Friday, 31 August 2007

All Day Session!

No not poker… drinking! Well, it is my best mates wedding after all! Congratulations to Andrew and Danielle! I wish you many happy years of marriage.

It’s 4:17pm: Actually, I escaped a real all day session, so that’s why I’m here killing time. Also, it’s the end of the month, so I have to review the goals I set myself.

I didn’t expect to start so early (drinking). But it was 10:30am and nerves needed calming (not mine of course, but the groom). A round of Bacardi and Jack later… nerves were calm(er).

I don’t have to fill you in on the rest, but I have less than 3 hours until I return for the reception. Erm… double Bacardi diet coke please!


Play 30K hands at 1-2NL.
Err… not quite. Played 14,190 hands.

Achieve 5PTbb/100 hands or better.
A little less. Won 1.22PTbb/100

Review and discuss key hands from each session of play.
Yes. Been doing that successfully and found a few leaks.

Finish reading NLHTAP (Sklansky) - (Well I read it already, but now I'm studying it).
Yep. Now reading professional no-limit hold’em.

Catch up on the Cardrunners videos I've missed.
Been watching videos. But not as many as I would've liked.

Actively participate in the forums.
Yes. But must be more consistent!

Okay, so I didn’t achieve my goals and objectives. I kind of expected that for the first month. I’ve played on and off (because of my job) for the best part of the last five years and always found that it takes a good 1-2 months to fully get into the swing. Usually by then, it’s about time to go away again… and I think that’s where I have been sticking!

I find that playing 1,000 hands a day of cash games is actually quite difficult. I only 3-4 table, so that means about 3 hours of play. I can play other games – donkaments, SNG’s, live etc. – but online cash is hard to play for more than 3 hours. I could increase tables and play six at a time, but my personal preference is three. Sometimes four if they are slow. I find that by playing fewer tables my observation is very good. I’m constantly taking notes and making reads. I think that’s very important if you want to progress to the higher stakes.

Anyway, I may not have done fantastically this month, but I didn’t run great either! For example take a look at my “luck graph” for July:

The red line shows what I should have been winning - had I'd broken even (luck wise). i.e. It calculates my equity based on the hands I was all-in. As you can see I ran like crap! Two hands that stand out are having the big full, all-in against bottom trips. Both times I was rivered by a one outer for 300 BB!

In comparison; look at a longer term graph:

As you can see, the luck factor should always even out in the long run, but lately I’ve just been way under.

In any case, what’s important is how short term luck affects you as a player. For me it’s blah! I realize that in the short term poker is a game of luck, but in the long term it is a game of skill.

It’s only a matter of time before I’m posting a graph the other way round (when I get super lucky), and made like 15bb/100 for the month! Just wait and see… the law of averages dictate it!

Oh, did I mention I crushed my live cash game this month and won multiple satellites into $1,000 tournaments! See, it wasn’t that bad after all!

I’ll be posting September goals later.


Saturday, 25 August 2007

Professional No-Limit Hold ‘em

Yep, the book is here! Actually I only got the dispatch email from Amazon yesterday. They said ETD is not until August 28. Well, there’s the Royal Mail for you – good job!

So I’ve read the first 80 pages and all I can say so far is… YESSSSSS! FINALLY A GOOD NO-LIMIT BOOK THAT’S NOT IN SKLANSKLY JARGON. Actually there’s a lot of similarities with some of the idea’s presented in Skalanskys NLHFAP (Obv. cos Ed Miller is co-author). But finally it’s written in plain simple to understand English! Honestly though, I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of this book. So far I’ve only read the chapters on basics and fundamentals: Pot control, stack sizes, position, etc. The best stuff is yet to come! Even those chapters were excellent. Not really anything new, but a good way to reinforce basic theory.

So I’ve not played much cash this week. I tilted a few nights ago and not played cash since! Obviously I’ve tilted before, but this is the first time since I started this blog, etc. Anyway, I was frustrated at breaking even near the end of a 3 hour sessions (1K hands), so I played a few hands I shouldn’t have played and turned a break even session into a -$400! I have to keep telling myself this:

“Poker is all about decisions. Keep making the correct decisions and your bankroll will take care of itself!”

Decision, decisions!

Obviously I started making bad decisions when I was more worried about turning a break even session in to a winning one. I wish I had told myself that then! So don’t worry about winning or losing; just keep make the right decisions and the $$$ will come.

So what did I achieve this week (other than a kick up the ass and a lesson on psychology!)? Well I won satellites into the $1,000 WCOOP (World Champion of Online Poker) event and a $1,000 EPT (European Poker Tour) satellite event. Actually the EPT event is in a few hours. I’ll post here after I qualify :)


Tuesday, 21 August 2007


Ok, so I changed my mind. I wrote an essay on 3-betting instead!


So your typical LAGTAG (Tight-aggressive player with loose-aggressive tendencies in position) raises from the button. You reraise with 97s from the small blind. LAGTAG calls. Flop K84. You bet 2/3 pot and LAGTAG folds. Easy $$$$$! Or is it?

3-betting and in particular, 3-betting light, is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. It’s a concept I’ve been aware of for quite some time, but in all honesty I’ve often used it at the wrong times, against the wrong type of opponents.

See, you can play a solid safe game and just call preflop with certain hands that may be +EV. However, when you’re in the blinds facing a raise from the button, or even from the cut off - what do you really accomplish cold calling with good hands like AQ, AJs, and KQ? A lot of these hands carry reverse implied odds. You’re going to miss the flop most of the time and be forced to fold to a continuation bet. Often you’ll be folding the best hand! Even when you hit… where are you when facing a lot of pressure? Even with small pairs and suited connectors, your implied odds are very bad. Why? Because a late position raiser tends to have a very wide range. When you do hit (which won’t be very often), it’s hard to get paid off. In both cases we lack initiative. What are we going to achieve cold calling OOP with these hands? Maybe a small +EV?

So what about reraising? By 3-betting you take the initiative, you gain momentum and you force your opponent into making a hand. If you don’t win the pot right there, you’ll often take it down with a continuation bet a high percentage of the time. Against some opponents this is +EV right there - even with any two cards! As your more observant opponents realize that you’re capable of reraising light, you’ll increase the action on your big hands too.

So now we’ve established that 3-betting is definitely a good thing; what sort of hands to we want to 3-bet with and against which opponents? Well to give you an exhaustive list, here are the hands I would consider 3-betting with:

Any Pair, Any SC 67+, one gap SC’s 79+, AJ+, KQ.

Occasionally I’ll 3-bet other hands too, like KTs, Q9s, J8s, QJ, JT, T9 and more. However, the situation and opponent must be exactly right.

That’s what it’s all about… I can’t emphasize enough how important player reads are!

Does the button raiser almost never call a reraise? Will they only call with TT/AQ+? Do they call with any drawing hand/pair because they know you sometimes 3-bet light? Do they 4-bet with a wide range? Or you do they mix it up - sometimes calling/4-betting with both ends of the spectrum? Also how do they play after the flop? Are they almost always folding if they miss? Are they capable of raising the flop with air? Along with game dynamics and your own image, these questions largely decide whether it’s best to fold, call or reraise against this opponent in this particular situation with whatever hand you hold.

So as you can see, against some opponents (players with tight calling ranges), AJ might as well be 72o, as basically your 3-bet is a bluff. Their calling range crush you, but you still expect +EV as they fold too way too much preflop. They may also fold QQ, KK etc. on ace high flops, hence why AJ is in fact slight better than 72o.

Against other opponents however (players who call 3-bets with a wide range), AJ may be one of the better hands to 3-bet with, as it has showdown value. Think about opponents who are going to call you with any pair or suited connector. I’m much more likely to 3-bet these guys with AJ than I am with T8s.

In any case, always remember to mix it up. I love it when I find a really weak tight opponent who ALWAYS folds to my C-bet! I’ll hit on these guys all day long, but sooner or later though they’re going to fight back. After 3-betting these guys a few times with air, I’m much more likely to start 3-betting with only the nuts (AA, KK etc), and good drawing hands (suited connectors & small pairs, etc). This way I’ll have a good chance of stacking them when they do play back. And most will play back… eventually.

So 3-betting is definitely a must have weapon to have in your arsenal. Especially moving through the levels you’re going to need it more and more. Just remember that player reads and table image are probably more important than the cards themselves! Pick your moments and feel the game. It’s all about feel! Used correctly 3-betting can drastically increase you BB/100, but used incorrectly and you’ve found a quick way to burn your bankroll!

Sunday, 19 August 2007

A week of reflection

Well, this week certainly wasn’t as bad as the last. Just looking at poker tracker stats - I only managed to play 4,000 hands, but averaged 6.34ptbb/100 hands. That’s good for just over $1,000 for anyone who doesn’t know about ptbb/100. Basically a poker tracker big bet is double the big blind for whatever game you’re playing. So for 1-2NL: a bb is equal to 4 bucks. So 6 ptbb/100 would equate to $24 every 100 hands. I play four tables, so average around 400 hands per hour.

I know it doesn’t sound like I really played that much, but what you don’t know about is all the live poker I played too! I think I had three live sessions this week and can’t complain about the results J No such luck in tournaments, however. I should have played in the Poker Stars $1,000 satellite for the London EPT yesterday, but was cruelly robbed by a “runner runner” suck out on my one table satellite! Actually, that was almost one of my goals this month – (to get into the London EPT or WSOPE) – however I don’t want to blow thousands of bucks trying, so left it out! I am still trying, but not as hard as if it was a goal.

So I’ve been working hard on finding leaks in my game. I’ve tightened up my pre-flop play somewhat and adjusted my 3-betting range. I’ve also been looking into continuation bet theory again. All in all, I think I can improve my game tons! Therefore I’m setting myself some new tasks. Every week I’m going to be writing at least one essay about a certain aspect of the game. I’ve came across some great material on 2+2 and Cardrunners. Problem is… there’s just so much of it! So what I’m going to do is put it all together and come up with my own theories. Like I said, I’ve already been looking into pre-flop raising, C-betting, and 3-betting, so I think my first one will be about pre-flop raising.

Oh… did I mention the one-outer that knocked me out of a live tournament today? Ouch!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Running like crap... but life is good!

So reviewing poker tracker stats I’ve grinded almost 11,000 hands this month and still in the RED! *!?”%^*! I here ya… but actually it’s fine. The game has certainly got better (again), so variance, downswings and breakeven stretches are bound to be bigger and longer. I’m actually really happy and not worried at all! Why? Because I KNOW I can, and I WILL beat the game. Not just that, but all other aspects of my life are going well too. I’m working out 6 days a week, eating healthy and constantly stimulating my brain. I’ve became a better person. I’m more aware to world around me, extremely grateful for everything I have and achieved. And I’m thankful for all the goodness yet to happen! I’ll be thankful too when ugly variance evens itself out and I go on a wicked up swing ;) Actually, it’s already happening. Today I’m running at 48.5ptbb/100. Weeeeeee!

Really though, poker wise I recently found a post from Brian Townsend (aka sbrugby or aba20) talking about downswings and breakeven stretches. He reckons that climbing up the stakes he had about 3 breakeven stretches a year, lasting about 20,000 hands each! Many people agree this is normal and looking closely at my poker tracker stats I probably agree too. I mean I’ve had Pocket Rockets, American Airlines, Bullets – call them what you will – forty eight times and only made pittance!

Well, I got some new books to work through too. Not just poker, but some real ones too! ‘The Game’ by Neil Strauss came into conversation and it now seems that half the Cardrunners community have all gone out to buy it! Or at least like me, ordered from Amazon. But hey… don’t you find that whenever you go to Amazon looking for a book, you always end up buying four? Hmm, maybe it’s just me. Well, they offered me this ‘deal’ where if I bought ‘God is a Woman’ together with ‘The Game’ I’d be saving some money. Then I realized the latest No-Limit Hold ‘em book was available now too (Professional No-Limit Hold ‘em: Volume I). Apparently it’s really good and a much easier read to Sklanskly, so I’m really looking forward to that. Oh, and I bought ‘The Poker Mindset.’ It’s more about the psychological side to the game, so something different I guess.

So Tuesday is normally my home game night. I started playing a few weeks ago with some friends on my buddy’s new table. Nice one Dan! Anyway, they are complete fish so the winnings will normally pay for my bottle of Bacardi :) Tonight I’m planning on introducing a 10p – 20p cash game. Lol!

Friday, 3 August 2007

August Goals

I didn't post em yet. But quickly, here they are:

  1. Play 30K hands at 1-2NL.
  2. Achieve 5PTbb/100 hands or better.
  3. Review and discuss key hands from each session of play.
  4. Finish reading NLHTAP (Skansky) - (Well I read it already, but now I'm studying it).
  5. Catch up on the Cardrunners videos I've missed.
  6. Actively participate in the forums.

That's about it. A nice easy month to get back in the swing. It's tempting to jump straight back to 2-4 or 3-6NL but I'm sticking to this months targets. No moving up until I've played 30K hands. And of course a decent bb/100 rate!

More later... time for a relaxing night out on the town.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Poker Quotes

Some random quotes:

"Trust everyone, but always cut the cards." - Benny Binion

"If luck wasn't a factor, I'd win every one." -Phil Hellmuth

"If you can't spot the sucker in the first half an hour at the table, then you are the sucker." -Rounders, the movie (2000)

"I swear to god if you beat me and i will get my gun out of the car and kill you... and your family." -Uncle Remus

"The next best thing to gambling and winning is gambling and losing." -Nick "The Greek" Dandalos