Monday, August 03, 2015

2015-2016 League starts

well, League A month 1 is in the books and I took 2nd out of 29 runners. I would love to say that this is a reflection of all the hard work I put in, but I am not going to fool myself.

A incomplete list of what I saw at the table:

5x preflop raises post ante
blatant OBV bets (betting 1.5-4x pot on the flop)
shoving 50 BB+ preflop or on the flop with TP.
CALLING a check-raise on the River with TOP PAIR (ok kicker).
Bluffing their first 5 pots (betting all 3 streets) in LEVEL 1.
Little concept of bet sizing, zero concept of Stack to Pot ratios.
and sloppy deep stack play.

All this was exacerbated by escalating emotions and even a bizarre "acting out of turn" angle shoot. Really one of the sloppiest MTTs I seen in recent years.

Ok, so I guess I get some credit for surviving a minefield. But there were just so many tells, that at times I was overwhelmed with input.

Instead of celebrating I was wondering how I finished like 15th last year??? Of course, about 5-6 others dropped out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Update

Just going on record to set down some thoughts and goals...

Did NOT go to the WSOP this year, mostly because I hadn't earned it. My play has been inconsistent, so I hired a pro to coach me. I am happy with the results, but I started too late to make an impact in the 2015 season. So now for 2016:

Goals: Making decisions based on ranges instead of just post flop flow. Playing closer to mistake free in terms of being exploitable. Getting more value when I am ahead.

These sound simple and generic, but I could write a long dissertation on each. and I may, just not today...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Constructing Ranges

For a while now, I've been looking for a concept or idea to help me determine actions when I dont have a read per say...

Ed Miller's 1% book is excellent at explaining this concept or constructing ranges to maximize opportunities.

The middle ranges of the MTT, what used to be called "chip accumulation levels" would get me in trouble sometimes and now I see why. I was trying to hard to make "correct reads". I see now there are much better (or at least more consistent) options for these levels. (Many pros do this without realizing it or without explaining it, opting instead to put it into a different context.)

Thinking in terms of a pyramid of ranges is really helping me through these levels... More to come

Monday, April 27, 2015


Has anyone seen my game? results speaking, its lost in a voidless sky and I am looking for answers. Sure 99 will occasionally lose on a 843 flop to 84... but it cant all be bad luck

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Bad Beat

Ran Deep in the "poor man's" $10k last night on B. nearly 1300 runners. I had quite a stack early, but called off twice against players with 12-13 BB with 88 (ran into KK) and AJ (ran into AK). I was conflicted by my coaches insistence that I make more of these calls and the "feel" of where I was in what I call the "middle aged man" stage of the MTT where the 10-20BB stacks play too tight. I made both these calls and lost, then as a short stack won Ax vs. a big pair and AK vs. QQ to build back up from 7 BB to 36 BB. In the end, I caught a BB making a "stack size" decision to shove on me, thinking I couldn't call (I raised from the cutoff). Live I would have folded. Here, instead of folding I tanked for a while and decided that unless I really see something I need to call here with AJs. He shows 8c6c and immediately flops 2 pair. GG me. BUT, that is a GREAT WAY to go out 98th. Sure it was disappointing, but only as measured by the result. The play was correct.

There is much to digest in retrospect, but I recall watching those old WSOPs from the 20th century :) and they would always note the giant stacks spewing because they "could not change gears". I now realize what BS that was. It's not about changing "gears". It's about having a feel for the "leg" of the MTT at that moment at that table with that villain and knowing if its appropriate to call off light. What I have LEARNED is that the default should be YES, which can be modified to NO if you have a healthy stack and you get the feeling his range is narrow. This is the opposite of my previous thinking, where the default answer was NO unless I was 80% sure I was ahead. Big difference.

And how does the difference manifest itself? Less min-cashes. Ok, last night WAS a min cash. But I played to WIN.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

A Tale of 3 tricky spots

Hand 1:
History with Villain. In level 1, I make a huge mistake. I raise with 87 and he calls. Flop is TT7. He fires two barrels and I fold the turn. He had 66.

Level 1 100/200/0 with $10k stacks. I make it $300 from MP with 88. SB calls.
Flop is T55. SB check, and I c-bet $400 into $700. SB calls.
POT is now $1500
Turn is a 4 and SB now leads out for $800.
What are you doing?

Hand 2:
Villain raises from the HJ to $1k (my stack is $14k). CO flats.
I am in the SB with 5s7s.
What are you doing?

Hand 3:
$300/$600/$50 (my stack is $14k)
EP limps
I make it $1800 with JJ from the button. Folds back to limper who thinks, then calls.
POT is $4700
Flop is Q78 with 2 hearts
he checks, I c-bet $3k and he thinks and calls
POT is now over $10k and I have about $8500 behind.
Turn is a black King. He now leads out $1200.
What are you doing?

Friday, March 06, 2015

Catching up on coaching notes

I could spend a boatload of time being more specific, but really the first half boils down to 2 thoughts:

* 3 Bet more pre-flop. "Fat, drunk and calling is no way to go through life son." -Dean Wermer.

* When you do open with a raise or 3-bet, after the flop CHOOSE A LINE that maximizes a chance to win the pot. (e.g. dont open a pot if you dont intend to fight for it.)

Sound simple, doesn't it?

and some words of wisdom I extracted from a podcast (talking about the flop decision to set up a line):
Look to bluff when you hand has very little show down value
Look to value bet when your hand is very strong
Look to check/call when you have a medium strength hand.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The Brutal Truth

What if it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill and after the 10,000 hours you still have not mastered it? I've had this happen with numerous things in my life, where I am swimming upstream. I did quite a few hours (close to 10,000?) hours of improv and public speaking (stand-up), but "mastering" it really translated to "competence". Perhaps I am setting the bar too high, but I expected to be a grand-master poker player by now, and Sunday I played the sloppiest poker in years (ever?).

Hand review was crucial in this determination and I realize I have not done nearly enough of that in-depth review over the years. But more importantly, I had 3 leaks that accounted to 80% of my lost pots. Just Wow. Poker is brutal in that results are immediate and quantified. But it is forgiving in that each session is an opportunity to close leaks.

1. Don't open pots just to lose them. This is something DannyN13 told me yesterday that made such a good sound bite it might actually stick. If you open a pot, determine your plan and execute on it. Looks for viable options, like double barreling when the flop looks like it is trying to tell you that it will most likely work. Really, take the line that will most likely work is the best way to say it.

2. Use a players stack size (# of blinds) to help determine their ranges. That is the advantage you have in an MTT environment vs. cash. Don't play your hand like it is a cash game, if it isn't. You are omitting an important piece of information. Further stated, don't act on each street until you range your opponent. NEVER go into auto-pilot mode which is what I did Sunday.

3. Understand what you are trying to accomplish with your bet. This dictates Bet Sizing, Whether or not to bet at all, how you will react to your opponents reaction, and what you want to accomplish on the next street. This USED TO BE simple "lines", but in today's poker realm, it isn't enough.

and just as a bonus statement, and there has been much written about this, but it's brutally true.
A-Game or FAIL. No A-Game = No results.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Foley MTT

The Hands:

Level 1, I have AA in the blind. Limper, then a raise to 200 (4x). I make it 600 and just raiser calls. Flop is T68 (2 diamonds). check/check. Turn is 5d. He checks, I make it 800, he check raises to 2250 and I call. I put him on QQ here with a diamond draw. River is 4c and it goes check/check. He shows a set of Tens with Td. I lose $2850 of my $20k.

I call raise with 66 (3 to the flop) and flop a set. all checks I recall. Turn is a K and I bet and get called twice. River is a King and I make a big bet and get called twice! back over $20k

100/200 level and I call a larger than usual 750 bet because another player called and I had a small pair. Fold when someone leads out $1500.

Fold second nut flush draw to what seems like (and is) a flopped flush leading out. he had 75s. did not want to chase.

Lagish guy really playing a good amount of hands now. Obvious deep stack cash player, willing to see flops (even a 3 bet pre hand) with ANY suited connector, 1 gapper suited, or pair. Flopped a couple of sets and is over $50k. BUT, I start 3 betting him pre-flop and when he misses, taking down nice easy pots.

called bet of 1100 again after a raise and a caller. 3 ways and I flop set again. But when I bet out $2k into the $4k pot, they both fold?

2 limper and I have 24o in SB. I make it 1100 and pick up 900 in chips unchallenged.

Lag raises from MP to 1000, I look at AA in SB and make it 2200. He calls. Flop is very dry 834 rainbow. He checks and I assume if I bet he folds so I check. I hope to get turn and river value. Turn is a K and he checks. I bet out 2k (just under 1/2) and he check raises to $6k. I now figure him for AK, so I call. River is a J and he bets out $8k (just about 1/2 pot). I make a crying call to see 34s (2 pair).

I never really recovered from this hand, working my 12k for an hour up to about $18k and with 21 BB shoved over an opener with 77 and ran into QQ.

Disappointing to say the least.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I know this is free advertising but...

This is one of the better articles I've read recently:

Whenever someone explains why a common practice is for the intermediate players (vs. those continually striving to get better), I listen. I have often thought about why I instinctively don't want to c-bet on some boards and I realize that I've been looking to quantify it as this article has.

A digression: So much poker information today is related and correlated to "wide ranges" and keeping bad hands in the pot. So much is on maximizing return and the notion of "survival" is far less emphasized. I continue to struggle with the notion that these are somewhat opposing views and that there is instead a time to look at any given situation as in one camp vs. the other instead of preaching/teaching one or the other. I have yet to nail down some of the dynamics, but I am contemplating this a ton.

Intuition tells me that there are times that its better to maximize value and there are times where its better to avoid a marginal edge, despite convention 2014 thinking that I have to take many many edges and just amortize it over a larger number of entries. If there was a way to draw that distinction, it stands to reason (although unproved) that you could get similar results with a smaller sample size.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Run Good? Run Bad? It's all the same

League nights were this weekend, and on Friday, I stuck with a hand (KK on J high board) to long and paid off a 1/3 of my lean stack to a flopped two pair. I never really recovered and eventually A8 on the button ran into QQ in the BB. old story... But on Saturday...

Worked up my stack and caught a player with an Ace on an Ace high flop in a terrible spot against my two pair. I made the proper bets to get him committed by the river, where he paired his second card. I could see the Ace if it came, but not the Ten. I work my punished stack up large enough that I could raise 5s6s from MP because the table was playing too passive. Two callers and the flop is 3 spades. I check, player bets, BB flats and I shove (because I think one of them must call with As). Turns out to be the BB who does call and the turn is a spade! I am not out, just disappointed until I make the two out straight flush on the river. Wow.

30 minutes later, I get a spot to call a raise with QdJd and FLOP my second straight flush. AND a player moves all in on the flop! Two in one night! Lots of chips now!

But in the end, I catch the remaining player on a draw with his overs no good and the run out gives him the flush to knock me out second.

After this night, I am not sure I can ever say that I run either Good or Bad on any given night. You can make two straight flushes and still lose as a 2:1 favorite at any time.

Moral of the story: "That's Poker"

Friday, August 01, 2014

Summer Winding down

So as summer winds down I have some updates to post. I have decided to get serious about poker again. Not too serious, but more serious. I am participating at TPE, I am hiring a poker coach for 10 hours or so of instruction to help me identify trouble spots. I am putting $ on sites where I can practice (yeah for bitcoins), and I am enjoying my spring/summer past-time of enjoying cigars out on the deck.

One of the guys at CigarsCity sent me over some Rocky Patel Connecticut cigars which I liked. I tend to like the lighter smokes. I also like those Boveda humidity pack they ship in, these things work well. The site has Macanudo and Arturo Fuente too, so quite a discovery for me.

I've really been trying to concentrate on playing my hand against ranges and not over-reacting to bad turn cards. The latter being a long time leak I am trying to get under control. The first of the 2015 leagues start Saturday, and I intend to crush this year. Concentrate, play well, run good. The latter only being controlled by positive energy not track record.

As I ramp up for the perhaps final push into becoming the poker player I want to be, I think I'll try to sneak some exercise and mind/body maintenance in there too. Every little bit helps. I cut 200 calories a day out of my daily consumption (a mere 10%) and I have lost nearly 20 lbs. The weird side effect is loss of muscle strength in may arms, which I now have to over compensate to correct. Still, if I plan to live forever, better get started.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Monster Stack Trip Report

The Monster Stack event was the 3rd largest field ever and played like a $1500 main event. Expect this event yearly now...
$15k starting stack, 25/25/0 start level.

Hand 1:where I like to keep up a tradition of playing my first hand poorly...
LP in seat 8 players raises to 75 and I call from the BB with 6c9c. Flops is AdTc3c. He bets $150 and I check raise to 300. He calls.
My "logic" here was that players often will fold to any raise post flop after c-betting if they hit nothing. So, ok. I tried this and failed.
The turn is a blank (non-club) and I fire a second barrel. This I dont like at all and I think it was just not thinking. LP calls. Check-check river to see AQ.
Very dumb turn bet as I dont see him folding any hand that calls the raise.

BUT, it is important that I dont waste this information and I replay the hand in my head and store the info.

Hand 2:
Raise with KJs from button, blinds both call. Flop is KT9 and the BB leads out for 1/2 pot. I call, SB folds. turn is an Ace and he leads again. I fold. Way to early to look him up here, as everything got there on turn.

Hand 3: Where I get lucky
Call an open from 7 seat with 66. The flop is K high is he is physically interested in the hand. I am beat. I am ready to fold when he bets just 1/3 pot? very strange and I call. Turn is a J and this time he bets 1/4 pot?! So I call. The river is a 6 and when he checks, I value bet 1/2 pot and get called. He is angry and starts talking about how lucky I am. I simple stack the chips, no reply necessary.

Hand 4: punish a poor kicker
An MP (seat 6?) opens and I decide to call from the button with KQo. I want KQo in my calling and raising range, but this deep I go the conservative route. The rest of the notes are missing, but my KQ took a pot from his KT.

Hand 5: so fold
Few notes, but a took a flop 3 way with AJ and flopped TPTK. (I think I raised and got calls from blind and limper.) Flop is JT9 and its lead and raised prior to getting to me. FOLD.

I stop here to make a note that seat 8 is playing very tight. He had the AQ vs. me and has since only showdown AK and KK...

Hand 6: Where I utilize the escape pod
Seat 7 limps and seat 8 raises. I flat with AKo. Since we are so deep, I briefly debated raise vs. call and went the call route. I have notes on both players now and button position, so I feel confident. Flop is AcJc7d. Seat 7 checks, Seat 8 leads out for 1/2 pot. I suspect AQ or clubs and because of seat 7 still hanging around, decide to raise here. (In retrospect, I am folding out the weak player and narrowing the range of the tight player, sort of the opposite of perhaps what I should be doing here.)
Seat 7 folds and seat 8 3 bets me without much thought. I think about this for a while and realize that there is not way I am good here and FOLD. After I fold, I start to think about what my image was (looser to seats 7 & 8) and that he could put me on clubs there and be raising with an Ace. But as I continue to think about it, AJ seemed very likely. [NOTE: Later our table will break and we briefly talk about this hand. He had JJ]

Table Break

Hand 7: where I shoot first
I briefly put KQo in my UtG range and open for 2.5x (antes now). I get two callers and as I debate the wisdom of KQo UtG the flop comes QQx. Since I want to build a pot, I make a standard C-bet and both players fold. I immediately start thinking I am being over anxious. I could easily check here first to act. This feeling will exacerbate itself as I am about to go card dead...

Hand 8: Where I really want to play a hand. By the times it gets to me with 66, I am already facing a 3 bet and fold.

Hand 8 redux: Same idea only 99 facing 3 bet in BB with original raiser left to act and looking very interested. FOLD and watch the fireworks and QQ gets it in with AK.

I have 29k

Spots go by where I am still too deep to get out of line with steals or garbage cards. Plus, there are two Euro players to my right with bigger stacks that keep calling raisers and paying off better hands. "My kingdom for some playable cards" cries go unnoticed by the gods and I grind down...

End of Day 1 (26k)

Day 2 and now blinds are 400/800/100 which is 2200 a round. (32 1/2 Bigs, M just under 12). I go into the day prepared to open my 3 bet range, but the level starts poorly with terrible cards. Even in the BB I have T2o and pass on calling a min raise at one point with 62o.
Stacks: 14k, me now at 24k, 10k, 69k, 21k (pro who I recognize but cant place the name), 80k, Kara Scott folding every hand with 17k, 17.5k, and a shorty on my right with 8k.

The Shorty to my right wakes up in a hand with KK and doubles up. He plays sloppy and will call or open and fold to any 3-bet. Important note.

Hand 10: Easy Call, but hard result.
A short stack who started the day at 10k, then after a couple of pots, doubles up to about 15k, shoves from MP. Folds to me in the BB with AKo and I just call and turn them over. He has TT and I get 5 bricks. Just like that, 25k becomes 9k.

Hands 11:
I make a couple of well times steals and get up to a 12k. I had targeted certain blinds as folding too much, which paid off here.

Hand 12: falling on my sword
Close to the end of the level and its 500/1000/200 next. with 12k, I am antsy.
Folds to the button on my right, and the player looks at his cards, starts to fold, realizes he is the button and min-raises. I kept my eye on the BB and know he did not look at his cards yet (so no interest read). Both are playing very tight despite being in shove territory and this looks like a perfect spot to just pick up the pot. I look at my cards (really just for effect) and shove. With the raise to 1600 and the player on my left with about 11k, anything else may open the door for him to see what I see and shove over me so I rip it. BB wakes up with KK. (turns out I had 54o)

I am now left to contemplate the wisdom of shoving 12+ bigs (15 since its technically still 400/800/100) with 54o based solely on the read that I had a good spot to steal. I have played this over and over again in my head, and I still think I should be doing this here with nearly ANY stack size. correct? (Those 3400 chips represented another 25% to my stack.)

- Same Time Next Year?

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Stupid suck-out 1-2 Blues

I lost another bullet when the board ran out bad
couldn't figure out what the other guy had
when the secrets revealed I start to get mad
I am lost in the dots
fading bloated pots
I gots the 1-2 blues

why wont they just go away
you think they all had to stay
is there nothing to do but pray?
no matter how much I raise
they're like moths to the flame
I gots the 1-2 blues