Monday, January 31, 2011

January in the Books

I didn't play very well this month. The .6 BB/100 is likely indicative of my play as I think I ran about average on the month. I was very fortunate to run well at 100-200 or it wouldn't have been nearly as good of a month. I had been running really poorly in the 1-2 games so things are evening out I suppose.

I made a few strategic changes for 2011. I decided I'm going to play a lot of marginal heads up and 3-handed games that I was passing up the last two years. There are a bunch of heads up and short-handed players I feel I have 1-2 BB/100 edge on that I was passing up. This is already paying off. The other big change is that I'm planning on playing any 100-200 games that are running. I have a friend willing to go halves with me in the games and about half the hands I played this month we're shared. This will probably be the norm for a while until I build up a comfortable bankroll to play them on my own.

On the VPP front I managed to earn about 75K VPPs despite missing ten days while playing the PCA. So I'm about 4 days behind there and plan on playing as much as possible in February. I need to step up my game this month, I've been distracted and unfocused way too often lately.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sizing up Games

Something I started doing late last year was to create a spreadsheet with the names of the regulars and non-regulars in my games. The first column I have is a rating between 1 and 10 of what I think each players approximate skill level is. This allows me to quickly look at a table, add up my ratings and arrive at a number that tells me the skill level of a table. This is particularly useful when I'm playing 4 or 5 tables and have the choice of joining more tables. 4 or 5 is my capacity so I can quickly make a decision whether to stay in a game or drop the one I'm in and start a new one. Although I know most of the regulars in my games, there are a lot of semi-regular players where I recognize the names but can't remember how they play. You're probably thinking, why not look them up on PTR, wouldn't that be easier? One reason I don't do that is that it's against PokerStars T&C's to have PTR open while their client's open. The second reason is that PTR often doesn't tell the whole story. Players play NL and Limit which can skew win rates. Also, players play heads up and short-handed which skew win rates. It usually takes me about a hundred hands to get a very good idea of someone's skill level and I feel more confident in my assessment than looking at PTR.

In addition to my rating column, I have a long column with all of my notes. Specifically, areas where I think my opponent can be exploited. To give you an example of some of the things I look for:

- High fold big blind to steal%
- Low or High 3-bet %
- Preflop positions where my opponent is overagressive
- Whether my opponent checks back flops or not
- How showdown bound is my opponent - how bluffable is he
- High or low flop and turn check raise %'s

All of these things allow me to make adjustments against my opponents. For example, if somebody is checking back a lot of flops (by a lot I mean 10% or more), I'll adjust by 3-betting from the big blind preflop and capping when out of position and having been 3-bet.

A nice benefit of having everything in a spreadsheet is that I'm able to look at a table before I start playing and formulate a game plan in my head with regard to how I'll play against the table in general as well as the specific players. So for example, let's say there's a seat open with a player that has a low 3-bet% to the left of the seat and then a player with a high fold BB to steal % one or two seats after him. I'll make a mental note before sitting that I need to expand my stealing ranges. I find it a lot easier to do all this before I start playing rather than starting 4 tables at once and doing it on the fly.

In nearly all sports, the competitors know who they're up against and formulate a game plan prior to competing that seeks to exploit their opponent's weaknesses and maximize their strengths. Poker shouldn't be any different.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bahamas Update

It's been a rough trip gambling/poker wise. I ended up losing about 20K at the blackjack tables and didn't cash in five tournaments. In addition to the main event I played a 1K, a 1500, and two of the nightly turbos. In both the turbos, I tripled my starting stack early and then lost big races. The turbos are pretty crazy with the blinds escalating every fifteen minutes and people getting it in with all sorts of hands. In the 1K I had about 25K late in day 1 from a 10K starting stack and then lost a big all-in with AK vs. AQ. 2 hands later I raised AK from early position got called by two players and got it in on a KT5 all hearts flop. One of the players had flopped a flush - I was about 30 big blinds deep to start the end so it was unavoidable. I played the 1500 today and had my chips up to about 20K from the 12k starting stack and then was back down to about 13K when I ran nines on the button into the big blinds Aces.

I'm planning on working on my tournament game this year. I think I've made a lot of improvement over the last year but there's a whole lot of room for more. I'm going to devote Sunday days to tournaments from now on and start 5 or 6 them around midday and really focus on them. The problem I've always had with online tournaments is that I'm usually playing 3-4 limit games and giving all my attention to the cash games. Consequently, my results have suffered but more importantly I'm not learning anything because I'm paying so little attention. I think the best way for me to approach it is to not even look at the lobby for limit games so I can resist the temptation to jump into the games. It's going to cost me some money short-term since my earn is nowhere near the same in tournaments but I really want to improve and hopefully it pays off at some point in the future.

Online poker wise, I've managed to play about 10k hands so far this month and basically picked up right where I left off last month, running very well:

My next post will be strategy related - how I size up games and what I look for in table dynamics, hopefully within the next week or so.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Out of the PCA Main Event

Nothing too eventful to write about. I busted out with about 20 minutes left in Day 1. We started with 30K and I lost two medium/big pots on the river during levels 2 and 3 and was down to about 15K. From there I got back up to about 35K during level 6. I started the last level of the day with about 28K and blinds at 600-1200. I was moved to a really tough table, where I was 3-bet every time I opened - I opened 5 times over the course of about an hour and 40 minutes. I 4-bet all-in twice. The first with KQs and got instacalled with KQ and chopped. The second was with AT and got called by Kings. I don't think people we're 3-betting me light with the exception of the KQ hand, I just kept running into hands. That's poker.

I'm planning on playing a couple of the smaller buy-in events, probably the 1K NL's. I'll have some updates on those.