Saturday, February 27, 2010

Obserations on Propping

I'm currently in the middle of my 3rd shift as a prop down here, and my new position has some interesting quirks.

1. There is about as much 20-40 and 40-80 action here as at Garden City.

2. They use a must move for 20-40 games, not just 40-80 one.

3. Props don't get placed on the must move list. This results in all the props playing together in the bottom game, which is silly IMO. Basically we will have 3 20s, but the third will break when we run out of customers. Then we have 18 customers in 2 games and 6 props twiddling their thumbs. If 2 of us were in each of the games, we could support a 3rd. But nobody wants to play with 6 props....

4. We are very "open". The instant a customer wants a seat the CSR comes over and informs us. Whichever props blind is next can play until that hand but is then picked up. If someone has a button, he's gone.

5. There are no "floor men", only Customer Service Representatives. They run the games and do a good job.

6. The customers have a sweet deal. Basically the games are always full, but there is never a list.

7. I fear I'm not going to get to play enough. 5 hours per shift seems it will be a stretch.

8. Everyone is super nice.

So all in all, so far so good.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Super Duper Strat Post

About two weeks ago I played a seemingly simply hand against my buddy Hank. I found myself in a 20/40 game with him and Pete on my last day as a Bay Area poker player (the following day would find me loading a U-Haul with the help of Bravos, and the next day driving to Orange County). Anyway, the game was playing pretty fast and loose, with at least Hank opening up his opening ranges pretty substantially. I wasn't actually doing this and neither was Pete, I don't think, but that's not really important. What is important is that at the time of this hand I wasn't yet sure just how much bonus aggression Hank was putting in. First I'll just give you what happened in the hand, then hopefully something interesting will fall out of me writing about it:

Hank opens UTG + 1. I 3-bet QQ 2 spots later in the highjack. All fold and Hank 4-bets it. I opt just to call (no more cap since we are heads up) and we see a flop.


Hank bets dark and I call

752-3 with a flush draw

Hank bets and I call


Hank bets and I call

"So what" was kind of my original thought on this hand. But there is actually a fair amount going on, and I may have missed some value with my hand. Here was my thinking on each street.


Obviously I have to 3-bet with QQ the first time around. When Hank 4-bets I have a decision to make. Hank and I's dynamic is that basically neither of us ever folds to the other, so if I 5-bet I'm setting myself up to get crushed by the hands that beat me, especially AA. He can either just call and check/raise any flop, or 6 bet me right away at which point I'll basically have to call down almost regardless of what board cards come. If the pot swells to 13 small bets preflop I'll be getting 18:5 on a pure call down, which is a price I won't be able to pass up. Also I figure to be about even money or maybe even behind his capping range, so there's not even immediate value in putting in a 5th bet. This is assuming that his range is something like TT+ and AK (against which I'm a slight favorite), with maybe a slight discounting of TT and AK (which would obviously put me behind pretty quickly, since those are 2 of the 3 hands I beat). More on the discounting later.


This is one of those hands where the board cards basically don't matter. There's always a small chance your opponent left the reservation preflop (but with Hank this chance is exceedingly small), but even if 77 had somehow crept into his range it's hard to flop a set and it's just something you have to live with (and if it did, then 88 and 99 are in there also, both of which I have dead to rights). So for all intents and purposes Hank and I are playing with our preflop holdings. I chose not to raise here for basically the same reason I chose not to raise again preflop. I feared that doing so would encourage Hank to play well against my hand. It's not just a matter of me winning one extra bet when ahead and losing just one when behind. If Hank has AA (or maybe even KK) I'm going to suffer a pretty heavy penalty for raising the flop. He'll either 3-bet me right away, or worse yet check/raise me on the turn. With JJ or TT, he'll likely just call me down. Again in a perfect world I could perhaps get away from my hand at some point, but I have queens against a good player and friend who is kinda horsing around on a 7-high board. With TT or something we could start the search for a hero fold. But I have too much hand and am committed to showing down.


After thinking about the hand this is the street I wanted to mulligan. So far in the hand I have under-repped my holding pretty substantially. Hank could easily think I was horsing around preflop, and all I've done since the 3-bet is call two small bets and gotten to see 4 of the 5 board cards hit the felt. In short, he can't narrow my range nearly as much as I've narrowed his (which may or may not be a mistake), and I should be free and clear of the hammer of AA. Specifically if I raise this turn, I believe Hank is going to have a hard time 3-betting me with AA for fear that I got out of line preflop and have some ridiculous straight, two pair, or set type hand. But at the time I didn't properly weight that possibility and was assuming Hank was pretty confident that I was playing close to correctly preflop. It was only after the session in discussions over email that I got the sense Hank was really taking some preflop liberties and therefore would probably assume me capable of the same sort of stuff. So basically a raise here probably gets called down by all the overpairs left in his range (against which I'm about 50/50), but puts extreme pressure on AK, forcing it to either call a bet at roughly break even odds or fold (he'd bet getting a little more than 7:1 to call the raise, and AK has 6 outs of the 47 he can't see).


This street is pretty straight forward in a vacuum. The way I've played the hand so far basically makes raising kind of pointless. I'm gonna get looked up 100% of the time by AA and KK, any non-pair hand will almost certainly fold, and against the preflop range I originally assigned Hank there aren't enough pairs that I beat for the raise to show a profit. I realized afterward that without explicitly thinking about it I had heavily discounted TT from Hank's range, assuming that a cap and dark lead was at least not something he'd do 100% of the time with that holding.

So now for a little bit of math, which was the point anyway. First, we'll assume Hank's range really is TT+ and AK and figure out what happens if I take my line, raise the flop, or raise the turn. Also, I won't consider 5 betting preflop. First, the hand combos:

AA - 6
KK - 6
QQ - 1
JJ - 6
TT - 6
AK - 16

For government work, it's close enough to say that against AK on the flop I am a 3:1 favorite, and that an under pair is a 9:1 dog against an over pair. Also, I'm going to leave the one QQ combo out of the discussion and assume that Hank barrels off with his entire range if he's never raised (something he confirmed via email later).

My triple call line pretty straightforwardly wins 2.5 bets 100% of the time when ahead and loses 2.5 bets 100% of the time when behind. What's my equity on the flop? Well PokerCruncher tells me 59.3%. We could figure that out ourselves just to see if my government work is roughly correct:

12 combos of AA-KK I win 10% of the time.
12 combos of JJ-TT I win 90% of the time.
16 combos of AK I win 75% of the time.

1.2 wins, 10.8 wins, and 12 wins against 10.8 losses, 1.2 losses, and 3 losses

24 wins, 15 losses, which comes out to 61.5%. Obviously I'm off a little bit, the main reason for which is that AK actually has ~26% equity, not 25%, and leaving out the QQ also helps my cause slightly. The point is that I win about 60% of the time, showing a net profit of:

2.5 * .6 - 2.5*.4 = 2.5 * .2 = .5 big bets

So a triple call down is profitable. Great. Now let's try a flop raise, with the assumption that I don't ever fold and that Hank check/raises the turn with AA and folds the river with AK. Folding the river with AK is obviously bad for me, and Hank probably wouldn't do it 100% of the time. However, he might also put in more action with KK which I'm just gonna say cancels out.

So for this line, I win 3 full bets against TT and JJ, but lose 4 bets against AA, 3 against KK, and collect only 2 from AK. Actually when you say it that way it's pretty obvious this line is worse with the assumptions that I've made. It's also becoming kind of unwieldy to figure out what happens in the cases where one of us improves. What if Hanks spikes of set of tens on the river, do I have the presence of mind to check? I should. What if a king falls on the turn and Hank donks? What if he doesn't? What about the 1 in 200 times he set over sets me? I set over set him? Is he really calling the turn with AK? All of the set flopping kind of cancels out and actually works in my favor since I have position, but how we'd handle aces and kings falling off the deck is just more work than I want to do here.

Now we'll try a turn raise, which is easy enough to figure out completely since I know the turn card was a blank. To further simplify it I'll assume it was a 4th rainbow card so I don't have to deal with the one combo in Hank's 40 hand range that just picked up a flush draw. Our assumptions are that Hank won't ever 3 bet me on the turn and if he does I have a mis-read preflop and can just fold, and that he'll actually fold AK on the turn. Basically the problem boils down again to the handling of AK, since I'm breaking even against all his over pairs (assuming he never folds them). But getting him to fold AK on the turn and not see the river is a coup, since it steals away 1/8th of his equity and he was getting odds to draw against my specific hand (assuming he collects a bet on the river). Sorry if that was a little dis-satisfying of a conclusion, but I've been at this for a while now and have some other things to do today. In short, I think I should raise the turn because it forces Hank to make a tough decision with a hand that makes up a huge percentage of his range. Limit Hold 'Em is all about making your opponents make mistakes, and a turn raise was a chance to do so in this hand.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Commerce Days 3-5

I've continued showing up at Commerce the last few days and been continually impressed by the quality of the games. Friday I played about 7 hours in the 20/40 game and won a little over 3 racks, and Saturday I struggled through 4 hours of 20/40 before moving up to the 40 and finding it better than the game I'd left (I eventually went home up close a 40/80 rack). From my experience so far the 40/80 games here seem better than those I could find in the Bay Area, and I'm hopeful that I'll eventually be making them my main game. For now, though, I'm probably gonna stick to the 20/40 so I can do more stuff like this.

Every once in a while you get a chance to completely own someone's soul in limit hold 'em. Typically you need a pretty special opponent, because soul owning requires a very sick and precise read, and for it to really help you need to be holding an interesting hand. My 20/40 game on Friday had such a special player, a loony toons level Asian LAG who just couldn't help himself from firing at the pot and making super fancy plays nearly every hand. On the hand in question he forgot to raise preflop and merely limped in, allowing me to complete the small blind with Q8 of hearts. We saw the flop 4 ways of:

Ks 8c 7c

I checked, the big blind checked, and our resident maniac dutifully bet. Two people had already checked, which to him obviously meant they held nothing, so he only had to get one more guy to fold and heck that's easy. The button folded and I check/raised him. The big blind cleared out of the way and he 3-bet me. Against a normal opponent this would be a somewhat bad sign. But against our fancy play making friend here a 3-bet is actually indicative of a weaker range than a flat call. With any sort of big made hand (which since he didn't raise preflop is likely two pair or a pretty crappy king) he'd almost certainly wait til the turn to hit me again. In short, he's not balanced here and his range is heavily weighted towards draws (open enders and flush draws, most of which come with overs to my pair of eights, which basically makes him 50/50 to win the pot). Since I figure I don't have much of an equity edge (if I'm even ahead), I decide to just call and donk safe turns to prevent him from taking a free card and get a bet in when my equity has risen substantially. The dealer cooperates for once:

Ks 8c 7c - Kh

That's the best card in the deck basically. My logic on the flop heavily discounted kings from his range (he'd have open raised KT+ preflop, and likely waited to raise the turn even with something like K9 or K6s), and now that another one is on the board it's even harder for him to have one. I donk, and a flash of displeasure crosses his face. He calls, and I just know what he's thinking....Why didn't my free card play work? If he has something like a flush draw with an over to my eights his raise on the flop didn't actually cost him anything (he's basically 50/50 to win), but it didn't win him anything either. His call confirms with 100% certainty that I currently hold the best hand (A8 is the only hand he could have played postflop this way that beats me, and it would have raised preflop). To the river:

Ks 8c 7c - Kh - Jd

Now remember, this guy is supposed to be holding a missed draw. Except there's a problem...T9 just got there (although for him T9 would have to be unsuited to go unraised preflop, and even that is a bit of a stretch) and he could easily have been holding something as weak as J6 of clubs and now have me beat. So what should I do here? Well if he made the straight and I bet out, he will own me because I will call his raise because there is a chance he's bluffing. If he missed a draw and I bet he'll likely just fold (he could attempt a bluff raise, as per the previous sentence, but it's pretty unlikely) and sort of own me. And if he has a jack he'll just call and I'll own myself. But what if I just check/call? He'll just win one bet, not two, with the straight. He'll probably check back a jack some percentage of the time, saving me a fractional bet. And he'll be way more likely to give me a bet with his missed draws, hoping that I have a hopeless misread and will actually fold a hand I put 2.5 big bets into the pot with already. So I check. He bets instantly, I call instantly, and he taps the table, says "nice call" and tosses his hand gently towards the muck.

That one felt really good and had a great ending. The next tango with our friend, however, did not end so well. He open raised from the low jack (the seat before the high jack, which is the seat before the cutoff, which is the seat before the button) and I chose to defend K7o. Normally this would be pretty borderline, but the the raise coming from him it wasn't even close. We took the flop heads up:


And my owning of his soul began. I checked, he bet, and I called. On the turn:

AA5r - 3

We rinsed and repeated. Basically I gave hims as much rope as I could, hoping he'll continue to bluff at the pot all the way to the river.

AA5 - 3 - 9

I checked once more and he paused to look at his cards. For a moment I was actually concerned that he might check, thinking that if he did that he felt he had some chance of winning the pot at showdown. He smiled a little and bet, and something told me disaster had struck, but when you try to catch bluffs you have to see it through. I called, and he tabled 97s for the rivered 3-outter. My read was good and my opponent special, but sometimes even that's not enough.

In closing....I told myself I wasn't going to do this again but I just want to write it all down so I feel better. It's sort of like a cleansing experience. Today I lost 4 racks in the 40/80 game, getting brutalized repeatedly. Quickly this all happened in my first two hours of play:

I lost two hands to a spiked 8 on the river.

In a blind vs blind battle I held kings up on the turn and was 2 outtered on the river.

In a three way limped pot I checked my option with 64o, made two pair, and lost to a nut straight.

I posted into a new game behind the button with Q5s, flopped two pair in a 6 way pot, raised and got it heads up, and lost the pot on the river to my lone opponent with T9 who made trips and again had only two outs.

I raised with AQs, got 3-bet by the cutoff, and took a flop 4 ways. The small blind held AK and the board ran out AT8-A-2 The big blind and the cutoff each held pocket 9s, so there were only two cards in the deck that could get me in trouble and they both came out.

And the capstone really....I opened the button with QJo and got called by Q4o in the big blind. I flopped a queen high straight and managed to lose the entire pot to running spades.

I suffered all manner of other indignities (I got 3-bet preflop 5 times in a row in the 40/80 game, I ran a set of aces into QJs in a capped pot at the 20/40), but the hands above all happened in my first 75 minutes. I really don't think this sort of thing is supposed to happen as often as it has been....So to make a long story short I'm back down to 20/40 for a while, at least until I start propping.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


The move to LA went off with but a single true hitch, and Danielle and I are settling nicely into our apartment. Almost all of our stuff is out of boxes (except the stuff that went into our storage unit), which was no small task considering that her Dad suggested we might actually have more stuff than he does. The catch is that we rent a two bedroom apartment and he owns a 4 bedroom house. Anyway, I spent the last two days at Commerce, and will do my best to describe the experience in terms of what's the same and what's different:

The Same

Everyone from the Bay Area apparently comes down here every weekend. OK not everybody, but tons of regulars from the Bay Area casinos are here. MCI, who plays the 40 and 80 at Bay 101? He was in the 40 all day yesterday and today. My acquaintance Eric who plays the 80 at Bay and I've played 30 with at The Oaks is lurking around somewhere deep in the top section (so deep that I don't even feel comfortable walking around back there...dudes are playing Chinese Poker with like 5 figures each on the table and there's a $10,000 buy in NL game that's playing like 8 handed). DVS, whom I first knew from the world of software and now know from the world of poker? He's here for the weekend. The Grinder from The Oaks 30? Check. Hell, even Batman is here, having driven down with a friend for the weekend.

Also, I run like ass here as well. I have like a dozen hands on my phone where something or other awful happened to me, but I can sum it up in just a few. In my second dealt hand, at 40/80 mind you, it folded to me in the small blind and the big blind informed me that he didn't chop. I raised KQo and eventually ran a one card king high flush into a one card ace high flush, costing me 5.5 big bets. Shortly thereafter I moved down to 20/40, and on three consecutive hands that I played my combined 4 opponents (two hands were HU, one was 3-way) flopped two wheels and a queen high flush. This if freaking heads-up Texas Hold'em, not 321 Omaha or 7 way Crazy Ocean Pineapple here people. And it's not like I was able to fold in any of these hands. Oh no, not me. Dude flops the queen high flush....what do I have on the turn? Just top pair, top kicker, and the nut flush draw. Guy flops the wheel with A5hh on a 432hh board. What am I holding? KQhh. Did I turn a King? You better believe I did. These happened in about 15 minutes and just left me flabbergasted. Shortly thereafter I held KK of red and flopped J42hhh. So for the record I have an over-pair and a king high flush draw. I was in 3rd place of 4 hands and drawing dead to a running full house. I got KK again in quick order and saw a flop of AT8 three ways. This time the SB just donked and I managed to fold. His AT eventually got cracked by AJ. A guy opened UTG (6 handed though) and I defended A4o. His K6 sooted was blessed with a flop of AKK. The button cold-called my raise and we played heads up. He flopped a flush. I flopped top two on a T76 board from the big blind and was drawing to four outs the whole way. It just went on and on and on, and all of this was only yesterday. Today was a little better, and for the two sessions I only lost about 2 racks,which was a testament to the size of the pots I was (occasionally) dragging.

The games are all fabulous. From time to time I've found myself wondering where all the action is, but in short order 2 or 3 people reach the same conclusion and table change away, making room for a couple of live ones. I feel like I'm playing in the evening Garden City game 2 years ago where I started out. Almost every pot has 5 or 6 people seeing the flop, with most of the peeling hopelessly. A guy 3-bet preflop with 66, then called three bets on a Q75 board. He turned a 6. I won a 12 big bet pot with one pair of kings, with 3 opponents seeing the river.


In general people are bigger douche bags. Like not as much as everyone says on two plus two, but still a lot by basically any metric. I saw a guy lobby for a full orbit, then not respond when the dealer asked if he wanted his blind (it was clear he heard her), then ask for a set up two hands later, then rack up his chips and leave without playing another hand. Arguments are more prevalent, but there are fewer floor men to enforce order. Things are just a little dicey. When you have 40 tables of 20/40+, things are bound to get out of hand.

There is food everywhere. The food is free, and you can have as much as you want, and everybody, myself included, is constantly eating. Today I had a fruit plate, chicken skewers with peanut sauce, and some sushi. It was all tasty and it was all free. Between Danielle working at Google and me getting free food all day, our grocery bill will drop by at least 75%.

Games come to a grinding halt like every hour or so. One guy will get up to take a leak, and one guy will already be lobbying and then the next guy will decide to take a break too and all of a sudden somebody doesn't want to play 6 handed and boom the game is at a standstill with everybody bitching that nobody is playing. Then I come back from the bathroom expecting to have to wait 4 or 5 more hands but instead they managed to play like one hand while I was gone. Or it happens when I'm still at the game and I try to post my big blind in the cutoff and get a hand dealt 3 ways but everybody bitches and for some reason the dealer doesn't just pitch the cards. It's fucking nuts.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Last Post in NorCal

Our Internet is already shut off, so this iPhone post will be my last for a while. Really I should pack but since Danielle is at Google having desserts and beer my motivation level has actually zeroed out. The wheels finally fell off my hit n run plan today, which given that it was MY plan and today was the LAST day anything could go wrong and nothing had gone wrong YET could have been easily predicted. Typing on this phone is hard so an abbreviated version is in order.

1. Jesse blows through a rack without winning a hand, getting raised on the turn HU 3 times in a row.

2. Pete opens, Jesse 3 bets 88, HU. As Pete 5-bets the A83-A turn, Jesse wonders if he could actually fold. At showdown Pete presents the A8 with a correct amount of pomp and circumstance. Jesse misses his nine (9) big bets.

3. Jesse opens the CO with kings. The big blind produces aces on a 533-Q-8 board.

4. Jesse is 3-bet preflop by a tagfish and flops K53 with KJs. The tagfish 3 bets the flop with 3 outs and hits an Ace on the turn to turn his AQ into a winner.

5. Hank opens UTG, Jesse raises JJ, tight guy caps, SB calls all 4 cold, Hank calls, Jesse calls. 987r. We all call. 6. It checks through. T. SB (who is awful) donks, Hank calls, I raise, capper mucks, SB calls, Hank 3-bets we both call Hank has QJo.

So home I went, stuck 3 racks, wondering once again if this whole experiment should be aborted. A fresh start seems like it should help, but if I don't make some friends fast it's gonna be rough goings down there.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Faith Based Packing

I've come to realize a fundamental difference between Danielle and I over the course of the last week or so. There are actually a lot of these, and even after all the years we've been together I'm still finding new ones to ponder. She sent me this article recently which kind of highlights some of them (and is actually pretty interesting), but of recent note I have found myself able to practice faith based packing, which drives her absolutely bonkers.

The premise of faith based packing is a very simple one; I have faith that everything in our apartment that I put in a box will eventually get sorted out at the other end. If I don't label a box completely (or even accurately) it's not really a big deal. Everything is in a box, and so long as the apartment is empty when we leave for Orange County, everything we own will be with us when we get there. If my boxes are extremely heterogeneous (holy shit I spelled that right on the first try according to firefox), I don't sweat it. T-shirts in with the coffee mugs? They make a great match! One is soft, the other is hard. EZ game this packing. If all of a certain thing is not in one box it also is not of great concern to me. I didn't even get all of our video games in the same box. Doesn't bother me in the slightest. I needed something light to fill out the magazine box....half the Wii games fit....again, light and heavy is a packing match made in heaven. It'll all get there, and eventually, if I need it, I'll find it. At this point I'll allow you to contemplate what it means that I had to pack nearly an entire box of magazines. Why would we have that many? Why wouldn't they be thrown away? Why was the magazine pile actually a load bearing structure on the bookshelf? There are two half used bottles of white vinegar; when's the last time we even used vinegar, let alone needed vinegar and somehow couldn't find the bottle of it we already had and went out and bought more? We have Pez? These are the questions that life is made of when you're moving, and if you think about them too hard you'll never leave. Just put the shit in the box. My friend Nate once stated the most brilliantly obvious tid-bit of wisdom regarding packing I have ever heard; it takes as long as you have, so you might as well start late.

All of the stuff I just described drives Danielle insane. All of her boxes must be homogeneous, and they must be labeled precisely. She even has "levels" of boxes, which dictate the preferred order of opening once we arrive in the new apartment. To me it's much easier to blindly march forward, doing the same things I've always done, and simply believe that it'll all work out in the end, instead of taking corrective action to improve my chances of success and happiness in my own life. It's simpler that way. I have faith.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Of Which I am a Fan

Here are some random things I have experienced the last few days of which I am now quite a fan.

Doodle Jump

Hank introduced me to this iPhone game last week, after claiming his son was addicted to it. The game is simply chock full of win. It's very simply, and I've found myself playing again and again both at the poker table or at home on packing breaks. While at Bay 101 I was playing during a big pot (in which I was not involved) and towards the end I died and let out a help of pain. Everyone laughed (they knew what I was doing) and the guy next to me said in a very serious tone "It's not funny when people die". Reading this now it's not really that funny but at the table people were almost hurting themselves laughing.

Doodle Jump Wikipedia
Doodle Jump Video

There is another app available called Doodle Army that I can only assume is also fantastic.

Party Poker

You'll note that I have a link to Party Poker on my blog now. This is because I was contacted by a marketing company and have a "contract" (I'm using the term loosely) to display the link for 12 months and actually get paid for it. I actually have a sponsor! As an aside, the uptick in ad clicks that happened a few months ago when I mentioned looks extremely comical on my adsense lifetime graph.

The California Grand

Last Friday Pete, Hank and myself took a field trip to the California Grand Casino. It was excellent in every regard. First of all, we all arrived with a new player coupon that gave us a free $30 in chips, so long as we pinky promised to play for at least 2 hours. Second of all, they have a $2 lunch special where you get to pick one of 4 dishes (a pizza and salad thingie, chicken fried rice, a blt and fries, or some pasta dish). People in SoCal probably aren't finding this surprising, as food down there is free so long as you play a reasonably sized game (usually 20/40 and up), but up here it's common for me to spend $10 or more on my lunch at Bay 101 or Garden City. Then we had the building itself, which is brand new and probably the nicest in the Bay Area. And finally, the games. Oh the games. Even with Hank, Pete myself, and another friend who also made the trip in his own car at the 15/30 table, the game was still superb. If Hank and Pete were in the blinds (I was seated across the table from them for about an hour) I could literally count on an 8+ way pot. For some reason they use the arcane one chip on the button rule (something I haven't seen in years), which further stimulates action (you're already 1/3rd of the way in, on the button....96o with 4 limpers? EZ call). Eventually we all got moved to the main game (within 15 minutes of each other, which was also fantastic) and found it to be even better than must move. Everybody won (except Hank), and everybody had a ball. I strongly suggest you try it out if you live anywhere near the place.

Monday, February 8, 2010

And I Wonder Why I Lose

So far today I've dropped about 60 bets in maybe 150 hands online. This hand I just played really has it all. I get 3-bet by a hand I have dominated, which proceeds to out flop me. Then I catch beautiful runner runner asshole cards in order to lose the absolute maximum by way of turning the nuts and then getting rivered by a bizarre and almost impossible to believe back door flush.

Full Tilt Poker $3/$6 Limit Hold'em - 6 players - View hand 524299
The Official Hand History Converter

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is BTN with K of hearts J of spades
3 folds, Hero raises, SB 3-bets, 1 fold, Hero calls

Flop: (7 SB) K of spades T of spades A of clubs (2 players)
SB bets, Hero calls

Turn: (4.5 BB) Q of clubs (2 players)
SB bets, Hero raises, SB calls

River: (8.5 BB) 5 of clubs (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets, SB raises, Hero calls

Final Pot: 12.5 BB
Hero mucks K of hearts J of spades
SB shows T of clubs K of clubs (a flush, Ace high)
SB wins 12 BB
(Rake: $3.00)

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I was about to type this all up in a comment, but it seems it grew to the level of a mini-post. So here are some answers to the comments posted regarding the hand I put up yesterday.

1. To date I have not played much online. I have tried several times in the past to ramp up my online activity, but things always seem to get in the way. I'm actually trying to get serious about it and play "every day" which seems to result in me playing at least "almost every day". My hand numbers are pitiful by online pro standards, but we all have to start somewhere.

2. I prefer playing live because...well, I just do. I am a social person and actually enjoy interacting with people. At least the friendly ones. Playing online feels like a video game to me and hurts my brain/wrist/eyes without fail within 60 minutes. I think I can correct two of these problems, but the brain one is troublesome.

3. I use or the converter on to post my hand, then just copy and past the output to my blog.

4. It is commonly accepted that online games are MUCH more difficult than live ones. The reasons for this are numerous and varied. I have decided to play 3/6 online until I am confident that I am solid winner, which hasn't happened yet. The games are very, very different (not only are players better, but their common leaks are of a different variety).

5. I play 2-3 tables at once, and yes, according to the 6 months living expenses and 500 big bets rule am rolled for games much higher than 40/80.

6. I am mostly playing 3/6 online in an effort to eventually get my potential online win rate to approach and then surpass my live one. Obviously to do this I need to move up, add tables, and win. Thus far from from .50/$1.00 to $5.00/$10.00 I am almost exactly a 1BB/100 winner.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Small Stakes Hold 'Em For Life

The book Small Stakes Hold 'Em (SSHE) is considered nearly a holy book on the Small Stakes forum of Two Plus Two. I've read it cover to cover two or three times and flip through it every now and again just to brush up on some concepts. It preaches what was previously considered a loose aggressive style in an attempt to take advantage of your opponents' primary weakness, calling too many bets with not enough pot equity. This hand I just played online illustrates the concepts from SSHE combined with basic hand reading to result in me dragging a huge pot with second pair.

Full Tilt Poker $3/$6 Limit Hold'em - 6 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By

Pre Flop: (2 SB) Hero is BB with K J
UTG calls, 1 fold, CO calls, BTN calls, SB calls, Hero raises, UTG calls, CO calls, BTN calls, SB calls

Flop: (10 SB) A T J (5 players)
SB checks, Hero bets, UTG calls, CO calls, BTN folds, SB folds

Turn: (6.5 BB) 4 (3 players)
Hero bets, UTG calls, CO calls

River: (9.5 BB) 8 (3 players)
Hero bets, UTG calls, CO calls

Final Pot: 12.5 BB
Hero shows K J (a pair of Jacks)
UTG mucks 3 T
CO mucks J 9
Hero wins 12.25 BB
(Rake: $1.50)


This is the the type of raise that SSHE demands you make preflop. First of all, you might have the best hand, and if you don't, your hand is basically a big-ass suited connector that should play very well in a bloated 5 way pot. By raising you tie your opponents to the pot, encouraging them further to call down hopelessly.


At this level online it's pretty unlikely that any of my opponents even have an ace. Most of them are much more aggressive preflop than my live opposition, so their limping ranges are actually very, very weak. Now of course it's possible somebody has one, but even if he does it's almost certainly a crappy one (A9 or lower) and against such a hand I have a virtual cornucopia of outs, so I bet basically for value with second pair against 4 opponents.


The turn is a complete brick, with the caveat that it did put up a flush draw (most of the cards in the deck would have done that, though), and I bet again for value. The lack of a raise on the flop makes me even more confident my hand is currently best, although once they both call you have to ask yourself what exactly do these people have? It's actually not even that likely that they hold something like QJ or QT, a hand with both a pair and an gut shot, as even from those hands I'd expect to get raised at least once. So what's going on here when they both call?


This is another piece of take home advice from SSHE; value bet the river. When in doubt, bet the river. A small stakes poster (Bob T) once suggested that if you're thinking about not betting the river, take a moment to consider worse hands that your opponents could conceivably have and call a bet with. If you can think of two, you should bet. To be honest there aren't two hands that make sense here (there are in fact none that I could have played the way my opponents have) that I can beat, but I decide to bet anyway. The pot is huge, and I can probably get a WTF call from a worse jack (except like I said, I don't think anybody can have QJ because I'd have expected a raise at some point). So I fire and when they both call I assume that at least the over caller has played some shitty ace passively. But no...both their hands hit the muck and I drag a 12+ big bet pot with second pair in 5 way raised pot where I bet or raised at every single opportunity and my opponents likewise checked or called every time they could.

Theory of Good Games

This is just a thought that has been bumbling around in my head the last few weeks, but I think it's well-formed enough now that I can turn it into a theory. Or at least, to quote my wood shop teacher in 8th grade (Mr. Weldon, whom I hope is still alive but to be honest I'd bet the under) "something that resembles something that looks like what could possibly be the very beginnings of" a theory.

One of the main ways that your average casino poker player gets better is by observing other players in his game. He doesn't read books, he doesn't post on two plus two, he doesn't talk about hands with people who have beaten the game in the past, and he probably doesn't even think back about his own play in an objective manner and apply changes he thinks will win him more money. He just plays and watches what other people do. My theory is that if he finds a particular player who either always seems to win or is very difficult to play against, he will start to incorporate aspects of that player's game into his own. For example, if Joe decides that Bob is a solid, tough opponent and Joe notices that Bob never open limps, then it's possible, in fact likely, that Joe will start open limping less. At this point I feel the average response is probably "no shit sherlock." Fair point, this is pretty obvious. When people play games they try to copy what the better players do. But there are two interesting points.

Often times the skills required to beat one game are very different from those required to beat the next game up, or at least not enough by themselves. For example, you can probably beat a lot of green chip casino games (6/12 and 8/16) and still play way too many hands preflop. The reason for this is obvious; most of your opponents are playing so many hands that your errors are very small, or perhaps even not errors at all (game conditions dictate which hands are playable preflop, and the default set of such hands changes as you move up in stakes). So what does this mean? People who copy winning players and then try to move up will often be woefully unprepared for the next level and get absolutely slaughtered.

While the first point is interesting, the second one is more what I was thinking when I decided to write this post. If there are no "good" players in a game, none of the regulars will ever get very good. And if a game isn't big enough to support a professional, then really nobody great will ever play it for very long (he'll either move up after crushing it for a few hundred hours, or never play it in the first place). With just a little bit of logic and faith, you can use these statements to claim that live 8/16 games will always be awesome, because nobody will ever crush them for long enough for the regular players to learn enough from them to become solid winners themselves. At least sorta. The same token doesn't really apply to 15/30 and 20/40 games, because these are large enough that some people (myself included) play in them regularly with the expectation of making enough money to at least support themselves. The risk being run is that if enough good players populate these games, the bad players will eventually start picking up their tricks and improve themselves.

OK that's all I've got.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This Whole Online Thing

So I sat down to play a little bit of 3/6 on Full Tilt tonight and within moments witnessed this hand:

Full Tilt Poker $3/$6 Limit Hold'em - 6 players - View hand 517315
The Official Hand History Converter

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is BTN with 6 of clubs T of clubs
UTG raises, 1 fold, CO 3-bets, 2 folds, BB caps!, UTG calls, CO calls

Flop: (12.5 SB) 5 of spades Q of hearts Q of clubs (3 players)
BB bets, UTG folds, CO raises, BB 3-bets, CO caps!, BB calls

Turn: (10.25 BB) A of spades (2 players)
BB bets, CO raises, BB 3-bets, CO caps!, BB calls

River: (18.25 BB) J of spades (2 players)
BB bets, CO raises, BB 3-bets, CO caps!, BB calls

Final Pot: 26.25 BB
BB mucks 8 of hearts A of clubs
CO shows A of diamonds Q of diamonds (a full house, Queens full of Aces)
CO wins 25.75 BB
(Rake: $3.00)

Needless to say I quickly colored the BB purple (my most fishiest color) and buckled my seat belt. The very next hand this happened, with the BB from last hand in the SB:

Full Tilt Poker $3/$6 Limit Hold'em - 6 players - View hand 517317
The Official Hand History Converter

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is CO with 9 of spades 9 of hearts
1 fold, MP raises, Hero 3-bets, BTN caps!, SB calls, BB calls, MP calls, Hero calls

Flop: (20 SB) 2 of spades 8 of spades 6 of spades (5 players)
SB bets, BB folds, MP calls, Hero raises, BTN calls all in, SB 3-bets, MP requests TIME, MP folds, Hero calls

Turn: (14.167 BB) 2 of hearts (3 players - 1 is all in)
SB bets, Hero calls

River: (16.167 BB) T of hearts (3 players - 1 is all in)
SB bets, Hero calls

Final Pot: 18.167 BB
SB shows 2 of diamonds A of spades (three of a kind, Twos)
Hero mucks 9 of spades 9 of hearts
BTN mucks K of hearts 6 of hearts
SB wins 5.667 BB
SB wins 12 BB
(Rake: $3.00)

At this point I decided I might need a new color. The very next hand I got some revenge:

Full Tilt Poker $3/$6 Limit Hold'em - 5 players - View hand 517319
The Official Hand History Converter

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is CO with J of hearts Q of diamonds
1 fold, Hero raises, BTN 3-bets, 2 folds, Hero calls

Flop: (7.5 SB) K of diamonds T of clubs 2 of hearts (2 players)
Hero checks, BTN bets, Hero calls

Turn: (4.75 BB) A of diamonds (2 players)
Hero checks, BTN bets, Hero raises, BTN calls

River: (8.75 BB) 8 of diamonds (2 players)
Hero bets, BTN calls

Final Pot: 10.75 BB
BTN mucks Q of spades K of spades
Hero shows J of hearts Q of diamonds (a straight, Ace high)
Hero wins 10.25 BB
(Rake: $3.00)

And the next orbit (when the table was a little short) we closed out with this gem (in which I think I played every street opposite of what I would usually do, except the river) since I was up against such a special opponent:

Full Tilt Poker $3/$6 Limit Hold'em - 4 players - View hand 517323
The Official Hand History Converter

Pre Flop: (1.5 SB) Hero is SB with A of clubs 8 of clubs
2 folds, Hero calls, BB raises, Hero 3-bets, BB calls

Flop: (6 SB) K of hearts Q of hearts 5 of spades (2 players)
Hero checks, BB bets, Hero calls

Turn: (4 BB) A of hearts (2 players)
Hero bets, BB raises, Hero calls

River: (8 BB) T of spades (2 players)
Hero checks, BB bets, Hero calls

Final Pot: 10 BB
BB shows 6 of hearts 5 of hearts (a flush, Ace high)
Hero mucks A of clubs 8 of clubs
BB wins 9.667 BB
(Rake: $2.00)

I'm not really sure what the point of this post is, other than to say that you just don't see guys like this in live 20/40 games. And when you do, you plan your day around them. This guy ended up playing 60 or so hands at about 75/50/2, which anybody who plays online will tell you is just off the chain. I'm going to log back on and try to find him now :)