Tuesday, October 30, 2007

SickHands on YouTube

In case you haven't run across this dude's page before, he pretty much posts everything poker on YouTube (PAD, WSOP, HSP). I don't do torrents or anything so I just stream crappy quality video on my machine at home. He is pretty anal about stuff. Everything is in order. He does thorough synopses on the episodes. My biggest kudos: he edits the segments so they fall on commercial breaks! He also has a big collection of eponymous clips.


The Martin Said It Could Happen Hand

Got to love Martin. He is capable of some amazing calls, like the 9,2 against Ryan on the board with 3 hearts and he has bottom 2 pair with Ryan aggressively betting into it. Then there was the curious board of J,J,9,5 with a river queen where Martin was scared of nut low boat with J5 on the turn and did not bet and somehow Joe did not raise on the river with QJ claiming “well I was not going to get anything else out of Martin.”

Martin’s famous Omaha hand is another treat with 5 players on the turn and the current nuts are drawing dead.

So you got to love this hand, the Martin said it could happen hand. I am playing on line, Pot Limit Omaha microstakes with 5 and 10 cent blinds. I am dealt 8,9 of diamonds with 2 other playable cards I can’t remember and call from the button. 4 players I believe to the flop.

The flop comes out A,J,10 of diamonds. Not a bad flop, I have an open ended straight flush draw and I could be the only one that flopped the flush. There is no catching up on the flush in Omaha where you have just one diamond, the fourth diamond hits, and you are in. Since you have to play 2 cards from your hand, you either have the flush or don’t, seeing more cards is not going to make you hit the flush.

Everyone checks and I bet out, about ½ the pot. One caller, one of the blinds, everyone else folds. Villain either had the flush and likely a higher flush or is drawing with a set or 2 pair to a boat. Next card comes, a blank. I bet again about 2/3 of the pot. Another call. Looks bleak for me, maybe I can hit the dramatic suck out on the river.

River blanks, Villain makes a pot size bet $2.05. Now I know I should fold here but I can beat a bluffed missed boat opportunity. Plus, for $2.05, what a great way to learn the game. So I call. Thankfully, the 7 of diamonds did not hit on the river or I would have qualified for the worst beat ever. Villain had KQ of Diamonds, the flopped ultimate nuts, a Royal Flush, and I was drawing dead all along.

Martin told me it could happen.

Moving on up

So I did some back of the envelope math and figured that my play is EV+ in general but I can expect a lower return % at 500/1000. The only thing I had to worry about was how many beats I could take before having to return to the kiddie pool. I figure I am going to show down about 10% of my hands and I will win over half of them. As long as I can maintain that run rate the wins will offset all of the antes and bring-ins that I pay. If I see a showdown and lose, it will cost me somewhere between 5K and 10K. If I have rotten luck and lose three showdowns in a row again, I calculate that I might be down around 20K-25K.

With my roll up to 150K and 100K being kinda my "safety zone" that I don't want to drop below, I believe that I can go to the 500/1000 tables and play my normal game and if I run into a bad stretch I will pull off. 10K is the default buy-in at those tables and I think that is the first trigger point if I am down that much. If I get 20K loser then I will need to review the hands to see if I would do anything differently. 30K down and is my stop loss point at which time I *must* leave the tables immediately. That much in losses should be statistically unlikely but I need to draw the line somewhere.

There are enough players at this hour that there are two 500/1000 tables running. I stick to my philosophy and sit down at both of them. Yes I have more money on the table than I have ever had before at one time but again it is fixed limit and I think I ironically run a bigger risk to my roll by only sitting at one table where I may be tempted to make boredom calls or tilt off chips if I take a bad beat.

I happily fold some hands and then pick up and A3/8 hand with lots of high cards showing on the table. I take a whack at making a low. Not much action and I actually get to walk most of the way there. Nothing doing on the river and I fold.

On the other table I make a modest but qualifying low against a presumed high and took down a "smallish" (for these tables) low half pot of 3300. Sugarrific.

Three hands later I get a speculative Kc2c/8c flush semi-low draw and decide to take a card to see 4th street if I can see it for just the bring in and no complete which happened. 3d, I would of course have preferred 3c but that keeps me in the hand. One small bet to go to 5th which brings an Ah. Still interested. 5c on 6th street and I think about betting it but play it very conservative. Checks around. Freakin' gin card on 7th, the 4c to give me nut low and the flush. I get action from two other players and we cap. Catching the flush on the river was a coup because my flush was well disguised. I look like I'm betting a low so I got action from Jacks up and the other guy has a 7 high straight which he figures is good for one side at least or a likely scoop. Instead I rake a 24,000 pot. I believe that must be a record for me.

NEXT HAND on that table I start with 5c7h/3s and call the bring in. 6s on 4th, one small bet all around. Brick on 5th and I'm thinking of bailing with some other low-ish looking hands out there but it checks around so I get a free card. 6th street treats me right (did I mention that I like this game?) and my gutter is filled by 4c. Guy to my left starts with a 1K bet and I bump it to 2K which gets called by the four others who put in the 1K. Blank on 7th for me and it is checkd to me. I bet and am called by three others. I scoop both halves for a total of 18,350. Right after that hand I run away like a little wuss so I can count up all my newly acquired chips.

Running good. 17 hands. Went to showdown three times and won them all with two major scoops. Bought in for 2x20K, cashed out for exactly 65 large.

Now 173,075. More margin for a bad run of cards and edges me closer to the double century mark.

Shifting Styles (aka what WNP means to me)

I'm back.

Sorry for not being involved too much on the blog, but after being enormously busy with life and work, there was just not enough time to read or participate in the best blog EVAR. Even though I'm not all the way back on having free time, I am slowly getting back into the routines... and one of the routines is posting and participating on the blog.

So, after reading this post on if WNP needed any changes, I thought I'd write in-depth about how I approach WNP. What Marshall wrote about the things WNP means to him mostly applies to me. It's not about money at all to me. I play WNP for relaxation, to get away, to hang out with cool people, and to get better at poker (not necessarily in that order). To get better at poker, one thing I absolutely believe in is to try to keep learning, to keep trying new things. Part of my learning process is trying on different styles. On any given WNP night, I will sit down with a different style, and sometimes it morphs into something different by the end of the night; but when I sit down, I have a decent idea of what style I'm planning to go with.

One thing that we all know is that an important part of poker is about playing the player. Part of being successful at that is to be able to put yourself in the other player's shoes, and nothing gives you a better idea of that than to experience it yourself. So, just to see what it's like, maybe I'll attempt to play weak/tight for a few weeks, or maybe I'll go complete maniac style. After a given amount of time, maybe I'll get bored of it or the style might go against my instincts so much, I can't keep it up, but I feel that at least putting your mind to trying out the style and its concepts will give you more to work with (i.e reads and tactics) the next time you're up against someone in that situation.

Besides the learning aspect, it's fun for me to try different things out, and keeps everyone else on their toes. It can make you less predictable, and tactics that other people have used in previous situations against you might not work, as you might be playing hands differently. In short, I love that I'm able to try new concepts and ideas out at WNP, and it factors heavily toward my overall poker enjoyment and education.

Lastly, my thoughts on WNP:
- Keep straddles.
- The stakes are fine the way they are, but if everyone wants to raise it on a given night, I have no opposition.
- The overall feel of a WNP table is based on so many different factors, but mostly on who is there on a given night. This is well-evidenced by our own experiences and our observations on episodes of High Stakes Poker. Last Wednesday was d0nkerrific (hey, if Martin was president of d0nkville, I was vice president), but there have been just as many times where it hasn't.
- In short, keep things the way they are.

Oh, and I reserve the right to be d0nkerrific at any time.

Cake Challenge Update - Austin

Austin's Cake Challenge Results

After losing all of my winnings in one day by tilting and then going up a level only to lose even more, I pretty much started back at the initial buy in of $50. I decided to be much more meticulous about keeping track of how I was doing, so I imitated Ryan's spreadsheet and have found that it actually improves on my play to keep track of how I'm doing. I concentrate more on the tiny wins and can see the big picture much better. I've noticed that the best time to try to win money is on a weekday night at about 11pm. It seems like half the people on are just asking to lose their money most likely because they've had a few drinks at that point and play much worse than they normally would. I've also adopted Marsh's style of betting pot with good hands pre-flop, c-betting occasionally (when appropriate), hammering pot sized bets when I hit, and getting out of the way when I miss. It seems to be a pretty good combination as is evidence from my $20 jump in two days. When I got about 2x the max buy in, I would leave regardless of whether or not I thought it was a good table so I couldn't lose it all back. I think that also helped me tremendously as there were times when it was tempting, but I just didn't want to risk it.

Some hands:
First and Last hand of a tournament (QT of clubs) - I have a feeling I played this extremely poorly, but I can't think of another way that it would have ended up. I had to have felt I was good at the end, but ugh.
ATs - Decisions, not results. That would have been a massive pot, but I didn't feel I was ahead at all after the bet.
QJ - Good flop only gets better. I tried to make the bet small enough that the third guy in the hand would have called, but I guess it was too big. Maybe I should have only called the all in from the other guy?
QTs - I knew I was probably good at the end, but I didn't want to bet it just in case (although he had checked, so that's an even bigger indication I was ahead).
K6o - I love me some two pairs. They seem to make me most of my money.
JQs - Something felt off here, his bet went against everything I'd seen him do and I had a pretty good feeling I had him beat.

So aside from the tournament loss in the first hand, I think I've been doing fairly well lately. I can see it taking a while to get up to that magical $200 mark, but I think it's really going to be worth it when I get there. This challenge is certainly teaching me about bankroll management, and even though I'm not playing as much as I'd like, I'm benefiting from the challenge none the less.

One question about etiquette I had though is whether it's bad form to play on a table where you know someone else is. I saw Marsh one day and said hi (although I doubt he saw me from observerland) and accidentally sat down at a table with Ryan for two hands before I realized it. Should you avoid tables with friends if possible or just treat them as a normal player? I certainly don't want to be the cause of someone I know losing money (which is odd, considering I have no problem taking money when we play in person).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Table Talk

First off, let me say I’m not bringing this up to pick on Jason. I’m only mentioning it because I think it’s something worth pointing out and something we can all learn from. The fact that it happened twice between me and Jason at Friday night’s mixed game just drives the point home more: things you say during a hand, whether you’re in the hand or not, affect everybody’s play in that hand.

Case #1: Pass the trash. Jason, Martin, Marshall and I are in a hand. We’ve seen three out of five cards, and for this betting round Martin leads out for 8 (showing 3 kings, he’s definitely going for high-hand). I raise it up to 16 (showing 3 low rainbow connecting cards, it’s pretty clear I’m going low, based on the apparent flush and the apparent full-house Martin and Jason are representing) Jason raises it up 24 (showing 3 low hearts, including the Ace, it’s unclear whether he’s going for the low- or high-hand) and says something like “It’s up to me and Royal”. Marsh folds (showing 3 clubs, including the Ace), and Martin caps it at 32.

Since I had already raised it up to 16 in this betting round, I surprise Marsh by folding instead of calling. Jason calls Martin’s bet and goes on to finish out the hand and chop between the two. Now, I was totally unclear where I was standing in the hand when I raised it to 16. Does Jason have the flush, and he’s going for the high-hand, even though Martin is hinting at a full house or better? Or does he have the wheel, and is going for the low hand? But when Jason makes it clear that he is only worried about me, I know I’m beat. I can’t beat the wheel — in fact, I have a really crappy low hand (jack high), but I was representing a good low in the hopes that I’d be the only low left in the hand at the end. Since Jason’s only worried about me, I know he’s in it for the long haul, so I fold. If Jason hadn’t said anything, for all he knows, he could have potentially gotten another 48 chips out of me (although I would have folded on 4th street seeing that he didn’t have the flush). He would definitely have gotten another 16 out of me, either way, had he not said anything.

Case #2: Pass the trash. Jason and I are the only ones left in the hand, and with all betting rounds complete, it’s still unclear whether we’re each going for the low-hand or the high-hand. I have 6543 rainbow, Jason has A345c. My down card is a two, giving me a 6-high straight. So, do I a) go for the high hand here, thinking Jason does NOT have the flush, but instead has the wheel, and my 6-high straight will beat him out? b) go for the low, thinking Jason has the flush and hope that his 5th card making his flush isn’t the 2c or 6c (making his low lower than mine)? Or do I go for both, thinking Jason doesn’t have the wheel, doesn’t have the flush, and is only in for, say, a 7-high low hand?

Initially I decide to go for both. I don’t think Jason has the flush, and I’m hoping my low is lower than his. Typing it up here, it’s quite apparent that this is the stupidest decision of the three — God, pass the trash is an elusive game — but, I’ve got both chips in my hand, ready to stake my claim for both, and Jason is sweating over there. He’s not sure what to do. And then he mumbles more to himself than to the table “I’ve got to decide if I have the nutter here”. Oh, duh! He thinks he might be able to get both! I’m screwed. I’ve already made my decision, but Jason’s still deciding. This is where it gets real interesting. I don’t know how calculated this was on Martin’s part, but he says to me (and the table) “You can refine your decision as often as you want until both of you have both landed on a decision.” I don’t know if this warrants a “one player per hand” statement here, as Martin is merely stating the rules to me, but it’s a very poignant statement. I’m pretty sure he heard what Jason said about the “nutter”, and I say “Oh really?! Thanks!” and pull my fist back. Now, I have to decide: does Jason have the flush, or just the wheel? He’s represented it this far, so I think he does, and revise my decision to go only for the low, as it’s my only chance to take half the pot.

Jason sure enough tries for both, and I scoop because my 6-high low beats his 7-high low (he had the 7c). Had I decided to go for both, Jason and I would have chopped. But if I went for both and Jason decided that he’s definitely beat on the low and goes for the high-hand only, then his flush beats my straight and he scoops. Once again, Jason’s table talk caused me to revise my play, to his detriment.

I think we’ve all gotten a little comfortable with our table talk. We know hold-em well enough to be able to use table talk to our advantage, ie “the speech”, asking questions of each other in the middle of a hand, etc. But in these mixed games, we’re not quite there. The table-talk only gets us in trouble. We might get there eventually, saying things like “I’ve got to decide I have the nutter here” knowing that it will affect the other player’s play, but until that time, I’m keeping my mouth shut.

Playing Strong Drawing Hands

I was playing on line, cash game, 6 players, new table with unknown images. Had about 90 times the blind and was covered by villain. Villain opens for 3x the blind and I have Q7 suited in spades in the big blind. I decide to call. Fold is a possible play as well, but I figure Q7 suited is slightly better than an average hand. 3 people to the flop.

Flop is 5 spades, 6 club, and 8 spades, giving me the open ended straight draw and queen high flush draw. At this point, I think any option other than check fold is acceptable. Check call, lead out, or check raise are all viable plays. For this hand I decide on the check raise.

Villain, the original raiser leads out for 2/3 of the pot. Other players fold and I check raise for 3x villain's bet. Villain then thinks and reraises for almost 3x my bet. A call would be for more than half my stack so I immediately remove this from the option list. It is either all in or fold. A call also puts you in a tough spot as if the turn blanks, you really can't call another bet.

Villain's likely holdings at this point are either a set, an overpair, Ax suited in spades. Unlikely but possible are pocket 7's, 2 pair, with a very remote possibility of the made straight, unlikely since villain was the original raiser. Very unlikely is air.

What would you do? In an effort to not be Rotty, I will let you know my play after comments.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Image Quiz

Here's a few imaginary hands to think about from an image-conscious point of view. No right or wrong answers, I just want to see what you think is the "best" play for each of these scenarios. I'll post what I would do in the comments so you don't think I'm just fishing for reads on you guys :)

For each of these hands, hero and villain both have a specific image. This image is either 'tight aggressive' or 'loose aggressive.' Assume both players are decent, thinking players, and both are aware of the other player's image.

How should the hero respond if a) hero is tight and villain is loose, b) hero is loose and villain is tight, c) both players are tight, d) both players are loose?

1. Preflop Manuevering
Hero picks up TT on the button and opens for 4x the BB. Villain, in the big blind, re-raises to 12x. Hero...

2. Flop Raise
Hero is in middle position and raises to 4x with K♠Q♠. Villain calls from the button.

The flop is Q♣J♣6♥. Hero bets out 3/4 the pot, and villain raises 3 times the original bet. Hero...

3. Scary River
(This one might not be played optimally by Hero given his image, but stick with me)

Hero is again in middle position and raises to 4x with 8♠8♦. Villain calls from the button.

The flop comes K♣8♣9♦. Hero bets out 3/4 the pot, and villain calls.

The turn is a 2♠. Hero bets out half pot, villain calls.

The river is a Q♣. Hero...

Options on getting comments via email.

I am not sure how that happened, but there is now a check-box below our comment box within a post that allows you to receive email notifications from that specific thread. Ryan has also generously set up his outlook to forward all comments emails to whomever wants them.

So, you now have two options:
1. Have Ryan put you on that list and you will get an email from every single comment posted on our fair blog.

2. Check the check-box and receive emails for every comment on that specific post. This is good because if you don't want to read about a certain post, you don't have to.

2 caveats on the second option: 1. It goes to the email you used to sign into blogger only. 2. You have to post a comment of some sort in the thread to enable it, as the comment box is a required field. This is a good thing probably, as all comments are welcome, even a "good read" or "you suck ass" type post. It would also encourage people to comment more which is good.

So there you have it. Two good options on getting your comment fix every day from TNP.

Moving back down

After burning off $30K yesterday I'm back on the 100/200 tables. What's it like?

* It's going back down to the minors after having been in the "bigs."

* It's having to drive 25 on surface streets after you've been cruising at 80 on the highway.

* It feels like punishment even it is just smart bankroll management.

* It is being told "don't call us, we'll call you."

* It is looking around the table at familiar names that you didn't think you'd see again.

* It is Matusow yelling at you from up the street.

* It is meeting the boss in a video game, dying, then having to run though the entire stage again trying to get back there.

* It is scooping dirt with a spoon when you are used to a shovel.

* It is incentive to bankroll manage well enough to never have to step back down again.

* It is a not so gentle reminder to consider how much of a roll you want to have before going back up and standing question of how low does your roll need to go before you drop down again.

It is the right thing to do. I had a bad run of hands at the 500/1000 tables and I am kicking it down a notch to be responsible with my roll. I am doing this voluntarily while I can choose to be at either the 100/200 or 500/1000 table, not because I *have* to be at the 100/200 table.

91,906 now. Good step up from 82K. Will feel better when it's over 100K again.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

How to lose $30,000: a cautionary tale

Gather around the fire kids because Uncle Marty has a story to tell you all.

It all starts with a bankroll over $115K and a 500/1000 table of Stud Hi/Lo. Gory details about the hands are below. But to summarize, I got rivered in a cooler hand which took 10K out of my stack and would have won me 20K+ for a swing of 30K. Stood up from that. Sat down to rolled up TT/T and was priced in all the way but never boated. Then I had a fantastic 4 card hand going on 4th street that blanked the rest of the way. All told I was down from 115K to 82K, over a span of a couple hours.

This all happened right before WNP and I would say that losing that much may well have affected my live play as well.

Remember the go-go 90s when nobody could miss in the stock market? Then the rude awakening? Yes everyone's a genius when they are risking too much and winning. That said, it would be hard to fathom that I've built my roll up this far on false pretenses so I'm thinking that my play is still EV+ but it is just a string of bad hands. But that's what bankroll management is all about, being able to weather bad hands but not have it kill your roll.

So here are some trap thoughts to be on the lookout for:

* I should have won that hand so it doesn't count. The guy catches a two outer on me and it is a $30K swing. I'm down $10K and got almost all of it in when I was good. If I got it in good it's OK to lose a huge pot right? Yes and no. If you are playing a game the right size then fine. But if losing one hand is 10% of your roll then I am starting to drift towards Jasonland bankroll management.

* I can get it back. I'm still EV+ so if I keep playing at these stakes I'll get it back right? Well, actually that is correct but not if you run out of money first. If you take another big hit or two now you are way down and will NEED to go down in stakes. Drop to a lower table on your own terms because you are a good bankroll manager not because you can't afford to get in higher. At least I didn't have higher tables available to try to get it back faster so I wasn't tempted to speed the process.

* I used to be at $XXX so I'm really only going back to where I was before. Well if you are back down to a lower level, then you'd sure as heck better be playing the stakes you were at when you were there before.

* I can't lose THAT many hands can I? No, it is nearly impossible to do so...as long as you are at stakes appropriate for your roll. Gearing down as your roll dwindles protects you from having one or two hand disasters bankrupt you.

* I'm invincible. Just because you ballooned your roll up to a huge amount doesn't mean that you can't lose.

* This wouldn't have happened if I were multitabling. Actually it would. Granted, if I had enough dough to multi-table at these stakes then I would have shrugged it off as another one of the few losses compared to way more wins. Doing multitabling was a very good insulator against getting too invested in any one hand.

* It's OK, I can drive. As I mentioned before, I think that the human element is by far the weakest link in building the bankroll. Back on the 100/200 tables I had the protection of multi-tabling and relatively small stakes to just robotically grind away and get my few bucks a hand that my EV was good for. But once I switched up

* I'm entitled to win a huge pot. As the book Zen and the Art of Poker will tell you, the deck doesn't owe you squat. If you lose three big hands in a row, what are the odds of losing another big one? Well it certainly isn't 0%. Strings of losses happen and you'd better be able to afford it.

So there you go. Watch for these signs. I half ignored some rather big red flags. I did get some bad hands and I really wouldn't play these hands any differently the next time. But I have had a quarter of my roll sliced off and I need to go build that back up again. I'm going to return to multi-tabling 100/200 games until I get back over 100,000 again. I hope my experience helps someone else avoid the same fate.

Hand details below...
I'm not playing my "A" game. I have my 4th street percentage too high at around 35% and have missed catching cards and have to bail on 7th a couple times. I also have some decent hands that I show down but aren't good enough. Pretty soon I'm stuck 10K or so. Not the best place to be but with 500/1000 you are going to accept that as a possibility in exchange for the upside of winning big pots relative to your bankroll. I claw my way back and am get to being down 5K of my 20K buy-in.

And then...

I am in Seat 5 with 15,619 and am dealt As6s/4d, working on a six high low and two to the flush. I'm tasting it already because of the smattering of high cards around the table. Nothing too crazy on the deal, I bring in and five players call it.

4th street gives me a 2h and my low improves. A guy showing 87 opens for 500 and Q3 ahead of me bumps to 1000. That is unusual for this table of relatively sane players. Typically no one is going to get out of hand and when you are showing Q3os you aren't exactly telling a compelling story. I flat call but am ready to deal with re-raises. Two others call the 1K, one player folds and the original bettor calls the extra 500.

I'm running good when 5th street gives me 3h and I have made the second nut low already. Guy ahead of me with Q37 showing opens for 1K and I immediately bump to 2K for value. Villain raises to 3K, we lose another player, guy to my right calls and I cap it at 4K, call, call, call. From Villain's hesitant call after I re-raised, I read that he is now worried about me.

6th street gives me another deuce. Fine. that improves my chances of making something to scoop with. Villain picks up a Ts and opens betting. A call then I raise. Call, then Villain raises again. I'm not worried. That T is a brick for his low and I'm pushing the betting, bump it to 2K. One caller then Villain goes to 3K, he is willing to ride this one out. Call, I cap, call, call.

Four handed with one all in going to 7th and 4h gives me second nut low and two pair. Definitely strong for low and possible scoopage available. Another player is now all in and Villain and I cap it.

Villain shows 8h3s/4s5hAhTs/2c and rivers a gutshot wheel with one of the two remaining deuces (I had two of them) to scoop all pots. 44K+. My side of the pot was 22K plus change from one of the side pots. I am 10K deep in this hand so that represents more than a 30K swing from Villain catching a two outer.

I stand up from the table and start writing up a blog post about it. I am pondering if I am playing above my roll but am at 97K where I was a couple of days ago and hovering around the 100K mark, still 100x my original stake which was cause for celebration. I take a break and decide that that was just a cooler hand. My read was correct. He was drawing super thin and he hit. I decide it's OK for me to sit back down.

Reload for a full 20K and miss with a couple hands to knock me down to 15K. Then I pick up one of my rare exceptions to playing a low, being rolled up, TTT in this case. I'm 40% to boat and am check/calling all streets with a guy betting all streets and one other check/caller so I'm funding less then 33% of the chips into the pot. Blanks on all streets and I lose to a flush. Down to 10K now.

Three hands later I pick up 2d5d/3d. Strong. Three to the wheel and suited. I complete to 500 and get three callers. My next card is 4h for four wheel cards and an open ender for high. I bet, get raised, and then I re-raise. One player folds, the other two call the 1500. Ks, I bet, call call. 2s, I bet, call, call. 7th street adds insult to injury, 5s. I bet in case they both have no high and missed their low, call, call. I have no low and my two pair are trumped by Jacks up. Down another 5K and I leave the table.

Learning the game

Let's take a hypothetical case of a businessman who wanted to learn more about poker. Funding a session of poker is no problem but he wants to improve his game. What do you think is the best way to do that?

Personally I think reading books is a good way to get the basics: rules, hand ranking, starting hand selection, basic strategy. I also think playing online is a good way to cram in experience as long as there is the understanding that there is probably more d0nk play online on average. It depends somewhat on stakes of course but I think you will on average find more players just doing stupid stuff than in a home game or casino.

But once you have the basics concepts and math down, I think that to get to the "next level" requires feedback on specific hands. For me, the WNP/TuNP crew is the best way for me to continue learning when we discuss hands in person, email, or blog. I think that everyone here brings different perspectives on how a hand should be played. Marsh will tell you what aggression will buy you. Ryan can be counted on saying what the numbers tell you. Jason will tell you...the unorthodox play. And taken together I think that that all adds up to even having a single dedicated coach because seeing the different approaches gives you more options.

That's the best way I've found to keep improving my game at least.

D0nkerrific WNP play

Hey everyone, just wanted to let everyone know that I KNOW I was being a d0nk last night. Had my Martin Farha hat on fer sure. Wouldn't call it loose aggressive or loose passive...just plain loooooosey gooooooosey. Not sure what else explains the Muncie Aces cracking suckout. (Sorry Matt!) No excuse for that. It's been a while since I d0nked that much so I guess maybe I was due, plus I was off my game due to my FTP FCC (post coming later).

Anyway, I wanted to review again to make sure that WNP is meeting the needs/expectations of the masses. Once again I noticed many instances of multi-way 20+ chip pre-flop play. What are people's thoughts on this? Are the stakes/stacks relevant enough? Is this a function of straddles? Was last night too much of a "gambly" loose game? Is everyone OK with nights like last night because it seems to be more of the norm lately.

Despite the fact that I was the mayor of D0nkville last night I prefer to have play be a bit tighter than last night but I'm fine with whatever everyone wants out of WNP/TuNP, just not sure what it is that everyone wants it to be.

Chime away...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New record for grinding it out

I played 241 hands today and won exactly 2 showdowns out of 5 total. Exactly broke even. One showdown was a set of tens in the battle of the blinds, a decent size pot, the other I can't recall. In any case, I was happy with my play as it is hard to win so few showdowns and still break even for a session.


This weekend I sat down with my painfully depleted bankroll at a $20 max NL game. I was playing pretty poorly, basically how I play at the WNP game but without any reads or aggressive plays (loose passive all the way, baby!). And people could tell; they were calling my raises ultra light and stealing on the flop more often than not.

So in response I went into ultra-nit mode, waiting for a top 15% hand and raising hard and playing hard post flop. I did better and felt better about my play, but again, my opponents caught on and started folding to my aggression more and more.

For example, a loose-aggressive maniac type of player sat down with $3 and just started shipping every other hand. He would raise hard if anyone limped (I'm talking like a $3 raise in a $0.10/$0.20 game), and ship on top of a normal raise. Eventually he built his stack up to about $12. I had been nitting it up ever since he sat down, so I basically thought "oh great, I just need a good hand and I'll stack this guy no problem." BUT, any time I showed any aggression at all, he would back down. So, again, I find myself missing out on opportunities to make money because of my image.

It seems like whenever I try to establish an image either way, I either turn into an uber-nit, or a loose passive spew-monkey. I would like to change that.

So, I guess my question for the group is, how much does image factor into your play, both your own and that of your opponents? How do you control your image, and how do you play back against opponents with a well defined image?

Cake Challenge: New System!

OK, Once a week, I will post a short update post with my current total, how much up or down I am from my last post, and a link to my spreadsheet.

I will post my session notes in a separate blog, Decisions not Results. You can follow that blog if you want day-to-day updates, but I will post a link to it in my weekly TNP update as well.

I think this does the job of keeping this blog updated with my progress, but doesn't flood it with long session reports. If you enjoy the session reports, all the better to have them in one place.

Monday, October 22, 2007

FTP FCC: The $100,000 Bar

100,946 to be exact...over one hundred times my original buy in.

This past session I sat down to five tables and with 85K in my pocket. Had a horrible mis-click that cost me over $5K. I was in about 1K+ in bets and hit fold on the river instead of raise. I already had a low that would have won 4K+ and the player to my left picked up what would have been my fifth Diamond so I probably would have scooped and it would be closer to a $9K screw up.

But I plowed ahead and played solid starting hands and got some cooperation on the big streets. Made up my mistake and then some. Took down some huge pots and had a head of steam as I passed 80K, 85K, 90K, and when I got to 95K, I thought I should just take a breather but I got involved in a hand in the lower left table. I was three to a low straight flush and getting mad action. I pretty much bet/raised every opportunity I could. Made my low, then a straight, then picked up the flush on the river too to scoop and put me over 100K. Then I immediately sat out of all the tables and folded any hands I was in to lock in the moment.

Not much more to say right now that I didn't say on my $750K post but I can say that it feels good to reach such a big milestone. Sure two orders of magnitude in play money is no double up of real money or anything like that but it is still an accomplishment that takes patience and know-how. I also tuned my approach based on my experiences and from reading up on the subject.

I'm actually at a bit of a crossroads now. I certainly feel like I've learned a lot about managing and building a bankroll but the learning curve seems to have flattened out. I'm not going to pretend that I know everything but I wonder if continuing on with the FTP FCC is going to be the best bang for the buck. I'm anxious to get into some real Cake but just can't get a sponsor for my starter roll yet. I think I will continue on with the FTP FCC for now and see what kind of scaling issues I run into. But right now, I think I'm going to head out and treat myself for breaking through six figures.

Comment Notification

So apparently only one person can be alerted when comments are posted to this blog, and that is currently me. I can set up an outlook rule that will forward comment alerts to anyone else who is interested in getting them.

If you are such a person, shoot me an email and I'll hook you up (won't be active until this evening, though).

Cake Update: Marsh

Cake Results so far..

Things are back on track more or less. Basically I am still plugging away at .02-.04 NLHE. I have changed my game play a bit though. I basically pot bet any playable hand preflop, and cbet 90% of the time for the pot. I take down most pots this way, and then when I actually hit, people tend to just call me down anyway. I think the play is overall very passive at these levels, with very few raisers, but no shortage of action in the form of "call, call, I call."

I have noticed one annoying thing. Since there are only six 6-handed tables available, and they are very popular, it's hard to leave one even if you are up. I am supposed to get up once I have doubled up basically. But if I have no other table to go to, I won't. Also, when I lose a buy in(4.00), I just rebuy and stay at the table when I would prefer to start fresh at a new table. No big deal, but deserves a note.

I have also been partaking of an annoying trend. I will buy in, get involved in a big hand early where I either bluff or get beated, and have to rebuy. So if you look at my spreadsheet, you will see a lot of multi buy in sessions, which is annoying because I try to get back to being up again. But by the time I am back to even, I have 8.00 or so on the table, which is more than I should be risking at once. But at the same time, I can't really leave because there aren't other tables to go to usually. I just stay until I feel like my play is being affected by the size of my stack. Risking 2 buy ins on one hand is not what I want to be doing, but at the same time, having a bigger stack at these stakes is sweet. Like everything, pluses and minuses.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Kick me

OK, the next time I say something like "Eh, it didn't matter that I didn't bet the nuts on the river -- I wasn't going to get anything more out of him anyway", please kick me.

I don't know why I've picked right now to realize that this is such a dumb/ROTty thing to say, but I did. And consequently, I've given you the right to kick me.

Now, carry on.

Full Tilt Challenge - Jason

Full Tilt Challenge

Somewhat like Martin’s fake cake poker challenge, I am taking part in the challenge with slightly altered rules. Since I am bending the rules, I will acknowledge that Joe, Ryan, Marsh or Austin will be the true winner regardless of my result, I am just hoping for an honorary mention.

Here are my rules, which are admittedly completely unfair. I had just posted $60 on Full Tilt, on or about the same date the challenge started. It was just a coincidence as I bought in before I knew the challenge existed. I do not receive a rakeback, and I am not sure if the cake players do. I play for way too high stakes for effective bankroll management. I started playing at the 10 cent/25 cent level with a full $25.00 buy in. As an action junkie, I knew I would be decimated at the micro stakes level as I would play way too impatiently. I also figured that if I went bust, my worse case scenario was that I would join the cake players and then would challenge Ryan each night for heads up Omaha, a challenge I know he would not say no to.

Here are my results. If anyone cares, I will update weekly or monthly. I would be also OK with a response that I am not following the spirit of the competition, so I am ineligible even to blog.

Grinding it out at the 10/25 cent tables, I built my bankroll up to about $125.00 then moved to the 25 cent/50 cent with a full $50.00 buy in. I built up to $180.00 and then came up with the brilliant idea to practice Pot Limit Omaha on Full Tilt in preparation for my first mixed game night. Before Pot Limit, I never went on tilt once, played a LAG style of NL Holdem, and consistently seemed to win.

Pot Limit Omaha was a disaster for me, mostly because I was clueless, partly because I had bad luck. My bankroll dwindled to $15.00. I went on tilt, played all night, and donked excessively. Back to 5 cent/10 cent, the lowest level on Full Tilt. Tripled up to $30+ dollars, and then moved to 10/25 cent. Nearly tripled up again to $70+ dollars. Key hand was limping from UTG with AJ suited in spades, a golden hand as it is impossible to be beaten by the true Spainer. Raise to 5x the blind from seat 4, 6 handed. Flop has 2 spades. Check, Check. Next card is a spade giving me the nuts. Check, raise, reraise, all in, call. Seat 4 has K-10 of spades drawing dead. Got to love having the best hand with the second best hand right there with me.

Had funds of about $110+ over the weekend winning many pots by someone who would constantly bluff the river with ¼ size pot bets. Called him down as light as AK high and constantly seemed to notch him.

Played some more and made too many hero calls. You need to do this occasionally at higher stakes and at TNP, but hero calls are a waste at small stakes on line. Top pair crummy kicker should just always be released to pot sized river bets. Donk move by me. Down to about $90, then hit another run playing NL .10/25 cent. Up to about $112. New brilliant idea, play some more Omaha, did not learn my lesson the first time. Actually manage to lose but at a much slower rate. Lose about $10 over a 2-3 hour time frame. Stack size of $102. Sunday morning, play 2 sit and gos, $5 buyin, multitabling, 18 person, and 45 person. Bust out of the 18 person when my QQ loses to 77 on a river 7. Major heater on the 45 person, win first 6 out of 7 showdowns, easily cruise into the final table. Get beat by an open ender vs. my top pair, then a cooler, dwindling down to just under 3x the blinds. 2 or 3 lucky all ins later and I find my self heads up for first place. My opponent is aggressive, bluffs plenty, and can sniff out my bluffs. Should be a good match. He has been playing very well and then the following hand is pivotal to the match. I limp from the button with 6,9, relatively equal stacks, about 25x the blind. He calls. Flop is 6,5,3 with 2 hearts. He min bets, I raise with a 3 bet. He calls. The next card is a 9 hooray. Not much better than top 2 pair heads up. He puts in a small bet, I raise all in, he calls. Last card blanks, I show 2 pair and he shows 10,2 suited in spades. A meltdown. Bottom end of the gutshot straight draw???? I go on to win for $85. Bank roll at $176.

I am amazed at the discipline Ryan shows at microstakes. I just am not patient enough to play this way. Most all of the hands Ryan plays are premium hands, I play lots of hands, but usually from position.

I have almost tripled my bankroll, but I will admit, this accomplishment pales in comparison to the frontrunners of the competition, Ryan and Marsh. Nearly doubling up and having the patience to play true Microstakes is a feat I don’t think I could ever accomplish.

FTP Fake Cake Update

Passed the 3/4 century mark and then some 80,902.

Last session: Cards ran strong and at one point was scooping like 8/12 showdowns. Got past 75K then d0nked about 5K back to the table. 287 hands, 30% 4th streets (too high), 31 showdowns. I only won 2/3 of the showdowns but scooped half of them to compensate. Last hand of the session I was hammering the pot and getting action when I had the only low going then I filled my gutter to scoop a nearly 10K pot. That put me over 80K and I called it quits.

More lessons learned:

* After reading up some more on starting hands I'm finding that my stringent requirements are still too loose for real play. I can get away with it on these tables because everyone calls until they are mathematically not able to make a hand but they'll chase runner-runner(-runners) all day.

* Don't sweat the small pots. Sometimes there will be a limped pot that checks through to 5th street and I end up walking into two pair or something. A big bet to me and I just muck it. Someone is on a low or a flush draw and it's just not worth worrying about. Take the blinds and let's move on to the next hand.

* Have a plan in mind and be ready to bail. If I am in a hand with a marginal hand then I'm going to basically order up two or three perfect cards that I need to catch to continue. Let's say I have Ad7d8c which is on the road to making a nice second best low but I have a flush draw started. 4th street is a crossroads. I will order up a 2d, 3d, 4d, or 5d from the dealer to leave both paths open to a low or a flush and if I get none of them then I bail.

* Avoid marginal situations. Just not worth getting in the middle of a hand with just OK holdings. Save your chips for pushing the action when you have way the best of it. Again, multi-tabling helps on this front because there is usually enough action going on that you avoid the "boredom calls" when you are itching to get into a pot just to play.

* Even with multi-tabling there will be swings. Running a few tables will smooth out variance but even getting in 100 hands or so there will still be sessions where cards just run dry overall and that's part of the bankroll management thing.

* Limit play can help to minimize steam d0nking...but not totally eliminate it. A couple of sessions lately I've been playing bad. Chasing way too much. Coming in light to showdowns even though I know I'm beat. But there are many many many opportunities to get out of the hand so tilting off chips is a much more labor intensive process in limit than in NL or PL where you can toss a stack with a single click of a button.

* Stud hi/lo: still the softest game on the Internet.

I've been scoping out the 500/1000 table to look at the play there and not surprisingly it is another notch up from the 100/200 tables. They fold more pre-flop and know to aim for lows and possible scoops. I'm fine with pulling down a couple grand in a session but am figuring out what the next vehicle is where I'll be able to do better than that. On the list are: S&G's, 500/1000 Stud hi/lo, and Omaha hi/lo cash tables.

Even though it's play money, I am still as focused on maintaining and growing my bankroll as the next guy. I keep learning new stuff on a regular basis and have even applied those lessons to my live Hold'em play.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hand analysis: Flopped straight versus top pair w/nut flush draw

Kahlua's Table, .50/1 NLHE, MB and I are both at about 1.5 buy-ins. I face a raise from somewhere and call with my trouble hand QTos. Flop comes out a glorious AKJ two hearts for the nutters. I believe it was three way 7 chip pre-flop so I lead out with a bait bet of 13 hoping to get raised. MB complies with Ax(deuce?) suited and opens the door with a min raise. I think Jason comes along for the 26 and I pop it up to 80. Mary Beth "has to call". Jason gets out of the way. Turn is a Heart (6h?) and I'm done with this hand since I have no redraws. If the board pairs I could try a bluff but I'm 99% to just check/fold under all circumstances. River I believe is a fourth Heart, not that makes a difference because I'm still done but I figure I'd make an ultra post oak at it and try to rep the Ah and that I drew out to a higher flush on her. Royal throws out the idea of a four chip bet (one player per hand please). I do so and get min-raised back. I'll pay 4 for the info and MB shows the nuts.

Yeah, I know that I *want* players to draw and if the turn was a blank then I'm definitely shoving the rest in at that point. But I had a couple big hands where flushes caught up on me and that was a bummer. Based on the flop play I think it was fairly obvious to everyone where both MB and I stood. I Stoved it and was surprised that I didn't price her out as much as I thought I did. She is only a 40/60 dog there. Odd.

Anyway, I think MB has been visiting Jasonland a little too much. I don't like the re-raise on the flop as I brought up. He Ace/nothing is losing to the majority of hands that are interested in that flop yet she puts more money in while behind and opens up the door to have to call off another 50+ chips to chase her flush. She has no implied odds once she does call either. Then I get two free cards which could possibly trump her flush in case I had AK or something instead of a straight. But she took down a big pot so I guess she made the right ROT play.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Absolute Breach Update

Clicky clicky.

And this is awesome: his entire $1K buyin tournament recreated and up on youtube from hand histories turned over by AP.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

...and now it's front-page MSN news. We were wondering when it would hit the mainstream press, right? The answer is "now."

Cake Challenge Update - Ryan

$68.47 current total

Some rough sessions with a few hands where I hate my play, but overall I think I played +EV poker with –EV results.



My only win (and only marginally interesting hand) was when I raised with 53s on the button having been tight the whole time, and followed up with a successful c-bet. Then the table disintegrated and I bailed.

$4 -- > $3.89

20 Hands

Next table…

Unfortunate. Unusually tight play from wxdoc. I don’t expect people to fear boats like that at micro. Heck, I would have called a raise.

Chased stupidly with T9. –EV poker at its finest!

(KK) I took a shot at the c-bet in the face of an ace, slowed down on the turn after the call, and in doing so let the flush get there. Bah. He could have got me to call a small river bet, but nice river check, dude.

77. I don't know...do you like the set mine in the face of capping the action and given the stack sizes? It’s almost a third of my chips, but the price was tempting since I’m almost guaranteed to get paid by one of these three if I hit the set. I’ll do the math later…

$2 add on.

Man, just not hitting this session (AJs), but in this case, a good thing, then a bad thing. Would have chopped with the aces.

I hate my play in this hand on every street, especially the call of the massive all in. I wasn’t fully engaged, and raised thinking I was in late position. Slipped into “He’s probably a donk” syndrome with the all-in call and became one, despite my repeated warnings about all-in overbets online.

I like that it set me up for a nice fake-tilt the next hand though. Unlike a certain set of jacks I had in a similar live-game situation recently, three of a kind held up here. Offsuit spainR, what a chump. Oh, and this hand is why sites need an “auto refill” choice, where I can add-on between hands automatically. Even though the all-in short stack move worked here, I’d rather have played that hand at full strength, but couldn’t add on in time.

$3 add on to fight at full strength.

What the fuck… (76s and a nice laydown)

…is going on?! (QQ) Do you like the check-fold on the river?

Funny, the chat in the QQ hand is regarding the 76 hand. “Tough river” for both of us, I just had the sense to fold and not open/call with a random 6. I knew someone was calling with a Q or a flush draw, and by the river they both got there, so I was done.

Holy crap this has been a rough session. I have not tilted in the slightest, though. All my mistakes were just me being stubborn, not me being steamy. Time to be done; last orbit.

I don’t know how KK held up for me, here, but a small victory on the final lap is certainly appreciated.

$4 + $2 + $3 -- > $2.72

61 Hands


After the table whittled down to four players, I decided to bail. I was the SB, folded, and even wrote “$3.98” as my cashout below, figuring I was done. I look at my free hand and get KK, which gets all in preflop against JJ and holds up. I knew AA was a possibility, but I also knew he was calling my all in with a huge range that I was crushing. When you get reraised preflop at microstakes, you can basically assume your opponent has a hand they are willing to go all the way with.

$4 -- > $7.92

17 Hands

Thanks for the cheap draw! I thought someone might have the better flush, but when both checked to the aggressor, I felt I was good. Villain had KJo.

$4 -- > $5.14

8 Hands


TT. Marsh was watching and lamented that I got no action on the flop, but I am happy to take that down right there. There are simply no happy flops for TT against multiple loose opponents that don’t contain a ten.

Table curled up and died.

$4 - $4.37

29 Hands


A thin call, perhaps, but people do the check/all in thing with such a huge range at microstakes that I don’t totally hate the play. It could have easily been K-high or an underpair. I should probably be letting those go, though, especially unsuited.

$4 +$2 à $3.98

30 Hands


Funny hand. The 6s managed to get one player playing the board to call…

KK holds up against villain’s Qto.

Ah7h hammer hammer hammer.

AK, never felt I could bet it past preflop. Villains had A4o and 72o.

$4 à $6.08

50 Hands

Wow, a frustrating two-hand sequence against the same nemesis, where I misplay the river in the first and then get sucked out on in the next.

Finally a hand works out for me at this table.

AsKs that didn’t work out. The frustrating session almost had me calling the flop all in, but I wasn’t beating anything, and was likely up against a set. What else would he bet into me with after showing preflop super strength? No steam calls, Ryan.

$4 + $2 + $1 -> $2.08

?? Hands

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Hand in JasonLand

I did have one hand in Canada that totally illustrated the principles of JasonLand. I was playing at a table on Sunday. This was a 180 degree change from the prior tables I played in, this one was uber tight. These were the kind of players that would read Dan Harrington's books and say Dan is a loose cannon. The type to limp with pocket 9's from mid position and fold to one overcard.

Of course, I pick up yet another AA from UTG. What to do? I can raise, which will likely induce a fold from everyone. I can limp, as seat 6 seems to raise about 1 out of 5 hands, then I can reraise and isolate. I guess folding is not an option. I am way ahead for the session and decide to gamble with a limp. Playing one of the aggressive tables last night I may raise to $15 and would likely get 1-3 callers. But not here. Plus if I limp, maybe there is a good story for the TNP crowd. So I limp.

Seat 6 limps as do 3 other players, the small and big blind complete and we see the flop 6 handed. OK now I have to be prepared to fold if the flop does not cooperate and there is a ton of action post flop. These guys won't raise without 2 pair or a set, so I brace myself for the flop.

The flop comes out A,2,2 with 2 spades. Man, I am running good. The two blinds check as do I. I know you guys crushed Austin for not raising with a flopped full house. If Austin knew everyone's hole cards a raise was probably the proper move. Austin did not know everyone's hole cards so I can't fault him for his smooth call. Given the range of hands Marsh Uri and I believe Martin were on a smooth call was not a bad play. He is at worse given a free card to folks with 2 outers.

Back to my hand, I am obviously in fantastic shape here, a small bet may give someone with 2 spades a reason to chase, but this table probably won't chase a paired board. I check, as does everyone else.

The next card is another 2. Well someone could have a 2 but these guys won't play a 2 unless it is A2 suited. Three of the Aces are accounted for so I have no worries. I check again. Please will someone bet. Check, check, then the guy on the button bets $10. Hooray. The blinds fold, I call everyone else folds. The final card is a K. I bet $20 hoping he has something, a pocket pair or the case A. He calls and says do you have a 2? I flip over AA which crushes his KJ. He actually was not bluffing on the turn thinking his king high was good and the river gives him another K.

The table complements me on my play and says there was no way I could have built the pot unless I limped. I realize I have some ROT here because both the flop and turn cooperated. But I was happy with my play and happy that Jasonland thinking worked out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tough night for the challenge.

Last night was interesting to say the least. It was my first major setback on my trek to Cake Challenge greatness. Here's how it unfolded.

I played twice early in the evening, doubling up both times and bailing. Nice, this put me up to around 115.00. I then played a 30 man SNG for 1.10, and placed a respectable 3rd in that. All is well. Then I got on to play some more cash game. I sit down, and there is a guy buying in for 1.00 and going all in every hand. Excellent. He gets lucky a few times and gets his stack up to a buy in or so when I pick up AA. I limp, he ships, I call and he has 85 off, which runner runners a boat. Bummer. I proceed to get my money in pretty light against him twice and win both so I am approaching even but very much aware of the good opportunity I have.

I will cut to the chase, he bought in full later after I had doubled up off of him again and I called him down really light (A high?) twice and he stacked me again with legitimate holdings. Of course I rebuy again, and by the end of the debacle, he is gone and I am 16 bucks lighter in the bankroll. I was also on another table and lost there too.

Everything is sort of a blur after that, but I do know one thing: I was on FBT. Full Blown Tilt baby. This has happened to me in the past online, but it has been years. I've never had this happen live. But being down around 20.00 for the session just torched me, and I wanted it back. But naturally I didn't want to earn it through good play and patience, I wanted it NOW. So what is the next logical step? Play well above your bankroll and try to get it all back at once.

So I find myself at the .10-.20 tables looking to peddle nuts for "just one double up". lol, it seems so idiotic in hindsight, but at the time it felt like my only course of action. So I take my 20 bucks and run my Jd10d flush into a K high flush and boom, there goes one buy in.

What's that you say? Cut your losses and regroup? I THINK NOT. So I naturally go UP in stakes one more level to whatever stakes let's you buy in for 30 bucks, (which leaves me with almost my exact 50.00 original buy in left in the roll btw) and play there. The play at the table is a red haze, but I played ok and basically went up and down for awhile. It is very weird to think that I had 30.00 on the table and I was sweating it really hard. I was at a blind level I am completely comfortable with, playing against probable idiots, yet I felt like I was in Bobby's Room at the Bellagio. Well I go up and down and end up getting all my money in with a nutty straight with AQ and get paid off for a nice score. It is now getting pretty late in the evening and I have Fred and Jeh texting me to get on Halo3, so I look at my current bankroll in total. I have just over 100.00. Not the 115.00 that I had earlier in the night, but I was more than happy to call it a night having avoided disaster.

So in the aftermath of a near disaster, what are my thoughts? Well for one thing, I have realized I am much more tiltalbe online compared with in person. Also, I think that this wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the odd set of circumstances regarding they guy throwing the party. The thing is, when you are grinding it out at these small stakes, little by little, and an opportunity arises to make a nice step forward, you really want to seize it. I know I did. But when it didn't work out, I felt like I just biffed off 16 hard earned bucks and I wanted it back. I think I felt entitled to that guys money, as weird as it sounds. Do I think I will get in this spot again? No, I don't. But if I do, I will post it on here in all its dramatic goodness.

Moving up in stakes is a recipe for disaster like I did, and I do consider myself very lucky for avoiding it. My strategy was pretty sound, basically just nut peddle, but in my tilty mindset, I am not sure I should have been playing at all. Thanks to Halo3 I was able to call it a night having suffered an hit, but nothing devastating. Everyone thank their god for Halo3.

I am also forced to realize that as in real life, there are no plausible get rich quick options in poker. I had grinded my way up to 115 from 50 at .02-.04, and it had been a steady ascent. Ryan was sweating me when the maniac was going off, and at first he was jealous because I had him at my table, but later changed his tune when he saw me lose even having "way the best of it" (lol jeh) a few times. He said, "you can keep the maniacs."

I agree.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The last order of magnitude is always the hardest

I have cracked the 50,000 barrier in my FTP Fake Cake Challenge and that brings up a topic that I've been meaning to blog about, how scaling affects your bankroll growth.

When I started I fumbled around on the tables and knocked down my original allotment of 1000 fake bucks to 700-800. I know it's fake but I was not going to reload. I was going to protect that the same way you guys are with your Cake money. I played small ball to edge my roll up and when I felt comfortable to dip my foot in, I took on the 10/20 tables because I felt that the 7cs hi/lo and Razz tables gave me the best shot to run up my roll. As my older blog entries suggested, I was rationing out every ante and bring in to keep my risk minimized. Since then my roll has grown 50 times as large as it originally was. That same 200 that I was worried about being down is now a value bet on the end of a hand.

The problem that I'm going to run into soon is how much harder it is to keep my growth going. 10/20 tables were very soft. 100/200 less so. I imagine higher tables are going to be more challenging...assuming I can find one. They offer 500/1000 tables but there are fewer of them and empty at times because there aren't enough players so I can't just jump up my stakes and expect to keep growing the roll like I have been. Currently I open four tables and pull down about $4000 every 100 hands which takes about 45 minutes to run. That's averaging $40 per hand that I play, mucked or not. If I keep playing here I can pull down a few K a session but then my growth is going to slow down. I can open up more tables maybe but I'm already pretty much at every open table already.

This is the same problem that mutual funds run into. When the mutual fund is small they can find some small caps, invest in them and get stellar returns. But as the fund grows larger, buying a $20 million dollar company that grows 10x in value over a couple years is not going to have the same impact for a $5 billion fund as it would on a $200 million fund. The amount of money coming in may be the same but the percentage growth drops off significantly. A mutual fund can buy bigger companies but big companies don't grow as fast as small ones.

Fortunately for you Cakers there are a lot more tables with a more gradual jumps between stakes to allow for a smooth and gradual increase in bankroll but depending on how long you guys go with the challenge, I wanted to give you a glimpse into the future.

Cake Challenge - Ryan - Oct. Update

Ryan's Cake Challenge Results



AK on the first hand doubles me up, but I lose a bit before the blinds come around so I keep playing.

I made an uncharacteristic move on this hand (66), and was reminded why such moves are rightfully uncharacteristic for me at microstakes. Just bet the probable best hands and occasionally c-bet, Ryan. Check/fold the rest. Between actually facing a good hand and actually facing a donk, the EV isn’t there for moves like that. Should have folded the flop.

Toiling away in the set mines finally pays off big. I really wanted BOOD22 to give back the money I donked in my move hand above, but I’ll settle for JKev07’s stack.

So let me lose most of that juicy profit on the very next hand. BAH! Well, I can get away from that hand at WNP or whatever, but at microstakes cake, it is –EV to fold worrying about being outkicked, here. With no preflop raises, only two hands are beating me here (three if you think 88 would not be raised, because AJ would be for sure). Way more often than not in this spot, the T will be the best kicker with no preflop raise. This hand is more evidence that the spainR is obviously superior to junkers like JTs and QJs.

$4 -- > $7.14

26 Hands

Frustrating to cash out for $7.14 when I had $10+ to leave with after the set of fives, but I flopped trips and got outkicked, what can you do?


Bet/raise if you hit, check/fold if you miss. (AK) Gotta keep playing like this. No moves allowed until following those rules no longer produces a profit.

Live by AK, die by AK. Still won’t fold it preflop.

“He called my flop raise? OK, I guess I have to hope for no diamond…” Crap. (AcTd)

Ouch, this one hurt. Could not put him on AK there.


$4 +$2 -- > $0

26 Hands


I don’t regret how strongly I played this one, just how it turned out.

$4 – $2.79

10 Hands


The superscoop!

The Jason defense hand: the nuts don’t always win (or to put it more accurately, Omaha hands aren’t always won by the nuts.) I felt that based on the betting, I wassn’t behind a boat, so I made the raise with the non-boat nuts and got the call.

$4 - $9.36

14 Hands


The hearts would have got there anyway (Jh8h).

$4 – $5.10

24 Hands


This is why I want to play more O8. Gambly and swingy, yes, but look what these people are gambling with! Some reasonable preflop discipline and the EV is excellent as long as at least one player is being ridiculous, as there is here.

An appropriate chase-and-miss drops me down, so I add on $4, but this is the end of my O8 budget for right now.

OK, bad move. But I have 30% equity in ROT, and based on how the table was playing above, I don’t hate it, I just hate that I had one of my own flush outs, and no low. How to handle AA single-suited with no low draw at O8 is a question for the 2+2 forums, I think.

$5 +$4 -- > $0

6 Hands


Felt like he was on the flush draw, so the river call surprised me. He caught just enough to look me up.

My KK gets AK all in after a K-high flop.

$4-- > $8.62

23 hands


This guy had moved in preflop last hand, and was clearly looking to gamble. It wasn’t an insta call, but I really felt I had the best hand based on how he was playing. The other caller was a surprise.

He misplayed it.

Protect! Protect! (AT)

$4 - $9.74

32 Hands


$4 – $4.08

9 Hands

3-Gold-Coin Freeroll Tournament

AA vs. 7d4d, flop is 974, turn is a 4. Bye now.


No post-worthy hands.

$4 - $3.88

27 hands


I dumped AJo to the flop raise, here, I just didn’t feel good.

Villain had AQ, I tried to rep a failed c-bet, but didn’t get the max out of the hand. Should have just bet the turn, shocker.

$4 -- > $4.69

45 Hands

Farha on Omaha

Was browsing the bookstore for a Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo book and ended up adding Farha on Omaha to the library. It's funny reading about him describing quality starting hands and he even says in the beginning that there is "his way" and the "right way." The weirdest thing though is for this book (and this doesn't happen to me ever) I cannot shake hearing Sammy's accent as I'm reading the book. That middle eastern accent is like one of those songs you can't get out of your head and if you listen carefully you can even hear an unlit cigarette too! Haven't read very much but it seems to cover the basics. I will be interested to read what he has to say about playing the "Sammy" way.

Cake Challenge- Marsh October so far.


I am sitting above the century mark. For full buy ins at .05-.10 I need to be at 200.00. I will continue to grind at the basement level until I get there.

I have been sticking to the 5% of bankroll limit like glue so far. I haven't really taken any shots yet, and I haven't played any higher than .02-.04 for cash games. I have played in a 3.30 cent multitable tourney which was probably stretching it a bit. I really want to play more 30 person 1.10 SNG's but they don't happen quite often enough and they do take a bit of time. I am really seeing how being meticulous about your bankroll can lead to good things. Its also good to come at the online poker world from the bottom up. It can feel like you are dropped in the fray if you just start out at .25-.50. I now can't really fathom buying in for 200.00 or whatever and playing in the .25-.50 or 1-2 like I used to. You simply cannot sustain any swings and to me it just seems inevitable that you will go broke.

I will keep the spreadsheet up to date and that will probably be the best way to track progress for those interested in seeing a legend's rise to greatness. I will do either weekly or monthly updates too with thoughts/comments/opinions about what is happening.

See you guys at the tables.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

True SpainR Dominates in Canada

Just got back from a successful trip at the River Rock Casino in Vancouver, Canada. A great alternative to Vegas. I know it is not "Vegas" but the poker room is big, 30-35 tables, usually up to 6 1-2NL games going, nice waitress service, decent food and drinks and a wild crowd in the evenings.

Here are some of the more interesting hands, none of which would take place with the relatively sane TNP crowd. If you think Yuri and I are aggressive, we are timid weak players compared with some of the pure gamblers at River Rock.

First big hand for me are pocket Kings on the button. No limpers, one raiser to 10 preflop, I reraise to 30, small blind goes all in for about $120, big blind thinks for a second then says I want to gamble and goes all in for about $100, original raiser folds, and I go all in having them both covered with about $155 in chips. Flop is 7,8,9, 2 hearts, big blind starts jumping for joy, turn and river are both hearts, and big blind says his J-10 is counterfeighted, I scoop the pot of over $300.00 with K of hearts. Small blind mucks unknown hand.

This is the start of a series of all in preflops that I participate in over the next couple days. Many tables typically has a micro stack of between $30-$60, that will either go all in or fold. This only happens about 1 out of 20 hands and only at certain tables, so it is not as bad as it sounds but prevents you from limping in early position with junk, something I am prone to do.

I ended up in about 6 all in hands preflop over 3 days. KK, AK, and 10-10 held up, 5-5 did not, can't remember the others. 5-5 was a min raise from the microstack that put me all in so damage was minimal.

The aggression of all in preflop pales in comparison to the next hand. Really drunk and jovial red wine drinker joins the table in the evening of night 1. He tips the dealer about $10 each time he wins a hand, is super loose, and the table really enjoys having him. Picks up a decent size stack when he calls an all in with pocket 4's that hold up against AK. Shortly thereafter, micro stack goes all in for $36 preflop. Two callers, plus really drunk red wine guy. Flop is J,J, 4. Both callers check, and really drunk red wine guy bets $100, with about $200 behind. Both callers fold, and red wine guy announces I have nothing, I am here to protect the short stacks. He flips over 6,2 os. Short stack flips over two paint cards which hold up on the turn and river.

Day 2 evening. Under the gun player, an experienced solid player, raises to $6UTG. Couple callers, I fold. Flop is 6.9,J I believe, rainbow. Some action with original raiser and another player, everyone else folds. Next card is a 10 of spades, putting two spades on the board. Action heats up with both players all in for a pot of near $400. Final card is the third spade and original raiser flips over the true SpainR for a Jack high flush. Crushes the other player who was all in with the made straight, KQ. I comment to the UTG player that this is a favorite hand at our home game.

A few hands later I pick up the true SpainR on the button. Raise to $10. I win the pot when the river puts out the 3rd spade again, about $100. 00. Day 3 I look over at MB's table to see J-8 of diamonds scooping the pot. The SpainR appears undefeated.

In 3 days of cash games, I was very lucky and only felted once. Brand new table, about 5th hand, UTG player limps, I raise to $15 with KK from seat next to UTG, 2 callers plus original limper. Flop is Q high rainbow, no straight draws. Limper bets $75, I ship for about $165, everyone else folds. River is a Q giving him trip Q's with QJ. Can't fault my play here, just unlucky.

Really only faced with 2 difficult decisions over the 3 days. Playing a suited J-9 in diamonds, I raise from the cutoff and am called by the blind, a player prone to making mistakes who has accumulated a big stack when super aggressive young guy bluffed into him when big blind had a full house. Flop comes out with two diamonds. He checks, and I continuation bet for about $25, putting about $55 in the pot. Next card is a diamond, he bets $20, I call. Suspicious bet, so small it is either a scared bet or I have a monster bet. River card comes, straightening the board. He checks, I think my Jack high flush is good and bet $40 and he check raises me to $100.00 Hmm. Not a big check raise so if he is a good player he must have a higher flush. But I have seen him donk off chips with trips against obvious flushes. So maybe he has nothing. I call he announces straight and I scoop with J-9 suited, a hand with unknown luck relative to the SpainR.

Evening of night 2 I am playing with a player on tilt against me as I have won most pots against him. Playing KQ os, flop is K,10, 8 with 2 hearts. He bets $10 into a pot of about $40, I raise to $30. He calls. Next card is an Ace. He bets $20 I call, Next card is a heart, he bets $40. Obvious straight and flush possibilities, but I believe he has nothing and is still tilting against me. I call. He announces straight and flips over 10,9 for one pair. The dealer chastises him for deceptive announcement saying it may cause me to muck. I don't and win the pot. Tip the dealer and the player who played the SpainR UTG complements me for a tough call. Definitely, one of the highlights of the night.

Since I only had 2 really tough decisions for big pots, I can't say I played brilliantly over the 12 or so hours of play. I got ridiculously good cards. Pocket Aces 5 times, once two hands in a row, 4 or 5 pocket Kings. They all either held up or were not called preflop except for the pocket KK I mentioned before. I had the nut flush against the second nut flush against a really good player who gave me about half of his stack. I had zero second best hands for monster pots, just one unlucky river on all all in.

Total tally just shy of $650 in winnings in cash games. Not a Jeh Chow effort, but not bad. $100 loss in the tourney. Many thanks to Ryan for showing me the virtues of the true SpainR, which held up. Small thanks to Joe Sola. Raised from the button with 4,6os after showing down AA and KK. Big blind calls. Flop has an Ace, paint and a 9 so I continuation bet and big blind folds. All of the favorite hands of the TNP crowd seem to hold up.

Will definitely head back for visit 3 in the future. Definitely recommend the River Rock.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Curse of the Mummy Tournament review

Looks like I asked for rain and got a deluge. I thought that the rebuys and add-ons would add more action to the game than last time and indeed it seemed to have done just that. There were 15 players and 13 rebuys. Royal and Marsh were the only two multi-rebuy players. There were also 13 add-ons. That put 8200 chips in play after all is said and done compared with 3000 in starting stacks and a projected 6000 if everyone just did the original buy and the add-on.

There was not much rhyme or reason to results though. Royal rebought twice and chopped for 1st/2nd. Scott came in third and did it all just on the original $20 buy with no rebuys or add-ons (nice ROI!).

I think that offering a single rebuy will slow things down a little while still allowing for someone to make a mistake and survive. Other options include a single rebuy/add-on like Caesars and the Venetian do. You pay X for your entry and an additional Y (less than X) to get more chips. You can either pay all up front and start out with the max. Keep the option and use it if you bust out or get low. Or you can use it as an add on at the end of the rebuy period.

I didn't record exactly when the first player went out but I would guess that everyone got in at least two hours of solid play and I think that is a good thing. I also liked that players were seeing flops and he had more showdowns than last time which I think the stack depth and structure contributed to. I also think that players were able to leave on their own terms for the most part. Players got blinded down but apart from a Hail Mary T4os push from me everyone seemed to be at least go down with an Ace or pair.

The tournament also ended earlier than projected and not just because of the chop at the end. The tournament ended almost and hour earlier than anticipated. I think part of that may have been due to the magnification of stack differences from the additional chips put into play. Big stacks had the resources to try to flyswat the small stacks when they pushed in and I think that sped up the eliminations.

Congrats to all the cashers. Once again, the TNP crowd was well represented in the money list.

Comment away...

FTP Fake Cake Challenge: 20 bagger

I'm now at 20,295 or more than 20x my initial roll. I've been updating my 10 bagger post with progress but wanted to make a new post to highlight some of the high points since last time.

There is nothing to convince me otherwise that 7cs hi/lo is the softest game to hit. It is basic strategy to play for a low and try to scoop but there are plenty of players that don't do that. Enough at this level that it is a very beatable game. Yes it is play money but at these stakes the standard buy in is 2000. What I mean by that is that players coming into this game have to be at least semi-serious about winning because you can only reload your play money account for 1000 which really isn't enough to be comfortable at these stakes. You see some players come in for 1000 but they are just d0nks looking to double up and generally doing a crappy job at it. They are better off playing Oma-lotto because they can at least get ten way action on their money and have a better chance of 10xing up.

The structure of 7cs allows me to just sit and pay ante/bring-in tax while I wait for good starting hands then pour in money into hands with high probability of success. I don't play many hands and I continue even fewer of them but when I score it more than makes up for all of the antes and bring-ins I need to post along the way. I think fixed limit games are ideal for bankroll management because it helps to keep variance low and even let's me play a bigger game than I would otherwise be able to so I can build my roll faster. Kinda like a high leverage financial instrument.

Limit play in conjunction with multi-tabling is the way to go. There really are no hard/expensive decisions to make and with all of the upcards available you can make a decent assessment of where you are even without having watched the action the whole way through. Multi-tabling really helps me to avoid tilting off money too because I don't get too tilty from a great starting hand bricking or a bad suckout. It's just one of the many anonymous hands that go into the "didn't work out" column that are more than offset by the "took down a big pot" column.

I want to start tracking numbers more. I look at them but don't really track or do much analysis from them. For instance, here are some combined numbers from my last few sessions:
Statistics for 316 Hands
Street Saw Saw/Total
Fourth 79 25%
Fifth 53 17%
Sixth 35 11%
Seventh 27 9%
Showdown 25 8%
Street Won Won/Saw Won/Total
Third 0 0% 0%
Fourth 0 0% 0%
Fifth 1 2% 0%
Sixth 0 0% 0%
Seventh 1 4% 0%
- Split 11 44% 3%
- Scoop 7 28% 2%

25% of my hands get to 4th street. I am mucking at LEAST 75% of my hands since that number also shows the times that I post the bring-in and don't get raised off of my hand going to 4th. It is rare to go past 4th without paying but it happens sometimes and can even get to the river with no extra money so my selectivity is even tighter than these numbers show.

I only won two hands out of 316 by betting and having people fold. This is because a) hope springs eternal for players and you will be called with chasers and b) I don't bluff so I'm not trying to take down a pot with scare cards showing. Razz is much more a bluffing game IMO.

I am only showing down 8% of my hands. No d0nking off chips to look players up. Not at 100/200 at least. I try to either bail early or hammer the pots when I'm strong. Not much middle ground.

Of the hands that do see showdown, I'm raking chips in 72% of them. 44% of my showdowns I take half and 28% of the time I'm scooping the whole thing. The math is clear. Muck hands for cheap, invest in hands with good upside potential, pour money into hands when you are ahead and try to win both ways if possible. Recipe for building the roll.

Other notes:
I had my first career 7cs roll up with 55/5. Case 5 was unknowingly dead and boating up would have lost to a bigger boat anyway. Neat to see but I'm not going to get too excited about these hands unless they are high trips that boat quickly or I quad up.

Scooped a giant 4.8K (24% of my roll and nearly 5x my initial roll) pot when I make an Ace high flush and wheeled for the low. Got multiway calls all the way despite showing all Hearts as my upcards and capped the river with a guy that thought he could get low. I was actually a 2h away from a wheel straight flush. I rivered the 2d instead.
Seat 7: TheSushiCowboy showed [Th 5h 4h 3h 8h Ah 2d] and won (4,890) with HI: a flush, Ace high; LO: 5,4,3,2,A
Once again, just solid fundamentals. I only got involved with hands that are strong lows and scoop as much as the cards allow.

Anyway, there are some lessons learned from my bankroll building exercise. I hope that they are helpful for you Cakers.