Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Cake Challenge October - Ryan

So, I've been putting up a ton of hand histories and comments on my Cake progress (executive summary: ten steps forward and ten steps back). I don't know if anyone is looking at it, though, buried back there in September. I was thinking making a post a month and keeping my thoughts and updates in that post is better than making one huge one.

I really don't know how interesting looking at a bunch of microstakes hand histories and comments will actually be, but I do weave in strategy thoughts, hopefully it's not just a bunch of $2 bad-beat stories. I'd like feedback, though. I know Marsh is reading this stuff, but if nobody else cares, I am going to dial back my hand tracking.

Ryan's Cake Challenge Results


NLHE - .02/.04

Double up plus on my first hand.

OK, I call a pot-sized bet on the flop with the open-ender, here. It was probably a bad play even at mircostakes, but here was my microstakes thinking:

  • With three players left to act at microstakes, you can expect a caller or two behind you here way more often than you will get at a better game
  • You will get paid off more consistently when you hit at microstakes, so the implied odds are better
  • If someone raises, it’s not a bad thing per se, as you can get into a situation where you have 8 clean outs to the nuts against two players and a triple up

I’m definitely more willing to gamble at these stakes, not because it’s a small real-world amount of money, but because your opponents at this level are looking to gamble. I think to succeed, you must be willing to oblige them when it is +EV in the slightest.

I don’t know if it was here or not, and this kind of situation comes up enough at microstakes (facing a pot-sized bet with a clean draw on the flop and multiple players behind) that I am going to look into it some more so I have a better idea of my EV in future situations like this.

$4 --> $8.24

1 Hand

NLHE .02/.04

I don’t mind limps with hands like this, you frequently see flops and get paid with monsters. This is the downside, though. The better flush draw leaving me with a fraction of the outs I thought I had.

Be the one massively overbetting, not calling

(Rockets!) I’m actually starting to recognize some opponents, like coopershawk. He plays loose/passive preflop, calls light postflop, and chases draws for terrible prices. He must have had complete air on this flop to fold to me.

Played the river pretty soft, should have raised. If she had a boat or flush, she would have bet more than $.04 on the river.

I should start changing my name, I don’t want others to recognize me…

$4 --> $4.84

79 Hands

I’ve been not adding on when significantly below $4 to make for easier tracking, but I think I should start; it’s costing me money in hands like the JJ vs. QT.




$4 --> $3.90

7 Hands


Wow, look at these two donks slowplaying their monsters back and forth to suck/resuck perfection on my first hand.

Interesting three-way chop. Double-domination preflop isn’t what it used to be.

Classic microstakes move #272: minbet the flop and turn, then hammer the river. I just have a 6, here, and I smell the move a mile away, but I’m happy to take my cheap shot at five outs, knowing that I’ll get a big bet into me if I hit.

AcKc…you think I’m going to the felt with that flop?

A long, mostly eventless grind. That AK, this J8, and a KQ on my final hand combine to give me some sugar after an hour of occasional speculation and fruitless set mining.

$4 + $1 --> $5.14

86 Hands



First hand in! TT. I probed with the reraise, but I didn’t know enough about the guy to go any farther when he repops. Then he shows me my good lay. Thanks!

I lost track of my stack size, here, thinking I had a full buy that I could get cute with on the turn. Wish I had bought up! Surprising hand from “catchy,” I think we have our table fish.

Based on the fours from before, I felt good enough to raise catchy on the turn, but not good enough to v-bet the river with that ace.

Having seen catchy chase and chase by now (I mean hell, he’s named “catchy”), I had to let Ts9s go after a one-card straight hits and he bets out.

Another fold (Q9o) when a draw hits and the guy who flat calls my flop raise bets out. I fear scare cards more at microstakes since players are chasing at a high rate.

Maybe a pussy non-raise given microstakes tendencies, but the third nuts facing a bet and a raise seemed like just a call to me.

$4 --> $9.16

19 Hands


Multi-tabled, playing this at the same time as the session above.

Folded a bunch of hands, then Yahtzee! This is why I won’t fold AK preflop at microstakes.

Lost a couple bucks pushing JJ too far and then staring at a bet I couldn’t fold to despite feeling beat. My worst-played hand of the session.

$4--> $7.64

20 hands



$4 - $5.04

10 Hands

NLHE 30-Player Tournament

$1.00 + $.10

In classic microstakes form, everyone is throwing their chips around like drunk Steve. “Corina” in particular has been raising and calling with anything, and has been pretty lucky. I’m looking to let “her” do the betting for me when I finally catch a hand. I get AKo UTG and just limp because it’s likely someone will raise based on the table action. That doesn’t happen, but the flop looks good for me and I get what I was looking for: Corina making a terrible call against me. Pass the Sklanski bucks.



I can’t take it. This is the kind of shit that busted me online last time. And this. I’m not saying these were great plays, but they are what I think you have to do: overplay premium hands because somebody with a worse hand will play back. They just keep winning against me lately.

$4 – $0

43 Hands


Nice flop, meh turn, nice river.

But it’s Omaha, so naturally I throw away my profit on the next hand because I’m stubborn and ignore my gut too much.

Wow. Sets in O8 just suck ass. Fucking donkeys.

$4 – $0

11 Hands


I'm clearly not playing correctly. The poker gods are just hitting me over the head with how vulnerable sets are in Omaha, especially undersets. These tables are soooo beatable…I’m just not playing optimally, and I’m getting unlucky to boot.

But Omaha sets! Holy crap! Unless the board is as dry as they come and you have top set (you have KK on a board of K92 rainbow), they are drawing hands. Let’s say the flop is 9h 8h 2s and you have 9c 9d Ad 2c. You don’t have “top set.” You don’t have “the nuts.” That’s hold’em thinking. You have six outs on the flop, and maybe three more on the turn, assuming an overcard doesn’t have you drawing to a one-outer, and it’s probably to a chop, not a scoop.

Here, poker stoving (well, ProPokerTooling) this hand and this flop against four random hands (and in microstakes O8, you will have four opponents), you have only 30% equity. You are the “favorite,” but do you hammer it, or do you treat it like a typical open-ender in hold’em? I don't know what the correct play is in situations like this. I may take some O8 questions to the 2+2 forums...

$4 – $0

1 Hand


OK, look, just folded two pair without a thought (Q325), I’m getting better! Of course, the hi winner ends up winning with two pair.

Sob, I can’t do anything right…Folded A2 on the turn with no diamond flush. OK, not a bad fold, I am being openly ROTey, but crap I want some dollars!

I think I finally played a flopped set correctly. And one finally connected on the river.

Folded 3dAs8s5h which would have won the low, but I like the fold. That’s a terrible place to take a stand.

$4 + $2 – $5.42

25 Hands

OK, I feel like I just got roofied. Was up at $90, now I’m almost sugar-free.



Busted on the second hand. I made what I hoped would be a sweetener raise with A24x and a good shot at a nut low, but it got bumped by a short stack. I had a nice low draw, and decided to go with it figuring that I would take half the pot if a low came barring a nasty counterfeiting. Turns out another guy had my exact low, so I was quartering at best.

I knew it was risky, but also figured it couldn’t hurt to set a rep as a gambler for a rebuy with so many big stacks at the table. Plan B it is.

$4 – > $0 – 2 Hands


Awesome lolmaha. Had to run the numbers on that hand. If I had joined in with my 6h2h6c4d, it would have looked like this. Interesting to note that the guy with AA had the worst EV because of his lack of a winnable low.

More Awsome lolmaha, this time I’m the recipient of the jackpot.

This time it busts me. Very next hand, too. Good old flop nuts that fail to hold up. This is an interesting one to stove. I have the absolute nuts on the flop, but with no low draw and my vulnerability to straight and flush draws, I’m actually in third place in the EV race! By the turn, when I get it all in there, my EV is 40%, but the river killed me.

This underscores the importance of seeing flops in O8 with solid low draws. You lose so much EV without a shot at the low that the flopped nuts only had 27% EV in that hand!

$4 --> 0 - 5 hands


Major gambly table. Hand history feature went on the fritz during this run, but I couldn’t even make it around to my BB to cash out up before I was compelled to shove with the odds. It didn’t work out and I busted again.

$6 --> $0 – 12 hands

So, O8 decimated my bankroll in this session. I knew it would be a swingy game to play in the challenge, but if I had just enforced a “cash out immediately when 10% of bankroll is on the table” policy instead of waiting for my BB, I would have finished near-even. Also, this table was just insane, even relative to normal microstakes O8. Total gamble-fest.


$4 +$4 -- > $4.49


$3.30 Tournament

Down to under $1k, I find KK and get healthy. Many hands later…OMFG, this is just brutal. And I’m out.

Gotta play more microstakes MTTs, the gambling is outrageous, should be well profitable in the long run.



Flopped a set and top pair, was sure I was still ahead on the flop, pretty sure I was ahead on the turn, and dead sure I was behind on the river. Buyup!

I never play 92o, but double it for O8? Sign me up! I had no idea how I was still good by the river, I thought I was busted for sure. (V1=6cAcAd2d, V2=Qc2c3c4c) Both were aiming low and didn't have two spades on them.

Wait for the blinds and bail…

$4 + $3 --> $11.72 – 16 Hands


Down a little after a big preflop raise with AJo and a c-bet, then doubled up with QQ. I knew this guy had an 8, just didn’t know what his other card was.

Then had my big score. lol. 1eyetex had a random king.

Oh, and this hand could be the cover of a book…

$4--> $9.90 – 43 Hands


$4 +$1 --> $7.06 – 21 Hands


On a whim I tried moving in with QQ on my second hand after a minraise and a call in front. Nobody had anything good enough to call with, but I thought I might look like your basic microstakes gambler by making that move on my second hand.

Tried a bluff and got reraised on the flop. Doubled up later. Wasn’t enough to avoid my first losing session in a while.

$4 --> $3.30 – 12 hands


Let’s try some six-handed.

Traded a few minor blows before the game collapsed.

$4 --> $4.26 – 14 hands


More O8

I swear, I don't even know what happened here with that river call (8433hh). If I can't avoid bad Omaha calls like this, I can't include Omaha in my cake-challenge game selection or I will destroy my bankroll.

Well, I added on a couple times and got some sugar in the end.

$4 +$1 +$1 --> $7.04

Let's go again!


And Again!

Sat down in the BB, and bought in for $6 because I wanted to get bought in before the hand ended and blinds passed. Won my first two hands, was up over $4, cruised the rest of the orbit and cashed out.

$6 --> $10.61



Omaha 8!

I really wanted to play some Omaha, but with no .02/.04 available, I bought in for $4 at the .05/.10 O8 table. Took my chances with this hand early on, but it didn't work out, and I busted. My "draw" that I liked turned out to be horrible after seeing the winner's hand. Gotta watch out for going to the felt on a nut low draw that will quarter you when it hits. Quartered nut lows happen all the time in O8.

$4 --> $0

I know swingy Omaha isn’t an ideal "bankroll management" game, especially at a touch over Ferguson stakes, but I think my bankroll cushion is big enough--and people play it badly enough--that I can risk the inherent swings in the game for the reward.

To that end, another shot; if I bust out, I'll get off the Omaha train before it decimates my bankroll…

I guess if I couldn't get away from the second nut low here (which I couldn't), I should have bet it.

Well, Omaha smiled on me in the way only Omaha can, when I went all in with a set, a flush draw, and the nut low draw, missed them all and hit runner-runner Broadway for the nuts and no low instead. (I thought I got the hand link, but I can’t find it).

I quit at my next blind like a good boy. I even folded bottom set (A633hhh) to a big flop bet. I had no straight or flush redraws and an awful low draw, and look what ended up happening. This is what I mean about playing Omaha smart…pick and choose when to gamble, because most of your opponents will be set to “always.”

$4 --> $13.60


I played at this hold'em table at the same time as the Omaha table. Had a couple key hands (villain = 8s7c) to put me ahead about $3.50, then had this hand on my last orbit. Solid sugar from both tables despite the early Omaha stumble.

$4 --> $10.16


In this hand, The min-raise preflop and the min-raise on the flop confused me a bit. I'm not sure how the hand would have gone down if I didn't catch one of my 3s or Qs to make things more straightforward. A more serious raise on the flop would have got me to fold, but he did have me confused.

On this hand, I get 99, and I'm facing an EP standard preflop raise and one caller. In spots like this, you have to decide right then if you are going to treat 99 like a better pocket pair, or a worse one. You certainly can't treat them like nines; that would be a disaster.

On the previous hand, I raised in the CO with QJ off, c-bet a K-high flop, got called, checked it down, and won with a river J. I had to show the table my marginal raise, though, which is an image adjuster. Because of that last hand, I felt re-raising with the nines would get me more action than I wanted, so I decided to treat them like a worse pair and set mine. With that many to the flop, I'm done when the board pairs jacks. Aficionado2 doesn't show, but I'm certain he held a jack.

If there's no reraise, I'm happily calling this obvious short-stack gambler with my ATss. The iso reraise works with QQ, though, and I correctly fold what would have been a big winner.

(AKcc) I liked the raise to $.30 (slightly more than pot-sized) preflop, because someone is probably going to pay that awful price to see a flop. When they do, and I hit top top with a flop that dry, I should have made a callable bet and not the microstakes overshove, but he did take until the last second to decide to fold.

(AQo) God, just when I'm doing great, I fuck it up. Classic, I was going to quit when the blinds got to me, too. Layla had been playing pretty loose, betting and calling with lots of marginal hands postflop, so I don't think it was a horrible call, but I didn't have to lose a buyin on that hand. I should have cut my losses on the river.

OK, I hit a flush and made $.33 of sugar. Good enough for now, if frustrating that I don't have my almost-$4 in sugar…

$4 --> $4.33



Sometimes you have to fold quads. (32o)

Expert play at the microstakes! I love the minraise war on the turn where the guy with trip sixes lets the gutshot hit with his awful betting. Really, I'm including this hand to show manderson's $2 bet into the $1 pot with the straight on the river. I think most 100%+ pot-sized bets on the river at $.02/$.04 are just the mircostakes equivalent of value bets.

6h5h - OK, the micro-stakes value bet on the river didn't work out on this one, but the whole min-bet-the-flop-and-turn thing created Jason's dream scenario: the chaseable gutshot/runner-runner!

Brutal. If he had pushed instead of check-min-raised, I might have thought I was behind and folded. Well, I got him to make a big mistake, so there you go. That's why proper bankroll management involves such a big cushion. You need to be able to withstand a ton of beats like that in a row without busting, because at some point, you will get tons of beats like that in a row.

I lose a coinflip with AK. I will pretty much never fold AK preflop at microstakes. I had AA the previous hand and won without a showdown, so my short-term image was very aggro. When I raise again on the next hand and someone overshoves, it's almost certain I've got a coin flip at worst, and maybe even domination. Also, sometimes that third player will gamble in terrible shape in that spot as well and make the call.

And that will do it for this nasty little session.

$4, +$2.89, +$2.02 --> $3.82, 40 hands


Austin said...

I'm certainly still reading these comments and from what I can tell it just seems like while there are donkeys playing omaha, you're more than willing to gamble with them. Your holdem play is much, much stronger than your omaha play and even though you've been getting bad beats on it, I'd say it's much more likely you'll make money on it. It probably doesn't help that the stakes in omaha are a bit more than what your bankroll is at the point of supporting either.

I was in a similar position to you when I would just constantly get frustrated from bad beats and then consequently bad play. I stepped away from online poker for a week or two and when I came back to it I was much more composed and able to attack the tables like a good player instead of one gambling to get his bankroll back up to what it was. This challenge has helped me tremendously in trying to achieve that goal. I'm not sure if this would help you, but it did for me.

Marshall said...

I have read every comment, update and hand history from Ryan, and its not only informative to a point, but also entertaining. Reading into the tone he puts in gives you a glimpse of what its like to grind like this.

I have stolen his spreadsheet and will make that link available soon also.

Austin and anyone else in the Challenge: updates???

Nobody has to do as much as Ryan does if they don't want, but keep us in the loop. Are you down? Up? What stakes/games are we all playing?

Ryan said...

I've admittedly played several of the Omaha hands I've posted poorly, but for the most part, I'm picking much better spots than my opponents and getting unlucky.

My hold'em game is definitely better than my O8 game, but I'd also say the skill gap between myself and most of my opponents on Cake is similar at both games. The O8 play is just dreadful, makes the SLP crowd look like O8 masters.

I am willing to gamble at O8, but you have to be; it's a swingy game where "gambling" is frequently correct. The key is getting it in when you have the best of it, even if only marginally, and I think I've done that for the most part. Definitely a few river calls I want back, though.

O8 is not really below my bankroll, either, as I was buying in for $4 with an $80 roll. The blinds are higher and pots bigger, but I feel the bankroll risk was in the right range.

That being said, I will probably stick to hold'em for a bit until I'm back up, as I don't want to play a swingy game like O8 when I'm barely even, and at $55, $4 is above my Ferguson stakes. I like O8, though, and those tables are ever so beatable. When I'm back up to $70, I'll get O8 in the rotation again.

Finally, because this post isn't defensive enough yet, I don't think I'm steaming off chips or anything, either. I mean, I may *post* steamy about some frustrating beat or a rough session, but I'm not taking that to the table.

Last night is a good example...after one brutal hand after another last night, most of which I would play exactly the same way again, I finished the night by grinding out $2 of sugar over 60+ hands with solid play, with no thought of the earlier losses...

Marshall said...

I can attest to Ryan not steaming his stack away. On a lot of the evening sessions I am on Cake the same time he is and I railbird him while he plays.

About O8, I think that it might just be a bit too swingy when you have limited roll. Over time you will definitely see +EV, but its sorta brutal in the short run, when a 20.00 swing can crush a lot of work.

Bob Loblaw said...

I'm reading, too, but man this post caught me off guard with so much to catch up on. Keep it coming!

Bob Loblaw said...

And might I suggest, with the depth that you go into and the amount you're playing, that you do new posts weekly instead of monthly? It will always drop off the radar if you break it up monthly, and you know me -- out of sight, out of mind.

Just a suggestion.