The Poker Game of Life

Poker and scotch on the rocks. Below are my reflections on life and poker. My journey from $4-8 as a past time to $30-60 for serious money and my life experiences in between.

Location: seattle, Washington, United States

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Women are like Ace something

I was thinkin' about the similarities between women and starting in Texas holdem with Ace something. Now this is all in good fun and I hope I don't offend anyone. I watch Sex in the city, haha, so if you're a 2005 gal you can just substitute what I say with "men" and then it's all gravy. In fact I'm going to talk with some of girls I know and i'll write somethin similar for guys. But, I digress, let me get to my thoughts:

Women are like Ace something. Women are all very different, but almost all of them have something interesting to them, that's where the Ace comes in. Ace high can be pretty valuable depending on the situation and is always worth a thought.

The different types of women are like the kickers that you get with your Ace. Ace/King suited is like a gorgeous girl in a dead sexy outfit, you'll take her in early poker position and your approach to her and the hand may differ. You've got a few different ways she can be good. You're always happen to see your Ace/King suited chick. Ace/King offsuit is similar except not quite as sexy.

Ace/Queen and Ace/Jack are like decent girls. Guys that aren't that picky like them anywhere, even in early poker position. I equate poker position to how often they're dating. Early position equals dating a lot and late position is like not being popular with the girls at all. So guys that are dating a lot, if they're not that picky like these girls no matter what. However, the better players, the picky ones, don't play these hands in the early position because they don't want to lower their standards.

Middle position. Middle position is similar to if you're dating but really not that often. If you're one of these guys, you're in love with Ace/King as soon as you see her and if you get a chance to hangout with Ace/Queen or Ace/Jack you're stoked. Raise, raise raise (the poker pot guys sheesh). In fact, if you're not that good of a player you're going to start hanging out with Ace rag and below. Ace rag girls are not really good but bad players mess with them even when they're dating.

Late position. Late position is like when it's getting late at a club and you're desperate. Even the best players know that they should play Ace/Queen and Ace/Jack aggressively to try and get some value out of them. They also consider playing Ace rag to steal the blinds.

In the blind: In the blind is like when you're really doing something else and a girl just runs into you out of nowhere. Almost falls into your lap. It's like a bonus. If you look down and see Ace/Jack or higher you're like "oh that's pretty cool, I just met this girl at the optometrist office, let's see where it goes". Where it goes depends on the flop. You might flop something you like or simply fold the hand quickly (she might dump you or vice versa). If you happen to run into Ace/Rag in the blind you're like "well i guess that's ok, no big deal".

Ok, that's it. And who says poker is detrimental to dating? =)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Poker Details

Thanks to everyone for the feedback. I believe i'm linked up to all the new readers that linked to me but if i missed someone please let me know. I'd like to put a few thoughts into ink on a few questions I've been getting.

Slowplaying Pocket Aces under the gun:
People have asked me for a few thoughts on why I limped in here rather than raise. I love the inquiry and in fact I agree with you for the most part. In general I think you should raise with Aces up front to narrow down the field and in fact in a loose game where people are calling raises anyway you should definitely raise putting in more money and getting fewer players against you. However in a tigher game a raise here might just steal the blinds which is what i definitely didn't want to do. So I hoped for some action thru the slowplay, got some and got bitten by it.

Players not getting that much better in higher limit:
Completely agree with the comment here as well. More aggression with weaker hands. The particular game I was in was tigher and tougher than normal though.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Party Poker $30-60 - 2nd Hand - First Session

In my last post I got stuck in my very first hand in $30-60. Now losing $420 in one hand can be quite discouraging but after going thru countless hand iterations where you win or lose I really have become somewhat numb to the whole ordeal. It's just another hand. Learn and move on. I will say that losing can be quite annoying which is why I try and leave it to the losers. ;)

So a few hands later I'm under the gun (UTG) with pocket Aces. I decide to limp in, disguise the hand and hopefully get some action (hopefully 3-4 way and no more!). 2 other players limp in and the blinds are both in.

Flop: Queen, 9, 4 - with 2 diamonds
Awesome. I feel great about this flop. Most players won't have 2 pair, if somebody flopped a set then hey I'm beat but that's just life. It's also highly unlikely. If someone had queens I would expect them to raise (although I wouldn't put it past players at this level to be very tricky), perhaps 9's and I doubt 4's (I doubt many players are playing pocket 4's here. You never know but just in general).

The big blind bets and I just smooth call. Everyone else folds.

The turn: 2 of clubs:
Here's where I plan to make my raise when this player bets his queen.

He bets and I raise. To my surprise he reraises me.

I'm a little surprised at the reraise. If he 2 pair or a set in the blind, wouldn't he have tried to check raise? Would he really 3-bet a flush draw? Would he 3-bet Ace/Queen or King/Queen? Neither of these seem likely. However, the 3-bet with Ace/Queen seems most likely so I call.

The River: 8 of diamonds:
A diamond! The worst card in the deck for me. He bets and I make a crying call since the pot is so big.

He turns over 5, 3 of diamonds. He bet his diamond draw and on the turn got really aggressive with an open ended straight and the diamond flush out. He had a 15 card out, but I had the other 31.

I don't feel bad about how I played the hand at all. The pot got so large at the end I felt like I had to call. If I had a better read on him I might've been able to laydown but this is online poker and it's pretty tough to read that facial expression. :)

So now I've played 2 hands in the biggest limit I've ever played and I'm stuck $720. I proceed to lose even more and get stuck $1,000. Then I make a huge comeback and end up beating the game for $1,800 after putting in a total of 4 hours. Funny, I only remember a couple of hands I won. It seems that I only remember the hands I lose.

My first $30-60 session was a success. Obviously I'm not ready to say I beat that limit everyday but it's a step in the right direction.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Party Poker - $30-60 First Time

What a great weekend. I went in to get my eyes checked on Friday and left with a free pair of D&G sunglasses and a new girl's phone number. It gets better though...last night I finally stepped it up to the $30-6o partypoker game.

I'm the first to admit I'm cocky. There is a thin line between confident and arrogance and I tend to reside on the arrogant side of the city with occasional trips to confident. My homegirl once said I have an understated arrogance about me. =) whatever that means. confidence was immediately shaken stepping into this game. I was nervous already seeing as the biggest game I'd played in up to this point was the $20-40 at the Mirage.

My First Hand in $30-60:
So I come in after the dealer and post. I'm a big fan of coming in after the button rather than posting in the blind but I'll leave my opinions on that for another post. There's a raise in 4th position, a cold call in 7th and I look down at Ace/2 suited. Having already posted the blind, I think I'm getting appropriate pot odds to call and perhaps catch a funny flop or a flush draw (assuming the blinds call). Naturally they don't and we head to the flop with 3 way action and I'm holding a rag hand.

The Flop: A, 2, 5 with 2 hearts and 1 diamond.
Beautiful. 4th position bets, 7th cold calls, I hesitate for the appropriate amount of time and raise. 4th position immediately folds and 7th cold calls.

The Turn: King of diamonds. Now I've got 2 pair and the nut diamond draw
Although I didn't like the King, I like the diamond. It's checked to me. Now, if that king wasn't a diamond I would've checked here but seeing as I also have the nut flush draw I bet. 7th position check raises me and now things are getting tricky. Naturally I put this guy on Ace/King since he cold called a raise and didn't 3 bet. I contemplate a call which in retrospect was what I should've done. Instead I reraise hoping to slow him in his tracks and with the intention of checking the river unless I catch a 2 or a diamond. He caps the turn and now I'm sad. haha. I call.

The River: 8 of clubs.
He bets and I call. He turns over pocket kings (caught a set on the turn) and after my first hand in $30-60 I'm down $420 out of my own chips.

It was really irrelevant that he got lucky and caught his king on the turn. In reality the hand that I put him on was all he needed to beat me. We're playing $30-60 here and there are very few players in this game that would call a preflop raise cold and be able to cap the turn against me except for pocket aces, ace/king, or pocket kings. He could've easily had one of these hands and he did. I think since he was an unknown player that I could be a little disappointed in myself if I just called the turn when he check raised and called the end. I mean perhaps he was weak enough of a player to have Ace/Queen (which is like ace rag to me) or Ace/Jack (even better he's going on my buddy list if he's got this). My diamond draw and my aggressive attitude got me a little bit in this hand. An extra $120-180 depending on how you look at it.

Well what happened next?
What a nice welcome right? It's like welcome to the table you pigeon. We're here to show you what the game is really about and push you back to $15-30 again. Either that or wipe out a few thousand and set you back a month.

Nope, of course your boy didn't get out the game. In fact the very next hand I played was under the gun with Aces and I got those cracked for $300.

And...I still came up $753 at the end of my session. Happy ending right?! I'll post the rest tomorrow.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Scotch & Hustlin'

"I'm a hustla homie, you'se a customer cronie" - Jay-Z

Most of my posts seem to be about really hardcore poker strategy so today I thought I'd post a hopefully amusing story about pull tabs and the old school.

Had some excellent dim sum with my Dad today. I was a little hungover as I usually am on Saturdays, a little too much Glen Livet and not enough ice. Seems to happen on Fridays a lot. It's like the bartenders say oh shit there's Trav get out the scotch that you froze into ice cubes so we can get him extra drunk again. :) Anyhow on the way home I was talking with him about gambling and I randomly had a weird thought that I brought up.

"Hey Dad, do you think you could beat pull tabs if you waited till the tub got close to empty and picked the ones where the jackpots hadn't beat hit? Effectively letting somebody else dump their money into the machine and winning off their bad luck?" - I asked

"Trav, I used to do that all the time." - Dad said

So, old school pull tabs didn't come in the bins they come in now. They had straight stacks and you could see relatively close how many were left. He said he used to go into the casino before playing, buy out the pull tab box that he could beat. This is where I think the story gets funny and really sheds a little insight into how my Dad thinks.

"So then you'd go thru all the tabs and come out on top?" - I asked

"Hell nah. I'd pay somebody to do that and then I'd go do something else. Make $100-200 (this was not a bad little hit back in the old school days) off the box, tip the guy $20 to rip thru the tabs and pocket the sugar. I got better things to do then run thru a shitload of pull tabs." - He replied.

Turns out it'd be tougher to beat pull tabs today. Statistically speaking, pull tabs have one of the highest hold rates in casino games (30-40% hold rate) and they pull the machines now before they get too juicy. Understanding when to pull the tabs is more precise now too, since they can weight them with precise measurements down to 1-2 individual pull tab pieces.

So, if you can beat all that today...good for you. haha....let me know if this works for any of you hustlers out there. I'll stick to my poker game.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Poker Slowplay - Ace/Six

My good friend is leaving, moving down to SF. Which by the way is a beautiful city. I would say if I were going to live anywhere besides Seattle, it'd probably be the bay or perhaps Venice, Italy which I had the pleasure to visit this past summer. Anyway, he holds a weekly poker tournament at his place, small game like 12 people, $10 buy-in. So instead of playing $15-30 like I intended to where 1 pot would be more than first place in this tournament I decided to hangout with my buddy and play in his tournament.

I made a huge mistake in this tournament and lost my chip lead. I've got 700 in chips, chip leader about 1,200 and my buddy Dave has about 180. The blinds are at 30-60, so Dave has like a round or two left unless he makes some moves and doubles up.

Here's where the magic sets in as I bust Dave out. I've got Ace/six in the small bilnd and Dave has 120 left in chips since his big blind is 60. Ace/rag is a shitty hand, we all know that. But, in heads up competition I look at it like the nuts, especially with Dave short stacked in chips. He's smart so he knows he needs to double up really soon and last time I was in the small blind I limped in, he pushed all in and I had to fold, since I had a marginal hand.

I decide to slowplay Ace/Rag and limp in knowing that he'll push all in with whatever hand he's got trying to steal my 60 chips and survive another round. Sounds funny doesn't it? Slowplay such a shitty hand. It worked though. He pushed all in with King/Jack, I immediately call and neither of us catch anything.

4 hands later I bust out, I got pushed around a little bit and by the time I made a move the villain had a good hand.

My win? $ big blind in the game I'll play tonight. hehe. Plus getting to hangout with my good friend, and a few kills in Halo2. Sometimes it's not all about the money. =)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Flush draw - Raise it!

In my last post I wrote about the incorrect play of calling with flush draws without the proper pot odds. At the end of that post I said that instead of folding I would probably raise. My rationale for this is as follows:

1. Naturally I am assuming that my opponent is capable of laying down a hand. If the pot is short handed and I raise I may be able to take the pot away from him right there without having to make a hand.

2. Aggression is the key. More often than not in Texas Holdem nobody has a hand. Thus I like to lead to force my opponent into calling.

3. Assume he calls my raise. Then what do I do on the turn. Well that's really going to depend on what I can get him to do. In prior hands when I bet on the turn does he fold thinking I have a big hand? Or, does he get stubborn a lot and decide to pay me off all the time.

If I've checked the turn in prior hands when I show weakness and only bet the turn when I was strong I might mix it up here and bet the turn.

If he's in the latter category I'm going to check the turn and get a free card. The card isn't really "free" in a sense because I had to raise on the flop to get it. But it's a half priced card because I didn't have to call the turn.

Ok, what happens if I get 3 bet? Well, I'm probably going to call the raise as the pot is now big (unfortunately with a lot of my money). If he bets the turn I'll probably fold depending on pot size.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Flush draws are over rated.

I just wanted to say a quick thank you to Vinyl Bar & Poker Club, Aces full of eights, John-Paul Costales V2. Human Head, Razy Boy for the comments and the links. It's always welcome.

Today I was thinking about flush draws and how so many players make basic mistakes when they have them. First off, a lot of players don't know that if you hold 2 suited cards your chances of flopping 2 to a flush are only 1 in 10 and your odds of flopping a flush are only 1%. So all those guys out there playing any 2 suited cards being first or second into the pot (like J, 4 suited) well those guys are pigeons.

Most players don't have the above problem. However here is a mistake that I see even somewhat knowledgable players make and is my point of this post. If you flop 2 to a flush the odds of making a flush are about 1 in 5 to make it on the turn and 1 in 5 again to make it on the end. In aggregate turn and river , you willof you making a flush are about 36%. Let's see how these numbers play out in real life.

Suppose I'm in a $1-2 game and I have Ace, 4 of spades in the big blind. 1 player limps in and the small blind calls making the pot $3 total. Suppose the flop is J/10/2 with 2 spades. small blind bets, should I call? Well to call means that I'm putting in 33% of money into the current pot when I'm only going to win if I make my hand 20% of the time. Putting in $1 for a chance to win $3 when i'm only going to win 1 time out of 5. Simply put, calling here is not the correct play. That is of course ignoring the fact that I might win if I hit my ace or what the player to act after me will do.

So, in the above situation, what would I do? Well to be completely honest if the player was any good I would probably raise. :) I'll post my rational for why this goes against my flush draw pot odds analysis in the next post.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The drive to improve my poker playing

At the end of last night's session I was up $1,257 fot the night, playing in the 6-handed $10-20. That's a great 2 hour session dollar wise and it pushed me to an all time high on my "year to date dollars won". :)

Even though the night finished a success after every session I always focus on how I can improve as a player. Last night was no exception, here are 2 hands which I believe I played poorly.

Hand 1:
I'm in 2nd position with Aces and limp in hoping to get some action. Someone in late position limps in and the small blind folds. The flop is J, 8, 3 with two diamonds. The big blind bets out, I smooth call and the late position player folds. Turn is a 7 and the big blind bets out again. I smooth call with the intention of waiting until the river to pop him. The end is a 6, he checks I bet and he folds.

I'm pretty sure that since he didn't even call he was on a flush draw. In retrospect I should've put the pressure on him on the turn which would force an extra big bet out of him in order to potentially make his flush. Also by just calling the mistake is that if the flush hits and he does bet thru it do I call here? I hate being a caller, particularly in short handed games where I need to be aggressive. That being said, my slow play was meant to mix my game up a little bit. I missed out on $20.

Relevant Quote: "As a poker player you hate to call off your money" - Erik Seidel after losing an old WSOP.

Hand 2:
A passive player Under the gun (UTG) limps in, and i'm in the small blind with Ace, 8. I raise, the big blind 3 bets and UTG cold calls. I'm pretty sad now and call. Flop is 8,8,Q rainbow. I check, the big blind bets, UTG calls, and I call.

Turn is a 5 bringing a club draw. I check, the big blind bets, the UTG raises and I hesitate and cold call 2 bets. Big blind calls.

The river is checked all around.

I allowed myself to be intimidated by the turn raise from the UTG player. He's not so poor as to have Q/8 and he's not tricky enough to have pocket Q's. I'd bet my Lexus on that. He could have possibly had pocket 5's but I'm about 75% sure he would've raised with any pocket pair in a short handed game.

The big blind almost certainly didn't have pocket Queens because he just called the raise and is not tough enough to wait until the very end to check raise (although that would have been brilliant but he's not capable of that).

I should've reraised and probably would've trapped the big blind in for another bet as well as the UTG player. If it doesn't get capped I should've bet the end as well. That's an extra $80 I missed thru a misread.

I've got a few weeks left before I leave my job and play even more seriously. While I don't think these small mistakes are enough to stop me from success they have to be corrected or I'll never become the world class player I hope to be.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Party Poker vs. Casino Poker - Less Hands

On Saturday, for the first time since Vegas on New Year's I played poker in a casino. I play almost everyday, but my game has really started to become focused online. Mostly due to one thing...the money. I do so much better playing partypoker online it's ridiculous. They just play so bad.

So I lost a little bit playing $8-16 on Saturday which actually seems like a small game now. It was good seeing a bunch of the regulars there that I haven't run into in awhile. It's almost like a strategic truce with some players as they recognize you can play, others are actually friends.

One thing that I really noticed was how much slower it is to play in a casino. I'm seeing like 30-40 hands an hour playing at a casino vs. what I would estimate is 60-70 online. I'm curious as to what others think about this, how many hands do you think you see an hour online? What about in the 6 handed game?

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Poker Strategy with Dad

I had an interesting talk with Dad the other day. Over dinner a lot of families have talks about how work is going and my dinner table is no different. The only difference being the fact that my work talks are primarily related to different perspectives on the poker game.

So yesterday my Dad encouraged me to try mixing a few things up hold 'em and see how that works for me. Now, don't worry, I have a good deal of mix up in my game. In fact I believe being tricky is key to success. He was simply illustrating a point. To illustrate this point he used a few examples in his own career which I thought would be interesting to share here.

He tried a few things with different types of hands to see how they affected his pockets. Pops used to play 12 - 14 hours a day, everyday. He'd open and close the game. For one month he didn't play any pocket pair under 8's. He also took a different month off from playing any suited connectors besides the really big ones. I think the word "discipline" comes up short when referring to how this must have been. He found this hurt him financially and went back to playing both types.

The point he was making was do what you need to for analysis and to grow as a player. You need to really analyze your game's strengths and weaknesses and do what is necesary for improvement. I see some players make the same mistakes over and over and go broke. Nothing wrong with making mistakes but not learning from them is the real tragedy.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Poker Tracking and Excel

I've been getting a few emails and posts about my excel sheet which I promise to have up on this site by the end of next week. By nature I am not much of a technical guy, more mathematical and while the 2 are related I'd just as soon compute pot odds on a thousand dollar decision instead of trying to figure out how to post an excel file up here. I'll get a buddy to help.

First off I should say thanks to MJ for sending over some traffic. Being primarily a hardcore poker player I'm new to the online community. (That was some good chinese we ate the other day buddy) .

I'm glad so far everyone is liking the site, i'm planning on updating everyday (it's going to be like a nice meditation break from my play). I don't know about you guys but playing for multiple hours online is much more taxing than normal play.

Regarding poker tracker and why I don't use that only for tracking my results. I actually created my own spreadsheet for tracking (not from 2x2) which I use in combination with Poker Tracker. Poker Tracker is great, I especially like the preflop raise percentages and the detailed statistical analysis. However, if there is a disconnection in my internet then I can't download anymore of my hand histories from a particular game until I leave. Sometimes I'm really into a groove and don't want to leave. If I choose to stay then I lose my results in pokertracker from that disconnection point on.

Also, I still play in casino games and if poker tracker can include my wins/losses there then I must admit I don't know all the functionality. Finally while poker tracker can keep my wins/losses in order it doesn't really have my win rate per hour. This is what I really need to look at. How much am I winning per hour? Is it enough to the point where I can justify to myself that I'm quitting my job at Microsoft? Since I'm gone on April 8th...the answer so far is yes.

Poker Strategy - Jack/Ten Suited

I have mixed feelings about Jack/Ten suited.

Great poker possibilities:
There is no disputing the possibilities of this hand. You can flop potential flushes, nut straights, straights, and the other obvious hands if you pair/trip/or full house up. In a hand that's got 4 or 5 people i'm actually likely to cap a pot with this hand. It has tremendous multi-way value.

Hold 'em is a game of high cards:
On the other hand it's Jack high. I don't like to cold call a raise without multi-way action with this hand and I really don't like to be first in the pot in late position with this hand. Natural questions that arise in this situation are, should i try and steal the blinds with Jack high although it does have tremendous draw potential, just limp in and see if i can hopefully get multiple people in the pot or just fold the hand pre-flop. Even though I live off the money I win these questions still arise in my mind. What's the answer? I'm honestly not sure, I try and mix it up.

My biggest pot ever:
Came from Jack, ten suited. There was an early position raise by the first person in, 3 cold callers, another raise and I'm in the big blind. I've got Jack, ten of clubsand I call 2 more bets. The pot ends up being capped and it's 6 way action before the flop.

I'm playing $15-30 online and the pot is $360 pre-flop. The flop is King, queen, nine of clubs. I couldn't believe it, i flopped the absolute nuts, a straight flush. I check, there is a bet and everyone calls, including myself. The turn is a 9 and I check again, the same guy bets, everyone calls and I raise. In retrospect I might have been better off with just a call here hoping to not lose anyone until the end. After my check raise, the early position raiser raised again and everyone except for me folded (to my dismay). Since it was heads up now I capped the pot. I figured my opponent had Kings full of nines or maybe quad 9's. It really didn't matter what he had since I had the absolute but I made sure to take my time before each of my decisions in an effort to somewhat conceal my hand.

The end was a blank, I led the betting and we capped the end. Total pot was $960 minus the $3 rake so I netted out with $957. It was beautiful.

when I look back I definitely got lucky. However, I think that if I had Kings full in this situation I wouldn't have put in so many bets. Did he really think that I would cap the turn and the end without a straight flush or quad 9's. He really had 3rd nuts. I don't think an opponent would cap both the turn and the end with queesn over 9's or king/9. If I had his hand I probaby would've just called the end.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Poker Theory - Can't beat the game?

The other day I was thinking about how blessed I feel to be able to consistently beat the poker game. It wasn't always so! It brought back memories of over a year ago when I was so frustrated with the game I nearly quit. I had been playing for about 1 year and was stuck overall for $3,000. (Note: I keep very detailed records in Excel so let me know if you'd like the tracking template and I'll send it over).

Anyhow so I was starting to feel like I had a gambling problem and I talked with my Dad (who played for a living for many years). My Dad and I have a great relationship where I can pretty much tell him anything. During the time that he played for a living he saw many people make a ton of money and others lose everything they had because they had a gambling problem. In fact he said he busted so many people he personally felt responsible for sending them to Gamblers Anonymous. A cold fact of life when you're a poker player. Based on all this I felt my Dad certainly had the experience where he would be able to tell me to quit if he thought it was getting to be too much.

Instead of telling me to quit, he told me that I was still learning. He harshly critiqued my game. He advised me to take a short break, think about what I was doing that didn't work and revise that and read a few poker books. Finally he told me to play in a higher limit game since I had the money to play in it comfortably. "A bigger game? How can I play in a bigger game when I can't beat $4-8?" I said in a frustrated tone. He then explained to me that the rake plus tip to the dealer is a higher percentage of each pot in comparison to a bigger limit game which makes it harder to beat.

So...instead of giving the game up I bought more chips and played for higher limits. Funny huh? I'll post part 2 soon.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Old School

I was watching Tilt yesterday (which by the way I think is an excellent TV show) and I love when the Matador said, "When I first started playing cards you had to be as tough outside of the cardroom as you were in the game. All these young players with degrees at home playing online poker wouldn't have lasted a day back then." That's so old school and from what I hear (I wasn't around to actually experience it) that's exactly how it was.

I feel like a really big mix of old and new school. 9 months ago I was a complete old school player. When I think of old school style I think of the type of player who would check the nuts into you and let you make the mistake of betting. Eventually punishing you on the end with a check raise. The downfall of this strategy is that it puts you in the position of needing to catch a hand.

Nowadays I'm definitely in the new breed of players. Constantly pushing. It seems like new school is to push hard on the pots and let your opponent decide whether or not to call. The downfall of this strategy is that if you're over aggressive you're going to lose a lot of chips.

So what's better? What's the optimal strategy? I think you have to mix it up. Aggression is the key but it must be tempered with reading and an ability to trick your opponents. But I digress, I don't want to get into all of that now I just wanted to put a few thoughts down on the different schools of thought.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Strategy - Mistakes happen

I played the 6 handed $10-2o yesterday and lost $200. I think it's funny that I expect to win every time I sit down and play but that's probably the attitude you have to have. After each session I always think about how I could've played differently to win. Yesterday was a prime example.

I'm under the gun with Kings and I limp in, seat 2 raises, the button reraises, both blinds call, I call, and seat 2 caps. So we've got 5 way action capped preflop for a $200 pot. The flop is Q, J, 3 and I come out betting hoping to narrow down the field since the pot is already pretty big. Seat 2 raises, the button calls 2 bets cold, and I call. I put the button on a queen and seat 2 on Aces/Kings/ maybe ace queen, or Jacks. I only beat 1 of these hands.

The turn is another queen, I check, seat 2 bets, the button calls, and I call getting a little stubborn. At this point the only hand I really can beat is A/J or smaller pairs. I'm pretty much going to check call the end.

An ace comes on the end. This is the worst card in the deck for me since there's really not that much I can beat. I check, seat 2 bets and when the button calls I just feel like I can't overcall and win. I fold the hand, seat 2 shows pocket 10's, and the button shows pocket 9s. Almost the only hands I can beat that would be played that way.

I couldn't believe it. I lost a $300 pot because I didn't call $20. In retrospect I think I should've played the hand more aggressively by reraising the flop and taking control.

I made a mistake and paid for it. I made a few more mistakes and had to take myself out of the game. I'd rather lose $200 one day than go on tilt and blow a grand. When you take the game seriously you have to manage your emotions and your bankroll or your brilliant plays will be offset by a few tilt sessions.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Strategy - Heads up Play

Lately I've been playing a lot of 6 handed $10-20 on party poker.

I would say that this is a great game if you're in an action kind of mood. In my humble opinion I think the key is actually not to play a ton of more hands. Obviously the hand values change since the blinds come around much more quickly and those A/J pigeon hands become quite valuable in a short handed game. I think you have to loosen up but don't go overboard.

A key that I've found to success is actually to play the hands you do play more aggressively for the small bets (preflop and flop) as stealing pots is a more essential part of your play.I almost always raise coming into a pot preflop if I'm first in to potentially steal the blinds and the hand right there. Occasionally, I might limp in with Aces or Kings hoping to get some action behind me or maybe a J/10 suited hoping to get multi-way action .

I think mixing up your play is also a key to success in this game. I find that my opponents quickly become tired of me raising preflop all the time and betting a lot of flops if they do call my preflop raise. They often loosen up their play considerably and this is the perfect time for my mix-up.

Here's an example, if I've been pre-flop raising for awhile and I raise with Ace rag in middle position. Let's say someone in the middle cold calls and the flop doesn't hit me at all. I might bet this flop and if called, check and fold the turn if he bets. Next time around, the same play might occur and let's say this time I hit my hand with A/K and the flop is safe with an Ace. I might play the flop the exact same way but check raise the turn. I find that I've gotten paid off when I play a hand in this manner by funny hands such as bottom pair or something else silly.

I think my opponents are just getting tired of me pushing them around all the time and want to figure out what I'm doing. The bad news for them is that I got them for 2 preflop bets, 1 small flop bet, 2 turn bets and potentially a bet on the end as well. That's 4 1/2 big bets. Think about how many hands that takes to get even with me.

Differing or agreeing opinions? Any other cool thoughts?

Article - Fortune Mag

It's amazing how big online poker is. I'm from Seattle and the players online are so much weaker that it really blows my mind. I'm really curious as to how players from other cities view their hometown vs. online. Thoughts?

Here's the fortune article. It's booming baby! :),15114,1026777,00.html?promoid=cnn?cnn=yes


Welcome to my thoughts regarding Texas Hold ‘em Poker. Since this is my first entry I should give you a little background as to who I am. I’ve been playing poker for most of my 26 year old life but only seriously for the last 2 years. It all started one day when my friend wanted to go play poker at a casino. I suggested my Dad’s casino (my Dad is a part owner in a mini casino here in Seattle) and off we went. To my surprise my Dad was actually sitting in the $4-8 hold em game and we sat down and played.

I then spent the next 1.5 years losing money and almost gave the game up. A serious talk with my Dad got me back in the game and then suddenly everything clicked. Now i'm a serious winning player.

I'll go into more detail regarding my story as I continue to post. I write here in hopes that you can be entertained and laugh at my writings, learn from my agony, and hopefully enjoy my success. Good luck to you and I hope you like the posts.