Friday, December 3, 2010

Foxwoods Trip #3

My little brother has been home for Thanksgiving for a couple weeks, and we finally made it out to Foxwoods (something we've intended to do for over a year now). For the first time in a long time both of us could stand to gamble a couple hundred dollars, so instead of playing the $2/4 limit tables for fun, we sat at $1/2 NL, which was infinitely more fun.

I ran like God, which helped the fun. In the first 15 minutes I picked up KK, AK, and AA (and stacked a guy with KK), and was up over $200. Through the next 3-4 hours my stack fluctuated between $340 and $460, as I saw several more playable and premium hands.

Two mistakes stood out. In one hand, not fully appreciating the looseness of the table, I flatted the big stack's UTG raise with KK, only to see 3 other callers. I then flat called a small $35 bet on J55, before a guy behind raised, UTG called (with AJ), and I folded to the raiser's trip 5s. I 3bet my big hands every time after this. In another hand I raised a loose limper with 99, checked the flop of A66, but called a 2/3p bet on the turn J. There was no hand I could really beat. I checked the river behind, and she showed A3s. There were a couple of occasions where I missed value bets also, such as betting the river w/AA OOP on Q77JK (vs JT, who very well might have called) after checking flop and betting the turn.

In the end, even after running so good, I ended up $200+, which was a fine score, despite the feeling that I could have won more had I played perfectly. My session culminated, however, with the laydown of all laydowns, in which I folded KK pre-flop to AA. Before you start typing "DONK" in the comment box, allow me to explain my read:

The guy across the table from me opens to $12 or $15 from UTG+1, and it folds to me on the button. I have KK, and make a smallish 3bet to $30. Folds to UTG+1, who shortly and evenly says "Raise," matches my bet, and calmly slides out $80 more. I tank for about a minute and fold. I have three considerations:

  • This guy was Mr. Weak-Tight. In the three+ hours I'd played with him he hadn't raised pre-flop more than once, and whenever he limped in he had a very sullen, expecting-the-worst look on his face that was the antithesis of confidence. If his limp was raised, he'd fold. The guy had only really been involved in one memorable hand in all this time, which was my next consideration.
  • About an hour previously, I'd watched this guy *agonize* over calling all-in on the turn with top two pair vs. a loose player. With K8s he'd hit K86 with two clubs, and when a non-club undercard (I think a J or a 3) came on the turn, a loose girl had put him all in. He'd expected a set, and announced "I guess I'm going to regret this" before calling. She had K6.
  • Given this guy's weak style of play and expectation of the worst, the calm with which he immediately 4bet me was very noticeable. He didn't stop to think, or consider his course of action. He didn't have to. He said the word "Raise," immediately, and was utterly calm and collected in sliding more chips out. I tried to imagine him doing this with AK or QQ, and couldn't. He was just too confident.
I got up from the table about ten minutes later and approached him, asking if he'd tell me what he had if I told him what I had. He said "Sure, why not? I had the aces," nodding his head as if even he knew it was obvious. I thanked him and fumbled awkwardly to shake his hand, obviously feeling much better about my fold. This guy was utterly guileless (as his play, as well as his manner, had demonstrated), and I had no doubts that he told the truth. I decided to end my night on that note.

November Results

Mental note: Don't play HU half-drunk (er, three quarters). I made the mistake of forgetting this piece of sage advice at the beginning of the month, and donked off $100 in back to back games before recovering $50. Put a dent in my monthly profit, as did a few micro-stakes 6-max and FR SNGs.

November Results
Total Games: 88
Heads Up Profit: $69
Other profit: $-14
Live profit: $200
Total profit: $255

Sunday, November 7, 2010

October Results

I've been lazy about posting this month because I really haven't been playing. It's for a good reason though;  I got a job! Yes, I now actually have a decent job that I enjoy, working as a paraprofessional (translation: teacher's assistant) at a special education program. I work from 2-8pm Mon-Fri, which is an excellent schedule for me. So since I started working the first few days in October, I've had little time for serious grinding and have contented myself with playing micro-stakes 6-max and 9-handed SNGs for fun on some evenings.

October Results
Total Games: 132
Heads Up Profit: $135
Other profit: $144
Total profit: $279

It seems likely that this blog will see infrequent updates in the medium term. I'm clearly not done with poker (will that ever be the case?), but my new job is definitely a higher priority right now. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

September Results

Another month that almost became my best month ever. In a way it was, because my total profit was higher than ever before, but only as a result of my big tournament score. My HU results, which were looking so promising at around 24% ROI & $14/hr, were once again completely derailed by a bad streak in the second half of the month.

September Results
Total Games: 347
Heads Up Profit: $699
Hourly rate: $7.07
Other profit: $2,189
Bonuses: $50 (Cost 3k FPP)
Total profit: $2,938

HU Games

Friday, September 24, 2010

Shooting fish in a barrel doesn't improve your aim

I've been thinking a lot lately about what kind of player I am. It's kind of complicated, but one of my most central questions revolves around how skilled I actually am. It's difficult for me to answer this question in any quantifiable way (as it is for most players). Though my win rate is good in HU and even in tournaments when I really focus, my HU ROI is vastly inflated by game selection, as I really only play losing players, and the stakes that I play at are fish-rich and generally not difficult to beat. My math is pretty poor, and I don't make calculations (aside from figuring odds & outs) in-game. The conclusion that I've come to is that I have a solid understanding of the fundamentals (starting requirements, odds, board texture, etc.), a good grasp of some more intermediate concepts (player types & adjustments, equity, assigning hand ranges, etc.), and fairly good instincts. This level of knowledge is plenty to beat the small stakes, and when combined with game selection you have yourself a money machine. And that's the (sort of) problem.

Having the basic tools to make money beating the fish at the low stakes games has retarded my development and probably made me a worse player in some ways, because thinking critically at 100% focus is not necessary. I can play a very straightforward, ABC game, even relatively passively, and still make money, and as a result my focus and ability to think through every hand in a logical way has atrophied.

For example, I often don't even bother assigning ranges to my opponents when they call my 3bets pre-flop, because so many of them with literally call with 100% of their opening range. While I get a somewhat clearer idea of their possible holdings after the flop, the ranges for loose low-stakes players are often so wide as to be of questionable use in the decision-making process. This has led me to play more instinctively, using board texture, coupled with my opponent's general style, calling frequency, and displays of strength or weakness to judge whether or not I have the best hand at the moment (e.g. he has an underpair or a draw; this is second pair or a float with overs, etc), rather than my hand's equity vs his possible range of hands. I also tend to have a relatively tight raising range and straightforward style based mostly on hand strength, because I play so many loose cannons and calling stations that don't know how to fold. I'm usually thinking on levels 1 and 2, and often on 3, but rarely on level 4 or higher. Again, this is enough to beat the fish, but I question whether this style would serve at stakes much higher than those I play.

I'm not sure if I've explained my concerns entirely or even coherently, but my point is that my default style is definitely exploitable, and I'm not sure I'm ready to adjust correctly to a tough, perceptive, and aggressive opponent. I've seen several training videos for higher stakes HU SNGs, and though I understand the logic and reasoning as they are explained by psimalive and PrimordialAA, I'm not used to employing it in-game, and am unsure if I'm even capable of thinking and calculating through a hand with the speed and accuracy of such professionals.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Good Month, New Car, & a Big Score for the Birthday Fish

September has been going very well so far. I've settled into a comfortable routine, have played sufficiently well, and have been winning steadily. Up about $1000 so far in HU SNGs.

I also got a new (to me) car, with help from my parents. Its a 2003 Honda Civic with a book value of $8,220, for which I paid $4,800 at a small dealership in a nearby town. Or, I should say, my parents paid, whom I now have to pay back.

Which should be pretty easy at this point, thanks to a massive score in a $33 MTT I played yesterday. The 14th was my 26th birthday, and as it turned out, my mom needed a ride to the airport for an early flight, so I got up at 5:45 (!) to take her there. Not having anything to do until about 5pm, and not being able to resume sleeping due to my caffeine intake, I had planned on playing the $22 Deep Stack at 8:15am (birthday tournament!), but (as fortune would have it) I was one minute late to register upon my return to my dad's apartment. Disappointed, I browsed the other tournaments running that morning, looking for one with a nice, slow structure, and it seemed the next best option was the $33 500-cap $10K GTD, so I registered for that and began play at 9:20.
For the first few hours, my tournament was uneventful. I didn't see many playable hands, and didn't get much action when I did play. When the bubble drew close, I had just enough chips to squeeze into the money, which I decided to do, as $50 would be a nice bonus to the morning's entertainment, and I had so few chips that a double-up would accomplish little. When the bubble finally burst at 54 players I was in the dead zone, with about $6k (2.5 BBs) left. I managed to put some chips together though, and around 45 players doubled through to a respectable stack of around $30K (M~9). A turning point hand came again when I made the nut flush in a 3-way pot, and with ~80K the final table was now a very real possibility. I continued to nit it up, playing only solid values and preserving my place around the average stack (my nittiness meant that I got very little action when I did raise, and was usually ahead when I got a call). The field played down to the final table surprisingly quickly, and before I knew it I was 6th of 9 remaining and guaranteed at least $250 for my morning's fun. As a medium stack I decided to continue to play conservatively and allow a few shorter stacks to bust before making any big moves. To my delight, they obliged me, as did a few of the other medium stacks.

Suddenly we were 4-handed, and I was guaranteed $1,200, by far my biggest tournament score to date. Here the play became tougher and much more tense, as I was forced to play hands and fight to hang on. I had become the short stack by a large measure, having between 100K and 150K out of the 1.5M on the table. The bigger stacks fluctuated somewhat, but for quite awhile even the second shortest had more than double my chips. As the blinds went up, I took to jamming any pair, bigger aces, and some broadway hands, and took a few pots by limping my SB and betting the turn. After what seemed like at least an hour, I had managed to build up to 350K after winning a flip and also being fortunate enough to pick up AQ against an opponent's AJ. An altercation between two of the other players soon left one at 180K, after his TP lost to a flush draw. This guy's stack shrunk further after he raised 1/3 of it preflop, then folded when I jammed (A6s) from the BB. The next hand he jammed 33 but ran into the BBs KK, and suddenly there were three. At this point I had begun to get walks in the BB, which helped to keep me alive as the other, larger stacks tangled. Eventually one of them was brought down to about 200K, at which point the chip leader began to apply the pressure with his 1M stack. This was the real endgame, and at 300K I had a choice; I could play back at the chip leader, risk busting in 3rd, and hope to double through to have a chance at playing HU with a 2:1 chip deficit, or I could allow the short stack to take the gamble first, and hope to make 2nd with a larger deficit. I opted for the latter, and soon the short stack's QTo lost to A5o to put me heads up, but behind 5 to 1 in chips. I pulled out my Nash table, but a streak of unplayable hands soon put me out in 2nd as my jammed J8o ran into the chip leader's AK and lost out. I took 2nd for $2,137.50. Sick!

All in all this was an excellent way to spend my birthday. Though I was very lucky, and won several flips, I only really got my money in bad one time, when I jammed T8s and managed to win out over KK.  So, seeing as how I'm a total MTT fish, I'm pretty satisfied with how I played.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August Results

This month went well, but could have been better. As my graph shows, I played a couple of terrible losing sessions mid-week, which cut severely into my profit. Though I ran into some ugly situations these losses were not simple variance; I played poorly. Some factors: I was tired. I was uncomfortable and out of my normal playing environment (on a laptop on the floor vs. desktop at my desk at home). I played a few rematches that I probably shouldn't have, not because I was outclassed, but because I had been tilted. Playing too long at sub-optimal levels, rather than quitting and coming back fresh. Hopefully I'll take these lessons to heart next month and be more careful.

I also played a couple SNGs for fun after tiring of HU, and went 3/18 and 1/27, which, along with Pokerstars' 4000 and 5000 VPP milestone credits ($10 + $50), boosted my total profit nicely.

August Results
Total Games: 365
Heads Up Profit: $696
Hourly rate: $8.01
Other profit: $61
Bonuses: $60
Total profit: $815

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"The Cons of Being a Pro" by Wein

An interesting article/blog post by 'Wein' at This is a good counterpoint to the "glamourous" way that pro poker is portrayed on television and by various poker sites... Though some pros are able to strike a balance between successful, profitable poker and living a full, interesting, and social life, many are not. I think I'm happy enough not becoming a professional poker player.

The Cons of Being a Pro

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to the Grind

Things have finally settled down for me somewhat; I'm back in MA staying with my parents, and can finally concentrate on making/saving up some cash. The last few days have marked my first dedicated, scheduled grind since early June.

I've started shifting from regular speed games to turbos this month, and this weekend made the jump up to playing the $22s regularly. The results have been very pleasing as I destroyed the game this weekend, making as much in three nights as I did all last month despite running slightly under EV. I believe that focusing on playing Friday-Sunday nights, playing slightly higher and slightly faster (turbos), game selection, and a fresh, clear head have been the deciding factors in this weekend's positive results. Let's hope things continue to go well.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

July Results

Considering the low volume, this month went very well. I spent almost the entire month across the country in San Francisco and Oakland, visiting friends and scouting the area for a possible move. I had a blast, but I also spent a bunch of money, and squeezing in a few sessions here and there helped to offset the cost of travel significantly. I paid close attention to game selection, and also played evenly and with a clear head, as I felt no pressure to play at times when I wasn't up for it.
Interestingly, my ROI is weighted down by poor performance in the $10 regular speed games, in which I broke nearly even. In the $11 turbos and up, I did much better.

July Results
Total Games: 126
Total Profit: $345
Hourly Rate: $8.70

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Raising the river for value after checking the turn behind

So I haven't posted in awhile because I haven't really been playing much at all (~22 hours this month). I'm spending July in the San Francisco bay area visiting some good friends, and considering making a new home here. And as I've predictably run through more money than I anticipated while traveling, I've set aside more time to play.

This hand came up in my last game of today's session, a $20 regular speed game.

Reads: Opponent is solid, tight-aggressive player who raises almost every button and folds almost every BB so far. Most hands don't see a flop.

Preflop: Hero is SB with 

Hero bets t90, Villain calls t60

I raise to take his blind, as he's folding 90% of the time with very little 3-betting.

Flop: (t180)  (2 players)
Villain checks, Hero bets t90, Villain calls t90

Here I consider checking behind, but venture a cautious bet as I believe this flop has missed a good portion of his calling range (which I'm thinking of as mostly A7-AT, K9+, QT+).

Turn: (t360)  (2 players)
Villain checks, Hero checks

After he calls the flop, I don't plan on betting again. Picking up a straight draw on the turn gives me all the more reason to check behind, as I don't want to get check-raised off a hand that now has more potential.

River: (t360)  (2 players)
Villain bets t240, Hero raises to t750, Villain calls t510

Gin. He bets 2/3 pot, and I shake with glee as I am convinced that he likes his hand enough to call a raise. How much can I raise in order to elicit a call from top pair? I settle on a relatively small raise instead of a push as I feel that he simply wont call a shove on such a dangerous-looking board with only top pair. He tanks for 15 seconds for so and makes the call.

Total pot: t1860

Later in the match Villain asked me if, since this was "obviously going to be our last match", I would tell him if I would have raised A3 or A5 on that river. The question apparently had influenced his call on the end. I told him probably not, but I'm still not sure if that's true. 
I thought this hand was interesting because I was offered this window into my opponent's thought process, and it made me consider the hand from his point of view again. Would you call here with the A9? Does this look like some pathetic river bluff by a worse hand (as I was thinking it might at the time)? Would you raise here with 2 pair? Shove? Thoughts/comments appreciated.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June Results

Another month that started out pretty well and then fizzled out. I played almost no games in the last two weeks of June, having too much else to do (mostly moving away), and what little I did play ended up being a waste of time. Of course I ran way under EV, mostly earlier in the month, though I still managed to grind out a profit anyway; eat it, poker gods!

June Results

Total Games: 251
Total Profit: $519
Hourly Rate: $7.81

Heads Up SNG Results

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Doing alright.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Return of Small-Ball

I'm happy to report that things have evened out for me lately. Playing less poker has probably helped. I've had a lot on my mind this month, as I am leaving Chicago, my girlfriend and I are breaking up, and I have no idea what to do with myself at this juncture. As a result of this general life-turbulence I have not felt ready to play my A game very much. Although that hasn't *always* stopped me from playing, it has made it easier to take breaks, which has had the effect of pulling me back to a more focused, emotionally-detached mind set when I do play.

By the way, Lorin Yelle recently wrote me an open letter on his blog, in which he expressed his concern over my use of the online EV calculator at He made some interesting points; I suggest you check it out.

One thing that I believe has helped smooth out the luck factor has been a renewed effort to play small-ball poker, chiefly by keeping pots small early and by stabbing out at a lot of small pots when I feel I have a good chance of picking them up. By playing out more streets I'm better able to control pot size, avoid paying off draws, and get away from hands that were strong on the flop but clearly losers by the river.

I have started to notice a link between my level of aggression and that shown by some of my weaker opponents at the low stakes; the more aggressive I get, the more aggressive they get. These opponents usually start off playing passively (loose- or tight-passive), but begin to play back and get aggressive when I turn my own aggression up (they don't want to feel "pushed around" or "run over"). This has the effect of making them harder to play against, and of bloating many pots early on (the result of 3betting, as well as raising 3-4x instead of 2-2.5x) -- exactly what I'm trying to avoid. By making smaller raises and widening my limping range I accomplish two things against these players; a) I create more small pots (in position) that are easier and less risky to steal, and b) I preserve their passivity, which, whether loose or tight, makes for an easier opponent.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

May Results

Great start, but totally derailed by a downswing in the second half of the month, bringing down both my ROI and hourly rate. Kinda like March, but worse.

May 2010
Total games: 406
Total profit: $710
Hourly rate: $7.74

Heads Up SNG Results

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ugh... more of the same...

What was before just a bad session has become a full blown downswing, and has brought down my entire month as a result. I've been using to confirm this, that I'm not just playing like shit; after my 0% session I had a nice 4%, 7%, 22%, etc. Today was a 6%, and counting all the hands I've played at home in the last 12 days, I broke the meter at 0% again:

My last entry was kind of funny; haha, I broke the luck meter. But that was only ~900 hands; this is ~5,000, which adds up to a lot more lost buy-ins. On top of the fact that, well, seriously... 1,927.4:1 against. Seriously.
I know that downswings like this come with the game, and I don't mean to complain as if I'm the only guy who's ever gotten unlucky; indeed, it could certainly be worse. However, I'm starting to think that, on top of everything else that's happening in my life right now, I can't really deal with this, and certainly not for much longer. It's been a hard month for personal reasons, and as I've mentioned before I'm leaving this town pretty soon, I have a lot of things to figure out, and I just don't need the added emotional burden of Lady Luck shitting on my head. It might soon be time to cash in my chips, at least for a little while.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I created a Global Alias on Sharkscope so I could include the handful of games I've played on Cake this month in one search. 

Doing pretty well so far.

In other news it looks like I'm probably going to be leaving Chicago sometime soon. I'm not sure what I'll be doing after this, but money will be necessary as ever, so hopefully I can grind out my best month yet by June. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SCOOP-27-L: $22 Razz

206th / 3064 = $40.44
$18 profit and all I had to do was play razz for six and a half hours. How do MTT pros do this for a living?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

SCOOP, etc.

May is going well so far. My mom flew in from Massachusetts to visit me for a few days, which was a lot of fun. It was great to see her again, as well as to spend time walking around the city, seeing the sights of Chicago and enjoying the beautiful weather. After her departure on the 3rd I resumed the grind, with the first few days seeing slow progress. Once the weekend arrived, however, the money started to roll in. I've noticed heavier traffic, and fishier traffic, in the $10 & $20 games on Stars in the last few days, which I attribute to the popularity of the SCOOP tournament schedule that is currently running.

I uploaded the month's hand histories to to see how I've been running. The site's analysis put my luck percentile at 63%, so average-good for the last week, which is nice. One thing that jumped out at me when I looked at my graph was the huge discrepancy between my red and blue lines; showdown hands account for essentially all of my winnings. I believe that this is the result of the fishier traffic I've seen of late. Against these fishy low-stakes players who don't like to fold, I often gear down and play a slightly less aggressive, small-ball style pre-flop that, I believe, maximizes my post-flop edge by keeping pots small early. Post-flop then becomes a matter of stabbing at pots when I get the sense that they've missed, giving up if I hit resistance (few elaborate "long-ball" bluffs), and value betting relentlessly when I think I have the best of it, trying to induce hero calls from players who are too suspicious that I'm bluffing. That blue line, I think, is the result of the intensive employment of said strategy.
As far as SCOOP itself has gone for me, it's been a washout so far. I completely bungled my first match in the HU event, stacking off with TPTK vs a flopped straight. I then played the $11 NLHE event, which I didn't really pay enough attention to (I don't even remember how I got busted), and the 2-day NLHE event, which went well for a couple of hours, but as Dan Harrington says in HOH II, "If you get knocked out of the tournament because you lost in a set-over-set confrontation, then it just wasn't your tournament."
On the other hand, I've done rather well playing SCOOP hyper-turbo satellites, turning $9 into $22 twice so far. So I guess I'm not down all that much. I plan on playing the Razz event tomorrow, which should be fun. Wish me luck.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

April Results

A great month. I ran well and played well most of the time, and as a result I really didn't need to put in a ton of work. A good thing too, because though I would have liked to play a bit more, circumstances this past week have made this difficult. I missed the last weekend due to scheduling conflicts with my other job, and my mother has been visiting me in Chicago since the 28th.

On a related note, I gave my manager my two weeks notice a few days ago. Every time I go back to the coffee shop I'm reminded of what a waste of time it is working there for minimum wage, and how crushing it would be to go back to that grind even part time. So I quit. I have a financial cushion of about six hundred dollars plus my current bankroll (~$1,800). Wish me luck!

April 2010
Total games*: 430
Total profit: $1,097
Hourly rate**: $9.60

*From this month on 'Total games' will refer to HU games only.
**Derived from records of total session length, not simply time spent in-game.

Heads Up SNG Results



Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Turning AK into a bluff on the river

I just played a $10 match on Stars against what I would call an average HU player for that stake, and this hand was certainly the most interesting point. It involved a note that I had made earlier:
"- check 77 in BB after button limp; call down on Jxxx"
This guy was fairly passive, a little past the point of being just trappy. Shortly after the hand where he checked 77 in the BB, I saw him do a similar thing with 88, checking in the BB after I limped and flat calling on an A42 flop (I had Q4, and made trips on the river, which might have taught him his lesson). I'd also observed him limping middling aces on the button. So I had made a mental note that this guy liked to slowplay fairly strong hands preflop.

Poker Stars, $110,506.46 + $0.50 NL Hold'em Tournament, 15/30 Blinds, 2 Players - Hand History Converter

BB: 1,520
Hero (BTN): 1,480

Pre-Flop: (45) K A dealt to Hero (BTN)
Hero raises to 75, BB calls 45

Flop: (150) 6 6 T (2 Players)
BB checks, Hero bets 100BB raises to 240, Hero calls 140

At this point I knew I was behind, but his very smallish raise intrigued me. I figured it meant one of two things: either he had a 6 or a very strong ten (or TT), or some other pair, 77-99 or JJ-QQ (AA & KK being less likely because of my AK). I did not consider a flush draw, as raising a draw was not congruent with this opponent's relatively tight/passive style. I also had the Ad, for whatever that was worth. So either he had the nuts, or I had outs, and given the odds his tiny raise laid, I decided to peel the turn.

Turn: (630) 3 (2 Players)
BB bets 240, Hero calls 240

I'm now pretty confident that he has some sort of pair, probably JJ+ since he doesn't seem afraid of the ten, and the turned diamond gave me the nut flush draw to go with my two overcards. Getting roughly 3.5 to 1, I call.

River: (1,110) T (2 Players)
BB bets 330Hero raises to 925 and is All-In, BB folds

At first, this river looks like a brick for me. My flush draw is busted, my overs missed, and any ten just filled up. But the second ten on the board makes it less likely that my opponent holds a ten, and when he pauses and bets only about 1/3 of his stack/the pot, I consider my read up until this point and look at how my actions appeared to him; small preflop raise, bet/call on the flop, call on the turn. This doesn't look like a busted flush draw, and it certainly doesn't look like AK, because only a donk would play AK this way. It looks like a medium ten; T9, JT, QT, KT, and possibly AT. After about 1.5 seconds I decide to go with my read and stick it in. Opponent tanks off his entire 60 second time bank and folds.

Results: 1,770 Pot
Hero showed K A and WON 1,770 (+900 NET)

Thoughts, comments, and criticisms appreciated.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Luckbox & The Lost Weekend

Things have continued to go well through this month. Thanks largely to game selection I've kept my win rate quite high, and have thus been able to bring in $40-$70 per session playing just 3-7 hours (15-25 games) per day, very steadily. This is also due to running good this month; has my luck percentage at 82% for April. You can see the graph here. I'm very curious about what my red and blue lines (non-showdown vs showdown winnings) can tell me about my game; perhaps I'll include my analysis in my next post.

Unfortunately I've basically lost Saturday and Sunday to "that other job", as my manager scheduled me for Sunday (a no-no) as well as Saturday. I'll show her, however. I'll show her.

Though overall I've run pretty well this month, I thought the reader(s) might enjoy this sample hand. The pre-flop call, btw, was based on a solid read of my opponent as a maniac that I would be forced to gamble with, and I had no qualms at all about shipping it.

PokerStars Game #43102880517: Tournament #265988233, $19420262.66+$23529420.30+$0.50 USD Hold'em No Limit - Match Round I, Level I (10/20) - 2010/04/23 21:02:54 CT [2010/04/23 22:02:54 ET]

Table '265988233 1' 2-max Seat #1 is the button

Seat 1: AJPC79 (1450 in chips)

Seat 2: mistah kurtz (1550 in chips)

AJPC79: posts small blind 10

mistah kurtz: posts big blind 20

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to mistah kurtz [9h 9d]

AJPC79: raises 80 to 100

mistah kurtz: raises 200 to 300

AJPC79: raises 1150 to 1450 and is all-in

mistah kurtz: calls 1150

*** FLOP *** [Tc Th Kc]

*** TURN *** [Tc Th Kc] [Td]

*** RIVER *** [Tc Th Kc Td] [Ts]

*** SHOW DOWN ***

mistah kurtz: shows [9h 9d] (four of a kind, Tens)

AJPC79: shows [9s As] (four of a kind, Tens - Ace kicker)

AJPC79 collected 2900 from pot

mistah kurtz said, "sick"

*** SUMMARY ***

Total pot 2900 | Rake 0

Board [Tc Th Kc Td Ts]

Seat 1: AJPC79 (button) (small blind) showed [9s As] and won (2900) with four of a kind, Tens

Seat 2: mistah kurtz (big blind) showed [9h 9d] and lost with four of a kind, Tens

Friday, April 16, 2010

Some good reads (the written kind)

Last night I thought of a couple of new things to do with this blog to expand its scope slightly beyond my own personal progress and the occasional strategy analysis post. The first thing that I'd like to start doing is posting links to articles on heads up NLHE (and heads up poker in general, for that matter) that I find insightful and suspect will be useful/instructive to other HU players visiting this blog. A second thing that might be fun is to post hand histories that strike me as interesting/ridiculous/revealing/whatever, along with relevant reads, and invite comments from readers as to their thoughts... this could also be done in a play-a-hand-with-me format to encourage discussion...
So, to get the ball rolling I'd like to suggest two articles on levels of thought in poker: Level Headed Thinking and How to Spot a Level 3 Thinker, both by Andrew Brokos. These articles provide a thoughtful explanation not only of the various levels of thought in the game, but also how to identify and respond to the level on which your opponents are thinking; goes a long way toward answering the perennial question "How the **** could you call with that?!?"
The sequel to the Carl Sampson article I mentioned a few weeks ago, Mental Disintegration in Limit Hold 'Em, Part Two, is now available for your perusal in the 2+2 Magazine. While I liked Part One better, this article still has some good discussion of personal tolerance limits and causes of tilt, and all of us can benefit by keeping aware of such things.
That's all for now. Perhaps I'll try a PAHWM post next.

PS - Seriously, what is with bad players over-betting limped pots in the early levels of a HU match? Why are you betting 100 into 40 after I check on a dry flop? Why did you bet 200 into 60 on the turn when I checked the flop behind? What the hell is that? I'm not kidding, like every other weak opponent I play does this. Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Back on Track

Things are looking up. After 10 days, I've made almost as much as I did all last month, mostly as a result of a) finding my groove in the $25s on Cake, and b) going on a soul-crushing rampage playing the $10 and $20 games on Stars (undefeated yesterday). The problems I was having last month really made me analyze my game a bit. I also started watching a few videos from (the sample pack), (great site), and an excellent HU blog I just found, I've been much more aggressive pre-flop, increased my C-bet frequency, and become more selective in running bigger bluffs, among other changes, and it's made a huge difference. I'm a bastard to play against at this point.
I'm still a bit conflicted about playing on Stars, because they don't offer rakeback, which is even more significant now that I'm moving up in stakes ($1 fee per game at the 20s). However, the availability of games (and variety of opponents) is much better than at Cake, which means higher volume...
(BTW, let me just say that I would play at Full Tilt, but they suspended my account because it was associated, through fund transfers, with the account of a friend who owes them money... and who is probably never going to pay them... so FT is out for me for the foreseeable future :/ )

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Stakes, ROI, & Profitability

It seems as though things are back on track. Up $300 on Cake, and another $75 on Pokerstars in the first week of April. About half of my profit on Cake is off of the stake, so I can't count all of it, but the point is that things are going better, and I've become much more confident about moving up. I made the conscious decision to focus more on the $25 games on Cake, which I'm playing on the stake, as well as the $20 games on Stars with my own roll, after doing a little examination of my ROI over the last three months.
It occurred to me about a week ago that I hadn't yet done a comparison of my ROI across different stakes. If, say, my average ROI is 35% in $5 games, but only 15% in $10 games it would be in my interest to focus my energies on playing the $5 games, since they would be more profitable for me. So I did the comparison. I used Sharkscope to ascertain my ROI at various levels at various times, including sessions when I was running like god and other sessions that I'd rather not talk about. Here it is:

My ROI in the bigger games is double what it is in the $10 SNGs, which have been my bread and butter up to this point. Since [$25 * .31] > [$10 * .16], the decision to concentrate on the $25 games was a no-brainer, and after going on a ten game winning streak, I decided to stick with it. I've also gotten better about handling the losses mentally, and not letting them discourage me.
Playing more on Stars has intrigued me. I kind of left Stars behind about a year ago because they don't offer rakeback, and have been playing on Cake almost exclusively since then. But the fact that Stars always has games available, and that they are at the optimally comfortable $20 level, has begun to pull some of my action their way... we will see if this trend continues...

March Results

A disappointing month. Still a winning month, but nearly all of those winnings were accrued in the first two weeks. After a pretty good start, I seemed to hit a wall that I don't think I've found my way around yet. Hopefully things will get back on track in April.

March 2010
Total games: 546
HU games: 515
Total profit: $635
HU profit: $646
Hourly rate: $5.63
Heads Up SNG Results
Total SNG Results

Thursday, April 1, 2010

LOL Razzaments

Today I played a kind of shitty session in the midafternoon, and ended up down $50. The amusing thing about this is that, perhaps tilted, I decided to play an $11 razz tournament on Stars and took 4th (of 104) for $96, which for me somewhat redeemed the earlier loss... and amuses me to no end.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stake Segregation

The other night I had a poker-related realization that came to me in the same way that most such insights have come to me lately: while lying in bed at 2am. Fortunately, this timing essentially forced me to write down my thoughts in the form of a message to Lorin, lest I forget by morning. The gist of my message was that I've been treating the $25 games that I've been playing too much like the $5 and $10 games, which has created two problems. First, because I've been integrating the bigger games into my lower-stakes grind sessions, I've brought the lower-stakes mindset, which is more or less ABC poker, to the bigger table where it isn't always enough to win. Second, the disparity between the $25 games and, say, the $5 games has a negative effect on my ability to focus on the latter; if I've lost a bigger game, knowing that it will take 5 wins at the $5 level to recoup that single $25 loss makes for impatient and distracted play, and completely disrupts the rhythm of a good session.
The solution that I put forward for myself was to segregate the $25 games into an entirely different session, separate from the lower stakes grinding that I do on my own time and my own dime. The text of my message to Lorin, as well as his reply, can be read here at his blog, The Short Stack Hero.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not Sure If I Can Do This Anymore [LC]

The time-wasting streak continues, as I book my 4th losing-or-breaking-even session. At this point I think I'm losing the confidence that is necessary to playing a good HU game. I've noticed a pattern forming; I start a session, and win or lose a little, and the little suck-outs that occur hand-to-hand in poker start to irritate me perhaps a little more quickly than usual. Maybe I lose more than a couple flips in a row, and it costs me a match that I was leading initially. Then it happens; something not only unlikely but absolutely incomprehensible occurs, and it costs me yet another match. Now I'm right back where I was, dead even after 2 or 3 hours of play. My confidence is even more bruised, because now I expect to lose flips and I don't even really expect to win when I know I'm getting my money in good. Just the last couple hours have included my AK losing to A9, A9 losing to 98, KQ losing to K9, each of them pre-flop all-ins, and each of them costing me the chip lead or the match itself.
And then there are hands like this one...
...which just don't make any sense. And I think those get me the most; when I lose as an overwhelming favorite it sucks. But when I lose as an overwhelming favorite when my opponent played his hand in a way that can only be described as inexplicable (as well as foolish; I'm not talking about being outplayed), it's worse. And I'm aware that opponents who stack off 30-50 BBs deep with Q3s preflop, or with middle-pair-no-kicker on the flop, are the ones that I want to be playing against. But lately I'm playing against them and I'm still not winning, and I'm not exactly sure why or how to fix it. I'm not trying to blame my shitty results this week entirely on bad luck. I've made mistakes too. But it's hard to figure out exactly what they are, because it even when I feel that I'm playing a totally solid game, it doesn't seem to make a difference.
Anyway, I don't really know what to do. Obviously taking a day off wasn't enough, but I'm wondering if any amount of time is really going to make a difference.