Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 4:52 PM
Sorry about the dearth of posts here the past week. Fro is moving to Dallas and I am busy trying to buy a house (oh, the humanity!).

I still want to write my post about AJ and J9 and hopefully I will get to that sometime in the next couple of days. In the meantime, guest submissions are welcome as always.

And this may be premature but pictures of the house we have a contract to buy are here:

Still gotta work out some repairs and cost adjustments and get the transaction closed, but I have visions for that garage. Visions that include turning making it quite poker friendly.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 10:53 PM
I asked my brother to write about his first Vegas experience this weekend when we played $2-4 holdem together at the Flamingo on our last night in town. This is what he had to say:


From: Bert
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 2004 15:22:34 -0500
Subject: RE: Idea
To: johnnymac

As you predicted, I enjoyed my first casino poker experience. I always thought it might be fun, but the speed at which it is played, coupled with my lack of poker skillz, had always intimidated me and kept me from taking the plunge. Your offer to stake me was just the motivation I needed, I guess.

Not surprisingly, I learned quite a bit in the four hours we played:

1.) It's quite possible to sit at a casino poker table for a couple of hours and lose no money, even with very minimal poker skillz. I know this to be true because I experienced it during my first couple hours at the table. I played REALLY tight for the first couple hours (folding pocket queens TWICE) just so I could get a feel for how casino poker works, and after scooping a couple of small pots, I was right where I started after 2 hours. After I loosened up my play, though, I learned lesson #2 . . .

2.) I'm sure this is self-evident to all serious poker players, but once you start playing some hands, you better either get REALLY good cards or know what the hell you are doing. Unfortunately for me, I neither got really good cards nor did I know what the hell I was doing. Thus, the second 2 hours of my experience saw me lose most of my, errrrrrrr, your money. In hindsight, I made lots of really bad plays (as you were quick to point out to me), such as playing K5o (and subsequently getting whacked by a better kicker). Mistakes like this were really a reflection of the difference between a full table in Vegas and my usual poker game in Austin, which typically only involves 4 players (In my usual game, you can often get away with playing hands like K5o - not so in Vegas!).

3.) I have to admit - you definitely know your way around a poker table. I would really like to see you play with the heavyweights at a $10-20 game. I would also like to figure out some way to have you narrate your decision-making process to me as you play, as I think it would be quite educational and interesting to hear your strategy in real-time.

That's all I got for ya. Thanks again for staking me and showing me the ropes - hopefully we can do it again soon (preferably with your money again and not mine!).

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Posted by Johnnymac 1:54 PM
The Golden Nugget Tournament

As I mentioned below, last Friday when we were in Vegas, Champ Canonico and I played in a small daily tournament at the Golden Nugget. I finished in 6th place out of 62 players and won $225 in return for my $73 investment. The format of the tournament was unusual in that the structure was limit holdem for the first hour, with blinds doubling every 20 minutes, then no limit after that continuing with the same blind structure. The buy-in was $30 + a $3 entry fee to the casino ($2500 tournament chips) and plus unlimited $20 rebuys during the first hour and an add-on at the break ($1500 tournament chips each time). Something I found rather unusual about the tournament was that players were allowed to make an immediate rebuy before the first hand even started, kind of like an add-on at the beginning. Nearly all of the other players took advantage of this offer, so not wanting to be short-stacked from the beginning I also spent the extra $20. I don’t know why this was allowed or offered (the rebuy threshold was $1500 the rest of the time), but everyone else acted as if it were perfectly normal.

I will spare the details of how I got there, but I eventually made the final table. At this point I had $16,000 relative to the biggest stack who had upwards of $80,000. The blinds were $3,000/$6,000 and we were playing no limit by this point. It was ugly, but I was lucky enough to draw the button at the final table and even more lucky to look down at my cards and see KJo. As I was still two spots out of the money and had the shortest stack I knew that I was going to have to play fast and hope to get lucky if I wanted any chance of seeing any prize money. KJo from the button – even though I usually think of it as a mediocre “sucker’s hand” most other times – seemed to be my best chance to make something positive happen, so on the first hand of the final table I went all in. Situations and hands like these are the main difference between tournament play and cash play, for sure. The largest stack was the only player left in the pot and the blinds folded to my raise, so if I won I was going to do slightly better than doubling up. I caught a King on the flop, his queen high missed, and I was in a much different situation.

By chip count alone I was now in the money and I changed gears quite dramatically. Now that I had gotten lucky and was no longer “guaranteed” an out of the money finish, my strategy shifted from aggression to patience. I wanted to let the other short stacks fight it out among themselves until I was forced to play again. I had enough money to pay the blinds for a few more rounds, so I sat back and didn’t play a hand for more than two orbits around the table. In fact, just so I wouldn’t be tempted to play a hand and possibly take a loss, I didn’t even look at my cards for this entire time. For 21 hands I simply threw my cards right back to the dealer as soon as it was my turn to act. I may have been dealt AA 21 times in a row for all I know, but I wanted to finish in the money and I didn’t want to be tempted into possibly losing chips and going back to being the shortest stack. I had written off winning the tournament – I only cared about getting some money back.

Eventually the two other short stacks were eliminated, as I was hoping, and I was back in the big blind with a guaranteed share of the purse. Surprisingly there were no raises against my blind and three other callers. I looked down and saw AQo and made a small pot sized raise. Two players folded and the third, who had just barely more chips in his hand than I did, came over the top for the rest of my chips. Normally I never call a raise preflop with AQ unless it’s suited, but I remembered back to an earlier stage in the tournament when this particular player had made some very aggressive moves with marginal cards and I figured that there was at least an even money chance that his cards were worse than mine and not AA, KK, or AK. I called and was delighted to see that he had come over the top of me with… AJo. Quite an aggressive move on his part. He was dead to the 3 remaining jacks and soon I had doubled up again. He, on the other hand, was down to less than $10,000 in chips and was eliminated on the very next hand.

I returned to very tight play for the next 30 minutes and soon the blinds were again high enough to cause me some pain. During this time a lot of players in the tournament went all-in but only one was eliminated. Soon I was in the big blind again, which by this time was $10,000 and worth about 1/3 of my stack, but there were two raises in front of me and I mucked my 72o, figuring that the next hand from the small blind would certainly have better cards and provide me one last chance to get lucky. The blinds changed, however, after this big blind hand and I was now in the small blind for exactly the same amount of money except that this time it was now about half of my stack. Now I was going to be forced to go all-in and I looked down to see nothing more than a measly 95o. All of the other players had folded to me and the big blind, so I shrugged and threw the rest of my chips into pot. The man in the big blind to my left was by now the largest stack and pondered his move for a long time. He finally called and upon seeing my cards declared, “I sure wish you had shown me a different card!” before showing me his… 92o.

“I need a deuce!” he declared and amazingly he got one on the flop and I was soon eliminated.

I have no idea why he called: there are only three possible hands that I could have held that would be considered worse than what he was holding (83o, 82o, and 72o), but he did call and he got lucky. But I played smart and strategically and am rather proud of myself for finishing in the money in my first Las Vegas tournament. Not to mention that it was the first tournament money I have won in almost a year. I’m not complaining.

So that’s the story of the tournament itself. I will have some random snippets and stories and lessons to share in my next post.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 3:24 PM
Warning: this is not a bad beat story. However, it is necessary to tell about a loss in order to make my point.

Last night i played online in my hotel room. Early on, I played J9o from the SB. This is my least favorite hand (see earlier posts on this hand), but it was 50c to me and it was a family pot. I flop the open ended straight draw and make the straight on the river. Multiple guys were all in and I won a monster pot. I liked this, because I love the appearance of winning with junk early, as it helps me to get calls later.

The comments were flowing from angry players. "Why would you call with J9?!!???" Etc, etc. For 50c to an unraised family pot, I'd play with only one card.

What is my bread and butter of early advertising for the sake of big calls later turned against me. I got some big hands, but no matter how much I bet (up to 3X the pot) I would get a call if my opponent had anything. Ordinarily that is fine, but my flush would lose to runner-runner full house. My flopped sets would lose to flushes. I once had a made flush, with a open-ended straight-flush draw on the flop. I also had top-pair. My "outs" were numerous and I already had a great hand. I lost to a higher 1-card flush. It was crazy. I was getting calls on my big hands from this guys right and left but just kept losing.

It is funny, because these guys were actually conservative and good. But they were right for the wrong reason. They called b/c they thought I had crap. I did not, but they turned out to be right to call, even if it took runner-runner to prove as much. The irony is that the very river luck they accused me of is exactly what they used to beat me. Based on their comments, though, I was stupid when I was lucky on the river. They, however, were brilliant sharks, taking advantage of my loose play. I guess it is a matter of perspective, but I find it interesting that they based their entire anaylsis of me based on 1 hand. And I think that the analysis of that hand was wrong in the first place.

My point is this: I think it is usually dangerous to make decisions about another player based on 1 hand. It is entirely too possible that you got something wrong in your analysis. You should wait until you have a body of evidence on someone before completely changing your style of play on them. Not only could you be could be right, but the player may be capable of changing gears.

Last night, following my advice would have cost these guys money. But it should make themm money in the long run.

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Monday, June 21, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 3:13 PM
From Junell:
Here's a hilarious post for your blog:

Below is a link to a page I created after a session last night on Party
Poker. It's the most extreme example of "tilt" you're likely to ever see.
I'm just glad I was there for it...


- Junell

I havent had time to study this, but have perused it and agree, toad tilted.

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Posted by Johnnymac 9:45 AM
Good thing I won money in Vegas this weekend. The vet just called and informed me that my dog has a couple of "growths" that will need to be removed. Cost to Johnnymac: $500.

Looks like I needed to press a couple more of those blackjack hands.

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Sunday, June 20, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 5:56 PM
Just got back from Vegas. I finished 6th in the tournament on Friday morning at the Golden Nugget and pulled in a whopping $225 in gross prize money in return for my $73 investment. There were 62 entrants. I will write a longer post about the tournament later this week - my experience at the final table was quite interesting as I started it rather short-stacked, got lucky on the very first hand, and then patiently finagled my way into an in the money finish. Champ Canonico and I agreed before the tournament to split our gross proceeds after rebuys so after paying him I netted about $45.

Because I was in town with some friends, I played a lot more blackjack than usual and surprisingly was a fairly big winner, at least for the kind of low roller that I am. This is funny because I never win at blackjack or other casino games and usually don't even play.

I was a slight loser at poker, with a break-even session the first night playing 8-16 at Bellagio, a medium size win on Saturday afternoon in an 8-16 session (12 BB in 6 hrs), a rather large and painful loss playing 10-20 at Mirage on Saturday night (25 BB / 2hrs), and a big win at 2-4 at Flamingo last night playing with my brother in his first ever casino poker experience (70 BB / 3 hrs). The 2-4 game was quite unique and will get its own post later this week.

My most amusing gambling experience of the weekend was from a slot machine, actually. While we were waiting to get into the 2-4 game last night, I put $1 into a nickel slot machine and won a $50 jackpot (1000 coins) on the second spin. I didn't spin again after that because I was too busy counting my nickels.

Other things about the trip: the brunch buffet at Bellagio was great as always; the new sports book at Bally's is quite swank; our hotel room at Bally's was a lot nicer than I was expecting; the swimming pool and accompanying scene at Flamingo were fabulous; and the waiting lists at both the Mirage and Bellagio poker rooms weren't bad at all.

More later this week, once I get some sleep.

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Saturday, June 19, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 9:33 AM
You know that feeling when you loved a band that was on the fringe and then suddenly everyone knows them? Bands like REM, Dave Matthews, and Metallica all at some point had a very loyal cult-like following. When they became mainstream, you were genuinely happy for their success, but you felt like you had lost something. Page 2 covers the same feeling with poker's popularity.

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Friday, June 18, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 11:34 AM

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Thursday, June 17, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 7:21 PM
Did anybody see those poor quality adds for The Big Blind movie during the WPT coverage? I found this on it. Anybody seen it?

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Posted by Dr Fro 2:52 PM
A bit of maths

Your odds of winning Saturday's Lotto Texas is 1 in 48 million. People always assume that this is a bad bet. They are not always correct.

The expected prize is $145 million. The last prize was $120 million. That tells me that your expected value of a ticket is $145m/48m, or roughly $3 for a $1 ticket. What gives? Well it is because the pot is built by a lot of people that have bought tickets for previous drawings that rolled over into this pot.

For simplicity's sake, I have ignored the possibility of a split pot, but with 45m people vying for a 1 in 48m shot, this does not materially mess up the math. Take a very simple case of a 50% chance of splitting two way yields $3 * 50% + $1.50 * 50% or $2.25, which is well over the $1 you paid. The chances of splitting with more and more people is even less remote.

There are a lot of assumptions above to make the math simple, but the most important point is that the "dead money" in the pot can, at times, make an otherwise negative EV play in the Lotto a positive EV play.

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Posted by Johnnymac 7:10 AM
We are heading to Las Vegas this afternoon to play a little poker and hang out by the pool. This weekend was original supposed to be a "bachelor party" for me, but as this was about the only weekend that works for me it's not good for a lot of the other guys. Instead the bachelor party element is getting reduced and it's just going to be more of a "normal" trip to Vegas, if there is such a thing.

Anyway, most of the other guys who are going are not degenerate addicted poker players like Champ Canonico and I, so we are going a day early to get in a good 24 hours of poker before the other guys show up and the fun begins. I am writing this about 7:00 in the morning on Thursday CDT - by 17:00 PDT I will likely be sitting in an 8-16 game at Bellagio unless I find something better first at Mirage or Binions.

A few of the other guys do play a little poker, though, so one of the fun things we have planned this weekend is to play in a couple of the $30 touristy limit holdem tournaments that are in every poker room these days. I think Champ and I are going to play in the Golden Nugget's 11:00am NL rebuy tourney tomorrow, then on Saturday morning we'll take my brother, whose idea it was in the first place, and some of the other guys and go spend $25 in the Luxor's limit freezeout tournament.

I know the odds of winning any prizes in either of these events are rather small, but the investment is also so small that I think the fun of playing in a professionally run tournament for the first time will certainly be enough to outweigh any losing. It will especially be fun to play with some of my friends who have never played casino poker and who have only started playing poker at all in the past year or so. I might also get some ideas for the next tournament that I help to organize, too, for things like chip racing, rebuys, seat selection, etc etc.

I will post a report when I get back next week, and hopefully it will have some positive news of my outstanding luck and skill in running over all of the old men and drunk tourists. If anyone has anything suggestions or ideas on anything that is new or has changed in the past couple of months, please send me a head up via email.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 7:40 AM
Our pot limit Omaha Hi/Lo game didn't go off as planned last night because we just couldn't find enough willing players. Omaha is a great game and a lot of fun but I got the impression that many people, especially people who have only recently started playing poker or have been focusing mainly on holdem recently, are a little nervous about playing a more complicated game than holdem for larger stakes. That's too bad and I hope that there will be more interest in the future once people get more experience. At first glance, Omaha, especially hi/lo, seems rather simple and appears to have quite an element of luck to go with a whole lot of action and I can see how it might be intimidating. In reality, the game is quite complex and strategic.

We only had 4 players so we played hi only pot limit. That was also a lot of fun, especially because of the stakes we played. I have played hi only before for limit, including a few times at the old room at Harrah's New Orleans, and it has always been rather boring: limp with big cards and see the flop then fold if you don't have the nuts. Playing pot limit put a bigger emphasis on position and allowed bluffs which in turn made the game a lot more strategic and interesting.

I still want to get a pot limit hi/lo game going sometime in the future. If anyone else is interested, please send me an email and I will add you to the list. Once I have a large enough list of interested players I will try again at setting up a game.

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Sunday, June 13, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 1:02 AM
Saturday June 26. Noon. All day. $1 $2 NL HE. Interested?

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Saturday, June 12, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 11:46 AM
We are playing Omaha Hi-Low 8 or better on Monday. Pot Limit 50c-$1 blinds. There is maybe 1 more spot, but even if you are on the waiting list, you should get a spot quick

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Posted by Dr Fro 11:45 AM
Listing of payment methods for online poker

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Friday, June 11, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 1:34 PM
From Junell

Here is a link to a an article on "Player Profiles" in poker, and how to deal with them.

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Posted by Dr Fro 11:14 AM
I found all this Unabomber discussion on Page 2 interesting given our conversations over Friday night.

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Posted by Dr Fro 10:57 AM
We maxed out on Mark's popular post for comments.

You can add comments to this post instead

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Thursday, June 10, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 9:07 AM
From: Mark
To: phreaux
Subject: Online System for Single Table Tournaments
Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 15:41:29 -0500


Post this on your (mailbag) website.....


I have a new system for ONLINE SINGLE TABLE TOURNAMENTS that seems to work
pretty well. I've been playing online (all different limits) for over a
year. My most profitable game to play is the single-table tournaments.
I've kept a record of most of my tournaments (approx. 200), and I've
consistently been able to win money this way (of course I give it back on
the other cash games). Here is a summary of my system:

During first three rounds of the tournament, only play Sklansky Group 1-2
hands (AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AKs, TT, AKo, AJs, KQs).

When you get these hands raise at least 3-4 times the big blind so you
drive out most players and can avoid a multiway pot. Don't raise 1x or 2x
the Big Blind. That won't drive anyone out, and you'll find yourself in a
multiway pot. You want people out, not in.

Inevitably though you'll have 1-2 callers. If you hit the flop with top
pair, you'll have a monster kicker. You should immediately go all-in. 85%
of the time everyone will fold to you and you'll pick up a medium sized
pot. About 10-12% of the time, you'll have a caller with something weak,
or on a draw, and you'll double up. About 3-5% of the time, you'll get
drawn out on, or lose to a bigger hand. Don't worry about those times,
because that's poker.

If you have a KQs, you might consider limping in (without reraising). If a
Q or K is top card on the flop. Immediately go all-in. If an A comes on
flop, fold to any bets. If the flop is rags, fold to any bets. If you
have a flush draw you might consider calling small bets (less then 30% of
the pot). You can chase your flush for $30 or $60 bucks (in the early
rounds), but I would be very relcutant to call anything more than that.

Remember that you do not want to draw in these kind of tournaments. You
want to make your hand, and then put someone to the test.

During first 3 rounds (or until there are only 6 players left) fold all
other hands (yes, this includes 99, 88, 77, KJ, JT, A8o, K9o, etc.). You
might consider limping in with AT, or a pocket pair, but I wouldn't call
any raises. Remember that you need as many chips as possible later so you
can make moves. If you play too many hands early and get chipped down,
you'll be in bad shape and on the felt quicker than you realize. The
Blinds escalate fast so you need every chip you have. Don't waste chips by
calling in the small blind with 26 or J4. You might call from the small
blind if you think there's little chance of the Big Blind raising it.
However, if he's wild and reckless, then you're better off folding. What
good is your 26 if the flop is 694? or worse 69K? It's completely
worthless. Don't even think of chasing it.

The key during these rounds is to hold tight, try to get a read on who the
reckless and tight players are, and wait for any opportunity to double-up.
When you get the opportunity to double up, don't hesitate to put all your
chips in. Remember, that most times, you don't want callers (and the
majority of players are very reluctant to call an all-in bet early in the

Try paying attention to your potential target players. You can go all-in
with marginal hands against an extremely tight player, but you better have
the nuts before you go all-in against a maniac. You'll be surprise how
quickly you can get a read on people. Some people play every hand, some
don't play any. Just observe.

Once you're down to 6 players, you can lossen up a little. However, unless
you have doubled your chips (i.e. approx. 2,000), it's very hard to play
hands without risking your entire stack. In other words, if you have
$800-$1,100 in chips, and the blinds are $50-$100, you don't have much room
for error. If you play a hand to the turn or river and have to fold,
you're crippled, and virtually out of the tournament. Don't try to "play
hands" when you're in mid to low chip position.

I believe it's better to make overly agressive, huge moves pre-flop when
you have a good hand. If somebody calls, you're still in a good spot to
win (and double up). After trying this system out, you'd be surprise how
many people fold to your big raises, because they don't want to be knocked
out on a mediocre hand.

Of course, if you've doubled up once or twice, and are clearly the chip
leader, than you can start seeing more flops. However, the same philosophy
applies. Put the petal to the metal anytime you get the chance. Raise
everytime when you're in positions (it'll buy you free cards on the next
street). Keep people on their heels.

However, this doesn't mean that I'm recommending you blindly throw your
chips in. Of course, you've got to pick your entry very carefully. You
want to raise into those who are playing tight. People tend to tighten up
in Rounds 3-5 if they only have about 800-1400 in chips. The reason for
this, is that they know that if they play a hand during this stage, it's
gonna be for all their chips. Recognize the people who are likely to fold,
and put em to the test.

But you also need to recognize the maniacs who are likely to call with
nothing. For instance, if a player to your left has been playing a lot of
hands, has a lot of chips, or will call an all-in with KJo, you definitely
want to give him this opportunity when you hold AQ. Remember that most
Aces are good (especially short-handed), and an Ace coupled with a big
kicker is usually the best.

Another important thing to watch out for is short-stacks. These people are
like cornered snakes. They will go all-in with just about anything. For
instance if the Big Blind has $600 in chips, I would not call from the
small-blind with J7. You must always be aware that when you are in a hand
with these guys, it's usually going to be for all their chips.

On the other hand, if you are chip leader, and are dealt A8s in the small
blind, you might consider putting the Big Blind all-in. The reason for
this, is that you know that the maximum amount you can lose is $600
(assuming everyone else is out). You feel good about putting $600 in with
an Ace. He'll usually call with a smaller hand, or if he has complete
shit, fold his blind to you. This move works well.

During all stages of the tourney, never slow-play anything. You'll get
drawn out on. It happens a shockingly large amount of the time. The only
time you should ever consider slow playing is if you flop the absolute

Also remember that the size of your bet is ultra important. When you have
a big hand (but not a pocket pair), you want to bet a larger amount than
the other person is comfortable calling. Make the bet significant, because
you usually don't want callers. A good example: You have pocket 6's.
Three callers limp in (other than you). Flop is 2 9 J. You should
immediately fire out a "feeler" bet, but the bet should be large enough to
force out players holding (1) bottom or middle pair or (2) flush or
straight draws. Essentially you're representing one of two things: top
pair with a good kicker or and overpair. In either case, you're likely way
ahead of the field and stand a good chance of picking up the pot right
there. The key is, don't be afraid to make your bets rather large in
relation to the Big Blind or the Pot. Minimally raising the bet from 30 to
60 is just asking to get drawn out on. Remember that you want people to
lay down their hands.

Once the game is down to 4-5 people, it tightens up tremendously, and this
is your opportunity to steal some pots. By this point everyone is trying
to slide into the money (at 3rd place), and are completely unwilling to
take any risks. I will fold almost everything except Group 1-2 hands, and
I might play some Group 3 hands, or poket pairs, or a suited ace. But when
I say "play" that is a misnomer. There is no other move than All-In.
Unless you are the chip leader, you cannot afford to "see flops," and more
importantly, your opponents cannot afford to simply call either. Always be
mindful of the fact that everyone at the table is looking to go all-in

If you've played a bunch of these single table tournaments, you'll know
that once you're past round 3-4, you RARELY have a showdown (unless two
people are already all-in). It usually is 10 minutes of people going
all-in and folding. If you have a good hand on the button, consider going
all-in to steal the blinds (which are very important now, because it gives
you a free round).

If you're the chip leader (or 2nd), you want to stay out of the line of
fire, and let everyone else duke it out. I've even folded ATo on the
button when there are two likely all-ins on the hand. Always remember that
you want to be MAKING the all-in bet, not calling it.

Once you're down to 3 people, just gas it whenever you get the chance.
You're already in the money, so you might as well wait for a good playable
hand, and then put it all in the middle before the flop. You are doing
yourself a great disservice if you let people see the flop before you go
all-in. Don't let them make an educated decision. Make them try to get

Bluffing: A good time to bluff is when a player has been making minimum
bets with what you know is top pair. You have been a calling station with
something weaker. If the board shows a 3 flush, and you're certain he
doesn't have it, and it might appear to him as if you were drawing to the
flush, I would consider immediately putting it all-in. Though this play is
risky, it'll usually work against a smart/tight player.

One last thing: The timing of your bets is very important online (as it is
one of the few tells). If you're going to go all-in with a marginal hand,
do it fast as lightning. If you're going to raise with the nuts, wait 20
seconds before raising. Delay is a sign of weakness, and gives the
mentally challenged, a chance to catch up to your thought process. Keep em
on their heels. If I'm all-in, it's usually less than a second after the
action is to me. If I have a boat, I like to "ponder" a call before I
raise him. People think you're bluffing and will call more often than you
might think. It's powerful.

This strategy of playing tight and ultra-agressive seems wild and reckless,
but I've found that it's the best way to consistently win. You need to
take control of the table and intimidate people. They need to know that
anytime they bet into you, they could be faced with a decision for all
their chips.

Of course, there are times where this won't work, because you go all-in
with AJs against AA, or some idiot calls with 63o and makes a straight.
However, you are usually the favorite going into it, and should win most of
the time. More importantly however, you will pick up a lot of pots
pre-flop without any callers. When you couple these two together, your
odds go way up.

If you use this strategy one of two things will happen: (1) you are
knocked out extremely early; (2) you finish in the money. If you combine
this system with your poker skills (which are likely far superior to the
other idiots at the table), you should be very successful. Give it a try
and feel free to let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.


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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 8:26 AM
I just sent this email to a few interested people and now I'll post it to the world. If you want to play, please send me an email and I will put you on the list.

I expect that we would play with 50c-$1 blinds.


Date: Wed, 9 Jun 2004 08:25:51 -0500
From: Johnny Mac
Subject: I keep talking about it, now I am going to do it
To: Poker Players

I am talking about Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo.

I keep talking about having a game but it never seems to
materialize. Therefore I am proposing a game for next week at
my house, either Monday night or Wednesday night, depending
on everyone's availability.

If you are interested, please reply to this email. It's also
fine to forward this to other parties who might want to play.
If I can get 8-10 people to firmly commit to a night then the
game is on.

No holdem, just omaha hi/lo 8 or better.


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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 10:20 PM

Sounds cheap, like me.

(0) comments

Monday, June 07, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 1:58 PM
I played some NL online out of boredom on Saturday. I had forgotten one of the reasons I stopped playing online - it is really hard to win.

The style of NL is very different from what we play. People play very few hands, and if people actually do go all the way to the showdown, either: the pot is miserably small or at least one person is all-in. The complete lack of medium sized pots or people "making plays" really hurts me. I lost $200 in no time flat.

Know your man
There is another reason that I don't do as well online. I have my weaknesses (like no fear of small preflop raises and the tendency to play anything from the SB), but these are well overcome (or arguably partially overcome) by one of my strengths. I know the players I am playing against. I know who bets how much and when and what that says about their hand. Even during my biggest losing hand on Friday (called Todd and he had an open ended straight) I knew exactly what Todd was holding. He loves betting with a big drawing hand. So I see this quote:

"It has always been my belief that knowing your opponents in pot-limit and no-limit hold’em – how they usually play, and how they play in specific situations – is the most important thing in this game." - T.J. Cloutier & Tom McEvoy

And I agree. And it is damn near impossible to know much of anything about other players online as quickly as they switch tables. Thus, my weaknesses still hurt me and my strength is worthless. I think I am going to stick to brick and mortar.

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Posted by Johnnymac 11:06 AM
My take on Friday is that I got my ass handed to me for the 2nd night in a row - minus another $350. No limit can be expensive. Looking back, I think that's Monday's $400 loss was too fresh in my mind for me to have played effectively two nights later. Even though my "house money" from the past year is still deep enough to cover my losses from last week, I was still playing scared and that's no way to play no limit. I am sure that I was bluffed a couple of different times and I know for sure that I twice laid down winners in the face of big bets into even bigger pots.

My hand of the night was a rematch with Fro - I have AA and decide to slowplay before the flop. I limp in with a lot of callers. The flop comes 727. I make a pot sized bet of $20 and Fro is my only caller. The paired flop scares me because I know that Craig likes to play middle connecting cards and therefore he may have a 7. The turn is another deuce giving the board 7272 I bet the $60 pot and Fro raises me by about $140 to make an even $200. I have flashbacks of Monday night - that he tried to lure me in with a big bet on a nut hand and that now he may think that I think that a small bet would signify an opportunity to come over the top and thus he's betting big to lure me in thinking that this time I will think he's bluffing on a nothing hand because a small bet last time would have lured me in when a big bet didn't do it last time it might this time and besides my AA only has two outs to a very ugly and dangerous board and anybody else overbets like that and they are begging for a call, but this is FRO and Fro is sneaky and he knows it's ME and he knows that I will think about him differently than someone else so maybe he just might be... whew. My mind was tied in knots and he knew it.

So I mucked.

And even today 72 hours later I have no idea where he was. I laid down AA and it was hard, but maybe it was the right decision. Then again, a win that size would have changed the whole night for me.

What a game.

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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Posted by Dr Fro 3:40 PM
Friday was fun. I won $310, but the kitty was short by $28, so I only took home $282. A breakdown of a few hands and other topics:

Morry goes all-in pre-flop and I call him. I had A9o. My thought was that the best hand I put him on was KK, and I thought that I was getting proper odds (a little worse than 2:1) when you consider the other hands he may hold and the possibility that he was bluffing. When he showed me AJ, I said “oh sheet.” I was dominated. The first card to hit the board was a 9, and I took the pot. I was anxious to get home and compare how much worse off I was against AJ than KK. I learned that I had a 27% chance of winning against AJ and a 28% chance against the pair (some odds against KK, QQ, JJ, TT). This surprised me. A 1% difference?

Back to the call. The pocket pair was the best I thought he held. For instance, I could see him moving on me with KQs. He knows I will play with some trash hands, so it would not be wrong for him to go all in with KQs. KQs is a slight underdong (45%) to A9o. If you say there is a 50/50 chance that he holds high suited connectors versus high pocket pair, then I win heads up 36.5% of the time. I only need to win 33% of the time, as I was getting around 2:1 pot odds. Thus, based on my assessment of his hand, I considered myself a favorite. Of course, once I saw his hand, I knew I had the worst of it. Then I got very lucky and caught that 9.

Dry side pot.
The board was AKKxx, Kim was all in on the turn and Junell and I were still left. The pot was large, around $250. All I had was an Ace and a busted flush, so I figured I was dead to Kim. I checked, as did Mark and Kim took the pot with quads. Here’s what I did wrong. I should have bet around $25 into the side pot. Junell probably had a small piece of the board and would be willing to call on the end for 1 green chip. I missed an opportunity to subsidize the loss I suffered in the main pot.

I happen to think it is rude to say you are coming to a poker game and then flake. We had too many guys for one table and too few for two tables. It sucked playing shorthanded. Nicky’s mom had surgery and that is perfectly acceptable. A few others simply no-showed. Please don’t do that, as we try to get 14-16 players or 8 players. When we end up with 11, it sucks.

ScotchScotch went on the luckiest tear of the evening. I am completely speechless on the subject.

Chicks with DecksGuys, I am not sure if you have noticed, but Kim has won several times in a row now. I think she knows what she is doing.

(0) comments

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 9:15 PM
We are having a card game tomorrow night at my house. We will start by playing No Limit Holdem with $1-2 blinds and may switch over to Pot Limit Omaha 8 if there is any interest. We have enough players right now for 2 shorthanded tables and room for about 4 or 5 more guys. If you are interested in playing, send me an email before Friday night.

(0) comments

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 12:10 PM
It Comes Naturally

It's amazing to me how "automatic" some things have become. I say this because Fro and I are into big discussion about one particular hand we played on Monday night, some of which is detailed in the posts and comments below and some of which is continued in email. (We can't share everything with you people!) Looking back at all of this is quite interesting to me because it all happened so fast and yet the thought process was still quite intense and complicated.

When I first started playing "real" poker about 4 years ago, I would read books and magazine articles and simply be astounded at the way serious players could sit down and describe a specific hand and the complicated thought processes that they went through to arrive at their decisions. It all made sense after rereading a few times but it seemed that I was missing so much information that was right in front of me, too, not to mention that I was reading at my own pace not even close to the rapid fire timing of a poker game.

So I go play and try to pay attention and do these things and I would find that I either couldn't keep up with the speed of the game or would grow tired and bored from the effort after only a very short while. I was quite overwhelmed with the decision process and eventually I would give up and "just play". But I kept trying and kept playing and eventually my results started to improve and I started to expect to win money every time I played rather than budgeting a set amount to lose.

Nowadays I still find it difficult to consciously make decisions and follow the game so closely, so I don't. I will usually be quite attentive for the first half-hour or so of any session but just until I get a feel for the other players, especially the new ones. I still get tired of the effort and again I just play after a while, but what I have found is that I am analyzing the game and making complicated decisions without knowing it. Then, when Fro and I start discussing hands - and we've been doing it for years - all of the decisions start to come back to me and I see how much was just "automatic". It's amazing. I am currently learning to mountain bike and one of the big pieces of advice for beginners is not to overanalyze and just "go with the flow." Once you do something often enough you subconciously learn and reinforce each success until it becomes something natural that you don't even think about. Poker is much the same way, I think.

If there is a point to all of this, it's this: going back and reanalyzing hands isn't just good (or bad) for the ego. Mapping out one's decision process in hindsight is helpful because seeing where things went wrong or right and where you screwed up or did well can improve your chances of success the next time the same situation comes along. And if you are lucky enough to have a quality opponent who is willing to be honest with you in return that's also good, because that's twice the information and twice the chance to improve. Once you think about it enough it becomes second nature and you can start to focus on even more obscure and important things. This is a big part of being successful at No Limit Holdem - it's the little things that count but it's hard to pay attention to the little things if the big things are getting in the way. Going back and thinking about it and eventually learning enough to "tune out" the big things can go a long way towards finding all of the important little things.

(0) comments

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Posted by Johnnymac 8:53 PM
Clarification for Hand #3 in Fro's post below:

I have AT and raise the bet to $7 before the flop. Fro and Glaze both call the raise.

Flop is A46 rainbow and with ~$21 in the pot I lead with a $25 bet. Fro and Glaze both call.

This leads me to belive that Todd has an Ace with any kicker, but likely not a face card because he didn't come back over the top of my pre-flop raise. I think Fro probably has a small piece of the flop or a straight draw but with his tendency to play almost any hand in NL I can't be sure until I see his reaction to the turn.

Turn is 8. At this point I start to get nervous. Had it been 9 or higher I would have bet the shit out of pot because I know that I have top pair and likely the best kicker. Instead, I'm scared of Fro's straight so I check with the intention of check raising if Glazer bets or folding if Fro bets or raises him first. Instead, everyone checks and I'm pissed off. Now I have given a free card and have no more information except that I am likely ahead of Glazer and either behind Fro's 2 pair or giving him a free chance at his draw. (I don't think he would have called the bet on the flop had he not been able to beat an Ace).

Fifth Street is 5 and looks to have hit someone right in the gut. I can't beat a straight and even if Fro just has two crappy pairs I still can't beat that either. He overbets big with $100 and I consider for a moment that he may just be bluffing but in any case I know that my hand just isn't strong enough to keep him honest, so I fold. If I had made aces up I likely would have called, but then the hand wouldn't have played out the same way so there's no sense in speculating.

That's my side of it, at least.

(0) comments

Posted by Dr Fro 8:07 PM
A few hands from last night:

Hand#1 Glaze and I were discussing the hand that where he flopped AQQ while holding AA. Glaze has learned his lesson to bet it when you got it. However, as Junell pointed out, you should check and call with this hand, as there is almost no risk of getting drawn out on. You have to wait for another guy to bet your hand for you, which may never happen. So the sad truth is that with this hand, you will very often win small pots.

Hand#2 Junell bet $150 into a $200 pot with nothing. After much thinking I folded (I had a middle pair, Ace kicker). Obviously I was only considering calling as I had put him on a bluff, since the middle pair was weak. My final analysis was that if I called and was wrong, that would be devastating. If I folded and was wrong, it only cost me an "opportunity cost" and I would only increase the chance of him bluffing into me in the future. If he ever did bluff into me again, I certainly never caught him.

Hand#3 I think the board was 34568 and I had 7-9. When it was checked to me, I decided to bet big. Glaze and JG were both in the hand and Glaze's body language told me he was out. My thought process was just like Mike in Rounders in the opening scene: a small bet would look to JG like I was enticing him but a big bet may look like a bluff. I made the big bet and he certainly considered that I was bluffing due to the time it took him to decide. He folded, unfortunately. I don't know what size bet I should have made to get a call.

Hand#4 One thing few people know to do is to call a potsized bet with 2 overcards on the flop. You have 6 outs on 2 streets, or a 24% chance. Getting 2:1 pot odds on a 3:1 bet may seem bad, but the "implied odds" are pretty good. If you hit either card on the turn or river, you have top pair, high kicker. Plus, the other player is very unlikely to put you on that hand and may figure that he is still in the lead. Thus the amount of money you can win on the turn and river easily compensate for lost pot odds on the flop. Buuuuuuutttttt, this all assumes there is still money to bet bet and called on the later streets. If you or your competition are all-in (or nearly all-in) then the implied odds are no better than the pot odds, and calling is the wrong move. I saw someone call in this situation, and I am confident they made the wrong decision.

Last night was great. I don't think I was ever drawn out on when I was ahead on the flop, and it is real easy money when that is the case.

(0) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 11:12 AM
Ego? We don't need no stinkin' ego!

I played no limit last night in the same game as last week and got served a little humble pie. No doubt in retaliation for my post from last Thursday and an excellent example of what John Lennon once sang about on the Greatest Hits CD that I wore out the summer after I graduated from high school.


From the tenor of the comments last week and some of the off-line responses I received, I would venture a guess that my post was not well received by the readers here - most of them play in the very same games - and I am humble enough to apologize if I have offended anyone. I will stand by the original point I was trying to make - that consistently underbetting the pot in NLH is incorrect according to the very definition of pot odds, especially if one already has a made hand or a hand strong enough that it is the best at that very moment. Having top pair and just betting $10 into a $100 pot is an open invitation to be forced into a very difficult decision when the straight or flush comes on the next card.

That said, I indeed learned a lesson last night about being overly aggressive - a vast majority of my losses came from betting too hard into draws that never came. This is profitable when your opponents surrender and muck a large pot every once in a while but quite expensive if they call almost every time and your hands consistently don't get made. I was unable to adjust my style to the dynamics of a game last night that was much looser than the game played last week and thus I lost back the "respectable amount" that I won on Wednesday and even a little bit more on top of that.

I am still up - slightly - since the explosion of interest in no limit cash games over the past year, so for now I will stick to my strategy and my opinion. But in light of last night's results I will try to be a little more cautious and a lot more humble in the near future.

For now.

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Random thoughts from a lawyer, an accountant, a commodities trader, an ex-Marine and a WSOP Main Event money finisher that don't know as much as they wish they did...



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The Doctor is IN

Dr Fro
aka "slow roller"

Which one is the fish?

aka "Sunday Stroller"

You go now!

Johnny Mac
aka "Chop Suey"

You got to know when to hold em;  Know when to Mo' em ...

aka "Mo roller"

Old School

"Baby's Daddy"

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