Monday, January 23, 2006

Keeping the leaks plugged

The hardest part about poker for me is not finding the leaks, but keeping the leaks that I know about plugged. "Why?" you may ask. Easy. I see other people playing a certain way, and I want to be a lemming and play that way as well.


It's a normal human response that we all have to fight. We all want to be part of the "in" crowd. We all want to "belong". We all want to be in on the "big score" (which is why so many people lose money in stocks, but that's a whole tangent I'm not going to get into right now).

So what does this mean for my leaks? Well, I will be sitting at a table, trying to be TAG-man I'm doing well. My raises are getting respect. Then, BLAMMO! Down sits the LAG. He's calling my reraise from EP with A-rag when I'm holding KK on the button, and flops his A. He's playing low unsuited connectors from any position and hitting straights. I see his LAG play paying off. So, I start to play ragged aces. Monkey see, monkey do.

So my fight lately has been to keep a close watch on this habit of mine. Maybe I need to get a shock collar so I can zap myself when I start playing A-rag from EP (or anywhere, for that matter). It is the best way to end up with the second best hand. Apparently, the pain of bleeding cash still isn't great enough for me to not slip back once in a while.

But understanding that you have a problem is the first step to combating that problem.

Hi, my name is Illinifan, and I have a problem with wanting to return to my LAG ways. I'm fighting it. If you see me around calling down to the river with A-rag, help me. Please. Cya at the tables

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Goals for 2006 and YTD results

Well, not too bad. I'm down a little bit for the year (33.73 to be exact, if you must know). I started the year out with a few goals:
  1. Work seriously on my cash game, specifically NLHE .10/.25. I want to have a positive year at this level. YTD I am down $22, but had a few suckouts that count toward this negative, which is to be expected. I don't have a huge number of hands yet at this level, but I've put $333.25 in play at this level. Hoping that variance can swing back around, as it seems to be. My last 3 sessions have all been positive, with more than 100 hands played in each. I seem to do better when I sit for longer periods. The hit and run just doesn't work for me.
  2. Money in one guarantee tourney a month on FT, using only tokens to get into these events. I hit this one on the 15th when I used a token for the $16K GTD and snuck into the money, literally. Finished 81st out of 818, which was the first spot that paid. Got knocked out when my 77 on the button ran into QQ UTG and I wasn't able to suck out a 7. Such is life. I'm going to start again in February and see if I can get a bit higher ITM.
  3. Work on my SnG play and use this to finance my shots at the MTTs. I want to make enough here that I can finance token SnGs without worry. I am shooting for $100 per month in profit. YTD I am down in SnGs, due to my participation in a "SnG Challenge" where we were seeing who could make it the farthest up the SnG ladder off an original buy-in. I made it almost to the $100, and played two $50s instead. In the $10 buy in I'm up $50 for the month, so about half of the goal.
  4. Make it into a minimum of 5 WSOP tourney qualifiers, with at least 2 being for the Main Event. YTD these have not started on FT, so nothing to report.
  5. Finish the year positive in MTT action. I actually managed this in 2005 where I ended up $30 for the year. Not a big number, but I want to make this at least $300 for this year. YTD I am up a whooping $1.72, so I have a ways to go.
  6. Play in a minimum of 6 live tourneys at casinos, either in Vegas or on the local riverboats. Have a positive return from these events. YTD no tourneys. I need to work on the BR so that I can afford to do this later in the year. With only 6 tourneys, I need to money in only 1 to really get this to pay off. I think that one ITM finish in 6 should be a good goal for the year.
That's it for now. I'll update the goals every few weeks to keep you all informed. Cya at the tables.

Live Play vs Internet Play

Had a friend host a tourney last night. It has been a while since I played live, and it definitely showed. How, you may ask? I played tight aggressive, which should have done well. However, there is "Live Play" tight and "Internet Play" tight.

Many of you may be asking yourself, "Huh?"

Let me explain. This one took me too long to figure out last night, and it cost me, dearly. The difference is in the amount of hands that you see at each level of blinds. Now, granted, last night was a little different as half of one of our blind levels was taken up by a guy who had to go out and argue with a cop about getting ticketed for parking in a posted fire lane (you would think he would have noticed that NO ONE ELSE was parked on that side of the street) and the host decided we couldn't fold his hand and had to wait. But I digress.

My issue was that I saw too few flops and didn't steal enough blinds before the blinds came up and bit me. I was playing tight aggressive and not hitting flops. My AJ suited lost to pocket QQ. My pocket 66 on the button lost to 98 offsuit. I just couldn't get anywhere.

I ended up mucking hands in position that I should have been playing. I had pocket 4s on the button, and UTG raised 4X BB, one called, next person raised, one more caller. I mucked. Flop was 744. Ugly. Even had I called the raises, I still had enough chips that I would have not been completely crippled if I had missed the flop.

So I have to get back into live play, where you don't see as many hands during the blind levels and sometimes have to call or make raises with less than stellar hands. I need to use position more to bully people. I can't believe how rusty I really was in a live game. The internet has spoiled me.

Now I've got something new to work on, yet again. I'll see you all at the tables....

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Poker Tracker Update

For those keeping score, here is my previous post on Poker Tracker.

That was months ago. I've recently come to the conclusion that, if you want to be a winning player, you are going to have to use some sort of data mining program.

There, I've said it.

I still don't have to like it.

Here's my confession. (gotta stick with the theme, you know...)

I bought Poker Tracker. Finally. I use Poker Tracker. I hate that I have to use it. I would rather a world without it. But it is a necessary tool. I finally broke down when Full Tilt decided to turn on the hand histories. It has been a while. I wanted to use the tool for a while before I posted about it. If you aren't using PT, you can't really really know what your style is and work on leaks. Unless you personally count every single hand, and what you did with it. PT just makes life so much easier. After I get some good stats, I need to go over and buy the poker tracker guide and support Iggy. Don't know if he reads this blog anymore, but he's still my midget-hero.

I still don't have a "statistically significant" data set (needs to be greater than 10,000 data points, IMO). I currently have data on just over 3,600 hands. I don't like what I see.

To be a winning player, you have to be tight aggressive (see my other post on Good Poker vs TV Poker, below). I'm definitely not, according to my stats. Tight aggressive players voluntarily put money in the pot (VP$IP) less than 20% of the time. I'm at 27.46%. Not good. That kicks me into Semi-loose, according to the default rating scheme. My preflop raise % is up to 9.63%, but my calling % is over 18. Ugly. My total aggression, including preflop is 0.96. So I'm not passive at least, but I'm not aggressive enough.

Throwing out the preflop numbers, I'm a lot better, but still not great. My aggression factor jumps to 1.95. Not stellar, I should be over 3, but still aggressive, per their rating rules.

So my new goal is to get my little "auto-rate" icon to change. I'm the sad smiley face. I'm going for the money bag. Hopefully I can get there by 10,000 hands. That would make me uber-aggressive, however. My goal is to get there by 20.000 hands.

All these numbers are for cash games. Right now I'm having trouble with the Full Tilt hand histories for Tourneys, so I'm mostly ignoring those numbers. Practice at the ring games, and it should spill over into my tourney play.

So that's the update. I'm playing a bit more limit now, as my style causes more volatility at the NL tables. I need to get to good, solid poker before I head back to NL. Even at the micro-limit tables. So if you're looking for me, I'll be at 1/2 and 2/4 limit for a while. Need to practice, practice, practice. And get those stats whippped into shape.

See ya at the tables.

Good Poker vs TV Poker...some thoughts

As a relative newbie to playing "Good Poker" (I consider myself a recreational player) I have seen few things lately that really made me sit up and take notice of what I am playing and how I am playing. If you've seen my SnG threads, you'll notice that I'm learning, a bit at a time (like getting mad at myself for playing A3 suited from UTG).

One point that really brought it home for me was the latest "Learn from the Pros". They talked about final table play and there was one quote that stuck with me. Not sure who said it, and I'm paraphrasing here, so stick with me. They were talking about final table play and someone said "Players will go in with crazy hands at the final table. Someone will have been playing small pots for 3-4 days, and then when they hit the FT they go crazy. You just have to sit back and let them give you their chips."

This hit me upside the head in a big way. I'm playing the way these FT people play WAY too much. I think my issue is that there is too much TV coverage of people in these big pot battles, and I begin to think that these actions are normal. I've really had to slow down the last few days to pay attention to what I am thinking. I've been playing too much TV Poker, and not enough Good Poker.

I did it again tonight, and finished 8/9 in two tourneys in a row. I sit and wait, wait, wait. Try to steal a blind and get reraised, lose some chips. Try to push with K9 suited from EP. Just dumb stuff, but it is hard to play Good Poker all the time.

Maybe I'll be a good player someday. Most people don't realize that being a good player is BORING. I think there are a lot of players out there like me that play for entertainment, and good poker is not always good entertainment.

Any comments? See you at the tables...