Saturday, December 6, 2008

Should Kings be Folded Preflop?

Given the action of one of the final hands of WNP’s action, the debate rages on about whether or not it is correct to ever fold Kings pre-flop. Ryan’s Kings vs. Martin’s Aces played out I believe as follows:

Mike limps, Woody limps, I limp, Martin limps from the late position, Ryan raises to 15, blinds fold, Mike calls, Woody calls, I call, Martin goes all in for about 700 +, Ryan calls for about 560 chips, everyone else folds.

Although there was some dead money in the pot, Martin’s bet size and Ryan’s decision on whether or not to call was close to a 1:1 decision, i.e. the pot was laying Ryan only sufficient odds to call if Ryan was convinced that he was in a coin flip or better decision. If Ryan believed he was in a better than a coin flip situation he should call, otherwise he should fold.

Though we have to use some assumptions and logic in this decision, mathematically, we can determine if Ryan’s decision was the correct decision in this situation, and if we change the player’s name from Martin to another player we can simply alter the likelihood of the nearly 3x buyin shove with a different distribution of the ranges of hands that the player might hold.

With nearly a 3x buyin shove, we can narrow the range down pretty tightly. Martin’s range, or for that matter any player’s range, is as follows:

Air: Martin may be on tilt, spaced out, needs to go home, or just feels like gambling. Martin has to my knowledge never demonstrated this type of behavior on a shove of this magnitude, but let’s say it is possible and extend the probability of an air hand at 2%. Let’s also at least narrow down “air” to a suited connector or 1 gapper, and say that true air has a near zero percent probability.

JJ or QQ Very unlikely at a nearly 700+ chip shove especially as I am in the hand (potentially) and I have Martin covered. Martin also has a history of set mining with big pair hands. Let’s extend the probability of Martin holding this type of hand at 4%, which I think is an overestimate but let’s go with it.

AK Again, very unlikely given the reason’s stated above. Let’s give AK a 4% likelihood.

KK Extremely unlikely, given that Ryan has 2 Kings in his hand. Let’s extend this possibility as statistically insignificant.

AA The only other logical hand. Let’s extend this possibility at 90% given that Martin is the player and given the set of circumstances surrounding this hand.

Ryan’s probability of winning this hand by calling Martin’s shove is as follows:

75% win rate against air hands @ 2% probability = .015
80% win rate against QQ and JJ hands @4% probability = .032
70% win rate against AK hands @ 4% probability = .028
20% win rate against AA hands @90% probability = .180

If the forecasted probabilities of the given hand ranges are accurate,
Ryan will win the hand approximately 25.5% of the time.

The tipping point as to whether to call or fold an all in shove with KK in a deep stacked hand (assuming one big shove vs. a raise re-raise situation) is determined by the likelihood of the villain holding a hand other than AA. Leaving air at 2% and assigning an equal probability to either having an underpair or AK, the decision will be a break even proposition at the following probabilities:

75% win rate against air hands @ 2% probability = .015
80% win rate against QQ and JJ hands @24% probability = .192
70% win rate against AK hands @ 24% probability = .192
20% win rate against AA hands @50% probability = .100

Win rate = .499

Replacing Martin with another villain, and assuming the pot is only laying you effectively 1:1 odds to call, the decision as to whether or not to call with KK is simply based upon the likelihood of the villain holding AA being greater than or less than 50%. If you believe that the villain’s likelihood of holding AA is greater than 50%, you should fold, if you believe it is less than 50% you should call.

To be fair to Ryan, he did point out that he had been raising a number or pots and that it was very unlikely that Martin put him on KK. At the time, I believed Ryan’s decision was a tough one that could have gone either way. With the benefit of a couple day’s rest and some analysis, I would be very surprised if anyone would say that the likelihood of Martin holding a hand other than AA was greater than 50%. Thus, the correct decision in this given set of circumstances was a fold with extra heroics if Ryan had been able to fold the KK hand face up for the table to see.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sklansky-Chubukov Numbers

I had never heard of these before reading a forum question about them. Basically, every hole card combo is assigned a number and if it folds around to you in the SB you can make a shove decision based on the number. If your stack is at the number or lower then you can shove and have it be EV+ even against perfect play. Then there are adjustments you can make such as dividing that number by 3 for the cutoff position.

It sounds like it was published in Sklansky's No Limit Hold'em Theory and Practice (2006). I'm just surprised that I hadn't heard of this before.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Epic Hand with Jeh Chow

Few hands are anything but "standard" for the experienced poker players at WNP. I did find this hand one I played against Jeh as one of the most interesting ones I have played to date. Here is my thought process during the hand.

I have AQos and raise to 9 UTG. 3 or 4 callers including Jeh Chow in the small blind. Flop is QQJ with 2 spades. Bingo. Jeh Checks, I check, Marsh checks, can't remember if Martin was in but if so he checks. Next card off suit 2, Jeh and I are both pretty deep stacked about 500+ chips each. Jeh leads out for 15, I raise to 40, Marsh and everyone else step out of the way. Jeh re-raises to 110, I think for a long time. Marsh says out loud Jeh's pocket 2's got there. I think Jeh has a queen, just can't figure if he boated up or not, I then say out loud I really need a 10 of spades. Sometimes I tell the truth and so I think Jeh will slow down on the river if the 10 of spades does hit. A call would possibly be in order from AK suited in spades, the 10 of spades would give AK suited a royal flush. Finally, after agonizing forever, I decide to flat call.

My reasoning is if a Q or a A hit I instacall any bet on the river. If a 10 hits, Jeh likely slows down and I can show down a hand which is likely a winner, but not for sure as Jeh is acting very strong with his betting patterns. If a blank hits, I likely call but will have to just go on instinct. My guess is that if Jeh does have a Q on the river, he will lead out strong with AQ,KQ, any boat Q. If he has a weak Q, my guess is that he will either check call the river or lead out for 50-70 percent of the pot.

River is the 10 of hearts. Jeh leads out for 185 into a pot of about 250ish. What do you do?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The ultimate Jeh Chow Hand

We all kid Jeh for chasing outs (and almost always hitting!). I don't think any player alive though is weak/tight enough to fold this hand though with one card left to come. My opponent just called my turn bet but I was not folding no matter what he did. Although I only have Ace High heading to the river and no made low, just about any card makes a hand for me except pairing the board or a non club 2. Exactly how many out do I have here? Can even Jeh count this high?

Superdraw Hand

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Only a matter of time...

Someone finally made what appears to be a viable home version of a television table. The guy uses RFID chips in lieu of hole cams and video cams for watching players. With cards being chipped it allows him to take that info and use homebrew software to do real time stats. Pretty slick setup and a bunch more features than the design that I had cooked up. Not for sale...yet. I think it's going to be difficult to get the price down to anything remotely reasonable for the a home game. After mine got built the plan was to sell time on the video table and ship out DVDs of the session afterwards.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

You Guys Watch the HORSE Final Table Yet?

Wow. I don't want to spoil it, but wow.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Auto-shuffler for the home market

I've been keeping an eye on the Shuffletech shuffler for a while. It was announced months ago and seemed to be taking the route of vaporware with repeated "almost there" updates. Well units have finally shipped and I've been following the reviews on the HPT and 2+2 forums. The news has been good from a functionality standpoint, reasonably fast, effective, can de-jam itself unlike ShuffleMasters. Biggest knock on it seems to be the noise. It is not silent like the casino shufflers though it is hard to tell exactly how loud it is.

Here's a video of the machine in action. Speed of an auto-shuffler is always going to be slower than a decent manual shuffler but it is not going to be a holdup for a full table cash game. Looks like it takes about 60 seconds for a cycle and you are not going to find a ring game getting in 60 hands/hour.

Anyway, I'm going to continue monitoring the threads to get more feedback on these units. If these things are all they are advertised to be then we can expect to see a trial run at our game.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jeh's Vegas trip report

> Here's my Martin-in-Vegas wannabe cash game report from the
> Venetian. Session starts at midnight on a Sunday night, and I sit
> down as the 8th player at an open table. On first impression, half
> the table appears to be tourist d0nks and the other half look like
> they know what they're doing. No stacks over 400, only one stack
> above 300. Since buy in at Venetian is 100-300, no one appears to
> have enough chips to bully the table around. Everyone is quiet and
> passive (yummy), so I play my default Vegas style of tight
> aggressive with huge emphasis on position.
> Off we go, and on my first button, I find AJoff. There is one limper
> so I raise to 15. everyone folds except for UTG limper, who calls.
> Flop comes Kd Qd 10h. Yahtzee! I flopped Broadway. Villain checks, I
> bet 30 and he shoves for 100 total. I insta call, show Broadway, and
> the turn, river get dealt, coming 7, 7, non diamonds, and he flips
> over AK in disgust and walks away. Nice start, 5 min in and I'm up
> 100.
> I'm in mid position with AQ off. UTG raises to 17. One call, action
> to me. I raise to 45. Tight passive Lady flat calls. Original raiser
> calls. Flop is red j black j and red 2, no flush draw. Checks to me,
> I bet 70 and take it down.
> Limp with 6 2 off on button. Five others. Flop is k q x, 2 clubs.
> Checks around, no one seems to want it, and I fire 10. Lady who
> short bought calls. Turn brings 8 of clubs, completing the flush.
> She checks I bet 20 she flats. She has 45 behind. I put her on a
> slow playing flush or weak K. I think there's equal chance of both.
> River brings a red 10. She checks and I fire it all in, as I'm about
> 50/50 on both sides of my read. She insta calls and show 78c. Stupid
> me.
> 57d in cutoff. 4 limpers to me. Me and button flat and blinds
> complete and check. Flop is 3s 4h 8s giving me a gutter. Checks all
> around. Glorious 6c hits on turn giving me current vulnerable nuts.
> Checks to me, I bet 15 BB calls. River brings 10s, getting a spade
> draw there and also the 79. BB checks and I decide to value bet my
> straight for 15 since I think I'm still good. He hems and haws,
> calls, I show, and he mucks, tapping the table.
> New asian chick in her 20s (we'll call her Evelyn Ng wannabe) sits
> down at the table. In her first rotation, I get mixed up in a hand
> with her when I limp in SB with A5h and 5 limpers. "Evelyn" is in
> cutoff. Flop is A 7 8 rainbow. I check and everyone checks to her,
> and she bets 10. I flat and turn brings 4x, putting a non heart
> flush draw on board. I check and she bets 10 again. I flat again
> with my top pair and gutter draw. River brings another 7, no flush
> on board. Board is now A 7 8 4 7. She bets 15, I flat, and she turns
> over AK suited (see below for observation notes).
> Kjd in cutoff. One limper UTG. I raise to 15. Only SB calls. Flop is
> Kh 9h 3d. SB d0nk bets 25. I raise to 60. He thinks, then flats. He
> has roughly 45 total left behind and I'm pretty sure he's sending it
> in. Turn is 6d, giving me a flush draw now too. He checks, I ship
> it, he calls and an A heart drops. Flop flush draw gets there. But I
> turn over my KJ anyways - and he turns over K10. I win a nice pot of
> about 190.
> At this point im up 400. The rest of the night goes smooth sailing,
> I raise pre flop, some callers, c bet, and take the pot. End the
> night up $530 for 2 and a half hours of poker.
> Observations:
> 1) 1-2 nl hold em in vegas remains SUPREMELY beatable. Oh how I wish
> there was a bet with Jason about this. I have never felt more
> strongly about anything in my life.
> 2) The new line in cash games is to flat call with AK. No matter how
> many callers. I saw this three times In showdowns, where twice, late
> position, 3-5 limpers, the AK would flat. A would hit on flop, AK
> bets or calls, no raising. Amazingly, three times AK held up and won
> a moderate pot (the only time it didn't was my flopped Broadway
> hand). I'm pretty sure seeing it work like this encourages that kind
> of play (and I absolutely love it). Watch out for that if u are
> playing a live casino cash game anywhere.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Finally got it...

Playing O8, I was dealt AA32ds in late position. It folds to me, I pot it, and take down the blinds at a table that has seen about 90% of flops. Man, I really wanted to be disappointed by a flop with that hand.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Badugi and 2-7 single draw on PokerStars

According to a 2+2 post at least. Badugi? What has online poker come to?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Runner Runner Perfect Perfect

I thought it would never happen but I hit quads on line with 2 perfect cards, my only outs. Martin commented last night that good players don't give bad beats but it can happen under the right circumstances. Here, the stakes are low relative to my cake roll, I have a good hand post flop, which I think might be good, and I am up against a short stack. I am also running good on this session so my confidence is high. I think I have played well over 100,000 hands on line and this is the first runner runner perfect perfect I can remember.

Running Quads

I can't remember the exact details of Ryan's greatest suckout ever at .02/.04 NL Hold'em, but this one has to rival it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Two Hands

These are, imo, the two most interesting hands I played in my generally disastrous session last night. I'love to hear your thoughts on my play.

1. Hero is UTG w/ offsuit pocket aces.

Hero raises to 10. Relatively unknown tight passive player in MP calls. Another call on the button, and one in the big blind.

~40 in the pot, 4 players to the flop.


Hero checks. Tight passive bets 30. Others fold. Hero folds.

2. (My memory's a little hazy on the specifics of this one, chime in if you remember anything, Royal).

Hero is in late position with 88.

Royal raises to 9 from middle position. Hero calls. At least two other callers to the flop.


Royal bets 20. Hero calls. Others fold.

Turn is a K♣. Royal checks. Hero bets 30. Royal raises to 70. Hero calls.

(FYI, At this point I am pretty certain that Royal does not have a strong hand, ie, a King or a deuce)

River is a 4♦. Royal bets 100. Hero calls.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Interesting O8 Problems

I have had 2 very interesting O8 hands in the last 30 days with 2 very difficult decisions. With ROtty thinking, I made the correct decision in one case and may have made the correct decision in both cases. You decide.

Should you ever fold the nuts on the river? Here was my dilemna. PLO8 $2/$4. The board read 4,5,7,9 J no flush possibilities and it is 4 handed at the river with the following stack sizes preflop. Small blind good player about $900. Early position player about $150, me, mid position about $575, button about $225. The button was the original raiser and early position player has been leading the betting. Pot has about $240 in it after the turn, river is the Jack. Small blind checks early position player bets $75, I have A27,x for the nut low and a pair of sevens for the high. I call thinking I am likely quartered by the button who was the original raiser. Button has been raising a good percentage of pots preflop though mainly from position. Button moves in for about $150 more, small blind check raises all in for his whole stack, early position player moves in for insignificant dollars. What do you do? There is about $1200 in the pot and it is I think $465 for me to call. You know small blind has the nuts just don't know which one or possibly both. Besides the small blind player who you can tell from the chat is a very good player everyone else is unknown. What do you do?

The other interesting hand was a $1/$2 table 6 handed PLO8 and you are heads up with the original raiser. Board has 2 high cards, 2 low cards, no pairs and you have J,2,3,4 with 3 clubs and a made jack high flush on the turn. No Ace, King or Queen of clubs, on the board you have the 4th nut flush. You are not counterfeighted at this point so an Ace on the river would give you the nut low. I bet the pot on the turn about $65, and I am check raised on the turn all in about $170 to call. The player I am playing with is Ecoholic, a known aggressive player who is also comfortable playing much higher stakes than this table. What should I do?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Drawing dead pre-flop

Can you be drawing dead pre-flop? This had been discussed a couple times before, once at the lunch game and another time at Tuesday Night Poker. I had a solution where a hand couldn't outright win the hand but Ryan said that the hand would chop if the board came out Quads with an Ace kicker. I asked for clarification on what "drawing dead" meant and Ryan said that there is no way for the hand to win any portion of the pot whatsoever, a definition I agree with.

Fast forward a few weeks and as I'm getting my stuff put together to head out for the day it dawns on me.

KcKs - "Hero"

At this eight handed table, Hero picks up two black Kings yet he cannot lay claim to any part of the pot regardless of which five board cards come. In fact as long as the hand does not have an Ace in it, it is possible to be drawing dead pre-flop. JhJc, 6s7s, 9h2d, 5s5d, doesn't matter, they can all be guaranteed losers.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

O8: How Would You Play It?

I had AAT6 with diamonds in this hand, and I just did not know how to play it. Reraise the initial minraise and telegraph aces? Pot it when it comes back around to me again after a three bet and a caller, or see a flop before committing to the hand? I obviously wasn't feeling like gambling here and went set mining, but WWJD? What is correct?

Friday, June 20, 2008

A weird two-tabling

I've had a rough stretch that I mostly blame myself for, and generally closed Cake in disgust rather than capture hand histories and blog about it. Feeling like it tonight, though.

I find myself in an interesting two-table situation that I'm going to try out. The empy seats were at 10-max .25/.50 and 10-max .02/.04, so I'm playing them both. I'm going to try to use the freedom to splash around at .02/.04 help keep me disciplined at .25/.50.

I use this system to find it in me to fold Ts-9s-9d-8s preflop at the 50 table in the first orbit. Man, the hold'em player in me wants to play it so badly. And if they were double-suited and I was on the button, I probably wouldn't be able to resist.

Meanwhile, the system also lets me play Ac-8c-4h-2d from the SB like this at the 4 table, so it's all good.

I get aces at the 50, and a short stack check-raises me with no fold equity and a pair of aces actually holds up in O8.

Is this a good turn call assuming a range of ace-low** from my opponent? Will run it later. OK, ran it later. Basically EV neutral against that range.

ROT shows me that my opponent, with Kh-Kd-5d-2h, was definitely calling a value bet on the river, here. Even though the T on the river actually eliminates some boat outs, I would basically be committing myself with a v-bet and I get check-raised. I probably left $17 on the table; if he's calling the turn with the k-high flush, he would have called a shove on the river. Why start fearing boats now?

Again, a place where a better player finds a way to be +EV, and I chose EV neutral.

Bah. Back to back AAKJss hands, with the first one earning me blinds and limps, the second getting me into ten-dollar trouble. Naturally, they flop aces full at the 4 shortly after.

Funny back-to-back hands from the 4...

I like my line on this one. I nearly folded preflop, which may have been correct since nobody at the table seems to be raising pf with much less than AA, but I have to bet that flop when it checks to me. The turn is great for me, but I'm not made unless KK is good, so I like the check-behind. When I hit on the river, I feel like if I have the scoop, he'll either pay in full or not pay a dime and bet accordingly. Villain was on AA82ss.

OK, this session has been fun and profitable, but I have other things to do. The "auto post" buttons are uncheked. Itis allowed on the 4...which goes fine until I'm quartered on the last hand.

$4 --> $8.22
$50 --> $88.55
~60 Hands/Table

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Coding the Wheel

The website shows how to roll your own poker bot. I've only lightly skimmed the pages. It seems a little light on details but the framework is probably all there. Anyway, for your perusal.

Also, apart from the poker aspect is his view on writing specs. In his "You Can't PDF Your Way to Good Software" section he writes "The likelihood of a specification document's actually being read varies inversely with its length."

Monday, May 26, 2008

Poker and the Sasquatch! Festival

This article combines two of my favorite things: poker and Seattle independent music. It’s only mildly poker-related, but since I know a few of you appreciate the music scene like I do, I thought I’d share.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Ultimate Bet cheating scandal

Ultimate Bet has a group of users with potripper-esque stats with 60% VPIP and 150 BB/hour win rate. Furthermore Ultimate Bet and Aboslute Poker are both owned by the same company...what are the odds?

More information on a thread over at

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Why limit Stud?

Last week at lunch poker Ryan was pondering as to why 7cs was played limit, presumably as opposed to NL or even PL. I immediately piped in that there were too many streets to which Ryan replied that there was only one more. After some quick math I determined that he was indeed correct.

After pondering it over some more I think that it really would be a different game, or rather not really much of a game, if it were NL. I think that hands would rarely get to 7th street and that would take away a lot of the game. In Razz for instance anyone with A23 or even three primes would be hammering that pot before they bricked. In 7cs it would be a shove fest when anyone had a big pair or rolled up. I think part of the appeal of 7cs is the delicate balance between early made low strength hands racing against draws to more powerful hands with the River being the finish line. And 7cs/8 would not even exist since low draws would never get to their fifth card even if they were catching perfect up to that point. I suppose a monster draw could try it but they would probably be put all in before they get there and will just need to hope to coast into a hand after the money gets in. Even going pot limit would shut out any drawing hands if two or more big pairs starting re-potting each other on 3rd.

Yeah, I think 7cs has to be Fixed Limit.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

There was a request

So I’m simply fulfilling that request. I know this isn’t the venue for this sort of self-promotion, so I can remove the link in a week if you’d prefer to not have the TNP site muddied up. But more than one person at TNP requested it, so here it is.

For all things baby-related in my world, please go here.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Omaha hole card nicknames?

Hey any of you Omaha junkies ever notice someone referring to a set of hole cards by nicknames? Hold'em has big slick, pocket rockets, big lick, the hammer, etc. but there seems to be a dearth of Omaha nicknames. Only one I could easily find was AK47.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Have we talked about this already?

Has anybody played here before? Seems like, with it’s “legality”, the chance for a larger amount of d0nkitude is there.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

WSOP Main Event final table to be held in November

As Joe pointed out, the Main Event will abruptly stop at the final table and resume many months later in November.

Jeh says there are good reasons for it. I'd like to hear them.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Jason and MB go to Palm Desert

MB and I just got back from our trek to Palm Desert, a great alternative to Vegas. There are plenty of places to play poker here, the weather is fantastic, the food is great, and for those of you with kids, Palm Desert is way more family friendly than Vegas. Maddie came with her friend Malya, and being the trusting souls that we are, we let the kids play all day at Water Parks, go cart and arcade centers, and hang out in the room all night unsupervised while we played some poker.

Each day we started our poker playing at the Spa Casino, a small 9 table room in downtown Palm Springs. They sponsor a “free” NL Hold’em tournament with a $40 buyin during the week, but you get a $20 rebate if you play 1 hour of Texas Hold’em after the tourney. Our tourney expert, MB finished in the money day 2 getting her money back while I busted out on day 1 (card dead) and day 2 with my trip tens losing to the Spainer domination hand J9 os.

The debate will rage on as to the whether or not $1/3 or $1/$2 NL Hold’em is beatable. The rake was definitely brutal. $1 rake preflop, $2 on the flop, $1 more at $50 and $1 more at $200. There was, however, some truly terrible play but neither MB or I was the beneficiary of it. 2 plays of note were a guy shoving when a second King hit on the turn, after he bet the flop. He was instacalled by a guy with a full house who had trip 3’s on the flop. He left the table saying I was trying to represent that I had a king. The dumb part was the stack sizes. While his bluff was not a bad play as he will typically induce a fold, betting $120 into a $40 pot was moronic. He had air.

Moronic play number 2 was a guy calling off his stack with 9,7os on a 8 high board on the flop. He may have had a gutshot, but he was perplexed when he looked at his hand and thought he had 9,8os. Either way he was way behind an overpair.

My one lone big pot here was a flop of A♥K•8•(2 diamonds). I had raised to $10 or $12 preflop with pocket 8’s and then bet the flop, last to act with 3 players. Player 1 folds and Hawaii dude check raises all in for $74. I instacall, turn is a 9, river is an Ace and I proudly announce full house and flip over my 8’s. Hawaii dude says I have a bigger boat and turns over AK. Can’t really blame the guy as any of us at WNP would have ended up all in on the flop with the cards we had. The table continued to mutter about what a big hand that one was but after all my time playing Omaha this was simply a “beat” not a “bad beat.”

Hold’em cash game losses at the Spa were about $120 for me and another $90 loss at tourneys.

The good news for me though is that I was able to find an Omaha 8 game at Agua Caliente, a large casino in Palm Desert populated by almost all locals with the occasional tourist. The game was $6/$12 limit with a kill pot if anyone scoops a pot with $60 or more in it. The winner of the pot gets the kill button and becomes another big blind of $12. The game then becomes $12/$24 limit reverting back to $6/$12 if no one scoops again.

Day 1, I was on a serious heater and also the beneficiary of some pretty bad play. One woman, an older woman named Faye, would chronically raise with high only hands. On a flop of KK3 with 2 hearts, I called her holding an A2 suited in hearts and a 4 for a back up in the event I was counterfeited. The turn was a heart and a low card, the river another low card giving me the nut low and the nut flush. On each street she was betting into me so I believed she had at least a King. I really should have raised the river, but she was so bad it was similar to taking candy from a baby. She flips over JJ55, a hand I would always toss, though she liked it enough to raise preflop. She announces I have Jacks. I scoop.

I played the entire day and only recall one unfriendly river card where I was scooped on for a big pot. My queen high flush was no longer good on a big 3 way pot until the river when the board paired. Villain number 1 had a Jack high flush and villain 2 had pocket Kings for top trips. Getting like 10:1 odds I reluctantly called, knowing I was beat on the river.

I had nut flushes, wheels, and runner runner nut straights, all hitting on the same day. Limit O8 really gives you some interesting decisions on whether or not to chase the Jasonland type outs. Suppose you see a flop 4 handed, and you have A246 double suited in clubs and spades with 2 bets preflop. The flop is QQ3 with one spade and one club. Small blind bets out, big blind folds, limper calls and you have runner runner low, 2 runner runner flush draws, and a runner runner straight draw. Small blind likely either has a Q or a pocket pair of 10’s or higher figuring no one else had a Q. Should you call? I believe the mathematically correct answer is yes. There is $60 in the pot and you are getting 10:1 to call. You may scoop and when you see the turn card, you can pretty much figure out whether or not to continue. I surely enjoyed chasing the Jasonland outs and hitting the occasional massive suckout.

Other lessons learned were that if play was heads up on the turn I would generally call players down with any low draw, regardless of how bad the draw might be. Bettors are typically protecting made high hands or big drawing hands hoping the low doesn’t get there. Drawing to an A8 low with 2 low cards on the board and a small chance at winning the high, I hit the river low and called with hands like this. They were generally good, unless of course it was a multiway pot. With hundred of hours of online play under my belt I made much looser calls then I did in Vegas and was typically rewarded for it.

8 p.m. hit and it was time to get Maddie and her friend from Boomers, the go cart, arcade, mini golf playground. I cashed out for $900, more than a quadruple up from my $200 buyin.

Day 2 I go back to Agua Caliente and kill just under an hour playing NL Hold’em. A couple interesting hands. Mega stacked woman (intended double entendre) just stacked a guy when her quad sixes crushed a King high flush. She limps on the next hand, another guy calls and I have AJos on the button. I raise to $10, trying to get rid of the blinds and thinking I likely have the current best hand. I tell her I am check folding if any pairs hit the board. She smiles across the table and says, “You are funny” making my day. I miss the flop and I am really just trying to kill time prior to Omaha. I am just not in the mood to bluff so I check. I miss the turn, and it is checked around again. I miss the river and it is checked around again and all 3 of us announce Ace High. I take down the monster $30 pot with AJ as the jack plays.

A few hands later I get one of the Ryan killer hands in the big blind 9,2 suited in hearts. It is a 5 way limp and I check my option. The flop has a 2 and one heart. I check, it is checked around. The turn is a heart. I check, late position bets $6 and my name is now announced for Omaha. I suddenly have no interest in this hand. Without Ryan around to possibly put on tilt, I just can’t get excited about possibly winning this small pot so I fold. The river was a gin card, the King of hearts, giving the bettor trip Kings which I would have beaten with my flush. O well, so much for Rotty thinking.

Omaha 8 day 2 turns out to be much tougher. My table has about 4 locals, a guy from out of town who clearly knows what he is doing, a young aggressive player who also appears experienced, and a woman from Vancouver on a serious heater. Rounding out the field are a couple interesting players, a fine gentleman to my left who looks to be in his 80’s wearing a World Champion Gin Rummy hat. I ask him if Stu Unger was everything he was cracked up to be and he said yes, Stu had a photographic memory. The Gin Rummy guy says that he won the World Championship twice and is the only player in the world to do so. Seated 2 to Gin Rummy’s left is the Rock of all Rocks. In four hours of play I see him play exactly 4 hands, all hands that he open raises and then the whole table folds. I had an OK hand, ATK9 with a suited Ace on one hand on the button and I asked Vancouver woman if I should play a boredom hand. She says no way I folded a suited Ace against him. He clearly gives no action. I take her advice and fold.

Another local is very good and says he used to play $20/$40 NL Omaha 8 but the game is not available any more. He is clearly a good player but he follows Jasonland logic, playing hands because he likes to go up against certain players. If you are on the favorites list, as many of the locals know each other well, they will often just check down if they are friends and heads up.

The bottom line is that I have my work cut out with zero fish available except the occasional tourist who survives for an hour or less before busting out.

I lose $100, buy up, lose another $100 and buy up again. I am up against 2 players in what turns out to be a pivotal hand. I have a low draw and a flush draw so I bet the turn. Both players call. The river pairs a ten on the board giving me air. It is checked to me in middle position and I bet, seeing no other way to win the pot. A likely local thinks for about 15 seconds then reluctantly calls with just top pair. I announce I have air and flip over Ace high for multiple missed draws. He looks pissed while he rakes in the pot, perhaps I have breached etiquette in this local game but I am just trying to play poker.

About 5 hands later in a Kill pot with double stakes the flop is 77,2 and I have the button and a 7 as well as Ace 4. I bet the flop and pissed local guy calls as do 2 others. The flop is a perfect card, a 3 giving me the nut low. I bet and pissed local guy calls again as does one other. I am sure he is saying to himself I can’t let this tourist guy invade our game and steal our pots. The final card blanks, I bet again, pissed local guy and another local guy call and I have the nut low and trip sevens for the scoop. Pissed local guy remains pissed.

Pissed local guy eventually leaves and the locals and I warm up to each other. I chat with them, tell them about on line play, and one guy says why don’t you move down here and make a living. I say thanks but I am not good enough. He says you sure know what you are doing and with this comment, along with the smile from the mega stacked woman earlier, my day is made. Wow, respect from the locals at the O8 table. I apologize for having to leave to take my wife and daughter out to dinner and cash out, up $20.00 on a brutally tough table.

After fantastic Mexican food, MB and I head to the Morongo casino. A $20,000 guarantee NL Hold’em tourney is just ending and the place is packed with about 30 tables going. I sit down for $1/$3 NL Hold’em. After playing O8 where I am considered the young gun on tables of 60 and 70 somethings, I have to convert to elder statesman role as the average age his is likely 23 with ½ the crowd looking like they need ID to prove they can gamble in a casino. 45 minutes on a nitty $1/$3 table quickly leads to boredom, then MB says they have just opened an O8 table.

Here they play $3/$6 O8 with 5 cards instead of 4. Strange game but I quickly figure out you usually need a monster to win. On one had myself and chatty guy both flop the double nuts on a 2,5,6 board, we end up in a heads up raising war and I am eventually quartered when my runner runner flush is beaten by his King high runner runner flush. I win about $40 at the table, run into the boredom factor, and figure I will try my luck at $2/$5 NL Hold’em.

First time for me at these stakes. I buy in for $380 and come up with the following objectives.

1. Don’t play like a pansy. Just because the stakes are higher don’t wimp out and fold preflop with hands you like to play.

2. Try to get involved in big pots. On my last trip to Vegas and on this current trip I have won a total of zero hands for big pots in NL Hold’em, pots of say $150 or higher. If I am drawn out on or fail to hit my draw in a big pot, so be it.

3. Do chase draws given reasonable pot odds. Unless I am lucky enough to find a second best hand, I am probably going to have to hit a good turn or river card to win a big pot.

Very first hand, pocket J’s, UTG, I raise to $35 having no clue what a normal raise is here. Everyone folds.

A few hands later one limper with me in early position and I have pocket Kings. I raise to $30, everyone folds, and early limper calls. He checks dark, the flop is Ace high I bet $30, he calls. We check the turn and river and he shows AJ.

A few hands later A2 suited, I limp, raised to $15, I call, I miss, and check fold.

I then get snowmen in early position, raise to $15, two callers, the flop is J10x, I check fold.

A couple hands later aggressive Asian dude raises to $15, I am on the button and see the True Spainer, I am calling. The next guy to act raises to $40, I rethink and hit the check fold button. The only boneheaded move I see at the table happens here where the flop comes JJ9, Asian guy checks, reraiser moves in and Asian guy calls for about $200. Asian guy has snowmen and reraiser has queens. Rotty thinking again but I would have had trip Jacks and finally hit a big pot.

A few hands later I see AQ in the small blind, one original raiser and one caller. I think to the advice of Marsh to reraise with AQ and to my thought to not play like a pansy. I raise to $40.00. I am hoping for one caller and then I will likely Cbet the flop regardless of what it is. The big blind calls as does the original raiser and the caller. The pot is now $160 and I have at most $150 behind. So much for my Cbet plan with 3 callers. The flop is jack high with 2 spades, I have no spades so I can’t even bet runner runner. I check, likely check folding. Big Blind bets $40 and original raiser calls, original caller folds and I am now priced in to try to hit my 2 overs. The flush draw gets there, the board pairs on the river, and the blind throws out a smallish river bet. Original raiser folds and I can either check raise all in for the bluff or fold. I hit the check fold button as I don’t believe I can successfully sell a check raise all in on the river. I suppose a hero call with Ace high was an option but it really never crossed my mind.

I get A10 on the button and raise to $15, 2 limpers call. The flop is QQJ with 2 hearts. I figure this is a good place for a Cbet and bet $20. One folder and big stack check raises to $80. Another failed plan.

I finally win a micro pot with A4 in the big blind. The flop is Ace high with no draws, checked around. The turn is a second club. I bet and big stack says are you betting your club draw and calls. River blanks, I check and will call any reasonable bet hoping a failed flush draw will bet. Big stack says I have the missed flush draw and turns over Jack high with 2 clubs, again playing perfect poker against me. I cash out for $117 down $263 for the session. Looking back at each hand I am not sure if I would have played anything differently, just the luck of the cards.

So the total for the week, up $750 in O8, down $450 in Hold’em and tournies, up $300 for the week in total. MB lost about $200. I think I have found a beatable game in O8, but for me Hold'em remains unbeatable in casino land.

Friday, April 11, 2008

New Bellagios

Well the inevitable has finally happened. Effective April 5, 2008 the Bellagio has introduced a new $1 chip. Personally I hate the new look and so far they aren't gaining any points on the boards either with the overwhelming majority preferring the old look $1 chips. One post even said that they have intentionally fugly-ized it to cut down on the amount of people taking them off the property. I assume that other denominations will follow. Don't worry, the cash game set isn't going anywhere (like a road trip to LV) since any replacements to the current set would be either worse looking or more expensive (for custom chips). I have extra racks of near mints as well as extra racks for general use in the warehouse so we should be plenty good for the foreseeable future. And for those who are curious, yes, the street price of these chips is now headed north as these are obsolete and no longer manufactured even though they can still be redeemed for full face value. Next thing you know the US Treasury is going to change the design of the $1 bill and I'll have to re-do all the straps!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Straight flush versus nut flush

Last night at TuNP, Jeh, Brant, and I are in a pot together. Flop comes something like 7s9s and an os Jack maybe? Jeh, surprisingly, bets at it. Brant calls. I have As2s and call as well. Turn puts a third Spade on the board (Ts?). I think it checks around. I forget the river too but I think it was a blank. Bottom line is that there are only two possible hands that beat me, the true SpainR and 6s8s. It checks to me in position. And I throw out a value bet of 35, Jeh calls, Brant now shoves for 70-something.

Now I'm stuck. I'm as positive as I can be that Brant has a SF. If it were heads up I can make a Hero laydown or an announced crying call but with Jeh behind me I now have to figure out what to do. Jeh would not have flat called behind me with a SF so I know I have him beat. I also am pretty sure that Jeh will not call a re-raise over what Brant bet because a lead-out/re-raise by me would just be too strong for Jeh to call. I hem and haw partly to figure out how I could possibly make money with a side pot and partly to Hollywood a little just in case I'm good so I can collect more chips. In the end I really make what is probably the worst choice possible of a flat call. I could fold and save 35 chips. I could raise and hope Jeh comes along so I can win some side pot money and if he folds I am out the same amount of chips plus I cheat Brant out of another 35 chips that he would have gotten from Jeh just to spite him for check raising me with the nuts. (Just kidding ya, Brant!) I cannot even make a speech about how my read that I'm behind is accurate because Jeh is left to act behind me.

I believe that Jeh had a straight. So what is the proper line on this? What would you do in Brant's shoes? Personally I think the check/raise was sub-optimal even though it maximized his return in this case, mostly because he was short stacked. Since I had the NF I know he is not c/r'ing me with anything that I'm beating. Brant's other options would be to lead out for about half his stack or shove. What would be the ideal play if you had the SF and a full buy-in behind you? Tough to play it out of position.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Poker Tables

So I've decided it's time to add a poker table to my basement (referred to as The Dude-Zone™ from here on out). I've not yet decided what I'm going to do, and would love some opinions on my various options.

1. Buy a pre-made table from Ebay. Ebay scares me. I'm mainly worried about dropping a ton of money on one and having it snap in two after a day of use, with no way to get my money back. Is there a certain type of table I should look for? Anything to avoid?

2. Repurpose an existing table. Ryan suggested I take a cheap table that's not being used and cover it in foam and felt. That way you can still use it for purposes other than poker. I really like how Martin made his own rails and felt tops. That said, I don't really plan to use this table for anything other than poker.

3. Make my own. The burgeoning handyman inside me really, really wants to buy a bunch of wood and power tools and just make one. However, this appears to be a pretty serious endeavor. That said, I'm completely up for it, but I'm concerned about price (I own no tools) and my own complete lack of experience with anything related to woodworking.

Anyone have experience with any of these options?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Kristy Gazes vs. Chad Brown heads up

Blinds 1500/3000. Chad opens for a raise 9000 with Ac2c, Kristy Gazes re-raises with 9s9d to 24K, Chad calls. Flop is 6d6c6s, check, check. Turn is 6h, Gazes bets 40K, Chad flat calls. 2h on the River. Kristy checks first, then Chad checks behind. Hilarity ensues.

Chad later says: "In the third match, I was paired against Kristy Gazes. Although Kristy and I have been friends for a long time, we have never really played any poker together. Kristy was coming into this match on a roll, having cashed in her fourth tournament in a row, so I knew I had some stiff competition. The turning point in this match was when Kristy raised pre-flop with 9-9 out of position and I called her raise after limping on the button with A-3 suited. The flop came 6-6-6 and it surprised Kristy so much that she commented to me, 'Wow, that’s weird. That’s the sign of the devil.' In her surprise, she forgot to bet the flop. I was happy to get a free card and, boom, a fourth 6 on the turn. Well, of course, I now had the nuts with my ace-kicker and, when she fired out a big bet on the turn, I just called. The reason I just called is that, if I had come over the top here, she wouldn’t have been able to call without an ace, and so by just calling, she might think I only had a king and she might try to push me off it. She checked the river and I didn’t bet, just so I could see what hand she had raised with out of position. [Ed: emphasis added] She flipped over the nines thinking it was a chopped pot. Remember, you use the best five cards (so she had quad sixes with only a nine kicker). Kristy, of course, knows that, but had made the kind of mental error that we all make occasionally. Sometimes all the poker we play day in and day out catches up with us and we get fatigued and don’t even know it."

That's an interesting comment that didn't come up during the broadcast footage. Does seem like he is making excuses for how Kristy played the hand though his recall is a little suspect since he didn't even get his hole cards correct.

Also, note how the guy over Chad's right shoulder can hardly keep his eyes away from the riveting professional play at the feature table.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

March Madness Heads Up Tourney

Thanks to all who showed up for the March Madness tourney. To recap, the format was dual staged. First a round robin stage where all players played each other once. Second an eight person bracket where a best of three match determines who advances on to the next round of the bracket.

The objectives of the tournament were:
* Allow for plenty of play for everyone. The round robin stage was put in to make sure that everyone got to play a minimum of roughly two hours of poker. Regardless of heads up performance, no one was eliminated early.

* Correlate payouts with the best performing players. Players who did the best would not only collect game money from the round robin stage but would advance furthest in the brackets to collect the placement payouts.

* Balance the duration of the tournament with deep enough stacks to avoid crapshoot endings.

Overall, I thought the tourney worked out better than I thought. I was concerned about the format since I knew it was complex and unconventional. Elevating the blinds once per orbit is something that Sun and I had come up with for playing during poker breaks at the office and I thought it was appropriate for keeping all the games moving though I knew it certainly had the potential to be confusing. Marsh felt that the blinds were too oppressive at the end of the championship matchup and his opinion is good enough for me. After reviewing the blinds I would agree that the capped blinds could have been maybe 1600/3200 instead of 2000/4000 which would have been more inline with the first round. A rule of thumb for estimating the end of a tourney is when the BB equals 10% of the chips in play. Even though that estimating method is for full table tourneys it was the most applicable for heads up. I also thought that all the extra hands that were available in the later rounds would have gotten all the money in before the blinds maxed out but that wasn't the case.

I also don't think that everyone understood the impact of the game money. That was borrowed from Jeh's fantasy football league to prevent a player who might be mathematically eliminated from getting into the bracket from tanking their final games. The side effect of that was that there was less money for the placement payouts. For a $40 buy in, first place paid out $144 on top of any game money. Second place paid $72 and 3rd/4th places paid $36. I think part of the issue was that I was allowing for a few more players which would have boosted the placement payouts. As is, the first place winner won roughly 3.5x their buy-in which is less than a typical first place payout in a conventional format tourney. I think for the field we ended up with we could have gone with paying out just 1st and 2nd.

So NEXT time, I think what I would change would be:
* Adjust the blind caps down to avoid people feeling pot committed at the end out the blind levels.
* Adjust payouts so that the highest placements receive a proportion of the prize pool which are more similar to a conventional tourney. Maybe even have a stepped payout system depending on how many participants enter.
* Double check deck setups beforehand. How embarrassing! Clearly there was a breach in standard protocol for retiring setups since any setups which are short should have been pulled out of circulation. My bad.

Any other feedback for adjustments to make are welcome. Thanks.

Friday, March 28, 2008

1-2 NLHE Beatability Revisited

Martin- I have a project for you if you can find time during your busy week.

We have all talked at length about the beatability of 1-2 NL games in Vegas. I remain confident that good players can show a consistent profit at these games. (and the bet is still on for whenever the 4 of us can get down there) But while reading Martin's recap post, he put up some interesting numbers regarding rake and cost per orbit. Also, I was just listening to a podcast about cash games called Cash Plays, hosted by Bart Hansen, formerly of Live at the Bike, and PokerRoad Radio. The show is a little dry perhaps, but very good. Bart was talking about the low limit (1-2 and 2-5) games in the LA area, and if he thought they were beatable. His contention was that you could show a profit in the games, but that it would be really hard to actually make livable or good money at the games due to the rake. The casino he used as an example took 5.00 flat fee out of every pot, plus a 1.00 jackpot rake. If you tipped one dollar per hand, that would be 7.00 per pot, every pot. The maximum buy in is 200.00. If we are getting in the average 30 hands per hour, we are talking about taking one persons stack per hour in rake.. Ouch.

I know that on the Strip the rake is generally percentage based and not flat fee, and downtown the rake is even less. Marty, I was wondering if you could do similar breakdowns in hourly cost or how much rake money leaves the table from the players each hour (assuming 30 hands per hour).

I want to see the viewpoint here not of one player vs. the other players at the table like we normally think of poker, but instead of all 9-10 players at the table vs. the house. Maybe just of the top few casinos we play at down there (MGM, Caesars etc), maybe one downtown casino like Binions, and maybe even throw in Full Tilt and even Cake just for perspectives sake.

I think that this topic speaks to Jason's point about the games being unbeatable more than his assessment of the play at these tables. I still think that one can turn a profit, but seeing these numbers laid out in front of you regarding rake and tips, as Martin said, can be quite sobering.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Las Vegas wrap up

Well it's been a busy week since I got back but I'm finally getting around to doing a wrap up post.

First of all, thanks to everyone who was reading along. It's good to know I have the crew back home looking over my shoulder while at the tables and giving me feedback. We are used to the technology now but really even just a few years ago there would be no way that you guys would be getting near real time updates with the ease and convenience of just checking your browser/RSS reader/phone. As suspected a quick review indicates a more content rich blog this trip than in the past. Odd since as I mentioned before it was almost exclusively thumb typing instead of my external keyboard. What really helped for me was to break down the session into smaller bites. I tracked more hands that way and keeps my typing workload down to more manageable smaller bites instead of slogging through a whole session afterwards. Also gave me something to do while folding a la Ryan's DS play.

Overall I was fairly pleased with my play. All of the bankroll management discussion has put poker in LV into a different perspective and I treat my buy ins with a litle more respect than in the past. It was also a bit of a renaissance for me as well. I went back to basics and even had to relearn a few things. Shifting out of the Marty Farha wide open mode that I've played in the past in LV, I went back to basics of folding a lot of hands...maybe too many even. I also found that the vast majority of my decision making was done on the Flop. I have a limited amount of hands I'm starting off with and based on the flop my decisions end up being fairly easy. Fit or fold. Very little chasing and definitely none without reasonable odds.

Once I got the hand selection and Flop decision thing down then I took the step of getting my money in when I thought I had the best of it. It was pretty much brute force betting and as pointed out in the comments I could have likely massaged another bill out of the weekend if I had been more surgical (assuming I didn't get drawn out on). Most notably AQ versus KK, AK vs K9 on AK9 flop, and nut Flush versus two pair. For whatever reason, betting that would be second nature to me at WNP just fell out of my head down there. Maybe due to a different crowd or being out of my element but either way I just wasn't playing as optimally as I could have. It also took Ryan yelling through the tubes to slap some sense into me to either a) stop showing cards or b) use my image to bluff more. Totally reasonable but just not what I was doing at the time. Made the adjustment though and it may well have netted me a call on my last big hand of sucker Straight versus top two pair though she may not have gone away even if turned my hand up since I think she over-estimated her position in the hand.

I know we joke about the 1/2 games being unbeatable and I made a post earlier about crunching some numbers so here's the math comparing Caesars to MGM to Binions:

* Caesars is a 1/3 game so you are paying $4/orbit and since they play nine handed that comes out to .44/hand or $13.33 for an hour of play assuming 30 hands/hour. Assuming to win a $40 pot in that hour, it is going to be raked a full 10% that maxes out at $4 plus the extra $1 for the HHJ and BBJ bonuses. Bottom line: $21.67 net for winning a $40 pot in an hour of play.

* MGM is a 1/2 game at a full ten handed table so it is only .30/hand or $9/hour. Taking down the $40 pot will still get max raked but you save on the bonus. Bottom line: $27 net, almost 25% more than Caesars.

* And just for comparison, we'll throw in Binions. Same as MGM but with only a 5% rake so you net out $29, best deal of all.

The tax paid is substantial as we all know but actually running the numbers is a little sobering. This underscores the strategy of playing big pots in No Limit games even more since you minimize the effect of the rake that way. Game selection is also important as we can see since where you play can have a big effect on how much you bring home.

Mail bag:
I do get your comments on the blog but I cannot reply to the comments from my phone. I tried from my browser but I think due to some JavaScript issue or something I cannot submit comments in response so here is some catch up.

* Bad beat hand with guy calling off his stack with bottom pair. Yeah, I know I want this guy in the hand. I have no qualms about it. I know I'm stacking that guy 90% of the time so I welcome his action, just don't like those 10% times but nobody does. He actually lucked into another two outer an orbit later when he called off his whole stack with a random 9 on a 922 flop to a guy who flopped trips then he caught a 9 on the River after all the money had gotten in. Even elicited a comment from a guy at the table who noted that he'd been catching lucky.

* Slowing down my betting to get callers. When it comes to trying to isolate down to one player in a multiway limped pot, I am fine with taking down the pot versus risking getting into a multiway pot and some hard decisions. When there are enough blinds to get me a few more orbits I would rather err on the side of just taking it down right there. I also have the chance of opening the door for someone who thinks I'm stealing and wants to re-steal or someone who wanted to limp/pop with JJ or QQ. If the field is small enough then I will throttle back the bet amount to try to get one caller.

* "Pro" playing 1/2 at PH. From everything I saw I have no reason to not believe that this guy can grind out a living playing ABC poker everyday at those tables. There is enough d0nk play to feed a solid player who is disciplined enough to manage a bankroll. Some who can average clearing one bill a day, as Marsh himself has, is netting out a livable wage especially considering that it is tax free.

* KK vs AQ. Agreed. I should have flat called and let him fire again on the Turn which would have been for the rest of his stack. Sub-optimal.

* Ryan's official challenge to not show another hand: accepted.

* Value bet on the end with trip Sixes. I actually misplayed this one too. The 15 on the end was actually almost the rest of my stack. If I had planned it out better I would have made a slightly larger bet on the Turn and then a shrug shove with a the rest of my stack which would have been smaller than the Turn bet so I could get paid in full. As it was I think an "all in" might sound more intimidating than it ended up being since those words often connote a big bet even though it was only a few bucks more than my River vbet.

* Did I actually jump around like Beth Shak and shove my pair of bullets in the faces of everyone at the table? Of course not. I actually did more of a Hevad Kahn "oooh haaa" type dance and picked up my chair and pumped it over my head instead.

Miscellaneous side notes:
* I was talking to one of the dealers at Planet Hollywood about their Chinese Poker tournament and she added a tidbit that hadn't come up before. She described how dealing actually took less down time than in a Hold'em tournament since they would use two decks and deal out the next hand while the players were setting their hands from the opposite deck. PH does not have auto shufflers and in a standard Hold'em tourney everyone waits for the deck to be made between hands.

* The gate that US Airways uses at McCarran is totally ghetto. The bathrooms are trash and the wing looks like it hasn't been updated since the airport was originally built. Half of the area was actually drywalled off and it looks like that half was getting a makeover but our side was not pretty.

OK, that's a wrap for this trip. Thanks again to everyone for reading. I hope everyone enjoys reading as much as I enjoy blogging. Until next time (prolly another couple months or so).

7c4c in BB ftw?

Jeh and I had an interesting discussion today. I am curious how you guys would vote on this.

Last night Jason, Jeh and I had an intriguing hand, where Jason played 7c4c from the big blind. The hand itself was really cool, and deserves it's own post, but I will concentrate on the discussion that it spawned here instead.

Jeh and I were going over the hand, and I realized that one mistake made in the hand by Jason (not picking on him, I don't have a problem with how he played it) was that he flat called a standard raise, out of position with 74s. It didn't occur to me until later that this may have been a key point in the hand. I asked Jeh what he thought, and he said he is calling there 10/10 times. I said that you would lose a lot of money doing that, and posed this situation to him.

It is WNP. But things are a big different. Every single time you are in the big blind, you pick up 7c4c. Every time, for an indeterminate amount of times, but spanning several sessions. The rule here is that you will most likely limp, or call a standard raise from anywhere from one player to a family pot. You will fold if it has been 3bet ahead of you. My question is, are you going to show a profit here over a long period of time? How would you handle this situation?

Sub-question: Does this exercise show us anything or is it irrelevant?

I started out the exercise as you are on the BB permanently, and always pick up 7c4c, but the other players play how they normally would and don't notice that you have the same hand every time. But the above example is a bit easier to get your head around, and incorporates a few other factors, so we go with that.

My contention is that you would get destroyed, losing lots of money, but I want to know what you guys think. Or even if the exercise has merit as a learning tool.

Mike Matusow folds to a call on PAD

As mentioned at Tuesday Night Poker last night, here is the footage of Mike d0nking out in a hand with Eli Elezra. Please note the extreme backpedaling after the fold to both justify the fold and explain how the 10K straps are pure evil. You will be treated to a bonus Beijing Olympics commercial before the hand starts so sit and watch it, for Jeh's sake.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Ferguson vs. Gold

I was watching some Poker After Dark the other day, with a lineup of former WSoP World Champions: Hay-soos Ferguson, Johnny "The Orient Express" Chan, Barry Johnson, Jaime Gold, Phil Hellmurth, and Huckleberry Seed.

An interesting hand ended the 3rd episode. It's not a mind-blowing hand or anything like that, but it was a nice contrast of styles, and you can see the gears turning in both player's minds as the clip progresses. The sideline analysis is fun to witness too. And the way the hand ends is the *best* part.

Keep in mind, up to this point, Jaime is playing super solid (!) and Hay-soos is playing his normal style. Jaime is the chip leader goin into the hand and Ferguson is in second. Both have about 30k each at this point, so it's the two big stacks goin after each other.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Gus Hansen: What was he thinking?

Good ol' Gus has seemed to have lost some steam since he landed on the poker scene a few years ago with big WPT wins. One of the times I was down in LV I saw him during what seemed to be a pretty bad mixed game session in Bobby's Room. His body language, dwindling stack, and continued folding looked like a shell of the former Great Dane image that he had procured with his T high call of Esfandiari the a WPT Bad Boys of Poker tourney. I later read that he had put Antonio on a small pair and he felt he was priced in to call. Well he seems to have gotten some of his mojo back with a win in the 2007 Aussie Millions Main Event. And if you have wondered what he says into the little voice recorder that you see in the TV coverage then wonder no more. He is releasing a book, Every Hand Revealed that dissects all 329 of his non-folded hands including the 21 most critical hands of the tournament.

Supposed to be out in May and I'm sure I'll at least look through it when it shows up on bookstore shelves and will probably throw it into the library as well.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Get your twitter on

A bunch of us WNP people have joined Twitter. You should too.

If you don't know what it is, it's a way to stay in touch with people in your life passively throughout the day. Think of a cross between IM and a blog. It's web based, and you can have it sent to your cell phone or IM client. There aren't comments, and each "tweet" is limited to 140 characters. You can post about anything you want, from funny one off comments, to serious thoughts, to poker hands (you can post URL's for people on Cake), to random happenings, or whatever is in your head.

My name on there is Marshall_

Check it yo

Monday, March 10, 2008

When does the Cake Challenge end?

I know. I know. I shouldn't even be talking about how it ends until I start but the Challenge seems to have morphed into different things. Jason wants to write a book. Marsh said in his blog that this is now more of an online career exercise instead of a bankroll management exercise. Will looks like he went cold turkey. Royal is still getting started. Ryan seems to be the only one who is still on relatively the same course.

I've been wondering a while about what the goals are for people. For Jesus it was the 10K mark. I guess we never set a specific dollar amount goal for the TNP Cakers. But in general what is the goal of any poker player? Keep moving up stakes until they are playing at the highest level? Make it to the WSOP? Win a WSOP event? Do it for a profession? I figure that there is a point at which you can decide to turn into a grinder and find a game that you can beat and just play for income and not necessarily to grow your bankroll. Kinda like a retirement portfolio that you move out of stocks and into bonds.

Does anyone have any solid goals in mind for their Cake Challenge?

Suit domination in Omaha

On the DNR blog, Ryan posted about how he ran his KKxxds into AAxx and got his money in behind. I noticed in the HH that Villain had his Heart outs covered with a superior suited Heart which got me thinking: What are the odds of being suit dominated when you run KKxxds into AAxxds? Anyone?

My knee jerk reaction was the proveribal 50/50 of having one suit dominated, as in really 50/50, not just "it happens or it doesn't" 50/50. Well I ran the numbers and surprisingly enough the news is even worse for the KKxxds. It has a 2/3 chance of having a single suit dominated, a 1/6 chance of having both suits dominated, and only a 1/6 chance of having live Flush outs at all.

Friday, March 7, 2008

No messing around at the WSOP this year

The WSOP is finally cracking down on idiocy at the tables. There is now a rule specifically prohibiting "excessive celebration," though personally I think that Hevad Kahn's antics were already punishable as a player conduct code violation. They are also rescinding the rule about "show one show both" after the hand is over - you now can flash a single card. Those rule changes and others are covered in a two part story on

Futhermore, the WSOP seems to be laying down the law early by ejecting the chip leader at the final table of a satellite event.

I fully support the efforts to squelch the over the top shenanigans at the table.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Jeh's Visit to Commerce Casino

Here I am with another Casino review. I had a day in L.A. to kill, so what better to do than play some poker? I headed down to Inglewood (Swingin') to the world famous Commerce Casino to play some No-limit-Texas Hold Em. Inside is a room with tables as far as you can see... they had a good spread of all games, including Stud and Omaha.

For No Limit Hold Em, they had two games: $200 Max buyin, $3-5 blinds and a $400 Max buyin, $5-10 blinds. Rake was $1 for jackpot, $4 for any hands that got to the flop. Both offered a max buyin of 40 big blinds, so once you entered a pot with any raise, you'd better be prepared to go to the mat with the hand. Normally I'll sit and assess the table, and then base my style according to the play. But with only 40x big blind as the buy in, I was committed to playing TAG all the way.

Luckily, most of the table was Loose-Passive. I was fortunate to sit down at a new table. As we sat, I sized up my opponents - four of them were obviously regulars, and knew each other well. 2 seemed to be semi-regulars - the regulars didn't know their names but acknowledged their presence and some referred to past tables or histories. That left three of us as the n00bs.

Action got started and things were pretty normal. No showdowns, some preflop raises and some flop bets. I sat there and waited patiently for awhile. Preflop raises were around the range of $15-$30, depending on how many people were in the pot. I picked up two hands in a row after about 30 minutes and took down both pots after a preflop raise and flop bet. At least these players were paying attention to my tight play and made comments as such.

I built my stack up to $280 when my first big hand happened. I picked up AsAc on the button with two limpers ahead. I made it $20 to go and had the 3 seat and the guy to my right calling. Flop came K-10-5 with 2 hearts. Checked around to me and I make a bet of $40. Guy in the three seat calls, and the guy on my right pushes all in for a full rack. The whole table has shown willingness to go to the mat with any top pair so I insta-push all in myself. Guy in the three seat folds.

Guy on my right tables Kd5d for top and bottom pair. Gross. I brick the turn and river and hand a rack over to the guy. I made a mental note to myself about the guy and think that I'll have my chance to get my chips back from him later. Unfortunately, 15 minutes later, he runs up against the other big stack and loses all his chips when he goes broke with 6-2 vs. K-2 on a 8-2-2 board and they get it all in on the flop. As the guy leaves, he criticizes the winner for being involved in the pot in the first place with K-2 suited, who merely limped on the button with 5 callers ahead of her. THIS from a guy who called a preflop raise of $20 out of position with only 2 others in the pot.

So I sigh and push on with a full rack, knowing there were plenty of loose-passive d0nks at my table who were stuck. There was one crazy Asian gambler (you know the type) who was stuck 4 buyins in the course of an hour and a half. Callin STATION (even more than me at WNP). Got a few pots from him with some standard preflop raises and c-bets. Took down a big pot bluffing with 10s5s after raising preflop to $25 in position with 4 limpers, having ALL call, flop coming all diamonds with K and Q on board, checked around, diamond on the turn, checked all the way to 4th to act, who bets merely $15 in the pot of $120, and I raised to $70. Folded all around, and the crazy Asian gambler takes a minute to decide and folds his Jack of Diamonds, claiming that I *definitely* had Ad. I decide not to show my bluff and take down the pot of $135.

Went on a mini-rush there, picked up a set, got calls from one guy all the way to the river, and found myself up $35 again, with about half hour remaining in the session. Made the decision to tighten even more up as I was happy with climbing my way back... but then ended up with Jc9c in the big blind on a limped pot and flopping a gutshot straight flush draw when the board came KcQc-x. I bet it all the way to the river, but my lone caller shoved on me on the river, and I never made any part of the hand. Was down $80 again...

... but then I picked up AdQd on the button. Standard raise to $25 with 3 limpers. One caller, same guy who had beaten me on the previous missed straight flush draw. Flop comes black A-10d-5d. YAHTZEE. He check calls my $40 flop bet. HMMM.

Turn comes Ah. Even better. He checks, I fire out $60, and he calls. HMMMMMMMMM.

River comes a non-descript heart. He checks again, I fire out $60 again, and he sighs and folds. I show him my hand, and he remarks "good thing the diamonds didn't get there. I would've gone broke". Damn... wish the diamonds got there!

I dinked around in a few more hands and then left to pick up the wife. Ended up down a whole $3 the entire session. Figuring in rakes and tips and getting my Aces cracked, I was rather pleased with the outcome. I highly suggest the Commerce as a place to play. The staff was knowledgeable, the players nice and loose-passive, and the food was pretty decent. Plenty of parking, and easy to find off the freeway. The only thing I didn't like was the blinds-to-buyin ratio, as it encouraged a lot of shove poker (I saw super-tilting crazy-Asian go all-in preflop with A-J off, into a pot of $15, IMMEDIATELY after rebuying the full $200, got called by A-K, and crazy-Asian spiking a J). However, this can work in any TAG player's favor, as the players consider themselves pretty committed in any sizable pot.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Two "heads up" heads ups

Results are in for NBC's Heads Up tournament. If you want to watch it on TV you are going to need to avoid the poker media until April/May when it airs. Results are most likely going to be getting most coverage today and over the next day or two since the tourney was over this past weekend. I don't want to spoil it for anyone but the person who won it all has played poker before...that's all the hint I can give you.

The other heads up news, as Ivan briefly mentioned, is that the March tourney is going to be a heads up format. Mano a mano (with the occasional womano thrown into the mix) in a fight to the finish. Assuming the normal sized field in the low teens, we will be playing a round robin format where everyone gets to play everyone else first. Then the top eight players will be seeded into a bracket and play head to head in March Madness fashion until there is one. Round robin matches will be an accelerated blind schedule one game per match. Bracket matches will be best of three with the final matchup being best of five. There will also be game money paid out for the opening round, every win in round robin play will pay out a tbd amount while the top four finishers get the balance of the prize pool distributed like a standard tournament. I am working with the T&I Card Room to secure a evening in late March. More info as it becomes available.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Jesus's update (sort of)

I got this email from Full Tilt today linking me to one of they Pro Tips articles. This one was by Jesus and he outlines his rapid descent from building his stack up very high to losing over 2/3's of it in 3 months. He doesn't go into too much detail, but basically just claims running bad as the culprit. Weird.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Folding Kings pre-flop

According to some comments in the DNR blog, Jason is apparently able to fold KK pre-flop in a .05/.10 game instead of making a crying call for another $5. Personally I didn't think any one of the TNP'ers (if anyone at all) is making that laydown there. As Ryan pointed out at lunch and Jason later said, if there is any time for someone to throw Kings away it is when there is a shove after you, an insta-shove afterwards, and both of the shovers dancing around the poker room clearly insinuating that they had Aces. OK, maybe ONE of them is messing around but I think you have to give credit to one of them having Aces. Anyway, watch the footage for yourself and try to decide what you would do in that situation.

Is the optimal play always the optimal play?

I was reading Ryan's DNR blog and came across the following post where Ryan picks up AA and decides he wants to take down the pot on the turn by intentionally overbetting. His comment (below) was that it was suboptimal since it made it too difficult for villain to pay an incorrect price. But the question is: is the "optimal" play always the optimal play? Is locking up a pot ever better than risking the loss of a bigger pot? What conditions would need to exist to justify NOT not making an optimally sized bet (as in slightly the wrong price to villain).

T1, Hand 30. After the gift of a turn uberblank on a draw-heavy board, I overbet the turn to seriously charge for the villain's apparent draw. He folds, and it was a suboptimal play because I didn't bet so he could make a mistake on the turn, but with my run of late, I really just wanted to take down the pot.

Here is the hand history

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Paired flop versus all low flop prop bet

Follow up to Jason and Marshall's prop bet last night. Jason offers Marshall his choice of taking paired flop (which presumably includes three of a kind) versus an all low flop (all three cards a different rank of 8 or lower). I consider myself not a slouch at math so I can't understand why I'm having such a tough time at this one.

At the time I thought that paired board would have better odds. Just seemed that paired flops would be easier than getting all three cards to do the same thing. Then the next hand came along and I didn't think about it any more until I got home. I tried to crunch numbers to see which one had the edge but couldn't get numbers that sounded right.

For low, I figured it is a 32/52 chance of the first card being low (four each of A-8), second card has only seven ranks left so a 28/51 chance for that, and finally 24/50 for the third card to be low as well. So (32/52) * (28/51) * (24/50) = .615 * .549 * .480 = .162 or roughly 16%. Back of the envelope calculations say that three low cards are roughly three coin flips in a row which would be 1/8 or 12.5% so that seems correct. However I know that for some calculations you actually have to find the odds of *missing* then multiply those together. Since all of these values are close-ish to 50/50 I could be doing the wrong method but still getting a similar number.

Then for the paired board I figured the odds of the first card coming from the deck are 100%. Easy peasy. Now the next card matching it would be 3/51 or .058 and the odds of the third card matching either of the two others would be 6/50 or .120. But multiplying those numbers together gives you .007 or less than 1% and that seemed way wrong. Actually as I was blogging I think that I need to ADD them together since they are independent events. Is that right? So .058 + .120 = .178 or almost 18%. Do paired boards really show up almost 1/5 of the time? Back of the envelope says that three cards need to make a pair at least as often as two cards do so the correct number must be > 6% but is it that much more?

Are those the right numbers? Paired flop 17.8% favored over all low flop 16.2%?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Blog design stuff

OK Ryan, either change your design of DNR back to the Scottish marching band photo and groovy background or take the poll off. I'm on the hook for saying that your blog design is 12 times better than Royal's but now that it's been dumbed down to blandsville, my vote no longer represents my opinion of the blog design.

Chasing the d0nk, patiently

Patience is definitely a virtue, and I learned how virtuous it can be today on Cake.

I had a guy sitting at my table who was willing to gamble well beyond the odds in many different spots. And the nice thing is he kept showing his cards, win or lose. I targeted him early, as you can read in my full session post, but I had to patiently await the right moment. Turns out practicing this sort of discipline isn’t easy, but it definitely works.

I don’t want to name the target here, because in the way-off chance he’s looking for his username in a Google search, I don’t want him to come across this post. My own blog is unsearchable.

He was on a roller coaster for a while, but rarely against me, fluctuating between $3 and $5. I had to fold (or simply lost) a few key hands (TT, Q9d, 99) to him, but they didn’t feel like the right spots. I was ok with that, because I knew that moment would come, provided he didn’t bust out to somebody else. I’m guessing that’s the only way he would have left the table.

The climax of the story arrived about half an hour after I first targeted him. Here’s what I wrote in my blog:

Ahhhhh. Sweet victory. God that feels good. He had KTo on the first hand. He left right after I felted him. I gotta give thanks to MAXXX_34, who added a bit to [redacted]’s stack right before these two hands.

Patiently waiting paid off, literally. A lesson I think we all can benefit from.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

So about this board lock thing

Last Friday Ryan and I were playing Razz at the lunch game and in one hand he filled his wheel early. Was it 5th street? 6th street? Regardless, there was short conversation between us afterwards where he said he had "board lock" on his opponent (I think that opponent was me by the way). I seem to remember looking down and seeing that I had two wheel cards showing and I took issue with him saying that he had board lock since I too could possibly have had a wheel. He replied that with the wheel there was no way he was losing the hand which I obviously agree with. He had the nuts and clearly could not *lose* the hand.

But for some reason, don't know why, I had always defined board lock as the state where, based on the upcards of my opponents, everyone else's best possible hand is worse than mine. In other words, it's that they must have losing hands, not that I have a non-losing hand. I think that board lock would realistically only apply for low hands since high hands could always end up being totally hidden Quads.

Furthermore another condition that I had assumed was part of board lock was that it is good for the remainder of the hand. If you have the Nut Flush on the Turn in Hold'em, your nut hand is vulnerable in case the board pairs. The way I see board lock, if you achieve board lock for low on 5th street (i.e. you have the wheel versus pair of Sevens and a Six) then you can jam at every opportunity knowing that there is no way that anyone can catch up to you since based on the upcards they cannot beat you or even tie you.

I think board lock would also apply to PtT when you are going for low with a crappy J high but you see the other two players in the hand showing pairs after the second flip. As soon as you see that happen you have a green light to raise knowing you are a lead pipe cinch for low.

Anyway, still doing research on the matter. The other thing I wanted to mention was that while Googling for "'board lock' poker" the TNP blog showed up in the #2 spot!

Friday, February 22, 2008

O/8 tourney structure

Just as a caveat, I have no idea how this Royal's O/8 tourney is going to play out. We are using the same blind structure as we have before but with even deeper stacks of 5000 instead of the 4000-ish range that we've been using before. I wanted to allow for plenty of play and with as swingy as Pot Limit O/8 can be I figured the stack depth would allow for everyone to withstand high variance dents to their stack in the early stages. The other change is to make the blinds 25 minutes instead of the normal 20 minutes. That was to help compensate for the fact that we are likely going to get fewer hands in per round than in Hold'em due to the math of making pot sized bets and for chopping up high and low halves of the pots. I don't know how much of the variance is going to be mitigated by the occurrence of splitting pots hi/lo either. On top of all of those factors it looks like we will be a shorthanded table with T&I out and Jason and MB in Mexico. Ryan is also a tenth hour scratch.

We'll soon find out I guess! Look for a follow up post digesting the tourney this weekend.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Play 'em like they're Aces

For those of you who "missed" watching the television event of the century, the new Knight Rider movie, here is a screen grab of the hallowed Deuce-Five being flashed by the protagonist after he shoved on a raise with KJos by Phil Laak. I guess he figures if his girlfriend can crossover from acting to poker why not try to crossover the other way. Laak folds and the pot is swept to the son-of-Hoff.

Hand of the night

Since Ryan, Marsh and Jason all missed Tuesday Night Poker this week, I'll recap one of the more interesting hands of the night. Once again it happened on the last orbit of the night, after stacks have gotten nice and juicy. Royal had just busted out previously and was near full strength after a rebuy. He opens for 10(?) and I call in LP as does Jeh in one of the blinds. Flop comes out 234 with two Hearts. Jeh leads out on the flop for 10. Royal, the original raiser, makes it 30. I flat call the 30. Back to Jeh now and he now bumps it up to 100. Royal thinks about it for an while and makes a begrudging fold. Action back around now to me who having previously flat called, now goes deep into the tank. Since it was the last orbit we have already started to rack up chips and Jeh has about three more racks behind after his bump to 100. Martin now picks the number 180 and it's time for Jeh to ponder. He spends some time in the tank then finally makes the call. Turn is Jd. Jeh and I discussed this afterwards and we both knew that was as much of a blank as there could possibly be. Jeh checks to me and I bet 246 which was my best guess as to what Jeh had behind (it was actually 245, close enough). Jeh is repeating to himself Ace-Five, Five-Six. He asks to see a card and that request is politely declined. He finally folds and he is then allowed to turn over a card which ends up being a Deuce.

Royal's overpair of Queens was pulling up the rear in third place. Jeh flopped top two with his 34. Martin had bottom set. The interesting thing was seeing how everyone put the pieces together based on the betting and the history of knowing the other players at the table. Royal made a disciplined and correct fold. I was willing to boat mine on the flop since I was concerned about a possible straight out there which is why I just flat called Royal's bet. But then things got out of what when Jeh raised. And when Royal folded I wasn't sure what he was re-raising with that folds now but the QQ makes sense. When it was 100 to me I decided that I could not flat call because I don't know what a good card or a bad card is for me. If I am behind a straight already then I want to flat call and hope to boat up. As it was, I was behind most of the hands that would be making a re-pop there. both straights and oversets had me in a bad way. I was only beating two pair and since I had three ducks accounted for, almost certainly 34 which means I don't have any boat outs. After Jeh's flat call of my bump and his check on the Turn I felt positive that I was ahead and that futher strengthened my theory that he is on exactly 34. Jeh even mentioned to me that I probably knew his two cards. Anyway, interesting hand and more proof that we play too much poker with each other when we can peg each other so squarely on a hand.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I knew there was a reason I liked these

I don’t know how many of you TNP readers out there know who Errol Morris is. He’s an amazing documentary director, and you may have seen his movies or TV shows in the past.

But I know you’ve definitely seen some of his work in TV commercials. I really liked these commercials when I would see them on TV, and the fact that he directed them totally makes sense.

If you want some more good Errol Morris commercial watching (if you’re into that sort of thing), his Miller High Life commercials, like this one, are among the Best. Commercials. Evar.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Converting Cake files into word

I'm starting to try to write a word document on how I play Omaha 8 and my strategies during specific hands. When I pull up the cake history and copy and paste the document into word (I am using word for the Mac if that makes any difference) the betting history and pot size is accurately documented (albeit in a word format) but the hole cards and the board cards disappear. Any ideas??

If these hand histories are not easily copied, any preferred formats that you have seen in books and magazines for how to present a hand. I kind of like the card player columns titled hand to hand combat for those of you that have seen them, but this format is a bit too detailed for what I had in mind.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bankroll managment, schmankroll management

Has anyone checked out the latest on the Chris Ferguson Challenge? He's down to 9K and change which is less than his 10K goal and WAY off of his peak of what looks to be around $27K or $28K, or roughly three times his current stake. Biffing off 2/3 of your roll with only 5%-10% of your roll at risk is remarkable especially since your buy-in is going to (or at least SHOULD) shrink proportionally as your roll decreases.

I wonder what is happening in Jesus-land? And could it be that we have it all wrong and that Jason-land bankroll management is right? I mean he has the biggest roll of any of the Cakers and ROT will tell you what that means!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hand dissection: PLO/8

I'm hazy on this but am going with as much as I can recall. Anyone can feel free to let me know details I've fluffed up. Pot Limit Omaha hi/lo last Saturday. Relevant players are all deep stacked enough to be relevant. I pick up As6sQh2h in MP and bump it to six with the nut low draw, double suited, and a bit of counterfeit insurance. Call to my left (Tiff?), Jason, and Ivan. Flop comes out low straighty (something like 678?) and two Diamonds one Spade. I have the nut low and a backdoor flush draw. Ivan leads out for small, maybe 8 or something? I flat call to find get more information. Jason is the only other person to come along to the Turn. Turn I believe changes nothing and the nut straight is still the nut straight. Ivan bets 20. I pop it to 60 now. Jason is like "I can't believe I'm laying this down" and folds. Ivan calls. River changes nothing. Ivan checks to me and I pot it for a big amount. Ivan calls. He has 69 for nut straight and I take the lower portion.

Salient points: Jason successfully put me on A2 from my pre-flop raise AND bowed out of the hand because he was sure he was getting quartered.

I flat called the flop to see what else was going on though I could surely have raised there. Right, wrong? I think A2 in Ivan's hand would have been a bigger bet relative to the pot but I recall it was kinda light. Not sure though. My idea was to wait for a scare card like a Diamond or paired board to allow me to potentially scoop but the Turn didn't help me out. After Ivan bet I raised it as a feeler. If both Jason AND Ivan call I feel an imminent visit from the Q Fairy. Fortunately Jason folds and I'm heads up. Once the river blanks I think my only chance to scoop is to make a big bet and go with my read that Ivan doesn't have a two way hand with a nut low but it is called.

Not sure what the right thing to do here was. It's funny because if I HADN'T raised Jason might not have put me on the nut low and stayed in, much to both of our detriments.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Starting Hands in Omaha 8

Ryan asked if I would post my starting hands in O8. A difficult question but one I am happy to try to answer. Since I play heads up, 6 handed and 10 handed, starting hands will change for different positions, different # of players, and different types of tables. I have played with the aggro types and 10 handed tables where virtually everyone limps. I will try to rank hands as super premium, premium, OK, speculative, and don't bother. Then adust as you see fit based on table dynamics.

Super Premium

AAxx, I never fold AA preflop, the only hand I will never fold. It is ideal to be heads up with this hand or against a small field. I will occassionally limp with AA, UTG or early position 10 handed with AAxx with xx being junk like 6-10 cards, and rainbow.


A2xx. I will fold A2xx to a big raise if I limped in early position. A2xx actually plays better against a field than heads up. I raise typically with A2xx single suited, and almost always raise with A2xx double suited.

A23x. A great hand because yhou have counterfeight protection.

KKxx. I love this hand because when a King hits, unlike when an Ace hits on the flop, you are guaranteed there is no made low and the low hands will have to chase. Bet out or check raise with KK when the K hits on the flop and virtually always go to the mat.

QQxx. Another great hand for the same reasons.

Ax suited. I will sometimes fold if facing a big raise preflop but I love to see flops with this hand for obvious reasons. Ax with 6-10, would fall into the good hands category

Good Hands

Pocket 10 tens or Jacks with connecting cards and/or double suited. I like playing JJ,Q,9 single or double suited, but will throw away JJ,6-8 rainbow.

2,3 with another wheel card or double suited. What's so great about a 3 high flush draw. If 2,3 is the obvious nut low being bet into you I would typically just call with another 2,3 and no redraws. If I have a flush draw to go with it, I will raise here and freeroll against the villain.

2,4,5x. 2,4xx is just too hard to play. You are hoping for a A and a 3. It happens just not often enough to get excited.

4 Broadway cards. I know most people like to raise with these hands but I rarely do. I just find this to be a somewhat speculative hand because unless at least 2 of the flop cards are above an 8 I am fighting against the low who won't go away and can scoop against me.

A3xx. Rarely will I fold preflop unless rainbow with 6-10 cards.

A45x. Typically will play even if rainbow.

Speculative hands

2,3xx. Something like 2,3,KQ or 2,3,J,10 I will typically play.

4 connected cards. Hands like 4,5,6,7 are not great, but if you get a few limpers you might get a couple A2xx or A3xx to quarter themselves while you get a straight.

Junk hands

Double pair hands. I hate low pairs, as when you hit trips you are scared of bigger sets, flush draws, straight draws and sharing with the low. Double pair hands like JJ,88 (sorry Ryan) are junk.

All pairs 22 thru 77 unless it comes with premium cards. I tossed 44,xx today when raised by AAxx. The flop was 4,4,x, the turn was an A, but thats ROTTy thinking.

Rainbow hands not connected. Obvious.

4 of one suit hand. Obvious. I played a hand like this today because the ranking of the cards were good. I think it was A,3,Q, 10 or something. 2 of my suit hit on the flop but I did not chase knowing I had so many of my own outs.

Pure Trash

3 of a kind. I will rarely play a AAA,x hand. Maybe if it comes with a 2 or is suited. All other 3 of a kinds I throw away.

Still have yet to be dealt 4 of a kind but I am sure it is coming.

I use a concept called reverse implied odds, meaning what are the chances I will pay off the villains when I am chasing with pure trash hands. Even great poker players pay off villains. In O8 showdown value is so important as the pots tend to be huge and showdowns happen much more often than in Hold'em.

Hope this helps but the real key to success is post flop play just like in Hold'em. This is where are villains are failing. I will try to give some insight to post flop play on my blog when I post at the end of this month.

Good luck at the tables.