December 31, 2008

Sprit Pot (Part 6)

Here I turned a made hand into a bluff on the river, hoping to fold out much better hands than the one I got called by:

Seat 4: bruechips (UTG) ($304.15)
Seat 6: UTG+2 ($316.90)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [As Kh]
bruechips raises to $8
UTG+2 calls $8

*** FLOP *** [Kd 6s 4s]
bruechips bets $15
UTG+2 calls $15 (Pretty standard so far. With his call I'd say his range is KQ/AK, 66/44, possibly QQ-TT and some spades)

*** TURN *** [Kd 6s 4s] [7s]
bruechips checks (If I had it to do over again I'd probably just barrel again here. But I decided to keep the pot smaller and be sure I'd get to see the river, rather than bet and either fold to a raise when I have a draw to the nuts or get it in way behind. Check-raising with the intention of shoving any river isn't a bad option either.)
UTG+2 bets $30 (The spectre of spades obviously looms large...although his range of spades is narrowed by the fact that I have the As, he could still have KsQs, JsTs, maybe Ts9s/9s8s, although those are somewhat less likely given that he called an UTG raiser when he was still in early position himself.)
bruechips calls $30

*** RIVER *** [Kd 6s 4s 7s] [8c]
bruechips checks
UTG+2 bets $60 (The 8c doesn't really worry me too much because there aren't many fives in his range. He could have floated the flop with 87s and have runner-runnered two pair, but that would be very gross and unlikely. His bet sizing (the pot is about $100 at this point) indicate to me that he's trying to make some kind of thinnish value bet. I.e., he does not have a flush. Also I have the As, so for sure he can't have the nuts. The problem with me raising and trying to represent a flush is that I check/called the turn, which is a line I take only occasionally with a flush. But I did think I would have a chance of getting a fold out of 66 and 44 with a river check-raise. It's just so rare that you see a river check/raise from a non-psycho player that's a bluff. He tanked forEVER and finally called.)
bruechips raises to $175
UTG+2 calls $115

*** SHOW DOWN ***
bruechips shows [As Kh] a pair of Kings
UTG+2 shows [Ks Ad] a pair of Kings

Well, you probably already knew the outcome from the title of the post. I wonder if he can call this down if he doesn't have the Ks (eliminating the possibility that I have AsKs or KsQs). I do not think his call is a good one, because the best he's getting is a split. If I had say, AsQh, I think I would almost always just barrel the turn because I have less showdown equity and check/calling with just a draw on the turn is almost never good. If I had QsQh, I would either bet/fold or check/fold the turn. The range of hands that I could possibly be check-raising the river with is AsKx, AsQs, occasionally AsJs (usually I just fold AJs UTG pre-frop), and AsAx (mostly as a bluff, same as I did here with AKo). Against that range, even if it's heavily weighted to AKo since I don't check/call the turn too often with the made flushes and don't bluff raise the river as often with the rockets, he's not doing so well, since at best he's chopping. But, my turn action did make my line a little weird and I'm positive that's what made him call down. Oh well. Just have to mark him as a suspicious type. And check/call the turn and check/raise the river with flushes more often.

Finally, I will be leaving the country for two weeks tomorrow, heading to Patagonia to do some hiking and whatnot. I will try to post some pictures when I get back if I figure out how. In any case, Brackchips will be in charge of the brog while I'm gone. So essentially, don't expect too much in the way of posting until the second half of January. Happy New Year, everyone!!


December 29, 2008

Thanks for not Stacking Me, Bro! (Part 10)

This one isn't literally a thanks for not stacking me, since I don't think I would have gone broke with the worst hand here, but at least there was some big value missed.

Seat 1: MP1 ($375.35)
Seat 4: bruechips (CO) ($219.85)

Dealt to bruechips [Jh Ks]
MP1 calls $2
bruechips raises to $10 (Standard isolation of a limper in late position)
MP1 calls $8

** FLOP ** [8h Jd Ts]
MP1 checks
bruechips checks (I hit top pair, but this is not a flop I'm really excited about getting a whole lot of money in on. I could get check-raised by some hands I beat, such as KQ, T9, 89, J9, and QJ, and I'd be in a tough spot, because I'd also get check/raised by JT, JJ,TT,88, and Q9. I would be either way behind or a little bit ahead. I decided to play it safe and check behind.)

*** TURN ** [8h Jd Ts] [9d]
MP1 checks
bruechips checks (Now I'm behind most of the second-best hands I was ahead of on the frop. I also pick up a straight draw of my own. Best to just keep the pot small and check behind again, as there are very few hands I beat that would call a value bet. Maybe KT? I could be with the intention of making another big bet on the river to fold out two pair or AJ, but I think he might have made a smallish lead bet on the turn with those hands. I'm hoping he has pocket fours or something and I can just check down a win.)

*** RIVER ** [8h Jd Ts 9d] [Td]
MP1 checks
bruechips checks (Absolutely no reason to bet now. I no longer beat KT. He might somehow have slowplayed some weird backdoor flush. I now beat some of the two pair combos I might have tried to bluff.)

*** SHOW DOWN **
bruechips shows [Jh Ks] two pair, Jacks and Tens
MP1 shows [Ac Ah] two pair, Aces and Tens

ROR!!! Way to srowpray your aces into a monsterpotten of ZERO post-frop bets after I fropped top pair second kicker. Granted the board came out gross for him, but...just shows you the weakness of srowpraying a hand pre-frop out of position rike that. Anyway, enjoy that juicy $10 you won on that hand, bro. Take Tiffany's mom for a nice night out on the town.


December 22, 2008

Deep Stacked Play - Part 4, Brack is Beautiful - Part 15

As you can tell from the title above...this hand fits into a few categories, check it out.

Preflop my open is def a BIT roose, but I rike to mix up my UTG opening range with sooted connectors.

The SB 3bs me…and the first thing that comes to mind…AA or KK. This villain is one of the nittiest regulars at this level, and his range is incredibly polarized to just these two hands. My thoughts are when facing the 3b, call or fold. A combination of factors went into my decision to call here…the raise size is NOT pricing me out enough this deep, especially since I have position. If he makes it in the 55ish+ neighborhood, I’m going to be folding much more often. We are 200bbs deep…I’m getting great implied odds, that coupled with the fact that my hand is very well disguised, I opted to see a frop.

Pretty much a dream frop for me, pair and a FD. When playing 100bbs deep vs most other villains…I’m looking to get money in on this frop. I can honestly say that I would be raising this frop 95% of the time, looking to fold out better hands...and gamble with big made hands. But in this SPECIFIC spot, 200bbs deep vs a supernit…calling is the best line here. If the villain has AA or KK...he’s not folding! I need to wait for spades to come in on the turn, see if I can turn trips/2 pair (which obviously are no good vs top set). His c bet is so weak…again I’m getting great odds to call, thanks for making it so cheap!

So my money card rolls off on the turn…and this where its time to go to valuetown. I bet BIG, large enough that if he xc’s…I will have a little less than a pottish sized bet so I can do my favorite thing in NLHE…SHOVE. LOL.

He checkraises me arr in and boom we get it in for 200bbs…I fought off the boat redraw and raked a monsterpotten.

5th in the Stars Blogger Championship of Online Poker

I managed to make the final table of the blogger freeroll on PokerStars. TarHeel1641 is my sn on Stars; I didn't have an account there until I decided to play in this tourney, but I'll be playing there at least a little bit more as now I have a Step 3 and a Step 6 ticket as a result of my freeroll finishes. Although it's usually the case that anybody making a final table in a large tourney has to run like god for a while, in this tournament I really didn't. I was all-in before the river 22 times and won 10.5/22 (one spritpot!), while my average equity was 46%, so basically right on the money. Most of my chips came non-showdown style. I think I played pretty decent, but a couple of key mistakes cost me.

The first and most egregious came when we were down to 10 players, with blinds at 5k/10k. I had about 160k in chips in the bb, and the sb had about 100k in chips. It folded around to him and he min raised. I thought he was trying to steal cheap without risking his tourney life while on the final table bubble, and would fold like a girl if I put him to the test. So I shoved K2o and ran into AA. Whoops. Looking back, that was pretty terrible. He had open shoved a few times before, so I think that's what he would have done if he had wanted to steal. Actually the time I got in KJ vs. AA was kind of a similar situation, where the sb was down to about 10 bbs, opened but didn't shove, and snapped off my re-ship. I definitely need to pay more attention to that kind of bet sizing that's trying to induce a shove from me. Anyway, the K2 shove cost me big time as a couple of hands later, down to 5 bbs or so, I woke up with AA and doubled up through an aggressive player who had QQ. If I had 15bbs there instead of 5bbs, I would have certainly doubled up to 30bbs, and had a very formidable stack, not to mention crippling one of the better remaining players.

The second was down to five players. I had 11 bbs or so on the button and the cutoff, with about the same stack size as mine, open shoved. I tanked for a bit and folded KQo. If the players to my left had been weaker I could maybe fold there and rely on picking up a lot of blinds and antes later. But folds from them were somewhat hard to come by, so while I don't really relish calling off my tourney life with KQ-high preflop, I think I beat the range of a cutoff shover pretty handily. He's probably shoving 50% of hands or so, and I've got 56% equity vs. that range, plus the overlay of blinds and antes. There is the small chance too that one of the blinds wakes up with something huge, but...I think that one should be a call. In any case, a few hands later it was folded to me in the sb with A4o, so I obviously shoved in my last 10bbs and was instacalled by AT, which held.

Congrats to all the other bloggers that came away from the event with a prize, and thanks to Poker Stars for hosting the event and throwing in some nice prizes. I'll be hunting for a nice place to spend my Step 6 ticket....


December 17, 2008

Poker Stars Blogament

I managed to score in last night's Poker Stars Blogger Freeroll, netting myself an entry into the final tourney on the 21st as well as a Step 3 ticket. Not bad. I might have done better if I hadn't folded this hand below, but on the whole, I think it's a good fold. Keep in mind that the prize structure was such that 10th-27th got the same prize, 2nd-9th got a much better prize, and 1st a very nice prize.

Seat 1: Hijack (27075 in chips)
Seat 2: bruechips (CO) (28581 in chips)
Seat 9: UTG+1 (16838 in chips)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [8d Ad]

UTG+1 raises 13463 to 16463 and is all-in (This part doesn't concern me that much. This player is  shoving from early position, but the blinds are approaching him fast, he is shortstacked in a structure that requires him to double up at least once more before raising his payout level, and he seemed like an active player anyway. If it were folded to me, I'd definitely reshove.)
Hijack raises 10237 to 26700 and is all-in (Unfortuantely, that doesn't happen. A8s seems looks like gold when everybody's seemingly shoving every hand, but 3-way, but even if the first player is shoving 50% of his hands, and the second player reshoving as much as 25% of his hands, I still have only 34% equity.  And this doesn't even consider the possibility of one of the three players behind me waking up with a monster and me ending up with even less equity than that. Also, winning this pot would make me a big stack, but still not a monster stack. I'd definitely have more work to do before getting to the final 9. I'd much rather wait for a spot where I can be the one to put in the last chip and have some fold equity, rather than just gamble here.)
bruechips folds
*** FLOP *** [2h Qs 3s]
*** TURN *** [2h Qs 3s] [9d]
*** RIVER *** [2h Qs 3s 9d] [Ah]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
UTG+1: shows [8s Kh] (high card Ace)
Hijack: shows [Jd Kc] (high card Ace - King+Queen+Jack kicker)

Anyway, I'll probably come back and play the other two NLHE blogger freerolls in hopes of getting more tickets or other tokens, even though my entry in the Sunday final is already secure. Hey, it's free.


December 15, 2008

Cutting back on variance, Brack is Beautiful (Part 14)

I've been falling on the wrong side of the RNG of late...combination of some coolers and overaggression. In an effort to cut down in the variance and leverage my postfrop knowledge, I've cut down on the aggression - both post and prefrop. Here is a perfect example...

Ok, so I guess you could say I sucked out here...and granted I was a dog on the flop, but my opponent let me get there on the cheap.

Here are my thoughts on the above hand...

On the flop...I have such a powerful draw that I will definitely not be folding it. When I lead into the field...and I get min raised by a donk. Folds back to me and this is where I face a big decision. Do I want to put more money in right here or should I call and wait for a good turn? I have a HUGE draw, my equity is probably in the hood of 50%.

Folding is obviously not an option...but 150bbs deep, I felt like my villain was not FOLDING. That's a huge factor in my decision. He definitely has at least an Ace, maybe two pair...possibly a set. He's definitely not folding any part of that range...and he probably shouldn't be either. Do I want to get 1500bbs in the middle with a mega draw where I have no FE? Meh...pass on the variance, I call.

Turn strengthen's my hand...but not relative to my villain's range...I bet and don't get raised...SWEET! Nice cheap river card for me...

River - BOOM! Money card...I have the nuts vs his range. I bet big and get paid off...I do regret not sticking in a little overbet though, definitely lost some value...dagger.

PokerStars Bloggament

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

The WBCOOP is an online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers.

Registration code: 960649

Crazy Hand in a Donkament

This one kind of goes in the "don't slowplay your big hands vs. calling stations" file. Also in the "min 3bet is not always the donk method of playing a big pocket pair" file. Again, I swear I have not doctored this HH:

Seat 1: CO (2,145)
Seat 5: bruechips (UTG) (3,000)

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to bruechips [Ks Ad]
bruechips raises to 90
CO raises to 150
bruechips raises to 570 (Vs. some donks I might even consider folding here or at least playing more cautiously. But this guy was such a nut job I felt pretty confident just getting in as much money as possible.)
CO calls 420

*** FLOP *** [5s 2d 5c]

bruechips bets 700 (Keep betting for value...this bet size was designed to get him to shove over the top)
CO calls 700

*** TURN *** [5s 2d 5c] [6d]

bruechips bets 900 (Another value bet with AK-high)
CO calls 875, and is all in
bruechips shows [Ks Ad]
CO shows [9d Qd] (Well played, genius)

*** RIVER *** [5s 2d 5c 6d] [7c] (Blank river saves me a tirade)


December 12, 2008

Betting the River for Value

One thing I've been working on recently is betting for value on the river. There are a lot of spots where you have a medium-strength hand that is often best. When deciding whether to bet, you need to consider 1) whether your opponent will bluff if you bet, 2) whether your opponent will bluff if you check (only applies when out of position, obviously), 3) whether your opponent will call with a worse hand, and 4) (again, only applies out of position) whether your opponent will bet for value with a hand worse than yours. Most players (all except the most aggro sharks and the biggest aggro-nut retards) raise the river as a bluff very very rarely. So in most situations with a medium strength hand on the river, if you bet for value and get raised, you can safely muck (this requires discipline on your part, but is necessary to make betting the best play). Also most players will check behind a medium strength hand on the river. If you check/call instead of betting, vs. most players, you're shifting their betting range to a mix of missed draws and very strong hands, whereas if you bet, their calling range is more medium strength hands. Here are a couple of examples of what I mean, where I have two pair in each case, can't really call a raise in either case, but if I check, the opponent probably checks behind and I miss value:

Seat 2: MP2 ($200)
Seat 4: bruechips (SB) ($789.95)
Seat 6: UTG donk ($322.80)
Seat 9: MP1 ($177.40)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [Qs Ks]
UTG donk calls $2
MP1 calls $2
MP2 calls $2
bruechips calls $1
BB checks

*** FLOP *** [Ts 8c Qd]
bruechips checks
BB checks
UTG bets $5
MP1 folds
MP2 folds
bruechips calls $5 (This frop is good for me but I'm probably way behind if a big pot develops, so I decided to play it conservatively)
BB folds

*** TURN *** [Ts 8c Qd] [Kc]
bruechips checks
UTG bets $10
bruechips calls $10 (Looking back I should probably raise this one...I'm really only worried about TT, 88, J9, and AJ, and there are a lot of two-pair combos that might put in a bunch of money.)

*** RIVER *** [Ts 8c Qd Kc] [Js]
bruechips bets $25 (Here's the decision in question. The J puts a 4-card straight on the board. Since he's a donk, he probably won't be folding any Q or better if I bet, but will check anything but an A behind. The only danger is that I bet into a 9 which might have checked behind if I checked as well.)
UTG calls $25

*** SHOW DOWN ***
UTG mucked [Qc 7c] - a pair of Queens

Nice call, moron...limping Q7s UTG...genius play.

Here's another one:

Seat 3: bruechips (SB) ($200)
Seat 7: MP1 ($361.35)
Seat 8: MP2 ($102.15)
Seat 9: CO ($425.75)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [4d 5d]
MP1 calls $2
MP2 calls $2
CO calls $2
bruechips calls $1
BB checks

*** FLOP *** [5h Ad 4s]
bruechips bets $7 (I usually like to bet out here because it's so likely that somebody has an ace and bottom two pair needs protection.)

BB folds
MP1 folds
MP2 calls $7
CO folds

*** TURN *** [5h Ad 4s] [8s]
bruechips bets $19 (67 gets there, but keep getting value from an ace...)
MP2 calls $19

*** RIVER *** [5h Ad 4s 8s] [7c]
bruechips bets $30 (This seems like a pretty terrible card since he could have 87, A7, A6, 63, all these hands that now beat me...but he'll also be checking behind a bare ace if I check, so I might as well bet to get value from those hands.)
MP2 calls $30

*** SHOW DOWN ***
Seat 8: MP2 mucked [Ac Qh] - a pair of Aces

Enable your raise button preflop, donkey!!


December 9, 2008

So Wrong Yet So Right...

I usually try and post hands that I think I played well just becuase that seems to be the best way to explain things...but here was one interesting hand where I totally missed my read on the opponent yet somehow backed my way into a sick value bet. This was down to 3 in a 1-table donk-n-go, with blinds at 80/160.

Seat 1: SB (3,140)
Seat 2: BB (5,105)
Seat 7: bruechips (button) (5,255)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [6c 7c]
bruechips raises to 400 (I'm chip leader, I'm on the button...vs most opponents I will be raising a pretty wide range)
SB folds
BB calls 240 (This guy had been really tight up until this point. I think his stats were like 13/2 or something. So I interpreted his call as being pretty strong. But not AA/KK, which I thought he'd probably re-raise, not wanting to risk getting sucked out on when he and I were significantly deeper than the SB, who was also a donk.)

*** FLOP *** [9h 7d 5h]
BB checks
bruechips bets 600 (As far as flops go, I can't ask for much better than this. I bet at the time because while I will in general be folding out only worse hands, and have to fold if he check-raises, I just wanted to go ahead and take down the pot if he had nothing rather than checking and having a jack peel off on the turn and losing to QJ or something. Maybe vs. this passive opponent I'd be better off checking back since he's never going to bluff me on the turn.)
BB calls 600 (At this point I put him one pair, and most one pair hands beat me.)

*** TURN *** [9h 7d 5h] [2c]
BB checks
bruechips bets 1,350 (He had been playing so tight, I convinced myself that here he'd be folding 88, T9, 78, A7, etc....)
BB calls 1,350 (He still won't go away....)

*** RIVER *** [9h 7d 5h 2c] [Tc]
BB checks
bruechips bets 2,905, and is all in (He checks again when something of a scare card hits. Again with him playing so tight and clearly not having the nuts, I thought if I shove no way he can call. And there are plenty of hands better than mine he could have. The hands I mentioned above, plus now JT, maybe some random hearts that included the Th...who knows. But I clearly had him misread as my horror at his call turned into confused glee once he turned over his cards and the pot got shipped my way....)
BB calls 2,755, and is all in

*** SHOW DOWN ***
BB (big blind) mucked [5d Ah] - a pair of Fives
bruechips showed [6c 7c] and won (10,290) with a pair of Sevens

Ship the accidental value bet!


December 7, 2008

Thanks for Not Stacking Me, Bro! (Part 9)

This one almost speaks for itself...

This may very well be one of the most entertaining hands I've played in a while...a player with a BEST hand prefrop...extracts the MINIMUM for a 2nd best hand prefrop (both hands were an overpair to the board through the river!).  Ok so yes, he raised more than the minimum, preflop...but you get the point.  Seriously folks...this has to be a record of some kind.  This is not a brag so much so as it is a testament to the fact that this player was INCREDIBLY passive postflop.  

Now you may be wondering why I didn't 4b preflop with Kings here...but as evidenced by the HH, the villain was VERY passive and me 4b'ing was NOT going to get any action from anything other than the nuts.  Getting in 200bb's vs a nit is not exactly my idea of +EV.  

How can you not bet AT LEAST one street to exact value from worse hands?  Clearly he was uncomfortable playing that deep IN POSITION with a one pair hand...ROR.  

December 5, 2008

"The Dream Match"

This weekend we've got the biggest boxing match since Oscar de la Hoya/Floyd Mayweather matchup. When the fight was first announced, many fans were skeptical because of the size difference between the two fighters. But now that the fight is almost here, there's a lot of excitement, assuredly a sold-out house and well over a million PPV buys.

As with most big sporting events, Brackchips and I have some action. He wouldn't have it any other way than to back the Asian dude, so he's got Pacman and I've got the Golden Boy. Certainly at current Vegas odds that's the smarter bet, just because of the size advantage he'll have. While Manny is a great fighter who has shown both power and a strong chin up to 135 lbs, he'll be facing a 160 lb guy for the first time (the fighters must weigh in at 147 lbs Friday, but Oscar will probably put on a dozen or so pounds overnight). While Manny does have a huge speed advantage, he's a guy that likes to fight. I don't see him using his quickness to stay on the outside for 12 rounds.

But I will be rooting for Manny, for two reasons. The first is that I can't stand de la Hoya. Does anybody come off as a bigger fake in interviews? He's got illegitimate children on his payroll just like every other boxer yet he presents himself as this family/business man. Dude, start acting like a boxer and not a CEO. The second reason is that if Manny wins it will set up a HUGE fight with Floyd Mayweather. And I've got to believe the Floyd will come out of retirement for a fight of that magnitude. And I want to see it. It would be the toughest fight of Floyd's career (right now I'd call his bout with Diego Corrales the biggest challenge he faced), and would go a long way towards defining his success in the context of the all-time greats. If Oscar wins, it's possible Floyd would fight him again but...he's already had that deal set up and backed out. Instead we'll probably get a craptastic de la Hoya-Hatton fight, which Oscar getting another huge payday to fight against a guy he'll outweigh by a wide margin. Oscar, how about you fight Antonio Margarito after he beats up your business partner Shane Mosley instead?

Anyway, I hope you guys find a way to get to watch the fight on PPV this Saturday....


December 4, 2008

Triple Pwnage

It looked like I wasn't going to be able to score anything out of this DNG as I was low on chips with 5 players remaining, but then these three hands happened, one after the other as I triple-pwned this poor SOB:

Hand #1 (blinds 50/100):

Seat 6: Poor SOB (SB) (3300.00)
Seat 7: bruechips (BB) (1255.00)

** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to bruechips [Ac Kd ]
SB raises to 350
bruechips raises to 1255.00
Poor SOB calls 955
Poor SOB shows Qd, Kh

** Dealing Flop ** [ 2c, As, 4h ]
** Dealing Turn ** [ 7c ]
** Dealing River ** [ 4d ]

Pretty standard hand, his call is kinda meh given that I hadn't been super-active up to that point, we were down to 5 players, and he was pretty much tied for second in chips, but it's not a really bad call IMHO.

Hand #2:

Seat 6: Poor SOB (button) (2,045)
Seat 7: bruechips (SB) (2,510)
Seat 9: BB (1,515)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [Ks 7d]
Poor SOB calls 100
bruechips calls 50 (This is pretty marginal. If I thought the Poor SOB were a better player or if the BB were a good player I'd fold, but since they're both preetty donkish I decided I'd take a flop with them getting 5:1 on a call, fairly confident that the BB will check his option.)
BB checks

*** FLOP *** [8c 7s Ts]
bruechips checks (I was check/folding here, I might think leading would be OK, but I think you get called a lot by Tx,8x,9x, and random broadway cards that have straight draws. I would rather try and keep the pot small while I am out of position with a weak hand and see what develops.)
BB checks
Poor SOB checks

*** TURN *** [8c 7s Ts] [6s]
bruechips checks
BB checks
Poor SOB bets 200
bruechips calls 200 (I pick up a flush draw to go along with my pair. My hand is good enough that I don't want to fold it but weak enough that I don't want to risk my whole stack with it. I think the Poor SOB would have bet the flop if he had any pair (aside from an underpair to the board), two spades, or a 9. So I thought that I'm probably ahead, but the 6 probably improved his hand somehow, like he has A6, or just a single spade in his hand. I guess he could have 76 or 66 too. The other reason for check/calling instead of check/raising is that I can see what the BB does cheaper. If the BB raises, he's got a straight or a flush for sure. I could lead 200 into the BB and button to get the same info, but I don't get quite as much info if I get raised there, since either player could raise me with a single spade. This way, the button will bet 200 into me (instead of a bigger raise if I bet into him), plus his range includes a lot more hands I beat, and also the BB will fold in the face of a bet and a call whereas he might have been more aggro in the face of just a lead into a pot that was checked around on the flop.)
BB folds
*** RIVER *** [8c 7s Ts 6s] [3c]
bruechips checks
Poor SOB bets 500
bruechips calls 500 (Given the way the hand played out and my read, this is an easy call once the 3c hits. Note that he takes down the blinds preflop if he just raises instead of limping the button.)
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Poor SOB shows [Js Qc]

Then Hand #3, just to finish the job...this one just plays itself:

Seat 6: Poor SOB (CO) (1,245)
Seat 7: bruechips (button) (3,410)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [Jd Jh]
Poor SOB raises to 300
bruechips raises to 800
Poor SOB raises to 1,245, and is all in
bruechips calls 445
Poor SOB shows [8s 8h]
bruechips shows [Jd Jh]

*** FLOP *** [5c Kd 2s]
*** TURN *** [5c Kd 2s] [3c]
*** RIVER *** [5c Kd 2s 3c] [Tc]

I went on to take down the DNG.


November 26, 2008

Thanks for Not Stacking Me, Bro! (Part 8)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! More small stakes 6-max donkery....

Seat 1: UTG ($26.80)
Seat 6: bruechips ($100)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [5h Th]
UTG calls $0.50
4 folds...
bruechips checks

*** FLOP *** [7h 9c Kh]
bruechips bets $1.25 (I frop a frush draw with and some backdoor straight draws. UTG has a 50 bb stack and open limped, so I'm just assuming he's a donk. My bet is intended to get a fold out of underpairs and A-high hands that missed.)
UTG calls $1.25

*** TURN *** [7h 9c Kh] [Qh]
bruechips checks (I make my frush. At the time I thought I would be better off trying to get varue on the river from a worse hand, because he probably wouldn't pay off two bets with anything less than a king, and if he had a king he probably would have raised the frop. But looking at it now, I think vs. a donk a bet is probably better because I do think he'd pay off two bets with QJ or certainly JT for a turned straight. Also there are some hands that will pay off a turn bet but NOT a river bet, like hands with one heart in them or T8. So although checking turned out to work out well this time, on average I think betting for value is best.)
UTG checks (I'm kind of thinking he has some T9/QJ kind of hand for a pair and a gutterball.)

*** RIVER *** [7h 9c Kh Qh] [7d]
bruechips bets $3 (Now put in a value bet)
UTG raises to $6 (This bet by him is pretty retarded. It's possible he's trying to get some thin value out of trip 7's or a straight or even a lower flush and I'm missing value by not shoving, but with all the possibilities for full houses and higher flushes, I decided to just call, as I think I am not ahead of his range for calling my shove.)
bruechips calls $3

*** SHOW DOWN ***
UTG shows [Jh 9h] a flush, King high

Thanks for not stacking me, bro! I think his flat calling my frop bet is OK, since I'd often be firing more barrels with a worse hand, and I'd probably never be folding a K given his stack size. But I think he should bet that turn. And certainly if he's not betting the turn, he should raise more on the river. You can't flush-over-flush somebody and win just 12 bbs.


November 24, 2008

Brack is Beautiful (Part 13)

There's nothing more satisfying that putting in a beautiful overbet for value (OBFV). This one was at a deep-stacked 6-max table. This guy and I had been tangling quite a bit already.

Seat 5: SB ($235.50)
Seat 6: bruechips (UTG) ($152.90)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [As Qs]
bruechips raises to $1.75 (Raise spades for varue)
BB raises to $5.95
bruechips calls $4.20 (While we had been going to war with each other, him 3-betting my UTG open is still pretty strong. In any case this deep, with position, I'd rather call and take a flop than 4-bet and risk getting 5-bet and having to fold a nice hand.)

*** FLOP *** [4c Qc Ah]
BB checks
bruechips bets $8 (One thing you don't want to do here is slowplay. AA, QQ, and 44 are the only hands that beat me. I doubt he'd 3-bet me when I opened UTG with 44, and I have an A and a Q, making AQ very unlikely. Also I'm pretty confident he would be c-betting a set with the draws out there and given how aggressively we had been playing each other. I think he would c-bet if he missed completely too. What pre-flop raiser can resist betting at an ace-high flop when given the opportunity? His check tells me that he's trying to play pot control with a medium strength made hand, like AJ or worse.)
UTG calls $8

*** TURN *** [4c Qc Ah] [4h]
BB checks
bruechips bets $18 (I am still very confident I have the best hand. I continue to valuetown. The 4h is actually a great card because all aces below AK now chop, playing the Q kicker that's on the board. He may now be more willing to give action if he has a weakish ace, AND he may think that I put him on a bare ace and am trying to bluff him where it looks like he'd be calling only for a split.)
BB calls $18

*** RIVER *** [4c Qc Ah 4h] [9d]
BB checks
bruechips bets $120.95, and is all in (Part of my decision here involved a timing tell. He QUICKLY check/called both my flop and turn bets. This is very indicative of a weak made hand. I think villains feel like the quick check/call might disarm someone from making a bluff or a thin value bet on later streets because the speed of their call indicates confidence that they have the best hand. I could bet $35-$40 here and be pretty sure I'd get paid off, but I decided to go for it all and make a massive 240 bb bet on the river and hope he'd get curious. There are some similarities between this hand and one that Foucault posted a few days ago. His post and my comments talk about optimal calling frequencies in river overbet situations.)
BB calls $120.95

*** SHOW DOWN ***
Seat 5: BB mucked [Kd Ks] - two pair, Kings and Fours

I was just hoping he'd get curious with AK/AJ/AT. KK? Wow. If only I had AT instead of AQ and made the same play. Man that would have been sweet.


November 17, 2008

No Reason to Slowplay Donks

I can't find the exact HH, but I remember observing this hand in the early stages of a 90-player KO tourney...there's maybe a limp or two up front, a late position raise, which is called by one of the limpers. The flop is A-high, it goes check-check on the flop and turn, the limper leads for 1/2 pot or something on the river and gets called by the pre-flop raiser. The limper shows AA and the raiser shows KK. What a MONSTERPOTTEN of value missed by AA by not raising preflop. He could have gotten a whole stack, instead he got 9-10 bbs.

I guess some players feel that their raises are so transparent that they won't get paid off. But let me tell you, I play tight enough early in tourneys that any non-brain-dead opponent wouldn't be putting in their whole stack with, say, middle pair. But fortunately, early in MTTs, there are plenty of brain-dead opponents for the taking. These guys will probably not be around long and you don't want to lose what might be your only chance at getting all their chips. Here are a couple of hand histories where my hand was completely obvious, yet I still got paid off:

Seat 3: MP (3,150)
Seat 5: Button (2,408)
Seat 6: bruechips (SB) (2,970)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [Kh Ks]
MP raises to 95
Button raises to 345
bruechips raises to 875 (You might think that this raise looks ridiculously strong and I couldn't possibly get action from less)
BB calls (I promise I'm not doctoring this HH)
MP folds
Button calls 530

*** FLOP *** [2s Qs 9h]
bruechips bets 2,095, and is all in (Don't worry about QQ or check to induce a bluff from AK, just shove for value)
BB folds
Button calls 1,533, and is all in
bruechips shows [Kh Ks] (What were you expecting?)
Button shows [9s Ac] (Apparently something else)

Seat 1: bruechips (UTG) (2,985)
Seat 6: CO (2,860)
Seat 9: BB (3,190)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [Ah As]
bruechips raises to 120
Button raises to 280
BB calls 240
bruechips raises to 1,000 (UTG 4-bet into two players usually indicates strength)
CO raises to 2,860, and is all in
BB folds
bruechips calls 1,860
CO shows [9h 9s] (This donk missed that memo)

I have literally dozens of similar hand histories. The moral is, when playing vs. donks, playing tight does not mean you won't get action from your big hands. And early in tourneys, there are a lot of donks at the table.


November 15, 2008

Not compounding a mistake

Not compounding a mistake…

Despite there being only three postfrop streets in NLHE, there are so many paths that can be taken along the decision tree of postfrop actions.  It is incredibly difficult to make the optimal play in the course of a hand that is played all the way through to the river…and when you do make a mistake, you have to do your best not to make things any worse.  Since all your chips are at risk at any given time in NLHE, it’s imperative to limit your mistakes.  While you do not have to play optimally in order to be a successful player in NLHE, one of the key ingredients to winning is making fewer mistakes than you opponents. 

Here is a hand I recently played…commentary to follow. 

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Brackchips [Ah Ad]
Brackchips raises to $16 (EP)
LP calls $16 (LP)
*** FLOP *** [Qd 9d 4s]
Brackchips bets $26
LP calls $26
*** TURN *** [Qd 9d 4s] [As]
Brackchips checks
LP checks
*** RIVER *** [Qd 9d 4s As] [8h]
Brackchips checks
LP bets $48
Brackchips calls $48
*** SHOW DOWN ***
LP shows [Ts Js] a straight, Queen high
LP wins the pot ($183) with a straight, Queen high
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $186 | Rake $3
Board: [Qd 9d 4s As 8h]

I went for a CR on the turn in an attempt to fatten the pot…but unfortunately the villain checked behind.  I absolutely HATE my turn check.  I am betting this for value and as a bluff literally 95% of the time since the A is a good card for my range…and not the villain.   

When one of the obvious draws came in, my only play was to check call and pray he missed diamonds.  In the chat afterwards, the villain was very surprised that I only check called, but based on his profile…it is the ONLY play.  There is only one hand in his range that I am missing value from by not CR’ing the river…AQ.  Also…it is so incredibly unlikely that he has exactly AQ here since I have AA.

While I have the second nuts on the river…against my villain’s range, my hand is simply a bluff catcher.  He either has missed diamonds, JT for the nuts, or a Qx type hand.  If he holds a Qx hand other than AQ, I am CERTAIN he is incapable of value betting it.   It’s pretty thin as far as whether he would call a bet with my bet, check, bet line with a Qx hand…but as far as the figuring out the optimal line vs his entire range, I am confident that a check was best.  

While my turn check was obviously a mistake, I was able to limit my losses.  


November 10, 2008

Brack is Beautiful (Part 12)

Standard spade power...

$24 + $2 Sit & Go, Table 3 - 150/300 - No Limit Hold'em
Seat 1: Button (5,719)
Seat 9: bruechips (CO) (3,905)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [8s 4s]
bruechips raises to 800 (As I have stressed before, at these stages of the tourney you really have to take ANY chance to be able to accumulate some flop-less chips. Here it's folded to me in the cutoff, and I'm raising a very wide range, incruding spades FOR VARUE. Usually I'll raise somewhere between 2.25-2.75x the bb, depending on what kind of players are behind me. The button was a little on the loose side so I raised on the bigger side to discourage him from calling.)
Button calls 800

*** FLOP *** [Kc Js As]
Button chats: uh oh
bruechips bets 1,500 (Obvious bet...and obvious call if he shoves for my last 1600. To some players a shove from me would look weak and make them more likely to call with pocket nines or something. I pay pretty much no attention to his donkey chatter.)
Button calls 1,500

*** TURN *** [Kc Js As] [6s]
bruechips checks (At this point it doesn't really matter what I do, the money is just going in. I decided to check and call just in case he had something like JTo that he might fold if I shoved. But even that I think he'd probably call at this point.)
Button chats: gg
Button bets 1,605
bruechips calls 1,605, and is all in (I don't know why this donkey is telling me "gg" already - he has me covered, so he's trying to say I'm done if I call. Whatever, I'm obviously calling.)
Button shows [Qh Kd] (GG?!?!? How about DD for Drawing Dead!! ROR!!! Nice try on the leveling, donk!)

I really hate everything about how he played this hand. Flatting KQs on the button only 12 bbs deep...hate it. Just shove it in like a man if you want to play it. Flop...I guess it doesn't really matter. Turn once checked to...again it doesn't matter that much since there's not much less behind compared to the pot size, but not much reason to bet there. If I had a hand worse than his that I were going to call JT or QJ...then I probably would have just gone ahead and shoved it in first. But he's not close to beating my calling range, the rest of which is flushes, straights, and maybe some two-pairs.


November 8, 2008


I recently finished the worst month of my online poker…I lost far and away more than my previous worst month.  The stars aligned and nothing went right…I played mediocre at best, ran terribly, overplayed hands, did not table select well enough, played too many tables, played sesh’s that ran too long - and about 2/3 way through the month I completely lost all confidence in my ability to win/play/succeed at NLHE.  I found myself playing catch up towards the end of the month…chasing my losses in an attempt to not have a losing month.  Needless to say, it was a bad idea…lol. 

While I did get beat up this month…all was not lost.  Bruechips taught me a few things about river play…which saved my roll from completely disappearing, lol.  The lesson being, J high is the nuts. 

Dealt to brackchips [Th Jh] - MP
brackchips raises to 16
CO calls
*** FLOP *** [7h Ac 8c]
brackchips bets $28
CO calls $28
*** TURN *** [7h Ac 8c] [8h]
brackchips checks
CO checks
*** RIVER *** [7h Ac 8c 8h] [2c]
brackchips checks
CO bets $44
brackchips calls $44
*** SHOW DOWN ***
CO shows [6s 5s] a pair of Eights
brackchips shows [Th Jh] a pair of Eights
brackchips wins the pot ($179) with a pair of Eights
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot $182 | Rake $3
Board: [7h Ac 8c 8h 2c]
Seat 3: brackchips showed [Th Jh] and won ($179) with a pair of Eights
Seat 4: CO showed [6s 5s] and lost with a pair of Eights

Next time, pray your draws rike a man and you won't get soul owned.  

Despite the carnage done to my bankroll...I’m determined to rebound.  This is a game that can be beat…and I’ve done so on a consistent basis for some time.  While my game my have a bit more variance than most, I need to remember that one crappy month does not mean I am a losing player.  

Here’s to PWNING November.  

November 4, 2008

Erection Day

I hope everybody voted today, regardless of your how you decided to cast your ballot. One bit of advice to all the politicians inheriting the reins of our debt-ridden country - how about you legalize a legitimate Born-In-the-USA growth industry that millions of Americans enjoy anyway? Right now as I'm typing Full Tilt has 21,000 tables running as high as $200/$400. And the U.S. government isn't taxing any of it, because it's illegal. Legalize it and tax it. You might be able to fund AIG's Christmas party with the proceeds.


November 3, 2008

Thanks For Not Stacking Me, Bro! (Part 7)

Personally this is my first installment of this series since I (unlike bruechips) tend to stack off much lighter and thus do not have as many canidates for this series. Check out the HH below...

Preflop...we have a UTG limp (who I already have pegged as a donk), and a raise from MP. I have a pretty easy 3b here with rockets here. It's a little puzzling when UTG flats and the OR folds...but I definitely prefer getting the pot HU IP. The question I have to ask myself preflop is...WTF is his range here? AK? A weirdly played KK? A random pocket pair? thoughts - HOW QUICKLY CAN I GET THE MONEY IN? Seriously, a 922r flop? He needs to have exactly 99 or a 2x combination (extremely unlikely) to have me beat here. He xc's the frop bet and I am able to narrow down his range a bit, 9x, TT-QQ? Air? Honestly I never considered a deuce...maybe that's a leak/mistake but its just so unlikely bc there are already two in the board.

Turn...another stone blank - my thoughts again - HOW QUICKLY CAN I GET THE MONEY IN? I was VERY tempted to just overbet ship the turn for a few reasons...there were a ton of turn cards that could scare him. If he has a 9x hand...any picture card may slow him down. Also, the average donk DNF (does not fold) so I figured I could get some sicko value from a hand like A9, TT-QQ.

River - an overcard, kind of an innocent card, but suddenly the villain shows the first bit of aggression by betting out...which is INCREDIBLY strange. WTF. Let's review, UTG limp call a 3b, xc, xc, bet. Also, his bet sizing is WAY GHEY - I'm tempted to raise it just on principle...but now I am behind a super strangely played QQ, but not raising would lose value from AQ. at the same time...could he have xc'd to big bets with AQ high? That would be even weirder. Maybe he has a deuce? He also could have turned TT-JJ into some sort of weird bluff.

My decision between calling/raising was super thin. While I'd like to attribute my decision to call go my online soul reading abilities - it really just came to down the fact that his line made no sense...and there weren't enough combinations of hands that he would call with that I beat.

Through a mix of slowplaying and ghey bet sizing, the villain missed out on the remainder of his effective stack.  I am playing this hand for stacks on the flop and turn no questions asked.


October 31, 2008

Thanks For Not Stacking Me, Bro! (Part 6)

OK, granted this guy almost stacked me, but I just found this hand representative of general donkey play, where they play draws loose/passively out of position, and then fail to get full value when their draw hits.

Seat 2: UTG+2 ($152.55)
Seat 5: bruechips (CO) ($289.20)
Seat 6: Button ($303.25)
Seat 7: SB ($223.20)
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [Ah As]
UTG+2 calls $2
CO raises to $10
Button calls $10
SB calls $9
UTG+2 folds (This was a pretty juicy table. I wasn't crazy about my seat because the button was a LAG who, while I think is a losing player, could put me in some tough spots. The SB was a complete donkey, playing very loose. This UTG+2 idiot was limping in early position and then folding to a raise in a 4-way pot where he's closing out the action. Donkerrific. In this hand I'm obviously feeling good with aces, but I'm also going to have to be aware that I could lose a big pot.)

*** FLOP *** [8d 9h 4d]
SB bets $22
CO raises to $58 (I would be SHOCKED if the SB were leading out here for 2/3 pot with a set. Shocked. I would even be surprised if he did it with top two pair. I think he has some one-pair hand like J9 or K8 or a draw like every time. I'm way ahead of his range and I don't want to call and give the button good odds to call with QT or something....although the button is aggro enough to try a squeeze play with a pretty wide range if I just called, and I'd have a sweet opportunity to come over the top. In any case, I decided to charge the draws and second best hands by raising for value.)
Button folds
SB calls $36

*** TURN *** [8d 9h 4d] [3c]
SB checks
Button bets $92 (Beautiful turn card and he checks. I'm pretty sure he's drawing to somewhere between 5 and 12 outs. There is about $145 in the pot and he has $155 left in his stack. I could just shove, but I thought he'd be more likely to call, or maybe even shove over top of, a smaller bet. If he were guaranteed to double up when he hits, then if I bet an amount x, he calls that amount x to win 145 (the amount already in the pot) + x (my turn bet) + 155-x (what's left in his stack after calling the turn bet). So the implied odds would be (145 + x + 155 - x):x = 290:x. So if he has 12 outs (for instance if he has QdTd) for 12/44 = 3/11 equity (i.e., an 8:3 dog to catch up on the river), he makes a mistake by calling anytime 290/x is less than 8/3, or x > 109. If he has 8 outs for 8/44 = 2/11 equity, he should not call if 290/x is less than 9/2, or x > 65. And remember these calculations assume that he gets all-in on the river anytime he catches up on the river, and never puts in another chip if he misses. So by betting $92 I do give him implied odds with his biggest draws, but I force him to make a big mistake with any lesser draws, and if he ever shoves in over the top of a $92 bet where he would have folded to a shove, that's just gravy. Also note that there are a lot more 8 and 9-out draws than 12-out draws. Any JT or 76 gives 8 outs, any two diamonds (including A-high diamonds, since I do NOT have the Ad) except for QT, 75, and QJ of diamonds makes 9 outs, whereas only the three diamond hands mentioned there give 12 outs. If he had more than 12 outs either on the flop or turn, for instance JT of diamonds, 67 of diamonds, 9x of diamonds, I think he'd just shove either the flop or the turn, in which case my bet sizing doesn't matter, as long as I bet. If he would be calling a shove very often then obviously shoving is better, but he timed down for a while before calling this bet, which makes me think he probably would have folded to a shove. If I had it to do over I might bet just a touch more, like $99, but I think anywhere in the $90-100 range is good, as it is tempting for him to call, while still being a bad mistake, and might give him the illusion of some fold equity.)
SB calls $92
*** RIVER *** [8d 9h 4d 3c] [Qs]
SB bets $18
bruechips calls $18 (ROR!!! He has $63 left in his stack, the pot is now $330ish, and he bets $18. I considered going ahead and putting him in as he could be putting in a blocking bet with Qx of diamonds, but I decided to take the safer route and just call to avoid value-owning myself vs. JT.)

*** SHOW DOWN ***
SB shows [Th Jh] a straight, Queen high

OK, so he won this hand by getting the straight on the river, but he played it absolutely atrociously. His bet/call on the flop is terrible. His check/call on the turn is terrible (the math I did up there to show the biggest bet he can call, remember, assumes that he will get full value on the river), and his small river value bet is even worse. I guess he's trying to induce me to shove for another $45? I'm pretty much NEVER shoving that river to try to get a calling station to fold for another $45 in a $350 pot. If I ever shove over the top of his bet, it would be for value, in which case I'm calling if he shoves anyway (I would definitely have called if he had shoved the river). His inability to get value on the river makes his turn call even worse. Well played donkey!!!


October 29, 2008

Art of the Min Raise (Part 14)

Usually this series is about ridiculing donkeys in cash games that either min check-raise sets on very drawy boards or min 3-bet AA and KK preflop. But I do occasionally use the min-raise myself, particularly in tourneys. You want to make bets smaller in general in tourneys because you have to be more conservative with your chips, as you can't buy any more. Whereas in a cash game 100 bbs deep usually the min-raise means a monster (or sometimes air on a dry board), in tourneys (and sometimes vs. shorties in a cash game), the min raise often means a weak made hand such as top pair-weak kicker or even A-high. For me personally, I most often use it when I call a pre-flop raise in position, usually in a blind battle, and want to min-raise a c-bet. Here are a couple of examples:

Seat 5: SB (1,455)
Seat 6: bruechips (BB) (1,500)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [Ad Jd]
7 folds...
SB raises to 90
BB calls 60 (I'm very tight early in tourneys so I don't want to re-raise here although I would often in a cash game, but AJs way too strong to fold to a SB open.)

*** FLOP *** [Kc 9d 2s]
SB bets 90
bruechips raises to 180 (This is a good spot to min-raise because it's a dry board that he'll be c-betting every time, and this is how I would play weak-ish made hands such as KJ as well as 99 and 22. I'm also just forcing him into a really tough spot. Even if he has a hand as strong as JJ, he's faced with the possibility of either re-raising and getting shoved on by all the hands that beat him and folding out all the hands that are behind, or calling and having potentially to face a couple of big turn and river bets. By putting in 180, I force him to make a decision for a much larger portion of his stack.)
SB folds

Just to prove that I don't have just bluffs there:

Seat 4: SB (5,420)
Seat 5: bruechips (BB) (5,345)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [Td Kd]
SB raises to 600
BB calls 300 (Deep enough to just call and use position here.)

*** FLOP *** [Tc Ks 6h]
SB bets 900 (c-bet he'd make every tiem)
bruechips raises to 1,800 (Now I'm hoping he has KQ, or that he has nothing and the min-raise just makes him go nuts, since he knows that I know he'd c-bet every time, and thinks I have AJ or J9 or something.)
SB raises to 2,700 (Sure enough he min 3-bets like a complete donkey)
bruechips raises to 4,720, and is all in (He looked committed enough to me, so I shoved...calling the 3-bet and just getting it all in on the turn is fine too, but just calling the 3-bet with 2,000 behind might set off alarm bells for him, whereas shoving might look bluffy)
SB calls 2,020
SB shows [8s 8d] (Sure enough, the min raise made this idiot go nuts)
*** TURN *** [Tc Ks 6h] [4c]
*** RIVER *** [Tc Ks 6h 4c] [8c]

Unfortunately, this donkey nails a two-outter on the river to bounce me from this tourney. Fawking donkeys....


October 27, 2008

Book Review: 'Winning Poker Tournaments' by Rizen, Apestyles, and Pearljammer

As part of my foray into tournament play, I picked up the new tourney book by online pros Eric "Rizen" Lynch, Jon "Apestyles" Van Fleet, and Jon "Pearljammer" Turner. You can use points to get it from the Full Tilt Store. It's volume 1 of a planned 2-volume series. This volume covers hands up to the money bubble, with the next volume projected to cover hands from the money bubble to the end of the tournament. The book has 4 sections. In the first three, each author takes 50-60 hands and analyzes them action by action. In the final section, there are 20 hands where each author gives their own independent take on each action.

Of the three, Pearljammer's play is probably the most closely directed towards tournaments. By that I mean that his play is often more directed towards survival and conservatism rather than aggression and applying maximum pressure on opponents. For instance, he flat calls a pre-flop min raise with TT on the button, essentially playing the hand for set value rather than wanting to create a big pot early, even though he probably has the best hand. He even open limps TT from the hijack (which, of course, looks like a great play in the hand shown because he flops a boat). Later on in the group section, he decides to check his option in the BB with ATo after it's folded around to the SB, who limps in. He does manage to get in some thin river value bets, for instance value-betting Q5o on the river into two players on a Q63hhJ2 board. He obviously has a stellar record as a tourney player, so far be it from me to criticize his play, but he's a little passive pre-flop for my tastes.

Apestyles has a game that's probably most similar to the tourney game I am striving for. For instance, we find Apestyles raising TT UTG (granted, with blinds a bit higher than in the PearlJammer hand), whereas PearlJammer was limping it in the hijack. Whereas PearlJammer checks behind ATo in the BB, Apestyles mulls over raising in the same spot with Q4o. He eventually decides to check behind, and gets some very nice value raising the river on a K96KQ board. His section ends with a series of hands where he goes through every hand around the bubble of a big tourney as he really abuses the table to chip up, squeezing with QTo and 4-betting K7o in a blind battle. He also goes through some chip equity calculations in some hands, which none of the other authors do. I guess most readers wouldn't be interested in such calculations, which is why they are eschewed by PearlJammer and Rizen, but for a serious player, they're really crucial.

Rizen's section has some nice examples of 3-barrel bluffs (he fires 3 barrels at a KT5ddKT board), and some re-steals (T6o vs. the cutoff). The T6o is interesting because he 3-bets the cutoff, the BB shoves, and Rizen folds despite getting 2.4:1. His reasoning is that the BB's range is very very strong so that he might not even have the 29% equity he'd need to make the call chip-neutral, and also calling and losing would take away his chip lead at the table, whereas he could fold and maintain his chip lead. This is one of the only spots where the authors hint at the difference between chip EV and payout-EV. I guess the image effect of calling and having to show T6o and folding getting 2.4:1 is about the same, although he doesn't mention it.

Overall, I found many of the hands helpful, and I'll probably adjust my tourney play to be a little less risky pre-flop on the advice of PearlJammer. I don't think I'll ever find myself open-limping TT in late position, but I'll probably limp behind 88 or maybe even TT and AJs with a couple of limpers in front early on in a tourney, whereas in cash games I will be raising them pretty much every time. If you're a tourney player with some experience and a decent handle on ABC poker, this book will probably help you a lot, both to hone the ABC TAG style and to add in a few tricks. If you're a more advanced analytical player, you'll almost certainly find enough interesting material to make the book worth reading. I was interested enough that I will probably get the second volume. However you won't find any great material on calculating payout EV in terms of your stack, other stacks, and your assessment of your relative skill, which is really the central issue in tournament poker that separates it from cash games. As far as I know, Sklansky's 'Tournament Poker for Advanced Players' remains the most important book on this subject.


October 25, 2008

Brack is Beautiful (Part 11)

Got back into the full ring action tonight which produced this hand....I'm still not completely sure about the way I played the hand....please comment with any suggestions. I give my reasoning for playing this way, but I am willing to be convinced that other lines are better. The main villain in the hand seemed fairly solid with TAGish stats. We had tangled twice before, once where he had 3b my open, I 4b and he folded, and another time where he cold 4b my 3b of another player and I folded.

Seat 3: bruechips (CO) ($208.70)
Seat 5: SB ($206.25)
Seat 6: BB ($239)
Seat 7: UTG ($74.70)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [8s 9s]
UTG calls $2
bruechips calls $2 (This seems kind of ghey. Maybe my donk-n-go experiences are starting to infect my cash game pray. But the reason I limped behind instead of raising was that UTG is short, and I had seem him limp-re-raise once before. If he were full-stacked, I'd definitely raise to isolate him, but with stacks this shallow and him limping UTG, I decided to just limp behind. The button was not a very aggressive player who would be raising a lot, and the blinds are full-stacked, so I'm happy to take a flop with them. In general, my range for limping right here is suited connectors, smaller pocket pairs, and the occasional suited ace.)
SB calls $1
BB checks

*** FLOP *** [Js 7s 4d]
SB checks
BB checks
UTG checks
bruechips bets $6 (This is pretty standard, everybody checks to me and I bet my straight flush draw.)
SB folds
BB calls $6 (I'm pretty sure this does not represent a monster hand, as big hands would probably raise on this drawy a flop. I'm thinking he has something like a weak jack, maybe an 8d7d for middle pair and some backdoor equity, A7 is possible, 56, and spade draws, although I think most of the time he'd be playing draws more aggressively.)
UTG folds

*** TURN *** [Js 7s 4d] [Ac]
BB checks
bruechips bets $14 (Some would argue for checking behind here to be sure you get to see the river with your monster draw. But I decided it was worth betting here to try and take him off a weak one-pair hand, or get him to just call with that hand and let me win a bigger pot on the river, either by firing a third barrel or making the best hand and getting value. Also my draw is not to the nuts (unless the Ts hits), and I want to maintain the betting lead against bigger draws, again either to fold them out now or fire again on the river. This is certainly what I would do with 77, 44, A7s, A4s, and AJs, which are all in my range, although AJs probably less so as I'd usually raise it pre-flop.)
BB raises to $28 (This is a very odd min raise. I almost think misclicks make up a significant portion of his range. What really strong hand would he slowplay on this flop and then give such great drawing odds on the turn? This feels more like a kind of informational raise to see if his J9 or whatever is good. Or maybe he's taking some very weird line with QsTs or 2s3s for a flush draw that picked up a straight draw. The only way I could see the ace improving his hand is if he has A7, or if he has an A-high spade draw. The A-high spade draw would be a particularly ugly scenario for me. But again, I think it's highly unlikely that he'd play a big draw like the nut flush draw so weakly on the flop when he's up against somebody who limped preflop and bet when checked to. I'm definitely not folding to this raise, the question is whether I should call or raise. I decided to raise for a few reasons. First, there are big hands that I can very easily represent here, mainly sets and aces up. If he flopped bottom two and decided to take a cautious line of waiting for a safe turn card before raising. Is he really excited about getting it in here? Second, he probably expects me to fire a second barrel at the ace with my entire range, so there's a good chance that he's trying to make a cheap rebluff with a pretty weak hand. Third, if I just call and miss, I can't represent much on the river. I think he's a pretty good player who is not going to just check/fold a blank river. He will probably be firing another barrel, and I can't represent much if I raise to try and rebluff. If I had a big hand already on the turn, I'd raise it there. If I had a mediocre hand like AhTh and decided I didn't want to fold, I'd just call the turn and river instead of raising. If I do hit a spade, it's pretty obvious what I have if I bet or raise. Getting value will be difficult unless he has a better flush, in which case he'll be the one getting value from me. The only really great card would be a T. That would give me a well disguised hand that I could get paid off with.)
bruechips raises to $96 (As far as the sizing, I want to raise an amount that appears to commit me to the pot, so he won't feel like he has any fold equity at all with KsQs or something like that. I want those hands to fold, or even better, call and check/fold the river. At the same time, I think shoving or raising too much looks kind of weak and he might just get really curious and decide QJ is gold. If I had a set, I'd raise to about this amount to charge the draws and force him to make a decision for his whole stack, so that's the amount I choose here.)
BB has requested TIME
BB folds

He tanked for a while. He could have been just Hollywooding, not wanting to let me and the rest of the table know that he just tried to pull one over on me with complete air. Or he could have made some huge laydown. It's such a weird line for him to take. I'm still kind of wondering what he had there. My best guess is still that he had a weak made hand, and he wanted to try and end the hand there rather than check/call or check/fold the river. Any other ideas?


P.S. - One other interesting tid-bit, just to show you how many draws there are on this board, EVERY unpaired suited connector or one-gapper has a straight draw by the turn.

October 23, 2008

The Shortstack Game (Part 4)

First of all....I hate Blogger. I had a lengthier post written that was for some reason deleted by Blogger when I tried to change the font color. Thanks Blogger.

Anyway, it seems like nobody's really interested in this Shortstack Game. But having come this far, I should give some sketch of a solution for equilibrium in the game. If you are enterprising and want to find it (or at least one of them):

1) Show that there is no equilibrium when player 2 shoves less than 1/3 of the time

2) Show that there is no equilibrium when player 2 shoves more than 1/3 of the time

3) Find an equilibrium where player 2 shoves exactly 1/3 of the time.

In the equilibrium I found, player 1 raise/folds 27% of the time, raise/calls 29% of the time, and open folds 44% of the time. Player 1's expected payoff in equilibrium is .42, while player 2's is 1.08, showing the disadvantage of having to act first.

I can also solve for an n-player game where two of the players have to post blinds, and the other players sequentially must raise or fold if no-one has yet raised, shove or fold if a player has raised already, and fold or call if a player has shoved already.

If you are interested, post a comment or email spritpot.


October 21, 2008

THIN! (Part 11)

Well, since the Shortstack Game seems to getting very little interest, I figured I'd put in a THIN! post before going back to it.

And this hand actually does have something to do with the Shortstack Game, just because it's blind vs. blind in a tourney where both players are fairly short. As loyal readers know, late in tourneys I think you really need to maximize your fold equity and steal chips preflop as often as you can.

One of the best times is when it's folded to the small blind, who limps into your big blind. Donks love to limp into the small blind with any two cards, and often min bet any flop or some donkey move like that. In general I do not permit this and will be either shoving preflop or shoving the flop if I catch any piece at all.

Some donks try to combat this by limping their big hands like AA, KK, AK, etc., which I think is probably a pretty good strategy. However these hands don't come around nearly often enough to deter me from shoving over their limps a large portion of the time. Perhaps some of them realize this and start limp/calling with some more marginal hands, like A6o. I'm pretty sure this is a terrible strategy. Say stacks are 10 bbs and you're comparing limp/calling A6o in the small blind to just shoving in your 10 bbs. A6o has only 51% equity vs. the top 50% of all hands, which is probably about my shoving range:

equity win tie pots won pots tied
Hand 0: 51.043% 47.73% 03.32% 5805749604 403268034.00 { A6o }
Hand 1: 48.957% 45.64% 03.32% 5551921944 403268034.00 { 33+, A2s+, K2s+, Q2s+, J4s+, T6s+, 96s+, 86s+, 76s, 65s, A2o+, K5o+, Q7o+, J7o+, T8o+, 98o }

Whereas my calling range if the sb shoves is obviously much smaller, probably only 8% of all hands. Since you guys are probably bored of equity calculations, I'll spare you, but I don't think limp/calling a marginal hand like A6o is a good play.

An even worse play, which I can't come up with any logic for but which seems to be an important part of a tourney donk's arsenal, is limp/calling a terrible hand. I mean I really just don't get it. I guess they just get frustrated that I shove every time they limp like a donkey? I dunno. But something led to this "accidental value bet":

Seat 3: Donk (SB) (4,645)
Seat 4: bruechips (BB) (4,580)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to bruechips [Kc 5s]
Donk calls 200 (does he really expect to get away with this BS?)
bruechips raises to 4,580, and is all in (gimme the pot, donk!)
Donk calls 4,180 (whoops...looks like I'm gonna have to spike something this time...)
Donk shows [Jc 5c] (actually...huh?!?!?)

*** FLOP *** [9h Ts Ah]
*** TURN *** [9h Ts Ah] [Qd]
*** RIVER *** [9h Ts Ah Qd] [Jh]
bruechips wins the pot (9,160) with a straight, Ace high

Just to clarify, J5s is a slight dog to a RANDOM hand. ROR!!! Oh man...donks make me laugh...


October 20, 2008

The Shortstack Game (Part 3)

Just in case anybody is still reading this...having set up our game and solved for player 2's best response function, we now need to figure out player 1's best reponse function. I ended the last post with a couple of questions to get you started considering player 1's best response function:

What's player 1's best response if player 2 folds every time?

Pretty obvious that if player 2 always folds, player 1 should always raise.

What's player 1's best response if player 2 shoves every time?

It's pretty obvious that if player 2 shoves every time, player 1 should never raise/fold. So depending on his hand, he should either raise/call or fold. If he folds, he gets zero, whereas if he raise/calls, he gets 21.5e - 20*(1-e). Set this expression equal to zero and solve for e, you get 20/41.5. So he should raise/call anytime his hand has more than (20/41.5) equity against a random hand. We already determined in the last post that these hands are 22+,A2+,K2+,Q3o+,Q2s+,J7o+,J3s+,T8o+,T6s+, and 97s+, for 54.8% of all hands. Player 1's average payoff is then:

.452*0 + .548*(.572*21.5 - .428*20) = 2.05

Whereas player 2 has an average payoff of -0.55. Not coincidentally, this is the exact inverse of the payoffs when player 1 raise/calls every time and player 2 best responds.

What if player 2 shoves 22+,A9o+,A5s+,KQo,KJs+ (14.6% of all hands) and folds everything else?

We will have to solve this by "backward induction", considering the last decision first and then using that to figure out the payoffs involved in making earlier decisions. So let's assume player 1 has raised and player 2 has shoved. Which hands should player 1 be calling with? He would be calling 17 to win 24.5, so he needs 24.5*e - 17*(1-e) > 0, or e greater than 40.9%. These hands are: 33+, ATo+, A9s+,KQs (9.7% of all hands). All other hands, had player 1 raised them, would be folded. Player 1's calling range then has 53.8% equity against player 2's shoving range. Now we can consider player 1's decision to raise or fold as his first move. Say he has the most marginal hand with exactly 40.9% equity. Should he raise? His expected payoff to raising is:

.854*1.5 + .146*(.409*21.5 - .591*20) = .84

This is clearly better than 0, the payoff from folding. Also note something else. If player 1 has a hand that he will NOT call a raise with, his payoff to raising is:

.854*1.5 + .146*(-3) = .84

This is also better than folding. That the payoff to raise/calling and raise/folding with the 40.9% equity hand is no coincidence. The 40.9% mark is exactly the point where calling player 2's shove and folding to it are equal in expected value.

Player 1's expected payoff to this strategy is now:

.854*1.5 + .146*(.097*(21.5*.538 - 20*.462) - .903*(1.5)) = 1.1

What is player 1's best response to any given strategy for player 2?

Let f be the % of the time that player 2 folds when player 1 raises. Then player 1's expected payoff of raise/calling is:

1.5*f +(1-f)(-3) = 4.5f - 3

This obviously equals 0 when f equals 2/3. So if player 2 is folding two-thirds of the time or greater, player 1 should raise every time. If player 2 shoves, then player 1 should call if he has greater than 40.9% equity vs. player 2's shoving range.

If player 2 folds less than 2/3 of the time (and therefore shoves more than 1/3 of the time), player 1 should never raise/fold, and should raise/call if:

1.5*f + (1-f)*(21.5e - 20*(1-e)) > 0

Where e is the equity of player 1's hand against player 2's shoving range.