Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Wow, that actually made me feel better... and all I did was hold down shift+A... nice. In my WSOP Main Event attempt, I came so close... as I described in my post here. Well, tonight, I just decided to play in the Bracelet race, being inspired by Hoy's post. Well, I played relatively straight up poker, waiting for good hands but pressing when I felt that I had the better hand. I was also fortunate that I was at a table full of tight players for a while so I opened up my game a little (and only a little) but that helped me take down a lot of uncontested pots to help my stack. When we hit the final table, my stack was pretty much in line with everyone else.
I tried to open up my game and I succeeded here and there until I started getting a little out of line when it was down to 5 people and got another guy all in with my A6, just to see him turn over QQ. No bad beat crippled my stack so I went all in with my short stack with K8, and what do you know, I get one caller with QQ. However, this time, I flop two pair and so I have my stack back up to around 16000 which was still a little short but not too bad. However, we get our money all in when I have AJ sooooooooooted... and what do you know, I run into QQ again! No luck for me this time and I bust out 5th... I thought only 4 places paid so this message was strangely soothing...
But so close... top 2 places qualified for one of the prelim events at WSOP...
Soooooooo close.... and yet so far...
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
In honor of Fuel55, "Presto is Gold!" (First and only time I'll use it... hopefully Fuel won't mind if I "borrow" it) - and I'll even edit it like he does:
FullTiltPoker Game #2084889494: Table Bunch Grass - $2/$4 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:06:19 ET - 2007/03/27
*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to RecessRampage [5s 5d] *First thing I thought of was Fuel... that's sad and shady at the same time...
I call $4 from MP
BB raises to $28 (big raise!! AK or trying to protect his big pocket pair?)
I call *BB was deep so his reraise was still a perfect setup for set mining
CO-1 calls *this is just bonus
*** FLOP *** [Kd 5c 6c]
BB bets $48 *Smallish bet considering the pot had over $80. Worried about a set???
RecessRampage raises to $120 * Presto IS gold! If BB has KK what a cooler... oh wait, Presto is gold
BB calls $72 *Perfect. He clearly has AK or AA and if he's calling this bet, he's not gonna be able to let it go.
*** TURN *** [Kd 5c 6c] [Ts]
BB bets $220 *Interesting bet because this pretty much commits him. Either KK or this was just a bad bet.
RecessRampage raises to $440 *looks like his whole stack is about to be mine!
BB calls $98.60, and is all in
RecessRampage shows [5s 5d]
BB shows [Ac Ah] *Boooooom!
Uncalled bet of $121.40 returned to RecessRampage
*** RIVER *** [Kd 5c 6c Ts] [4s]
RecessRampage shows three of a kind, BB shows a pair of Aces
RecessRampage wins the pot ($960.20) with three of a kind
I left the table with 3.5x the buy-in. Nice!
FullTiltPoker Game #2077576453: Table Hedge Top - $2/$4 - No Limit Hold'em - 22:31:02 ET - 2007/03/26
Seat 1: ROCKTJ ($205.60)
Seat 2: 100scoot ($186)
Seat 3: Cowboy 0389 ($256.60)
Seat 4: numbnuts ($419.20)
Seat 5: bg26892 ($366)
Seat 6: cfeuer ($435.90)
Seat 7: RecessRampage ($466.70)
Seat 8: LMB_LMB ($194.60)
Seat 9: card57 ($522.60)
LMB_LMB posts the small blind of $2
card57 is sitting out
ROCKTJ posts the big blind of $4
The button is in seat #7
*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to RecessRampage [6s 5s]
Cowboy 0389 folds
bg26892 raises to $14 (he's a relatively loose player who will certainly make plays)
RecessRampage raises to $40 (I thought this would be a good time with position)
bg26892 calls $26
*** FLOP *** [2s 3s 8d]
RecessRampage bets $70 (considering my cards, I figured this was a beautiful flop - gut shot straight draw and a flush draw)
bg26892 raises to $140 (uh oh... so maybe he had a pretty legit hand)
RecessRampage has 15 seconds left to act
RecessRampage raises to $426.70, and is all in (he's gotta put me on aces or kings with this move)
bg26892 has 15 seconds left to act
Uncalled bet of $286.70 returned to RecessRampage
RecessRampage wins the pot ($363)
This ended up being a decent sized pot that I took down with a hand that I may have folded preflop or misplayed and not be able to chase post flop. When the opponent raised me on the flop, I wasn't necessarily convinced that he had a hand. I thought he could make this play in case I was trying to take the pot down with AK. If he had a decent pocket pair like TT or JJ, this would definitely be a play that he would make. Fortunately for me, I had a fair amount of outs if he did have a pocket pair (13 outs) so I felt like I could really be aggressive with this hand. I also knew that the image I had on the table (or at least some of the regulars which the villain was) was that I would bet my strong hands (flopped set, I almost always come out firing out) and that I generally fold to a strong bet unless I have a monster holding. So, by coming over the top, I knew I was making a very strong statement. I also pretty much knew that he couldn't have a set because the cards were so low. It would be rare for him to raise with a pocket pair lower than 8's in that position so I was fairly comfortable with putting him on a range of hands like 99, TT, JJ, QQ, AQ, or AK. According to pokertools, if I put him on a range of 99, TT, JJ, QQ, or AK, I still have 50.78% equity. So, pushing this marginal edge that I had was definitely a good move I think.
Monday, March 26, 2007
"My favorite day is Saturday because I can play all day long but on Sundays, we have to get ready for Monday."
When I saw this piece of note that my mom sent me, I realized how much of a true genius I was... to recognize that Sunday night sucks because Monday mornings bring another wave of shittiness (whether it's work or school) at such young age... either that or I just haven't really grown up.
Funny thing is, I don't really hate my job all that much. Actually, I kinda like what I do. BUT, I only do it because I have to. I've heard some people say that "I love my job so much I'd work for free!" (say it in a high pitched voice for full effect). You know what I say to that? You're a loser. Personally, I wouldn't do anything for free. I'm obviously gonna need income so whatever I do for money, I better get paid... that's my take. Imagine taking money out of poker and just playing for fun? I'd quit in a heartbeat. Cuz it won't be fun. And I'm betting so would most of them. "Playing for fun" is a joke of a concept also. Maybe I'm too competitive. But I always thought people who said "oh, I'm just playing for fun" are losers. You play for fun because you know that you can't play to win. A donkey loses a few buy-ins at the table and at the end of the night, you almost always hear this... "Oh well, that was fun. Maybe next time." Yeah, thanks for your money. It was certainly more fun for us taking your money but you obviously wouldn't know anything about that, would you? But I'm a believer in keeping good customers happy so I always give them a smile and say "better luck next time." Naturally, I mean go run to the ATM and get some more money because your money is welcome here anytime.
Wow... I'm angry this morning. But I mean it. I never understood the, I'm just doing it for fun concept. Like when I play basketball... it's always for real. When I come home from our County League basketball games, I tell my wife what happened, what I did wrong, how it may have cost the team or who's not hustling enough, etc and she goes "it's like you're playing in the NBA. You're playing in the County! Let it go." But I can't. I'm a dork like that. I get into it. Anything less than 100% is unacceptable. I talk about cutting people from the team. She thinks I'm psycho... she's probably a little correct.
Ok, on to poker. This week, as I was reading the blogs of others, I noticed that a fellow blogger qualified for one of the preliminary WSOP events. Check out his post! Well, I was more or less inspired by that but my schedule didn't allow me to play in any of the WSOP qualifiers. Instead, I played in a daily double tournament that FTP has going and I was doing fairly well in both. I'm not gonna bore you with the details of a bad beat but on one of the tables, I had AA twice and got cracked both times, of course, preflop all-in... once against TT when he made a flush on the river and then against 33 when he turned a set. The first one hurt but I was able to climb back up. The second one hurt just as bad as the first except this time, the blinds were higher so I effectively had to go all in with A5 two hands later, only to be called by AQ... I played well at both tables but some things didn't quite go my way. Oh well.
On the cash game side, I ran into two very similar situations... they were both on FTP 2-4NL and it was very early. In other words, I had no read on either players. Both about 30-40 hands is all I had...
Situation 1: Villain from late position raises to $12. He had approx $300 behind him (and I obviously still had most of my $400 that I sat with). Button calls and I'm in the small blind with QQ. So I raise it to $40. BB folds and the villain pushes all in for the rest of his $300. Button folds and it's up to me... again, at this point, I had no read on the guy. Of the 30-40 hands he's played, his VP$IP was approx 25% so fairly active but haven't seen anything that would make me label him as overly aggressive. After much contemplation, I ended up folding my QQ.
Situation 2: Villain (different table, different guy, no information on this guy) from late position raises to $12. He had only about $135 behind him. Button calls and I'm in the big blind this time with JJ. I repop it to $40. Villain goes all in and the button folds. It's $90 more to me... so I call. He has KK. Except I catch another J on the turn to deliver a bad beat for him, a nice $300 pot for me.
I think the only difference in the two situations is the amount of money it would cost me. Another $90 when I just invested $40 already and the pot already had approx $200 seemed like it was a relatively easy call even though I had a feeling I was behind... though I have to admit, the fact that the guy had a short stack made me think that he was probably a worse player so he could be doing this with a smaller pair. In other words, his range of hands, to me, were greater than the range of hands I would have given credit to a player with a bigger stack. Right or wrong, that was my thinking based on very limited information.
What would you have done in the 2 situations?
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Well, I posted this hand on a
*** FLOP *** [3c 9d Jd]
In looking at it now, I probably should have pushed on the flop. Based on the fact that he didn't like the third diamond and he folded, he obviously wasn't on the flush draw, nor did he have trips. So, the only hand that makes sense is KK or QQ... maybe AJ if he were that loose but I don't see him as a guy that would check raise me on a dangerous board like that with an off suit AJ. Maybe, but that wasn't my impression of the guy. So, if I shoved on the flop, he may or may not fold his KK or QQ...
I think this is a fairly reasonable range of hands to put my opponent on. J9 might be a little loose but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. So, based on that, I probably should have pushed and if the opponent did have KK or QQ (especially if one of them was a diamond), I may have gotten a call.
As I studied some of the other players at my table that I consider to be players who do fairly well, I noticed a few things that contributed to the phrase "good players play tight but appear loose." I noticed that in the earlier positions, these players are uber tight. I mean very very tight. But from later positions, they seem looser. Probably more along the lines of what a normal loose player would be except they only do that in later positions. So last night, I didn't get to play as much (played only about an hour online) but I kinda took that to the extreme, just to try out my "new strategy."
It was actually quite interesting. The results were nothing worth noting. +$60 combined in two tables of 2-4NL is really nothing... Having said that, controlling what types of hands to play from what position helps on the later streets. I folded AJ from mid position when there was an early position raiser from a fairly tight player but would raise with the same hand when it came to me with no raises and if I'm in relatively late position. I would stay out of hands like J-10 from out of position but if I had position (the button), I'd call with suited connectors and one gappers. I didn't really hit any of it but I know that unless someone was really paying attention to what I was doing, I looked like I was in almost every other flop. And yet, I was in position for most of them and if I weren't, I generally had a top 5% starting hand. I don't think I can totally keep this up but I think this is a good base to build upon. Varying plays is also important so I obviously can't stick to this or eventually, someone will figure it out.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm starting to hate hands like AJ, KQ, AQ... Actually, I think those are the only ones I hate cuz they are pseudo good starting hands. AT, KJ, KT are pretty much worthless to me... QJ, I kinda like but only because that's more like a connector to me. Hitting one of the cards as a pair doesn't really excite me... AJ, KQ, AQ are definitely raisable hands... but I think I need to be very careful when I call a raise with these type hands. I don't think I'll get to the point where this would be an auto-fold... that's too tight for me. But I also have to recognize the situation where if I am facing multiple bets when I hit one of my cards, I really need to reassess the situation to see if someone is making a play at me or if my hand is no good. And this is when having position helps. I can't wait till this weekend when I'll have some time to actually play poker for several hours and see if a) I can stick to this discipline and b) it brings positive or negative results.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Full Tilt Poker Game #2040414873: Table Wetlands Park - $2/$4 - No Limit Hold'em - 21:41:56 ET - 2007/03/21
Seat 1: bp2020 ($133.40)
Seat 2: seebee25 ($127)
Seat 3: rowenazolekker ($81)
Seat 4: offtotheraces ($158)
Seat 5: bizaer ($894.80)
Seat 6: dachamp242 ($534.90)
Seat 7: tj2006 ($414)
Seat 8: nsewell4 ($638)
Seat 9: RecessRampage ($362.70)
bizaer posts the small blind of $2
dachamp242 posts the big blind of $4
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to RecessRampage [Ac Ad]
RecessRampage raises to $14
bizaer calls $12
*** FLOP *** [3c 9d Jd]
RecessRampage bets $26
bizaer raises to $62
Ok, so what's your play? This obviously isn't a test question. I really would like some input on the thought process and get some ideas on what to do in this situation. Hopefully, I will get a few comments back and then I'll tell you what I did and what happened.
- lose to AK when A hits the board.
- lose to A-x, when they hit two pair vs my Q kicker.
- lose to a pocket pair when I unsuccessfully try to bluff
- lose to AA or KK when Q hits on the flop
- lose to Q-x (generally a hand like QJ) when they make two pair and I have my tptk
Based on this, depending on how my opponent plays, I am gonna say that for now, I can live with the fact that I lose the pots where my opponent gets two pair. But for some reason, with AQ, I don't know when to hit the breaks. And that seems to be a common theme amongst all 5 situations that I listed above. So, I'm gonna try to analyze this on each street:
Preflop: Let's say I'm in late position with AQ (suited or unsuited, does it really matter?). MP makes a standard raise so I call. Ok, let's pause for a second. Assuming the MP is a normal solid player who doesn't get too far out of line, what's his raising requirements? AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, 88+. Ok, maybe make him a little looser (but still not creative because that's just too much to compute at this time) and add hands like ATs, KJ, QJs. Yes, I know, these three are pushing it but let's just include those. So, now that I think about it, of the range of hands where a guy who is just your average tight player, my hand is only better than AJ and KQ. That's 2 out of the possible 11 hands in my initial range. 5 out of the looser 14 hand range. But I got position and not calling preflop with AQ to me, is unthinkable. I don't think this is where I am making my mistakes. But let's keep those starting hands in mind.
Flop (1): All rags. Like 9-5-2. Opponent bets out 80-85% of the pot. What do you do? For some reason, I feel compelled to call most flop bets. The continuation bet factor seems too great for me. In other words, he'd make the same bet regardless of whether he hit or not as long as it's not too dangerous right? Well, I think this is my first error. First of all, we've already determined that my starting hand was most likely behind to begin with. On a board like this, if I can't sell the fact that I have a pocket pair, I don't think I have any business playing. So maybe I should be raising in this situation. More often than not though, I end up calling or folding. Weak, tight play that I need to correct.
Flop (2): Q high rags, like Q-5-2. Opponent bets out 80-85% of the pot. What do you do? Call or raise? I think this is a pretty favorable situation. Now, compared to the preflop situation where I was behind in most instances, most likely I am ahead. The only hands beating me at this point are AA, KK, QQ, 55, and 22. And it's very unlikely that he has QQ. So, a raise is probably in order, unless you feel like slowplaying is key. By raising, you can either take the pot down there or find out in a hurry that you are behind if he reraises you. It might get tricky if he calls but if he does call, there are only two hands that would call a raise at this point, right? AQ or KQ. Other than that, he's calling with hands that beat you...
Moving on... We'll assume that I folded on Flop (1) instead of calling because now that I think about it, calling is just utterly ridiculous unless I consider myself to be a much better player than the opponent which at the stakes I currently play at, I don't. So, let's take Flop (2) and assume that I raised and got called:
Turn (1) - J (board now reads Q-5-2-J). My opponent checks. What should I do? I always feel compelled to bet here. I mean how can I not? And this is where I become stupid and forget everything else that I thought about preflop and on the flop. So, if I look at this simple picture, the only hand that can beat me is AA, KK, QJ, QQ, JJ, 55, 22. Except QJ was not really in my opponent's starting hand range (it is in the expanded version but not the normal version). So, betting seems like a sensible play. And I'm not going against betting here but this is where I need to pause and think about what could the opponent really have? So let's rewind for a second.
Let's say the opponent had the expanded version of the starting hands. 14 starting hands of which only 5 I am beating preflop. He bets a relatively safe looking board but gets raised. At this point, if he calls, what can he have? He doesn't have position, he bets out and gets raised and still calls? That means he's gotta have a piece of the board, right? At least naturally, let's assume so. Then, based on the expanded version of the starting hands, he could have AA, KK, QQ, KQ, QJ, 55, or 22. Let's also say that he can't let go of JJ or TT in this instance. That's 9 of the initial 14 hands that I'm losing to and I'm still only beating 4 of the 9 combinations that I find reasonable to keep playing.
So, when the turn comes a J, what's the sensible play here? Should I still bet? More than half the time, I'm losing with this hand if it reaches showdown unless I get more help. Or should I check in order to control the pot size and also disguise my hand? If I bet another 80-85% of the pot size, I can either get raised or get called, only if the opponent has a better hand. In other words, I'm not sure of the EV situation here but it doesn't look good. TT would surely fold here and so now, I'm only beating KQ. That's the only hand that I can beat. I am losing to all other hands. By writing this down, to me, it seems like an obvious checking situation. True, I'm giving another free card but at this point, what card am I afraid of falling on the river? Based on the sequence and my thought process, if I'm ahead on the turn, the only card I don't want to see is a K right? Because if my opponent has KQ (which again, is the ONLY hand I'm beating), he only has 3 outs. I don't think a free card is all that bad. Actually, I think that's better than betting here.
River: X. The card that actually falls on the river doesn't really matter I don't think. But just for argument's sake, let's say it's a 2, pairing the board. (Q-5-2-J-2). If the opponent bets out, what do you do? I feel like I need to call. Most likely I will. But if I reread my own post here and think about it, it seems that there aren't too many hands that I can beat here... esp if the guy is betting out on the river. If he had KQ, I'm pretty sure he won't bet out. Maybe he will but that's an awful lot of money to find out if this guy is as big a donkey. And if he had AA or KK, he's no longer afraid of me having QJ cuz that 2 on the river would have me counterfeited. But even then, he could be afraid of my set so he might not bet. But the only hand that he would bet here would be if he had a bigger hand than mine right?
I don't know if spelling this out makes me look like a very weak-tight player. But it actually helped me out in terms of putting my thought process down on paper. When I look at it this way, AQ is not that good of a hand in light of what has happened. I feel that the hand pretty much ended when I raised the flop and got called.
I'd love to hear some thoughts on how you may have played it differently or what you could do. I have similar issues with a hand like KQ (even though I am much tighter with KQ). Overcalling with hands like this I think is one of many leaks I have in this game.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Everyone folds to the button who has about $300 and he pops it to $8. I didn't really have a good read on him (that's the price I pay when I multitable) except he didn't seem to be awfully creative. So, my first impression was probably a solid player who plays tight aggressive. Well, I'm in the SB with KK. So, I considered slow playing but I thought this would be a good time to pop him back and send the message to not mess with my blinds (so much easier to do when you have the cards to back it up). So, I repopped him to $20. He then comes over the top to $34. Uh oh... AA? I mean what else would raise, re-raise, then re-raise? Well, there's like $70 in the pot so I call for $14 more. The flop comes all rags with two hearts so I check. He immediately pushes the whole stack... Ok, this hand is screaming aces. I mean what else would he do this with. AK of hearts if you just look at the flop but if you put the preflop action in your mind, it's clearly AA. Right? My clock is ticking, I get my usual 15 second warning (that's one thing I hate about online poker... just not enough time to think through some hands) and with like 5 seconds remaining, what do I do? I call. He flips over AA. Obviously. Ace on the turn seals the deal. Boom. Go from up $80 to down $200. I grinded out the rest of the night so at the end of the night, I was only down $30... but if I didn't donk away all my chips, I would have been up more than $200... I hate it when I make retard moves like that. The guy who took all my chips was at least nice about it. "Nothing much you can do there... unlucky." Errr, thanks but there's a lot I could do there. Like folding.
Note to self: When you know the opponent has AA, fold your KK. Brilliant.
the retard donk
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Dammit!!!! Came so close... (click on pic to see it up close... yours truly in 8th place...)
I definitely had some VERY lucky hands so I probably didn't deserve to be at the final table... having said that, once I got here, things were going pretty well, (even after my AK didn't catch up to my opponent's 33 when he flopped quads) until this pivotal hand...
FullTiltPoker Game #2017985796: WSOP Two Seat Giveaway (14551210), Table 17 - 1200/2400 Ante 300 - No Limit Hold'em - 20:01:34 ET - 2007/03/18
Seat 1: RecessRampage (84,836)
Seat 3: kidzero (95,010)
Seat 4: PJsoules (69,901)
Seat 5: Crzzy2000 (25,893)
Seat 6: rustoopid (28,203)
Seat 7: olivsen (59,070)
Seat 8: SaxManMike (93,747)
Seat 9: HR Dub (56,340)
RecessRampage antes 300
kidzero antes 300
PJsoules antes 300
Crzzy2000 antes 300
rustoopid antes 300
olivsen antes 300
SaxManMike antes 300
HR Dub antes 300
PJsoules posts the small blind of 1,200
Crzzy2000 posts the big blind of 2,400
The button is in seat #3
*** HOLE CARDS ***Dealt to RecessRampage [Qs Kh]
HR Dub folds
RecessRampage raises to 7,200
PJsoules has 15 seconds left to act
PJsoules calls 6,000
*** FLOP *** [6s Ks 7s]
PJsoules bets 12,000
RecessRampage has 15 seconds left to act
RecessRampage raises to 36,000
PJsoules raises to 62,401, and is all in
RecessRampage calls 26,401
PJsoules shows [Qc As]
RecessRampage shows [Qs Kh]
*** TURN *** [6s Ks 7s] [Ts]
*** RIVER *** [6s Ks 7s Ts] [9d]
PJsoules shows a flush, Ace high
RecessRampage shows a flush, King high
PJsoules wins the pot (144,002) with a flush, Ace high
I don't know if it would have made a difference but maybe I should have just pushed when he bet out 12,000... as you can see, he did end up winning the whole thing so I guess he put my chips to good use.... DAMN!!!!!
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I'm a big fan of comparing certain stages in life to teenage years. I don't know why. I think maybe because teenage years might be the first defining period in life that I can remember. I'm in no where near being a teenager, nor do I have a teenager in my family but I always said that teenage years is when you think you figured out life. That's when you feel that you are invincible and yet so fragile. That's when you think parents are overrated, you can make it on your own, and that life is not all that complicated as most people make it sound. Then eventually, you grow up and realize, holy crap... there's so much more... well, that's kinda how I felt when I ran into these blogs. I knew my game was no where near complete or even good to the point that I want to be but I was a winning player and based on Poker Tracker numbers alone (5+ BB/100 at 1-2NL), I thought I was definitely alright. Then came the blogs and I realized how small my world was at the time.
Another part of the blog benefit I didn't realize was how brutally honest you can be with yourself and your assessment of your game when you write it down... or type, in this instance. There are times I would think through a hand and the way I played it and have no gripes about it. I think, considering the situation, the players, the hand, etc, it was the right move. I'd put the same thoughts down on paper and all of a sudden, there are holes everywhere. It's amazing how different things can look when you finally put it on paper for you to read. In that sense, blogging has helped me a lot. The only downside is that these posts become so time consuming. I already feel like there's not enough time in the day to play poker, let alone analyze my hands and my play which I started doing very little of, and now, I have to blog about it... This is not a complaint. I'm just now realizing even more so how amazing it is for people like I mentioned above as well as the other bloggers to keep posting the way they do and I'm truly grateful for it. I'm also amazed as to how dedicated such players are to poker. So, this morning, I'd like to salute all the great blogger/players that I've found in my short experience in blogs... For the very few that read my blog, these are definitely worth visiting:
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
If you are a pretty good cash game player, what would you typically play? I'm guessing cash game. If you are a pretty good tournament player, you probably play more sng's and mtt's. If you're a tight aggressive player, how do you play? You play tight and get aggressive when you have a hand. In other words, chances are, when you play, you're probably playing the way you feel is right for you and the most profitable way for you (or at least what you feel is the most profitable). But, unfortunately, this isn't making you a better player. Oh sure, you're gaining experience so you have to be improving right? But please, before you make that assumption, really think about it. Have you analyzed your own plays? Do you know your leaks? What are your strengths and weaknesses. Can you honestly list them? If you can, I bet you that you could probably find more weaknesses than strengths. That's a good sign. Why? Because that means a) you're honest to yourself and b) you know what areas you need to improve.
I know that personally, I have a lot of leaks in my game. I tend to leave a lot of chips out on the table where I should probably be taking a stab at them. And then sometimes, I take stabs in situations where I should probably be hitting the brakes. In other words, my timing is off. It's not just off, sometimes, my timing is downright horrendous. I have many other leaks but I don't want to disclose them all. Does that mean that I'm a losing player? Surprisingly, no. I haven't had a losing month (knock on wood) in over a year and I'm climbing up the levels (I was at $1/2 NL last year, currently, I'm at $3/6 NL and doing fairly well). I was a tad short of $1,000 in winnings in January but I tripled that in February and I'm on pace to match my February performance in March. So, my game must be improving right? Maybe. But I know that I'm not addressing the leaks in my game. In other words, I continue to do what I'm good at but I'm not opening up my game. I would guess that at some point, that's gonna hurt me. Or, basically, that's gonna put a cap on how high I can go. In order to be successful at a higher level, I feel like you have to be a lot more creative, opportunistic, and aggressive at the right time.
Where am I going with all this? Well, there are tons of tools out there today to help improve your poker game. Lucko21's post addressed that and you can also get pokertracker to see how you play. How often are you in the pot? How often do you raise preflop? What's your aggression factor? In other words, are you more aggressive preflop, or on the flop, or on the turn? Which two card holdings do you make the most money with? Which two card holdings do you lose the most money with? A lot of players I think tend to blame bad beats as the reason why they never build a big bankroll. But I think that's generally just an excuse. I mean I hear it all the time. "I was sitting at the $1/2 NL table and I had about $250... up $50 for the night. I have pocket aces so I raise it to $7. This guy who had $80 pushes all in so I insta-call but he catches trips so I end up down $30 for the night." Well, true, that's a bad beat. But is this something that happens all the time? Or do you just remember the bad beats? I used to feel like aces always get cracked. Well, of course they do. No matter how you play it, aces aren't gonna win 100% of the time. But when you lose with aces, you probably feel like they got cracked because aces are best PREFLOP 100% of the time. Unfortunately, in poker, the game doesn't end there. There's a flop, turn and a river. When I look at my pokertracker stats though, I've made a lot of money with aces. Contrary to my personal opinion, I noticed that aces were actually good. AK on the other hand was a hand that was losing me some money. So, when I look at all the times I've had AK, I can analyze what situations cost me money. Did I overcall? Did I overbet? And these are just tips of the iceberg. There's a lot more research you can do on your own play.
So, if I know that I could do all these other things to improve my play, why haven't I done them? Because of time. In a given weeknight, I probably only have 2-3 hrs a night to play poker. I mean I work during the day so I'm at work till about 6pm (starting at 8ish). I might have basketball or something, eat dinner, and so by the time I have my laptop on my lap, it's like 9pm. I can only stay up till about midnight in order to function ok the next day (I've hit the 1am mark a few times but I really pay the price the next day) so that's 3 hrs. And again, that's tops. So, if I only have 3 hrs a day, what do I end up doing? Well, I play. I have to. Right? I mean how else am I gonna build my bankroll up? If I don't build my bankroll, how am I gonna move up in stakes? If I don't move up in stakes, how can I make more money? These are all the things I use to justify playing instead of studying the game. Oh sure, I read other people's blogs here and they have been tremendously helpful. I also read magazine articles and other websites but I'm not doing the most important thing which is critiquing my own play.
So, next time you think "I need to play more poker in order to improve my game," think again. Maybe what you need to do is to sit back and look at how you've played certain hands in certain situations, think about what you could have done differently and also think about what caused the last session to be a winning session or a losing session. Did you win because you were simply hitting the cards? Or did you win by outplaying some of the players at the table? Did you lose because of a series of nasty beats? Or did you lose because you put yourself in situations to get unlucky (by not betting enough and giving the opponent proper odds to call, etc)? I think these are things that we should all do in order to improve our skills cuz let's be honest.... for those of us that take poker this seriously, we're in it for the long haul aren't we? Poker, like life, is a journey of constant evolvement. And when you stop adapting to the situations around you, you might find yourself falling behind...
Saturday, March 3, 2007
Now, I've mentioned PokerTracker (PT) before and I truly believe that as a serious player, this is a tool that, if used properly, will elevate your game no matter what level you play or no matter how good or bad you are. Just to give a brief summary, PT is basically a database software that pulls information from your hand histories online (that's generally generated as a text file) so it tracks every single hand you've played and it displays it in many different ways. It will track how profitable you are and at which levels, which sites, etc. You can see how aggressive you are preflop, post flop, on the turn, and after the river is dealt. You can see the percentage of you winning if it goes to showdown. And also helpful is it tracks other players at your table. So, though you may not be able to see their cards, you can see who tends to play more pots or likes to see flops, who are calling stations, who are aggressive. You can tailor your play accordingly against these different players. I don't use that feature as much anymore because I feel like as long as I pay attention to the tables, I don't really need that anymore. But, the self evaluation piece is priceless.
One of my favorite things that PT does is it tracks your play for each position. In other words, how much you've won/lost, how often you enter the pot, etc based on where your position is (button, cutoff, mid position, early position, utg, etc). Here's mine over the course of 13 months that I've had pokertracker. (Click on picture to enlarge)
I think there are few things that are important to note. The third column from the left that shows VP$IP (Vol. Put $ In Pot) which is how often you voluntarily put money in the pot (whether calling or raising) for the most part goes from high to low. I think the SB and BB position for this is not as relevant since from the SB, you might be inclined to play more if it's an unraised pot with any two cards. I think this stat shows that I am taking advantage of the position. I mean many of you heard me preach position and how important it is. If anything, I think my VP$IP from the button is probably a little too low. I think that should be up around high 20s instead of the low/mid 20s like it is with mine. Another important thing to note is that you should be a lot tighter from early position. Since this is a screenshot, I can't change the view right now but I would be interested in seeing this for just this year so far or even the past 6 months or something to see if there's an improvement here. Also important to note is the amount of money I won in each position. It shows that I am making more money from later positions that in early positions. I think those things are all pretty consistent with the whole notion of position is more important than anything.
One thing I have not done enough of is to really scrutinize my hand selection, going back on plays where maybe I left some chips on the table. I feel that I'm getting better at that but that is one area I definitely need to work on. Sometimes, when I have a monster hand or even a dominant hand, I tend to not bet quite as much, hoping to extract value. But true value comes when you can put someone on a hand because then, you can really try to make them commit more chips. An example hand to illustrate that happened this morning (I woke up a little early so what else was I gonna do?)...
I was playing at a $2-4 NL table feeling good because I've been on a tear the past few weeks. The table had a bunch of middle stacks (max buy-in $400, bunch of players around $200) which indicates to me, a very potentially profitable table. So, I bought in for the full amount as always and the poker gods were smiling on me very early in the morning. I was dealt KK from mid position. A player right in front of me (or to my left) open raised for $14 which is the standard 3.5x BB raise. I just smooth called (he only had $160 so if I let him get lucky, he wasn't gonna hurt me) and fortunately for me, everyone else folded. Flop comes 5-5-3. He checks. So I check. (NO ACE PLEASE). Turn comes a Q. He checks again so I decide to bet, hoping he caught a queen. I bet $25 (into a $31 pot) which is what I typically do (I try to bet around 75-80% of the pot size) and he checkraised me and made it $50. So, I pretend to think about it while and then I push all in. He insta-calls with his KQ (what a donk) and a blank on the river nets me a gain of $160. Even more fortunately for me, he bought in for another $200. (Donkey with money and only buying in half the buyin is almost a gift). Few hands later, he raises again and this time, I call with my AKs. There were two more callers behind me so I was gonna tread carefully depending on the flop. The flop was another nice one with K-5-5. My favorite donkey bets out $30. It seemed like a feeler bet considering there were 4 of us but I figured that he wouldn't bet out with a fairly decent hand. Having said that, I wanted to go heads up with this donk and if everyone folds, it was already a nice size pot with 4 players heading into the pot after a raise (it was like $60). So, I raised it to $100. Donkey after the preflop raise and the bet was down to approx $150 so if he chose to call my raise, it would pretty much pot commit him... which is what I wanted to do in case he had the Q. It folded around to him and he must have understood that because he decided to reraise me all in. I thought to myself, if he had AA, then good for him, it's his money anyways. So, I called. He flips over KQ again! Blanks on the turn and the river netted me another $200+. Quick work this morning netted me over $400 almost all from my favorite donk... I hope he finds more money and comes back to the table later! But aside from the fact that instead of just smooth calling, I wanted him to feel pressured so that he might want to fight back. I think the second reraise all in hand by him was probably more to do with the fact that he was tilting that I, once again, was pressuring him into folding (which he should have both times but he can't know that cuz he's a donk). And by making him commit, I made sure that I took all his money. Smooth calling would have left some money on the table because a player would be more apt to folding on the river than on the turn or the flop where he might feel that he still have "outs."
Full Tilt is doing a promotion where if you go through their website and donate money to the Poker Players Alliance (and be sure to check out the PPA website), then they give you bonus money that you can earn. If you just join the PPA, then Full Tilt will put you in a freeroll tournament and it doesn't cost you anything. If you would like to donate money, then full tilt will actually give you a bonus. In other words, you donate money to a cause that you believe in (if you choose to do so) and after you earn the required number of points (in other words, if you continue to play poker), they just deposit that bonus money directly. It's actually nice. I mean I donated $100 to the PPA and yesterday, I completed the points requirement on Full Tilt so I got an email from them, saying they deposited $200 into my account. That's a $100 profit without doing anything AND I got to help out the cause I believe in. Here's the chart that shows the correlation between the amount of donation and the amount of bonus FTP will give you.
For more details about this promotion, go visit http://www.fulltiltpoker.com/ppa-promotion.php. If you want to know more about what PPA will do for you, visit the PPA website and again, that is http://www.pokerplayersalliance.org/. Brief summary of what the organization does is it sends letters to the Congress on behalf of you, etc. I remember last year, I got a letter back from Senator Cantor of VA thanking me for the letter of concern regarding the UIGEA. Well, that letter was a letter I never personally wrote but it was on behalf of me from the PPA. Now, this isn't going to be for everyone and I understand. But for those of you who are frustrated with the fact that the government is trying to take control of your personal choice of whether to play online poker or not, this is a good way to fight and stand up for your rights. So, at least this is still your choice. And I just wanted to get the word out.