October 27, 2009

Notes on The Red Line

Today was my first day playing poker for 10 days as I have been out of the country. It's gonna be a low volume month, which is crap.

Anyway I thought I would mention the red line graph on HEM since I have seen it discussed on numerous micro blogs.

Frankly, I couldn't care less about it. I rarely look at the showdown/nonshowdown winnings graph, because I only look at things that can help me, and that can't help me.

Why? Paying too much attention to a balanced red line will fuck with your head and make you play sub-optimally. One of the main aspects the a "good" redline demonstrates is an understanding of fold equity. If you are reading this blog, you are likely playing at stakes on or under 100nl, and if so, its showdown winnings and blind stealing that are the order of the day. I would say the adjustment in fold equity between 25nl-100nl is relatively small, whereas the adjustment between 100nl to 200 and on to 400nl is massive comparatively.

Playing your opponents cards, value betting with the best hand and folding with the worst of it is the way of it 100nl and below, not trying to push top pair lovers off their "marginal" holding.

Playing a 32/25/10%3bet style will get tons of folds and a nice red line, but I have yet to see a big winner playing these stats at 100nl. You will win lots of small pots, but lose a significant amount of big pots, which combine to make a losing player.

I like to summarise with a hand as usual, and here we bust a top-pair-loving opponent by playing optimally against his stupid overvalue-top-pair style.

$0.50/$1 No Limit Hold'em Cash Game, 5 Players
Poker Tools by Stoxpoker - Hand Details
MP: $84.90 (84.9 bb)
CO: $211.35 (211.4 bb)
BTN: $120.45 (120.5 bb)
Hero (SB): $100 (100 bb)
BB: $108.65 (108.7 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is SB with 4 of spades A of spades

MP calls $1, 2 folds, Hero completes, BB checks
Flop: ($3) 2 of spades 9 of clubs 5 of spades (3 players)
Hero bets $2, BB folds, MP raises to $6, Hero calls $4
We lead out the flop with a semi-bluff with a combo draw, to build the pot.When it's raised, we can guess what he has. Most likely the overpair or TP. Many players (redline lovers) will 3bet-shove here with the combo draw, but against this typical 100nl station's range, we are flipping, when you factor in the unlikely sets. He is never ever laying down an overpair, or top pair. There is no fold equity. So why flip?

Turn: ($15) 3 of hearts (2 players)
Hero checks, MP bets $10, Hero raises to $45, MP calls $35
We just call the flop 3bet and chase our draw, which we hit and he will still pay us off when we hit, which he duly does here, as we check raise him, although I am surprised to see just how lightly he calls.

River: ($105) Q of clubs (2 players)
Hero bets $48 and is all-in, MP calls $32.90 and is all-in

Results: $170.80 pot ($3 rake)
Final Board: 2 of spades 9 of clubs 5 of spades 3 of hearts Q of clubs
MP mucked 9 of spades J of spades (a pair of Nines) and lost (-$84.90 net)
Hero showed 4 of spades A of spades (a straight, Ace to Five) and won $167.80 ($82.90 net)
We risk an additional 4bb on the flop (and possibly another check call 8bb on the turn if it bricks) to get exactly the same result as if we risked 90bb by shoving on 50% equity.

Forget about the red line. Seriously, there is too much else out there to master at these limits. Once you do master them, it's move up time to optimize your win rate, and THEN start looking at fold equity. But if you can get players to lay down decent hands at 100nl, your throwing money away. Because you should have moved up at that point......your crushing.

October 15, 2009

Full tilt v shortstackers

As you may know if you follow my blog, I have little patience for the shortstacking community. I have noticed that the game slows when they sit, and the fact is, it remains a very difficult strategy to play against. I think it actually discourages people from playing more at the poker sites.

There's no real point in trying to get a ss to "change" into a 50bb+ player. From his point of view, why should he? If that's where they get their return, no amount of argument in the name of "respect to the game" or "deep stack skill" will make the slightest difference to them.

But I have an idea. If Fulltilt made it that each player can only buy in for 1 20bb at a time, and any other table he buys into has to be 50bb, 2 things would happen.

1. We would all enjoy playing a little turn and river poker a little more often
2. All the players from other sites (who don't shortstack as a strategy) would positively FLOCK to Full tilt. Because, quite simply, shortstackers ruin it for everyone else, and who wants to have players around who do that at a site.

In fact, I have heard that Fulltilt are seriously considering this. I doubt it has anything to do with their "love" of "proper" poker (ie point 1 above) and more to do with the commercial aspects of point 2.

I just hope it happens.

Here is an example of optimal play against a shortstacker. I play whats called a back-raise, where I float preflop to induce the squeeze from the bb shortstack donk, who duly obliges with his crappy K9o shove. He suksout and immediately leaves the table.

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

MP: $121.60 (121.6 bb)
CO: $157.35 (157.4 bb)
BTN: $100 (100 bb)
Hero (SB): $145.40 (145.4 bb)
BB: $20 (20 bb)
UTG: $299.75 (299.8 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is SB with A of diamonds Q of clubs
3 folds, BTN raises to $2, Hero calls $1.50, BB raises to $20 and is all-in, BTN folds, Hero calls $18
Flop: ($42) K of spades 6 of spades 3 of diamonds (2 players, 1 is all-in)
Turn: ($42) J of clubs (2 players, 1 is all-in)
River: ($42) 3 of spades (2 players, 1 is all-in)

Results: $42 pot ($2.10 rake)
Final Board: K of spades 6 of spades 3 of diamonds J of clubs 3 of spades
Hero showed A of diamonds Q of clubs (a pair of Threes) and lost (-$20 net)
BB showed 9 of clubs K of clubs (two pairs, Kings and Threes) and won $39.90 ($19.90 net)

Words cannot express my feelings toward this monkey and his strategy, they really make me puke when I induce them to spew and they still luck out, and run. What can you do......?

October 11, 2009

Key to Success at the micros?

I don't think there is any great secret to win at 100nl and below. Actually I would say it's simply down to one thing, extracting maximum value with your key hands. Forget about the pre flop all ins, the set over set type cooler/heater, and having your aces cracked, missing with AK etc. It happens to us all, as I have said before. But your winrate will show a marked increase if you are able to get that additional 10bb or so when you know you have the best of it, and play accordingly versus the particular player type.

To illustrate this I want to post a hand that I think I played badly in this respect, where I lost value by lazy hand reading. Villain here is a 10/7 ubernit in the blinds over 42 hands, never having 3bet so far.

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

SB: $168.20 (168.2 bb)
BB: $172.60 (172.6 bb)
UTG: $147.70 (147.7 bb)
MP: $111.45 (111.5 bb)
CO: $100 (100 bb)
Hero (BTN): $100 (100 bb)

Pre-Flop: Hero is BTN with Q of hearts Q of clubs
3 folds, Hero raises to $3, SB folds, BB calls $2

Flop: ($6.50) Q of diamonds T of clubs Q of spades (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $3, BB calls $3
Nice to flop quads, sad to flop it against an ubernit. Nevertheless I always cont bet here, and I think many players always make the mistake of checking here. Just look at the board, one of the wettest out there. If ubernit has 22-99 I doubt he will put much more into the pot, so as well to take it down right there and move on. However, as he clearly only 3bets KK-AA, AK, we must think about what else he might have. A myriad of Broadway combinations also comes to mind, with gutshot and open-ender possibilities, as well as bottom pair ATs type hands. We want to entice these to call. But the other important reason to bet here is because I am also always going to fire a small bet with air, as well as the nuts. Ubernit times for a bit, then calls.

Turn: ($12.50) A of clubs (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $7, BB raises to $22, Hero calls $15
Ok, so here is my first mistake. When I was raised here, I was so busy licking my lips, I didn't actually narrow down his range. What would CR me here? AT? unlikely, check call more from this guy, Axclubs? possible I guess. KJ? very very likely. TT very very likely. So at this point I SHOULD have been thinking about how to extract maximum value on this hands, as AT is putting nothing more into the pot, and only Axclubs will give up on river if it misses. So a simple min raise would have done the job, where he will either call for deception (in his eyes), shove, or insta fold (the least likely).

River: ($56.50) 7 of spades (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $34, BB calls $34
River bricks, and I make my final and most important mistake. He is either check folding his weak hand, or check calling with a boat or a straight, and the check seems more to lean toward the straight. Either way a bet close to pot would have done it, and he still would have called. And had I min-3bet-raised the turn, a 2/3 pot bet on the river would have got all the money in.

Results: $124.50 pot ($3 rake)
Final Board: Q of diamonds T of clubs Q of spades A of clubs 7 of spades
BB mucked K of clubs J of hearts (a straight, Ten to Ace) and lost (-$62 net)
Hero showed Q of hearts Q of clubs (four of a kind, Queens) and won $121.50 ($59.50 net)

So here, through lazy play sparked by the fun of flopping quads, made me lose somewhere in the reason of 30-40bbs.

This is an extreme example, which I use because I had the absolute nuts on the flop, therefore every bet was always going to be a pure value bet, but this applies equally to your tptk hands where you think you have your opponent outkicked, and of course there is far more skill to that, in terms of hand reading and self confidence, but nevertheless, that is where your win rate will be at.

October 08, 2009

comments now enabled

I stupidly turned off my comments options when I played about with the html template here. Was wondering why no one ever commented on anything.

All is hopefully working now.

Nothing much more interesting to say I'm afraid.....

October 06, 2009

Why play donkaments

I have read in various mid to high stakes blogs (Steve Holden for example) about the swingy life of a Tournie pro. Clarkatroid posted an entry after his WSOP main event exit, and the whole thing makes me shudder.

To invest hours, if not days in some MTT, live or online, with a massive player pool, just to be in site of the final table, but then to have to gamble for your whole pile on a coinflip. Or to have some baseball cap brat runner-runner suckout on you with his all-in shove bluff as that dork did against Greg Raymor in 2006 when they were down to 25 players. Online or live it just isn't for me unless I did them for fun, or had some stake thing. (and I have won my share, both in sitngos and in MTTs)

Now I also invest hours in grinding cash, but when some little dogfart overshoves his pocket 4s v my 4bet AA and suksout on me, as happened to me today, as he is dragging the chips toward him in that smug little smile with a "ty ty" in the chatbox , at least I know I am still likely to get my money back from him, and some more, with the edge I have on the little gobshite. When same happens in a donkament I can only pack up and go away feeling like death. Plus, I can avoid getting it in on just a coinflip for full stacks if I so desire.

Tournies are fun, until you realise as you bubble you could actually win, and then the defeat hurts when that coinflip goes to them. Now I know all about $EV versus tEV, but nevertheless, I'll stick to cash thanks.