Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Well, I'm back from LA but I'm currently computer-less. I brought my laptop in for repairs so it will be in good shape when I move to Korea (2-3weeks). It was acting up and overheating, amongst a few other problems. I should get it back next week sometime. Until then I will probably do very little playing, if any at all. If I get really bored, I might fire up a tournament or two. I'm really not in a bind to play, so I'll likely make use of the free time to spend it with friends/family before I leave the country.

Friday, June 16, 2006

I doubt there will be another update for a week+. Going to the cottage this weekend, and then I graduate on the Monday I come back. Right after that I'm off to California for a week (I might play some live poker at Commerce or the Bike when I'm there). I'm back on the 20th. See you then.

I'm +$3300 over 9313hands now for the month. That's very little progress over the last 2000 hands. But I'm actually feeling pretty good about it. I lost some really big hands, but was able to fight through a deficit. At the lowest point I was down $670 (~3.5 buyins), which is relatively small compared to the stakes I'm playing (10 buyin downswings are normal, which is why they suggest always have 15-20 buy-ins in your bankroll). I'm not sure how I'll handle dropping $2000, but it should be fun finding out one day. Ahh variance, you sexy beast.

BONUS: Pokerstars gave me a bonus of $120, on the condition that ~1500 hands on thier site. Any current player can get the bonus. This is to reward current players and to encourage players to redeposit. It's a good marketing technique. I'm nearly 70% through that bonus, so that will be nice to get.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I havn't played as much as I expected - Only 800 hands since my last post, but I'm +$365 in them. Sometimes I wonder how much I could make if I ever put in a real workday (8hrs).

I have to share a hand with everyone. Poker is a lot like business: to be successful, you have to maximize profits and minimize losses. Over the long run, every one of your opponents will get the same distribution of cards. It easy to play the best cards, but its what you do with the 2nd best hand that makes or breaks you. This is how you can make folding a weapon in your arsenal:

PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, $2 BB (9 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com (Format: HTML)

Button ($206.15)
SB ($418)
BB ($198)
UTG ($35.05)
UTG+1 ($198.60)
MP1 ($214.60)
MP2 ($545.65)
Hero ($239.95)
CO ($154.60)

Preflop: Hero is MP3 with Ks, Kh.
UTG raises to $4, UTG+1 raises to $12, 2 folds, Hero calls $12, 4 folds, UTG calls $8.

Flop: ($39) 4c, Ac, Kc (3 players)
UTG checks, UTG+1 bets $186.6 (All-In), Hero FOLDS, UTG calls $23.05 (All-In).

Turn: ($248.65) 3h (2 players, 2 all-in)

River: ($248.65) 9h (2 players, 2 all-in)

Final Pot: $248.65

Results in white below:
UTG has Jc Qd (high card, ace).
UTG+1 has Ad Ah (three of a kind, aces).
Outcome: UTG+1 wins $248.65.

So what happened here? How was I able to fold 2nd set on the flop? Its not even that difficult if you think about it logically. The villain in the hand raised pretty large pre-flop, so you assume he has a big hand. When the flop comes down with three clubs and he moves all in, you have to assume he's protecting a hand. What I mean is that if he had a flush, he would play it slower and try to draw you in. This is an obvious betting tell. So now that you know you're not agianst a flush, you have to ask 'what hands would he do this with?'. And really, there is only one answer - two aces. Hands like QQ or JJ are scared of the two overcards, and AK is unlikely as you have 2 of the other kings (and one ace is on the flop). I did have a read, and the guy was a fairly tight player, so this made the play easier to make.

I think most people call here without thinking too much about it. I put him on the exact hand he had, and saved myself $200. The power of folding.

June goals update:
+$3161 in cash games over 7122 hands

$4000 is the goal - I should be able to make this, but I have a VERY busy month ahead and I will be away from a computer 10 of the next 17 days.

Monday, June 12, 2006

I've had a busy weekend and havn't played much at all. Except on friday, when I came home throughly trashed and decided it would be a great idea to play poker. It wasn't. I dropped about $200 before realizing I just might not be playing my best game.

I should be able to play a lot this week, so updates will follow.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Moving up quickly is a tricky thing to accomplish. Generally, if you're moving up fast, you are running well and won't hit too many downswings. But then, when you do finally hit one, it's amplified. This is obviously because that downswing is going to come at a time when you are playing higher stakes than your previous downswing. Emotionally, this is a tough thing to deal with.

For example : You have a bad day at $50NL and end up down $200 for the DAY. This happens and you recover, and don't hit a bump in the road until you're all the way up at $200NL. And then the inevitable happens, and quickly you lose $200 in one hand. And then another one - and all of the sudden, you've lost $400 in a few minutes. While this is a smaller downswing relative to the stakes, emotionally the loss is harder.

This is a point where many players lose thier patience, and go on tilt. Thier emotions begin to affect the way they are playing. This sub-optimal play fuels more losses, and the downward spiral continues until busto.

I hit a bump today. I had been running so hot, and then all of the sudden I dropped $200 in one hand. I shook it off quickly, because I had a big hand on another table. That hand I overplayed KK, and instantly dropped another $200. Looking back calmly at the hand history, I should've folded and saved myself $150. But I let the other hand affect my judgement and paid for it.

So now I'm down $400 in about 60seconds, when my biggest loss had been $200. I guess it was the speed as much as anything that got to me.

I just had to stop for a minute and reassure myself that this was normal and bound to happen. In fact, I hope to lose a lot more one day. I took a quick peek at my stats/graph and saw what a small bump this was overall. These things together helped me to calm down very quickly. I'm really pleased with how I handled it, and that I managed to play well afterwards. I hope when I hit my next little downswing (which will be bigger) I can look back at this and be reminded.

For what it's worth, I ended the session +$753 over ~1500hands. Still 13.88bb/100.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I got in just over 1000hands today for ~$500 profit. This is dispite blowing $60 or so in a 2+2 game with some friends. These are basically private tables where a lot of high stakes players get together and play for very low stakes. Usually this is done to blow off some steam, socialize and have some fun. The buy-in is typically $25, which is meaningless for a lot of these guys . I enjoy the games because there is a very interesting dynamic. Essentially, you have a table full of very skilled players, who are playing sub-optimally and goofing around. It's a different level of thinking which is really stimulating.

I'm actually still playing on one table as I type this (painstakingly boring). It's late, but there is one horrible player left on the table throwing money away. He was up to $1000 at one point, and has since blown threw that and rebought twice ($400 more). It's been facinating to watch, as the more he loses, the looser he gets. Pure gambling problem. But whatever, I guess as sad as it is, this is the kind of person I thrive on. And just as I write that he loses his last $200 and I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Played about 1000 hands today for close to $600. I'm running sick good at 13bb/100hands which has led to $130.20/hour over the last 10 hours. I severely doubt this is sustainable, and would expct my true rate at this level to be anywhere between 6-9bb/100hands.

Sick June graph:

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Quick update:
$200NL is treating me well, and it looks as if I won't be stepping back down any time soon. I've already pulled $720 from the game over ~1400hands(including the $281 from last post). So far June kicks ass, and I'm on pace for a $15,000 month. lol, doable?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

So the bad news is I'm home on a friday night. The good news is that I took advantage of it. The games were really good tonight, so I jumped up to $200NL for the first time. I 6-tabled it for the most of the night, and after a rough start, eventually got up about $400. I played for some more and ended up +$281 for the night.

Some thoughts from the session:

First, I know I can beat this level (Even if I ended down $300, I'd still know this. The play was just as bad, and worse in spots, as my lower limit). So that feels really good. I felt like some people were putting moves on me in spots, but didn't make a re-raise. I decided to play cautiously and avoid the curse of overthinking. What I mean is that when you play higher than you're used to, you tend to think the players will be better. So all of the sudden, you start seeing things that arn't there and beating yourself. An example would be if someone raises your bluff, instead of folding and giving him credit for a good hand, you instead raise all in because you think "He knows I'm bluffing, and he's bluffing with that raise because he knows that". So yeah, I played cautiously to make sure this wouldn't happen to me tongiht. I played straight-forward, aggressive poker and it paid off.

Last thing I want to mention is a great hand I played. I played it OK, but my opponent played it expertly. Check this out:

PokerStars No-Limit Hold'em, $2 BB (9 handed) Hand History Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com (Format: HTML)

MP3 ($413.10)
CO ($164.60)
Button ($19.65)
SB ($191.10)
Hero ($234.80)
UTG ($209.70)
UTG+1 ($106)
MP1 ($213.80)
MP2 ($247.70)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 6s, 6d.
5 folds, CO calls $2, 1 fold, SB raises to $4, Hero calls $2, CO calls $2.

Flop: ($12) As, Th, 8d (3 players)
SB bets $2, Hero calls $2, CO calls $2.

Turn: ($18) 6h (3 players)
SB bets $2, BB raises to $8, CO raises to $22, SB folds, BB raises to $50, CO calls $28.

River: ($120) Qd (2 players)
BB bets $178.8 (All-In), CO calls $108.60 (All-In).

Final Pot: $407.40

Results in white below:
Hero has 6s 6d (three of a kind, sixes).
CO has Jc 7s (high card, ace).
Outcome: Hero wins $407.40.

Yes. He called my all in -- for ONE HUNDRED more dollars -- with JACK HIGH. I mean seriously, WTF? Where do these people get money?

Anyhow, hope you enjoyed that one. I know I did!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

So, June got off to a great start. I didn't play any poker today, but managed to win $650 or so. This is all from blackjack bonuses that I get every month. Basically I get $1600/year free to gamble. Sounds too good to be true, right? It's not. I've pulled thousands of dollars from it. But still no one believes me or takes me up on it. It's like I say "Hey, here's $1600 to gamble. You get to keep anything you win, and don't worry about giving me the $1600 back". And they're like "Oh no, that's OK". I don't get people sometimes. Whatever, I'll take the free moniez.

I thought today would be me first losing post, but I managed to come out on top.

I started the day with tournaments, trying to crack the top 100, but no luck. My best finish was 4th or 5th which paid roughly $70 and put me even for the day. I must've finished the month somewhere in the top 150, which is slightly disapointing. I hardly played tournies for 2 weeks this month, and that's what cost me. If I wanted to catch up, I should've started last week. Oh well.

I tried to relaxed for the rest of the day - I read a book, watched a movie and then the basketball game. But I came back at around midnight to get an hour or so in. This probably wasn't a great idea though, b/c I had a lot of other stuff on my mind. There came a point in my session when I stopped and asked myself if I was focusing. I wasn't. My mind was racing over a million other things. I should've stopped, but I wasn't tired and had nothing else to do really. So I set a stop loss for myself, that if I managed to lose $100 I would just call it a night. I'm trying to listen to myself more in situations like this. If I wasn't in the right mindset, I should've just waited until tommorow. My feelings are that this is what seperates the good players from the great ones. Sure, another guy might have the same skill level as me, but does he have better disicpline? If he lets his emotions affect his play while I can keep mine under control, I will be the bigger winner in the long run. This is what I'm striving for.

Thankfully, a big hand came in for me at the end which made my daily graph look like this:

This was the biggest hand of the month at $312 (the previous largest was $240), so needless to say this put a nice smile on my face. Ok here goes, a little poker content for you:

I had 99 in early position. I raised my standard raise to $3 as I was the first one to enter the pot. I got three callers. With four people in the pot, 99 is usually very easy to play. Either you hit another 9 on the flop, have all three cards under a 9, or get a big draw - if neither of these happens, you can humbly bow out. What happens next is sexy. The flop comes down

Ace - 7 - 9 with two clubs.

So I've hit my three of a kind, and now try to figure out how to get someone to put all their chips in with you. An unexperienced player might look at this flop and be scared to bet. They might reason that thier hand is too big, and they don't want to scare anybody away. They want to 'slowplay' and 'trick' thier opponents into believing that they have nothing.

I have a newsflash - this is horrible. There are two major reasons to bet this flop hard. First, the flush draw. If you check and everyone checks, you are giving any player a free chance to draw to a flush and beat you. The second reason is far more subtle. As soon as I saw this flop, I jumped to attention. This is what I like to call an 'action flop'. Allow me to explain - In order to get money out of an opponent, they have to believe they are winning or have a chance to win. Of the 3 people who called my raise pre-flop, one is very likely to have an Ace and will be willing to call a bet (or raise...yum). Someone might have also called with 77, and be in love with the flop as much as you. My point is, there are lots of people who are going to be willing to put money in and gamble with you right now. Sometimes you are going to bet and everyone will fold. And again, the unexperienced player will chastise himself and believe that he wasted an oppourtunity. When the truth is, if no one is going to play with you on that flop, there are virtually no cards that can come on the turn that will make them want to (unless of course its the club, and then you're in a lot of trouble). For all these reasons, you HAVE to bet this flop.

In contrast, if the flop was 9-5-2 of all different suits, you might want to slow down and let somebody hit thier card. It is unlikely this flop helped someone, as there are no draws and no big cards.

So anyways, I obviously bet the pot and I get two callers. The turn is a K of hearts which is unlikely to have helped anyone (if they have KK or AA, then I'm just unlucky). I fire a pot sized bet again, and get raised all in. The other guy quickly calls. I thought for a second maybe the raiser had AA or KK, but felt AK was far more likely. I was wrong, as he had A8 and the other guy had a pair and the flush draw. The river is insignificant and my three of a kind is good for a monster pot.

Last thing is my May results:

Cash games: $2742
Tournies: $1472

Cash graph:

OH and, awesomely, my hourly cashgame win-rate is now up to $31.81.