Sunday, January 31, 2010

January in the Books

It wasn't my best month in terms of hands or win rate but I managed to do pretty well largely in part to running good at 50-100. I don't feel like I"m playing very well, even when I had a big upswing I felt like I was losing focus at times. I cut down to 4 tables for several days and still was having trouble focusing. I'm going to make an effort to exercise more in February, hopefully that will help with focus/concentration issues I'm having.

With the new VPP structure I only need to play about 60-65% of the hands I'm used to playing to stay on pace for SNE. While that's good, it's also made me a lot less motivated to play hands which ultimately translates to less money. So I have a hand goal starting in February of 2000 limit hands per day.

On the no-limit front I ran extremely well but only managed to play to play about 4700 hands. I had a goal of 500 a day so I fell well short of that. I did watch about 15 no-limit videos over the month and played 5 tournaments so I'm happy about that. I still need to play more hands and hopefully I can get up to 500 a day.

I haven't had much time to blog lately but hopefully I can get in a couple strategy posts during February. I have a few ideas of things to talk about, it's just a matter of taking the time to put it into words.

Good luck at the tables everyone.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Avoiding Auto Pilot

I’ve written a few blog posts about avoiding predictability and staying away from auto-pilot but it’s worth another. I haven’t really gone into specifics of what you can do but here are a few examples. I should mention that these aren’t necessarily things you should always be doing but things you should be doing at least some of the time.

Checking back some flops particularly multi-way. When on auto-pilot we auto-bet every flop regardless of number of opponents, board texture, or opponent tendencies. Here are a couple spots it might be worth checking back:

-In a pot with 2 or more opponents where the board texture is very likely to have hit at least one of them. Example, you raise AQ, get 2 callers and the flop comes 987 with two of a suit.

-In a heads up pot against a player who goes to showdown often where the board texture is such that you’re opponent is unlikely to ever fold to a flop bet. Let’s say you raised with KQ and the flop is 235 or 346, or 457, etc.

Check-raise bluffing the river is another way to keep your opponents off balance and avoid being predictable. A lot of very good players rarely, if ever, check-raise bluff the river. And the vast majority of players who do check/raise bluff on the river don’t do it enough. You don’t want to be one of these players or your opponents, particularly good ones, will safely fold any time you check-raise the river and they hold a medium strength hand. If you don’t think you’re one of those players, filter your HEM for Filter By Actions/Filter by River Actions/Check Raise. Then look through all of those hands and see how many you were bluffing. I’d be willing to bet it’s not many. If you consider the average pot size might be 6 big bets or so when your opponent has to decide whether to call one more bet, you can see that you should be bluffing a lot more against observant opponents. I’d recommend making a mental note to yourself before a session to look for at least one hand per session where you can check-raise bluff the river. Here’s an example of a river check-raise bluff I made:

I raised 99 in the cutoff and was 3-bet by an aggressive player on the button and called. The flop was AK5, my opponent bet and I called. Folding the flop would have been fine but this opponent plays pretty straightforward against me postflop so I figured if he didn’t have an A or K, he’d check the turn and give up on the river assuming he didn’t improve. The turn was a King, I checked and my opponent checked. The king pairing and my opponent checking behind changed my plan a bit. My opponent’s turn check now didn’t necessarily represent weakness as I initially thought it would since my opponent would often check back an Ace here. I still thought I could pick up the pot but I thought I’d have a better chance of it by check-raising and representing a king. My check-raise would be very credible because my play in the hand is completely consistent with having a king. My opponent would have a tough time calling with a hand like QQ or JJ and could fold an ace. I should mention my opponent is someone I have a lot of history with an d is capable of making lay-downs on the river with made hands. The river was a 3, I checked my opponent bet, I check-raised and unfortunately my opponent called showing AQ.

Capping a variety of hands in multiway pots is another good way to keep your opponents off balance. It’s never a huge loss to put extra bets in preflop in a multiway pot particularly when you hold a speculative hand like a suited connector. If you’re only capping with hands like AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, AK, and AQ, you have way too narrow of a range and your opponents can easily play against your range postflop. So add some hands to your capping range, suited connectors work best. A benefit to capping especially when on the button is that the flop will be checked around to you and you always have the option to check and see the turn. Contrast this to the times where you just call and the preflop 3-bettor bets the flop and you’re forced to fold a hand with outs because you have the big blind to act after you. Or to hands where the 3-bettor leads the flop, gets raised, and you're forced to fold some outs facing 2 bets. They’ll be some hands where you cap preflop and are led into on the flop but this happens less frequently than the hands where it’s checked around. One last benefit of capping is that the flop might come something like A52, you decide to continuation bet the flop with 78s, and all your opponents fold. This happens a lot more often than it should.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Back in the Swing of Things

I'm back from the PCA, unfortunately I didn't cash in either of the events I played. I played in the 6-handed limit event the day before we left. Nothing too exciting happened, I was pretty card dead throughout and ended up 10th out of 26th. I did meet a bunch of people I play regularly with on Stars so that was cool.

I've been playing a lot since I got back trying to make up for all the days I missed. I'm earning VPPs at a much faster rate this year due to the changes Stars implemented - almost 20% faster. This makes a huge difference and I'm confident I'll be able to make SNE again this year.

My primary concern/goal is getting better at no-limit. I've been watching about a video a day and playing about 500 hands a day at 1-2 and 2-4. I feel like I'm learning but still have a ton to learn to be a consistent winner in the 3-6 and 5-10 games.

I will probably be making some no-limit posts this year maybe comparing some of the differences between no limit and limit along with some strategy. I will be working on my limit game as well so they'll be plenty of limit posts along the way.

Things have gone very well so far at no-limit and not so well at limit:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 Poker Goals

Here's a list of my 2010 goals. I'll likely add to them as the year goes on and will be referring back to them a lot to keep myself on track.

Become Proficient at No-Limit

-Play at least 3,000 hands a week
-Watch at least 3 videos a week and take notes
-Read through NL threads and articles every week

Continue Learning/Improving at Limit
-Study results through HEM
-Develop more balanced ranges in common situations and cater them to specific opponents
-Take more notes/study regulars to be able to exploit them better
-Continue to watch videos and look for ideas

Achieve SuperNova Elite again
-Continue to grind midstakes games
-7/8 table lower stakes (10-20) if necessary
-Play more higher stakes games (50-100 and 100-200)

Try to win a WSOP bracelet
-Play at least 20 events including most or all of the limit events
-Get far enough ahead in the SNE chase that I can focus on tournaments for a month
-Play the Sunday NL tournaments on a regular basis to stay sharp

Friday, January 8, 2010

Multitabling Effects

This hand is scary in many ways and in other ways it's just funny. At first I was in disbelief and then I just started laughing.

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to TPirahna [3h 8h]
fatbones67: folds
tAeTzLi: folds
jachrist02: folds
Unguarded: folds
fnupple: folds
TPirahna: raises $30 to $60
KUDUZ: folds
Raist0000: calls $30
*** FLOP *** [2c Qd Ts]
Raist0000: checks
TPirahna: bets $30
Raist0000: raises $30 to $60
TPirahna: calls $30
*** TURN *** [2c Qd Ts] [4h]
Raist0000: bets $60
TPirahna: calls $60
*** RIVER *** [2c Qd Ts 4h] [4c]
Raist0000: bets $60
TPirahna: calls $60
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Raist0000: shows [Jd 8d] (a pair of Fours)
TPirahna: mucks hand
Raist0000 collected $492 from pot

I was playing 7 tables at the time, had been for about an hour, and my brain was fading. I was actually looking at a hand I had on a different table and playing it on this table. Wow, lol. At least I didn't have QQ on the other table, that would have been a lot more expensive.

This leads me to wonder how often this happens where I don't notice. I caught a hand a couple weeks ago where I folded Queens preflop to a 3-bet after I had raised. All I knew that time was that I had been 3-bet after raising with Queens and when I looked back my Queens were gone - I ended up searching the HH window to figure out where they went.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Out of the PCA

Got knocked out late in level 13. We were down to about 350 players when I busted. They were paying 225 unfortunately - I probably could have folded into the money but that's not my style.

I started the day shortstacked and doubled up the first level when my 77 held up against AJ. Nothing too exciting happened until about Level 12. I was up to about 55K and reraised an aggressive player all-in with A7s (blinds were 1200-2400 I believe). The big blind woke up with Queens and the initial raiser folded. I ended up hitting a runner-runner straight and that brought me up to about 110K. From there I ran it up to 140K before losing it all in one hand. It was a pretty ugly last hand - I raised from the button with 97s to 6500 and was reraised by an aggressive small blind to about 18K. I 3-bet to 45K which he called. I flopped a flush draw and moved all-in. He quickly called with Jacks and I didn't improve. Oh well, that's poker.

I'm planning on playing at least one more tournament. They have a 6-max limit tournament next week and a few more smaller NL tournaments. I'll at least play the limit tourney and probably one of NL tournies. I'll have some updates on those if/when I play.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ho Hum Day One

I started the day with 30K and ended with 19.5K. It was a really uneventful day, I played a lot of small pots and my chip stack was always between 19 and 35K. My chip counts were:

Level 3 - 27K
Level 5 - 22K
Level 7 - 26.5K
Level 8 - 34K

I ended up losing about 10K in a hand towards the end where I flopped a flush draw and gut-shot straight draw vs. top pair and failed to improve.

The level of competition in this tournament is very strong. There were several good online players including an EPT champ and Marcel Luske at my table today. It only gets tougher from here but my decisions will at least be easy to start day 2 due to being short-stacked. Blinds will start at 500-1000 and with 20 big blinds I'll be looking for spots to reraise all-in.

I have a day off tomorrow while the second half of the field plays and then Day 2 on Wed., I'll have another update then.