WPBT Trip Reports

You really ought to be following the shenanigans of fellow poker bloggers getting royally schlitzed and gambling it up in Vegas. Only wish I could have been there myself to see Iggy in all of his small-person glory.  I’ve been following the story on Pauly’s blog, but there are a ton of others out there – see the aggregator or Pauly’s and Iggy’s extensive linkage.

Multi-tabling, and the No Limit Ring Game

I’ve put aside the SNGs for a little while to build my bankroll. Last week, I played three of them, and some suck outs killed me – to be expected. With my bankroll and because I’m just starting to play the SNGs, I haven’t felt comfortable playing anything higher than the 5+1 SNGs, and the rake there is such a large proportion (obviously).  My goal has been to be playing on Party in entirely profit, not even including the 200 I got for signing up – I’d like to have that in case I need it for bankroll during my Vegas trip in January.  So, it seems to make sense to build back up with the limit ring games and get to a spot where I feel more comfortable dropping more on the SNG.

That said, it was back to the grind.  I just signed up for the tasty PartyPoker December bonus which I’ll start after my money goes through next week.  Yesterday I got myself back in low limit shape – hadn’t played in awhile.  One thing I’ve found slightly lapsing is my focus on the degree to which a pot is large or small. I recognize how many people are in with me, but I need to measure my aggressiveness more keenly to the size of the pot, being more willing to raise to try to take other people out and to push my big edges.

It’s also time to reread the Ed Miller chapter on playing overcards.  Trickiest thing for me is 3-4 handed, with an AKo that’s missed the flop, no redraw, but not a particularly scary board either, from SB or BB.  With AK, still a decent betting situation.  But what about with AQ?  I get way more reluctant with AJ unless I’m in late position and have a redraw of some kind.  Again, it’s gotta be about pot size in these situations and the ability to knock people out.  If you can push out the bottom-pair-ace-kicker, you’ve just opened up a few more crucial outs.  Particularly from early position, it’s hard to figure this out. My raise from the blinds came after their original limp, so they basically called it without hesitation – hard to get a good read on the situation at this point.

The grind there has been profitable, but most of my recent winnings have come from the 6 person $25 no-limit ring games. My buddy plays these all the times, and we sat down to rap strategy as we played.

As far as general strategy, my buddy has focused on two aspects.  First, pot-building is key.  You want to keep the other guy in, but you want to punish him for calling.  Second, randomize but regularly use steals attempts on certain types of not-too-scary flops.  You don’t have to make them work all the time for them to be profitable, particularly if they can work with a relatively small bet.  One the other hand, if they never work, that means you’re at a relatively loose-passive table (someone is always calling, regardless), which will only benefit you when you pick up the big one.

Coming Soon

Winter break, featuring the Party Poker reload bonus and a trip to Atlantic City. Stay tuned.

Thanksgiving Poker

Thanksgiving break was a welcome diversion from most things scholastic. A typical day involved a noon wake up, some form of physical exercise, a few games of poker with my brothers and sister-in-law, copious amounts of food, followed by about 4 solid hours of poker. The wee night hours were reserved for inebriated pot limit omaha high (is that redundant?).

I don’t have much to report from those games or the earlier evening no limit hold’em freeze-outs. My heads-up game is still not up to par. Instead, let me focus this post on the 8 SNGs my bro and I played online. To sum: first once, third twice, down 3 bucks.

First game, we basically saw no cards forever, and just bided our time. We managed a double through in level 4 with just an ace, as someone called us with JTs. The value of an AX hot-and-cold is really understimated by players. Once we got down to three players, we were short stacked, but we got super agrgressive, caught some cards, and just plowed through.

The next several games involved a variety of bad-beats. The main ones that spring to mind:
* An A89 rainbow board, we have pocket JJs, put the short stack all in, he turns over K5 and goes runner runner for the straight.
* Our all in QQ v. AJo getting beat.
* We limp in with AKo thinking we’d get a raise all in from an aggressive player, he does, we call, he turns over A6s, flop is 66K and he hits the flush by the river to boot.

Which is not to say that we didn’t get a bit of luck in our favor. But those were crippling blows in three games where I thought we had a great chance to money.

I hope to pull out a few key hands once I have a look at the hand histories, but, for now, a couple general take-aways from these sessions:

I now agree more than ever with readers who have pointed out that it’s best to conserve chips early on and let the fucks-offs duke it out – better to wait and get involved in the later rounds, rather than be pressed into really tricky decisions early on.

It’s important to know the table to understand how much you can limp. The thing is, you still have to be very aware of what you want to see with your limping hand. I kinda think of this as a variant on the dominatned hand concept Lee Jones discusses in his low limit book. The basic question you always have to ask yourself is, “What sorta flop do I want to see?” A helpful way to narrow this down a bit is, “If I get X flop, where am I going with it? What sort of hands could I be called or raised with? What will I do if raised?” Say you have 5 people in a pot with you at level 1, you hit your K with K9o, fire a pot sized bet in there, someone comes over the top for all your chips, what then? To paraphrase TJ, top pair ain’t the holy city. In the early rounds, these trouble situations are really not worth getting into most of the time – waiting for other people’s mistakes can be a lot more profitable. Moreover, as you leak chips iwth limping, you diminish how many chips you have when you can capitalize on others’ mistakes and thus put yourself in worse shape as the blinds increase. Obviously, none of this can be taken to extremes, but it’s something I’ve taken away from my last few seessions.

Another important TJ paraphrase – unless the flop hits you, AK is AK is AK is AK. When you miss, you have to play it very carefully, particularly if you’re not heads-up. You have to be able to get rid of this hand.

It seems critical with those overcards to take into account the player(s) you’re up against. But you can’t really make a decision based on a function of, say, player’s intellegence. If they’re smart, they’re going to take your pre-flop raise as overcards or a pair, but probably over-cards. If they’re not as solid, they could be playing anything against your raise, and thus could have a pair on a board like 986 with two hearts. Maybe they’re playing any ace, and they have your reverse dominated with their pair. And they will call with any pair, perhaps even if you make a huge raise.

Speaking of pre-flop raising, I was reminded again this weekend that trying to make a bigger than normal raise to push out most of the 4-6 limpers can backfire. One, you might not push them out and you just end up building a huge pot which will allow people to draw at you (reminding me of Sklansky’s maxim regarding keeping pots small). Also, your big raise may give away a little bit too much about what hand you might have. Better to make a standard raise than to push too hard and have to throw away a hand like 10s when a couple of paint hit.

When to Push – Stack Size Relative to Blinds

A good point came up in an email message from a reader. When do you decide that you need to push all-in given the constraints of stack size relative to the blinds?

In my last post, I noted how I went all in with 1040 in chips on Q9o from the cutoff, six players left, 100/200. My basic rule of thumb is to measure chip size relative to 4 times the combined size of the blinds. Too far beyond that point and a double through might be entirely meaningless. I adjust accordingly if the table is short-handed (because blinds come around faster and because hand values rise, so half decent hand become more push-worthy). Of course, I take into account the players I’m up against, their stack sizes, any reads I might have on them. But I start from this basic rule of thumb.

This is something I should look into more in reading the various online/blogger guides to SNGs, but, if you have any answers, shout em out. Do you have a rule of thumb in this regard? What do you base your decisions on?

When to Push – Stack Size Relative to Blinds

A good point came up in an email message from a reader.  When do you decide that you need to push all-in given the constraints of stack size relative to the blinds?

In my last post, I noted how I went all in with 1040 in chips on Q9o from the cutoff, six players left, 100/200.  My basic rule of thumb is to measure chip size relative to 4 times the combined size of the blinds.  Too far beyond that point and a double through might be entirely meaningless.  I adjust accordingly if the table is short-handed (because blinds come around faster and because hand values rise, so half decent hand become more push-worthy).  Of course, I take into account the players I’m up against, their stack sizes, any reads I might have on them.  But I start from this basic rule of thumb.

This is something I should look into more in reading the various online/blogger guides to SNGs, but, if you have any answers, shout em out. Do you have a rule of thumb in this regard?  What do you base your decisions on?

More SNG

Decided to take a night off from going out and play some poker instead.  First, ring game was atrocious – probably my worst at .5/1 ever.  Sets of 10s and Aces cracked, missing basically every flop with other hands.

Then, played another SNG.  This time, I played fairly tight early on, not limping with crap, and not really getting much to limp with. Table had a fair bit of raising, so in mid-position it wasn’t profitable to try to limp a lot.  I made a raise with AQo against two players from the SB and took down a small pot early when a Q fell and I bet at the two-suit flop.  Aside from that, didn’t see much Had another AQ once from the blind, missed the flop and ended up splitting the pot when the board double paired.  I also came into a pot from a blind with A5o, and, on a rainbow flop, tried to make a play for it against two other players in an unraised pot.  My raise was re-raised and called, so I just got out of it.

There were enough other people pushing each other around that my hands with all cards under 10 really were not gonna cut it.  Finally, at 50/100, I have about 650 chips, in SB, with pocket 10s.  With one other person already in the pot, I decide to shove em all in, hoping to perhaps just pick it up there and gain some more chips but happy with a caller if I get one – just don’t want to go up against two people with this hand. I get called by the BB who has Q9 and double through. 

At this point, we get down to 6.  From the blind again, I get 33, but with a raise and a call already, I just chuck em away and let them fight it out.  Only hand I get into is from the BB at 100/200. I already have 200 committed, I have to put in 60 more to call an all-in heads-up.  Even with 75s, I figured this was worth it – I don’t have all my hot-or-cold numbers memorized, but I figure that 75s had the necessary odds against any random hand given 460 already in the pot.  Given that the all-in guy had only 160 left at that point (he was in the SB for this hand), I could safely consider his hand completely random.  Wouldn’t you know it, I hit a straight on the flop against his A6o, only to have running 4s come out to give him a full house.

Now down to 1040, I have to start thinking about a steal – I can’t wait for great cards forever and, at 100/200, it’s getting closer to a double through not making a huge amount of difference because the blinds are coming around faster.  In the cut-off, I get Q9o.  The one to my left has a medium stack bigger than mine. SB has a small stack, and BB has a medium stack equivalent to mine.  All had been willing to get ouf of the way of raises.  I figured this was the time to push forward.  I get called by BB who had 88s, and I don’t get anything.  I suppose that’s the best one could hope for – having overcards to the pair.

Through 5 levels, I got two pocket pairs (TT and 33), AQo twice, and KJo twice.  I didn’t even get any other hand with an Ace in it the whole night except for the time described above.  I don’t know if I should have been making more with less, or this is just the nature of the beast – really tough when the levels increase so fast.

Miscalculating Odds, Part 140

Because I’ve had so much less time for poker lately, I feel like even my limit ring game play is way out of shape.  Maybe just sometimes I don’t sit down in a totally focused mindset, but I also think I just haven’t been practicing enough so I’ve forgotten how to play particularly important post-flop situations. I end up just scraping out a winning session rather than putting together substantial BB.

Random mistake of the day: with QJ on a board with KTX, I can’t just automatically assume that’s 8 outs to the straight.  Any time an A is involved in making a potential winning hand, I gotta look at how many players are involved in the pot, because it’s likely that an Ace is already out there in someone’s hand.  So long as we’re grinding and playing small long term advantages, even that has to be factored in.

“Stealing” Content, and the Creative Commons

Since I’ve confirmed that I have at least 5 readers now, I will finally write this post:

Several poker bloggers have written of their blogrolls being wholesale copied onto other sites and, much worse, having their actual content copied.  There are plenty of legitimate reasons for concern here, but I hope that those concerns don’t get taken too far.

First, it’s important to note that we often cut-and-paste content in the process of criticism and commentary.  Our writing relies on that freedom to copy the works of others.  Hopefully, we copy with attribution and in legal ways, though the lines are often difficult to draw.

Second, certainly in poker blogging, I assume most of us are writing about poker to share knowledge with each other.  Whether that be in the form of explicit tips or the general sharing of playing experiences or the reporting of other useful information (e.g., articles about poker, bulletin board posts), we’re generating this information with each other and for each other – otherwise, we’d just as soon write a private diary.

In the service of that goal, please, do not take the desire to protect your work too far.  If we so loosely equate copying with “stealing” or “piracy”, we risk losing the sort of copying that’s so crucial to blogging. If someone’s profiting from your work, or using it without attribution, I can more clearly see your complaint.  But let’s not use that to cripple all copying.

Also, consider making your permissions clear.  As you can see on the right side of my blog, I have put my blog under a Creative Commons license, and, in that way, I hope to create more breathing space for anyone who wants to copy my writing – to provide clear, legal ways to share the information I provide.  The license outlines the permissions I’ve granted for use of this site’s content – namely, you can copy and distribute the content so long as you do so with attribution and for non-commercial purposes, and you can make derivative works so long as they’re under the same license.

Take it from Wil Wheaton, whose site is also CC licensed.  I’m sure you know Wil Wheaton as a poker blogger.  Some of you may also think of him as the guy who beat up Barney in order to demonstrate the ills of intellectual property.  I know I do.

(Full disclosure: I was an intern for Creative Commons two summers ago.  I spend a lot of time writing about copyright.)


Decided to treat myself to a 5-1 sit-n-go NL Hold’em on Party.  I haven’t played many sit-n-gos – mainly, I’ve worked with my simulator and played some live ones, watched my friend play the sit-n-gos on Party a bit, but never played them myself.

I try, early on, to limp with a variety of mediocre hands when I’m in middle-late or late position.  In early, I’ll only limp with some better hands – I take Sklansky’s advice that hands like AJo and 88 you shouldn’t really be raising with a lot of the time, because you’re going to “hate” a reraise.  As he says, you don’t want to turn those hands into 72 – perhaps raise with those worse hands to try to steal if you can.  However, from what I’ve seen of Party sit-n-gos, trying to raise for steals early on isn’t really effective.  Anyway, from this I manage to get my role up to about 850 or so after the first round or so.

Big trouble spot for me tonight: I limp with J7s suited from the button with 2 others in.  Flop comes JT7 rainbow.  It’s the 15/30 round and the big blind bets 275 into the 90 pot. I called here, then folded when an 8 hit on the turn and he bet 325.  He could have had anything from JT, to just a 9, and wasn’t really sure what to put him on. He could have just had AJo, but I wasn’t ready to basically put my tournament life on the line this early. Maybe I should have been, as I was down to about 525.

I didn’t really have many good limping opportunties after that, with raises behind me or just plain shit cards – maybe I should have tried to sneaking in more with those. Certainly didn’t have any strong raising hands, though I could have gone for steals, of course. 

In any case, it got to the point where I had just about 350 left from being blinded down, with about 2 hands left in the 25/50 round.  Once the blinds go up again, I will not be in good shape. I came in from the small blind with K8o to a pot of about 200.  Flop was KT6 with two of same suit, one heart.  I decided to push here, given that I’d been so quiet that people would give me credit for it – I would be perfectly content with that. But someone had limped with TT, and quickly called.  There goes my tournament, out in 8th.

Hardest thing for me about playing these is that I don’t get a good sense of how well I played – it’s even harder for me to get that long run sense here.  With .5/1 now, I see my mistakes much more readily – I can make fewer of them, and, when I make them, I notice them either in real time or definitely when reviewing my hand histories.  But I don’t know what I learned in particular from tonight.  The hand with J7 really took a hit out of my stack and I really feel like I didn’t have enough of a clue of what to do.  Even if I made the right decision (not saying I did, particularly given I didn’t have a good enough read on the guy), I don’t feel comfortable enough in the decision I made to feel good about how I played overall.

Anyway: tips are welcome – any especially notable poker blogger posts on playing sit-n-gos?  Send ’em my way.

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