July 31, 2008

Hands that make me vomit - PART 3

Lately I have noticed a serious leak in my game - river decisions. Its a good thing that very few hands go all the way to the river...because I seem to continually BURN money on 5th street - whether it is not folding, betting, or calling a raise - I'm on a hot streak lately. It really pisses me off because obviously its the most expensive street to make mistakes on.

I absolutely BUTCHERED both of the hands below...

Hand #1

Ok this play is not exaxctly standard but based on the villain's stat's, on the flop it really smelled like he had two overs. Guys who play 16/7 often will not raise utg with strong hands like AK, AQ, 88-JJ.

So I opt to float in position to the gheyly sized check raise (giving me something like 4.5-1 to call) and I end up getting runner runner (i run gooooot!). He leads the river for a nice sized bet and have him on an A, maybbbbbe AA, but its more likely Ax (A8 is COMPLETELY out of his range and so unlikely I never considered it).

I just CALL with TOP 2, so ghey. If I ship...or make a nice raise, I think there is a shot I'm getting called down.

I think I EASILY lost half a BI here - GROSS.

Hand #2

BEAUTY of a frop here, and I will be bet bet betting every day and twice on sunday. I have a SHITTON of equity against pretty much every conceivable range other than a set. TPTK, NFD, backdoor straight draw, overcard...I'm living the dream here.

Frop - firing is standard here
Turn - firing is standard again
River - WHY THE FAWK did I bet here? His line is SO looking like a frush draw, 9T, and KT. When I bet, I am only getting called by KT (which beats me!). When the A comes, it is unlikely I am getting called by KQ...why not check to induce a bluff? I'm never folding in that spot if he ships...too much in the pot and the guy was a total donk.

I think I prolly lost quarter of a BI here (maybe half the time he bluffs his stack on the river) - more grossness.

Part of my problem with river decisions is the fact that autopilot mode occasionally creeps up on me...PF and frop play are relatively straightfoward - turn/river situations do not come up as often and thus I am more prone to make mistakes. Also, playing these streets optimally requires much deeper thought than pre/flop play...you are required to process more information and analyze in further detail indivdual spots/situtations.

Here's to better postfrop pray!!!

Stats, Cont....

Sorry for the relative lull in posting. I just got back from New York and am still getting back into the swing of things. I wanted to give kind of idea of how long it takes stats to converge. In general, when you have a Bernoulli variable x with mean p (i.e., a variable that takes a value of 0 or 1, as in 1 if PFR, 0 if no PFR), its variance (the expectation of its square of its deviation from its mean) is equal to (if you don't understand a step of what's below, or you think I did something incorrect, feel free to comment):


= E[x^2 + p^2 - 2xp]

= E[x^2] + p^2 - 2 E[xp]

p*(1)^2 + (1-p)*0^2 + p^2 - 2 p^2

=  p - p^2 = p (1-p)

Now consider the average of a series of Bernoulli trials, which is what the PFR/VP$P stats are. The variance of this would be, where S is the total number of successes in n trials (go here for more details):


p (1-p)/n

So the standard deviation would be:

(p (1-p)/n)^(1/2)

Taking advantage of the Central Limit Theorem, we can assume that the distribution of the PFR stat will be approximately normal around its mean, with a standard deviation equal to the standard deviation given above. A good rule of thumb is going two standard deviations away from the mean in either direction gives you a 95% confidence interval. So say you have 100 hands on a guy and you have a 20% PFR. Then p = .2 and n = 100, so the standard deviation is:

(.2*.8/100)^(1/2) = .4/10 = .04

That is, you can be 95% sure that his true PFR is between .16 and .24, which is pretty good for only 100 hands. 


July 27, 2008

The Battle

For those of you who took my advice and caught the Cotto-Margarito war last night, you can thank me later. If you didn't, you can catch up to everyone else by watching the replay on HBO this Saturday.

What an amazing fight. Cotto dominated the first 5 or so rounds by moving, jabbing, and countering Margarito, occasionally standing and trading a few punches, usually landing the cleaner, harder shots.

But Margarito never slowed, and gradually started to wear Cotto down. By the end of the sixth, Cotto looked tired and weak-legged. He wasn't able to evade Margarito as well as he had in the first few rounds. He spent more time leaning against the ropes or backed into corners. His counters were not as crisp.

In the ninth, Cotto bounced back to win his first round in a while. He seemed to have the upper hand in the first two minutes of the tenth as well. At this point the fight was very close on the cards, but it looked like Cotto had gotten his second wind. If he could have held on to win the tenth, and then grabbed either the eleventh or twelfth, the fight could have been his.

Maybe Cotto was thinking the same thing and let his concentration lapse a bit as he got caught and hurt with a barrage of punches by Margarito. This was the final turning point of the fight. Cotto managed to make it through the tenth round. He came out for the eleventh and tried to land some combinations, but it looked like a last-ditch effort. Margarito kept pounding on Cotto, finally forcing him to take a knee. He got up, but quickly backed into the opposite corner and took a knee again without taking a punch, forcing his corner to throw in the towel and end the fight. Margarito is the new welterweight champion.

Cotto fought a great fight, and would have knocked out almost any other welterweight in the world with the punches he landed in the first six rounds. But he did make two tactical decisions, which, in my opinion, were mistakes:

1) When he was in control of the fight in the first few rounds, he never pressed the action. Even after he landed a 3-punch combination, he would immediately back away and allow Margarito to come to him again. It seemed like he had just decided at the beginning there was no way he could KO Margarito, so he should just pile up punches and try not to get KO'ed himself. But this took away from his natural aggressiveness as a fighter (if this was the first time you saw Cotto fight, you would have no idea that in 95% of his prior fights HE was the one coming forward, pushing the action), and allowed Margarito to return to his gameplan of stalking down Cotto easily. Tony is not a great counterpuncher. Force him to lock up or punch back while he's on defense. This is in turn your best defense. It's very very tough to withstand 12 rounds of Tony coming towards you. Some part of the best defense against that is offense. Of course Cotto doesn't want to get into 12 rounds of standing and trading with Margarito, but he should stay on the attack when he lands well.

2) Cotto didn't go to the body enough in the first six rounds. It's pretty well established that Margarito can't really be hurt with head punches. They look great to the judges, but they just don't phase him, no matter how hard they land, and therefore don't retard his offense later in the fight. Going to the body won't look quite as good, but every punch to the ribcage you get in early takes away from Margarito's wind and power late, which would have been crucial for Cotto.

A truly exhilirating night of boxing. As for a rematch, I think both fighters should "see other people" before reuniting sometime next year. Margarito-Williams 2 now seems to be in order. Cotto has a variety of options. A rematch with Shane Mosley after Shane beats the crap out of Mayorga would be nice, as their first fight was very competitive. He could also fight Joshua Clottey if Clottey beats Judah. Who knows, maybe he'll still get to fight Oscar. Whatever their future holds, I will certainly be tuning in any time either of these two fighters enters the ring.


P.S. - Take this with a grain of salt as I am kind of a Floyd nut-hugger, but one thing I took away from the fight last night, as great as both guys were, is that neither can beat Floyd Mayweather. I heard a lot of people saying that after last night, Floyd would be too scared to come out of retirement to face Margarito. Please. What you saw in the first six rounds is what you would see for twelve rounds if Floyd fought Margarito. Floyd is faster than Cotto, both with his hands and his feet, and would avoid a lot of the punishment that Cotto took even while he was winning. In addition, Floyd's conditioning is just unreal. You never ever even get a HINT of him tiring down the stretch. He could run circles around Margarito all night long. He wouldn't knock him out, and it probably wouldn't be that great to watch. I would still give Cotto a better chance against Floyd, but his apparent abandonment of the body attack he carried with him at 140 would hurt him against Mayweather. It would be a more interesting fight than Margarito-Mayweather though. If Cotto went back to the stalking, punishing style he employed against Zab Judah, he might have a chance. But in his recent fights vs. Mosley, Margarito, and even the outmatched Gomez, he's favored a more measured, technical approach, and nobody fights in that style better than Mayweather.

July 25, 2008

Villains Don't Like to Admit Mistakes

I won't include any specific hand histories in this post because the situations are so general. But imagine the following hands: you raise pre-flop and are called by a blind. Flop comes K93r and the blind check-calls your c-bet. The turn is a 4 and the blind checks. Now consider the same situation, except with a 934r flop and a K turn. In which situation is the donkey in the blind more likely to call down a second barrel with a marginal hand...say...J9?

It seems to me that the answer is the first (although I'd love to hear other opinions in comments). The reason is that the villain usually forms an opinion of the hands he can beat on the flop, and if he calls, he has decided you've got one of those hands. Most donkeys have no concept of ranges and adjusting them due to your actions as the hand progresses. They just see K93r, decide you have AQ, and call down as long as they can beat AQ. Folding a blank turn would entail admitting that they were wrong, something that no one, especially poker players, likes to do.

However, something everyone likes to do, again especially poker players, is to blame their losses and failures on bad luck. Which is what the villain can easily do on the 934K board. He can think, "well, I made a good call on the flop, but he got lucky and caught a turn card. I have played this hand perfectly, having put him on AK from the start. I'll just fold now that he has caught up."

So in general when you're multi-barrel bluffing, I think it's easier to convince and opponent that you have improved to make a better hand (so pay attention to how the board comes out and if you can plausibly do that), rather than that you have a stronger hand than your opponent thought on the flop.


July 23, 2008

Using Stats

One of the differences in online poker compared to live poker is that you can gather and use statistics about your own play and the play of your opponents. If you have these statistics and others don't, this is obviously to your advantage. But pretty much all of the regulars in online games have data-gathering, -interpreting, and -displaying programs such as Idle Miner and Poker Tracker/Ace Hud or Hold 'Em Manager. The advantage then falls to those who 1) gather more data and/or 2) are better at using the data they have.

While many statistics such as VP$P and PFR are straightforward to interpret, other commonly used statistics can have a variety of interpretations. The most important of these is Aggression Factor (AF). AF is defined, on each street, as ((bet + raise)/call). That is, it's the ratio of the times the player does something aggressive (betting or raising) to the times the player does something passive (call). Note that the number of times the player checks or folds has no impact.

For a given hand, a player's AF has little bearing on how strong they are when they raise. If a player has an AF of 5 but a VP$P/PFR of 9/6, they probably have a very strong hand, simply because their starting hands are so strong. But even a 45/30 player with an AF of 5 could theoretically have very strong hands every time he bets or raises if he is just check/folding all his weak to medium strength hands. To get a sense of this, you could look at his Went to Showdown %. If it is very high, then he's not folding very often, so the high AF and VP$P mean he must be bluffing a lot. Again, AF is a ratio. It gets high either by a player betting and raising a lot or calling very little.

AF, on its own, means pretty close to nothing. To interpret it, you really need to use VP$P, to understand the range of hands a player is heading into later streets with, and WTSD%, which gives you a rough idea of how often a player is either betting, raising, or calling.

Not only do you need a bunch of other stats to be able to interpret AF, it takes a long time to converge. That is, you need a lot of hands before the AF starts to really describe a player's behavior. There are a few reasons for this. First, most players don't see the flop that often. So if you're looking at flop AF and you have 1,000 hands on a player, there are probably only 200 hands or so that are relavent, because most of the time either the player folded before the flop, or everybody else did. Of those, only a fraction will impact AF. For instance, if a player calls a PFR and then check/folds, his AF is unaffected. Second, since it's a ratio, small changes in the denominator can make the number much different. For instance, if on the flop, a player has bet once but never called a bit, his AF is infinity. If the next hand he calls a bet, his AF is 1.0. It takes many hands for this kind of herky-jerkiness to calm down.

There are also just so many different situations post-flop that one statistic isn't very good at summarizing a player's tendencies. By contrast, preflop VP$P/PFR gives you a LOT of information because there are relatively few situations a player can face. Also, a player faces a VP$P/PFR decision in every hand, so it converges very quickly. These stats after 100 hands are only rarely different than they would be after 10k hands.

AF can be a useful statistic, but I think it's far overused, just because there are many different kinds of players that will arrive at the same AF through a different mixture of statistics. Really, using AF at all before you have at least 1,000 hands of data is pure guesswork. Once you get enough hands on a player for the AF to mean something, your own observations and notes will probably carry more meaningful and accurate information than AF anyway.


July 21, 2008

Showdown in Vegas This Weekend

Sports fans, do NOT miss out on perhaps the most exciting fight of this year as Miguel Cotto takes on Antonio Margarito for welterweight supremacy this Saturday in Las Vegas. If you're not a boxing fan or just have never seen a big fight before, get some buddies together and pony up the $50 for this PPV event. It will be well worth it. If you sprung for the Mayweather-De La Hoya fight a couple of years ago and were disappointed in the lack of action, this fight is for you. These guys are both warriors and neither one is a defensive master. Both of them come in the ring to break down and demolish their opponents.

Cotto comes in as a rising star with an undefeated record. Beating Margarito, after beating Shane Mosley last year in New York, would pretty much clean out the non-Mayweather welterweights and put him in the discussion for tops on the pound-for-pound list. Margarito is a grizzled veteran who has been working towards this fight for a long time. Personally, I can't remember ever being this excited for a fight, except maybe Mosley-Cotto and that was because I attended. If you want to get yourself pumped up, run through some YouTube clips of Cotto beating up Carlos Quintana or Zab Judah, and Margarito pummeling Kermit Cintron.

In honor of the matchup, here's my list of the top 10 welterweights out there. Here are the parameters: To be eligible, you have to have fought your most recent fight at welterweight, and still be an active boxer (so no Floyd). The rankings imply that if these 10 guys fought a round robin, this would be the standings as ordered by their records. Also, there exists no other fighter out there such that, if he replaced the 10th ranked guy and fought the other 9 guys, would have a better record than the 10th ranked guy I have in there now.

1. Miguel Cotto
Widely recognized as the best welter out there. He first caught the attention of boxing fans with his spectacular body punching, and has developed some more refined boxing skills in his last couple of fights against Mosley and Alfonso Gomez.

2. Antonio Margarito
He lost to Paul Williams by not being active enough early on. I think if they fight again Margarito wins easily. Very impressive performance in his rematch with Kermit Cintron.

3. Shane Mosley
Lost a close decision to Cotto, the top guy in the division, in his last fight. He also landed probably the most meaningful punch of the fight, a body shot that forced Cotto to avoid confrontation in the last couple of rounds. He's past his prime, but still a top fighter.

4. Paul Williams
He looked pretty bad in his first fight vs. Carlos Quintana, which I saw in person. He then avenged that loss in spectacular fashion, KOing Quintana in the first round. He's tough for any welterweight to deal with because of his size and length.

5. Andre Berto
I know he hasn't really fought anybody yet. He hasn't been tested, so it's hard to say if he really has the heart, chin, and will of a truly great fighter. But...have you seen this guy?!?!? Watch the uppercuts he KO'ed David Estrada or Miki Rodriguez with and tell me you wouldn't take him over the guys below him on this list.

6. Kermit Cintron
He's got all the skills a great fighter needs, he just lacks the true determination and will to keep fighting when the going gets really tough. Like when he's fighting Margarito. With the exception of Margarito, you'd have to give him a puncher's chance against anybody on this list, because Kermit can whack. It's all a matter of how much he wants to fight again.

7. Zab Judah
Similar to Cintron, Zab is very fast, has good boxing skills, and has pretty good power. He's just got no killer instinct or determination. He arguably won the first four rounds of each of his two biggest fights (vs. Mayweather and vs. Cotto), only to get dominated down the stretch as he just stopped punching. When you watch him for one round, he sometimes seems unbeatable. But when you look at his record, he's got only one really great win, an 9th round TKO of Cory Spinks.

8. Joshua Clottey
His fight with Judah on Aug. 2 is definitely a crossroads fight. Zab is probably one loss away from nobody really caring about him anymore. Clottey has lost both of his previous title fights (vs. Margarito and vs. Carlos Baldomir) and is 31 years old.

9. Carlos Quintana
He's a very slick boxer who has had two absolutely horrible nights, where he's gotton demolished by Cotto and Williams. But with his boxing skills and southpaw style, he'd have to be considered a live dog against pretty much anybody in the division.

10. Luis Collazo
His record shows a loss to junior welterweight champion Ricky Hatton, but if you saw the fight, you have to at least entertain the possibility that this was a win. Whether you attribute that to Hatton not being a welterweight or Collazo actually being decent, it's a better performance than anything anybody not on this list can claim.


July 18, 2008

THIN! (Part 6)

As I have discussed before, I hate shorties. As a consequence, I love stacking them. Partly because I just hate them and seeing them lose gives me joy, but also because it might get them off the table. Here's a hand where I got some razor-thin value off a shorty:

Seat 1: CO ($63.95)
Seat 8: HERO (MP) ($279.25)

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to HERO [Qh Ac]
HERO raises to $8
CO calls $8

*** FLOP *** [2c 7h Td]
HERO bets $14 (Knowing pretty much nothing about this short-stacker before this hand, I think this is a mandatory bet.  Surprisingly, a lot of shortstackers do set-mine. It's the most retarded thing in the world, but he could have 55 and fold here. I also don't want to check and let QJ or KJ or something retarded like that eihter get there or bet me out of the pot.)
CO raises to $28 (MIN raise. With $28 behind...OK...this idiot must have taken a break from giving his boyfriend head to make this bet. I think my fold equity is pretty minimal, although you never know with these shorties. I was thinking I'm probably against some crap one-pair like 66 or 78, with some chance of a straight draw. It costs me $42 more to shove and there's already almost $60 in the pot. So that's my story for why I thought shoving was +EV, but part of it was that I just didn't want to fold to a min-raise from this shorty asshat, and nailing an A to suck out vs. his pocket threes would just feel so tasty.)
HERO raises to $103
CO calls $27.95, and is all in
HERO shows [Qh Ac]
CO shows
[Ah Jh]
*** TURN *** [2c 7h Td] [9s]
*** RIVER *** [2c 7h Td 9s] [4c]
HERO wins the pot ($127.90) with Ace Queen high

Thin-ness!!! Eat it, you filthy short-stacker!! Get the hell off my table!!!


July 15, 2008

Hands That Make Me Vomit (Part 2)

Recently I have been on an absurdly bad run, finding pretty much any way possible to lose money. Happens, I guess. You always know it's gonna happen, it's part of the game, blah blah blah, but knowing it's going to happen doesn't make it any easier to take when you're experiencing it. Here's one hand that at first looks like a total cooler...and is, definitely, but at the same time, I don't think I played it very well. The villain is a 36/15 donk:

Seat 2: HERO (MP1) ($201)
Seat 4: MP2 ($229)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to HERO [8s 8h]
HERO raises to $8
MP2 calls $8

*** FLOP *** [Qd Qc Kd]
HERO bets $13 (Not exactly the flop I was looking for in terms of giving me a good hand, but I think it's a mandatory c-bet. I think he probably has to fold JJ-99, and I don't want to check and give hands like AJ/AT or underpairs a chance to either make a better hand or bluff me out of the pot)
MP2 calls $13

*** TURN *** [Qd Qc Kd] [8c]
HERO bets $35 (I was pretty much done with the hand until I hit a full house here. I think betting the turn is good because I do think he will pay to draw to a second best hand with some big diamonds or maybe even JT, and I think he will call with a hand like KJ. He might even have AK, although I think he probably would have raised either before or on the flop.)
MP2 calls $35

*** RIVER *** [Qd Qc Kd 8c] [Jh]
HERO bets $145, and is all in (This is a big mistake in the hand, I think. I think overbetting for value is a great tool to have -this is an overbet, pot is about $100- but this is not a good spot for it at all. He has a lot of missed draws in his range that I'd like to give a chance to bluff by checking. I don't think he would call this down with KJ or any other king. Maybe maybe he calls down with AdTd or perhaps AQ, although I think he would have raised earlier with AQ. So there aren't too many worse hands I could get value from. Secondly, he could definitely be slowplaying a better hand, specifically KQ. He could have QJ too, although again I think he might have raised earlier. I think a better line would be to either check-call or even bet $60 or so to try and get value from a K or AQ.  I think I would even have to fold to a raise. Maybe I'm just seeing monsters under the bed and I'm gunshy after taking so many beats in the last few days, but I don't see him raising worse on the river. In any case, he instacalled my shove and did in fact have KQ.)
MP2 calls $145

*** SHOW DOWN ***
MP2 shows [Kh Qh] a full house, Queens full of Kings


July 12, 2008

Thanks for Not Stacking Me, Bro! (Part 5) / Red Cards Never Win

This is a very different kind of Thanks For Not Stacking Me, Bro! post. In this case, the villain's decision to not stack me came before the hand even started. 

For most good cash game players, one of the major annoyances of most internet cash games is the proliferation of shortstackers, also known as ratholers. These asshats have no idea how to play poker. They may have come over to cash games after playing a few donk-n-go's. But their plan is basically to push premium hands, and maybe re-steal with some hands that run well hot and cold, such as A8o, etc.. If you're familiar with short stack tourney play, then you know roughly what these guys are doing. With a decent plan of attack, these nimrods can eke out a meager win rate and pile up the rakeback by playing 389 tables at once with their robotic (perhaps literally) style. If you're a good player playing with 100 bbs or more, this really limits you. When you try to steal or isolate a limping donk, you always have to worry about having the shorty shove over the top of you. This makes stealing or isolating with high implied odds hands like suited connectors much less profitable. You also can't use your post-flop skills against them, because they're either putting all their money in preflop or on the flop. There's just not enough room for multi-street lines. 

The only time I'm glad I'm at the table with a shorty is when they cooler me and I only lose 20 bbs. Classic case:

Seat 1: HERO (MP2) ($200)
Seat 9: Ratholer (MP1) ($41.80)

Dealt to HERO [Kh Ah]
Ratholer calls $2
HERO raises to $10
Ratholer calls $8

** FLOP ** [4s Kc 5d]
Ratholer checks
HERO bets $12
Ratholer raises to $31.80, and is all in
HERO calls $19.80
Ratholer shows [4d 4h]
HERO shows [Kh Ah]

*** TURN ** [4s Kc 5d] [Ts]

*** RIVER ** [4s Kc 5d Ts] [9s]

Ratholer wins the pot ($83.60) with three of a kind, Fours

The fact that this guy would limp-call 25% of his stack to set-mine is just hilarious. This is approximately 5x worse than calling a 3-bet to set-mine. This guy is obviously not a good shortstacker. I don't mind having him to my right, although it's not my favorite thing in the world. If he were to my left, certainly if he were a good short-stacker and to my left, I'd probably leave the table pretty soon. 

My pre-flop raise is standard. On the flop, I usually like to c-bet a little smaller against the ratholers, for a couple of reasons. First, I want to induce a shove from some hand like 88 or A4s. Second, I don't have to protect against giving high implied odds because the effective stacks are so short. Say this were a drawier board like if the 4 were a diamond instead of a spade. Put aside for the moment the fact that diamonds never get there. If my opponent were full-stacked, I'd want to put in a good-sized bet to make him pay to draw to diamonds or a straight, since he stands to win a lot of money if he hits. Here, once I bet, the pot is already as big as the amount the villain has left, so I don't have to worry about the shorty hitting a draw and pwning me for 100 bbs. Once he shoves, I'm obviously calling with TPTK, even though it is hearts and hearts lose almost every time.

The final part of the hand is that he left once the big blind got to him again. Another classic ratholer move. Once they get above 20 bbs, their head explodes because they might have to make some kind of decision after the flop, so they just leave and find another table to buy in for 20 bbs at.

It should be clear from this post that I hate playing with these guys, I have absolutely zero respect for them, I think they ruin the game, they have no idea how to play poker, and are basically a waste of skin. I try to play the Full Tilt deep tables as often as I can, which require a minimum buy-in of 50 bbs. But when I lose only 20 bbs with TPTK to a set, I'm willing to just laugh at them.


P.S. - Also want to give a big shout out and gl to Andrew Brokos (Foucault), who is making a run in the Main Event as I am typing this. It would be really awesome to see him get to the final table. Those of you who follow his blog know what a great player he is. Pwn it, Andrew!!!

July 10, 2008

Froaters Beware, Cont...

Very sorid post by Brackchips on defending vs. froaters. You don't want to get into a robotic mode of raising a fixed range preflop, continuation betting every flop, and then check-folding to resistance unless you make a hand. Unless your preflop range is really tight, this is an exploitable strategy for observant opponents. 

You do, however, have to balance the times you check-raise bluff the turn by check-raise bluffing with a hand sometimes. This is along the same lines as Foucault's post from a few days ago about balancing your double-barreling range.

A good time is when you think your opponent might be floating, but the river stands to help you more than him. Here's an example, even though I happened to get pwnd in this hand:

Seat 2: HERO (BB) ($100.50)
Seat 6: Button ($85.10)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to HERO [Ac Kc]
Button raises to $1.75
HERO raises to $6 (standard)
Button calls $4.25

*** FLOP *** [8s 8c Ad]
HERO bets $7.50
Button calls $7.50 (My c-bet here is standard. When he calls, I'm making his range lesser aces, an 8, and then some of the time he's floating me without an ace, maybe with some pocket pair or some Td9d-type hand with a little backdoor equity, hoping I have JJ or TT or 56s and that I'll check-fold the turn.) 

*** TURN *** [8s 8c Ad] [6c]
HERO checks (The turn gives me a flush draw to go with my TPTK. If I bet, I think I scare off most of the lower aces, except maybe AQ, and I definitely discourage him from making a play with his nothing hands if he was floating the flop. So I decided to check-raise to get value out of those hands. If he has me beat with an 8, it doesn't really matter, the money is going in anyway.)
Button bets $19
HERO raises to $50
Button raises to $71.60, and is all in
HERO calls $21.60
Button shows [Th 8d]

*** RIVER *** [8s 8c Ad 6c] [4s]
Button wins the pot ($167.45) with three of a kind, Eights

I'm not really sure how profitable calling a 3-bet with T8o is, even deep and in position. It's not like my image at the table was wild or anything like that. Anyway, I like how I played the hand, even though the result wasn't so good. Trips are pretty much the top of his range - I don't see him showing up with AA or A8 or 66 for a boat very often - and I still had almost 25% equity going to the river. And playing hands this way sometimes gives some credibility to my turn check-raises in the future.


July 8, 2008

Floaters Beware

The concept of floating refers to the act of calling a bet in position with the intention of taking the pot away on a later street. More often that not, floaters will have complete air or a very marginal hand and attempt to leverage their position on either the turn or the river. Floaters who are extremely adept at understanding hand ranges and board texture will be a thorn in your side on the felt, especially when they have position on you. They will be be able to take down pots the second they smell weakness weakness. Furthermore, they are able to take down these pots relatively cheaply since most of the time they will be utilizing position as their primary weapon.

Below is an example of where I was able to sniff out a floater - and get the villain to fold out what was likely the best hand. Prefop and flop plays are pretty much ABC poker - but the turn is the perfect card for me to check back and react to my opp. When he bets, he is repping a deuce (an unlikely holding) or a FD. I chose to CR in this spot in an effort to rep a K...its VERY unlikely for my opp to hold one here bc most K's he plays...he would be 3b'ing me PF. Also, I suspected I might be getting floated on this flop since the board was SOOOO incredibly dry, personally I think its a great flop to float in position with 89, 33-77. Thankfully for me, I got a fold - SHIP THE CHEDDAAA!

July 7, 2008

THIN! (Part 5)

One of the joys of small-stakes 6-max games are the super LAG-tarded players that show up with alarming frequency. While most of the full-ring donkeys are more loose-passive, 6-max attracts the loose-aggressive donkeys. As with loose-passive players, thin and strong value betting is key to getting max profit out of these players. This particular donkey had been opening for 6x in probably 50% of all hands. 

Seat 1: HERO (BB) ($84.30)
Seat 3: MP ($204.15)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to HERO [Jh Kd]
MP raises to $3 
HERO raises to $12 (He makes his standard 6x open. I am ahead of his range with KJ-high. He has respected my c-bets a decent amount post-flop. At the same time, if I flop a pair, I will probably be getting all the money in.)
MP calls $9

*** FLOP *** [Qs 2d Kc]
HERO bets $15 (Golden flop. Unless he has KQ or 22, I have the nuts.)
MP calls $15

*** TURN *** [Qs 2d Kc] [4d]
HERO bets $57.30, and is all in (Great turn card, time to get max value out of a Q, a lower K, JT, or even something like AJ)
MP calls $57.30
HERO shows [Jh Kd]
MP shows
[9d Ks]

*** RIVER *** [Qs 2d Kc 4d] [Qd]
HERO wins the pot ($165.85) with two pair, Kings and Queens

K9 is gold!!!


July 6, 2008

Thanks for Not Stacking Me, Bro! (Part 4)

How do you flop a J-high flush vs. a Q-high flush and lose only $28? Slowplay-on-slowplay donkery!!

Seat 1: MP ($299.55)
Seat 3: CO-1 ($219.05)
Seat 4: CO ($152.30)
Seat 5: Button ($91.75)
Seat 6: HERO (SB) ($211)
Seat 7: BB ($203)

*** HOLE CARDS ***

Dealt to HERO [Jh 5h]
MP calls $2
CO-1 calls $2
CO calls $2
Button calls $2
HERO calls $1 (This is a pretty neutral EV call. In general I don't like completing from the small blind with weak hands, even with a lot of limpers. I  completed due to sooted-ness, but folding is a good play here too IMO. If the BB were a more loose-aggressive player with a tendency to punish limpers in a situation like this, I'd probably fold.)
BB checks

*** FLOP *** [4h Ah 6h] (Looks good...)
HERO checks (Well, here's part of why folding pre-flop isn't a bad play...I got the best flop possible and...what do I do now? Not going to get too much action from just an ace...I checked with the intention of raising to protect my hand and get value vs. a draw to a bigger flush, a set, or two pair. My thinking at the time was that this would probably be my line with a draw, and I've noticed that a lot of players assume you have the draw when you take this line, so I thought I could get it all in vs. A4 or A6. A lot of the time I would be leading here, though, esp with the ace on board.)
BB checks
MP checks
CO-1 checks
CO checks
Button checks

*** TURN *** [4h Ah 6h] [5s]
HERO bets $11 (Unfortunately nobody took the bait on the flop, so now I have to bet myself on the turn. This is one of the best turn cards I could hope for. There are now some straights out and more two pairs that might give me action.)
MP calls $11, everyone else folds

*** RIVER *** [4h Ah 6h 5s] [2h]
HERO checks (This is obviously not the best river card as if MP were drawing to a bigger flush he just got there, and if he had two pair or a straight, he won't call another bet. I decided to turn my hand into a bluff-catcher ad hope he would turn 67 into a bluff or something like that. I like betting and folding to a raise here too though.)
MP bets $15
HERO calls $15
*** SHOW DOWN ***
MP shows [8h Qh] a flush, Ace high

Thanks for not stacking me, bro! If you bet at any point in the hand before the river, you will get all of my money. If you are making $26 when you FLOP A FAWKING FRUSH OVER FRUSH after limping Q8s in MP, limping pre-flop is definitely not a good play. But whatever, he's a donk, so probably the most +EV thing he could do is to leave the table. Thankfully this time his donktastic play saved me a bunch of money. It's also a good thing he didn't have Th9h, because then I would really be kicking myself, and he would probably be writing a "Thanks for Not Stacking Me, Bro!" post.


July 2, 2008

I Love it When I Learn From Mistakes

It's always sweet when you make a dumb play once, remember it, and then make a better play in the same spot later on. It certainly isn't always the case. How many times do I have to pay off sets with overpairs before I figure it out? Probably still several more. Anyway, here's the first hand, from a couple of weeks ago:

Seat 7: MP1 ($279.50)
Seat 8: HERO (MP2) ($200)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to HERO [Qs Ac]
MP1 raises to $7
HERO raises to $24
MP1 calls $17

*** FLOP *** [Js 8h Kh]
MP1 checks
HERO bets $40
MP1 raises to $255.50

I don't mind the 3-bet pre-flop that much. Calling would be OK too. But really when you 3-bet AQo and you get this flop...I think you gotta check behind. A bet will fold out TT and 99, but this player, whom I have at 33/9 over 500 hands, might not have raised 99 preflop. I think he would be limping 77 and under as well. And this flop does hit hard many of the hands that he would be raise-calling preflop with, in particular JJ and AK. Slowplayed AA or KK is always a possibility too. AhQh isn't going anywhere. Also, I'm rarely going to be getting a call in this situation. It's pretty much  always fold or shove. So by betting, I guarantee that I won't see the turn card. Since there are a lot of strong hands in his range, I think it's best to just check behind and try to hit the gutterball. So today I found myself in a similar situation and decided to put that plan into action:

Seat 1: SB ($779.45)
Seat 2: HERO (BB) ($203)
Seat 4: UTG+1 ($262.45)
Seat 9: Button ($295.45)
UTG+1 posts a dead small blind of $1
UTG+1 posts $2 (donk alert!!!)

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to HERO [Ad Qh]
UTG+1 checks
button calls $2
SB raises to $8
HERO raises to $30 (This is more aggressively than I would usually play the hand, but with the poster UTG and a weak player limping the button, I thought there was a good chance the SB was just trying to buy the pot preflop. I had seen him do this a couple of times before. Looking back on it now, I think he would probably bet a little bigger if that was his intention. In any case, I decided to repop him and hope to take it down. I didn't really want to just call and be out of position deep in a 4-way pot with a troublesome hand.)
UTG+1 folds
Button folds
SB calls $22

*** FLOP *** [Kc Jh 2h]
SB checks
HERO checks (This is again a similar situation as the earlier hand. When he calls my pretty hefty 3-bet, I don't think he's just fooling around anymore. He might have been kind of playing it safe to just call with QQ and a bet here would get rid of him but...I have a Q in my hand, so that's less likely. TT not sure he would call my 3-bet preflop, as I am really repping a monster hand. AA, AK, KK, JJ are all definitely in his range and he will be shoving with them if I bet. I decided to just check behind and try to stack one of those hands if a T hits. The fact I have the Qh in my hand helps a little too.)

*** TURN *** [Kc Jh 2h] [Th] (BOOOOOOOMM!!!)
SB bets $42
HERO raises to $173, and is all in (No reason to slowplay or be worried about hearts, as he'd need exactly AhKh to have me beat, and there are many hands he's calling with that I do beat. Just shove for value.)
SB calls $131
HERO shows [Ad Qh]
SB shows [As Ac] (drawing dead to a split)

*** RIVER *** [Kc Jh 2h Th] [5c]
HERO wins the pot ($408) with a straight, Ace high

It's easy to say now looking back on it, but I think his call is a losing one. QQ is the only hand I could have that he can beat. I'm pretty sure I'd be betting AK on the flop almost every time. KK or JJ I'd be more likely to check behind, as well as TT. Against a range of KK-TT and AQ he's not doing so great, with only 26% equity.

Reviewing each session afterwards and thinking about what mistakes you made and why is a crucial part of improving as a player, in my opinion. I spend a lot of time on this. Another part is remembering those mistakes and making a better play later. I think I'm not as good at this, as it often takes me making the same mistake a few times before I figure it out. Of course, everybody is a genius when they nail the gutterball on the turn ROR!!!


July 1, 2008

Hands that make me vomit - PART 1

I have been WAY behind the ball in posting lately...recently got a temp work gig that has left little time to PWN at the tables.However, when I have had the opportunity to play, I feel very fresh - I think I have really been sticking to my A game and not letting tilt/lengthy sessions cut into my earn. At the same time...I am definitely still making mistakes and the hand below highlights a hand that I absolutely BUTCHERED postfrop - thus I have decided to create a new series - "Hands that make me vomit."

I'm not sure what ya'll think of how I played this hand, but looking back on it, personally I do not think I could have butchered more. PF and the flop decisions are pretty much a no brainer...so I am not even going to go evaluate my play PF and on the flop. However, my turn and river play are pretty shitty IMO.

So what mistakes did I make here?
a) The turn check is attrocious. The villain in this spot is a pretty weak tight (something like 14/5) and when he calls on the flop he has one of the following - a set, a Kx, or a FD. I need to somehow get value from a FD's, and Kx type hands on the turn...I opted to check call for a combination of reasons - pot control/we were deeper than normal/oop.
b) I opted to check call here...granted it is not the WORST call by any means, but I don't really think the villain is value betting worse often enough to warrant a call. I don't think he is going to show up here with KQ often enough.

Honestly I do not know the best line for the turn, leading or CR'ing...the problem with the latter is that the stacks are a bit too large for a CRAI and if I make it say 400 - and get called...it will be VERY hard to lay my hand down on the river regardless of the card that comes.

In retrospect, my optimal line would have been to lead the turn and check fold a spade on the river. I could have saved the river bet that I called on the river and used it to get some more money while I was ahead on the turn. One bad decision on the turn lead to a bad river decision. That is the beauty of this game...while there are only FOUR possible actions if a hand gets to the river - it continually presents me with a challenge. Its a puzzle, mystery, clusterfuck, whatever you want to call it - I can't get enough of it.