Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Ok, I'll admit it. I've been tied up with life. (And fallout) but I've always been a fan of the X's and O's of the NFL. I was reading a rather large and complex article breaking down a SINGLE PLAY and it dawns on me that poker is getting close to this. You cant "solve" and MTT (although there are claims of SnGs being solved), but you can put together a master playbook based on the NFL equivalent of "package plays". As a matter of fact, these decision trees are already what most pros use when explaining poker to students. But the student has to absorb it through playing hours. Video and other article studying help, but that is much slower than a playbook.

I think my new goal needs to be playbook oriented if I want to make that final leap forward.

Just like with "downs" and "to go" you have stack sizes that tell you what you need to accomplish with your next hand. Deep, 20 BB, or Shallow along with field size (not a universal consensus on this attribute) and position for the hand. I theory, I could construct ranges for these scenarios, then have route tree action denoted. For example only:

I have 20 BB and I am UtG+1 with a fold from UtG. I have KQs. This is a really tough spot. Many just throw it away, other say to play it (confident in their post play ability they will state). But you could have a "package play" for this scenario. I can min raise open, taking me to 18 BB. But if I am three bet to 4 BB and I call, I have 16 BB left and I am OOP. But let's say for the sake of the example I want KQs in my range here. Ok, what are my post flop options. Yes, there are close to an infinite flop combinations. BUT, not infinite TYPES of flops. There is an Ace board, hitting the K or Q coordinated or uncoordinated making top pair, 3 under cards, 0-3 diamonds, and paired combos like 55J. If you could construct actions for each of these, it seems easy to modify them for the majority of the remaining flops. If I have 16 BB left, I dont really want to go broke on a bluff, but if I open EP and get a 55J flop, should I be ready to go to the wall? (Yes, I know it depends on the opponent, but bear with me.) So my C-bet is 3BB (75%) and I get called. So the pot is 14 BB and I have 13 BB behind. I can check turn shove river, or I can shove turn, or I can check fold. In a package play, it would depend on the read of the defense, but in this case, you would be readying the turn card and the overall board/hand to date. Does a blank help me? What does the call mean? Really hard to know... You are repping some pocket pair if you bet a blank turn. You are repping getting lucky if the turn is a broadway card.

I think the more credible play is shoving the blank? And yes, if opponents stack size is 1000 BB, I get called. Sure. But MOST of the time, its going to be in a similar range size.

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.