Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The Biggest Mistake I Never Made

Posted: March 5, 2011 in General

Bad Beat BonusSo it’s fairly early into what I expect to be a normal Friday night session, starting early doors at the Empire around 6pm.

I find myself at a new table, being dealt to by Kayshan, one of the guys I’ve got to know fairly well over the last year or two. We shoot the breeze a little before play starts, he ends-up on a bit of a rant about some of the big folds he made in a recent game. We’re of the same mind – the ability to pass big second best hands in poker is as good as money in the bank.

First orbit and I miss-step versus a tight regular player, four-betting bottom two-pair on a drawy board when the majority of his calling range beats me. He calls, his top two hold-up and I’ve kicked-off my night with a very avoidable £150 loss.

Fourth orbit and I’m dealt KcKh in the small blind. The field is already down to four players when I make it £13 to play, and three of us take a flop of JsTs7h. I’ve played fairly tightly apart from the earlier error, but feel I need to c-bet this wet board, despite that this defines my range more clearly. I open for £25, and the short stacked player in middle position quickly shoves for £80. It’s the tight regular player from earlier on the button, he thinks for about half a minute, eyes up my stack and calls – he and I have another £150 behind.

This appears to have turned into rather a bad spot for my big one pair hand. With the middle position player all-in, the button could easily be flatting with a big hand – top two, a set or the made straight, and if I call I’m effectively committing my stack with just an overpair. It’s possible that middle position has AJ, or that both players have a draw, but the button’s body language is extremely strong, and I pick-up three tells in quick succession that all seem to indicate that he has a monster.

I recheck my hand, if I have the king of spades then I at least have two cards to turn a set without putting a flush out there – but no, if I’m currently behind, then versus two players it’s likely I’m drawing to one out, the king of diamonds – and I’m virtually dead if one of the boys has an unlikely Q9.

Reflecting on the conversation with Kayshan earlier, I decide that this is most likely a good spot to show-off my ability to make a laydown, and so I do, offering him my cards for a peek. You can’t play results, but as it turns out I’ve screwed-up, the middle position player has Qs9s for the open-ended straight-flush draw and the button has As7s for bottom pair and the nut flush draw. However I’m still happy that I’ve made the correct fold versus their ranges, and with both flush and straight draws out there I’d only have been a small favourite (40% equity vs 36% (A7) vs 24% (Q9)), so it’s really not a horrible spot to have taken the low variance option of passing.

The board rolls out…

…turn Kd, I would have made a second best top-set…
…river Ks, I would have improved to the monster second best hand of quad kings versus a straight-flush.

I eye the £14,020 bad beat jackpot and somehow manage to smile ruefully.


Lessons in poker

Posted: February 24, 2011 in General

Arrived early at one of my usual haunts last night to find only three names on the list and nobody at the table. I shot the breeze with one of the dealers that I’ve got to know, and we ended-up giving a 90 minute free poker lesson to a young guy who wanted to learn to play hold’em. For giggles we were playing with imaginary stacks and using the hands to try to out-do each other by explaining the most complex concepts we could come up with in each situation (hand reading, range merging, thin value, turning a made hand into a bluff, etc) – all to a baffled looking lad who didn’t really know the hand values, and even after an hour of the discussion kept ‘virtually’ betting hands like fourth pair on the river because he also had four to a straight.

Unfortunately once the actual game started I couldn’t convince matey to pull up some cash – was quite keen to get him onboard as he’d previously mentioned dropping £27k on roulette over the course of the last year, however I guess our poker ‘lesson’ probably put him off for life, so perhaps that wasn’t the best approach to take! Playing my normal LAG-oriented game over the course of a few hours, I ran rather good generally and finished-up with a small three figure win, despite having to overcome an early stacking check-shoving an open-ended straight-flush draw and getting called by two different two-pair hands. With them nicely blocking each other and all my outs clean I was 49.9% to triple-up, however the board ran out cold and the worst two-pair hand (8%) ended-up taking it down for a £600 pot.

As has become the norm, most of my profit last night came from other player errors. One tight passive chap limped pre- with AA, check-called my flop bet when I had an open ended straight draw, bet into me and then called my turn raise after I made the nuts, and then caught one of his two ‘outs’ and stacked-off to me bet-calling on the river. He made a mistake on every single betting round and ended-up donating £200 to my bankroll. It’s nice when that happens, however if I’m going to be able to successfully transition to a bigger game this year, I need to be able to consistently find an edge in situations against opponents who at least have a basic standard of competence…


Posted: January 29, 2011 in General

Have taken a leaf out of Devski and the Baron’s books for 2011 and am collecting a more complete set of data for each session played. With thirteen stints at the table for January (I’ll often play at multiple venues in a night and record these separately, so this isn’t to say I’m playing every other day), thought it might be worth sharing a little bit of initial data analysis.

Two of my thirteen sessions scored a maximum 3 on the ‘drunk’ scale, for a net loss between them of £325. Balanced on the other side by eleven 100% sober sessions with a net profit of £451. Clearly my 2010 resolution needs to be stuck to more consistently.

Another interesting stat suggested by the Baron was to record my perceived ‘attitude’ towards playing prior to starting. Again on a scale of 0..3, with the following meanings:

0 = feel destined to lose
1 = can’t be arsed to play
2 = feeling good
3 = raring to go

Quite surprised that this again seems to be a telling statistic, it seems I’ve played six sessions @1 for a net loss of £199 and seven sessions @2 for a net profit of £575.

Finally the most important statistic, my hourly rate. Over the course of 51 hours at the table it seems I’ve made an intoxicating £126 profit, that’ll be £2.47 an hour then, or coincidentally almost exactly the minimum legal pay for an apprentice under 19 years old (according to Guess I’ll need to buckle down my game if I want to graduate to McJob money…

2010 in review

Posted: January 2, 2011 in General

With a modest £180 win on the 30th, I’ve now played my final live poker session for 2010. This means it’s time to look back on the last twelve months and see if I can draw any conclusions that’ll stand me in good stead for the coming year / decade / lifetime.

In 2009 I made my lifetime greatest net profit at the poker table of £8,265. The majority of this was won at a series of private games with the Canines, however the game changed significantly towards the end of the year. An influx of newer wilder players suddenly rendered my TAG approach insufficient to regularly beat the game. In fact, continuing to play my old style under these conditions for the first month of 2010 led to a rather rapid £2,000 deficit to start the year off. I felt the new game was beatable but required a much larger cash investment than I was comfortable allocating to this part of my life, especially with an impending property transaction in April. Instead I elected to adapt by trying to find a few new venues and player pools to try my skills against.

One of the new boys at the Canine table had previously mentioned a West London venue he’d played at once or twice and felt was quite beatable, so I thought this would be a good place to start. Indeed it proved to be the case, and just mixing in five sessions at this new location along with my normal game allowed me to restore my 2010 deficit to -£1,100 by the end of the first quarter. Second quarter was a bit of a non-event, with only fourteen sessions played as backdrop to the effort of moving house. However I was able to get the deficit under a grand, despite taking my first ever losing session at the new venue, my play notes for that night reading “£1/2 NL – totally card dead 6 hours, lots of stealing but stacked a few times when they found hands against me“.

Third quarter was a bit of a non-event, no major wins or losses but net loss drifted back above a grand. Quite a few of my play notes indicate a prolonged bout of running card dead, so I guess I wasn’t really enjoying a game that’s supposed to be a profitable hobby. However things picked-up rapidly from October onwards. I kicked the quarter off with a decent win at the Empire (“£1/2 NL – ran good – pwned guy with quad 9’s for +250 and +50 bonus, good check on river with nutflush +200, few other good plays, stupid call of overbet with TPNK vs AA -250, stupid limp/raise pre vs LAG -125“), and then didn’t really look back, picking up about a grand a month for the last three months of the year – to finish 2010 a little over £1,500 to the good.

So, I think three major lessons to learn from the year.

  1. Clearly venue choice made a big difference, my twenty sessions logged at the Loose Cannon yielded a net loss of £2,000, but more than counterbalanced by twenty-one sessions at the new venue with a net profit of £4,000. I was broadly flat across all other venues, which included a weekend at Dust Till Dawn (-£500) and a session in Macau (-£80 : “Macau $10/$20: Albie played like a fool“).
  2. Searching for “drink” or “drunk” across all my player notes for 2010 brings back a list of 15 sessions, only three winning sessions of +£6, +£50 and +£30 respectively, and a net loss of £3,000!! I drink so rarely at the table that I was sure that this wasn’t a big leak, but clearly avoiding these few sessions would have tripled my year’s profit. The same search across 2009 data yields only eight sessions and a net loss of £300, so I’ll have to lock-down this terrible habit as part of my batch of 2011 new year resolutions.
  3. Undertaking a piece of analysis suggested by the Baron, it appears that the date in the month that I play correlates strongly with net profit/loss. I suspect that this may be a result of different pay days for my average opponent – the poker professionals will play day-in day-out, but the amateurs only when they have spare money, i.e. the first few days after pay day. Plotting a graph of net profit and session volume by day in the month (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc) for all the public cardrooms I play in yields the following (click to expand):
    As this is commercially sensitive information (!), I’ve arbitrarily started the graph from the day in the month that showed the greatest profit, so suggest you don’t read anything into this beyond the general trend of periods of profitability and loss from month to month. I’ve also excluded any outlier results, chopping off the top 3% and bottom 3% sessions, so long-tail results don’t skew the data. Clearly I need to diarise poker for certain parts of the month, and perhaps find something better to do with my time for the periods in the month when I tend to be up against a better class of player (oh, and by the way – the graph doesn’t appear to correlate with my own pay day, so while that may be a contributing factor I don’t think it’s statistically significant).

As I had the data to hand, I thought I might generate a similar graph, showing profit/loss by day of the week. There are a few additional points that would seem to back-up the conclusions drawn so far.

  • Clearly I play most frequently on a Friday and Saturday night, however was somewhat surprised to note that Friday’s are more profitable on average than Saturday’s. I suspect this relates to venue choice. On the Friday’s I’m more likely to be playing at the new venue, on the Saturday’s it seems I’m more likely to be playing at the Empire.
  1. I haven’t played too many Tuesday’s, but they’ve virtually all been losing sessions. The Tuesday data correlates strongly with my list of “drunk” sessions, and looking back at the year this makes sense, as we’ve had a series of last minute ‘fun’ games at the Fox and the Loose Cannon that it appears I didn’t fare too well in. It’s good to blow-off steam once in a while, but if I’m going to continue to play in these I’ll have to do so with a strict limit on the amount of cash I’m willing to put into play.

Christmas comes early

Posted: October 30, 2010 in General

My blackberry chat with Snake, concurrently playing in the MGM poker room in Vegas says it all for last night’s session:

“@Empire. Guy here with a massive wad of 50’s in pocket. Buying £250 @ time. Raising blind from any position by just shoving in a fist-full of reds, usually £45ish. He’s only looking at his cards once he gets a caller, and is calling 90% of his hands and then shoving randomly on most flops. I have position and am isolating like a madman, but no joy so far. This is frustrating but fun!!”

Snake: “Yum yum then.”

“20 minutes in, and this guy is on his 8th buy-in!!!!!!!!!!! …

Make that 9th buy in. Just called £200 on the end with 33 on a 8AKK8 river………. I’m topping up to £400.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! GIVE ME A HAND!!!

Got him!!!!!

Doubled through – £700 pot with top pair no kicker.

Unreal. 11th buyin, two back-to-back. £250 a time still…

He’s in again…and done. 12 buy ins and out. He left three grand in the hole. Last hand shoved with two undercards on the turn.

Hilarious, there was even a crowd of dealers standing-by to watch the carnage at the end. Table broke as soon as he left – it’s 6.45am and the remaining players are like giggly children on Christmas morning! Fun fun fun”

Walking Back to Houston

Posted: October 21, 2010 in General

Lodged a rather tidy £850 loss last night in the Canine private game, not bad for 1/2 NL.

My main undoing was a strict inability to hit even one pair with a series of overcards, and having an assorted array of junk hold-up against my nut no-pair holdings. A few of the bigger hands of note:

  • With a nice TAG image, I 3-bet Ioannis’ open from late-position with KTs and take two callers to a flop of 34J with two diamonds. Racist and Ioannis check, and with just a little more than a pot sized bet left I shove for £160 more. Racist somehow finds a hero call with K3o and I lose the £400 pot, despite us running it twice.
  • I open UTG to £12 with AKs, Alastair calls. I c-bet an undercard flop, Alastair calls. I check a king on the turn for pot-control and to allow Alastair to bluff the river. He does bet indeed, but has rivered the gutshot I gave him a free look at and wins a £300 pot.
  • The straddles go 1/2/5/10/20/40/80 and I’m first to act on the button, WTF?! Squeeze out Ace … ten. Some thought given to passing to reduce variance, but this is such a +EV spot that I can’t bring myself to do anything other than shove for my stack of £250. It looks hopeful after a few folds, but Jody somehow finds a call with Q7s to chase the £20 he’s invested already and I’m toasted in an £850 pot  — to be fair, Ioannis also called in the £80 seat and his 55 left me in third place on a queen high board.
  • My last rebuy of the night has whittled down to £115 after I incorrectly pass JJ on an ace-high board to a Jody river-shove. Ioannis opens to £15 and I shove AKs. Two callers to build a pot of £350, Ioannis’ T6s holds up and I’m walking back to Houston…

Internet w**ker

Posted: October 17, 2010 in General

I enjoyed a rather hilarious retarded moment around 3am at the Empire last night, managing to mightily piss off a somewhat annoying woman who’d been winding me up with her nit prattle for a while.

I’d just come down from a rather ridiculous bout of hysterics, following a discussion with Snake about anti-tells and coming up with a plan to play-act tourette’s at the table – in between swearing and spitting, yelping out your actual hand (“TWO PAIR! COCK!”) in a series of small pots, showing to establish credibility as a genuine sufferer, and then putting an almighty slap on any big stacks with a fake (“W*NKER! I’M BLUFFING”) after a huge overbet with the nuts. Apart from Snake, the rest of the players had no idea why I was virtually under the table laughing my head-off like an absolute drunken buffoon – nothing but tea and lime-sodas all night, I was just delirious from almost five hours solid of unplayable hands.

Anyway, I decide to play one blind Baron style from the BB (yes, I know he normally does this from the button). UTG raises to £10, and with the woman in the SB and my call three of us take a flop. Both streets are checked all around, and on the river there’s a four straight out there, I think 32475 rainbow. Woman checks her SB, and I decide to look with a plan of betting-out anything. Somewhat bemused on peeking to note that I have 86s for the nuts. There’s only £25 in the pot, so I go for a giant overbet, shoving to £125 (I’m a little short-stacked at this point in the night). The raiser folds fairly quickly, and nit-woman starts complaining about what a ridiculous bet it is. In the hope of talking in a call from 2-pair or an improbable under-straight I decide to go for the “I’m a twat” line of shtick, and loudly tell her to ‘fold faster, love’. She bemoans my lack of grace and I stick a few more slightly out of order comments in. Unfortunately her nittiness is too much for me, and she folds AKo face-up, calling me an idiot for not “getting another £20 out of her with a proper bet”. She’s made a good fold, but her lack of understanding of why the overshove is a so much better line than the value bet is just too much for me, and I collapse in full-on hysterics right in her face. She fumes some more, calls both Snake and myself ‘internet w***ers’ (why he got tarred with my brush I’ve really no idea!) and after a few more hands unfortunately storms off to another table, presumably to tilt off her money to some other lucky punter.

Sometimes it’s fun to be a dickhead.

Passing the second nuts

Posted: September 2, 2010 in General

The action as best I can remember it from a hand at GQ last week (net +£525 over 6 hours of running broadly over expectation):

I limp in middle position with J7s, five other limpers including Joe in the cut-off who is playing tight aggressive and who has previously shown a fair degree of thought in his game. The rest of the table are passive donkeys.

Joe and I have been eyeing each other’s stacks up for a little while. He incorrectly believes he made a bad pass to me a while earlier, and I know (in a friendly / respectful way) that he’s looking to take vengence.

Flop comes 895 rainbow, I have a nice disguised double-gutter. First three players check, I put out a pot-building £8 bet and all call. Turn is a fairly blank 4, board still rainbow. All check (I don’t want to bet myself off of the hand).

River comes a lovely 6, giving me the second nut (one card) straight. First three check, I value bet £25 hoping to get looked up by 2-pair, and after a little thought and eyeing of my stack Joe makes it £110 to play (with £150 behind, I have him covered). Other players pass and I have to give some consideration to the situation.

I’m only beat by exactly T7, but the situation smells odd. My thought process (which I verbalise at the table) is as follows. Joe is quite TAG, there are lots of sevens in my range and so at best I think he can only believe he’s chopping. With just a 7 I think he has to play for the over-calls from the other three players. However, their lines suggest this is unlikely, so if he does have the mortal nuts he’s actually better raising it to get guaranteed value from my likely second-best hand (he’s has nothing to lose if we’re both chopping).

In the end I figure he has to have the nuts about 80% of the time. At the very best I’m calling for a chop, and so reluctantly I pass, face up. The table doesn’t comment on it, but I think Joe is quite surprised. At the time he claims K7 (chop), however later he admits to the T7. I’ll never know for sure, but I’m pretty convinced that he was being straight-up in the later conversation, and offering his grudging respect.

Just one more hand…

Posted: August 26, 2010 in General

After a reasonable but slightly slow session at the Empire this week I was just about ready to cash in a £400 profit, when the following hand came up. A new player had just been moved to the table and had my £700 stack covered by a substantial amount. I figured I’d just play out the last few hands and then split. Would rock-up, that way nothing could go wrong.

With a loose aggressive image, but one that newguy isn’t aware of having just arrived at the table, in my final hand of the night I raise AQo UTG to £6. Get four callers, inc newguy in the small blind.

Flop JdQsAd, seems like bingo, but I’m going to tread carefully as know nothing about the big stack. NG checks, I bet £20, fold, button calls, NG min raises to £40. I call for pot control, button folds and we’re heads-up.

Turn 8s. NG bets £75 into a pot of just under £100.  Is somewhat worrisome that 9T may have just got there, however I’m not prepared to lay-down top-two just yet so call.

River 6d completing the flush. NG bets £150! I’m baffled. Whatever he has, he seems to have played it bizarrely.

It’s definitely the end of night for me, so I talk this through aloud (to myself) at the table. With any of the sets he almost certainly has to raise preflop out of position in a 4-way field, so it’s not those. KT for the flopped nuts plays exactly like that, but the river bet would be extremely brave considering that diamonds are definitely in my range. Unless he’s either very dumb or very smart, I think he’d check-call when the third diamond arrived on the end. Kdxd I think has to either check the turn or bet it smaller – I have the queen of diamonds and the ace and jack are out there, so it can’t be a premium suited king, however people will call with all sorts in this game. Anyway, after I show some genuine strength by calling the flop raise, I don’t think he really wants to bet himself off the draw on the turn with these bad stack sizes.

However I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t go any further in my thinking than this. Slightly ashamed to note that I counted down my stack, noted that calling and losing would leave me with a tiny profit and calling and winning would be a big pay-day, so just stuck it in, hoping that he was on a badly played worse 2-pair or AK.

Obviously he shows KdTd, and I’m done. With just a bit more thought, I think I should have put two and two together to realise that worse hands than mine make just as little sense as all of the above, meaning that he can really only have the flush draw and a made hand (in this case the flopped nuts with the nut redraw). I guess I just didn’t consider the extra combinations of Omaha style hands…bad play me.

Just to note, I did consider repopping it on the flop and folding to a re-re-raise, however it’s a draw heavy board and I really didn’t want him to just call and then for me to still have no idea where I was in a massive pot when a diamond or broadway card came. Deliberately decided to take the safer line and try to sweat a street.


Posted: July 30, 2010 in General

Hilarious example of outrageously poor dealing at our local cardroom’s private game this week. Just had to share. Note that this is a RAKED game, we pay almost a thousand pounds a night for the privilege of being looked after in this manner…

Having called an 863 rainbow flop and checked the 5 turn, Devski shoves the 2 on the river. The Baron has been the aggressor in the hand, but clearly doesn’t have much – however he’s contemplating the crying call anyway. Devski tells him he has a monster and should fold. Baron’s about to do so when suddenly the dealer’s hand flashes out to stop him, “WAIT A MINUTE, DON’T SHOW THAT HAND” he yells at Dev. “If you have the nuts I’ll give you £100, you would definitely have bet the turn”.

We all look at each other like the dealer is bonkers, clearly Baron hasn’t folded yet. If he had done so I imagine Devski would have immediately flipped up his 79s, and we’d have had a right laugh at the £100 rakeback.

After reprobating the dealer, pointing out what a lose/lose situation he’s created, eventually the Baron goes through with his planned fold. The dealer sheepishly tries to explain his thinking in the hand, which quite honestly is basic level 1 (I have the nuts therefore I raise), and the game continues.

Ahh, you couldn’t make this shit up.