Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hand Analysis Wrap-Up

First off, thanks to those that stopped by to toss in their two cents on the hand. I have a couple loyal readers and had to go plant a couple of seeds to draw in some extra help, but the good information that came out of it is priceless, no matter what.

Now, instead of commenting I thought I'd wrap this up with a post addressing my feedback.

Matt's feedback was very helpful because he indicates that he plays at the same level. This is immesurably important. I very much value *any* opinion, Matt, so thanks so much for taking the initiative to stop by after reading my plea for help in Hoy's comments. In regards to the min-raise with an uber-premium hand (AA or KK), it is true that it doesn't make sense here, but again this is where the level at which I'm playing is important. They LOVE to min-raise monsters at this level so that they can say they raised but still whine when they get sucked out on. That is a crucial part of the donkey bad beat story. They don't understand that a min-raise means nothing and that these hands do not hold up in multi-way pots. They get a monster and in their minds the hand is won. So although I'd love to, unfortunately I can't rule out AA or KK here. I do very much like your suggestion of a smaller bet, thus less committing me to this pot. I took into brief consideration that this wasn't a big drawing flop, but I hated betting even half the pot, let alone less than that. However, if I'm getting raised, its likely A) for all my chips, B) by a hand that beats mine, or both. Like you say, a smaller bet gets me all the information I need, and gives me all the more reason to fold when I'm check-raised. I did not consider just how weak of a drawing hand this was, and how little I could've bet to find out what I needed. Your third point is poignant and important. I've thought about it a lot over the past couple of days. I'm an odds guy, so the answer to your question comes down to odds. In the spot I put myself in, getting 4 to 1 on my money with TPTK and the range I'm up against, I can't fold. But if I put out a smaller probe bet like you suggest, thus decreasing my odds when it comes time to call off all my chips, I could have laid this hand down. Anyway, thanks for stopping by Matt, and I'll have to get you added to my Google Reader!

Next was Michael. The key thing I take away from his comment is AK wants to be in a small pot (preferably heads up with position) preflop, or all in preflop. That takes this giant pain of an ass hand and pretty well sums it up. While there's obviously a little more to the hand based on suit, position, players in the pot, etc, this statement at least lays a foundation for playing the hand. Beyond that he pretty much thought through the hand like I did. You can't fold it to the PF min-raise (of my initial raise), and you can't check it on the flop, which leads to his short answer. And, of course, he set me straight on the term "Fold Equity". I know when I first flagged down this term it was in the context that he describes, but I still think it makes at least a little sense in reference to leaving yourself fold equity. But I guess I won't go out on a limb and try to give a new definition to the term. I'll just try not to embarass myself using shit wrong again.

And finally, Hoy. I really love the first thing he discusses in regards to limping UTG or in very early position w/AK. I have already started doing this w/AQ. Fact of the matter is, AK is the best possible DRAWING hand, and the cheapest you can get to the flop with it, the better. Now, you want to push out other unpaired hands, but as the first to act, raising it can get you into trouble if there are better hands behind you. The other problem with my game and this strategy is that I am not a PF RE-raiser with AK. I've seen this a lot on TV and in blog posts recently, so maybe I need to start testing out this strategy. I just hate the idea of re-raising w/AK and either running into another re-raise, or whiffing the flop. But I will definitely experiment with the limp-reraise AK strategy going forward. And Hoy...easy with the "just" $5.50 buyin, there, buddy. Keep in mind we're dealing with a $60 bankroll, so I'm technically playing out of my roll by indulging in a $5.50. ;-)

The common theme in all three of these comments is the PF push, and I agree that this might have been my best move. I think Hoy said it best when he said "you're preserving your chance to see all 5 cards on the board (thus maximizing the value of your AK)". It would've been interesting to see if this guy would've gone to battle with his AJ, or if I go ahead and take down an already ripe 20 BB chip pot. Regardless, I will certainly stop and think about how to best play my AK just a few seconds longer from here on out. Thanks again to all the commenters who took the time.

Moving gods be damned, I am on FIRE. My roll increased from $29 to $60 on Monday, $60 to $120 Tuesday, and then another $21 to $141 yesterday. I'm running good, and the $5 and $10 6-MAX on Full Tilt are a freaking joke. They play just like a turbo. These people seem to think that fewer players equals finding any decent hand and getting as many chips in the middle as possible. So I sit back and drag the orphaned pots and try and pick people off in big spots as best I can. There is ZERO patience. Tuesday night I played in one where we were heads up with blinds at 25/50. Yes folks, that's level two. I came from a 2500 to 6500 chip deficit to win when my opponent got impatient by 80/160. I'd say the average level you get to heads up is 60/120 or 80/160, which leaves an average stack 28-38 big blinds. Patience is absolutely the number one key in these things. If you let these players suck you into their LAG & jam game, you are unnecessarily putting too much at risk. Its so easy to sit back, be patient, and pick your spots. I don't know why they play so much different than the full table SNGs, but they're a night and day difference.

So for now I'm riding the wave, and hopefully I can ride it all the way to the $20 level and beyond. But I'll be on the look out around every corner for that next bout with variance.

Check ya later I guess.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My First Hand Analysis

I just had this post damn near done and I went to save it so I could go to lunch and it took me to an error page, telling me my HTML tag wasn't closed and when I clicked Back...POOF!

PISSED OFF. Thanks for that, Blogger. So here goes attempt number two...

I have my first real hand analysis I'd like to get some feedback on. This hand just really bugs me for several reasons and I'd be interested in knowing if I played it like total trash or just got unlucky, cuz I keep going back and forth.

This is the SECOND HAND of a $5.50 6-max SNG. I am UTG and have AK suited. With blinds at 15/30, I make it 125 to go. There are three MP callers, SB folds, and then the BB min re-raises to 220. I'm not fond of my spot here with a premium, albeit drawing, hand, a min-raise, 3 left to act, and no position. I can't fold, and I feel like a real re-raise would commit me (with "nothing"), so I just call and see how interested the other MP players are. One folds, and unfortunately two others call.

Flop: A 6 J rainbow.

This is about as good of a flop as I could hope for, but at the $5.50 level there could easily be someone in this pot with a hand that is killing me. The BB (the aggressor) checks, putting me in yet another precarious spot. This guy either whiffed or flopped a monster (and boy do they love the check-raise at this level, so I'm already expecting it), but which could it be? And with people yet to act after me, I don't want to give up the lead on this hand or a free card after showing strength and flopping a damn good hand. I bet 500, leaving me 700 behind for fold equity(I had a feeling I was using that wrong...thanks Michael) a little to live on if I get check-raised. Miraculously, the MP players both fold, so I had no other choice than to put them on mid-pocket pairs or good folds w/a weak A or J. The BB wastes little time in check-raising me all in. Now I kept my 700 for fold equity something to live on, but to call off 700 into a 2750 chip pot, I start to think about this...

His most obvious holdings are AA, KK, or AK. Unfortunately at this level a PF re-raise could also mean AQ, AJ, A10, and QQ-1010 or so. I have to logically rule out AA with the presence of the case two aces. As sick as that would be, and we've all seen it before, I can't play scared of AA. I'm now slaughtering KK, and I'm tied w/AK. That leaves JJ, AJ, or 66 that has me in bad shape. Again, it would take some major cojones (or a complete lack of poker skill) to PF re-raise 66 with four people in the pot for a 4xBB raise from UTG, so I have to logically rule that out. JJ is a likely holding, and I should probably go broke against it. AJ would just really make me sick given the PF re-raise in a 4 way pot and odds against my hand preflop, but I know its a fully valid possibility. They love AJ at this level. In the end, I'm only scared of two hands that would be no beter than 30% to have just outflopped me, and I'm tied with another likely holding, so I don't think I can lay it down. Plus, my gut read felt like a busted KK making a play at the pot. I made the call, and don't improve against AJo.

Now first, this is everything I hate about low limits online. This guy makes an absolutely horrific play by "normal" poker standards and gets paid off for it in a HUGE way. I know that I love for people to make plays like this and blah blah blah, but why can't they pull this shit against other donkeys instead of me? If I were at that table and I would've seen that hand, my sights would've been locked and loaded on that stack, cuz you know he's just gonna spew 'em off in much the same manner. But I digress...

So what could I have done and had chips after this hand? Lets look...
A. Folded UTG
Pros - I still have chips.
Cons - Fold AK suited to no raise? Come on...
Verdict - No f'n way.

B. Three-bet PF
Pros - With 3 people to act behind me, I give myself a shot at isolating my hand against the aggressor, who either has a monster or is making a terrible play. Or if the BB happens to fold I scoop a nice pot.
Cons - A reasonable re-raise would probably have me putting out a 750 or so chip bet, or just pushing. If the BB calls less than a push, my money is likely going in anyway w/TPTK and ridiculous pot odds. If the BB 4-bets me all-in (if he even can?), I have to give him credit for AA or KK and could either fold w/500 chips left, or just get it in good and kill myself after the flop. If the BB calls my push, see above. All this, and I'm still worried about the 3 left to act.
Verdict - There is a slight chance I get away from this hand w/500 chips or so, but I'm going broke if it all goes in PF, or still going broke if I flop TPTK. I don't like the outcome.

C. Fold to the re-raise.
Pros - I get away from a draw and impending doom early in this SNG with over 1250 chips and live to take the donkey out.
Cons - With so many people in the pot I'm bound to either be dominating or a flop away from the best hand. With 125 invested and another 750 in the pot its hard to not at least see a flop for 95 chips with the biggest drawing hand there is.
Verdict - While this probably would've been the easiest spot to get away from impending doom, I can't justify a fold with AK suited with 7 to 1 on my money.

D. Check the flop.
Pros - It either checks around and I get an opportunity to reassess on the turn, or one of the MP players bets and gets check-raised, giving me a nice spot to get away from the hand with a clear conscience.
Cons - This is a horribly weak play. Assuming I have the best hand, I have to bet out for value and to get draws out of the hand. The other 7 times out of 10 that I've flopped a dominatingly good hand, I cannot give 3 other players a free card.
Verdict - While its weak as hell to check this flop and my number one focus is getting away from weak/tight, someone besides myself getting check-raised is my easiest ticket out of this hand. This is easily my most intriguing option.

E. Bet the flop bigger or push all-in.
Verdict - We don't even need pros and cons here. Given the hand, this option is basically irrelevant. By betting the flop bigger I reduce the pot odds of drawers, but in the case of this hand the MP players still fold, I still get check-raised all-in, and with less fold equity left to play with my decision to call becomes that much easier.

So I think that about covers it. By talking through it here, it seems like the best way for me to get out of the hand would've been check-folding the flop, but it only would've been made an easy decision if one of the MP players bet, which they likely wouldn't have if they folded to my 1/2 pot bet. It seems to me that any reasonably aggressive play in this hand pretty much gets all my chips in the middle. I think I just got fairly horribly unlucky.

Please take some time to share your opinion if you have one.

Things have been starting to trend back up, but still when I lose, I LOSE. Which isn't a bad thing, because getting sucked out on just means you're getting your money in good. So I'll just keep doing that as best I can!

I'm not abiding strictly to the standard "SNG Challenge" structure in that if I get above $22.50, I'm playing the $5.50s, and if I get to $66, I'm gonna move up to the $11s. But at that point I'll wait until $220 to move up to the $22s, since that's uncharted territory. I've also switched to 6-max because they play a lot looser and dumber, plus they're quicker. I've found they play a lot like a turbo, and an ABC TAG game will get you to the final three, at which point the blind to stack ratio is pretty large and there's definitely some play. I've had a couple of marathon HU matches in these 6-max, both of which I came out on the losing end of, and both of which REALLY irritated me the way my opponents played and won. But thanks to a nice chunk of rakeback and 3 wins out of 5 tables last night I'm up to $60, so if I can cash in another $5.50, I'll get at least one shot at the $11s again. My focus for the next couple weeks will just be trying to generate rake and get as much of my $50 FT bonus cleared as I can, so I'd like to get settled in at at least the $11 level.

BTW, if you didn't get an email or haven't heard about it, you should be able to go to the "Requests" menu in your Full Tilt client and select the "Check my bonus offer..." option and have a no deposit required bonus from them. This is the first no-deposit bonus I've been offered, so mad props from me to Full Tilt!

So I guess I'll check ya later!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Dump & Run

Not a whole lot to report for this weekend, other than some displeasure with Full Tilt for causing me to prevent my blogger tourney cherry from being popped yet again.

When the BloggerPods didn't go off last weekend as planned, I signed on either Sunday night or Monday morning when Full Tilt was again available and signed up for the rescheduled tourney for this Sunday. I know this for a fact because I got bothered at least once this week by a freeroll whore who would've seen me on the list and wanted the password. But lo and behold I wander upstairs no more than a minute before 6:00 (I may or may not have been dozing in front of the NASCAR race and my wife had to yell at me), fire up Full Tilt, and I was puzzled when a table didn't open. With SNGs you have to go the SNG tab for your tables to open, so I went to the tournaments tab. When a table didn't open this time, my heart sunk. Sure enough, I flagged down the BloggerPods tourney, it was f'ing SEATING, and there was no seat for me. If I just would've planned to be up there a couple mins early just incase I'd have been fine, but the poker gods gave me just one more big ol' fisting.

Other than that, I killed my home game on Friday, so that was nice. I broke the same guy early in both of the first two tourneys (combination of good luck and his terrible LAG style) and managed to cruise to nice little wins in them, then in the third, while I never did anything huge I played a strong tourney and hung in for 3rd and a little profit. I won $55, which isn't too damn shabby for $5 tourneys and only 12, 12, and 10 players. That brings my cash bankroll up to $190 again, and makes me feel at least a little bit better about my roll with plans to head to Council Bluffs on the 23rd and play some 3/6 with a buddy. We planned to go play a session at the local casino, then I remembered I've got an $80 voucher from my trip to CB for the WSOP, plus they sent me a free buffet, so I figured another $80 (that I actually didn't lose but they thought I did, so it is truly free money) to the roll and the buffet is totally worth the 3 hours of drive time and $20 or so in gas. So I'm excited to get back to a live session for the first time since late Jan, but I will definitely be steering clear of 1/2 NL for a while, and am looking forward to being able to play some straight up math poker at the 3/6 table.

Played 2 SNGs on Saturday that I was pretty indifferent about. In the first one I made steady forward progress and then doubled up through the LAG chip leader when I flopped a set and he flopped TPTK and I got it all in on the turn. I should've taken the thing down easily, heading into heads up with an 8k to 5k advantage, but I doubled up my opponent when I knew I was beat w/A-rag. He had AK. I struggled back up to about 8 to 5 a couple times, but ended up getting all-in PF in the BB w/QK vs a limped AA. Not much I can do there. He picked a perfect time to limp rockets, but my money probably would've gone in preflop no matter what. It just never felt like I was gonna win after I got my money in bad and knew it against that AK. The 2nd one was actually a really nice test of game as I went up early, then had what I felt was a very well excecuted bluff with unimproved suited gappers in a raised pot called down by an unimpoved AJo after I called PF, bet the medium rainbow flop, checked the face card turn, and then bet 3/4 pot on the river. I thought it was a pretty good bluff for a flopped set, but my opponent didn't buy it. So after that and a bunch of unimproved preflop limps I found myself nearing the 10xBB mark w/9 left. I started hitting a few hands and scooping pots with pushes and managed to work my way back up into as high as 2nd with 7 left. After a couple more dropped there were 5 of us, all with stacks in the 2k range and the blinds relatively low. We passed some chips around for a while and it looked like a couple might drop, but they'd always manage to get back in it. Eventually the blinds got to be significant so I got to the point where I was less waiting for another couple to drop and more looking for my own spot to get it in. I found that spot w/KQo on the button and even though there was a PF push in front of me, I really felt like I'd be in good shape. This guy was a pretty competent player, so I figured if he had a real hand, he'd want value, so I figured I was 40-60% and made the call. He showed 9s, and when I flopped two pair I just didn't feel like I was out of the woods. A 9 on the river confirmed my suspicions and I was out in 5th. I won a whopping $.90 on the session, but it was my first winning session in over a week, so I walked away feeling good about the fact that I was even making hands and in a position to cash. At the same time, I managed my heads up match terribly and am not happy about it.

Probably won't be playing a whole lot this week for various reasons (anniversaries and 69 degree weather keeps a guy away from the computer pretty easily) throughout the week plus the fact that we're headed to Kansas City to party with my brother for St. Patty's Day. My shirt should come in the mail today. On the front it has a leprechaun with a beer and says "Official Irish Drinking Team" and on the back it has "Windbreaker" and the number 53, my old basketball number (and the hand I've been considering to be my bluffing hand). So it should be nice to take a little road trip this weekend and party in a unique place for St. Patty's Day.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Warning: Bad Beat Story Ahead

Well, I haven't played in a couple days, but I have a couple more hands I want to share from my Monday session.

I'm at a .05/.10 table in LP. Folds around to MP, who limps. I make it .50 to go w/AJo. This is generally a PREMIUM hand at this level, so I'll take callers or blinds, whatever. BB calls my .50, as does MP, and away we go! Flop comes XAJ. It checks to me, and I bet .50 again. Called in 2 places. Turn is a Q. BB checks, MP bets .50, I call, BB calls. Now I'm worried about AQ and K10. The river is a blank, BB checks, MP bets like $1.20, I call (cuz I gotta see it so I can tell this story), and BB calls. I know I'm dead, but I did not expect BB AND MP to flip over...AQ...and split the pot. I flop 2 pair and these guys are drawing to 2 outs or runner-runner...and hit.

The other isn't so exciting and relatively routine, except for the whole "kicking him while he's down" factor involved here. I buy into a new, fresh, 50% PPF, .05/.10 table and pick up KK in my 2nd hand. I reraise a PF raiser, and it folds back around to him, who pumps me again. Now in a bigger game I honestly would've considered folding here, but at .05/.10 players could be pushing anything from K10 suited to any pocket pair. So I get the rest of it in the middle and lose to his AA.

Am I too jaded if I start calling KK vs AA all-in preflop "routine"??

Anyway, just wanted to get these hands on the record for posterity. Imagine the chuckle I'll get when I have a 7 figure bankroll and look back on these old blog posts.

*removes tongue from cheek*

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Unbreakable Streak

Well, it continues...

With 42ish left in a $5, 90 person SNG, I was at the back of the field with my 2500ish. Average stack was at about 6500, but blinds were at 80/160, so I wasn't yet even close to worried, but I was certainly nearing push or fold poker. I find JQd in mid-late position and limp. Flop comes K 6 10 rainbow. A flop I'm quite fond of. Miraculously, it checks 5 spots around. Turn is Ac, a card I'm even more fond of. Two clubs on the board, but I hold the current nuts with one card to come. Then the dream scenario unfolds. SB pushes his last 1200 or so. I slow call, hoping that maybe the LP player w/6k will push over the top. He pushes over the top. I instacall and reveal the bad news. A7 in the SB is dead, and the big stack's two pair isn't looking so hot. Then the poker gods reveal a piece of bad news of their own, spiking one of the 3 outs left in the deck.

I'd pay you all a dollar, but I only have 22 left.

$2.25 SNGs, here I come! Four days and counting, and I'm starting to wonder if I'll really be able to play through this.

Monday, March 05, 2007


I am running SO badly.

Just as I was about to hit my stride and had even caught a glimpse of moving up to the $20 SNGs, I have hit a mad rush of card-deadedness and vicious suckouts unlike anything I've seen before.

Before I go on, however, I must admit that I was due. So I'm coping well. I had been running ridiculously hot, getting cards, hitting flops, and sucking out. But it doesn't matter how high the highs were, the lows always feel like a vicious blow to the gut.

So I've gone from I think a high of $178 down to $44. And much like normal, this bad run happened when I had dedicated time to play. We were out of the office Thursday afternoon and Friday due to weather. Luckily I've learned my lesson from many times before and this time I didn't make it all worse by playing stupid. Hell, I'd have probably gone broke by now in the past. Once I hit like $65 I switched from $10s to $5s, and I only had one SNG open at a time to allow for optimum focus. But I just couldn't win. Just could not! I am literally uneasy as anything worse than an 80% favorite, and even as 80% and above by no means am I out of the water

The epitome of this whole thing took place in a $5 SNG about 8 hours or so into this variance-filled rampage. I happened to be in pretty good shape in this one, in the rare occurance of finding myself with a hand early and up a few hundred chips. I've got 93o in the big, and after two limpers and a SB complete, I checked my option. The flop comes a fairly pleasing A93 rainbow. SB checks to me, and hoping to get action from an ace, but happy to take down this 240 chip pot early on with my 2 pair (especially the way I'm running), I go ahead and bet the pot. It folds around to the SB, who calls my bet. The turn is another offsuit 4, and this time the SB bets at me. There's that ace. I raise him, and he re-raises me all-in. I really didn't put too much thought into the whole thing here. I suppose I could easily lose to a set or a higher two pair, but I was willing to lose if that was the case. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised, either, the way I was running, but I feel like I'm ahead of the small blind a LOT here. So with 700 chips behind and blinds at 40/80, I go ahead and call his all-in rather quickly. He rolls 52o, and I've got four outs against his made gutshot straight, which, of course, I brick. This dude calls w/52o in the small. Not the worst move in the world with 7 to 1. If he flops a monster, he can get a lot of chips. He flops nothing but a gutshot. Three outs or runners to beat any hand other than a pair of 3s. And he calls a pot-sized bet. The poker gods take over at this point and forsake the shit out of me, and the rest is history. I ended up fizzling out in like 6th or 7th, probably losing when I push my A-rag into a bigger A-rag.

Its been ridiculous. Almost funny. I'm not getting hole cards. When I do, I'm missing the flop. If I get a hand worthy of raising, I do so, and miss the flop and fold. In an effort to make up for a lack of cards, I'll take stabs at pots with position on stealable boards, but I get callers and end up with nothing but an even more depleted stack. If I manage to make it to the bubble in 2nd or 3rd, we start playing "pass the chips", I get no hands, my steals don't work, and the bubble eventually bursts in my face when I push my A-rag or pocket pair into a bigger A-rag, pocket pair, or losing coin flip. Of course they're all losing coin flips, so I could just say "coin flip" and we would have an understanding that I'm not winning it. I'm missing draws and losing chips drawing. My KKs and QQs are no good, my AAs don't get paid. A set? What's a set?? The BB is flopping trips with their rags like its routine. And the list goes on and on. You all know our good friend variance.

Luckily I've made $11 in .05/.10 cash games, so that's a couple more buy-ins to help get me played through this thing. But man is it depressing.

Anyway, I'll keep plugging away. If I get down to $22.50 I'll start playing the $2.25s. I'm not gonna let this thing break me, but its just disappointing to be comfortable at the $10s and on the threshold of moving up, only to get cold-decked for 2 days straight and moving down.

Things seem to have steadied a little bit so with any luck they'll grind back forward. The good news is there's always my rakeback, and I made a record amount (a whopping $13) in February and plenty in the first couple days of March, so hopefully I'll get things turned around and then get a nice little kickback on my way back up.

I'm proud of my sanity and level-headedness, but I just had to vent.

I'm actually slightly thankful that the BloggerPods tourney got cancelled, because the way I've been running I didn't have a snowball's chance in hell at an iPod. But maybe by next week things will be cycled back around in my favor.

Anyway, gotta run. May all your cards be live and your pots be monsters.