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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Home School SNG Step

I hesitate to write this as I fear it will anger the poker gods and they shall smoteith me down in great anger and terrible vengeance, but I feel compelled to nonetheless. For about a month or two following my return to the tables I focuses primarily on micro-limits cash games usually around the .25/.50 range whenever possible. For the most part I was pretty much breaking even. Ahead at one site, behind at an other, up one day, down the next, that was pretty much what I was doing day in and day out. At least I was playing, and reading, and collecting stats for Poker Tracker, above all, I was still having fun.

Then one day I got an invite to a home game, one hosted by a couple of Stock Traders that work here in Baltimore. They like to get together once in awhile, have some drinks, have a few cigs, and play some cards. Their game of choice, mini-SNG freeze outs for $30 a game. According to them, they usually play 3 or 4 per session and usually everyone breaks about even. I figure I’ll go, play 2, if I win either of them I’ll keep playing, if I lose I can eat $60 and call it a night. With only 3 other players, I’m getting decent odds.

First SNG – I win, sweet, now I can play the rest. The second – I win, again. Sweet I might take home some money! The third – I bust out first and the fourth I set my goal to win and won it I did! End result – I take home $180!.

High off my recent win, I decide to try a $5 SNG. I believe I took 2nd or 3rd. Over that weekend I played at least 5 or 6 SNG’s and placed in the money on at least 75% of them. It was then that I decided to work on all 3 of my online accounts to get each of them over $100. The next day I push my first account above the $100 mark by taking 1st in a $5 SNG.

Starting in on the second site, Poker Stars, I figure I’ll employ a home made step structure. Start at a $5 SNG, when I win that one, move up to a $10 SNG, if I bust out of that, drop down to the $5.untin another win, if I take 2nd or 3rd, stay at that level, and when I win that, jump to the next level, so on and so forth. So far I’ve increased my bankroll there at least 80%. One more win at my current level ($10) or two 2nd place finishes. I’ll have reached my goal for that site and will move onto the last site.

The best part is that I feel that I can sit down and play this game, not only well, but profitably and maybe the time when I have a $1k plus bankroll isn’t quite as far off as it once seemed.

Having now said this, I fully expect the god of variance to be kicking my ass. Soon.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Harrington Hand Analysis

I came across this hand analysis in Harrington Vol 2 and I so completely disagreed with his analysis that I thought I’d write it up and get everyone’s opinion on it. If you have the book, the hand is 8-19 on page 109. Go get it, read it over, I’ll wait. You don’t have the book? Shame on you, ok I’ll summarize.

“You’re in middle position and it’s early in an online tournament – Stack sizes are roughly equal. You’re dealt 97s, the table folds around to you, first question, should you raise, call, or fold?”

Personally at this stage in the tournament, and in this position, I would probably fold this hand here and wait for a better opportunity to make a play, but a call is acceptable to try to see a cheap flop, but with 6 people still to act, there’s still a strong possibility of a raise yet to come.

“The player decides to call, a new player to the table also calls, and an aggressive big blind checks. Pot is 105. The flop comes Td8c6c. The big blind checks. Do you check, bet $30 (min bet) or bet $50?.”

Harrington argues that a min bet (poor baby Jebus) is the best play to build a pot which you will take down at the showdown.

Here’s my problem, sure you have the best hand, RIGHT NOW, however with 2 suited cards on the board and two limpers, I’m thinking there’s a great chance that one of the players is now on a flush draw which will nullify your current straight.

My question to the masses is this, isn’t it better to take down the pot right away with the best hand (regardless of the pot size at the moment) rather than try to put yourself in to a situation where you’ll have the second best hand at the showdown. In this particular case I think the best play would be to make a pot sized bet to scare away any flush draw chasers, and allow you to take a pot of 3x BB which isn’t bad with a mediocre hand from MP.

The player in this example actually makes a $50 bet and the two other players fold.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

An Absence From Blogging

It's been quite a while since the last time I posted here hasn't it? In that time, much has changed, and much has stayed the same. The biggest things that have changed, and the reason I have little time to blog anymore is that 1: I went out and got myself all married like, and B: I started a new job. Unlike the previous job, where I had HOURS to spend blogging, now I can’t even hit my site from the new office. Needless to say, I have very little free time left at my disposal. Today is the rare exception being that it’s the day before a major holiday and most everyone has already gone. So I decided it was a good day to break out the old pen and paper and scribble down a few things I’ve done poker-wise in the past half a year or so. These included (but are not limited to...)

  • Playing live poker for the first time, ever. I Broke my "cherry" at the Resorts in Atlantic City.

  • Bringing my PokerStars account from just over $1 up to over $50 where it currently idles.

  • Getting $20 Bonus money on Party, building it up to just over $60 playing .50/1.00 Limit, only to donk it ALL away.

  • Reading Small Stakes Hold’Em by Miller/Sklansky/Malmuth

  • The most dramatic change in my life of late is that I am now married. CC and I tied the knot on April 15th up at my parents house in Western New York (Jamestown). Everything went perfectly and we had a wonderful time. On my to do list is to write up a long non poker blog about it and post it over at Vision Knights

    The new job has been going very well, and one of the benefits I received was an including to our office conversion team which consists of traveling to various offices for some on site computer work. My first conversion was Philadelphia and I was done on Saturday by about three. Wifey and come along for the trip, so I checked in with her and we decided to go to Atlantic City Saturday night, spend the night and come home early Sunday morning. We took the scenic route there so it was about 6 by the time we got to our Hotel (Best Western). Wifey (Formally known as CC – Coffee Chick) tried on some clothes she had gotten in Philly, and by about 7:00 or so we were on our way to the Boardwalk. We spend a few hours walking around, checking out various poker rooms, stopping for a bite to eat, getting wifey set up on the slots, then I was finally ready for the tables. I decided on the poker room at the Resorts, it was fairly small with only about 8 to 10 tables, so I didn't feel as thought I was going to get lost in the crowd (or worse, swallowed by the sharks!). I signed up for the 2/4 table, but the line was long and I wanted to play some poker, so I jumped into the 3/6 figuring if I was going to get killed at the 2/4, I might as well get killed a the 3/6. I only played for about an hour to an hour and a half, but when I finally decided to get up and go, I left up about 3BB's or so. Not a huge financial victory, but a wonderful moral one. Despite my inability to sit still for 5 seconds, and what I thought would be world class tells, I was able to walk away with more than I sat down with. I was rather pleased.

    My next "significiant accomplishment" was managing to take my dwindling PokerStars account, and use that to successfully take me up to it's current value of just over $80. The first big win came from my last online $1 there, and took first in a $1 MTT to win $14. Then I won another one a short while later, and took 2nd a couple fo times to beef it up. Just this morning I saw down for a bit before work, and in 30 minutes took my buy in of $4 and increased it 1.5 times sitting at the .10/.20 table.

    My third great accomplishment is actually more of a great learning experience. When trying to kill hands on a bonus, somply play like a rock. Fold Everything (Save Pocket Aces and Kings) . For those that wish for the story behind the lesson, read on. I received an email from Party Poker one day saying that I was eligible for a $20 free bonus, just log in and play. So I sat down at the .50/1.00 table and started to play. I did fairly well that night and over the course of a couple of weeks, I managed to turn that $20 into over $60. I was going to cash out but realized I still needed to clear 44 more hands (it started at 200), no problem, I'll just tighten up and only play premium hands and let the others throw their chips around to build up the pots. Well that lasted all of about 10 seconds and after a horrible weekend run, I had managed to tank it all away. But hey, I cleared those 44 hands!

    Lastly I felt it was about time to run out and pick up a new Poker book, so when I saw Small Stakes Holdem by Miller, Sklansky, and Malmuth I jumped on it and dove right in. I know that there are many others out there that can do this book much more justice than I from a review standpoint, so I'm won't bore anyone with another recount on the book, I do however recommend it as it will remain as one of those books that can be picked up and reviewed time and again.
    I think this should be a successfully long attempt to at a return to blogging, now I just need to spend some time writing more often in between folding hands and avoiding doing stupid things in tournies.

    I also need to apologize for any formatting errors that may be seen as I'm posting this at the office, but won't be able to see the post until I get home this evening. I should be able to clean up any uglies that may pop up then.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    It's Been HOW Long?

    Wow, I didn't realize it had been that long since I last actually threw up a post here. There's sort of a good reason, really there is. I got a new job that is actually a day time job and now, as the last one was, based primarily in the afternoon/evenings/nights. So that's a good thing. The downside is that I can't hit my poker blog from the new office due to security settings (like Poker's a BAD thing) and even if I could, I've been so busy I wouldn't have time to anyway. I have however written a couple of posts that I've been meaning to type up and upload, but whenever I sit down at the computer I get the itch to play poker and all thoughts of writing just fly away.

    I have lots of stories of wonderful pokery goodness to relay to those of you who don't really care, but are kind enough to read through it anyway, and I'll work extra EXTRA hard to get them online soon.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    It Never Fails

    I come up with a good safe game plan in which I hope to safely grow my meager bankroll. It's usually a good plan, well thought out, and carefully analyzed. Then something jumps up and throws the whole plan out the window. What's that called? Oh yea, Life.

    So here WAS my original plan. I have my UB bankroll up to where it can support a level shift from my regular .10 NL game up to the .25 NL game. I realize this isn't a huge jump, but I'm trying to set myself a precedent for future level jumps. Today was my Data Mining Day, four 10 person tables at the .10/.25 NL level and I thought about just leaving them on all weekend when I'm up in Buffalo for Thanksgiving. This should give me a decent read on which players I should stay away from, which players I should look for, and gather raw data to help make future decisions. Once my deposit bonus was cleared through UB, I was going to move a good portion of my (hopefully) larger bankroll over to Absolute Poker where I still have a large deposit bonus ($110.00) to clear off there. Sounds very responsible of me doesn't it? I thought so too.

    Then I got an email.

    It was from Absolute Poker notifying me that my $110.00 initial Bonus Deposit is going to expire on December 7, 2005. That gives me 14 days to clear 1,100 points. Crap. My bankroll there? $9.00. DoUBle Crap (or would that be crap squared?) I'm going out of town for the next 5 days. Oh for the love of Crap.

    Ok, new game plan. Starting Sunday (First day I'll be able to play) Take all $9.00 into a .25 NL game, try to hang around, maybe even doUBle up once or twice and then log out if/when I hit $35.00. Take that into either a .25/.50 NL game or maybe even a .50/1.00 NL game (depending on the stack sizes of the other players) Then fold like crazy and let the other players build up the pots and earn me bonus points. Provided I don't lose my bankroll, I should be able to clear that bonus in about 11-13 hours. If I play a couple of hours in the morning and an hour or so in the evenings, then a crap load of poker on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of next week, I should be able to do it.

    Once it's cleared I'm putting the entire bankroll onto Poker Stars (I hope they do a 20% reload bonus soon after I'm done), or maybe I'll keep playing at it until I earn enough points to win a hat. More than likely I'll just leave the money there and go back to trying to clear the UB bonus before that one expires. Then after Christmas I'll go to work on winning hats. Wish me luck.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Small SNG Win

    Last night after I got home from work I hopped online and signed up for a .50 SNG. I realize the limit is rather pathetic, but I've been running very poorly in the SNG department of late and I didn't feel like dumping any more money into them if I was just going to lose. So I signed up for this one as it was the least expensive one I could possibly find (Absolute Poker) and what do you know, I won it, booking myself a WHOLE $2 profit. What I was really happy with though were some of my observations about the players at the table I was playing with.

    First off I could SEE the bad players, now granted they were about as well hidden as a fat kid at a salad bar, but still, I was happy to see that I was able to get a pretty accurate read on some of the players that early on, and was also able to put them on hands occasionally. This helped me steal some pots from flush drawers by betting into them during the flop and turn, and then if the flush never hit, I would bet hard into them and get them to fold.

    I was also in the position at one point to start playing the role of the aggressive chip leader. I was forcing the two or three remaining players to commit half of their stacks just to see the flop, and would usually make them put in the rest of their chips if they wanted to try to draw to the turn or river. I did this regardless of the cards I was holding which made winning MUCH easier than having to sit around and actually wait for some cards to play.

    I felt I played good solid poker early on, got luck once or twice when a turn or river would give me a straight or flush and I was also glad to score a win, even at such a low limit, just to restore some of my confidence in the whole SNG process.

    Unfortunately I won't be able to play much online for the rest of this week as I'm going to work early tomorrow so I can get an early start on my trip back to Jamestown for the holiday weekend. If I find myself with any amount of time, I may download Poker Stars to my parent's computer, but I'm not really expecting to be back online until the beginning of next week. I guess I'll just have to content myself with Harrington's Endgame for any poker fit I may experience in my away time. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Slow Weekend

    Outside of a pretty good poker session Friday morning, I didn't really get much of a chance to play this weekend. Despite my November Challenge Goals, I played NL ring games on Friday Morning and managed to win a few bucks to help grow my bankroll. Lately SNG's have done nothing for me but suck my money away, but for some reason, I keep playing them every now and then. I can't quite seem to figure out where my problems are, I made good bets when I have good starting hands, but the board never seems to help. I try playing position, but usually end up getting played back at when I don't have a hand. I might try another one tonight, so wish me luck.

    I did play a bit of Micro Limit online today and am diligently working towards getting my overall V$IP under 24% which will switch my overall player rating to "Good Player". Currently I'm at 26.xx so I'm getting there. The two games that I still need to bring down are the .02/.04 Limit games and the .05/.10 NL games. I have been playing my hands very selectively but have been pushing and raising when I do have it. It seems to be working as I've been posting gains in all of my sessions (except for SNG's). Part of me would like to do a challenge where I play at a certain level for 1000 hands before moving up just to see what levels I'm catching the most money at, but I don't think I have the patience for that sort of thing. I think that sort of thing will just gradually start to occur as I continue to play the game.

    I think what I am going to try is this, spend the next few days getting my .10/.20 Limit stats (for V$IP) down under 24% (ideal goal would be around 20%) which should only take about an hour of playing , then I'm going to play .05/.10 NL on UB and try to score a couple of double ups to bring my balance there > $100. Once the balance there can support it (which it technically can now I suppose) I think I'm going to take a stab at the .10/.25 NL tables which is a limit I've never played before. If I do well, it should be a nice kick in the bankroll which I can then transfer to another site, and if I lose, then I can go back to the .05/.10 tables to recover my losses. In either case I should earn a fair number of points towards my bonus which is always a good thing.

    I would also like to apologize to any of the US vs. ROW members who may have been looking for me to jump in. I had every intention of joining the Sunday evening tournament, however I went to Philly to see my brother play Hockey (not pro) and we decided to bring him home with us to spend the week and then take him back with us to my parents house for Thanksgiving. I can see now that my absence had a cataclysmic effect on Team USA's morale. I am sorry.

    I had originally wanted to check out the Indian Casino's this weekend while back up in Jamestown, however the family finances won't allow it just yet. If things work out well at the new limits maybe I'll win enough to find a trip to either Atlantic City or the Indian Casino's later on this year (or rather sometime next year). Hey, it could happen.