September 30, 2009

September Results and Graph - 100nl 6max

So here is my graph for September. I didn’t play in August, save for a few hundred hands as I was away.

I ran at just below 3ptbb/100, all at 100nl 6max, and which I cannot complain about, especially since it’s the first time I have played this level. (Well, I have done100nl at Full Ring, of course, and ok, 21k isn’t the biggest sample ever, so I am not taking too much from it). I started off 4tabling, adding another 2 tables in the final couple of days of the month.

One of the features of my graphs are certainly that I usually have a somewhat jaggedy line. I suspect (read I know) this means I play a somewhat high variance style, with a reasonably high standard deviation. (being 41.85BigBets) This tends to be the case when I move up to a higher level. Why? …..Well it may sound crazy but I just sometimes call regs down light at a new level, simply to see what they have. It’s information, quite simply, that I think of as an investment, to help me get a decent picture of some of the ranges, and the feel for the approx % of bluffing. The more I play therefore, the more I can trust my reads and thus the less I pay people off. As far as I know I have never heard of anyone doing that in medium size pots at the micros. Maybe I am wrong…

I also LAG it up at a new level, and tighten up bit by bit over maybe 15-25k hands to find a sweet spot, which is contrary to the way most move up I guess.

From memory, I only had 1 big sukout, when I donk called a good player who had me crushed with kk v my tt all in on the turn when I just didn't believe him, and I caught my 2 outer. whoops. I had my fair share of brutal beats, some of which occurred all at once, at 5khands on the graph, and it’s certain that a thick skin is required to play 6max as you move up, being that you see so many more flops than at FR.

I don’t think you should ever stay at a level if you do not have a good feeling that at sometime in the future you will be able to consistently beat it. I think I can comfortably beat 100nl 6max, but not without another load of hands under my belt. A 20-30k hand break-even stretch is perfectly possible for all players, so next month does not need to be a winning month, and break even is fine, as I posted previously here, talking about the rakeback pro.

So adding on rakeback and 2 nice FT bonuses, totalling around $550, I am ok with just under $1720 for the month and my new level.

Obviously I have tons and tons to learn, and I will keep working away at my game, and any comments are always very welcome.

September 29, 2009

Hud Robot part 2 and the Professor

Just read back over my post profiling the Hud Robot as a player type and I stupidly forgot to mention their favourite player.

Silly me. Pretty obvious really, in case you haven't already gathered......


And talking of the man himself, I think he can safely kiss any remaining credibility of being the "professor" of poker goodbye after his recent performance on Poker After Dark with Dwan, Ivy, Zigmund et al. Not sure if you saw it, but it was the biggest illustration I have seen yet as to how the game has been totally changed in the last 2 years. Notwithstanding that, even Hellmuth was prepared to mix it up a bit with Dwan at the last cash game there, but Lederer, on losing his AA to a set for 200bb ($100k) in one of the first hands (overplayed in true ubernit style), Lederer rebought, shut up shop and folded hand after hand for the remaining entire week of poker. I have no idea what he was thinking, but he must surely have been aware that the poker world was watching. And with another $20k of blinds and antes away, he confirmed to me that cash poker deep stacked leaves you nowhere to hide.

Clearly playing scared money, what he thought he was doing there, or hoped to prove, is beyond me, and aside from his awful ring game, he demonstrated one of the biggest errors any novice player can ever make, that of poor game selection.

September 27, 2009

The Hud Robot

There are a few people out there who, at some time in their life, had their imaginations removed by a quick painless operation that they may no longer remember how it happened. These people exist on a diet of mediocrity and over-logic. When these same people find poker, they in turn find themselves obsessing to such huge amounts over their other organ -their HUD.

Welcome to the world of the HUD Robot.

We all love our Huds, and we all use them a bit. The HUD Robot however, likes to have 3 rows of stats as the minimum, but I have seen screenshots of guys with 5 before. PT was good, but Holdem Manager was heaven, especially with the 3bet stats that came in.

As such, the critical things of no limit (the "look and feel" of deep stack play) which no HUD can teach you, pass these poor souls by. When facing a CR on a wet board therefore, their poor little HUD can't cope, and in this unfortunate vacuum of statistical information, they panic, as they have to make a decision ON THEIR OWN, which, due to the panic, usually means a wrong decision.

The HUD robot will usually be, in the outside world, a good reliable right hand man to the boss of a company, loyally carrying out same boss's directions in good worker ant fashion, as he is not comfortable making decisions on his own.

The Hud Robot also adores books by Sklansky, especially those like NLT&P where plenty of mathematics are written out for him to examine and "copy".

How to spot a HUD Robot? A bit tricky at first. Standard prelfop ranges and bet sizes, together with conventional play post flop, and long pauses at each betting round as they check their pop ups. (Nb the timing tell is only relevant once you have checked the amount of tables they are playing). This type rarely, if ever, value bet thin as their knowledge of stats means they are paranoid of never having the nuts, and the possibility that their opponnent could have just that. So the check on the end of a runner runner flush board with them having a 2 pair or a set is usually a good tell of their tendencies.

How to play a HUD Robot? Simple, really...just mix it up and fire into him when you hit your unlikely hand, his HUD won't tell him to fold. Confused, he will make the wrong decision usually.

September 25, 2009

Calling stations and Implied odds at 100nl 6max

I would say you can safely separate the players at this level into various player types, with the exception of a tiny percentage of excellent players who remain unpredictable.

But one of the most common things present across the player types divide is that of an inability to lay down either strong draws when they know they are beat and have no odds, and, more commonly, made hands that are far from the nuts. It is these 2 things for me at least, that make the variance and frustrations worth it over the long run at this level.

I have no idea when it actually markedly changes (ie 200nl, 400nl?) but at 100 any pair is good for even many of the regs to just call down with, or even raise. 2 pair is the nuts to many, and an overpair.....better than sex for the ubernits in particular. Whilst that is frustrating for a player like me who never likes to give up when I know someone is weak (and they still call my barrels down) it pays off handsomely in the long run.

I leave you with this hand. Villain is a 36/18 standard fish typical at this level.

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

CO: $179.50 (179.5 bb)
Hero (BTN): $152.55 (152.6 bb)
SB: $200.50 (200.5 bb)
BB: $229 (229 bb)
UTG: $109.45 (109.5 bb)
MP: $100 (100 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is BTN with 9 of clubs A of spades

UTG raises to $3.50, 2 folds, Hero calls $3.50, SB folds, BB calls $2.50
I am calling the utg raiser here because he is a total lagfish and I think he can give me plenty of value on the right flop. BB (villain) calls which is no surprise as he calls 40% from BB.

Flop: ($11) 5 of spades 4 of spades 9 of spades (3 players)
BB bets $16, UTG folds, Hero calls $16
Big bet on flop smells of a set, 2 pair or flush. Flush is likely as these fish will call from blinds with any 2 suited always. He could even be doing it with something like J9, t9 to get rid of the draws. Like many slightly aggro fish, he has donkbet of 22%. Folding is out of the question because of the stack sizes and the implied odds. Smaller stacks would make it hard to continue, depending on reads.

Turn: ($43) K of spades (2 players)
BB bets $15, Hero calls $15.
Straightforward here. He either has a flush or he doesn't. If he doesn't he is snap folding to a raise, but by simply calling we allow him to bluff a final shell on the river.

River: ($73) 8 of spades (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $118.05 and is all-in, BB calls $118.05
Nothing changed here, he either had a flush or he didn't. My logic, as per the start of this post, was that he would never ever be capable of laying down the Qs, Js, maybe even the Ts, and all of which are entirely within his range. so an overbet shove was obvious for snap fold or snap call.

Results: $309.10 pot ($3 rake)
Final Board: 5 of spades 4 of spades 9 of spades K of spades 8 of spades
Hero showed 9 of clubs A of spades (a flush, Ace high) and won $306.10 ($153.55 net)
BB mucked J of spades 6 of spades (a flush, King high) and lost (-$152.55 net)

Like I said, keep pushin at them, but in small pots. You will lose some to the stations, aggros and donks, but same guys will pay you off in the pots that really matter.

September 21, 2009

Love Hate Relationship with Poker

Yesterday was maybe the first time I really doubted whether I could cut it as a poker player. I had one of those sessions where everything went against me. I then looked at my stats and thought, WTF am I doing, as I lost 3buyins. I didn’t play bad, in fact there was only 1 or 2 decisions out of the 1000 hands I would play differently, but it was more the frustration of not being able to get over the variance. And I wasn’t sure if there was something obvious that I wasn’t doing, that I should be doing.

I cant be bothered with the after effects of poker after one of those inevitable sessions, I can’t stop thinking about it later in the day, and it stops me focusing on other stuff. As it was I went out with a good friend of mine, had a few drinks, and made a decision to play once I got home. So I got back home, fired up 6 tables at 1am, and won 4 buyins within around 600 hands. I am not saying that’s a good thing, but the fact was I knew I wouldn’t be able to be cool with poker again until I had tried to get the money back. And I think that isn’t such a good thing, despite the fact I now am sure I now have an edge at 100nl 6max.


Poker is the biggest headfuck ever. You can learn the best moves ever, but if you can’t deal with the swings (and I am not saying I can yet) I doubt you will progress.

September 17, 2009

Twoplustwo haters part 2

I think the 2p2 forum does offer some fantastic resource and helps the Internet player in particular on the daily grind. Some examples would be rakeback info, hand postings, strategy, scripting info.

There are however, a few things you need to keep in mind when reading/and/or posting the threads:

On the msnl threads, some of the strategy postings are plain nonsense. Take most with a pinch of salt. Read this for example of just a plain stupid post, and note how he backtracks a few posts later, as it's examined further here.

NEVER read the small stakes and/or mid stakes forum and then try to apply it to micro stakes. It won't work. An example is 4betting. If you think 3betting has gone crazy at msnl, just look at 400nl. 4betting is the new 3betting there. I would be certain if you 4bet light at msnl you will pay very dearly. (I know myself, I tried it unsuccessfully in April with a bet/fold strategy at 100nl, see my posts for that month if you are interested). If you are thinking on some high level and your opponent is only looking at his cards, or in love with top pair, you will just suffer from Fancy Play Syndrome and lose EV.

Don't think because the haters slag off a post, they are right. It is a sad trend, but there is a strong lobby of Cardrunner type slags who think they are the nuts, and everyone else outside their 21-year-old-dropoutiscool-college-brat-all-about-me-I-dont-give-a-fuck are just fish (That's their downfall by the way). They cannot think for themselves, and need some Stox winning mid stakes baller to show them how its done, and they blindly follow this line, without ever making their own ideas. Look how they lay into this guys tight/passive strategy ideas at 10nl here. He's thinking out of the box. Right or wrong, that is to be commended in a forum. (NB I noted this before here)

Finally, any Internet forum that encourages discussion always allows in the positively loathsome scum that have no use on earth and should just be taken round the back and executed. I leave you with this as an example, a guy who thinks its cool to reveal personal financial and private address details of Daniel Negreanu, just because "he doesn't like him".
What is scary is how easy it is to post this utter shite, even if it is not accurate.

September 09, 2009

The Serial Shortstacker

Low self esteem? Do you hate the world? Think its a dog-eat-dog world and you just got to look after numero uno? Scared to raise those pocket 2s? Well, if so, finally here's a post just for you, and following on from my Player Types mini-series.

Risking the wrath of the small but very vicious army of Small stackers out there, I decided to give my thoughts on what are, surely, the most detested of player types. The Serial Shortstacker. "Hey," I hear them scream, "that's not a player type, that's a STRATEGY".

Well, that would be right, except I didn't call the player type the short stacker, I called him the SERIAL SSr. Yes, unlike the other min buy-in money types that play at the micros, who do indeed tend to just donate their 20bb before going to bed for a bit of fun, or the scared money types, or the guys who might try it at a new level to get a feel, the serialSS actually ENJOYS the strategy, and positively aspires to play this way regularly.

Now although everyone else hates them, and they are aware of that, the Serial SS has to come to terms with this. They have a contempt for the bigger pool deeper stack players who, they know, indeed, positively loath them. So they deal with this by building a virtual wall in their minds to cope their unpopularity by in turn loathing every single poker player (probably everyone in the world full stop) other than themselves, which presumably goes with their general phsyche. . They avoid the insults, having received so many of them, by turning off their chat boxes, so don't waste your time expressing your frustration each time they push with their 33 and hold up v your AK, or they stop-and-go and catch on the river v your hero call when you were ahead . Just think of summer roses, karma, and Bhudda whilst gritting your teeth. That way you don't play into their hands, and end up donking money to them or the rest of the table. Donking money away is bad of course, but donking money to the SerialShortstacker is plain criminal.

The SerialSS relies entirely on you not noticing, (or forgetting about) their transparent strategy. And it works, as long as you get bored and play into their predictable limp reraise (sometimes they do this by min raising too). Just limp along with them, and fit fold the flop. Don't worry, if you hit 2 pair, they will gladly give you their measly 20bb as they stop-and-go the flop after their limp reraise didn't work. Never, ever call with a speculative holding against these numpties, you never have the odds. Put them all in withAk-AQ, JJ-TT, flat call their raise with AA-QQ, and throw the rest v their open raise.

The SerialSS will have you believe that his is a fine, complex and thoughtful strategy, full of deep thinking and many variables. The fact that none of them have ever seen a turn card with money behind in their miserable lives escapes them. They are so used to thinking about things entirely from their own perspective that they have no desire to delve into the higher level concepts of no-limit deep stack (no need to hand read after all). ........."And why should I", I hear them shout. ........Why indeed.

Cmon guys, lets keep the discipline up so we can stop paying them off and rid ourselves of this pox once and for all. My solution to the Serial shortstackers would be to make them play at tables where the MAX buyin would be 20bb, but the min buy in would be 5bb. Let them hone their skills there, with their own kind (who they also hate, by the way).

The Serial shortstacker has no favourite player (other then themselves obviously, but who they also sub-conciously detest) as no "known" players have become "good" and arrived at high stakes by playing their crappy, hugely selfish SS strategy.

Ps - playing these types is actually quite difficult, and my brief strategy notes above for playable hands are just that, so please do not rely on them for game theory, as there is far more too it. The aim of this post is simply to briefly "reflect" about them . In fact, adjusting to a 20bb stack when they do come to your tables comes much more down to maths and less to psychology (and thus very different/simpler than deep stack philosophy). I am serious about wanting to beat this type as the games would be better as a result, and there is good information out there pertaining to open raising with them still to act, calling their raises, and such, and thinking in relation to the remaining stacks. Please use it. However the very best strategy is simply to find games without them.

September 06, 2009

Don't bluff me you swine

There's a fine line between the pay-off-wizard and the "I don't-believe-you" line, and it's usually the difference between good and bad hand reading. I haven't posted that much on hand reading but thought I would try a bit of analysis.

Most important thing here (as with all hand reading exercises) is our opponent. This guy runs at 26/13 with a 15% CR and defends 50% of his blinds over a smallish hand sample, and has 3% 3bet. Aggression factor here I always ignore as I need minimum 1k hands for it to make any sense. Next factor is stack sizes, and we are both 130bb+ deep.

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

BB: $191.10 (191.1 bb)
UTG: $118.05 (118.1 bb)
Hero (MP): $137.70 (137.7 bb)
CO: $121.65 (121.7 bb)
BTN: $116.30 (116.3 bb)
SB: $69.85 (69.9 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is MP with T of hearts K of hearts

UTG folds, Hero raises to $3.50, CO folds, BTN folds, SB folds, BB calls $2.50
A slightly loose raise in EP, not something I usually do, but for some reason I did here.

Flop: ($7.50) K of spades J of hearts J of spades (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $5, BB raises to $18, Hero calls $13

So here is where the hand begins. Now I am about to fold here, but then I look at my position. I raised from UTG+1 and he knows this. He has a 3% 3bet which suggests his range is AK, AA-JJ. I can therefore eliminate these from his holding. I am also eliminating any J as these passivy guys always slow play their monsters. Hopefully, this could put him on AQspades, QTspades, QT, or possibly the nut flush or even naked baby flush draw. I think KQ is somewhat unlikely here, as, aside from him worrying about me having AK being the EP raiser, passives like this tend to check call all streets with TP, or do a spazzy min raise, for what they think is value. But KQ is still a possibility. Finally, in the tiny possibility he does in fact have a J, I can get his entire stack if a K comes, as I don't think these guys can get away from a boat. Weighing it up, therefore I change my mind and call.

Turn: ($43.50) 3 of diamonds (2 players)
BB bets $27, Hero calls $27
Hmmm, I am still not happy, but even a dude like this knows not to let me draw, if in fact he does have the KQ and he thinks it's me who is drawing. So my line on the flop has to continue. His betting line just doesn't make sense to me (too small), unless he has precisely KJ and is valuetowning me, or is still semi bluffing with a strong draw.

River: ($97.50) Q of hearts (2 players)

BB checks, Hero checks
I am snap checking here 100% of the time. If he had fired the 3rd barrell I probably would have to call, given my decisions on flop and turn but I'm not sure, and I am hating myself at this point I am sure.

Results: $97.50 pot ($3 rake)
Final Board: K of spades J of hearts J of spades 3 of diamonds Q of hearts
BB showed 6 of spades 6 of diamonds (two pairs, Jacks and Sixes) and lost (-$48.50 net)
Hero showed T of hearts K of hearts (two pairs, Kings and Jacks) and won $94.50 ($46 net)

In summary, I guess I never thought about the underpair, and he would have won the pot on the turn if any A, 9 or spade had come up, so I can't really fault his bluff as it fooled me. But his mistake was trying to bluff on a broadway flop v an EP raiser (it hits so much of my range), compounded by too small a bet on the turn, when in truth he should have just given up.

September 02, 2009

My thoughts on the rakeback pro, and taking shots

There seems to be a general dislike of being labelled a rakeback pro, it being taken as an insult by many players.

I have absolutely no problem if I were breaking even at the tables, and making a profit through rakeback, especially at higher levels. As a part time player at 100nl, you only need 25k hands to get some $750 of rakeback per month, and as you move to 200nl it gets an even more chunky figure. If you take that line, (ie I dont mind 0BB/100) ESPECIALLY when taking shots at higher levels, you do one of the most important things in poker, you take the pressure off yourself. Less pressure = better decisions. Better decisions = +EV. Sure if you are playing 25nl or below, it's a bit tougher to get by on rakeback (actually you should just forget about rakeback and keep playing and learning), but the play should be proportionally softer, so shot taking is less of a big deal.

Long term playing at a particular level just breaking even will inevitably lead to a better understanding of the game, and eventually improve. You might hit a heater straightaway, you might hit a downer, but being happy with just break even initalially is cool for a long term plan of improvement. Something that helped my No-limit skills was playing PLO and Horse Sitngos, which I played purely as a fun excersise with no real aim to win, just aiming not to lose.

Fact of the matter is, many posters only post winning results and winning graphs for reviews, and just tend to post losing hands or sessions. It's those dudes that are kidding themselves. If you are not obssessed with the graph line, tilt is less of an issue, and playing is just more enjoyable.

Remember, Full stacked 100bb micro no limit is hard. It takes a lot of patience, experimenting and experience. Good poker looks far into the future.