Thursday, April 29, 2010

Out in 17th

Nothing too noteworthy after the dinner break. I did a lot of folding and then moved in with Q9o with 6 or 7 big blinds and got called by KQ. I was pretty card dead for most of the day but that's the way it goes when you're playing 20 hands an hour.

I'm happy with my play overall and the experience will be valuable come WSOP time. I'll probably be playing 5 or 10 tournaments a week online when I get back home, maybe some SCOOP events to keep my NL game sharp.

Off to Italy on Saturday, looking forward to the R&R.

Day 2 Dinner Break

Down to 18 and I'm fairly sure I'm in 18th with about 37K, blinds are now 2500-5K with 500 ante.

I have no idea how I'm still in this thing. I was down to 8800 in chips when the blinds were 1-2K and have fluctuated between 5 and 20 big blinds all day. I've survived 3 or 4 all-ins where we were flipping or I was a 60-40 favorite or 60-40 dog.

I'll need to double up a couple times to have a legitimate shot. It's certainly possible, players are making all kinds of mistakes.

This will be my last tournament of this trip and probably the last until the WSOP.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

1K NL Day 1

I ended the day with 36K, average is about 55K. 280 players started, we're down to 45 and they pay 24 places. 24th pays about 2500 Euro and 1st pays about 90K Euro. Blinds start at 600-1200 w/ 200 ante so I'll have about 30 big blinds to start.

The skill level was pretty poor overall. There were are a few really bad players and then a lot of average to good players. I don't have much of a frame of reference other than the Mohegan events I played which were loaded with strong players. It's possible I drew good tables today too but unlikely.

I wasn't involved in many interesting hands. I got the majority of my chips by getting it in preflop twice with AK against QQ and my AK winning both times. Other than that, it was mostly stealing and restealing. My high point was about 55K during the 2nd to last level. I was reraised a bunch of times in the last level and forced to fold which brought me down to 36K.

I feel pretty good about my chances if I can get some cards. 30 big blinds should allow me to patient and pick my spots. Another update to follow tomorrow, hopefully late in the day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Out of the EPT Championship

It just wasn't my day. I played two significant pots and lost both:

Level 2

Player in early position raises to 600, loosest/most aggressive player at the table reraises to 1700, good player thinks for a while and calls 1700 - at the time I thought it was very likely he had TT or JJ - folded around to me and I have AKs. I raise to 7K with about 20K behind. Initial raiser folds, reraiser moves all-in and cold caller folds. I came very close to calling but ultimately decided not to because I hadn't played many hands to that point and my preflop 4-bet had to look like a huge hand to him. He showed Aces and I was down to 20K.

Level 5

I've fluctuated between 10 and 20K since level 2 and am back up to about 18K. Blinds are 300-600 w/ 50 ante. Same aggressive player raises from early position to 1500, I reraise to 4000 with AA. The player immediately behind me raises to 12K. Initial raiser folds and I of course move in. Player after me calls with QQ. Another player announces he folded a queen as the dealer is about to put the flop out. First card I see on the flop is a Queen and that was that.

I had pretty terrible luck all day in about every imaginable way, I'll spare the details. It was really unfortunate because I had a great table, it was close in terms of skill level to some of the tables I've played on day 1 of the WSOP main event which was very surprising. We were at table 2 also which meant we weren't breaking on day 1.

I'm planning on playing at least one other smaller tournament while I'm here. There's a 1K Euro event on Wed and also on Thurs. If I get knocked out of the Wed tourney, I'll likely play Thursday too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Monte Carlo/April Update/CR Video

I'm leaving tomorrow to play the EPT championship in Monte Carlo. I had a little bit of bad luck drawing Day1A on Sunday, I'm leaving tomorrow morning and arriving in Monte Carlo late Saturday so hopefully I'm not too jet-lagged. I'm planning on taking some melatonin on one of the flights to help me sleep. Generally I have a tough time falling asleep on planes so I'm a little worried about it.

I've been playing a bunch of online tournaments the past couple weeks trying to hone my skills and have continued to watch NL videos. I seem to be bubble boy this week. I finished about 10 spots out of the money in the Stars Sunday tournament when I ran AK into Aces about 35 big blinds deep. I also bubbled the Sunday warm-up, I don't remember the hand I busted but I lost a pretty big pot with KK vs. K8. Ah the joy of tournaments. Hopefully I have some luck in Monte Carlo, I'm going to need it against what will likely be a very strong field.

After Monte Carlo, we're off to Italy for about a week. I should have some pics of the trip to post when I get back.

I just finished my first CardRunners video and I believe it's scheduled to be released in about 2 weeks. There should be announcement on CR about it. Hopefully some of you can watch and give me feedback.

April has been a pretty slow month so far. I've only played about 20K hands and I think I've run a little below expectation. I still haven't hit a really bad stretch this year but the past week has been one of my worst weeks so far. I'm not complaining though, I've run extremely well this year.

Next post after Monte Carlo Day 1....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Importance of PreFlop Play

Something I do two or three times a year is analyze how my starting hands are faring in different preflop situations. For example, I look at how hands I’m raising first in from the button, cutoff, hijack, under the gun, and the small blind are faring. I look at how hands I’m defending from the big blind fare against opens from different positions. I also look at how hands I 3-bet from the small blind fare against button and cutoff raises. Etc, etc. These are all situations where I have a fairly substantial amount of data to work with and feel confident in the results. Based on the analysis I add or subtract hands from the various ranges. This process has contributed a great deal to my improvement over the past few years.

How important is preflop play? There are 169 starting hands in hold-em. 13 are pairs, 78 are suited hands, and 78 are offsuit hands. There are 12 ways to make an offsuit hand, 4 ways to make a suited hand, and 6 ways to make a pair. You’ll be dealt a specific pair like Aces once every 221 hands, a specific suited hand once every 332 hands, and a specific offsuit hand once every 111 hands. More on the math associated with all this is here

Now let’s assume the following plays are mistakes and that you make them:

Raising K2o, K3o, K4o, K5o from the button against typical blinds
*Not* raising Q8o, Q7o, Q2s, Q3s, Q4s, Q5s and Q6s against typical blinds

Let’s assume you lose the following when you play or don’t play these hands. These are approximations based on my data:

K5o (.03) BB/HD
K4o (.06) BB/HD
K3o (.09) BB/HD
K2o (.12) BB/HD
Q8o (.15) BB/HD
Q7o (.05) BB/HD
Q6s (.09) BB/HD
Q5s (.07) BB/HD
Q4s (.05) BB/HD
Q3s (.03) BB/HD
Q2s (.01) BB/HD

Last, let’s assume you’re going to play 1000 hands of 3-handed poker. That means over the course of these hands you’ll be on the button roughly 333 times. So how much do these mistakes cost on average over these 1000 hands?

Since you’ll be dealt a specific offsuit hand once every 111 hands on average you’d be dealt each offsuit hand 3 times on the button and lose:

.03*3 + .06*3 + .09*3 + .12*3 + .15*3 + .05*3 =.09+.18+.27+.36+.45+.15 = 1.5 Big Bets

And you’ll be dealt a specific suited hand once every 332 hands on average or about 1 once on the button and lose:

.09+.07+.05+.03+.01 = .25 big bets

All that adds up to a net loss of 1.75 Big Bets over the 1000 hands. That might not sound like a whole lot but consider that’s .175 big bets per every 100 hands. Now consider that some of the best limit hold-em players average 1 big bet per hundred hands, that’s 17.5% of their profit! Also consider that these are a just a few of hundreds of possible mistakes people can make. Imagine they are 3-betting incorrectly from the small blind and defending incorrectly from the big blind over this 1000 hand sample and they could be giving up quite a bit.

Nobody plays perfect preflop, it’s nearly impossible. But the idea is to make as few mistakes as possible. The best way you can do this is to analyze your own data and see how you’re faring with hands in certain situations. This should give you a general idea of what hands are playable under normal or average conditions. You then can make in-game adjustments based on table dynamics. For example, if you have very tight blinds, you can add in all those hands that were small to marginal losers from the button. If you have loose, aggressive blinds, you can drop all the hands that are small winners. Another example is defending from the big blind against the various positions. I know what my default defending range is based on a typical raiser’s RFI% from each position. If the raiser is atypical, I’ll cater my range to them. I also account for the player’s postflop ability when deciding to defend borderline hands. In extreme cases, I’ve played against opponents who play so poorly postflop that I defend 100% of my hands from the big blind regardless of what position they’re raising from. So use your data as a baseline and go from there. It’s not an exact science and you won’t get every situation right. The most you can do is to consider all the information available and make the best possible decision based on it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Exciting News

I've agreed to be a limit HE instructor at CardRunners and will be making videos for them along with answering questions in the forums. It was a bit of a difficult decision because I will be giving away information on how I play to some of my opponents. The opponents that do watch my videos are very likely good players and not where my profit is coming from so I don't think I'm giving up too much there. The fact that I'll be forced to analyze my game and discuss plays and strategy should be of great benefit and I think this alone outweighs the cons.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tournament Hands and Thoughts

My no limit game grew stronger and stronger through each tournament and I feel like a competent player at this point. I still have a whole lot to learn but I at least feel like I have a pretty decent idea of hand ranges pre and post flop. My ability to interpret postflop actions improved a great deal over these tournaments. I'm feeling lost less and less and understand more of what I need to be thinking about in tough situations.

Playing twelve hours a day and committing myself to focus on every hand and trying to assign ranges to players based on their actions in every hand helped immensely. If the hand got to showdown, I could see if my thought process was correct or if I'd left something out. Listening to the other players, particularly good ones, discuss hands at the table allowed me to understand how and what I should thinking about. Watching tournament videos nightly over the past week helped a great deal as well. There's a seven part series on CardRunners where Timex discusses every hand of a 5K buy-in tournament he wins that's been really helpful.

Here are some tournament hands as best I remember them:

Luckiest Hand:

Blinds were something like 300-600 w/ 50 ante. I had about 8K in chips and moved in with 44 from the cutoff. The button moves all-in with AQ and the big blind moves all-in with KK. I flop a 4 and more than triple up to about an average stack.

Unluckiest Hand:

Blinds were 100-200 w/ 25 ante and I have 66 in late position with about 35K chips. UTG opens to 600 with about 20K, I call, and the big blind, also with 20K calls. Flop is 689 w/ 2 diamonds and the big blind leads out for 2K. UTG calls and I move in. Big blind calls with the AT of diamonds and UTG calls with 99. 99 holds up to win a huge pot.

Strangest Hand:

Blinds 1000-2000 and player who I've only seen play 2 hands and have aces both times opens in mid position to 6K. She has about 120K in chips and I have about 100K. I call on the button with KQs. Flop is Q42 rainbow and she bets 8000, I call. Turn is another Queen and she bets 11K, I call. River is a Jack and she checks. I bet smallish, maybe 15K thinking I'm value betting. She calls turning over 44 for a full house.

Best Bluff:

Blinds 500-1000 maybe, I have about 40K and villain has me covered. I raise T8 of hearts to 2500 from the hijack and a good young player calls from the big blind. The flop is J53 with two hearts. He leads out for 6K and I call. The turn is an offsuit 2, he bets 11K and I call. The river is an offsuit 3, he checks, I bet 15K and he thinks for a while and folds.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Out in 3rd

I busted in 3rd and cashed for 21K, first was around 70K. I ended up losing a big race at the end - my AQ to 55 for about a million chips (there were 2.9 million in play). I played well and ran very well for most of the day. Heading home tomorrow and have some pretty big news (poker related) when I get back.

1K NL Day 1

Started with about 250, down to 26 or 27 and they're paying 25 places. I have 61K, average is around 110K. There are a bunch of short-stacks trying to hang on and one player with over 500K in chips.

I had tough tables all day with the best player at the table always 1 or 2 seats to my left. Jason Mercier was on my immediate left for about 9 hours. According to a bunch to the tournament regs he's in the top 5 best tournament players in the world. I tried to stay out of his way but he kept getting in mine, it seemed like he raised 40% of the hands at our table.

I'm not playing to get in the money tomorrow and cash for $2500. With blinds at 1500-3000 to start, I won't hesitate to reraise someone all-in if I think I'm ahead of their range. Most of the big stacks are relentlessly raising at this point in the tournament so it's a distinct possibility.

More to follow, hopefully late in the day.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Out of 2K in 33rd or so - off to play 1K

2 Big Hands

1st Hand

Kenny (Poker Stars Pro don't know last name) raises in late position. I reraise TT to about 8K with 45K behind, he calls. Flop 963, I bet 9K, he calls. Turn Jack, he checks I check. River Q, he moves all-in. I thought and thought before finally folding. He said after the tourney he had 89.

2nd Hand

Same guy raises on button, I reraise to about 9K with ~30K behind with the AsQc. Flop is J92 with two spades. I move in, he calls with J9. Turn's an Ace, river's a brick and I bust.

Oh well, I really wish I had called the first hand. Both his preflop calls are pretty bad given how shallow our stacks are. I wouldn't be complaining if I called and won the first hand though. Oh well, that's poker.

Off to play the 1K, last one on this trip.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

$2150 NL Day 1

Quick update since it's 3AM and we start back up at 1:00:

135 Players, Super Strong Field, 15K Starting Chips

We're down to about 45 players, 15 places pay with 1st around 90K.
I have 54K, average is about 48K. High point 70K, low point 6.5K

Played good, ran better. Hope to do the same tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Out of the Main Event

I had a pretty frustrating day. I started out winning seemingly every pot I played and had built up my 30k starting stack to 47K by the middle of level 2. Towards the end of the level I was dealt Kings in the big blind, there was a raise and call in front of me, I reraised and the initial raiser 4-bet to about 6500 (he had 27K or so). I had a strong feeling he had Aces but I just couldn't bring myself to call or fold so I moved in and sure enough he had Aces. I flopped a King and he rivered an Ace to add insult to injury. That brought me down to 20K.

From there it was all downhill. It seemed like I went two hours without a playable hand and my stack was down to about 5K. I went all-in a few times without getting called and was up to about 8K when I moved in with AK. I was called by JJ and after a Jack flopped, I was out.

I had a really great table today, the level of play was surprisingly bad. Unfortunately the cards didn't cooperate.

I'm planning on playing a 2K event tomorrow at 4 PM and then possibly a 1K event on Friday. More updates to follow on that.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

$650 Bounty Hunter - Main Event on Deck

I played the $650 Bounty Hunter tournament today and ended up finishing on the bubble in 16th - there were about 115 players to start. I think I played well although I did make a few mistakes especially early on. I sometimes lack confidence playing live and am afraid to pull the trigger in certain situations which is exactly why I wanted to play this before the main event. As the day went on my confidence grew and I felt a lot more comfortable and really got into playing my game.

When we were down to 16 players, I was the chip leader with about 120K in chips. A bunch of the players got together and decided they wanted to give $50 each to whoever bubbled, that way the bubble boy wouldn't leave empty handed. I was thinking to myself at the time, "Why would I want to do this when I'm the chip leader?". Then I thought about a time where the situation was reversed, I was a short-stack, and one person wouldn't agree to giving the bubble boy money so nobody ended up doing it - of course I bubbled. So I went along with it and wouldn't you know, it was me who ended up bubbling. So, I ended up pocketing $750 for bubbling and I had also picked up $1200 along the way for knocking out 6 people - it was a $200 bounty for each person I eliminated.

The hand that did me in was AJ. The blinds were 3K-6K with a 500 ante and I had ~120K to start (yes 20 big blinds was the chip leader). I raised to 15K from mid position with AJ and a tricky/good player who viewed me as pretty loose preflop reraised all-in to about 80K. So I had to call about 65K to win about 110K. Against a lot of players I would have folded knowing they wouldn't want to put their tournament life at stake on the bubble without a big hand. But I knew this player's range was fairly wide; I don't think he expected me to risk 2/3 of my chips being chipleader and being on the bubble without a very big hand. Knowing this I called and he flipped over 99 which I think was right in the middle of his range. He flopped a set and I was down to 40K or about 7 big blinds. About an orbit later at 4K-8K I reraised the button all in with A8 (I had about 30K) and unfortunately he had kings.

I'm really glad I played today, I feel a lot better about my game and my confidence/comfort level going into tomorrow is high. I hope I'm as lucky as I was today, if so I should be able to make a run in the main event. I'll have an update at some point tomorrow...