Sunday, May 18, 2008

Something Clicked...

After my last update's smooth graph I hadn't bothered to post any updates, so I'll start by giving the full coverage of what happened in between then and now:

Managed to work my roll up to around $6k, moved up to NL200, ran bad (3.5k below equity in allin situations in 4 days time), went on monkey tilt and lost around 75% of my roll within a week. Obviously had some leaks in my bankroll management.

Well, with the boring part out of the way, why did I return to make useless posts in the Den? One reason is that I am free from work for two weeks now so have enough free time on my hands to practice how it would be to be playing professional poker. So far I cannot complain about the results after this week, even while it is a small sample:

The only beat here is that I managed to put in less hands than I would in a normal week, but that is because I have been scheduling my days like as if I were really a professional poker player. Which involves watching movies throughout the night, sleeping out late, practicing the guitar, trying to build my own linux distribution etc. In between all that, I still manage to put like 1 or 2 hours per day into actually playing at the tables, which seems reasonable, and more hours watching Cardrunners videos and analyzing hand histories.

So there's the real reason for returning to the Den. I need a place to put the hands that were interesting, but not interesting enough to discuss on the forums.

What has changed in my game compared to my old game? I think spending a lot of time watching videos on Cardrunners made something 'click' for me, which is the way I approached the hand. I always used to be worried about consistency in my game, like 'if I held XX here I would bet xx, so now I'll bet xx with this bluff aswell.' Or I would be 3-betting a loose cutoff opener on the button with hands like A8s, 56s, even J7s etc, while those are hands which actually have the ability to hit flops somewhat. Why not use those hands to play a pot in position of someone with a huge opening range?

Poker is all about range vs range, and balancing your ranges to maximally exploit your opponent's tendencies. I used to 2-barrel and 3-barrel bluff more often in the past, but right now I think I found a good balance. Which is pretty much accomplished by using a good, balanced range vs specific opponents, and adjusting constantly based on previous occurrences/ image etc.

Don't understand a word of what I were saying there? That's great! If everyone understood that, the lower limits would be playing like 5/10.

Some spots still ask for an old fashioned 3 barrel bluff though, like this one yesterday:

$0.5/$1 No Limit Holdem
5 players
Converted at

UTG ($47.15)
CO ($104.90)
Hero ($102.15)
SB ($98.50)
BB ($238.15)

Pre-flop: ($1.5, 5 players) Hero is BTN

2 folds, Hero raises to $3.5, SB calls $3, 1 fold

Flop: ($8, 2 players)
SB bets $1, Hero raises to $11, SB calls $10

Turn: ($30, 2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $23, SB calls $23

River: ($76, 2 players)
SB checks, Hero goes all-in $64.65, SB folds

Final Pot: $76

Hero wins $137.65 ( won +$35.5 )
SB lost -$37.50

Villain's flop play here pretty much said he either had a flush draw or a weak ace, perhaps a jack. The K on the turn could have helped him, but for the rest it seemed a mandatory 2-barrel. On the river, I could think of no hands my 7 high could beat, and if I followed up my play here and shoved the river I would represent 2 pair at the least. Villain is quite the calling station though so there are a decent amount of aces he would probably look me up with, like AQ (does not seem likely thanks to flop play) or perhaps AT, and any two pair, so this was an easy shove. Another optional way to play this hand vs him was to just fold to his $1 bet on the flop...

Another play I like to use more is a more advanced play, explained by Raptor from Cardrunners. It's called the 'head-explosion bet'. It's a value bet which is sized to cause your opponents to think "omg, I am so stupid!" and their heads literally explode, or if they are lucky, will just cause them to tilt a bit. Which makes it easier to get the rest of their money later on.

I should have some examples from NL50 where I bet like $8 into a $89 pot to get called by queen-high, but I don't feel like spending the rest of the day looking for it, so I'll just this one from a few hours ago to demonstrate it:

$0.5/$1 No Limit Holdem
3 players
Converted at

BTN ($100.00)
SB ($101.50)
Hero ($231.65)

Pre-flop: ($1.5, 3 players) Hero is BB

BTN raises to $3.5, 1 fold, Hero calls $2.5

Flop: ($7.5, 2 players)
Hero checks, BTN bets $5, Hero calls $5

Turn: ($17.5, 2 players)
Hero checks, BTN checks

River: ($17.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $6, BTN calls $6

Final Pot: $29.50
Hero shows:
BTN shows:

Hero wins $28.5 ( won +$14 )
BTN lost -$14.50

Preflop: Table just turned 3-handed and a 15/12 typical TAG opens the button. KQs can be raised for value here, but his range should be pretty wide now we are 3 handed, and it will hit quite some boards which he'll cbet.

Flop: Pretty easy spot. He has an ace or he doesn't. I got a hand, so no need to turn it into a bluff.

Turn: Great card, less likely for villain to have an ace now, and he would never be checking an ace here unless he dislikes money. He also did the 'think for a bit to keep you from betting the river' move and actually clicked the time button, so KK also seems unlikely.

River: Nice blank, so I got the nuts here in my mind, so I need to extract some value. The best possible hand he can have here are jacks, which would probably fold to a 2/3rd pot bet, and some medium pocket pairs would probably fold aswell. So I made a toned down version of the head-explosion bet, but would have bet like $2 here if I expected villain to hold something weaker like K high here. In the past I would probably have bet something like $11 here, which gets called less and does not have the same tilt-inducing factor.


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