Monday, June 27, 2005

A little celebration

I haven't played any MTTs lately. I was concentrating on ring games and trying my luck at low limit SnGs. But the $1 tourney was calling to me this afternoon. And I can see why....

Yep. That's little ol' me at the final table. Sure, I ended up in 9th, but I tried to steal on the first hand (yeah, bad idea) and was 8th in chips at the time. So, maybe a change in luck finally after a series of suckouts. We'll see.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Read this if you like SnGs

A lot of people talk about how to win at SnGs and how they are crushing them. Most people say to play tight-weak or tight-aggressive. Here is somone that has been trying loose-aggressive with success. I'm going to try some of his tips and they have already started working. First try, got a second in a $5 SnG on Full Tilt.

Reading through my last post has me thinking. It reads like weak-tight play. I need to tweak. I can't just let people push me around. That's the nice thing about being an amateur on a small bankroll....I can afford to make mistakes (and I do) and learn from them. I'll update soon with how the SnGs are going and how I'm doing with a more aggressive strategy.

In the meantime, I updated the Blogroll. Go read. It will make your game better, I swear. It has improved mine, even though I'm not near the level a lot of these others are at, yet. Maybe, someday. I hope....

Monday, June 13, 2005

Controlling the Pot in No Limit - Feedback please

Okay, got that last suckout off my chest, so now it is time to do some serious talking. Real poker strategy, not just ranting and raving from your good old lunatic buddy.

Today's discussion is about controlling the size of the pot. I haven't seen much on this subject, but haven't read a lot of books on poker. I've been poking around blogs for a few months, and have maybe seen one discussion.

When I was a newbie (not an amateur like I am now) I didn't know lesson one about pot odds. And it really, really showed. If you don't know Pot/Implied Odds, stop right now and go get a poker book and read about them. I won't rehash here. The thing that I now know as the amateur player is that P/I Odds are your friend, as long as you control the pot. To me, this is the biggest lesson that I have learned through experience. I got a fair ways into playing before learning about them, and then thought I didn't need to know, that I would make good decisions regardless of the size of the pot. And several hundered dollars later, I now know better.

But it is not just about P/I Odds to decide to call or fold. The books that I have read talk about calculating your odds to draw a winning hand. This is just half the power once you understand how to determine your odds.

Don't remember where I read it, but I think it was Sklansky that said that when you get your opponent to make a play he wouldn't make with the cards face up on the table, you make money. Pot and Implied Odds are key to this.

Okay, so we are all on the same page and know about the odds. So now what?

Time to use the other half of these powerful tools. You should not just be using these to determine your play based on an opponent's bet. You should be using these tools to determine how much you should bet. Read that again. It was an epiphany for me as an amateur. Poker is about math, which is why a lot of people who are good at math are good at poker. I just thought this was a bunch of hooey (yeah, I said hooey) for a long, long time and it has cost me dearly. But now I am a convert. I wish someone had walked up to me a long time ago and slapped me upside the head and made me learn this stuff. Of course, I wouldn't have listened. But if you haven't made this connection yet, hopefully you will sit down and noodle it for a bit and become a better player.

Okay, so here is how I use this knowledge. Others may have different systems, and I tend to mix it up a bit in case any readers out there decide that they know how to beat me. If there is not a bettor in front of me, or if everyone has checked to me, I will bet small enough to not get committed, but large enough to chase off drawing hands. For example, I have AKoff and the flop is 10 4 8 with 2 spades. I have no flush possible, but I will bet just over the size of the pot to give the flush chasers bad odds. Simple, no? Even if I don't have a made hand, I still bet to get the chasers out and isolate to one other player. If I get multiple callers, I'm not going to pay off the chasers and will fold to any bet after the flop unless I have an unbeatable hand that can't be outdrawn. (Top full house, quads, straight flushes with no possibility of someone getting a higher hand in any way)

The reason is that I don't like to play in big pots unless I am heads up with a monster hand. Call me a wimp. Call me a wuss. This play works for me, so I don't care. There are way too many chasers once the size gets to a certain level. If you are playing dime/quarter NLHE and the pot gets above $5 and you don't have the absolute, stone cold are in trouble. If you don't have top 2 pair, someone does. And you need to quit trying to draw yours. Big pots look sooooo juicy out there. The odds look so good to call. You have invested so much. But if there are a lot of players around at the turn, you are in trouble. Someone has the made hand, or will suck out on you.

So, what are your thoughts? Is this a huge leak in my game? I have been doing pretty well since I stopped chasing the big pots, so it seems to be working, but I am always looking for advice.

Wow....I forgot why I stopped these things

The SnGs at Pokerstars are just nuts again. I keep thinking it is easy money, I should do well playing solid poker. After all, there are these hands:

Seat 1: kar100 (3735 in chips)
Seat 3: sbsb (1390 in chips)
Seat 5: stillandbox (4710 in chips)
Seat 8: IlliniFan (2055 in chips)
Seat 9: Kasey2004 (1610 in chips)
Kasey2004: posts small blind 100
kar100: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to IlliniFan [Jd Ks]
sbsb: folds
stillandbox: folds
IlliniFan: calls 200
Kasey2004: folds
kar100: raises 400 to 600
IlliniFan: calls 400
*** FLOP *** [8d 9c 5h]
kar100: checks
IlliniFan: bets 500
kar100: calls 500
*** TURN *** [8d 9c 5h] [9d]
kar100: checks
IlliniFan: checks
*** RIVER *** [8d 9c 5h 9d] [7d]
kar100: checks
IlliniFan: checks
*** SHOW DOWN ***
kar100: shows [Qd Tc]
(a pair of Nines)
IlliniFan: shows [Jd Ks]
(a pair of Nines - King kicker)
IlliniFan collected 2300 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 2300 | Rake 0
Board [8d 9c 5h 9d 7d]
Seat 1: kar100 (big blind) showed [Qd Tc]and lost with a pair of Nines
Seat 3: sbsb folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 5: stillandbox folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: IlliniFan (button) showed [Jd Ks]
and won (2300) with a pair of Nines
Seat 9: Kasey2004 (small blind) folded before Flop

Guy is just straight up crazy. Tries to steal pre-flop and I smooth call. Checks the flop, so I bet, trying to represent more than I have (but less than he has as I find out). So I take his money. The problem is when these morons get lucky (which is happening more than probability says they should). Look at this:

Seat 1: kar100 (2535 in chips)
Seat 5: stillandbox (4410 in chips)
Seat 8: IlliniFan (2455 in chips)
Seat 9: Kasey2004 (4100 in chips)
Kasey2004: posts small blind 100
kar100: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to IlliniFan [Ah 4d]
stillandbox: folds
IlliniFan: calls 200
Kasey2004: folds
kar100: checks
*** FLOP *** [6s Js As]
kar100: checks
IlliniFan: bets 600
kar100: raises 1735 to 2335 and is all-in
IlliniFan: calls 1655 and is all-in
*** TURN *** [6s Js As] [5h]
*** RIVER *** [6s Js As 5h] [2s]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
kar100: shows [3c Ts] (a flush, Ace high)
IlliniFan: shows [Ah 4d] (a pair of Aces)
kar100 collected 5010 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 5010 | Rake 0
Board [6s Js As 5h 2s]
Seat 1: kar100 (big blind) showed [3c Ts]and won (5010) with a flush, Ace high
Seat 5: stillandbox folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 8: IlliniFan (button) showed [Ah 4d]and lost with a pair of Aces
Seat 9: Kasey2004 (small blind) folded before Flop

AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH...this joker check-raises on a 50/50 draw out of the BB. Why do I do this to myself? This is about the 6th time in a row I've been outdrawn to finish on the Bubble. What the hell am I doing wrong?

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Ugh...I hope that is the sound of me hitting bottom. The last week has been brutal. Suckouts galore. I keep telling myself that swings in your bankroll are normal....but this is just ugly.

I have been playing at Full Tilt mostly, due to my thoughts on their hand histories, etc as I outlined earlier. I had heard that the games at FT were tougher, as there are less players that usually know more about online poker. That hasn't been my experince for the last week.

It all started after my tilting episode. I decided to go super-tight and only play Aces, Kings and Ace King suited in any positon, and then Queens and Jacks from a late position. I would raise any hand the size of the pot or larger, or go all-in if there was a raise before me.

That worked for a few days, and I was up $15 or so at the nickle/dime NLHE tables. Then, the luck changed. It was Saturday afternoon. I got JJ on the button a few hands after sitting down at a new table with $10, no one raised, but two limpers. I raised to $0.50, and the BB and on other caller. Flop was 10 6 4, rainbow. Check, check. I bet $1.75. BB folds, limper calls and I suspect a trap. Turn is a 2, with 2 clubs. Check, I check. River is a 5 of clubs. Check again. I bet the pot again (now up to just under $6) and guy raises another $6 and puts me all-in. I know I am beat, but want some info on the player, so I call. He has 55. He called all previous bets with two overcards on the board, and a significant pre-flop raise. He re-raised with a possible straight or flush on board. Granted, he could have put me on AK (or any ace, really, with how people play on FT). He hit the set on the river to beat me. He had 6 outs (the threes would have given him a straight) to beat my Jacks, but it was a bad play for him that paid off.

So now I'm mad and ready to get even. I reload $10 and decide to play it out. Everyone has bad beats, and I'll make it back. I'll grind it out. I'm not tilting. I get a pot with AK, but it is only $1.50. I play a while more and get another AK clubs. I'm in an early position, so only raise $0.30 in case someone comes over the top I can make a decision and get some info. Only the button calls. Flop is Q 5 4 with 2 clubs. I'm feeling good, but I hate to push draws. I check, button checks. Turn is a 7. Still haven't made my flush, but decide I will push the button a bit and overbet the pot (yeah, I know, bad idea) and push in $4. He sits and thinks. And calls. River is no help, no club. So I have AKQ high. Not a good hand. But maybe he thinks I am slowplaying a Q. So I bet out another $4. He calls. And turns over the 78 clubs. His 7s beat my A-hi. Ugh. Two bad beats in a row. And two pretty questionable calls. So it can't get any worse, right?

Wrong. I reload another $10 and move to a new table. Nothing much going on, and I steal a few blinds in late positions, deciding that the super-tight strategy is not the best. I would rather win a bunch of small pots than montsters, and I know that I have been making the drawing types salivate with my bets. Although they are getting bad odds to call, they have been and have been hitting and my roll is hurting. So I switch back to small-pot mode. However, on the button I get AA. I've been outdrawn all night so I think....the probability gods have to be on my side, right? AA wins enough to gamble a bit, right? (Boy, don't you wish you could have hindsight as foresight?) I look back and know that it is a bad play, but there is one person at the table with $15, I have $12, and everyone else is under $10. The $15 has been playing aggressively, and not showing a lot of hands so I don't have a lot of info. He did limp into this pot and is 2 seats to my right, so the hell with it. I'm all-in. SB folds, BB folds. Mr. $15 calls. And turns over J 5 spades. Yeah, J frigging 5. I can't help it. I usually hate the jerks who give lessons, and I violate my rule and say something like "Jack 5? You called a $12 bet at a nickle dime table with J5?" His response is "well, it IS suited" and I want to choke him, because by this time in the converstation the flop is down and a 5 hits. Uh oh. I hear the probability gods laughing at me....

The turn is a blank

The river is a 5.


The good news is that I logged off before I could do more damage. I lost $30 in less than 30 minutes. And it was actually a bit more, as I was up a little each time that I ended up in these hands. But it was just ugly.

I sat out until last night, and it looks like that was the bottom. I came back up about $10, so the roll wasn't hit too hard. But it still smarts. I hate days like that. Anyway, if you are a FT player, stop by and say hi at the nickle/dime NLHE sometime. The screen name is IlliniFan.

See ya around.