Friday, November 30, 2007

Cake Challenge Update - Austin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cake Challenge Update - Ryan

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

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

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


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

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

...and back down we go...

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bring on the Cake!

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

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

Goal #1 is to last longer than Royal.

Good luck me!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My visit to Cakeland

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

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

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

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

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

Looking forward to doing some Cake here pretty soon.

Slightly off-topic

What this guy can do with cardstacking is pretty amazing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Adding the mighty limp/fold into my arsenal of weapons

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

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

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

Cake Update - Marsh

Cracked the $400.00 mark last night.

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

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

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

Two Omaha Problems

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

1-day Cake Challenge Blowout!

First, let me get this out of the way:

I rule.

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

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

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

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

Things I've learned from my experience:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 19, 2007

Worst Tournament...Ever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jasonland Bankroll Managment Principles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tales from Omaha 8 - A Jason post

Posted on behalf of Jason:

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

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

Key Hands

Best Flop Ever,

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

Worse Flop Ever,

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

No way to lay down hand

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

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

Stressful Way to Win a $10 Pot

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

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

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

Cake Challenge Update - Ryan

Blow by blow

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

Sunday, November 18, 2007


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

Hand 1.

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

Anyway, here's the chat after that masterplay:

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

Hand 2.

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

Then, like 4 hands later, THIS happens.

Hand 3.

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

Friday, November 16, 2007

Picking your spots to bluff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ms. Duke goes to Washington

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

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

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

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Cake Update - Marsh

Current total: $290.70

Took a decent step backwards last night losing 3 buy ins. I played tired, and played pretty crappy poker really. I had 3 main hands where I had the 2nd best and and was willing to go to the mat with. I remember 2 of them very well.

First one: A5 on BB.
Limps to me and I check. Flop comes AK5r, and I lead for pot. I get one caller. Turn is J, and I lead for pot, get raised, and ship. Dude calls and has Q10 for broadway. I brick on the river and that is one buy in.

Second one:Qs10s
I call a raise and see a flop of J 10 8. Mid pair and a gutter. I lead out hoping to just take down the pot, but get called. Turn is a 9 giving me a straight, and we get it all in on the turn. Villain has KQ for the nut and I am dead to a chop that misses.

Taking a hit like this sucks, but it's not that bad at all given the BR management that I use. I could have stayed longer as I have done in the past, and tried to get it back. But the difference this time is that I knew I was not playing my A-game, so I stopped. I have been hovering around the 320.00 mark for a while now, and I am planning on playing tonight when I am more well rested, and grinding back up.

I haven't decided exactly what to do when I get to 400.00. That is big enough to play .10-.20 at max buy in, but I am wondering if I should stay around .05-.10 for a little while longer as I don't feel like I have been here long enough to be comfortable. Hell, it might take me 3 months to get from 290.00 to 400.00 anyhow..

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

d0nk drug

This Consumer Reports Adwatch video talks about a drug that treats Restless Leg Syndrome. The interesting bit: "…the drugs have serious side effects - one of the more bizarre involves a propensity for uncontrolled sexual or gambling impulses…"

If you watch the video (it's good, but campy -- I love Consumer Reports!), they say that in Mayo Clinic trials with the drug, there a strong tie to compulsive gambling and this drug. Two of the test subjects -- not gamblers at all before taking the drug -- both proceeded to gamble away $100,000 each while taking the drug.

Now, the test will be to figure out how to make a fine powder out of this drug and give it to the other players at your table.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sickest action game ever

I was playing on full tilt and thought I clicked on pot limit omaha 8, .05/.10 and actually clicked on no limit omaha 8. This is my kind of game. You can raise as much as you want at any time, preflop, postflop or whatever and my fellow action junkies out there will call you down preflop with most anything. Playing hands like AA2x can be very profitable if you hit.

Even if you don't there are not many bluffers I could find so when you see a paired board with AA and are panicking, typically the villains will not bluff, even from position at these stakes.

Lucky session with a double up from my meager $10 buyin.

Anyone else out there that has tried this game?

Monday, November 12, 2007

That's Not Poker's presence

Marshall showed us the shameless plug that Barry Greenstein gave the blog in the WSOP coverage. Now the TNP blog is top of the charts on Google. Just do a search for the words: that's not poker and the #1 hit is this blog right here. NUMERO UNO! Ironically it is one of Jason's posts but that's a whole 'nother story. Do you realize how much time/effort/money is poured in by major companies trying to get their site listed first in Google? Then if you search for "that's not poker" (in quotes) and you see that the TNP blog trumps many other more name brand sites like Negreanu's blog,, 2+2, NYTimes...the list goes on.

Congrats to Marshall for generating this firestorm of web popularity.

And for those of you who are aware what Googlewhacking is, the TNP blog has a pseudo-Googlewhack if you do a search for the subdomain of Ryan's blog. I don't want to list it here for fear that I will increase the hit count.

More poker stuff from the NY Times

Poker Bots on the Rise

Thank you, Boing Boing!

Graphs for the poker/math geek

Has anyone looked at the graphs available on

Instead of giving percentages to win, they will actually graph them out for you. At first I thought that these were lame since I thought that the area under the chart was the only important thing to take away from the chart. But the shape of the charts is interesting. For example, here is a chart of a turned straight versus two pair. Equity is high for the vast majority of the simulations then drops off like a rock after the two pair boats up. The classic "way ahead or way behind" scenario.

Not sure how this information is helpful...yet. Nor do I know what the "unroll" button does but thought I'd point out the graph feature for those who are into data visualization.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Softest Real Money Cash Games on the Net

Since Marsh has really stepped up the competition on the Cake Challenge, I figured I ought to try some new games to see if I can venture into soft game land and chip up to try to get past the 3 century mark like Marsh. I know you are all tired of my whining about the .25/50 NL cash games on Full tilt, which, in my opinion are not soft.

So I have tried some new games and here are my findings.

Omaha 8 cash game 6 people is beyond soft at 5 cent/10 cent. Hats off to Ryan for turning me on to this swingy game. By the way, Ryan, where is this blog that Martin was commenting on with your tips. I was very lucky but I did quintuple up from my meager $8 buyin. I only have one data point (tonight) so possibly it was a fluke.

Key hands.

Seat 3 pot raises, seat 4 calls, and I have A,A,2,x in the blind. I repop for pot. 2 callers. Flop is 10,8,6 rainbow. With 2 qualifying low cards and a flop that likely missed most. I bet pot. I get repopped and all 3 of us end up all in. The next 2 cards are a 10 and a Jack, so there is no qualifying low but somehow my Aces up hold up and I scoop a 3 way.

Key hand 2. River comes and I miss everything, straight draw, low draw, and flush draw. About $2.25 in the pot and my opponent has 15 cents left. I go all in and amazingly opponent folds. Unless villain could not beat Ace high very questionable fold. I know Martin in this situation would call for information.

Soft game 2 is heads up NL Holdem tournament, $5 buyin. I had one tourney lasting 2 hands. Hand 2, villain limps from button, I have K10. Flop is 10,6,5, with 2 diamonds. I check and villain open ships. Open ships on line are frequently top pair weak kicker or a draw so I call. Opponent has 10,8 and my K10 holds up.

Tourney 2 opponent calls me down with gut shot straight draw on a board of Q,3,4,8 with 2 hearts. I have Q,9 of hearts. Opponent shows 7,6 os and bricks the river losing about 2/3 of his stack.

Somehow the fish have returned. Hopefully, the cake challenge players can find some too.

Pass the Trash

I don't know how Ryan infected our pristine WSOP only mixed game with that blasphemous game, Pass the Trash but that thing sure is addictive. The way Ryan explained it to me, his dad plays it with additional betting rounds. I think one after the deal and another after the swap? Ryan's (sound) reasoning was that it eliminated some "extra" betting rounds but now that I've mulled it over some more I think that the early rounds are there to build a pot (as opposed to antes/blinds) and also mix in the soul crushing element of being dealt four to the straight flush and wanting to pump the pot and then bricking after the swap but being tempted to still represent it.

The hands take a while as is so I don't know if we would be interested in adding another one but what do people think about a "pro-flop" round of betting?

I also forgot to bring the alternate set of game cards which show the current game and stakes but I really want to try stepped limit with PtT next time because I think it will add to the game. For that matter, I think stepped limit would add to any limit game by gradually raising stakes and allowing a greater degree of pot control and being able to price people out.

And as a side note, I read in Super System I that Stud hi/lo USED to be played as a declare game as well. I'm sure it still is in some circles but the "cards speak" version is so much easier for casinos to run plus it will churn more hand/hour through. Just think about how hard declarations would be when your opponent has THREE hidden cards!

When to bet in Omaha

After digesting some of Ryan's posts on his DNR blog, I am now wondering when it is correct to bet in Omaha. In Hold'em you want to protect a good hand against draws and you can price people out, not because it is NL instead of PL but because there are fewer draws in a two card hand than a four card hand. Is "being ahead" on the flop enough reason to put chips in without significant redraws? I think the answer depends on the table you are at. Do the players just want to play Omah-lotto and try to suck out? Or are the players disciplined players who will only call with the correct odds? Are the stakes enough to keep people from calling?

And which one would you rather be? The player with the best hand on the flop or the player with the best draws on the flop? What about checking the turn and waiting for a blank to fall before betting? I know you want to get money in when you are ahead but if made hands and draws end up being the proverbial 50/50 (OK, probably closer to 55/45 in reality but you get the idea) on the flop, what is the best way to play it?

Manhattan's underground poker scene

Here's an interesting article about poker in Manhattan from today's NY Times.

Killing Sends Tremors Through City’s Illegal Poker Scene

Wheel Flush

Please tell me this image disappeared.

Wow, last night was quite an amazing night for cards. I wanted to jot down the few hands that stick in my head before they fly away.

Hand 1: Holdem tourney. Down to three players, I’m short stack. Marsh best, I raise, and he three-bets all in. I call. I’ve got AcQx, to his 99. Flop comes KJ8c. Doing the math later, I actually was favored to win at that point, even though Marsh was ahead. I know these things happen quite often, but it still amazes me that it’s possible. I think I was 59% to win or something like that after the flop. Result: of course it didn’t hit, and I fell out of the tourney shortly thereafter.

Hand 2: Holdem cash game. Me, Tiffany, MB, Kris (sp?) and Martin. Don’t remember the specifics, other than the board was 4 to the diamond flush, with A35Jd and some other card. Martin bets 20 and I can’t call because I don’t have a diamond. Result: I knew my king was red, but luckily it was a heart and not the d, because Martin had the straight flush wheel (or is it wheel straight flush? or straight wheel flush? Or just wheel flush? I like wheel flush.) Whew.

Hand 3: O8. I’ve got AJ4d with a fourth card I can’t remember. Flop brings 53d2h. A few players follow me in, but I’m trying to disguise my lock on the low hand with good high-hand possibilities. Turn brings the 2d. BAM! Best card ever. I’ve got the wheel flush, and it gets down to Marsh and me. Luckily, Marsh bets into me for 20 and I call, hoping the river brings something fun. River brings 3c. BAM! Best card ever. Marsh bets 60, I go all in, Marsh quick calls. Result: my wheel flush takes down his quad 3s. I know this is Omaha, but my god, that’s the worst bad beat I’ve ever seen.

Hand 4: Pass the trash. All night every time Pass the Trash was called, I kept saying that I’m waiting for the day we see quads over quads. Quads seemed to be coming even more frequently for this session than they had in previous PtT sessions. Anywho, the short of it is Tiffany and Kris have joined us at the mixed-game table, and are crash-learning the games as we’re going around the table. I get myself into a hand with the two of them, and Tiffany gives an Oscar™-winning performance. Everybody knew Kris had a lock on the low, and therefore each betting round was capped. At first, as Tiffany is rolling her cards, she is struggling to call the back and forth bets. Up until 4th street, when she’s 4 to the royal I was convinced she was only playing a high flush and hoping I wasn’t going to make my full house (8-9-9 showing). But on fourth street, once it was apparent that I wasn’t going away, Tiffany starts raising it up. Brilliant, because I can’t throw my hand away at this point, a lesson which I reinforced later in the evening (see below). Result: Tiffany’s royal flush crushes my quad nines.

Hand 5: Pass the trash, last hand of the night. Marsh and I are vying for the high hand and betting into each other the whole way. Kris has a lock on the low hand. Marsh has QQ77 showing and I’m four to the Q-high straight flush. Marsh is saying things like “Does Royal have the straight flush?” to himself, but loud enough for me to hear. In the middle of raising to 24 on 4th street, Marsh says “You better have it, because I’m not going away.” and holy hell that line almost worked on me. It was only 16 more chips for me to call it down, but only have an A-high flush, and if he has the boat I’m screwed. He HAS to have the boat, so why would I call here? I hadn’t given him a Q when we passed cards, but I had given him at least one 7, so would he have gotten this far with more-likely 777QQ boat? And why would he call me here if he knew he was losing even to a flush? Result: Marsh had only 2 pair, and his acting job almost worked.

Once again, a great night at the T&I. Martin, thanks for being a master poker controller, and T&I, thanks for hosting! And honestly, you don't have to have food for us, so please don't feel bad about not having food I shouldn't eat anyway.

Martin, I thought this tourney structure was pretty close to perfect. I was a little frustrated at first due to how the tables were randomly distributed and I was stuck at the table with the time-sucking collusion twins. I thought Table 1 was seeing a lot more hands than Table 2. But when talking with Marsh about it, it turns out your table was having the same sorts of issues. And as far as issues go, that's a pretty harmless one.

Giving Thanks tourney structure

Well that one turned out better than I thought it would.

* Despite starting late, the tourney ended up finishing earlier than expected.

* There were twelve players which put six players across two tables. I thought six would be on the short handed side but I think it worked out really well. Everyone got to see a lot of hands and the blinds were low enough that when an orbit passed through, nobody was worried about the blinds hitting them.

* There were three rebuys. I saw how Ryan got whittled down for his rebuy which was a bit of a cooler hand. Didn't see MB or Julian's situation but three out of twelve seems like a reasonable ratio.

* Not surprisingly, everyone did the add-on. I hear what everyone is saying about the add-on and I'm working on alternatives. In this case I think the most stark example of the add-on affecting play was Ryan doing nothing but posting blinds for the better part of the 15/30 level so that he could make it to break and add-on to his stack. He even showed me that he was throwing away AcQc.

* I really like the stack depth. It allowed for players to make mistakes and get away from hands. It also meant that the stack lead could change. After Royal flattened Jason I was sure he was going to steamroll the table with his commanding chip lead but then a couple of altercations with Julian and Marsh happened and the stacks evened out again. I wish I could easily track the average M for when players got eliminated because I think it would be substantially higher than other tournaments meaning that players got to go out on their own terms instead of being blinded out.

* Total chip count was 12 buys + 3 rebuys + 12 add-ons = 27. 27 * 2000 = 54,000 chips in play. When the bubble was burst the blinds were 300/600 and the average chip stack was 13.5K or an M of 15 giving everyone room to maneuver. Going into heads up the blinds were only 500/1000 with the average chip stack being 27K or an M of 18, even more leeway.

That's how I saw it at least. Feedback?

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Scooped a pot at one of the kiddie tables but it was enough to push me over the 300,000 mark, 301,374 to be exact.

The odometer is clicking just as fast as ever, actually even faster now by mixing in the 500/1000 tables. But even though I'm blowing through 1K milestones left and right, my percentage increase has slowed down dramatically as I've alluded to before. As games get pricier, tables aren't always available due to being short on players. With a roll this big, I'm even opening up multi 500/1000 tables whenever possible even though a short while ago I wanted to mitigate risk by only opening up one big table and flank it with three or four small tables. Now that the S8 tables are not bearing fruit fast enough, I've turned to 200/400 HORSE tables. I savor the 10 games of S8 and just nibble around the edges of the other games. Pots are big enough to make it worth the while but not nearly as good an earner as a 500/1000 table.

In the play money world, the games dry up at the third level. For True Cakers, I imagine the challenge will be that the reduced d0nk factor after moving up a couple notches will make the games tougher so that might be what slows down building the bankroll.

Another phenomenon that is happening is that switching into Sushi Cowbot mode really kinda makes it feel more like I'm playing a MMORPG and I'm clicking away to churn out widgets to earn "gold" to use elsewhere in the virtual world. Yes, I know that I'm using fake money and that is a certain minor percentage of why I am think that. But I think that good poker is disciplined poker and I really have pretty much reduced beating the S8 tables down to a pretty straightforward flow chart that makes decisions for me.

I feel like I've "beaten" the game and that there are no more hurdles to clear. If I wanted to I could continue on to 400K, 500K, and eventually a million by repeating the steps that I've taken to build my roll up as far as I have. I have doubled my money and doubled it again and again and again and again four times and then some. In doing so I have learned a TON about bankroll management on an accelerated pace due to the unique conditions of the play money world. And I know that I am a much better Stud/8 player than I was before. I don't feel like continuing on along the current course is going to be very useful for me so I'm going to pull way back on the reins of the Stud/8 horse I've been riding and just go back to that game to keep my game in tune.

I am retiring from this Fake Cake Challenge.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Cake Update - Marsh

Current total: 269.10

Last night was pretty brutal, but I came away unscathed. Here are some choice hands from last night:

AA vs 1010

AK vs 95
This guy had been calling/raising very very light preflop obv. My bet was actually for value.

KK vs AQ vs 99
Brutal, still came away with some profit though. BIG pot.

AQ vs AK cooler
Pretty standard.

AhKh vs untrue spainR
I was pretty short stacked.

AQ vs 32
I decided to just jam on this guy, but he was a hero.

AK vs 33
Cbet the flop, then hit my hand and wasn't going anywhere.

Here are a few of the better hands for me:

AA vs KK

1010 vs 76o
I guess I could have let this one go, but I didn't feel like I was behind for some reason.

I had AQ on this one

WTF? Why wasn't there more action?? Collusion?

It was a very up and down session. I was playing at two 10.00 tables and one 4.00. I had bought in for two buy-ins at two of the 10.00 tables, and 3 buys at the 4.00 table thanks to many of the hands above.

I got back to even basically on the two bigger tables and finally lost the all of it on the smaller table when I bluffed off my last chips on my final hand. Thankfully I bought in at a different 10.00 table and nearly doubled up within the first 30 minutes and called it a night. And this is just one night of the rollercoaster that is the Cake Challenge. I was blessed with having Austin sit at my smaller table. He played for like 4 minutes, got a boat, doubled up and bailed. Austin: can you teach me that one?

Cake Challenge Update - Ryan


My last session was symbolic for me of the success of the Ferguson method. I took back to back rough beats, including after getting an opponent to call my massive PF all-in when I had aces, but dusted myself off and got back to business, ultimately cashing out up two buyins.

Healthy disrespect for money vs. stakes mattering

I think we've all probably heard that to be an effective poker player you need to have a healthy disrespect for money. In other words, you need to just treat chips as chips and ignore the fact that each one may be worth a dollar, ten dollars, a hundred, or a thousand. The correct EV+ move should be the same regardless of the stakes. Jason's and Ryan's comments about Marsh's AdKd hand brings something else into focus. That same "disrespect" for money should be applied in the other direction, playing for dimes or pennies. Nonetheless, stakes do matter and the game is played differently depending on what is on the line.

I don't like Jason's analogy about scaling Marsh's hand up to 2/4 stakes. As Ryan pointed out the .02/.04 table will behave differently. Clearly, shoving for $5 is going to be easier than shoving for $500. There is a scaling issue. Anyone online is already probably laying out $30-$50 for Internet access per month, has a computer purchased for hundreds of dollars, and likely will drink a buy-in's worth of coffee on the average day. Five bucks is just a lot more accessible to poker players than five bills and the AdKd hand will be played differently on a micro table.

Even with play money, I can see that the game is much better at 500/1000 than even the 100/200 tables. In fact, I sat and watched a play money 10K/20K HORSE game being played and the table was *incredibly* tight. Very very few showdowns, zero defending of bring-ins, discerning hand selection. I would even go so far as to say that high stakes play money is a much tougher game than high stakes real money. With real money, the highest stakes is still going to be a pittance to somebody and that can equalize out a lot as we saw with Andy Beal. But with play money, there is no way to amass that much money without spending a lot of time and effort. Even if you dumped chips to yourself from a second account, it would be a pain to do it 1000 chips at a time and if so, then what? Build up a roll of 1 million then go and d0nk it off only to have to spoon feed 1K of chips at a time back to your stack? I don't think so. I'm quite sure that the players who have seven figure play money rolls got there by winning it based on how tightly they held on to their chips.

How about well heeled players playing well below their worth? I think that it is much easier to be aggressive and overbet the pot with amounts that are a fraction of a percent of a paycheck versus a fraction of a paycheck. How would the game change if, as an experiment, a deep pocketed poker enthusiast funded a game where everyone played for the same percentage of their annual salary. A player making $50K buys in for $500 and a player making $500K buys in for $5000. If the guy with the higher salary doubles up his chips, the sponsor would cash him out for $10K. How would that scenario change how you play? Would it allow you to be more free with your aggression knowing that it will cost your opponent so much more in real dollars to call?

Anyway, just some food for thought since we are all playing such a wide range of stakes. I am working with play money that has no worth in the real world, Cakers are playing with pennies, and we all have played 1/2 or higher. How are your decisions affected?

Absolute Breach interview

Nat Arem who was instrumental to uncovering the facts of the AP breach was invited by AP to visit their HQ in Costa Rica. sent him and they are publishing the debriefing interview. Part 1.

PN: How was the cheating done?

NA: ...However, the method used to gain hole-card access was described to me as a backend tool called "Servman" that wrote the hand histories before hands were completed...

Plenty of other nuggets-o-info in the article.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Playing in a federal Superfund site

Well this is not good news.

"These chips we're talking about - the Paulson brand - are made of 13 secret materials - closely guarded by their manufacturer but exposed in our lab tests.

Tests we showed to Will Humble - one of Arizona's chief health scientists and the former head of the state's lead poisoning prevention program.

'If you were to take chips like these and spread them out, 1000 of them on the ground, essentially it would be a federal Superfund site. That's how much lead are in these things.'"

I am keeping an eye on this breaking news report. One item in particular seems hard to believe "The highest in our lab tests: A Caesar's Palace chip - made by Paulson. It's 45 percent lead....750-times higher than the standard." I cannot believe that a chip that is 45% lead would be as light as those chips are. Haven't done the math but that seems not correct. I also find it hard to believe that this story is only now breaking since Paulson has been making chips for many decades and I would have assumed that health issues among dealers and cashiers would have surfaced by now if there are truly hazardous levels of lead in the chips.

Nonetheless, for the time being and until I hear more corroboration about this story, please take the simple precautions of not touching around your face while playing and washing hands after play. The future of the chip sets we use will be determined after more information is made available. So far there is very limited news coverage. I'm skeptical but cautious.

Pattern Recognition

This post is on behalf of Jason:

Pattern Recognition

I played last night and doubled up my stack, but mainly due to having great hands with big second best hands out there. This is not necessarily great play, just lucky given the deck. I think my best play last night was a pattern recognition play, not a big pot, but a pot nonetheless.

The hand went as follows:

Microstack with less than 20 big blinds limps from UTG, I have the button and see K6 suited in hearts. I know this is really a junk hand, and Ryan will school me because I am just barely mathematically ahead of an average hand. However, if I am playing LAG poker (Loose Aggressive) online and raising with 25% or more of my hands from the button, and less than 15% of my hands from early position, then I am raising with K6 suited from position. I hit pot, one of the blinds calls and so does microstack. The flop is Q,J, 7 rainbow. OK, I missed. Blind checks, microstack makes a min bet, which is less than 10% of the pot.

What should I do? I hit nothing on the flop so I can continuation bet over the min bet. An acceptable play but I don’t know if the blind will check raise so I call. The blind amazing folds, leaving me and microstack. The turn is a 5. Now I have 2 possible 4 card straights and microstack min bets again. Can I imply the 5 helped me? I decide not so I call.

The river is a 4, completing my 4 card straight. Microstack min bets again. What does microstack have. I conclude it is a very weak hand. Almost no player is going to throw out 3 probe bets trying to trap me. Maybe 1 or 2 but 3?? So I rule out the monster. I had seen microstack do this before and he was raised and then microstack folded.

My king high could be good here but I doubt it. Plus I would rather not disclose to the table the trash I am raising with from the button. So I raise to about 60% of the pot. Microstack folds and I win a small pot, about 14 blinds.

When multi-tabling, I find pattern recognition plays are almost impossible, but it can be done if you try one table at a time. Anyone else trying trying pattern recognition online?

Your take on this hand please.

This is hand from the Cake Challenge last week:


I will reserve my thoughts for after, but what do you guys think? Do you like the way I played it? Do you hate it? Are there alternative ways to play this hand? Should I have mucked the turn?

I have talked about this hand with Jason via email and Jeh in person, and it spawned some pretty interesting stuff. Jason and Jeh also post your thoughts here if you wish.


Four color decks

Does anyone else use them? For those of you not familiar, many if not all online sites allow you to have the cards represented by the normal Black Spades and Red Hearts but swap in Green Clovers and Blue Diamonds. I find this "Lucky Charms" mode to be INCREDIBLY useful especially because am playing Stud on four or five tables squished down on my laptop screen so the pips are only a few pixels wide. Being in four color mode makes it soooo much easier to process flushes and in particular when I am playing Stud where I want to see how many of my flush outs are dead. If you haven't tried it yet, I recommend it.

P.S. I also noticed that in the Cake Hand History pages, there is even a checkbox to view the hand in four color.

P.P.S. There are also physical four color cards for playing live games. Can't really warm up to that idea though.

P.P.P.S. I am glad they chose the colors that they did for the 3rd and 4th suits. I think that those were the most appropriate color choices that they could have come up with. Red Hearts is a natural choice. Green Clovers totally makes sense. Black Spades also a no brainer. And that leave Diamonds which generally have no distinct hue to pick up the only reasonable fourth color remaining, Blue.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Online Stud Hi/Lo Strategy

Jason emailed me and said he started playing some Stud 8 tournaments to try to improve his game. He said he busted twice and came in second once and was looking for advice. Since we are all on the same team here I figure I might as well share my tips with the entire class so here it goes. Oh and one caveat, keep in mind that these tips are purely tooled to beat the low, middle, and high levels of play money tables online. These may or may not apply to live play and/or tournaments.

* First of all I wouldn't start with tournaments. I know that tournaments help you to cap your losses but in tourneys you are going to be forced to play bad hands due to blinds. And if you have a bad run of cards you will be getting mixed signals about what you are doing right or wrong. Personally I would start by playing on the play money tables or maybe micro-stakes. You can learn the basics and get a better feel for what a good hand is just by playing a lot.

* Jason noted that it appears strong starting hand requirements are important. No truer words were spoken. In hi/lo you can just about guarantee that SOMEONE will be going the opposite direction as you. If you try to bluff a low it won't matter because someone going hi is going to take you to the showdown and even if you made someone with a low fold, if you don't have a qualifying low and a crappy high then you are just going to be saying bye bye to your chips. Loose aggressive won't do squat at this game because you can never bet enough in limit to shake someone off. If you are super aggressive they will just check/call you to the river and you'll have to show your hand anyway.

* Jason said that he plays high for Kings or better and low for any three low cards provided he has two cards 3 or lower or any three wheel cards. Solid enough. I will typically complete when I come into a hand as a bet for value. I play so few hands that I am already favored when I come in so I want to pump the pot. Anyone willing to pay a bring in will generally pay for a complete as well. My starting hand requirements are as described below.
- Any three cards 8 or lower depending on what up cards I see and the action. If everyone is showing paint then I feel safe trying to make an 8 low. If I see someone completing with a 5 showing then I will keep an eye on them to see what cards they are catching.
- Any three wheel cards for sure. Suited even more so.
- I will cheat and allow myself one high card if they are all suited but need to catch a good card on 4th street to continue.
- Anything rolled up. These are so rare and can often win the hand by themselves. I think I read somewhere that you are 40% to boat up so I will put my foot to the floor with these on anything but the most expensive tables. These are the same as flopping a set in Hold'em, very powerful yet hard for others to detect. One hand I had KKK and I knew for sure that when a guy sped up on 5th street with a 5 hitting that he just tripped up, nothing else made sense for why he started leading the betting. I kept my foot on the gas and in the end he donated a bunch of chips with his losing three of a kind. This is the only pure high hand that I will play.

* As the saying goes, low hands can turn into high hands but not the other way around. If you start with a high hand the only way to scoop is to hope that no one is going for/making their low. Whereas low hands can scoop by flushing or straightening out.

* Scooping is super important. If you are playing high only, you want/need to be aggressive to try to shake off as many drawers as possible but doing so means that if you go heads up against a low you are betting money to try to just get it back and if the low catches good then you could end up with none of the pot. Why play for half the pot?

* Scooping is super important. Just had to say that again. Todd Brunson I think refers to that as the platinum rule.

* Don't chase. By fifth street you can see so many up cards you should know who is going high and who is going low. Combine that with betting action and you should have a very good idea of where you stand in the hand. If someone is showing what looks like a 7 high low, don't get involved if you are working on an 8 low. Kinda obvious but you'd be surprised. Remember, bluffing is not nearly as effective when you are
showing 4 of your cards.

* Do chase. Depending on your cards you may want to stay in late even if you haven't made your hand. Let's say on sixth street you have four to a low and two pair. Well at that point there are a ton of cards to help. You can either make a low or boat up with a lot of the deck and with limit betting you should be priced in if you have been betting your strong hand along the way. Sometimes you'll brick or make an uneventful three pair but there are definitely times to take a look at the river for a big bet.

* Keep an eye on other up cards. If you are working on a low and you see a smattering of other low cards in other players' up cards, those are that many more low cards that you cannot possibly get. I don't track folded up cards. I wish I had better memory for that stuff but there is not a ton of folding on the middle and lower levels. Besides, by the time people fold I usually have either made my hand or bailed on it already.

* When I'm running good and on my "A" game, sixth and seventh streets are pure value propositions. I've set myself up with a great starting hand. Allow myself to brick once then make a low then I can hammer the pot when I see others going only for high. This is especially true when you have "board lock" (when you made your low and can see that it is *impossible* for anyone else to even have a low. You are guaranteed half the pot and maybe more if you are working on straight or flush draw with your low.

* Cap the betting if you have a chance at a scoop. Let's say that you have board lock on the low and another player shows four to a straight on his up cards. You are both almost certainly going to just take your money back but if you have four to the flush you want to maximize your scoop so cap it and if you brick on 7th then you can just call the river and chop it up. But if you make your flush and scoop, you now have a few more big bets in your stack because of it. Conversely if you are playing for a high (don't know why you would be doing that but whatever) don't feed the pot if you could be scooped. A lot of players will just pour chips in because they figure they have a great high and they don't think through the repercussions of being scooped.

I have seen nothing to make me change my mind that Stud hi/lo is the softest game online. I am in no way an expert. But by just following simple algorithms for starting hand selection and for when to get out of a hand, this game has made a ton of money for me. That's all the tips that I can think of off the top of my head. Let me know if you have any questions.

Brad's first cake update

Since I've been given posting rights I figured I'd oblige by writing a quick update.

Current roll: ~$94
I peaked briefly at $104 on Friday.

I'd been wondering how much of my quick success was due to good bankroll management and how much was due to running hot... I hadn't felt like I was taking many bad beats, and my monsters were all paying off huge. Well, I finally had my bad run on Saturday, and got my answer.

I'm not in the habit of tracking hand histories yet, so I'll just narrate: 8 of my last 12 sessions have been losing sessions, and I was cleaned out on 4 of them. In a period of about 20 minutes, I twice came up against a straight flush, and both times I had a boat. I went broke on one, but got away from the other with minimal damage... but then lost the rest to a 4 outer a few hands later. All in all, it was one of those days where everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Missed every flush draw, got no action on my sets, and lost every race, even when I was dominating. You know the drill.

The good news: Going on a terrible run only set me back 9% of my roll, and a good chunk of that can be blamed on tilting. In the past, a run like that would have cost me 20-40%, and I would have been tempted to go to higher stakes to "get it back."

I've weathered a pretty nasty storm, and it barely shook the shingles, so this system is clearly working well for me.

Good to know.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cake update again.

Well I broke the 200.00 mark.

Currently at 204.77

I immediately jumped into the .05-.10 game. I was uncomfortable from the start. I bought in for 10.00 at each of 3 tables and started playing. I decided to play the same way as I do at the level below, but slightly tighter. If that strategy doesn't seem to be working, then I will adjust from that point.

So I sat down and had a nice run of cards to start. I turned my first tables 10.00 into 23.00 and sat out. I played the other tables and had some fun hands like these:




I lost a bit, but maintained a decent game and ended up being up slightly after a good long session. I will say I felt uncomfortable with the stakes. Having 40.00 on the tables at once made me pretty nervous. I have considered grinding at the .04 tables for a bit longer. I haven't noticed anything too different about the tables, but I don't feel comfortable yet either.

Do you guys think I should just stay plugging away at .02-.04 or should I get more hands in at .05-.10 before I make my choice? Another option is not buying in for the full 10.00. I could buy in "short" for 6.00 or more.

HERO tourney?

Ryan brought up a valid point when I started floating the idea of a HORSE tourney and that is that there are three stud games and two flop games. I agree that there would be more balance to, for instance, a HERO tourney. Hold'em, Stud Eight, Razz, and O/8. That would give two flop games and two stud games, all fixed limit. It would also be one high game, two hi/lo games, and one low game with one hi/lo for each flop and stud games.

I'm doing research on blinds schedules. One thing that some guys on the forum do that I think makes sense is to adjust blind levels depending on the game being played. Some just do 15 min for flop and 20 min for stud but since we will be using software I think we can be more granular than that because O/8 hands take much longer than Hold'em. I'm doing research on that too to get approximate ratios.

There are also two takes on how to elevate blinds, new stakes each round or clump them up. I think it makes enough sense to just clump them so we would play both flop games at one level then bump stakes up for both stud games, then bump them up again for both flop levels again. That way we can keep some rhythm going between rounds and we don't get as screwed up any more than necessary.

Since there is Stud involved it would be a maximum of 8 players. I doubt we would exceed that anyway so it is probably just as well to cap it there.

We have another T&I tourney this weekend (10th) so would everyone be interested in doing it the following weekend (16th)? Depending where it is hosted we could run a cash game at a second table for those who don't want to play in the HERO tourney and for the early exits from the tourney.

I was thinking $50 for the HORSE tourney to echo the $50K buy-in for the WSOP event but since we are only doing 4 of the 5 games how does $40 entry sound? And for a table of eight, a 200/120/80 payout?

Feedback on format, structure, date, etc.?

Call the cops...I'd like to report a hit and run

Short story:
I sat down at a table, folded one hand, and then walked into a monster pot, biggest ever. It happened to put me over a major milestone. I then immediately left the table. The question for TNP'ers is - When do you guys leave a table? I have no qualms about any etiquette online. If I score big I don't care if someone wants to win their money back, someone will sit down right after I leave and I guarantee it will be easier to get money out of them than out of me. Whether it is EV+ or not, I just get in a mental state of feeling like I should quit right after taking down a big one even though I know I'm going to sit down in the future with just as much at risk (remember this is fixed limit play) so it's not a question of taking money off the table to avoid a confrontation with someone who has me covered. I also don't feel like I am on a heater and am leaving money behind. What do you guys do? Comments?

Gory details below:
Just back from going to the mall and sat down for a quick session. Surprisingly enough there is adequate critical mass for two tables of 500/1000 so I sit in the last seat of both tables and open up a couple of 100/200 tables as well.

Second hand of one of the 500/1000 tables and I pick up 2h3h/4c and am planning to just flat call the bring-in trying to just play conservatively at the expensive tables. Guy with Ah showing completes so that takes care of bumping it like I wanted without advertising my hand. Don't want to go overboard...yet.

Six handed to 4th street which brings me Ad. Did I mention that this game really agrees with me? Same guy now shows Ah2c and he bets it. A fold. I just flat call again. Three other callers.

5th street says 8c to me and I have a qualifying low. Mr. Aggro bettor shows Ah2cTc and I cannot be behind him. No one else shows anything close to a low. Pair of Nines showing opens for 1000, call, Aggro bumps to 2000 and I make it 3000 and EVERYONE calls!

6th street card hits me directly in the face...5d! What is running through my mind now is balancing a raising war with Aggro versus keeping everyone else in and which one will get me more money. I am showing 4A85 as my upcards so it is easy to put me on a low. I think Aggro will keep betting and the others may dismiss me as a threat since they are vying for a high hand. Three checks to Aggro who opens for 1000, I raise to 2000, a call, a fold (lost one, damn!), call, the back to Aggro who bumps to 3000, I decide to bump figuring these guys are chasing and I need to charge them while they still have a chance to catch so I go ahead and cap it and the three other players call the cap! Is it Xmas or something?

The only card that could make my hand any better would be a Six for a higher straight but I settle for a paired 5. Now everyone slows down and just wants to see a showdown as cheaply as possible. Everyone check/calls my last big bet.

I beat out Aggro's 7432A for low and my straight trumps JJ99 and 9966 two pairs which fortunately were taking each other's outs to boat up (though three of them were up so they weren't being very smart about chasing a boat). Luckily everyone had deep enough stacks that no one ran out. Final damage: I rake a huge, new record, 41,300 pot or roughly one sixth of my bankroll which has breached the quarter million dollar mark. Now 254,759.

Deep stack poker

A while ago, Ryan posted an entry about a Negreanu article which dealt with deep stack poker. There was some discussion about what the differences were with deep stack poker versus normal stack poker. Well last night was an experiment in that arena. Starting stacks were typically 400 units though you could buy in for as little as 200 units. Rebuys were constant throughout the night and by the end of the night I was even having to buy straps off of players to get straps for the rebuys. The table had over 5700 chips on it when we broke the game, and keep in mind this is with 1/2 blinds. That's an *average* of over 800 units per person but of course the stack sizes differed. If two of the big stacks got into a hand together there could have been over six buy-ins on the line.

If you don't think that deep stack poker changes anything about how you play, I invite you to come along to the next deep stack night to see for yourself.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Rake is a Bitch

Last night Marshall and I compared our October rakeback deposits from Cake, and it really drove home the harsh reality of the rake. My payment was $7.74. The rakeback plan is 33%, which is very nice, but it still means I still had about $15 raked out of my pots this month at a $.02/$.04 game.

My spreadsheet shows I played roughly 1700 hands, which comes out to roughly a penny a hand, and that's with a nice rakeback percentage. Something to think about...until you move up to levels where you are capping the rake on every hand, you can estimate that you are paying half a small blind per hand to play poker online.

Brad, if you signed up for Cake without the rakeback, I wonder if you can retroactively apply it. 33% is pretty huge, I was thrilled to find almost two buyins credited to my acccount for October. I'll email you the info, FWIW.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Full Tilt Poker Challenge Jason

Total: A little ahead of 4 times my buyin

I just read Marsh’s and Ryan’s update and will try to shed some light on some of my strategies. Ryan, your player notes are exactly the type of analysis that, in my humble opinion, will propel the cakers and others to success on the net. I practice a similar behavior. I am not detail oriented enough to actually take down player notes, but I try to track the tendencies of each player so that I can maximize value in any given situation.

First tip, what tables to pursue. If I am in the mood to try to actually make money, as opposed to learning painful lessons on Pot Limit Omaha, I generally pursue tables with lots of shortstacks. This seems to work well at the micro to low stakes levels, but is not nearly as effective on higher stakes where there are short stack specialists. I also like tables where everyone, or most everyone, has similar playing styles. This is not always easy to find.

There are times of day when you can find the style you are looking for. Sunday morning or early afternoon, you will generally find a slew of loose passive types. Weeknights late the aggressive types find their way.

Short stacks at micro to low stakes are typically,

Players that are on tilt, having lost a bigger stack.
Aggressive overbettors.
Or Just plain bad players.

Results: I am currently up just over 4x my buyin. While this may sound good in nominal dollars, it is not quite as good an accomplishment as Marsh’s. I play on average for 6x the stakes that Marsh does. My accomplishment is roughly like sitting at 8 tables with a full buy in and doubling up at each one. Marsh is up roughly 25 full buyins at his $4 max stakes. My bankroll management is weak at best, but I have limited myself to risking only the amount of dollars that will keep me slightly ahead of Marsh in nominal dollars.

Key Hands or Amusing Hands

The poorly played by my opponent, J Sola Hand

Chronic min raiser from early position raises to 2x the blind. I call from the big blind with 9,3 suited (and you all thought this hand was on the list).

Flop is 5, 8, J rainbow. I check, opponent checks. Turn is a King. Check, Check, River is a 2, check, check. Opponent flips over 4,6 os and I take down the pot with 9 high.

The Bluff Call Hand

3 people in a limped pot, I am in the big blind with QJos. Final board is 6,9,J,A, J, no flush possiblities. Checked around to the river. Small blind bets a pot size bet, I 3 bet from the big blind. Other limper folds, and small blind bluff calls me with K,10 or the 4 card missed straight. Where are the bluff callers at TNP? Or in casino land?

The Everything went Right Hand (s)

Pick up QQ in 2nd position. Raise to pot size bet, my standard bet. Villain in blind raises to 14x the blind. I may reraise here at TNP but I prefer post flop play on the net, where players are prone to make mistakes. Flop is Q,4,5 rainbow. Yahtzee! as Marsh would say. Villain makes a nearly pot size continuation bet, likely AK, but possible KK or AA, maybe JJ. I decide to think call rather than instacall. I don’t know if players really try to get reads on you at low stakes but I try to mix up my instacalls and think calls.

Turn is a 9, opponent checks. I decide villain has AK and throw in a bet of 1/3 the pot. Villain thinks for a long time and calls. I am actually hoping for an A or K. River is a K. Villain checks, I put him all in (only about ¼ size of the pot bet) and villain calls with AK.

Very next hand I pick up 99 UTG. I raise to pot size bet. Villain, same guy raises to about 10x the blind. I call. Flop is K,K,4. Villain checks. Slow playing consecutive AK’s??? Next card is a blank. Check, Check. Final card is a blank. Villain bets about 1/3 of the pot, I think then call and villain has AQ os.

Villain tips his hat in the chat, I say I just had good cards.

No more opportunities to push with Q,7 suited, generally running good.

Cake Challenge Update - Ryan

Current Total: $85.57

Cake Challenge Hand Notes

Working the slow climb. Some thoughts…

Accepting and embracing your expected return rate and being happy with it is key to having the right Zen attitude for the Cake Challenge. I suppose that is part of ignoring the stakes overall. Thinking, “I just doubled up a buyin!” feels way better than, “I just won $4!” I have to take my satistfaction in the steady climb relative to where I started, not in how much it represents in US dollars. My worst session since my last update happened when I saw dollars and cents and not BBs and Buyins.

Tracking players and taking notes is another key to success, and one I haven’t been doing enough of. When a player three bets preflop, gets put all in, and instacalls with A9s, you have to make a note of that. When a player overbets all in preflop and shows KK, you have to make a note of that. Know your fish and know your sharks.

Speaking of player notes, correctly responding to and correctly making huge overbets is critial, and building books on other players will make a huge difference there. As I said in some hand notes, it’s like half the table plays like SLP-era Noah. All-in overbets happen all the time, and having some sense of who does that with the nuts, who does that with marginal hands, and who mixes it up a bit is a big factor.

So, I ran into Brad, former SLP player, on Cake last night! I’d mentioned our blog to him in an email, so he must be lurking about around here, and decided to jump on to Cake (or, it’s quite a coincidence if he was a Cake player before). Come on Brad, come out of the shadows and post a comment! If you are doing a Cake Challenge of your own, we want to hear about it!

Cake Update - Marsh

Results through October

Edit again: Edit: Total: 190.52

Then end of another month of hardcore Cake action. After some ups and downs I am pretty well grooved in now. I have been trying to play a lot, and wish I were playing even more. I am single minded in my goal at this point: get to 200.00 so I can play .05-.10. At 10.00 per max buy in, I feel like things will get going pretty well once I get used to those stakes. Which makes me think of some stuff..

Even though I have played well above those levels online before, I feel now like I never quite was comfortable with it. I didn't really get it. I am feeling like I know these basement stakes pretty well now, and I know what to do to win the most money. I know some of the players on Cake, and I also know the "moves" that become commonplace at any given level. (like the min-bet, min-bet, hammer-the-river move). I also feel very much that I belong there, and that I can go back and build up my roll again if I have to. It's a good feeling.

I really feel that this is the best way to master online poker. Start very low, and really put in some time to figure out what people are doing and how, as a group, they approach poker at these stakes. It is really easy to say, "It's just a donkfest at those levels, you just have to have a good hand to win." It's not that simple. Sure, if you hit a big hand, you have a much higher chance of getting paid off at these levels than at higher levels. But dealing with players who go all in with 10c5c on a A high, two club board when you have AA, then subsequently cracking your top set wide open, and finally telling you in chat that you got "pwned" takes practice and discipline. And this discipline is very helpful down the road. Building this base is important, and it's hard. But these are the tools that will help prevent blowups and bad play at the higher levels when there is actual money on the line. This is what the pros mean when they say they "put in their time".

I am not saying you couldn't just come it at .25-.50 and do this. You could. But many of the players at that level either played at the levels I am at now, or should have. What I mean is, if they ground up some sort of roll at .02-.04, then I have an insight into where they came from, and that gives me a big edge on them later. If they just jumped up levels then they missed on valuable learning time (like tilt control or maintained A game play) and I can take advantage of them at higher stakes where the money counts.

I do have some leaks that I need to handle. I haven't figured out how to do it yet though. When I multi, I find that one table is often way lower than the others. I feel like I am playing the same at all of them, and it might just be variance, but if I am letting beats affect me at one table and not others, I need to fix that. I also feel like I have been running pretty well overall, and I bet that will slow down and I need to be prepared to weather the storm when it hits.