Monday, December 31, 2007

Off to Vegas - Jason Update

Marsh, myself, MB and Martin will be in Vegas next week, so no Cake for us. Since my last post, I have been basically treading water except for another heater on Sunday. I continue to move up, but no dramatic change.

Some general observations. As you move up in stakes, in my opinion, the players are not better overall at the .25/,50 stakes vs. the .10/.20 stakes. Of course, you will occassionally run into tables with all good players but there are still plenty of opportunities to find calling stations and donks. Even when you hit the .50/$1 tables, at least in Omaha, there are donks, just much fewer of them. My message is fear not, if you can beat the low stakes, the higher stakes are beatable too.

Here are my hand highlights:

Omaha Bluff by me

I am up here against a novice player who keeps typing in the chat, I can't beat you guys. I do have KQxx, no spades, but I do not believe it is good. His betting patterns look like he is protecting his hand against the spade draw. When the spade hits, I take a shot at bluffing the flush. He took all of his time then folded.

Boat over Boat

I check raise on the flop as I am expecting a Cbet from the original raiser. When I get a call from another player, I am hoping to boat up as I figure villain has at least a K or pocket 6's. I boat up on the river, but I have a smaller boat.

Best draw I could hope for

I am playing suited connectors from the button and flop a monster, the open ended straight flush draw with a pair. I can laugh at his meager overpair as I know I am ahead. Lucky river hits for me.

Shocking Jack High Omaha Win

An amazingly donkish call from my opponent. My river bet is designed to have whatever his high hand is fold so I don't have to share the pot as I have the nut low. He has the second nut low with holding of 2,4,7,9, a truly awful Omaha high low hand that he should not be playing anyways. I am the beneficiary of his second nut low and my jack high holds up for the high hand.

Very cool bluff by villain

I had the nut straight on the turn and I make a scared blocking bet on the river. My astute opponent with the busted flush draw, raises me with his big stack. I don't think a call here is long run EV+ and I fold. Villain gets a note that he is very capable of making big river bluffs. I like playing against these kind of players as they make the game quite challenging. Hats off to him for stealing this pot.

Flopped nut boat does not hold up

One of the few times I will slow play in Omaha is if I flop the nut boat. Here I bet the turn and the river, but villain catches up with the AQ bigger boat.

2 pair slow play by villain\

Here is what I mean that the play does not get much better at .25/.50. My opponent had A,5os for 2 pair on the turn. Sure he could have been scared of the flush but at least a probe bet would be appropriate. I trip up with the lucky river and value bet with a call.

Calling station in action

This is one of the lamest ways to play Jacks. He was a total calling station so I even thought I was ahead with my Ace high flop bet. Lucky for me I caught up and sure enough he pays me off on the river bet. See what I mean, competition is not tough here at these levels on cake if you can find the right table.

Calling station number 2 in action\

We go from donk 1 to bigger donk 2. This lame guy calls me down on the river with A,4 os. I am glad he pays me off.

Calling station in Omaha

Calling stations are out there in Omaha too. This donk calls me down with his straight he hit on the river.

Capping a great run with quads

An aggressive player was just spewing chips and the table drained him of about $170.00. I was a big beneficiary. Here is a new player with an unknown hand. Typically I am much more aggressive but I was just too excited to get quads.

More quads

Quads are not that unusual. Another lame guy chasing a straight that hits.

Biggest Pot Win to Date

I am glad this guy makes a move on me with bottom 2 pair and a 9 high flush draw. With top set, I am not going anywhere. I am lucky to avoid spades on the turn and the river.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ryan - Cake Update

I was in quite a downward spiral on Cake, but backed off a bit (still played, but not as often or for as long), and I'm pulling out of it. A big session on Christmas eve didn't hurt, and after sliding as far back as $155, I'm back up to $187.

Details here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Vegas baby

Hey WNP Warlords,
It's mb here. I can't post as myself so I'm using Jason's... hope this isn't a breach of security or etiquette.

I'm looking for recommendations for tournaments/cash tables in Vegas. We're going on Jan. 1st and I would love to hear from you experienced Vegas-ites what was fun, what was profitable and any tips for favorites that you may have.

Thanks and Happy New Year!
mb aka "embeeseattle"

Micro-stakes and a half

Just finished a session and it looks like Cake may have brough an extra server online. Looks like there are three more .02/.04 tables but now a couple .03/.06 tables to ease the transition to nickel/dime games. According to the Google translation, the tables are named "London" but they are in a Cyrillic typeface(???).

Anyway, hopefully this is Cake's Xmas gift to us so they don't have to painful server slowdowns.

Digesting Your Cake

Have you ever wanted to review a grueling Cake poker session, only to be stymied by its lack of PokerTracker support? Ever wanted to see a beautiful skyward reaching graph of your winrate? Well today is your lucky day!

Some enterprising Caker over on 2+2 has been working on a Cake hand converter to allow you to do all of this and more. Here's how you do it:

1. Go here and download CakeConverter.exe
2. Open your Cake hand history folder (should be something like C:\Program Files\Cake Poker\Hand Histories\YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS HERE\) and do some manual spring cleaning. It only supports Hold'Em cash games, so you'll want to move or delete any Omaha, Stud, or Tournament/Sit'n'Go histories.
3. Run CakeConverter, point it to your hand history folder and give it a different folder to spit the results out to. Hit the convert button.
4. Open up PokerTracker. If you don't own PokerTracker, you oughta. It's worth it.
5. Hit the 'Auto-import hand histories' button. Point it to the converted cake history folder. Click OK, and in a few minutes PokerTracker will parse all of your histories and know more about your game than you could ever imagine.

From there, your options are wide open. If you're not familiar with PokerTracker, it can tell you anything you ever wanted to know about how you play poker. What hands you win with, what hands you lose with, how often you raise preflop, how well you play when you get checkraised... If you're a stats and data geek like me, it's pretty amazing.

If you want to see a graph of your progress, first run your hand histories into PokerTracker, and then grab PokerGrapher.

The converter software has a few issues, mainly due to the (broken) way in which Cake formats its hand histories. It doesn't always know what cards your opponent showed down, so it just assumes they had AKo. Sometimes you can figure out what they actually had, as the hand history will show the winning hand ranking, like this:
Board [As Ks Qh 6c Qs]
Seat 3: BogeyMan showed [Ah Kd] and won ($100.50) with Full House, Queens full of Kings
Supposedly there are additional issues with positional stats, EV calculation, and a few other problems. But even with all of these caveats, it is totally worth your time to set all of this up.

And that's about it!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Gold Chips on Cake

Hey Cakers. I'm at a gold coin and a half right now for the month. Has anyone ever done anything with them? Are they worth going after if you are close to getting another one around the end of the month? Has anyone ever redeemed them? That George Foreman grill sure looks might tempting. Or that big screen if I just play enough to collect 11,999 more. Are they transferrable? And does anyone have a fix on how it is calculated? I assume it is all related to stakes you play at but is it by hands seen? Time? Rake paid? Total amount of money churned through the system?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Why we play

We've all probably seen the Full Tilt Poker commercial "Why We Play" and that brings up the subject as it applies to our group and everyone we play against both live and online.

I am sure that there are plenty of different reasons why everyone plays poker; the challenge to outplay someone, the drive to amass the largest stack possible, the social interaction with other players, and many more. Furthermore we are all a mixture of the different aspects to varying degrees. For instance, I'm sure nobody wants to leave stuck for the session but I'm also positive that some people care a lot more about their wins or losses than others. Some players don't sweat losing at small stakes and other will find it as distressing to lose a buy in at microstakes as they do at larger stakes. Some poker players treat a buy in as a night's entertainment and figure if they leave empty handed after playing all night then they got their money's worth while still having a chance to come out ahead which you couldn't expect from going to see a show. Then there are some players who would rather chase the dramatic suckout against all odds because they will get more gratification out of catching runner runner than they would folding because it is mathematically correct to do so.

I don't fault anyone's motivations and I'm certainly not going to try to change them. As long as they are getting what they want out of poker and only tapping appropriate funds then more power to them. But whatever the reasons for playing, they are going to be reflected in the decisions at the table and why they play is something to consider when optimizing play against another player.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

On a sick heater - Jason Update

It is somewhat ironic that when I started this challenge, I built up a good size bankroll on NL Hold'm, then donked it almost all off on Omaha. The last 2 weeks my latest run has been almost exclusively on Omaha 8, some on Omaha High, and the least on Hold'm. My current strategy is to multitable with one Omaha 8 game or one Omaha High game and then a lower stakes NL Hold'm. I play pretty tight on both, and have no boredom factor with this much action.

Here are some hand highlights, a major reversal from the worst rivers ever.


This suckout is not quite as bad as it looks. I knew I was likely behind an overpair, but he was shortstacked and offering me better than 2:1 to call with 2 cards to come. When I add up the runner runner low, the runner for trip queens, the runner for 2 pair, the runner runner for the flush and the runner runner 2 specific cards for the royal flush,I figured a call was in order. Catching the royal flush was sure sweet!


Got to love this turn and the guy way overvaluing his straight draw. I am a huge beneficiary of a table with soft play.

A brief venture to higher stakes

This guy kept raising everyone from position so I did not think he had AQ. He did. The lucky river for me comes through and he pays me off.

I am probably being a bit superstitious here and maybe a bit overly cautious but I will not be publishing (unless the number gets low again) my overall bankroll. Just don't think it is a good idea on line. At the lower stakes I don't think anyone would care but as the stakes increase it is probably best for me anyway to keep it offline. If anyone cares, I am happy to let them know verbally at WNP. Suffice it to say that I am currently above Marsh's highest reported total but not by much. My volatility is pretty wide so it could change at any moment.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Peer review on a bad session

After having the $100 border well within sight I had a big setback. In one session I came down almost 10%. Dropping 10% is one of my cutoff points in my bankroll management rules. It requires a 10 hour cooling off period to insure that I don't tilt off any more money or do something stupid. However, I would also like to get some second opinions on the hands. I don't *think* I would do anything differently in the same situations but wanted to hear from others before heading back to the felt.

Here is the link to the original post.

If someone could give me a sanity check, that'd be great. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Some nasty hands.

I have been on quite a run lately. I will run my roll up to around 550-570 then back down to 470-480. Rinse and repeat. And every single time I get JUST to the point of breaking through, I get a hand like this it seems.

I bet every damn street and get my money in exactly where I want to.

Or this one:
Just nasty, but nothing extraordinary. I think it's more the timing of it than anything. I am coming off a productive session, and getting ready to sign off. Then I get in this awesome spot where I am going to go past the 600.00 mark...

Or annoying ones like this:
Thankfully it was against a short stack and not a huge pot like the others. I guess half a buy in isn't small, but its not a monster either.

And then, for some reason, after all this good play and bad luck, I do something idiotic like this:
This is a truly shameful hand and not for the faint of heart. I was distracted on the turn and paid dearly for my lack of attention. I played it fine up until that point, but should have been fucking jamming the shit out of that turn. Then, after making that mistake, I failed to look at the board when I got it in. Only good news, (and probably the reason I gave the free card on the turn) is that I was not at a full buy in. I think I was hoping that he had a A, would pot bet the river and then I could come over the top having been committed. Of course I did just this, but didn't notice that an A had me crushed. So poor.

Anyhow, I will fight through my slump and power on to the higher levels soon enough. Damnit.

Worst possible 0/8 hand

This was a forum trivia question. Everyone pretty much homed in on Quad Deuces as the answer. I threw in a follow up question of "What is the worst O/8 hand without duplication of rank?" Anyone? Bueller?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Random hands

I've got AKo here. I've been playing nitty, and haven't seen this guy enter a pot yet. I've started folding in spots like this more often but man I still don't know.

AKo pf vs bad shorty. Gambooooooooooool!!!

AKo pf vs habitual limper. Boring, but it continues the trend of AK hands.

Flopped set on a monotone board. I'm about 80% sure he's got the flush on the flop and 95% sure he's got it by the turn. I need to run the numbers on this to see if my call is right there.

A6o. Raised by a passive player on river. He paused and checked on the turn so I had a vibe he made a good hand, and I was PRETTY sure he had me beat when he raised me that big, but can I fold a good two pair there?

still nibbling on a little cake...

As I expected, cake time has been pretty elusive since my last post...

Due to my absurd schedule this semester (three jobs and two classes), I've only played when I was either (1) stressed and needing to blow off some steam, (2) drinking, or (3) procrastinating when I should have been studying or writing. None of those put me in quite the right headspace, so I spent most of the last month and a half drifting up and down between $90 and $120. Playing too many hands, calling draws against the odds, refusing to lay down AQ preflop, etc... just making textbook bad decisions.

The process has also confirmed that I'm not a great grinder in ring games... I tilt easily, especially after two or three bad sessions, and I spend way too much time watching and stressing about my bankroll, instead of playing my game.

Which has led me back to tournaments... mostly $5 10 man SNGs, but with occasional guaranteed multi's thrown in, as well. No big wins in the multi's yet, but I've broken about even with a few small cashouts. The SNGs, however, have been a steady earner for me, and I've worked my way up to $156 at the moment.

I don't quite understand how I so easily brush off a bad run of luck in SNGs (like busting out on the bubble 4 times in a row), when the same exact hands in a ring game would result in two shots of whiskey and an ill-advised rebuy (or how this is only an issue for me online)... but at least I've identified my strengths and weaknesses. If the past is any guide, I'll probably have success playing ring games intermittently, but get into a bad headspace if I use it as my primary game.

On a side note -- Has anybody been playing rebuy tournaments? I've excluded them from my repertoire for now, for two reasons: (1) I haven't decided how to work them into my Ferguson rules and (2) I don't like playing multi-tourney's for less than $5, because there are too many players, the play is too unpredictable, and the payouts too small; and I know for sure that my bankroll can't support $5 rebuy tourney's yet.

Anyway. Any thoughts on rebuy/addon tourney's? Is anybody else playing them? What sort of bankroll should I have before I start playing in $5 R+A tourney's?

My gut says at least $400, since a typical tourney includes at least 2 buyins (the initial buyin plus a instant rebuy to load the table and maximize my starting stack), and an addon after the first hour... and, on a bad day, as many as half a dozen true rebuys. So if we call that an average of 4 buyins (2 initial buyins + addon + an average of one more rebuy), and follow the Ferguson 5% rule, then I need 80 times the buyin, or $400 for a $5 R+A tourney.


Cake Rake Break

Ryan had posted in his blog about how the rake seriously cuts into your profits. I had commented about how in NL poker in general you want to win the huge pots and not worry about stealing small pots. That advice also minimizes the amount of rake you pay but only at higher limit games where the rake caps out. After spending more cycles on the matter I have some more observations:

* According to Cake's rake schedule page, the rake is .05 per $1 in the pot. After some observation at the tables, I found that it is *literally* a nickel after a $1 gets into the pot, it is not a 5% rake (i.e. .01 for each .20 in the pot). If the pot grows to .99 then is taken down, there is zero rake. Taken to the nth degreee, if you ONLY played small pots you could pay rakeless poker. If you were to try to optimize your bet sizes to price out draws *and* to minimize rake, you can make a bet that when called ends up on the south side of an even dollar increment. If you bet the next street and your opponent folds, you've just saved yourself five cents of rake, not insignificant.

* For most purposes, we will never max the rake. However, it is much more likely that when we do it is due to short handed play. The max rake is $1 ($20 pot) when there are 2 or 3 players dealt in, $2 ($40 pot) for 4 or 5 players at the table, and $3 ($60 pot) if the table is 6 handed or more. That being the case, there is not the same penalty for taking down small pots as there is in 1/2 games.

* Ryan's calculation of rake representing a 10% on sugar makes the assumption of being heads up. Lowest possible theoretical rake percentage (disregarding the 99 cent rake optimization technique) would be in a ten handed pot where you are only contributing 10% of the pot and thus yielding a higher sugar/rake ratio.

* Rake on fixed limit games is WAY lower, does pull .01 per .20 in the pot, and does not change based on number of players. They list the rake on a .02/.04 limit game (I assume they are referring to .04/.08, the lowest fixed limit game I can find) as only .04! A far cry from $1! Not sure why there is such an enormous discrepancy unless maybe the cyber-dealers for limit games cost a ton less than NL or something. Orrrr maybe due to the betting structure and how hard it is to build enormous pots compared to NL.

So there you go, just some stuff to keep in mind if you want to reduce the bite that Cake takes out of your sugar.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Deconstructing Ryan's decline

Ryan has been mentioning the setback to his roll while we have been at the tables. The most poignant part being that he has lost the equivalent of an original stake while completely playing by the BRM rules. The impact of course being that if he had started off his cake challenge with the exact run that he had recently experienced then he would be bankrupt and could never ever ever play poker again. Or at least would have to grind out months of freerolls to get a stake back.

This is very troubling. Of all people that I would expect to have a $50 decline, Ryan would be at the bottom of the list. Marsh could lose $50 in one hand these days and he had previously tilted off a large portion of his roll when he would even less afford it. Jasonland BRM rules means that Jason could drop $50 quickly as well. And we've seen what happens when you put $50 in Royal's hands. Will is down near the bottom of the list too but mainly because he is still buying in for $2.40 on the micro tables and it would take lotto-esque probability for him to get stacked thirty-some times in a row. Anyway, scary, because if it can happen to Ryan, it can happen to anyone.

So what's going on? Sure Ryan can kick a garbage can here or there but his actual play at the table is minimally affected and in fact he will generally try to play off of taking a bad beat (or getting d0nked on) to trap others. I have noticed a couple of time where he aggressively played his draws like an OESFD at lunch and his J pair and Club flush draw against my A6 two pair. And I recall those seeming out of character. I've also seen what seems like chasing more at the lunch game where he will call a flop and turn bet then fold on the river whereas I think he would more often try to steal along the way instead of just calling. He mentioned the term "scared money" a couple times as well. He says he's essentially missing on all cylinders; on Cake, at lunch, weeknights, and weekends.

I think that a snowball effect is one potential factor here despite Ryan's playing different games, stakes, and formats. It is likely that hands/plays/beats on a virtual .02/.04 table can be affecting actions on the real felt. It just seems too statistically infeasible for someone to run bad in three distinct different venues. Is it an OD of poker? Ryan wanted to sit out of the tourney to cut down on his table time and I know that Jeh and Marsh both have talked about how taking a break can clear the poker mind when they suggested that I lay off for a while when I was on a bad run. Certainly bad runs of cards has to be part of it. As Ryan was describing, pot it with AQ and miss. Later, rinse, repeat and you're bleeding off chips. Not hemorrhaging by any means but those all add up.

Let's figure out what is going on and how to fix it so we can all avoid the same situation.

Friday, December 14, 2007

High Stakes for Poker as a Learning Tool

Posting this NYTimes article on behalf of MB.

"A Harvard Law School professor and a group of his students formed an organization this fall — the Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society — dedicated to demonstrating that poker has educational benefits. They argue that the game, which is probability-based and requires risk assessment, situational analysis and a gift for reading people, can be an effective teaching tool, whether for middle school math or in business and law classes."

Road trip to Bellagio University next spring...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

So you flopped a boat - redux while ago I posted about Austin flopping a boat and how to play it. So there was this hand last night, I'm pretty sure it was sweetened up to seven or so and there were many callers. I am on the button looking down at AhTh and decide that I will allow myself to play it even though it is not on the list. Actually I figure that I'm likely to have the best hand pre-flop anyway.

Flop is AsTsTc. Not bad. SB checks, BB checks, entire table checks to me on the button. I am trying to figure out a decent bet size. I figure that there is about 30 chips in the pot so I think 20 is the right sized number. Ryan is for some reason pleading with me to let him see a free turn.

Reasons to bet:
* Build the pot. Anyone with a draw that they are going to go broke with will call a measly 20 here and I want to flatten someone.
* Open the door for someone who is slow-playing a Ten.
* I am NOT going to give someone with two Spade face cards a free pull at a one outer.
* To disguise the strength of my hand. Some of the table may be able to put me on a boat there but that bet can easily be interpreted as an Ace, a Ten, or possibly a position steal attempt. Anyone chasing a KsXs flush draw will be more inclined to think that their flush is good than if I checked that flop and then got in a big raising war.

Reasons not to bet:
* This is a different boat than Austin's and I am not nearly as vulnerable. The most reasonable threat that I see would be a gutshot Royal. The only other thing that could take this pot from me is a bigger boat would require someone to have come in with AA in which case I'm drawing to the case Ten, or if someone it playing KK, QQ, or JJ all weird. I want everyone else (KsXs flush or pairs 99-22) to catch their card.

I would really prefer to stack someone rather than just pick up a few extra chips from someone stabbing on the river. In all likelihood my Ace alone would probably have won the pot by itself and this is just one of those hands where there is no second best hand to pay me off. Maybe it's worth giving a free card so someone could make a flush or a lower boat but I don't think any WNP'er is going to get too invested in a flush on a paired board and the chances of someone having an underpair and catching are thin. Maybe I'm over correcting for the time Las Vegas when I flopped 8s full of Aces and JJ caught up on the river when a J came after I gave a free turn. Any thoughts?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Timing is everything?

Sounds like Marsh, Ryan, and Jason all had rough weekends. Coincidence? Are the weekend tables that much rougher or is it that the play is looser and you get bigger pots and uglier suckouts? I noted earlier that the play seemed pretty passive during my two day sessions. Does anyone have any numbers backing up player demographics vs. time of day/day of week?

Cake update - Jason

I too like Marsh was brutalized over the weekend. Some mediocre play and some tough luck. Beating the .10/.20 NL Hold'm is tough for me but I am still having some success at Omaha and Omaha 8. I am currently at about $180 with about a $20 loss over the weekend. Here are some key hands in the life of an action junkie.

This hand I actually won. I had just pulled a big river bluff on this guy who was a bit of a nemesis for me. He was definitely a maniac betting machine so I was confident my 99's were good here.

The life of brutal rivers continues.

The nuts is not always the winner in Omaha 8. Given the lack of action on the flop, I figured my straight was good at the river.

A nice hand in Omaha to pick up against short stacks. I was hoping the AA would hold but it was the 5,7 that did the trick.

Standard 100 -1 shot hits in NL Hold'm and I lose.

Ace 8 in the villain's hand continued to be my nemesis. Other than re raising out of the BB with AQ, I think there was not much I could do.

I was in a rut so I figured I would try the unsuited SpainR. Finally a friendly river, thanks Ryan.

Haunted by the Jasonland type call. 1 Big Dick would call down any continuation bet. I can just think of the rationale. I have 2 live cards, a runner runner straight draw, and I want to see the turn. Small pot was the only victory.

Brutal flop. With the check call, followed by the check min raise I know I am likely dead but shove anyways.

Tough river in Omaha. I have pocket 10's and 2 random cards.

Another brutal river in Omaha. I made the strongest move I could with a lead out, followed by a raise followed by an all in. Luckily pocket 99's couldn't get away from his hand so I win a small side pot. This would have been a sweet pot to scoop.

Villain makes the perfect sized river bet to have me make the crying call. I have pocket 3's and 2 random cards. I knew the 3's were good at the time I made the pot sized turn raise, and I can't get the chasers to fold.

This was the most difficult decision I had to make all weekend. I have A,A,K,4 with the nut flush draw. The raise here basically makes myself and the villain pot committed so I either go all in or fold here. My read is a set but with all of the redraws, I may be close to even money. I did not have enough history at the time, but villain is a very aggressive player with huge chip swings. He could have had something as little as top 2 pair, which I am ahead of. Or possibly a wrap of some sort. The deep stacks also complicate things. He made it up to $70 later at this table, then proceeded to lose it all. Hindsight being 20/20 I think I should have shoved here.

Comments and suggestions are always welcomed, particularly on the last hand.

Some hands from the weekend.

I haven't had time to update the spreadsheet after a full weekend of Cake action, but it suffice it to say that it sucked ass. I am now at ~560.00 though and that feels good, as I was just brutalized all weekend. I wanted to get a few of the interesting hands up here though for review. In case you guys haven't seen it, I have also started a mini blog just for the Cake Challenge stuff. If I feel like its entertaining or I need help with hands, I will post it here, but if it's just a mini update on my progress, I will keep that over at That's Not Cake from now on. Regular updates will still be on there though.

(44) I don't remember the details on why I thought this guy would fold, but I knew this board was super super scary. Risky business.

This was pretty sick. I call his raise preflop hoping he has a big hand and that I could bust him. He leads at the flop and I try to take the pot from him. He flat calls and I am done with the hand until... Now he checks again but I have him on AK or something similar after calling my RR on the flop. So I jam the turn, he ships (as expected) and I snap call with 1 out.

Got Martin'd on this one. Ryan, I feel your pain lol.

This hand was a bit of a heartbreaker. I don't think I like this guys call on the turn, but it is expected I guess. I am glad though that I brought out the hammer at every opportunity, putting as much pressure on him as possible.

Sometimes you are just one marginal call away from the jackpot.

This one sucked, I had AA.. he only had .70 left by the river, so the turn is the key point.

This one doesn't look as sick on HH as it did in the moment. But getting it all in with dead money in there too against A9 was great. Flopping a set was really great. WTF on the turn sucked ass.

I am fine with how I played this I think. I limp called OTB with 55. Very safe flop for my set, and I have multiple customers and a very aggressive original raiser. Turn completes the badugi, and I feel every so safe still. Nice bet by the OR and the meat in the sandwich comes along again. If they had bigger stacks, I would have put in some type of raise here, but any bet on the river was all in for the OR and a minraise from me put the meat all in. As expected, the OR puts in a bet that leaves him with $1.10 or something behind, and the meat flat calls. I spring my trap and um ya..

Stupid god damned short stack luckboxes lol

This donk was throwing a mini party, and I made what was probably a marginal call against him. The turn was so gross, but the river made me happy.

I call the minbet from the BB just hoping to stack this shorty. I don't really like to call the short stacks with 22-55 like this, there just isn't enough upside, but in the BB I am a sucker to set mine...

And now I would like to tell two mini stories. One of me getting owned, and one of me owning.

Getting owned by short stack fucking super dipshit.

This guy had been shipping his stack with almost ATC, but a lot of time he do it on the flop. I picked this spot to get it in against him. Friggin lame, but it happens.

Then, a mere 6 hands later, we bump heads again. Are you serious?

Then on a different table, after that little bastard left after doubling through me twice with trash, this happens. C'mon!

Then, in a fit of irony, I get my money in bad against him and suckout to send him home. HA!

Now me owning this poor guy. Here is the situation I described at WNP, in all its gory detail.

Our tale starts out sanely enough. This player was pretty erratic, and wasn't afraid to bluff as he proves here. I just couldn't put him on a 5 here for some reason, and thus our relationship begins..

2 hands later, I win this pot from him with J10. I flop top pair, but check to him hoping he will bet for me since I had just stacked him and he seemed ripe for a big mistake. Turn sucks, so I check again. He bets 4.00 but I just can't bring myself to fold. River pairs the 9, which is a really good card for me, but I doubt he is folding a K in any case. I ship on him and he validates my thoughts of weakness by folding.

This hand is one hand later, and he is obviously pretty steamed at this point. I call his raise with Ac9c, putting him on ATC tilt. Flop comes the nuts for me (TWSS). Normally I would just lead right now and bet this, but I just know that this guy will bet this for at least 2 barrels with probable air, and I don't want to scare him away on a pretty scary flop. I also want to give him the chance to catch a club in which case I am pretty sure he is going broke. I check-call the flop, check min-raise the turn, and he just ships. Bummer dude.

FF ~20 hands. This is where the ownership is completed and he leaves. So sick. I raise it preflop with KK, and he flat calls with KJ, we both smooth play the flop, and then he takes a stabby type bet on the turn. I am really hoping that he has a flush here, and that he will lead big on the river. He didn't have a flush, but open ships the river. Awesome.

Poorly played I think

Just had a short session and only got involved in two hands, both of which I think I played poorly. Looking for advice.

Pick up KJos in the SB. Marginal holding out of position. Call the other .02. Made the nuts in a walk and screwed up the river. I'm positive the check/raise was a good idea but was the raise too much? I know I didn't get callers here but is that a better EV+ move on average at these stakes? If someone was slow playing their two pair or something then I could get paid. What is the right move there? I don't think I can just flat call the re-raise so I will have to sacrifice the original stabber. No notes on the re-raiser either. I don't like my play but don't know if it might still be correct for these tables.

Pick up QQ on the button. 4 of the 5 people in front of me have limped and I have SB and BB yet to act behind me. I try to figure out how much to bet to surgically extract out one caller without causing a domino effect of calls. In the end I get lazy and just overbet the pot. Not sure if I'm just being ROTty because I didn't get someone calling me down with JT flopping top pair.

Day tables seem tighter/more nitty? Anyone else have generalizations of play at different times of the day?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cake Challenge - Austin

New link for my spreadsheet up on Edit Grid.

Nothing new really going on with me, but I'll probably play a bit tonight hoping to crack the $100 mark that has been eluding me as of late.

Cash or Tourney?

Since the matter came up last night with some spirited discussion, thought I'd throw it out here. Marsh and Ryan were both sparring about the relevance of measuring the number of hands played in cash games versus tourneys. I hold that it is best to record time spent at either a cash game or tourney and record number of hands for each as well. Then after logging into a spreadsheet you can cut the data any way you want. I am even having second thoughts about recording sessions at multiple tables as one line item since it slightly muddies the waters of hourly table yield. I do record how many tables I was playing at and can get an average take and that is close enough for government work.

So how best to determine where you should be playing? I have to think it is wherever you have the best real world hourly rate regardless of number of hands played or tables you are sitting at. I still want to record number of hands just so I can do calculations later but my punch in and punch out times are going to be the measurement of earning potential/hour. I think the $/hand measurement alone is irrelevant for deciding between ring games and touraments since it does not take into account multitabling. $/hand IS an important metric for tuning your play though so there is no way I'm going to leave that stat out of the log sheet.

Anyway, that's my take on the matter.

Clip of the day: AA vs 72os

Ran across this clip from 2006 WSOP. What happens when you run the best starting hand in Hold'em against the worst? Not what you'd expect.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cake update - Marsh

Current total: $604.27

I have pretty well settled into .10-.20 now. I have totally changed my approach, and what I am doing now closely resembles real poker. I basically take my A game as the baseline approach, and make adjustments from there.

At the levels below I was instead taking a more bulk approach. I tried to basically play as many hands as I could, and play my premium hands super aggressive and let the fact that people will pay you off with lesser hands take it's course.

At these levels though, people simply fold a LOT more. It went from super passive to friggin tight in a hurry. I tried to run over the table at first but all I got were folds. Of course they would call me with the nuts or near nuts. So I started making adjustments and came to the lame conclusion that I had to actually play poker. This means value betting instead of value-shipping. It means laying down AQ preflop sometimes. It means paying attention to position, not just clicking the bet pot button, floating, check-raising, taking better notes etc. What a

Anyhow, I have a better feel but still am experiencing quite a bit of variance in my roll. It is however steady in its upward climb, so that is good. I have been taking an unusual amount of beats lately, but I have been rolling with the punches like a champ. I am more just aware of the beats than tilted by them. I have a bunch of hands to share now, I will just put some quick notes by the hands and let you guys take what you will from them. Comments always welcome, good, bad or indifferent.

Value called this maniac with AJ

I don't know what this dude had, but it shows the importance of not letting up on betting.

Value bet here. Should I have bet the turn though?

This is pretty hilarious how slow this guy played his monster hand.

I don't know what this guy thought he had, but I am glad I didn't chicken out.

Pretty fucking sick.

I wasn't going anywhere once I got that flop. (And I am pretty sure he wasn't either, regardless of the turn)

This is where staying aggressive pays off big. You will notice that I bet and raised at every possible opportunity.

This chump check-raises me all in on the flop, but I sniff him out and call with my overpair.

This guy has a short stack and was tossing it around. I bet my 2nd pair on the flop for value, get it in on the turn with the same thought. Friggin gutters..

This is a Ryan tribute hand. I had notes on this guy, and they read "Will check the nuts even on river looking to check raise" I rule. The turn club froze me, but when he checks the river I would normally bet out 100% of the time.

I play this guy a lot, and he hates me. I guess I don't hate his ship here, but with the nuts I am going nowhere.

This was my first hand at this table. Sometimes (never) it's just this easy.

Standard. This dude check calls the flop and turn with 2nd pair. What else could he do?? Fold?? :/

This fucking retard had JJ

This time I am the fucking retard with JJ. Winning the whole pot would have been nice..

Annoying but standard

I guess I was blinded by this guys screen name?

He didn't have much of a stack.

I make a huge check raise on the flop for all of this dudes chips. And it even worked! Not the out I was expecting though.

This is the final hand against that one guy that I had stacked twice already. I didn't do anything special, just that I had better hands to start with, and better hands on the flop. He left after this one..
I play this hand passively until I hit the nuts, then I pull the ol' check/minraise on this guy trying to either get him to reshove or to at least commit himself. He does so and calls the river value ship too.

This was sick, because I had this fucker on exactly KQ after he just flat called my preflop hammer and then led at that flop. I flat called because his bet left him with 6.10 left and I knew that if he had a Q he would fire at the turn, either shipping betting half his stack, which I can then min raise and he would be all in. Turn was sick, but I couldn't let them go. I get some decent reads occasionally online, but I try not to follow through too much on these types of reads because I think I will lose more by not just playing more straight forward.

I check min-raise here too, but I am hoping this guy has an A and will just ship when I do it. He does not oblige, so I just open ship the river instead which he calls with presumably an Ace but I don't know for sure.

Ring game/tournament similarities

Just got done with a tourney and it dawned on me that the micro-stakes cash games bear a striking resemblence to medium stage tournament play. There are lots of coin flip shove/call situations. Big pair shoving is a tactic you see. Lot of big pots get the money in on the flop. And such. Even though some people buy in for the full $4.00 or 100 BB, the play still seems to be very "all or nothing." Players for some reason seem to be compelled to shove or call of their chips with KQos as if they are going to be blinded off soon. Without a doubt the micro-stakes play a part in the equation since it's "just a couple bucks" so I think it is easy for people to let that amount of money go. And when someone is throwing a party, look out. Definitely a different game than the Week Night Poker game. No gradual pot building. Little folding. Outrageous moves with air. Donkerrific play. A style world's apart from our game but not completely foreign thanks to previous tournament experience.

Separated at birth

Couple nights ago Ryan mentioned the similarities between Farha and Bogart. I ran across this guy's blog looking up win rate info and he has a few separated at birth posts including the Farha/Bogart one.

Part I
Part II
Part III

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What's your run rate?

Hey guys, Ryan pinged me earlier and suggested that I keep track of hand count on my poker log which I actually was already doing since I based my log on Ryan and Marsh's template.

So my question is, what's your run rate? For those of you on the Cake Challenge now, how many small blinds do you earn each hand you play on average? And for those of you who have moved to different stakes, has the ratio changed substantially? I'd guess that NLHE and O8 have different run rates?

It is still early for me now and I don't think I have enough data for this to be relevant but right now I'm at about 1.54 SB's/hand.

A public apology to Matt

For those of you who were there last night you saw part of what happened with Matt and my perplexed reaction to the texting going back and forth. I thought that I just got an text from Matt asking if poker was at the normal place. To which I responded that it was then I got more texts saying that he got tired of waiting and then he took off. I was totally confused at the situation.

After I got back home, I emailed Matt to apologize for the mixup and I checked my cell phone and to my utter horror, there it was a phone call from Matt. An ANSWERED phone call! As Matt later verified I actually did answer the phone and said that I would send someone down to let him in. Somehow I totally spaced out that I even answered the phone much less telling someone to go down to get him.

So Matt, my most humble apologies for screwing that up so completely.

Monday, December 3, 2007

More poker-busting news

Here’s an interesting story about a veterans’ poker game getting busted up by riot cops in Dallas.

Thanks goes out to Boing Boing, again. What would I read without Boing Boing to point it out for me?

Worst Rivers Ever - A Jason Post

Worst Rivers Ever

Is this really possible? Thankfully, I am playing on line poker and not casino poker. If the stakes were higher, I think I might have to go on a long sabbatical.

Playing at a table with Marsh, I have A,6 suited in clubs. The flop of 4,5,7 with 2 clubs gives me the open ender plus the nut flush draw in the small blind, limped pot. I check, one small bet, a couple limpers fold and I call. The next card is a spade, putting 2 spades on the board. I decide I must have the best draw and bet the turn about 2/3 of the pot. Call. The only card in the deck where I can lose all my chips hits, the 8 of spades. Gives me the straight and I discount the runner, runner flush draw that hit. I make a pot size bet, hopefully disguised as a bluff. Villain puts me all in and I call. Villain had A-5 suited in spades for the nuts.

Playing at another table, little action until the river, both fairly deep stacked at about 150BB. The final board is something like 3,3,6,7, 10 with 4 diamonds, 3,6,7 and 10 of diamonds, 10 of diamonds is the river card. I have the Ace of diamonds. Villain had bet the turn and I decide to check raise the river. I check, villain bets, I make a big check raise which basically pot commits me and villain puts me all in. My read is that it is really unlikely that villain has the house as he is an aggressive player on the button and I believe it was unraised preflop making pockets pretty unlikely. 3,6 or 3,7 don’t add up so I call. Villain had 8,9, of diamonds for the straight flush. The one card in the deck where I can lose all my chips comes again.

Playing pot limit Omaha high I have A,8,4, x with the ace suited in diamonds. The flop is A, 8,4 with 2 diamonds. I make a pot sized bet and villain calls. The next card is a 2 non diamond. I make another bet pot committing the villain. Villain calls with A,8,2, x no diamonds. All the diamonds are outs for me, otherwise likely split pot. The river card is a 2 giving villain the full house.

Playing pot limit Omaha high 6 handed I have QQ, 7, 3 and decide to just call as my hand is really junk unless a q hits without a made straight possibility. Everyone limps and the flop is Q,K low card. I bet out from the blind, I am raised and I reraise pot. Flat call. Likely either a wrap straight on broadway or a lower set. The next card is a K giving me the full boat. I discount quads as very unlikely as most all Omaha players put in at least a small raise with KK,xx. I pot commit myself, villain puts me all in and I call. Villain had KQ.

Playing another limped pot in NL Hold’m I have A,5 unsuited in the blind. Turn of a 5 makes the board A,K,9,5 rainbow. I bet I am min raised and I min raise back. Rare for me to min raise and now I know why. Villain calls. The next card is the innocuous 4. I make a pot sized bet and I am put all in. Trips don’t add up in an unraised pot, perhaps A, 9 or perhaps another 2 pair. I call. Villain had 2,3 os.

I also ran my QQ into AA. One limper and I hit pot from the button. Small blind ships for 100 BB. Very tough decision. My image is one where I am constantly raising from the button but now I have a real hand. Who would ship with AA or KK against an aggro player from the button? I call. Villain had AA and I am stacked.

I am feeling a bit sorry for myself with these results. I see the pros blog about how they can’t win a coin flip. Yesterday I could not even win when my opponent has a 3 outer with a 2 or a 4 outer for the 4 with the straight. Or one outers where I am assured to stack myself. Other than the stupid min raise in the A-5 hand, and possibly the QQ hand, I can’t see myself getting away from any of these other hands. Two very specific cards hit, the 8 of spades and the 10 of diamonds, which stacked me.

Go in for my battle or sit out for a while? Retire and find another activity? I am down to about $180, after hovering around $300 for a couple weeks. I know Marsh says sometimes poker is like breaking a few tackles and then getting hit by a spectator who shoots you but I feel like the swat team came after me with all arms drawn.

24 hour of Cake - down 18 cents

I took my first hand of the Cake Challenge almost 24 hours ago. Since then I've played one SnG and about 220 hands of cash game spanning five sessions. Observations so far from an admittedly relatively small sample:

* People are serious (enough) at micro-stakes. I've seen some loose play but not substantially different from other higher stakes.

* I've had AA versus AK in three huge hands so far.

* As pointed out by Ryan and Marsh, there is basically zero folding once someone puts substantial money into the pot. This often reduces the game down to card catching/flop catching exercises.

* I'm still getting a feel for how to play in this environment. Calling off a shove from a loose player when I had AKos was apparently a mistake. The huge shove with premium pairs (and sometimes AK) is a recurring theme. I am looking forward to getting comfortable with these tables so that I can start grinding away.

* Despite the stakes, I am playing for my life here. Every cent is critical at this juncture and I was really bummed to have my AA cracked in my first session. I have had bankroll sugar once in the middle of my first session and that has been it. My high water mark is being up six cents. I am way more concerned about dodging a four cent big blind than I ever have been about any other blinds even at a 1/2 table.

* I am really glad that I am strictly keeping to the 5% rule, even to the extreme that I'm buying in for $2.36. Limiting my exposure has prevented me from dinging my roll. Yes, I know that's what bankroll management is all about but starting out and at these stakes it is all too easy to exceed the 5% and start the snowball of chasing losses.

* Cannot wait until I have a bigger roll so that I start multi-tabling. Staring at one table is trying at times especially when I am card dead. But I just check my hand against "the list" and fold accordingly.

That's it for now. Thanks all for helping me get started on my Cake Challenge.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Entering the Cake Challenge

Hello all...I have entered the fray. See the exciting play by play action on my blog: I will also be updating the TNP blog with the highlights.

I have had two sessions so far. The first one was 20 hands long and I basically lost everything in an AA versus AdKd hand after Villain flopped four to the nut flush and I figure he thought he had an over or two as well. That put me in the hole from the get go and I'm starting off down 5%.

Second session was 100 hands long. Stacked AK with AA this time but lost chips on an odd hand. I raised with 99 and got one caller. Flop was 777 and Villain put out a feeler-ish looking bet. I min-raised (I know, I know). Got a flat call. Ace on the turn and a shove then I fold. Also had Ryan sit down at my table. Don't know if he noticed me.

I net out -37 cents from the second session and am now down to $47.29.


* What are your guys' ranges for hands to play?

* Do you steal blind from late position?

* Tell me what you would have done with the 777 flop.

* Am I being too nitty with my range of hands? (AA-88, AKs-ATs, AKo-AQo, KQs, KQo, QJs, JTs)

Thanks guys!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Thanksgiving Pokers

So I had like a dozen hands from over Thanksgiving I was going to post, but Cake sucks and they're all "currently unavailable" (ie: lost to the void).

Instead I have a single hand from today which involves a few situations that I completely suck at. I'm out of position against a tight player and almost two buy-ins deep. How's my play?


My image was aggro but not insane. I went into passive check-call mode as soon as he min-raised me on the flop. I'm not betting again because I do NOT want to have to call a raise for my stack, whereas if I just had 100 BB I would have no problem with getting it in on the turn. Is THAT a mistake? There isn't any difference other than the amount of money that's on the line, it's not like his range changes.

Anyone else turn into a total nit when deep?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cake Challenge Update - Austin

I've been slowly treading water recently at around $90. I haven't had a tremendous amount of time to play, but I'm enjoying where I'm at even if I'm not moving up quite a bit. I still think I'm in the learning phase since I don't get nearly as much time as Marsh or Ryan, but some day I'll reach $200, some day.

Something I've really noticed about my play is that if I have any sort of distraction when I'm 3 tabling, my play goes to utter shit. I really need to reign that in as probably $20 worth of what I've lost is because of a "go away, I'm busy in real life" mentality. Stop calling me on the phone people!

Marsh found me on a table yesterday and I had a lot of fun winning and having a guy hit on me thinking I was a chick. It was pretty dumb but enjoyable at the same time. Oh, and hitting cards is quite nice too, especially when you have calling stations and people who love to come along for the ride.

Some recent hands:
ATs - I normally don't make calls like this, but said fuck it and managed to catch the runner runner flush. Oddly enough, I probably would have laid it down were it not suited.

KK - This was after a massive donk hand or two (when I was on the phone). Good way to start going back up. Sometimes I buy back up and sometimes I play short stacked, this time I chose to go with the latter.

7To - I love hitting inside straights. No one ever suspects. He had to think a long time on the call on the river.

T5o - This was the guy who was hitting on me and acting all dumb. I was pounding a lot of pots pretty hard (which Marsh commented on), but most of the time I had a hand similar to this one, although this went from good to even better. I wasn't too worried about the flush because he seemed to be pretty good about not going for that kind of thing previously.

JKo - I'll bet the two overs and gutshot as a c-bet and then when I hit my K I wanted to make sure that he didn't have the trips.

AA - So gross. I can't believe this donk would do something like this. I bet the river hoping he didn't have a K, but realizing even if he did I had a lot of outs. Regardless, this is some serious donkish play. Ugh, still gross.

Other than that, it seems like Cake can't display any of my old hands from over a week ago. No idea what's going on with that. I had that one $15 massive hand that I told you guys about and not a tremendous amount more. Hopefully I get to play more in the future, but I'm kind of doubting it. I do want to get to that magical $200 mark though :).

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cake Challenge Update - Ryan

Good time for a TNP-side update to my Cake progress. After a recent run of bad play and bad luck that has kept me oscillating between $175 and $185, I broke through the last few sessions to pass the $200 mark, and I’m sitting at $204.61.

Now that I’m at my first move-up milestone, I have much more empathy for Marsh facing this situation. I have a ton of notes on the .02/.04 players and the fish density is delightfully high there, so even though I have earned it, it’s bittersweet to leave this comfortable, easy game to take on something more difficult. Given that my long-term goal is to work up through the different stakes until I hit a wall, though, I must move on.

My approach is going to be to play a conservative, TAG game while I build up my notes again. Oh, and to play good and stuff. That always helps.


Edit: my discussion with bob in the DNR blog comments has pushed me over the edge, and I've made that blog private. Especially given that I'm trying to work up in stakes, there's no reason to expose my playbook and scouting reports to potential opponents on cake.

I sent invites to those I feel are reading it, but if your invite doesn't work, or I didn't send you one, let me know and we'll get it working. My top-secret hand assessments are now safe!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

...and back down we go...

Brutal. I played my second session at .10-.20 last night and got raped. I had a Royal-esque run of second best hands and bad beats mixed with a healthy dose of bad play. At my peak I was at $440.00, now I am $330.00. I would continue at these stakes, as I did have some success, but I think I will drop back down for now until I get back up to the upper 300's at least. I had a decent start at that level, but this one terrible session came too early for me to keep at those stakes.

Some hands off the top of my head: I ran AJ into AK twice on an A high board for my stack, I had AQ, raised got one maniac caller, cbet the missed flop, he called, turned an A, led for pot, he called, pot bet river leaving me about 10 bucks left, and he just called with AK. Flopped a set of 9's, got it all in on the flop against a bare flush draw which hit, lost about half a buy in with Q10 on a Q high board vs QJ. Got it all in with top 2 against an open ender that got there, etc.

And every time I hit the nuts they would just fold. AA in the BB? Folds around. FINALLY flop the elusive set? They all fold on an A K 2-suited board after a preflop raise and 3 callers.. ETC.

I could have played better too. But overall I think if this was a "normal" session I would have probably broken around even.

So anyway, it's time to swallow my pride, admit defeat, and get back in the trenches trying to build back up to 400.... I will keep you guys updated. sigh.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bring on the Cake!

Here I go. I've set up a real money account on Cake. And after Joe gets some time to hook me up with some Cake dough, I'll be ready to rock and roll. Ryan has sent me some tips like MalakiCnstnt = total fish and other helpful info.

I think I'm going to do something like Ryan and set up an external blog for gory details while updating TNP with the 10,000 foot views.

Goal #1 is to last longer than Royal.

Good luck me!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My visit to Cakeland

On Sunday I was doing some surfing around the Internet while my fantasy football team was accumulating points. After cracking $300K I haven't been doing any online poker I decide to take a pit stop at Cake and get a feel for the neighborhood. I jump in and scout out the NL tables, find Marsh, and came away with some questions/comments.

* Is there any way to resize the windows? I IM'ed Marsh and told him I was watching him then he asked if I was watching all his tables. I told him no, just one. And as I opened up the other tables I found that I couldn't resize them to fit all of them on my screen. Normally 13" is more than enough (TWSS) but there is no way I'm going to be able to multi table on Cake with this screen. I'm going to need to get an external big screen. With FTP I could fit four tables on my screen with a fifth table peeking out from behind the others when needed.

* Marsh has a nice rack online. Do you get to pick your avatar or is it based on where you sit like on Party Poker?

* Can you pick your seat? On FTP you can move your seat to whichever part of the screen you want. When multi-tabling it makes it much easier to have your seat be in the same spot on the screen for each table so you always know which seat you are in.

* I also noticed that you can get hand histories for the table even just lurking. Did I recall one of you saying that you need to grab the hand history immediately after the hand? I was able to see histories for as far back as when I first started observing the table.

Looking forward to doing some Cake here pretty soon.

Slightly off-topic

What this guy can do with cardstacking is pretty amazing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Adding the mighty limp/fold into my arsenal of weapons

My game has evolved since I first started playing. Some things have been for the better and some for the worse. One of the holes in my game used to be calling with junk (or speculative hands if you want to be charitable). Don't know why but there were all of these lowest 10% hands that I would play. Sometimes it was to defend blinds, other times it was because there were so many others already in the pot. Not only would I play these hands but I'd call raises with them also. I'm sure that the chart of the EV on those hands would go through the floor but of course I would get *just* enough carrots to keep me coming back for more even though the one pot that I would win comes nowhere close to covering the losses on the dozens of pots that I call/fold. Sure if the 92 hits in a big way then you'll probably win the pot but any flop where 92 is hitting big is not as likely bring as many second best hands as flops with Broadway cards. Some other players can get away with playing junk but since I don't bluff it is basically impossible for me to win with second best hands which you are going to have a ton more of when you come in with crap holdings.

I have cut down a bunch on my any two cards play but I'll still play baby suited cards, 69, J3 and other goofy hands. Can't explain it but for whatever reason, I still like splashing around with a hand like 64 or 72os; however, the difference is that I no longer pay way too much for them. With the limp/fold at my disposal I can still scratch that itch to play crappy hands but get away from them when it costs me too much. One BB to play 3d5d? Sure! But if someone raises I can now lay it down and wait for a better spot.

That leak in my game has now been throttled down to a manageable trickle and I'm fine with that. A junker hand can now only cost me an extra BB every once in a while thanks to the limp/fold maneuver.

Cake Update - Marsh

Cracked the $400.00 mark last night.

So I made it to 400.00. Now I am at a crossroads. I have enough for the next level up (20.00 max buy-in) , but I don't really feel like I ever got that comfortable at this level. And by comfortable I mean I was way more up and down that I was at the previous level. Sure, I rapidly and steadily moved through the level money wise, but I still don't think I know exactly what the best strategy is for this blind level. I feel weird about leaving it behind and tackling the next without really understanding this one.

But at the same time, I am eager to plow my way up to the next level and leave these microstakes in the dust.

What do you guys think I should do? I could easily just sit and play these stakes for awhile and try to build up the roll a bit more in preparation for the next level, or I could just go for it and still be within Ferguson rules playing there.

Two Omaha Problems

Omaha Hi 6 handed creates all kinds of interesting scenarios. Here are a couple I was recently faced with. Would love to hear how you would have reacted, then I will let you know what I did and the result was.

6 Handed UTG, I have KK,9,5, I think one suited and I open for pot. The blind repops me for pot and I call. This is almost certainly an AAxx situation so I know I need to flop perfect. The flop is J,9,5 rainbow and he opens for pot. We have just both bought in for 100 BB. What do you do?

6 Handed UTG, I have AAxx, and I open for pot. The button calls everyone else folds. The flop is A,x,x with 2 diamonds. I bet half the pot and I am called. The next card is a diamond putting 3 diamonds on the board. I check and villain bets pot. The villain has just 10 BB behind and I have him covered. What do you do?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

1-day Cake Challenge Blowout!

First, let me get this out of the way:

I rule.

ahem. If you don’t have any time to read the rest of the post, at least you’ll have read the above statement and gotten the gist of what I’m about to describe. And now for the meat:

I officially entered the Cake Challenge field yesterday at 11pm. I officially left the field at 4:30pm today. In case you’re not counting, that’s officially 17.5 hours. Ha! I tried to apply as many of the things I’d read from the various Cake Challengers™ out there, but it appeared that the person who’s rules came up the most for me were Jason’s.

I played NL Hold ‘em. Played O8. I played 7-card HL. I played in a few sit-n-go’s. And I lost. Then I lost some more. And I lost some more after that. I went to sleep last night at 3am having lost about half my buy-in. Played a little bit this morning, losing 1/5 more. Then sat down again for another 2 hours this afternoon and proceeded to piss the last of it away.

I couldn't catch a card, and when I could, I couldn't make it pay. And when I thought I'd caught the right card, and was doing everything I could to make it pay, somebody else sucks out on me. It was brutal.

Things I've learned from my experience:

1) Full Tilt Poker sucks. You can't effectively keep track of past hands like you guys do on Cake, and the # of games to the # of players is completely unbalanced.

2) The games aren't cheap enough. The cheapest games there are .5/.10 NL, and .25/.50 StudHL. Ferguson's rules need not apply. Not only did I risk more than 5% of my stack at any given time, I also never stood up after being down a certain amount. D-U-M dumb.

3) At those low price levels, people have no qualms d0nking off all kinds of chips (myself included) to chase. I found myself a lot of the time witnessing some super-d0nkage when I wasn't in a hand and saying to myself, "That person should be d0nking their chips my way. I can make that happen." WRONG. It was awful. You would have loved me at your table. I would raise with nothing, thinking I could muscle people around, and its simply not done at those stakes. Of course all of you know that -- even I do -- but it sure is difficult turning off that part of my brain. At one point this afternoon I was saying, out loud, very slowly, at my computer screen, "Nobody is going to fold. Do not raise with nothing. Nobody is going to fold. Do not raise with nothing." Lot of good that did me.

4) The thrill of the gamble is much greater for me online. Jason was sitting on my shoulder the whole time. I found myself in a number of hands, talking to the screen again, saying "Why am I even IN this hand. To get that lone 3? Christ!" and then hitting the call button. Of course it NEVER panned out.

I'd love to show you specific hand details, but there really was nothing out of the ordinary, so there's no reason to share. Just bad bad bad bad play.

I need somebody to loan my $500. That way I could apply Ferguson's rules and buy in at a table where money actually means something.

Oh, and why do I rule, you ask? Because I was the first to fail at the Cake Challenge. And I did it super-style. You should see me, sitting here at my computer, in my tuxedo. I look damn good.

And that's the story of how Royal entered and lost the Cake Challenge.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Worst Tournament...Ever

I went scouting tonight to try to find some more players so we have a larger pool from which to draw. So I decide to give the Seattle Poker Open a try. Big Mistake. OK, actually it wasn't a mistake to try to find players there. Yes it was. No, it wasn't. Well the idea was sound but my goodness that is absolutely the worst tournament you could ever imagine. I drove straight home and showered off to try to remove the badness. But that didn't work so I doused myself in paint thinner and used a wire brush but that didn't work either. I fear that this is just a horrific experience that I will forever carry with me and I'm going to have post-traumatic stress from it. And just so I'm not the only one, let me share the experience with you guys.

I checked out the Seattle Poker Open website...if you are expecting me to link to it, you can forget it. And the calendar said that they are at Jillian's tonight, having been moved from 88 keys. That seemed odd and I guess counts as red flag #1 but I head down anyway. They have two tourneys on Mondays, a 6:30 and a 9:00. That would be red flag #2. I intentionally leave late so I can just sit and watch. I get down there and look around but don't see any tables anywhere. I check out the upstairs and downstairs. The game room is blocked off because they have an all you can eat video game special Monday nights. I check the score of the MNF game to see if Cutler is on pace to amass the 37 points necessary for my fantasy football league...but I digress. Finally end up asking the desk staff about it and I'm directed to the very back corner area, you know, the place with absolutely no lighting.

I see a cavalcade of players that you might expect from a bar league. Somehow these just don't seem like the players I see at the casinos. I ask for the person in charge and am pointed to the one guy who actually looks like he *could* be in charge. I ask about what is going on and he explains the league and the format. I ask if it's OK to just look around since I missed the beginning of the tourney and he says that it's fine. A couple minutes later another guy comes along and the TD seats him and only then does it occur to him that I could sit down too. Hmmm. I find it hard to resist poker even though I'm not sure that what I was doing qualifies as such.

The table tops look like upside down octagonal poker table tops that you can get at Target. I don't like those to begin with but at least the top side has some semblance of a playing surface. Playing off of vinyl is like having velcro cards because it is so difficult to pick them up and you can forget about sliding them around. Oh and the cards are paper of course. And what is the only thing worse than using two decks of crappy paper cards...wait for it...yes...playing with ONLY ONE DECK of crappy paper cards.

If I were dead I would be spinning in my grave. So with a bad playing surface and horrendous card conditions, what could possibly complete the trifecta of low rent equipment? How about bottom of the barrel chips? Of the three things I guess the chips at least come closest to getting a pass. They are cheap which I don't have a problem with but c'mon. Blue=25, Red=100, White=500, and Black=1000??? I wanted to cry. They were hot stamped with values and text that said "Seattle Poker Open" which I guess you have to since you are using non-standard color/denomination combos but that just drives home the point even more that someone consciously made the color/denomination decision. Excuse me, where's that barf bag?

So if a scathing review of the equipment weren't enough, how about the blinds? 15 minute rounds going from 25/50, 50/100, 100/200, 200/400, 400/800, 800/1500, 1500/3000? Yep, nothing like a little logarithmic progression to find the best poker players. At least they cut over to 800/1500, 1500/3000 instead of making player put in 1600 and 3200. Not quite enough of a saving grace though. I am quietly dying inside.

The blinds alone are enough to make you cringe but throw in the fact that the pace is slooooooow due to using one deck and nobody being able to handle the cards well and it is a living hell. Add in some people taking a while to make decisions and that would explain how two levels went by before I got to deal once, at a SEVEN handed table! The shuffling was like Disneyland for an amateur magician. Everyone did Jasonland shuffling and anyone who wanted to give themselves a 10% EV+ boost could track cards. I wish Jillians were at the top of a 20 story building because jumping out the window at ground level just is not going to cut the mustard.

For all of the horrible conditions, the play actually wasn't that bad. People were playing short stacked strategy but that was because everyone was short stacked. I called a desperate looking short stack with 99 and he turned an Ace to take the hand. I got to see a free flop from the BB when my flat tire ran into a 245 flop and I decided that middle pair was good enough so I shoved and took down the pot. One player remarked that I must have hit my straight. keep thinking that. Another person remarked that one hand the player with Ad3d had the nuts on a paired board with three diamonds. At least player's knew or were willing to listen to someone when it was a split pot. One lady just could not accept the dead button rule even though it was to her advantage to keep blinds away as long as possible. Tables were not balanced when it got to a four handed and six handed table. Great. I made it to final table and shoved from the BB with AhQh and lost to aggro Asian gambler dude who smooth called with QQ UTG five handed. I wish I had put two and two together earlier but that hand would have played out the same regardless.

Went out fifth out of 30 players or so. Quite likely the most ungratifying final table I have ever been a part of. This tourney makes the Luxor look like the pinnacle of tournaments. Have I mentioned that this is a horrible bad awful "poker tournament" experience? I know I've kinda been beating around the bush but if you carefully read between the lines I think you can get the gist of how I felt about it. Excuse me, I need to go drive red hot foks through my eyeballs to try to purge myself of the horror.

Jasonland Bankroll Managment Principles

Jasonland Bankroll Managment Principles: a supplement for the Jasonland guide.

* All Jasonland Bankroll Managment Principles are based on Ferguson's guidelines with only the slightest of changes.

* It is OK to risk more than 5% of bankroll in a cash game if you are a loose aggressive player. This is because you need to have a bigger stack in order to apply enough pressure to make players fold when you have the worse hand.

* Playing at higher stakes than Ferguson recommends is permitted because the play is so awful at the micro-stake level.

* If you are an action junkie then you can risk 25% of your bankroll at one time because unless there is enough at stake, an action junkie will make boredom calls and those will decimate a bankroll.

* Putting an ENTIRE bankroll is NEVER permitted...unless one or more of the following apply:

a) You are playing Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo because you cannot put all of the money in at one time like in No Limit. Plus you have two ways to get half of your money back since it is split pot.

b) You have had your bankroll cut in half due to a sick suckout the hand before.

c) In order to reach the minimum buy in for higher stakes so that you can recoup losses faster.

* If the bankroll ever gets extremely low or bankrupt then it is OK to fund the account with more money as long as you build *that* roll up to exceed the loss from the first roll.

There are also other minor variations which are available as circumstances dictate.

Tales from Omaha 8 - A Jason post

Posted on behalf of Jason:

Omaha 8 has been my new game as of late, as I am seeking out a game where I think I have a major competitive advantage over the field. As Ryan has noted, some of the play at microstakes is just plain awful but there are some good players as well.

I try to multitable 2 tables when I play. As you all know I can be a bit slow in my decision making but multitabling lowers my risk of playing boredom hands. Boredom hands can be brutal as pots in Omaha 8 tend to get big.

Key Hands

Best Flop Ever,

I raise with KK,A,2 and I get reraised. 6 handed microstakes. I call. Villain and I to the flop. Flop is K,3,4. All my money and villain’s money gets in on the flop. Villain has AA,3,x. Low and High hold for the scoop.

Worse Flop Ever,

I am in the small blind, playing 6 handed low stakes, 9 handed. One raiser everyone else has folded. BB calls. I have A,44,x, and I decide to call. Flop is 4,A,x. I decide to check raise. Original raiser bets, I check raise and he puts me all in. Villain has AA,2,3. Oops. Can’t really beat myself up too much for that one. I mean the case A and one of the two fours come out on the flop and I am toast except for quads.

No way to lay down hand

I have 2,3,xx and the flop is 4,5,6, with 2 diamonds. I have no redraws and decide to check raise anyways from the blind. 3 handed. Original raiser bets, I check raise, and all 3 of us are all in. Middle position player has squat but original raiser has AA,2, x with the ace suited in diamonds. No way am I going to lay down a flopped straight and a good low. Diamond hits on the river and I lose the 3 way all in.

Little too early to tell if this is long range profitable at microstakes but I am ahead. Can’t beat the low stakes tables though. The rake can be particularly brutal as all ins with split pots spell lose/lose for everyone but the house. I have played some Omaha High recently as well with similar results, ahead at microstakes, behind at low stakes.

Stressful Way to Win a $10 Pot

Playing 6 handed NL Hold’m .10/.25 stakes bunch of LAG players at the table, I am constantly getting my blinds stolen by raises from the button. Pick up pocket tens in the small blind. If playing against a TAG player, I would almost always reraise here to see where I am at. I decide to smooth call here, as I really don’t want to resteal with a decent hand, figuring the villain will just fold. Flop is A,9,9. I check, wait for the continuation bet, and call. I could raise here to figure out if villain has a random nine as I doubt he had an Ace and would bet it. He appears to be a tricky player, likely to not bet an Ace, if he had one. The next card is a low card, check, check. The final card is an Ace, I check and he bets pot. Is he really firing a second bullet with nothing, or does he have a random nine, or possibly an Ace. I click the time button to give me a few more seconds. I figure the only play that would make sense here for him to be ahead was that he had an Ace or a 9, bet the flop, then checked the turn to fake a failed continuation bet, then value bet the river. I decide to look him up and he flips over 7,5 suited for pure air.

I know I am often wrong with these hero calls and I try to avoid them on line. This one just didn’t add up and I took down a decent size pot.

Current Total: $311 and change. Following a few more bankroll management principals, but not Ferguson like. I will risk up to 1/6 of my bankroll at any one time about once a week, otherwise risk no more than 1/12.

Cake Challenge Update - Ryan

Blow by blow

I'm closing in on being able to full-buy at .05/.10, which feels good. I have been considering buying in slightly short at .5/.10, which is perfectly within Ferguson rules, but now I kinda want to hit $200 before I move up...

Sunday, November 18, 2007


This post is total fluff but I pretty much have to post it. I'm 'so sick' in all of these.

Hand 1.

You know what? Fuck short stacks. Yeah I pushed with K6o, what?

Anyway, here's the chat after that masterplay:

Jones28: u r an idiot sick
so sick: untrue
so sick: but thanks
Jones28: y u go all in with K 6 off if its untrue
so sick: here's the thing
so sick: i'm drunk and love gambling
so sick: Q.E.D.
Jones28: whats qed?
so sick: i dont know im too drunk

Hand 2.

Grindin4Life is a total unknown, but after that donktastic play and my chat there is no way I'm slowing down with an overpair there. He SNAPcalled that river, too. MOWED.

Then, like 4 hands later, THIS happens.

Hand 3.

He had the SPAINR for the second nut straight. Ahahahahahhaah. Poker is fucking awesome, QED.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Picking your spots to bluff.

On WNP (that's WeekNightPoker, let's stop with the TuNP crap), early in the session Ryan and I got into a nice big pot. The flop came all diamonds, and he had flopped a 4 high flush. I was out of position and check called the flop after he led out for 15 I think. I had QdJo. I thought, well I will take a card, I don't really have Ryan's hand narrowed down at all though at this point.

Turn is a blank, I check and he leads out for 25. This is a pretty big deciding point in the hand, but I still don't quite know what he is on, but I am starting to think small-medium flush. (for some reason 8 high was in my head). I feel like if I hit I am good, as the Kd was out and I didn't think he had an Ad. I guess I figured he would check behind with the Ad. I call and hope to hit my diamond.

River pairs the board. Scary card to a low flush. I am looking at the board, and there are a lot of things that would be pretty scary if you had a low flush. I am OOP, and I know if I check I am either losing to whatever he has (I have Q high here), or folding to a bet from him. I decide to lead out for 40, ~half pot size. I am hoping that this looks big enough for him to fold, but small enough that it looks like I want a call. Looking back, I wish I would have bet a bit more, but I was fine with taking this stab. If he can call me, then so be it, if he missed something or will lay down his flush to a scary board, then all the better. I just didn't want to leave that money on the table. He decides to raise to 100. This is really puzzling because I just didn't have him on this strong of a hand. I felt like I had repped a smooth-played big hand really well. I knew if I shipped here, it would be really hard for him to call without a really big hand. I just looked so strong there, and my read was more in the small flush range than the big flush/full house range. I then just had to have enough chips behind me that he wasn't committed regardless, and with 140 or so more, I felt it was enough, so I shipped.

Ryan hemmed and hawed and eventually laid down his hand. Interestingly after the hand he was saying that I could have played an A-high flush exactly that way, which is pretty true (and why I made the bluff at the end). It is funny how sometimes you don't decide what you have until the end. After he raised my river bet, with my push, I had decided I had either the nut flush or the weird boat. To him, I just couldn't have anything other than that or a bluff. If he put me on a bluff and made the hero call then more power to him. But next time I will have the nuts..

Also interesting were Ryan's comments about how I am too good of a player that I would make that move. I find that pretty funny. It's like a pre-attack, in case I tell that I was in fact bluffing, that I made some bad play or something. I don't feel it was bad in any way. I was perfectly willing to lose the 40 on the river if you had a hand that could call me. But it was far from a desperate shove when you decided to open the door with your river raise. I am always going to look for spots to exploit just like that one. I knew exactly how strong it looked when I shipped there, and the story was told to perfection. I leave it up to you to make a hero call or not open the door in the first place, but I think it's pretty ridiculous to think that I made some terrible play there. - Best Pokertainment on the web

At WNP, some of you have heard of me mentioning this site I go to for Podcasts and such. Just thought I'd mention this website once again in case you haven't had a chance to look at it - Joe Sebok and Barry Greenstein are behind it and everything is free. I've listened to their flagship broadcast "PokerRoad Radio", hosted by Gavin Smith, Joe Sebok, and Bart Hanson through 3 incarnations now (used to be sponsored by different companies) and I'm tired of them moving place to place - I want them to succeed so badly, that I'm going to do my part in shilling their site! Trust me, it's good stuff and very entertaining.

They have some video stuff on there too, with a great video interview of Daniel Negreanu. Also has blogs by some pro poker players and Greenstein's audio blog. In short, if you're looking for poker-themed entertainment for your iPod or online viewing, I highly suggest this site.

Ms. Duke goes to Washington

Annie Duke spoke to some congresscritters this week. PPA has the transcript.

Beyond the standard arguments regarding personal freedom and hypocrisy of government, I really like some of her statements. Excerpts below:

"There is critical distinction between poker and other forms of 'gambling' which is the skill level involved to succeed at the game.
I ask anyone in this hearing room to name for me the top five professional roulette players in the world or the number one lottery picker in America.
John Von Neumann regarded as the greatest mind of the first part of the 20 century used analysis of the game of poker in his seminal book on game theory, "Theory of Games and Economic Behavior" as a method of modeling decision-making under incomplete information. When asked why he did not use chess he deferred to the skill elements of poker which encompass all aspects of human intellect, calling chess not a game but merely an exercise in calculation.
I hear people say all the time that poker is only a game of skill for good players and the vast majority of recreational players are playing a game of luck. This is as absurd as asserting that bad golfers are playing a game of luck while only the pro golfers are playing a game of skill.
One defining characteristic of games of skill is this: a player or team can intentionally lose. If I suggested that you should play slots, roulette, baccarat, or lottery and seek to lose, you could no more make yourself lose than you could make yourself win..."