Tuesday, June 27, 2006

PokerStars 25/50c

Poker Stars
Limit Holdem Ring game
Limit: $0.25/$0.5
10 players

Pre-flop: (10 players) Soultwister is MP3 with 5 of Clubs 3 of Diamonds
UTG folds, UTG+1 raises, UTG+2 folds, MP1 calls, MP2 folds, Soultwister 3-bets, 4 folds, UTG+1 calls, MP1 calls.

Flop: 8 of Hearts Jack of Diamonds Jack of Clubs (10.4SB, 3 players)
UTG+1 checks, MP1 checks, Soultwister bets, UTG+1 folds, MP1 calls.

Turn: 5 of Hearts (6.2BB, 2 players)
MP1 checks, Soultwister bets, MP1 folds.
Uncalled bets: 1BB returned to Soultwister.

Final pot: 6.2BB

So much for tight-passive play at this limit. I focused much more now on well placed aggression and player reads then before. Look at the example above. Even if I didn't have such a monster as 53-offsuit I'd reraise here with alot more hands to isolate against that player, since that player was very easy to read, and I had seen him play hundreds of hands. Raising from early position his only holdings could be AA/KK/QQ/AK/AQs. And without an A, K or Q on the flop I'd find out what kind of hand he could have very easily. Other then that, he folds to aggression pretty easily when he misses the board.

The flop was great for me, since he would not have raised JJ or AJ from that position. And since he didn't cap before the flop he could only have AK/AQ or perhaps QQ.

Improving on the turn I fired another shot at him, though I would have done the same if I hadn't. Only had he called on the turn aswell I'd know he'd have QQ or two hearts, which would be problematic, and I would have to let go of my hand there regardless of what the river brought, unless he'd give me a free showdown.

I've been playing like this quite often, and when done against the right players it worked well. I'd fold AQo to raisers while I would call with small connectors like 910o or 97s if they were players who were easy to read.

Same goes for when I were the preflop raiser. If people don't tell me I'm behind by raising my continuation bet on the flop, I'll lead out on the turn and perhaps the river aswell. It's a break-even play generally since I pick up alot of pots from people folding to me, and lose many to bad hands, but since this also leads to people calling or raising me with many mediocre hands I get paid off much better when I actually do hold a hand.

Checkraising is also a thing I employ much less now. Why checkraise when you can donkbet like a fish?

For you fish out there, let's first explain what a donkbet is. Let's say you hold 99, you call, someone raises, you call again, and the flop comes with an ace and two other cards. So you check and someone raises (he probably has the ace). You call like any fish would and the turn comes up with a 9. So the proper move now is to check, wait till the one with the ace bets out, and then reraise him. But a fish would not understand that logic and bets out on the turn to betray he has a strong hand.

I like donking out with flushdraws, open ended straight draws, sets, top or overpair on a rag flop etc. Since people don't like getting bet into when they were the aggressor preflop they often reraise, and fold much less then if I'd checkraise them or checkcall to river. Even while in some on those situations it would be much safer and profitable to just checkcall, or checkraise for value, I prefer aggression over standard solid play. Checkcalling will not make me win many pots without a showdown, and getting used to passive play will not be any good as I move up in limits.

The plan at this limit was to play about 10k hands and continue till I'd think I'd be ready to move up another limit. So far I have a $196 profit after 9343 hands (it was 208 dollars about 2k hands ago but I made the mistake of multitabling again, which didn't work well with my playstyle).

To end the blog today, here's another example of the Monster holding in action:

Poker Stars
Limit Holdem Ring game
Limit: $0.25/$0.5
9 players

Pre-flop: (9 players) Soultwister is MP1 with 3 of Spades 5 of Diamonds
UTG calls, UTG+1 calls, Soultwister raises, MP2 calls, 2 folds, Button calls, 2 folds, UTG calls, UTG+1 calls.

Flop: 4 of Hearts 2 of Hearts 4 of Diamonds (11.4SB, 5 players)
UTG checks, UTG+1 checks, Soultwister bets, MP2 calls, Button calls, UTG calls, UTG+1 calls.

Turn: 6 of Diamonds (8.2BB, 5 players)
UTG checks, UTG+1 checks, Soultwister bets, MP2 folds, Button calls, UTG folds, UTG+1 calls.

River: 9 of Spades (11.2BB, 3 players)
UTG+1 checks, Soultwister bets, Button calls, UTG+1 folds.

Final pot: 13.2BB
Soultwister showed 3s 5d

Results: +$196
Bankroll: $479

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Live tournament

May 28 I did something that didn't fit within bankroll management, but decided to do it just for the experience and the fun, and I would substract the possible losses off my bankroll aswell.

I joined my first live multi table tournament, which was organized nearby (by T&I Poker). It was a 50+10 euro buyin (total about 76 dollars) with 89 players.

Anyways, after not having played at live tables other then playing a few games with friends, it was a completely different game for me. Felt like a beginner at those tables for the first few hours, and didn't make much progress either, missing the flop constantly and starting out tight, but managed to make enough blind steals and bluffs when people showed weakness.

Actually seeing the looks on people's faces when you make a great or bad play is priceless though. Online it's just a pot you win/lose, now you can see directly how it affects your table image and adjust your game accordingly. It's definitely true that table image means tons more in live play, leading to me having to change my playstyle from table to table.

The best part was managing to pick up some tells from people. Keeping the tip in mind to watch the other players when you get dealt your hole cards instead of watching your own cards first, and watching the players when the flop is dealt instead of looking at it yourself. Besides, the flop will still be there when it's your turn to act.

It were basic tells, preflop one player always stacked his good/playable cards neatly on top of eachother, and put his bad cards with slightly less discipline on the table. Another always went with his hand to his chips when he got cards he wasn't going to play after seeing the flop, while sitting seemingly relaxed on flops he was going to play.

My favourite hand of the day was when I was finally dealt pocket rockets, early in position, and the chip leader to my right made a huge raise (25k, with the blinds about 1.5/3k, about 40% of my stack). I assumed he would never fold against me going all-in at that moment since I thought he actually wanted to get called all-in by a low stack. And offcourse with a raise like that the only proper moves are to go all-in or fold.

I took a gamble there that he would not improve on the flop, or face a scary one, and decided to just flat call. Online I would never make that move, but here I decided winning this way would definitely give me a present table image. And losing would teach me not to make that move again Smile.

First thing that happened was the look of confusion as I announced a flat call around the table, especially on the face of the raiser. Then as the flop hit, but of us were looking at eachother for about 20 seconds while neighter of us had seen the flop yet. Then he took a glance and announced his all-in to the rag board. Aces held up, got a nice stack, and I don't think a play like that would ever have so much effect on your table image in online MTT's.

Even while the experience alone was worth the buyin, it was even better to finally hit the final table and know you are within the prices.

I started on that final table with 100k chips, lost a steal attempt against a player in the big blind who held a grudge against me (my first AA vs his QQ earlier that day removed him from chip leader position), and then was dealt pocket 6's when the blinds had gone up to 10/20k (having 70k left). No choice there I think, went all-in, got called by AQ and lossed the cointoss.

Which made me win 245 euros (about 312 dollars ), quite a nice way to end my first live MTT.

I gave 100 euros to a friend of mine who went along to the tournament so both of us had our buyin covered and went home with a profit.

Results: +$110
Bankroll: $285

Pokerstars 10/20 cents

After reaching my goal on Paradise, I cashed out 100 dollars and deposited 50 dollars on Poker Stars.

Poker Stars has a nice feature, which is that the software can automatically store hand histories on the harddisk.

Then again, after starting playing there, I was sure I was going to need it, since even at 10/20c limit tables their players were much better then at Paradise.

Yes, there still were fish, lots of 'em, just as juicy as on Paradise, but it wasn't a rare sight to see 5 or more decent players sitting at a table at these limits, which at Paradise seemed more rare than flopping a Royal Flush.

My plan here was to make 100 dollars on the 10/20c tables aswell.

The approach was simple, I generally multitabled on 2 or more tables while playing very mechanical, and spending almost as much time analyzing my played hands as actually playing cards.

Also got hold of the book Internet Texas Hold'em by Matthew Hilger, which is quite a worthwhile read for a new player, which helped to improve my play quite a bit.I just tried to play solid poker and make as few mistakes as possible.

It went well, but it was bloody boring, so after 9k hands and about 50 dollars profit I decided moving up a limit would be the best choice.

Periodically I'll add some tables and graphs like below which show statistics about my results at the played limit, and the graph shows my total winrate in big bets.

Results: +$50
Bankroll: $175

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Grind Through Paradise

With 25 dollars at my disposal, and the term 'bankroll management' just sounding as something inedible to me, I sat down at a 1/2$ table for my first real money experience.

It went as planned, climbing up to 93 dollars as peak, and ending the night with 70 dollars.

Over the next few days it kept going like that, making great winnings, but great losses aswell. What was I doing wrong?

Eventually the cashier showed I had 10 dollars left. So much for easy winnings.

After my failed experiment at the 1/2$ tables, and with 10 dollars left in my account, it was time to do some research on the game.

Getting hold of Small Stakes Hold'em by David Sklansky and Ed Miller, I started playing at the lowest limit tables, 2/4 cents or something, till my bankroll was back up to 25 dollars.

After that I started on the 10/20 cent tables, with the goal to increase my bankroll to 125 dollars there.

It definitely was a grind, studying the concepts behind it constantly, while my bankroll went up at a snail's pace.

When my bankroll was up to about 75 dollars I experimented with a certain play that was pretty fun, though probably only profitable because the average player there was a genuine fish.

I stopped betting out first in. Calling before the flop when nobody was in, or reraise, and checkraise or checkfold on flop and turn. Quite a silly play, but it worked to frustrate the people on the tables, since I checkraised so often.

I don't employ that system now anymore except when there is a maniac at the table, but it did suffice to get my bankroll up to 125 dollars that way.

Results: +$100
Bankroll: $125

The History

For me it all began somewhere in the end of January 2006. A friend of mine was talking alot about his newest hobby, a poker game called Texas Hold'em, and especially about how much money could be made by playing it on the internet.

The game itself was new to me, I only played draw poker back at highschool. But the two of us and another friend (the two of us got pretty good at cheating at draw poker at micro stakes in highschool - who needs knowledge of the game when you can pocket aces and jokers?) got together one night to play some Hold'em.

After that I created an account at Paradise Poker and started at the play money tables. Well, that experience lasted about two full hours before I realized it's pretty boring if everyone calls to the river with any two cards.

That's when I noticed my nice blue Mastercard, which was safely lying somewhere on the ground in the vicinity of my computer, and deposited 25 dollars onto my Paradise Poker account.

Bankroll: $25

The Mission

Nothing fancy, the Mission is to turn 25 dollars into 10.000 dollars. No time limit set yet, but it definitely should be a lot faster than interest rates.

And all of this just by playing games of Texas Hold'em.

Possible? Definitely.

But can I do it?

Well, that is what this blog is for. To keep track of progress, and to give me something to do when I'm folding 30 hands in a row.