fulltilt and loving Pokerstars????