Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Posted by Johnnymac 8:27 PM
This is short and random, but in my opinion, one of the rudest and most annoying things one can do in poker is to critque other people's play and make other comments while sitting at the table. We all do it quietly as we play, but to say things out loud is just plain rude. I say this because I just finished a SnG on Pokerstars that featured one of the most talkative players I have ever encountered - "Bong2eho". Every single bit of action was met with a comment like, "medium PP, huh?" and "I just bluffed you good, Johnny" and "Bad, Johnny, Bad! You need to learn to play shorthanded."

Wouldn't you know that we ended up heads up? And at one point I finally managed to get him all-in with a dominated hand (T3 v T8) and yet he hit is bottom pair on the flop. That hand generated the comment, "Ho... HA HA! Take that!".

I was pretty much crippled after that pot and just gave up because it was so unpleasant.

Also, I won't name names, but there was a player at our home tourney two weeks ago whose running commentary pretty much earned him the label of, "Mr Tool".

Seriously, people, keep it to yourself.


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Posted by Dr Fro 2:26 PM
A friend pointed me to this site:

http://www.awheeloffortune.com/PokerChips115.html#suited

Perhaps this is a good starting point for G Money's quest for chips.



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Posted by Johnnymac 9:40 AM
A sort of bad beat story

Champ Canonico and I have played fantasy football together for the past 6 years and every year we end up in a very competitive league on ESPN. We also tend to game the schedule in such a way that we end up playing against each other only once a year and this year our head-to-head matchup happened to occur late enough in the season to be quite relevant to the playoff chase in our league - going into this past weekend, we were both hanging on the cusp of qualifying for the playoffs and needed a win to stay alive.

Chris started strong with Marvin Harrison's big game on Thanksgiving day, and he stayed strong with a couple of huge games from both of the Cincinnati Johnsons, Rudi and Chad. I got strong performances from Donovan McNabb and Willis McGahee on Sunday (I DRAFTED McGahee back in August, btw) and was able to keep it close and the whole thing came down to last night's MNF game and my last remaining player, Isaac Bruce. Going into the game last night, Chris had me by 20 points, which, according to our FFL rules, is the equivalent of 140 yards and a touchdown, or 80 yards and two touchdowns, both of which would be slightly better than any game Bruce had played this year, but not necessarily an impossible outcome to expect.

If you watched the game you know that Ike had his best game of the year - 170 yards and a touchdown - 23 pts! (17 + 6) Unfortunately, he had a fumble earlier in the game and a second fumble with less than a minute to go, and even more unfortunately, our league deducts 2 points apiece for turnovers. Voila, my 23 points turned to 19 points and Chris defeated me by one point. I went to bed before the end of the game last night and I was rather disappointed when I saw the results this morning. I was eliminated from playoff contention, and, thanks to tiebreakers, Chris was also eliminated, even in victory.

That's the bad beat narrative of this post, but the more interesting part is that in the resulting trash talk this morning, Chris and I got into an argument over who was more "lucky", and that's what I want to share here. Specifically, while the underlying stats themselves don't mean anything to this discussion, our respective point totals of 125 and 124 were both significantly above our weekly averages this season, and as my weekly average was 10 points higher than Chris going into this weekend, my position is that Chris was the lucky one, and in fact, when I applied all of this to a "normal"* distribution, this is what I got:




*(I couldn't use a normal distribution because my sample size of 12 weeks isn't large enough, therefore I had to use the less accurate t-distribution)

The meaning of all of this is that, based on my team's performance throughout this football season, I can expect to score 124 (or more) points only 15.2% of the time, and accordingly, Chris can expect to score 125 (or more) points, 9.6% of the time. Based on these results, it would appear that we were both quite lucky this week because we were both significantly higher than our respective weekly averages, but Chris was slightly more lucky because his weekly mean was lower to begin with. The really interesting part of all of this is that the odds of us both doing as well as we did was only 1.5%! (.152 x .096)

Well, I pointed this out to Chris and he made a keen observation - that perhaps the statistical significance of our teams is not as important as the statistical significance of the individual players - specifically, he was quick to point out that Willis McGahee was the top rated running back on Sunday and that his performance had been "lucky". I retorted that Rudi Johnson was the 2nd best back and that his performance compared to previous weeks was much more lucky than McGahee's, and so we were back to the statistical analysis.

One of the few points We agreed that 4 players were significantly better than their average performance and thus affected the results of the FFL game: Rudi Johnson (Chris), Chad Johnson (Chris), Willis McGahee (JohnnyMac) and Ike Bruce (Johnny Mac).

And this is what we got:




Hmmm... Who got luckier?

Chris, whose running back was a 97% longshot to score as many points as he did, or me? Similarly, was Chris not "lucky" in that the Browns gave up 58 points and thus gave up enough points that two players on the same team had multi-touchdown games? Which, incidentally, in my opinion, is a violation of an unwritten FFL rule of starting a WR and RB from the same team and is thus analogous to taking insurance in Blackjack?

Now, I will admit that the stats above for McGahee only count from weeks 6 onward, because he wasn't the full-time starter until Oct 17 against Miami, and, when I showed these data to Chris, his first remark was, "Willis McGahee's average is too high," so the grounds for dissent are sown. That said, I went back and calculated these results using McGahee's stats for the full season, and while they certainly push his t-stat back in the direction of Rudi Johnson, McGahee is still better and I will repeat that Johnson has been starting all year and McGahee was having to share time in September and October with Travis Henry... so OF COURSE his averages should be lower. So even with a bigger sample size and a better team, Rudi's performance was STILL more unusual than Willis's.

I think we know who got lucky, and it wasn't me.

But then again, just like poker, the winner is all that matters in the end.



Also - in the interest of full disclosure, this link will take you to a page that has links to all of the relevant data discussed here. If someone can do a better job of this analysis, or if you find an error in mine, please send me an email and I'll be happy to post your comments. I am not at all a statistical guru and freely admit it.



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Posted by Dr Fro 8:35 AM
=============================================================
From: G Money
To: Dr Fro
Subject: Re: Chips
Date: Mon, 29 Nov 2004 19:56:29 -0800 (PST)

I had a question for you that I'm confident you have an opinion about. I want some poker chips, but nothing that outrageous. THere are tons on ebay, and some look about right. Other than color and size am I missing anything. Do I want 11.5g? CHeck out the following as an example of something I may get. Thanks for the insight, and also thanks for sucking me into this underworld of gambling, deceit, sex, drugs and longhorn dissapointments.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=19085&item=5938600674&rd=1

G Money
=============================================================

My short answer: I suggest 11.5 grams. I think the prices on the net are nice, but you can save $ on shipping by going B&M. I have a feeling Junell has a long answer to G's question...



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Posted by Johnnymac 7:41 AM
To briefly answer Junell's question, whenever I sit down in a poker game with people I don't know I am very keen to observe them and make a judgment of their play and their likely ability. This is what I pay attention to:

1.) I listen to what they have to say. If someone says, "I played 20-40 at the Top Hat last night," I will be much more respectful of him, at first, compared to someone who says, "Ooh! Texas Holdem! I love watching the World Poker Tour!" or "I don't normally play Deuce-Nine but deuces are hot tonight!".

That said, just because someone talks a good game doesn't necessarily mean that he plays a great game, either, and sometimes silence is the best indicator of all. If someone sits down in a game and appears comfortable and experienced but doesn't say a word and intensely pays attention to the game, I'm going to respect that guy the most.

2.) How does someone look "comfortable" and "experienced" in a game? A few ways come to mind: he removes his chips and doesn't try to play from a rack; He buys in with old $100 bills and not stiff new $20's from the ATM; The dealer doesn't have to ask his name and he knows where the drinks and snacks are and that he's welcome to get up at any time; he's comfortable handling chips (chips tricks come to mind here) and usually bets confidently with stacks of chips without counting chips one by one.

(The last one is kind of hard to verbalize, but if you have ever played with the River Chief, the way he nervously kind of picks up his chips one by one is the image I am driving at)

3.) One of the biggest physical traits I pay attention to is that most poker types like to wear jewelry, especially big watches (see A. Alvarez) and rings on fingers other than wedding rings (especially pinky rings). This doesn't necessarily mean that they are good players, but it does at least usually mean that they play a lot and spend a lot of time in a casino and thus warrant a little more respect until I can watch and get a better feel for their play. Certain types of shirts and buttoned/unbuttoned styles also make a difference here, as does the presence of all 10 fingers and tatoos.

4.) In general, Mike Caro's book is quite correct in the ways it stereotypes players versus their appearance (clothing, race, sex, hair, cigarettes). As I have stated before, and as Caro emphasizes, it's OK to stereotype in poker because it's all you've got until you watch someone play. Even better, somewhat unlike normal society, poker inherently punishes you for sticking to stereotypes once you know they have been disproven. Most Asian women are wild gamblers and poor poker players but you will eventually lose your money if you don't adjust against an Asian woman who only plays the nuts.

4.) I am a little bit ambivalent about guys who sit down with their freeby jackets and hats from Louisiana. On one hand, this signifies that they have played a lot of poker and somewhat fit into the "comfortable" definition above. But on the other hand, the boats usually only give those prizes away for making straight flushes or royal flushes and typically the cards needed to make those types of hands are not great starting hands (go ahead, flame me and I'll explain) and thus the hat might be an indicator of poor play. Ambivalent.

5.) But I agree with Fro as to what I think the most significant indicator is, and that's seeing someone's cards at the showdown, as this is probably the best and most accurate indicator of someone's skill level and style of play. It's important, though, to recreate the action on a particular hand because there are circumstances when what appears to be bad cards or a weak hand can be easily explained (ie starting in the blinds), and even more importantly, you can sometimes recognize that the cards may have been bad but the play was good and therefore significant of a skilled player.

Here are some of the things I look for to make a judgment of a players skill after I have seen his cards:

- Calling raises and not reraising or folding, regardless of the cards held.

- Calling raises cold with weak hands like AQ or AJ or medium or small pocket pairs and then playing all the way to the end against an aggressive opponent and with no significant help from the board.

- Playing sucker hands like AT, KJ, J9, or any Ace, especially from early position.

- Calling with bottom pair and going all the way to the end with it.

- Overvaluing AK from early position and overplaying it when no help comes from the board or when it's apparent that it's been outdrawn by the flush or the player holding a Q or J. Similarly, putting in the 3rd bet with AK any time before the flop is also a good indicator of poor play.

- The obvious situations like playing any two suited cards or drawing with unsuited medium connectors, from any position.



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Monday, November 29, 2004


Posted by Dr Fro 5:54 PM
In answer to Junell's question, the following list is what I pay attention to in other players, listed in order of importance / how much I pay attention:

1. If someone preflop raises, I like to see what they had, if they show it at showdown. Most people always play the same starting hands the same way. This can be an extremely useful piece of information later on when you are trying to narrow down the range of hands your opponenent might hold.

2. On a similiar note, I make note of the size of the raise and see what hands get what size raise (this is why you should vary the size of your raises!)

3. Whenever someone is known to have just bluffed, either because they show off their cards after a successful bluff or because they got caught stealing, I immediately replay in what situation they bluffed. This is because most people, whether they realize it or not, bluff somewhat 'systematically'. There are certain situations when some people bluff, like:
- they were betting on the come and are now bluffing on a busted draw
- they have nothing but the board is absolutely frightening (AAKKx, with a flush)
- on a previous round, the betting checked all the way around
- etc
It seems to me that some people are very willing to bluff in some scenarios but are very unlikely to bluff in other scenarios.

4. I pay attention to their propensity to put out false tells, which are almost always verbal. Small minded people always state that they have the opposite of what they have. Once you figure that out, it is fairly simple to figure out what these people have.

5. When I go long periods of time in between being involved in hands, I count how many hands people see the flop on. Sometimes I use my chips to help keep count. I am often surprised when I learn that Player X played 8 of 10 hands and Player Y played 0 or 10 hands. Without actually counting, your perception will often be influenced by how loud or obnoxious or otherwise memorable a person was in a hand.

6. Last, I look for tells. The tell-tale-tell is the one mentioned by one of our guest commentors - sudden interest in a hand. I also look for: shaky hands (good hand), standing perfectly still (bluffing) and looking at chips immediately after checking hole cards or seeing the flop (meaning they saw something they liked).

Thats all I can think of for now.



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Posted by Johnnymac 1:50 PM
I was wondering how Thad Davis knew the answer to Fro's question.


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Posted by Junelli 11:30 AM
When playing a live game, we tend to watch other players to learn their tendencies (betting patterns, tells, loose calls, raising on draws, hand selection preflop, slow playing, rocks, etc.).

An inexperienced player just plays his hand, and when he folds, he stops paying attention to the action on the table. I'm curious to know what things you all look for when playing and the mental notes you make about players during the course of a game. Let me know your thoughts.


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Sunday, November 28, 2004


Posted by Dr Fro 10:00 PM
I have had 4 straight winning sessions on Party Poker. I have demoted myself to $25 NL. I feel like I am playing teeball. The wins are more frequent than in my usual $100 game but it will take a boatload of wins to cover my losses from early November.

I have been leaving tables if I can't "spot a sucker" in the first few hands. I found a real live one in the last game. "PahketKen". He tried to buy every pot. He must have dumped $300 into the $25 game. Unbelievable. I only won a few hands all night, but I won about $25 each time. Do a search for his username next time you log on. He only plays the "6 player max tables" presumably because there is more action.





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Posted by Dr Fro 9:56 PM
This is a summary from misc posts, replies and emails about poker in Vegas that I may be interested in for Dec 27 – Dec 29. Only Holdem, mainly NL and some midium limit games. Thanks for the responses. If you have more let me know…

Resources
http://www.cardplayer.com/poker-room/index.php?country=United+States&state=Nevada&city_sel=Las+Vegas&limit=100&city=&company=
http://www.lasvegasvegas.com/poker/tournaments.php
http://www.pokerpages.com
http://www.pokertourney.info
http://www.theonlinepokerguide.com/tournaments-nevada.htm
http://www.winninginlasvegas.com/pokertournaments.htm
http://www.homepokergames.com/vegas.php

No-limit $1 & $2 blinds $100 buy in
Aladdin, Bally's, Excalibur, Binion's, Cannery and the Golden Nugget.
Maybe Mirage

No-limit $2 & $5 blinds $200 buy in
Bellagio (2-3 tables)
Mirage

No-limit $2 & $4 blinds $200 buy in
Mandalay Bay

Medium Limit Games
Bellagio, Mandalay (6-12, 10-20)

Holdem Tournaments:
Binion's - 7 Days a Week: No-Limit Texas Hold'em $60 Buy-in: Players will start with $1,000 in Tournament chips $10 Bonus-buy: $500 Extra Tournament chips $40 Optional Re-buy (1) Registration starts at 12 p.m. Tournament starts at 2 p.m. 20 minute rounds 5% of prize money will be withheld for a drawing one hour after the tournament ends. All participants that entered the tournament & playing in a live game are eligible.

Golden Nugget – Monday 7:00 $65 NL + unlimited $50 rebuys/addon Tuesday 7:00 $65 limit + unlimited $50 rebuys/addon

Orleans - NL $20 w $10 rebuys 7:00 MondaysLimit $20 w $10 rebuys noon Tuesday

Luxor - $25 Freezeout Every day at noon 64 players max (signup 9am) limit then NL
8:30 pm Monday $100 Freeze Out 64 players max (signup 6pm) limit then NL
8:30 pm Tuesday $25 Freeze Out 64 players max (signup 6pm) limit then NL

Mandalay Bay - Monday through Friday 10am $30 Buy-in Texas Hold'em (limit?) Freeze-out (30 players max). Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Evenings 6pm $60 Buy-In No Limit Texas Hold'em Freeze-Out. Sign-ups start (Day of Tournament): 7am for 10 am Tournaments and 3pm for 6pm Tournaments. Players' in live games receive first sign-up. All Tournaments are limited to 30 players.

Mirage – 7:00 $130 with $100 unlimited rebuys Mondays Limit
7:00 $130 with $100 unlimited rebuys Tuesdays NL
Signup begins 5:30

Sahara - Daily no limit poker tournaments $40 buy-in. One optional $20 re-buy



(1) comments

Saturday, November 27, 2004


Posted by Junelli 6:30 PM
I won $800 at Northside last night. Tied for 1st place in the $200 NL tournament, taking home a $500 profit. Then I won $300 in the $1-$2 pot limit game.

I'm very happy with my tournament performance of late. I played in two separate tournaments yesterday and finished 1st and 4th respectively. I went back and looked at my poker log to see how I had done in others, and was surprised at the stats:

Since May I have played in 18 tournaments. I have won $4,950 on buy-ins totaling $1,865. Maybe I should have another Waring Poker Tour...


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Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Posted by Johnnymac 11:11 AM
Ahh, the day before Thanksgiving! A day that is perhaps my favorite of all of the non-holidays, even Christmas Eve and the first day of Dove Season.

So what are my plans for today? Per tradition on most days when the markets close early, I am going to have a drunk broker lunch at PF Changs and then I am going home to play internet poker for the remainder of the day. Then, as is also tradition, my wife and I will meet friends at Blanco's for two-stepping and beer. Unfortunately for the beer, I am planning on doing a turkey trot race tomorrow, so I might not partake as much as I have on the same occasion in the past.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Posted by Dr Fro 10:03 PM
I will warn you that this is probably pretty boring. I usually try to write with the reader in mind, but this one was for me. Enjoy it if you decide to read, but you won't hurt my feelings if you don't:

Here are the results of my dabbling with Sit&Go's. S&G's are an area where I have little experience, but John and Mark's earlier posts inspired my to try it out.

Sit and GO #1
As stated, my strategy was largely going to be the John Greene strategy. I folded a lot of hands and watched a lot of people get knocked out. Twice I saw the flop for free with rags in the big blind. Both times I hit the flop, 1 win - 1 loss. My $800 was down to $300 with the blinds at $50/$100. I had to make a move or I would be out of chips…I went all in with A8s and got a call from K9o; I won with Ace high. (Why would he call an all in bet w K9o)

Then I went all in with AT and doubled up when my A paired up to beat 55. It didn’t take long before I was down to $650 – damn those big blinds come around quickly. I posted a $300 big blind. A guy goes all-in and it was on me to call the remaining $350. I held 8To. Geez. I had to fold, thinking that I would be able to see about 5 more hands. MISTAKE. I didn’t realize that the blinds went up the next hand, so my small blind was $200, leaving me with $150. I told myself before I saw my cards that I would be all in no matter what. My 85o did me no good and I got fifth place.

Lessons:
1 pay attention to when the levels will change
2 blinds come around very quickly and eat you alive

Sit and GO #2
I decided to alter my strategy. I would still play very tight, but when I come into the pot it will almost always be for a very big bet…at least 3x BB if not more. “If it ain’t worth a raise then it ain’t worth a call”

I bet JJ all-in and got called by A8 when the board showed Kxx. Huh? I was largely on a steal hoping to get King/bad kicker to fold. But calling a flop with Ace high? I won.

I went all-in with AK, but lost to a boat. I got the side pot of $460. Then I went all-in with AK again and doubled up when AK hit runner-runner.

There were 4 of us left now and it was very likely that my losing streak would end. I went all in with 66, won and made it into the money. My first win in November!

I got AQs on the BB, the button raised and I came over the top. He called w AJ. I won. Now I am heads-up.

Heads up is my weakness because I simply don’t have a lot of experience. The lead went back and forth and I finally lost. Second place $60. Halle-freaking-luiah I can’t believe I finally won.

I took my confidence to the cash games and won another $100. The poker gods don’t hate me after all

No new lessons learned really

Sit and GO #3
I decided to alter my strategy slightly after seeing that nobody was raising pre-flop. I decided to play more hands as long as I could do it for the amount of the BB. Same strict starting requirements for raised pots. Also, I wanted to try to steal some blinds when possible – I love winning nothing but the blinds because you can finance the next round of blinds that way.

I thought this strategy would work as the extra opportunities to win pots could save me from those damn blinds that keep coming around and eating into my stack. Fairly early, I ended up heads up with KTs versus 88 & KA – all of us all in. I was on a steal. I had a 26% chance of winning (actually that surprised me…before I calculated it, I figured I was a bigger dog). I won. My $800 became $2100.

So back to the looser starting hands…I was right 99% of the time that I got into a pot and guessed that it would not be raised. However, I don’t recall ever connecting with the flop – and I saw a bunch of them. So next thing I know I am out of chips and in 6th place.

Lesson learned:
The strategy of seeing more flops to get the opportunity of winning some extra chips to cover those blinds backfired. It seems the best way to pay for the excalating blinds is to not spend your money in the first place

Sit and GO #4
OK, play tight. Raise big. Occasionally steal the blind. That is what I did and it was really the best I played, although the result wasn’t great. I got down to 5 players. One guy couldn’t even afford the blind on the next hand. Two of us were tied and then two other guys had really big stacks. I could have had 4th shored up by waiting one more hand, but at some point I would need to do something to get in the money.

Flop comes QsQh2s7s. I have Q9 in the blind. I am looking at trips and there is a flush out there too. He bets and I come over the top. He thinks forever. This is good. He must have the flush and is scared I have a bigger flush. This is what I was hoping to do – make a better hand fold. He calls. CRAP. He shows Q6. YAHOOOO. River is 6. CRAP.

So I lost, but I find it interesting that had I won that hand (and I was way ahead) that my orignal prediction of 2 out-of-the-money finishes and a 2nd and a 3rd would have probably come true. Total result 4 x $22 = $88 paid minus $60 won = $28 loss.

Conclusion
I think I learned a bit about Sit and Go strategy and look forward to playing some more. Oh, and I won again in the cash game, so the losing streak died. Unfortunately, November should in “in the red” unless I really hit the jackpot. Oh well.



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Posted by Johnnymac 6:46 PM
Random Thoughts:

1.) I am glad to see Thad Davis reads the blog. I like playing poker with Thad. He is a nice guy and he never loses at limit poker... I call that a winning combination!

2.) I sense a pattern with Junell and Northside.

3.) Here is more on chuck-a-luck. When I won that night, I thought my $100 (10:1) win was just about the coolest thing that ever happened to me. Of course, Statistics 101 had yet to kick in (I just thought it was another boring requisite class) and I didn't realize then that I was giving away more than 50% (54.8% to be exact) of my expected value. What a sucker I was! (please, no comments from the peanut gallery on my current status)


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Posted by Junelli 10:20 AM
The swings in limit poker are sick. Last night I went by Northside to play $1-$2 pot limit. Because the weather was so bad, no one showed up for the game. However, they did have a full $20-$40 game.

I stood around and watched for about an hour, too scared to sit down with the meager $400 I had brought with me. Eventually however, boredom took over and I grabbed an open seat and bought in for whopping $400 (the average chip stack was ~$800-$1200). It was 8:30pm

I hit a straight on my first hand. Less than 20 hands later I had $1,200 (for a $900 profit).

Then things turned for the worse. Flopped a set, turned a boat, and lost to river Quads. Lost a straight to a flush. Two pair to a set, etc., etc.

I was busted at 12am (net loss = $400).




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Saturday, November 20, 2004


Posted by Dr Fro 1:02 PM
I peed in my pants when I read my mail this a.m.


From: anonymous drunk friend
To: Dr Fro
Subject: A reason not to play late at night
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2004 15:22:08 -0600

I broke my rules last night and played after some cocktails at the bar. $25PL Omaha. I was seeing lots of flops, but catching cards all over theplace. Before I knew it, I was up about $150. After I lost with the nutlow, I realized that my luck was better than I thought. I was playing a High only game, and was making bets based on a Hi/Lo game. I immediatelyleft and went to bed.




(0) comments

Friday, November 19, 2004


Posted by Dr Fro 5:11 PM
I am going to play 4 $25 Sit and Go's this weekend and report back to you with my results. I think I will try to play super tight and back into the money, hoping to get a monster that launches me to 1st. My prediction

2 out of money
1 3rd
1 2nd

Lets see...



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Posted by Dr Fro 5:08 PM
Two years ago I started accepting Paypal for my NCAA pool. Last year, I ‘upgraded’ the account to accept credit card payments. I knew at the time that the credit card payments would be subject to a fee. What I learned later was that all payments were now subject to a fee – cash and credit alike.

So for the poker tournament I set up a second account to accept cash (with no fee) and asked only credit card payers to use the original account.

Now I want the money in the second account. I can’t ‘verify’ it because when I type in my bank account or my credit card, I am told “those are already linked to another account” (my original account). Without a verified account, I can’t get the money.

If I transfer the $1,000 to my original account, they will zap me for $30.

I think I have 2 choices:

- apply for a new credit card and link it to the account
- transfer the money to a friend who in turn will give me $1,000.

Any Paypal experts out there with advice?




(1) comments

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Posted by Johnnymac 1:15 PM
I am going to New York for a business trip during the first week of December and am right now putting the finishing touches on a likely customer boondoggle to Foxwoods to play a little poker. Back in college when $50 was a lot of money, a buddy and I would to drive down to Connecticut from Boston and sneak in to play the whacky games with no people waiting in line (because we were suckers) or take a couple of swipes at the $5 pass line on a craps table. Then, after we had each busted out we would drive to my buddy's parents' beach house in Rhode Island and drink beer on the back porch as we watched the cold winter fog roll across the bay. Those were the days!

(Incidentally, I only remember one time that I left a winner - when I hit 444 playing chuck-a-luck and turned my $10 bet into $100. We immediately left the casino and went to buy beer.)

Now, apparently, Foxwoods has benefitted from the poker boom with a room of 81 (!) tables and, from what I understand, a whole lot of good action. They also just hosted the WPT Finals this past weekend.

Hopefully I will get to play in a tournament when I am there (they are generally very large and lucrative; Fossilman Raymer used to be a regular) and if not, I'm sure I will find a good low limit ring game or even a $1-2 no limit game there. I have plenty of experience with that structure from all the time I have spent on Waring Street recently, so I am rearing to go.


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Posted by Junelli 10:37 AM
Had another "Junell" night at Northside playing $2-$5 pot limit. Bought in for $300, and within 3 hours had run it up to $850. Left down $300.


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Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Posted by Junelli 3:43 PM
Should You Continue After the Flop?
by Andrew Shykofsky

Regardless of the hand with which you decide to come in, once the flop has been spread, you need to make a quick decision on whether to continue in the hand or not. Weak players often continue too long, and good players, trying to play well, often bail too early. Here, I will present some middle-limit hold'em situations with analyses, followed by brief recommendations.


Hand:Jhearts10sspades


Position: middle


Preflop action: no raise, five players


Flop: Acclubs 8diamonds 7diamonds


Now facing: early-position bettor and one caller


Analysis: I personally like to see 10-to-1 pot odds in order to call with a gutshot-straight draw on the flop. I might get it with two players behind me, but the 9diamonds may cause me a whole lot of grief. The ace pretty much nullifies my pair possibilities. With only three outs to the nuts, this is an easy laydown. Replace the ace with a deuce, and I would consider raising to take control of the hand and hopefully shut out the players behind me.


Recommendation: fold.


Hand: Acclubs Jcclubs


Position: early


Preflop action: no raise, four players


Flop: Qcclubs Jhearts 10diamonds


Now facing: you bet, an aggressive player raises, and a weak player cold-calls


Analysis: Typically, this type of flop presents lots of challenges. It seems to have hit everyone in some way. The raiser probably doesn't have A-K, since there was no preflop raise. He may hold two pair or a similar hand to yours; for example, K-10 (a pair and a straight draw). The player cold-calling the raise is a definite concern. Your jacks are probably not the best hand. The pot contains nine bets, giving you 10-to-1 on a call. A king is welcome (four outs), or possibly another jack (three outs), although a king may result in a split pot. A club would keep you in until the river.


Recommendation: Call, but be prepared to bail without help on the turn. If the turn offers no help, and the raiser fires and the caller calls, you will be facing a call of two bets to win 16 (or 8-to-1 pot odds). That would mean you'd need six solid outs to justify continuing. Even though I'm making this hand up, it still appears that you're drawing for a split pot, or if you catch another jack, there's the possibility that an opponent will have filled up.


Hand:
Ksspades Qdiamonds


Position: late


Preflop action: raised by you, three players total


Flop: Acclubs 10cclubs 10sspades


Now facing: checked to you


Analysis: The question is whether to bet, representing an ace, or to check and take one off for free. It would depend on your opponents and your image at the moment. If you bet, representing an ace, it will likely lull anyone holding a 10 into going for the check-raise on the turn. Then, you can check the turn when it's checked to you, and avoid spending a bundle on the draw. Plus, there's always the chance that your bet will be respected and both players will fold.


Recommendation: Bet, and plan to check the turn if no help comes. Note that with one or two more callers, you should definitely check the flop and likely not even call a single bet. Multiway, even if you hit your jack, you'd be nervous about a full house.


Hand:
10hearts 8hearts


Position: small blind


Preflop action: no raise, six players


Flop:Khearts Jhearts 7cclubs


Now facing: a bet, a call, a raise, and a three-bet


Analysis: Here's a situation that will cause lots of average players much frustration. There's the illusion that the flop was good for you — a flush draw and a gutshot-straight draw. But with so much action, you'd be unable to confidently lead out even if you hit a 9 for the jack-high straight (which would lose to Q-10), or a heart, giving you the third-nut flush. You're facing three bets in order to win 16 to 21, depending on if the players who are already in continue. That's 5.3-to-1 to 7-to-1.


Recommendation: Muck. It's tempting to play for the swollen pot, but in truth, it is more like gambling than solid poker. What could those four opponents be holding? By the same token, you might call if you've been running real good and try to ride your rush.


Conclusion

I purposely selected hands and situations that tend to tempt us by the allure of hitting the flop. These marginal situations require the ability to think through how the rest of the hand will likely play out, in order to avoid getting trapped. Top players have a well-developed feel for when it is wise to continue in situations of this nature. I believe this feel comes from playing thousands of hands and from being tuned in to their opponents at the very moment of decision. You must not let your hunger for the pot put you out of sync with reading the situation. Remember what I wrote a few columns back: Don't hope for the best, create winning situations. Your decisions in scenarios such as these should generally be influenced by the price you're getting and a sense of how the card you want may aid another player. You should continually improve in assessing these factors.


(1) comments

Posted by Junelli 8:58 AM
Ace Speaks - Playing the player
by Rolf Slotboom

Most poker literature is aimed at limit play, how to play a specific hand in a specific situation. In pot-limit, it is not so much the hand you play that is important- it is much more how you play the hand from the flop onward (note the difference). Because in limit a large percentage of the pots ends in a showdown, you will simply need a good starting hand to have a decent chance to win. In pot-limit, this is not necessarily the case. For a lot of good pot-limit players it is often more important who they are up against than the hand they are holding. To be more specific: in pot-limit, good players can often win against weak, predictable players almost irrespective of their own hand, and they try to do everything they can to get involved with these players as often as possible. (That said, I am considered to be one of the tightest "good" pot-limit players around, and I hardly ever enter a pot without a good starting hand, even against relatively weak opposition. Still, this doesn't take away the importance of the strategies I'm going to share with you today). In this article, I will discuss a situation where a top professional is not playing according to the strength of his own hand, but where he is playing the player. He is making his decisions based on the cards his opponent probably holds, or better: on the cards his opponent does not hold. I will share with you some of the thought processes that may guide the pro's decisions at the different stages in the hand.

The situation / plays / actions:
A pot-limit Omaha game, buy-in $500, blinds $10-10, no rake (you are paying time collection). You (the pro) are on the button with a very weak Omaha hand, Ah 6s 5s 4d, and have the biggest stack on the table. A weak player in middle position, playing a $800 stack, has called. What makes him weak is not that he plays bad starting hands (quite the contrary in fact, since this player needs a fairly good hand to enter a pot), but that he doesn't play well after the flop: he plays in predictable patterns and is easy to read, as his betting actions always represent the exact hand he holds. All other players fold, and it's up to you. What do you do?

Professional player's thoughts:
Gee, this hand is really horrible, and it can never be played on the basis of hand strength alone. The player in mid position almost certainly holds a better hand than I do, most likely some sort of high card / big pair hand. Normally I would throw away a hand like this almost every time, even on the button. However, if I raise and I can get the pot heads up between me and the caller, then I might be in a profitable situation even with the poor hand I hold. I will be in position, heads up against a predictable player, who is easy to read and also easy to bluff, which means that I almost certainly have a positive expectation here.

You decide to raise to $30, your standard raise in this game, the blinds fold and you're heads up against the caller in mid position (just as planned). The flop comes Qh 9d 3h. Your opponent bets into you for the size of the pot, $80. What do you do?

Professional player's thoughts:
I can never win this pot on the basis of the strength of my hand. My opponent almost certainly holds Q9, 33, 99 or QQ, as he almost always has a good made hand when he comes out betting; he doesn't like to bet his draws as a semi-bluff, for example. In the past I have always won the big pots against him, and there's no doubt he fears and respects my play- which has caused him to play even more predictably against me. Therefore, the most likely scenario is that he simply wants to win this pot right away with a hand that he thinks is probably good now. He doesn't want to fight, he just wants me out, as he fears I might outdraw him on the turn or river. Even though it is possible he has a flush draw in addition to his made hand, I hold the ace of hearts, the nut-flush blocker. It is unlikely he will want to risk his entire stack calling me down if a third heart comes on the turn. Plus, from his perspective: if I call his flop bet, taking into account my preflop raise, he will figure me for precisely the nut flush draw (or, less likely, a straight draw). This means that if a third heart comes, I will almost certainly be able to bluff him out of the pot. If a straight card (king, jack, ten, eight) comes, I will let my opponent's betting actions dictate my own course of action: if he checks or bets small -and therefore doesn't have the straight- I just KNOW that I can bet him off his hand, either on the turn or river.

You call the $80. The turn is the deuce of spades, as much a blank as your opponent could have hoped for. Once again, he bets the pot ($240). What do you do?

Professional player's thoughts:
Even though this is not the card I had initially hoped for, it is still a great help for my hand. I have created quite a few nut outs with this deuce, and I will have my opponent in deep trouble on the last betting round. My opponent still has $470 left and will almost certainly make the wrong decision on the river if I call now. From his perspective, I am in there with the nut flush draw or a straight draw if I call his turn bet- and probably both. This means that if a club, a king, a jack, a ten or an eight comes up he will almost certainly check, and he will have a hard time calling me on the river for all his money, when I put him to the test. What's more, the cards that look like blanks to him, actually give me the nuts. With a four, five or six he will most likely bet all-in (so I can simply call with the nuts), and with an ace he will most likely check-and-call (when I bet the nuts). Either way, I will probably get his entire stack when I improve and make him lay down the best hand when I don't- now, in pot limit things don't get better than this. There are only three river cards that don't change anything (the three sevens), in addition to the cards that pair the board of course (in which case I will simply give it up). There are over 30 river cards left in the deck that can force him to make a bad decision- either by folding the best hand or by calling with the worst hand. Therefore, folding or raising are no options here. Folding is no option because the situation is just too favorable, raising because I cannot make my opponent lay down his hand (because it's pretty obvious I would be semi-bluffing) AND because I will give away my good prospects for the river. In this case, calling is clearly best.

Some final words.
The thought processes described here are the way the excellent players, the top professionals, think when playing pot-limit: they play YOUR cards, rather than their own. (These thought processes also show that top players always think at least one or two steps ahead. They know exactly what the possibilities for the next card are and how they can, or should, adjust to each and every one of these possibilities. This should be second nature for any serious player, even in limit poker). Please keep in mind that I don't consider myself to be in this category of really excellent players, playing on an incredibly high level. I still think that playing from a solid basis -good starting hands- is the way to go in almost all poker games, PLO being no exception. (Also, it should be clear that for people who have just stepped up to pot-limit poker, trying to use the strategies I have described here is not something I would recommend). That said, playing ABC tight in pot-limit will make you easy to read, and if you're playing regularly against good or even excellent players, they will easily take your money by representing hands that you cannot hold (based on your starting requirements and / or the way the betting went), on the assumption that you cannot call. And if you try to counter their strategy by simply check-calling all the time, they will pick up on this faster than you can imagine, and you are going to lose a lot of money; in pot-limit, there is no place for people who check-call on a regular basis. The advanced plays I have touched upon today need to be understood very well in order to be a successful pot-limit player. Without at least a basic understanding of the thought processes I have discussed here, you will stand no chance playing pot-limit. Take care, you guys, and good luck.





(0) comments

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Posted by Dr Fro 6:20 PM
Me: Can Hugh play cards on Tuesday?

Jayson: No way. Tuesday is a drinking night for Hugh. He can't afford to miss it, because he only gets four of those a week.

true story.



(0) comments

Posted by Junelli 1:57 PM
Absolutely classic!

Russian tennis star Kafelnikov has given up tennis for poker!



(0) comments

Monday, November 15, 2004


Posted by Dr Fro 10:32 PM
Now that you've been broken down, got your head out of the clouds..you're back down on the ground - you don't talk so loud. You don't walk so proud...anymore...

The Site is updated with results

I had a good time. My losing streak is still intact, although I didn't lose one ounce of sleep for a few reasons. The first reason is that there were 49 losers and 8 winners, so I didn't really expect to win. Furthermore, I wasn't even dealt enough hands to get into enough pots to make any mistakes. All I really did was fold some crappy hands, so I can't be upset about my play. I can handle bad cards...bad play keeps me up at night.

Early on, I made the broadway straight and eliminated a players with A's and 10's. That doubled me up to nearly $800. There weren't many exciting hands after that for me. Once I reluctantly completed my small blind to have the worst possible thing happen - I connected on the flop. So I put money in the pot on 3rd and 4th street, but had to run away on the river when the River Chie bet big to the board showing both a flush and a straight. That cut my stack in half.

I spent four and a half hours with Matt 2 places to my right. Ergo, everytime he was on the button, I was on the big blind. I think Matt raised every single time he was on the button. It was a good thing he did, because he knocked me off the blind over and over. Once I noticed the pattern, I decided to defend. However, I don't typically defend with 58o and that was about the best hand I saw in that position. I make a living in these tournaments by "hiding in the weeds" and seeing flops for cheap/free and betting the bejeezus out of my hand when I hit. Matt never let me see the flop for cheap. The few times Matt took a nap, the River Chief would raise 5x the BB. The table I was at did not suit my strategy. Matt took half my chips and deserved every one of them.

When we finally moved tables, I was dealt ATs and called an all-in bet from KK. I could only have stuck around maybe 30 more minutes and seeing as how ATs was the best hand I got over the past 4 hours, I figured it was worth a shot at doubling up. I didn't win.

What was the same about this tournament compared to the previous 5 were:
1) lots of nice guys - everybody was easy to get along with; no arguments
2) the blind structure did not allow luck to overwhelm skill (as Morris stated)

What was different? One thing, in my opinion: The quality of players was up 200%. It was no WSOP, but we used to get like 3 fools for every real player. I only know of one bad player yesterday. Maybe there were more, but not much. The playing field has leveled some.

I am wondering if we should stick with the current format of 56 x $100 or switch to 28 x $200. It is a lot of work to get a 56 man tournament together, but 28 would be pretty easy. Hmmm.

Sorry I can't go on for longer, but I am at a conference and am very busy. Read the website for any further insights.

One more thing: the mailbox was full of "Thank you's" and "Good Jobs" and "The best!" and other such wishes. John and I appreciate the support. Trust me, we ain't doing it for our health, we really like those well-wishes. I will see everyone next year.

Fro






(0) comments

Posted by Junelli 3:07 PM
The tournament was a huge success. I had a great time, and agree with Morris about the blind structure. It allowed everyone to see a lot of hands, which in turn made it more about skill and less about the cards you get dealt at the later levels.

I was particularly impressed with the quality of players. Everyone seemed to know a lot more about the game this year (myself included), and I didn't see too many bad moves. I was particularly impressed and surprised by the play of a few people who were much stronger than I would've expected.

I had a blast, and am looking forward to the next one!






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Posted by Morris 2:16 PM
GREAT TOURNAMENT

Quick post to say how well-run I thought the tournament was. Excellent blind structure, clearly defined rules and a great location made this one of the best home tournaments I have played in. By the way, what is the connection between the tournament and the owner of the house where it is held? Do you guys understand that her letting 60 guys use her house and big-screen for a poker tournament would be the equivalent of one of us turning our house over to 60 girls to use for a tupperware party. Maybe the coolest girl ever.




(0) comments

Sunday, November 14, 2004


Posted by Johnnymac 10:52 PM
The tourney was a huge success today. I am sure Fro will have an long wrap-up post sometime this week. Congratulations to Beau Ryan for winning it all and thanks to everyone who participated.

As for me, my strategy today was to go in and play tighter than I have ever played before in a poker tournament, avoid most confrontations, and hope to catch a big hand somewhere along the way. The first part worked well - I stayed out of most pots and simply outlasted a lot of the other guys, but I never was able to get one those one or two big pots that were necessary to be competitive at the end. I made it to the final table and 9th place, but with the money starting with 8th place, I was just first place out of all of the broke guys. I didn't have enough chips to be competitive and I wasn't lucky enough to slip in behind a big confrontation.

But enough about me. The tourney was a big success and lots of fun and we're glad you all could make it. Thanks to all of the guys who let us borrow stuff and helped out - Eric D, Junell, Canonico, Boyd - and thanks especially to Merry for letting us use her house.

And to the cop who gave some of us parking tickets for being on the wrong side of the street - kiss my ass.


(0) comments

Friday, November 12, 2004


Posted by Johnnymac 11:23 AM
Hat tip to Iggy for this one... it seems like something appropriate to share on a sloooowwww Friday morning.




You gonna eat that?



(0) comments

Posted by Johnnymac 8:25 AM
Here's a hand I played last night. I thought initially that I would scratch my balls a little bit and put some cheeky title to it like, "How to Slowplay" or something like that, but I reconsidered and now just want to share it. I slowplayed it a little bit, especially on the flop, but after some consideration I don't think I played it well as much as I got lucky that my opponent picked a bad moment to go crazy and try to steal the pot. Luckily for "Crackerboy", he had me covered up and thus he didn't commit suicide by trying to steal, and even more impressively, he was able to recover his stack and get back into the money by the end of the tournament.


***************************

PokerStars Game #848642772: Tournament #3389366, Hold'em No Limit -
Level VI (100/200) - 2004/11/11 - 19:32:56 (ET)
Table '3389366 1' Seat #4 is the button
Seat 2: Grummy (5767 in chips)
Seat 4: johnnymac96 (1645 in chips)
Seat 5: nemesis18 (2788 in chips)
Seat 6: crackerboy (2305 in chips)
Seat 9: DNAPoker (995 in chips)
nemesis18: posts small blind 100
crackerboy: posts big blind 200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to johnnymac96 [Tc Td]
DNAPoker: folds
Grummy: folds
johnnymac96: raises 300 to 500 (remember Fro's - and Doyle's - advice about playing TT aggressively in a shorthanded game; it's not a big raise, but I'm not going to let anyone play for free, either- I want to get heads up)
nemesis18: folds
crackerboy: calls 300 ("Pa-zeeshun raise! Ze big blind vil not be pooshed ah-vound!")
*** FLOP *** [Ts Qs Qh] (holy shit, what a great flop!)
crackerboy: checks
johnnymac96: checks (a big bet too soon wins nothing, and I have position so I will give him a free card and hope he hits it)
*** TURN *** [Ts Qs Qh] [2h]
crackerboy: checks
johnnymac96: bets 200 (just a small bet to try and induce him to come over the top if he has a Q)
crackerboy: raises 1605 to 1805 and is all-in (WOO WOO!)
johnnymac96: calls 945 and is all-in
*** RIVER *** [Ts Qs Qh 2h] [2c]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
crackerboy: shows [9h Ad] (two pair, Queens and Deuces) (wow, just Ace high?)
johnnymac96: shows [Tc Td] (a full house, Tens full of Queens)
johnnymac96 collected 3390 from pot
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 3390 Rake 0
Board [Ts Qs Qh 2h 2c]
Seat 2: Grummy folded before Flop (didn't bet)
Seat 4: johnnymac96 (button) showed [Tc Td] and won (3390) with a full
house, Tens full of Queens

Seat 5: nemesis18 (small blind) folded before Flop
Seat 6: crackerboy (big blind) showed [9h Ad] and lost with two pair,
Queens and Deuces

Seat 9: DNAPoker folded before Flop (didn't bet)

***************************


CODA: I played heads up with "Grummy" for a very long time at the end of this tournament and kept trading chips and getting back to even. On the next to last hand I had him slightly covered up (~$500) and managed to get all in with AKs vs his A6o. Wouldn't you know that he caught a 6 on the flop and then bounced me from the tourney on the very next hand when I couldn't even fully cover the $800 BB. UGH!



(0) comments

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Posted by Johnnymac 3:25 PM
Although the tourney webpage says that we are now full, there are a couple of guys who have been forced to change their status to "tentative". Ergo, there is probably room for a couple more players.

If you want to play and still haven't signed up, go ahead and follow the signup instructions on the link and Fro and I will try and get you a seat if there is room.


(0) comments

Posted by Junelli 1:38 PM
First a little bit of background:
Last night I played $2-$5 Pot-Limit at Northside Social Club. I won $430 on the night, but it was a struggle to get there. I originally bought in for $300. (**Yes, I know that’s only 60x the BB, and would technically be considered “short stacked,” but everyone else was buying in for that amount, and several players had less than $150 in front of them). I thought $300 would be enough to get me started, and I had another $200 in reserve in case I needed to reload.

I started out white-hot, and took down 3 of the first 5 hands. Nothing too significant because the game was still rather tight. But after 2 hours I had managed to grind my way up to a profit of $230. I was playing tight/aggressive (a necessity in $2-$5 pot-limit), and was hitting my flops. More importantly however, I was bluffing at the right time, making good reads on players, and laying down some pretty good (but dangerous) hands. I thought I was Doyle Brunson.

Then I got cold. The cards stopped coming, and at one point I folded 30 hands in a row pre-flop. For those of you that know me and my playing style, you can just see Hell freezing over.

I started getting angry and impatient that everyone else was winning hands but me. When I did have decent pre-flop hands (AJ, AQ, 99, KQ, etc.), I either missed the flop entirely, or flopped a good hand but was caught by flush/straight chasers. I laid down a number of hands on the river when the calling stations went beserk when their 3 flush hit.

3 hours later (~5 hours into the game), my stack of $530 had been reduced to $140. I lost some more hands, and was forced to reload. I had now bought in for $500, and had about $200 in front of me.

It was agony having to fold so often, because the action became out of control. It was the craziest I've ever seen! At one time I counted 11 pots in a row over $300, and it seemed that someone was all-in on every hand. It cost $15-$20 to see every flop, and people were showing 46o, J7s at the river. I was amazed, yet upset that I was missing out on all the fun.

Then I had my epiphany. I took a step back and consciously thought to myself, “How can I win tonight?” What is it going to take to make a comeback by maximizing my hands when I have the best of it, and protecting my chips when I don’t?

Which brings me to the purpose of this article: I’d like to jot down some rough thoughts on the psychology/strategy necessary to put together a winning night. It's about how to make conscious decsisions that give you the ever-so-slight edge necessary to win.

It all starts with recognizing that, with a few exceptions, most players at the table are “roughly” equal in skill. I use the term “equal” very loosely to describe that everyone knows what they're doing, yet none of us are seasoned professionals. I am, after all, sitting at an underground cardroom. The players who frequent those places are not newbies to the game, and know the same general strategies that I do: Most have read Sklansky. They know how to calculate outs. They know how to slowplay/trap. They’re not afraid to put their chips in play. They all generally raise with Group I & II (and sometimes III) hands. They recognize the significance of a check-raise made against them. They know when to lay down a hand. They know how to increase the size of their bets in proportion to the pot, etc.

In essence, they all know what they’re doing, and most of them are regulars whom I already know by name. It’s not unreasonable to assume that 6-7 of the 9 people playing last night, play poker at least 3 nights a week.

Of course, you’re going to have your occasional village idiot who constantly seems to suck-out. But those people are quickly recognizable and usually don’t last very long at the table. Some people are very quick to dismiss other players as idiots, but I think that’s a mistake. Someone may make a bad call to chase a gutshot on a hand, but that doesn’t mean he’s a “bad” player. It may just mean that he’s bored, impatient, stuck, or believes you’re on a bluff. It's highly unlikely that he's oblivious to the fallicy in the action. Rather it's more likely that he "just doesn't care."

So, here I am at a table with 8 other players who, for the sake of argument, I’ll consider equal in skill (until they demonstrate otherwise). How do I manage to win, and more importantly prevent them from winning? In a vacuum, if we were all equal in skill, and we all played our hands according to the book, we would just trade our money back and forth all night, until the rake killed us.

So what separates me from them? Since we all know how to play “our” hands, the difference between a good player and an average player is the one who minimizes the leaks in his game. By leaks I’m talking about instances where you needlessly throw money into the pot with no positive EV. Some examples of leaks in my game are:

1. Playing too loosely
(i.e. calling a preflop raise with a mediocre hand JT, KT, KQ, AT, etc.). While those cards look pretty in your hand, they’re deadly. The most important thought that should be going through your head preflop is, “If I call with this hand, will both my cards be “Live”?” This is a powerful check on your decision making process. Let’s say you have KJ or AJ under the gun. You call the $5 BB. The next player raises to $15 and you have 3 callers before it gets back to you. How good does that KJ or AJ look now? What if you get the flop you want, and hit your King or Ace, and are faced with a pot sized bet (~$50) on the flop. You do the smart thing and lay it down. Yet now, you’re $15 poorer. Over the course of the night these loose calls can cost you well over $100. And that’s now $100 that you have to win back (against all those equally-skilled players) just to break even. These hands can cost you a ton of money if you’re not careful.

2. Chasing
Unless I’m getting unbelievable pot odds I never chase a gutshot. Not because it’s a bad economic decision, but rather because I don’t want to get yelled at when I hit it! I have been known to peel off a card or two when I’m open-ended and/or have a flush draw (also, I will usually call with a gutshot & flush draw and/or pair and a draw). I don’t know how much money I’ve given away “peeling” off cards, but it’s a lot, and I can assure you, it greatly exceeds the amounts I’ve actually won when the hands hit. Two things to consider: First, if you hit your draw it may not be good (ie your flush/straight may be beat), and second if you hit your draw, you may not get any action going forward. A decent player with a made hand will try to bet off the chasers by making a pot-sized bet. If Chaser reluctantly calls and then lights up like Times Square when the 3rd spade comes, the decent player will routinely (but not always) fold. You have to consider these important aspects.

3. Playing out of position
The more I play, the more I realize how important position is. We’ve all read the books, and understand what it means, but I doubt any of us have a true appreciation for how much money we lose playing hands out of position. For example, if I call a $20 preflop raise with AT. What do I do when a Ten hits? Or an Ace? If I check, I’m certain to get bet into. I have no idea where I stand. If I bet, and get raised, I’m really worried. If I bet and get called, I am again clueless, because when turn card comes, I don’t know what to do. Do I throw $75 more into the pot and try to steal it. Do I make a small $20 bet and give him odds to call? Do I check, and let him bet $75 into me? I’m screwed any way you look at it. Let’s say I decide to check-raise him. He bets $30, and I raise to $75. He calls. Uh oh. Does he have an overpair? Two pair? I’m confused as shit, but more importantly I don’t know what to do when the next card comes. If I check I show weakness and will have to lay down my hand to a monster bet. I’m almost forced to throw good money after bad.

4. Bluffing at the wrong time
I’ve lost so much money getting my hand caught in the cookie jar, it’s not even funny. Things to avoid: Don’t bluff when out of position. Don’t bluff when there are multiple players in the pot (3-4+). Don’t bluff when a potential draw card hits. Don’t bluff for anything less than their maximum comfort threshold (i.e. in my game last night, a $25-$50 bluff was meaningless because it was such a common bet). If I bet $100+, they were much more likely to lay it down. If you try to bluff and buy the pot on the turn, and get 1 or 2 callers, you ought to think twice before you try it again. People in these games consider themselves pot-committed if they’ve put $20 into it.

5. Fold BB and SB to raises.
Don’t think that just because you’re getting a discount, you should see the flop. Remember that for the rest of the hand you’re playing out of position (see Tip 3 above).

6. Sometimes it’s best not to “gas it”
Some players think that if they have the best hand “at the moment” they should “get it all in.” While mathematically this may be correct, it doesn’t correspond with the extraneous factors of poker (bankroll, time period of play, etc.). Sometimes the wise course is taking a smaller profit in exchange of a decreased risk of going bust. Remember that if you make a pot sized bet on the flop, and get called, that player is likely committed and won’t go away. Also, your pot-sized bet just doubled the size of the pot, and made the hand exponentially more expensive for you to play going forward (i.e. if you raise the pot $50, the pot is now $100, and your bets will have to increase accordingly). It’s easy to see how a $500 bankroll can evaporate quickly if you lose a hand or two. Slow down and grind it out until you absolutely know you have the best of it.

Finally, you have to maximize your winnings when they come. Against a table full of equals that’s not easy to do, when most are adept at putting you on hands. After countless hours playing I’ve discovered that the best way to extract the maximum amount of money from people is to surprise them. It’s not going to come from your value bets when you have the best hand (because everyone has the same hands over time). It’s going to come from sneaking up on them and popping them when they don’t expect it. Here are a few deceptive moves that have worked well for me (but have added risk):

  1. Don’t raise with AK preflop (you lose over 70% with it anyway, so why raise? If you hit it, no one will call your flop bet).

  2. Don’t raise with big pocket pair under the gun or early position (you don’t want to scare out the other players, and you’re hoping someone else will raise and you can “reluctantly call”).

  3. Raise with small pocket pairs on the button or in late position.

  4. If you flop a set, bet it strong (an average player won’t put you on it).

  5. Be disciplined enough to check monsters to the river so you can get some action.

  6. Reraise preflop if you see someone consistently raising with weak hands.

  7. Raise with small suited connectors (they’ll never put you on it).

  8. Trap with a small bet into an aggressive raiser. When he raises you, you can come over the top.

  9. If you’re first to act on the button, raise no matter what you have.

  10. Try to trap as much as possible. Yes, there’s increased risk, but the rewards are well worth it.


Conclusion
Obviously a lot of these ideas go against conventional wisdom, but that's the point. You want people confused, and shocked when you turn over your hand. These ideas should only be used sparingly and at the proper time/place. You run the risk of losing the hand by slowplaying it, but generally, you've put less money into it, and it should be easier to get away from.

That’s my rant. I’d be interested to hear your comments.

Junelli


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Posted by Johnnymac 8:51 AM
We are still in serious need of some folding chairs and tables for the tournament this weekend. If you have any we can borrow, (beg, or steal), please email me this morning at jmgreene-AT-reliant.com


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Posted by Dr Fro 7:57 AM
The streak continues. I increased my November losses by 20%. I played for 4 hours and really never won much of anything. Once I made a straight on the turn, had to bet it (there were 2 flush draws) and everyone folded. I usually bluff 1/hr, but I did 2 over 4 hours. Both times I fell into a trap.

In 4 hours, I was dealt app. 120 hands. You should get pocket pairs every 17. Ergo, I should have had around 7. I don't know the standard deviation on this, but it has to be statistically significant that I was dealt none.

I can't point to a single mistake due to not paying attention (refer to the perceived source of my bad November losses in earlier post). This was just the dark side of volatility, so I am much less bummed than I was a week ago.

I just keep telling myself that the poker gods are saving all the good cards for Sunday. See you then and watch out.



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Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Posted by Johnnymac 11:22 AM
So there you have it - two meaningful posts about tournament strategy, and possibly three posts if you can interpret tongue-in-cheek list of things to do. Am I worried about giving anything away before Sunday? Possibly, but if someone is reading this thing and somehow gets into position on me before the final table, more power to him. Good luck on Sunday!


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Posted by Johnnymac 11:07 AM
More on endgames

As I mention in my post below, when I get to the final four of an online tournament I usuaully feel pretty confident because it is inevitable that two of the top three have no idea what they are doing and will either begin to attack one another (with predictable results) or are stupid enough to gamble their position away and give me, the short stack, an opportunity to double up.

See point #10 of yesterday's farcical post for my opinion of why this is - these guys either know nothing but balls to the wall gambling or they seem to think that players who are tight at the beginning can always be bluffed at the end. The latter isn't necessarily wrong - putting pressure on the small stacks is almost always the right thing to do - but the hands that bigger stacks routinely call down the small stack with - even in the $20 tournaments - are crazy. Certainly smaller stacks are going to be forced to gamble with crappy cards, but they'll usually have something better than 92o when they finally decide to take a stand. I can't tell you how many times I have been safely ensconsed in 3rd place only to finish out of the money because some fool was dumb enough to give a foot-in-the-grave small stack the chance to double up. I routinely shout at my computer screen because someone will inevitably limp and let the small stack see the flop for free. They don't seem to comprehend that pressure is not necessarily the same thing as action, especially preflop.

And it's not just $5 and $10 online tournaments that I am talking about. See the very end of this post, too. Although it didn't quite work out for me that day, the sentiment is the same - with those cards he should have just let me steal his blind instead of offering me a chance to double through him. This was the guy who was the chip leader of a 60+ entrant Las Vegas tournament. Why did he feel compelled to knock me out of the tournament with those cards when the size of my stack wouldn't have made much of a difference to his? The upside to him, especially with nothing better than 92o was small but the downside, especially for other players at the table, was enormous.




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Posted by Johnnymac 10:08 AM
Serious question here:

Is it rude to play tightly in an online tournament? More specifically, is it rude to start a tournament and then just click on the "sitting out" button and wait a while before playing a hand?

My Sit-N-Go tournament strategy has evolved to that - rather than manually folding almost every hand, which is what I would be doing anyway during the early stages of a tournament, I simply sit out and wait until the tournament gets down to 4 or 5 players or until the blinds gets big enough to make a significant difference and then I come back into the game and play for real. I think this is a productive strategy because almost always get to 4-handed and onto the money "bubble" and if I do that I will usually even slip into the money because the other players are such bad tournament players (more on that in a separate post).

Granted, I might be giving away a little value by throwing away big stack-propagating hands at the start of the tourney, but I think this is balanced by the fact that by the time I usually start playing, most of the gamblers have eliminated one another and consolidated their chips into one big stack, usually owned by the rammin' jammin' gambler who just happened to be luckier than the rest and who is likely to be even more prone with a big stack to make dumb gambles than he was with a smaller stack. And then, once this happens, it's always easier to attack one idiot than to attack 4 or more. Sometimes I don't get any cards and get ground down without ever making a difference and sometimes I get run over by better hands, but most times I will catch one or two good hands and double through the big stacks and into the money.

But back to my question.

The reason that I ask if this is rude is because in a tournament last night I was the target of some incredibly crude and caustic remarks in the chat box. Things like, "PLAY THE F*CKING GAME JOHNNY!" and "HI, MY NAME IS JOHNNYMAC AND I'M AN A**SHOLE BECAUSE I SIT OUT!" and "NOW THAT YOUR BIG BLIND IS PASSED YOU CAN GO SIT OUT AGAIN P*SSY".

The comments themselves didn't necessarily bother me, but it did get me wondering about the underlying cause... is it rude for me to use the sitting out button to enable my tight strategy?

Now, I'm not asking if I shouldn't play tightly - my strategy is my own business and in a tournament the rules are simple - the winner must win all of the chips and it doesn't matter how long it takes - my chips are my own until I put them into the pot, period. And whether or not someone else wants to gamble early is not my problem.

But is there an etiquette issue between manually folding every hand and just sitting out and trying to pick someone off at the end? Certainly there is in a cash game because an empty seat means less money in the game than there would be otherwise, but in a tournament does it really matter?

Please respond if you have an opinion. I'm of the opinion that I'm certainly not breaking any rules by doing this (else Pokerstars wouldn't allow it) and or even that I am acting unethically, but etiquette and courtesy isn't always necessarily a question of legality or ethics.

(BTW - I wish I could say that there was poetic justice in shutting up the complainers and thus vindicating my strategy, but alas there was not. The opportunity was there because as could be expected, the complainers were very very loose and aggressive, but I just didn't catch any cards. I managed to outlast a couple of them and finished in 4th place, but the ringleader, "CmdrRiker" was likely smirking when I got blinded out... Someday I will break my boot off in his foulmouthed a** though, I am sure of it)


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Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Posted by Johnnymac 7:37 AM
So I received a couple of emails and even a text message last night about my tournament strategy post from yesterday and teasing me about how I don't want to give anything away. Well.

The following are Johnny's tried and true tournament tips. Follow these and you are bound to do well this weekend, because I have seen a lot of guys do well in tournaments by playing this way.

1.) Contrary to the title of this blog, tournament poker really is gambling. The object is to gamble. Get out there are gamble! This is perhaps the most important and best advice I can give.

2.) Any two cards can win and limping is the only way to play. This means that a hand is not made until it sees the flop, turn, and river. Remember, a pair of deuces is better than Ace-King and two little pairs (like, say, 8's and 4's) are REALLY better than Ace-King.

3.) In line with #2, preflop raises don't mean much, so you should always call when someone raises you preflp. F*ck 'em. People love to bluff in NL holdem and it's always best to try and catch them doing it, especially if you have small a pocket pair. There is something very rewarding about punishing people for bluffing.

4.) The name of the game is SURVIVAL. If you make a hand early, be very very careful about playing it strongly, because if someone were to suck out on you, you might lose the pot and some of your chips that you have invested in the pot. In these circumstances, you should bet a small amount (just the minimum bet, usually) and peck at the pot. That said, if you do this and get to the end and the other guy who has been calling all of a sudden makes a big bet and goes all-in, you should call him because it's likely that he's bluffing.

5.) In no circumstance should you ever ever EVER lay down AA. Even if someone calls your preflop raise and then keeps calling and reraising you all the way to the river. AA is the best hand preflop and any hand that someone else makes is by definition a suckout. PUNISH people for this.

6.) AQ, AJ, and AT are all very strong hands. You should raise the shit out of them whenever you are dealt these hands and reraise anyone else who tries to bet you off of them. For that matter you should do this anytime you get dealt an ace.

7.) AK is also a very strong hand, but is so strong that you should always come over the top with it preflop. Once you are called and the flop has three little cards you should raise whenever the big blind bets into it. Don't forget, this is Big Slick! Usually it's even OK to play this hand like you are playing AA in tip #5 above - never lay it down and always call a big bet on the end, even if you don't pair up, because, after all, the other guy could be bluffing and in fact he probably is, so why give up a big pot?

8.) Unsuited connectors can make straights and any two suited cards can make a flush. Think about this and bet accordingly.

9.) If you get to the final table, always butt heads with the big stacks and ignore the little stacks. The big stacks have all the chips, after all, and you have to knock them out to win. The best way to knock them out, by the way, is to go all in with your middle pair and force them off of their bluff.

10.) Similarly, if you make the final table with a medium stack and you're on the bubble of being in the money, calling the little stacks' all-in bets is the best way to get more chips and closer to the money. This is just common sense, because they are small stacks and therefore are tight and can be bluffed out. This is why they have such a small stack to begin with, because they don't have the balls to gamble.


That's it for now. Does anyone else have any tournament tips to share?


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Monday, November 08, 2004


Posted by Johnnymac 11:48 AM
OK, this is funny

If you are not familiar with it, Wikipedia is a "collaborative" online encyclopedia. It has grown and grown and there are articles about everything nowadays, and I mean everything.


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Posted by Johnnymac 9:05 AM
The big tourney is coming up in 6 days and there are still about 15 seats left. The registration link is on the right side of the page at the top.

I have been practicing a lot lately with one and two table online tournaments and I am amazed at how much help these things can be by allowing you to cheaply experiment with different styles and strategies. My tournament game has improved greatly in the past two weeks since I have been doing this and I feel much more confident going into this weekend than I did. But in the interest of "strategery", I'm not giving anything away before this weekend and I'm going to close the spigot on my usually babbling mouth.

That said, I will share a hand from early on in a NL tournament (hosted by Brian Tamplen) that I played in last July, right when the "poker boom" was beginning when most of the other players' only experience with poker was kitchen table stuff and their only experience with NL Holdem Tourneys was watching ESPN. On this particular hand I saw a player flop a set of 3's and then underbet to the end and get knocked out by a runner runner straight. (incidentally, it was Jimmy Promubol who made that straight - he finished 2nd in our tournament last year).

A lot of things happened on this hand that are illustrative of some mistakes that are commonly made in NL tournaments and I'm going to point a lot of them out next Monday, hopefully with fresh examples from the weekend's action. That is, I will point them out if I'm not too busy on Monday counting my money.


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Friday, November 05, 2004


Posted by Dr Fro 2:06 PM
From the mailbag

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: jbaird
To: DrFro
Subject: Your post
Date: Fri, 5 Nov 2004 09:44:28 -0600

Due to my system at work I cannot reply on the blog, but I think I went through a similar situation. I had just gone through a full-bent phase of reading everything I could about poker. I would study odds and EVs of starting hands, I was excited about my new knowledge and the prospect of winning lots of money. I played and lost, played and lost, read some more, played and lost. I finally got really frustrated and screamed at no one "DO THE LAWS OF PROBABILITY NOT COUNT WITH ME?" I got frustrated and lost interest in the game. I had no confidence, and didn't have fun when I played. I used to win all the time, and had a good time doing it. I think the problem came when I tried to rush in and make poker a business thing, and focused only on the money, not the thrill of the game. I am not back to where I used to be, but I have definitely lightened up a little, and stopped playing just to maximize profits (or in this case losses), but to also have fun. I think that is the bottom line of it all. I am a social person (and
it's probably why I will never be a good cut-throat player) and it seems that the cards fall for me when I am bs-ing and not over thinking.

Again, this may be completely different than your situation, but you might be too focused on winning and, like you implied, not taking in the experience.

Anyway, take it for what you will, just thought I could empathise, and would share.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think that Jayson, Chris, Tenacious, et al are all right. So here is my plan forward:

- limit online play or perhaps eliminate. My strength is reading people, so why play to a disadvantage
- don’t focus on winning (or the fact that I am losing) Take that energy and focus on what is happening in the game
- I have been playing against a mixed bag of players…I should avoid too much action with the better players and really look for opportunities to outplay the bad players
- speaking of bad players, maybe Junell will host a game on Wednesday 2 weeks from now when I am in town. Not only is ½ the table fairly poor at poker, the poker gods always smile on me there. I am not sure if anyone gets dealt better hands and flops anywhere than I do on Waring.
- lighten up. It should be fun



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Posted by Johnnymac 1:55 PM
Speaking of the low-limit game at my house tonight, there is indeed a game in my garage tonight. We are missing a couple of the regulars, so we have some room for more players, if anyone wants to play, email me: jmgreene-at-reliant.com (NOT the link at the right - it no longer works from work). Preferably I would like to get a couple of you guys that I already know, however ephemerally that may be.

I have to put in the disclaimer that this is a small low-limit dealers choice game with a $20 buyin, so it's not for everyone. It's neighborhood kitchen table stuff, which is fun, but it's not a lot of money (big winner might be $150, max) and it's likely to be mostly whacky games like Anaconda and 727. Not to say it's overly friendly - to most of the guys playing this is the only poker they get and they take it seriously and bet aggressively. It's just small stakes and mostly whacky games.

Also - there is plenty of room left in next week's tournament - "THE BIG ONE". The link is on the right. Email me or Fro with any questions.


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Thursday, November 04, 2004


Posted by Dr Fro 11:51 PM
How good is your rhyming cockney?

In the past 60 hours, I have dropped 1 bag of sand. In that time:

- I have never played more than $1/$2 NL
- I haven’t suffered from any really “bad beats” (as defined in an earlier post) with a couple exceptions
- I didn’t drink and play (actually, I had one glass of whisky while online)
- I played with many people that were somewhat similar (give or take) in skill and plenty that sucked…certainly no cardrooms, certainly no pros

Maybe I am wrong here, but a swing of 500x the BB without any massive bad beats (there were plenty of small ones, but no biggies really) is more than volatility. WTF?

I am at a complete loss. The one thing I know is I need a change; what that change is exactly - I don’t know yet. Maybe focus on tournaments; maybe go up in stakes, maybe down. Sh_t, I don’t know. But at this rate, I will lose 2 bags a week, or 100 a year.

The most f’d up thing about it is that I left, came home hung out for a couple hours before I even sat down and wrote this…I never got pissed off. As I proofread this post I realize that I sound much more bothered than I really am. Actually I am more bothered by the fact that I am NOT BOTHERED than any thing else! I think I have become too numb, too convinced that short term results are irrelevant. I think I have become too bored at the table.

I used to show up and focus on every single thing that happened. I could write volumes after one night. It took me all night tonight after I left to even reconstruct the last hand of tonight. I guess that is the problem – lack of attention. I guess that is the solution – pay more attention. I have been perfectly sober but playing like a drunk (unaware, drifting). Maybe that is the solution.

I don’t know. But if I lose $34 more dollars before 12/31, I will have my first losing year at poker. Ever. Not happy.

I suck.






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Posted by Dr Fro 6:10 PM
IT'S A CONSPIRACY!

The Louisiana State Police received reports of illegal cockfights being held in the area around Breaux Bridge, and duly dispatched the infamous Detective Boudreaux to investigate. He reported to his sergeant the next morning, "Dey is tree main groups in dis cock fightin,'" he began. "Good work, Boudreaux. Who are they?" the sergeant asked. Boudreaux replied confidently, "De Aggies, de Cajuns, and de Mafia." Puzzled, the sergeant asked, "How did you find that out in one night?" "Well," Boudreaux replied, "I went down and done seen dat cock fight. I knowed the Aggies was involved when a duck was entered in the fight." The sergeant nodded, "I'll buy that, but what about the others?" Boudreaux intoned knowingly, "Well, I knowed de Cajuns was involved when summbody bet on de duck." "Ah," sighed the sergeant, "And how did you deduce the Mafia was involved?" "De duck won."




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Posted by Dr Fro 1:16 PM
I got a call from a buddy yesterday with this:

Q: In PL, I got Q4o in the BB. I see the flop for free to see Q42 heads-up & out of position. How do I play this?

A: Conventional wisdom says bet big on the flop. The worst approach would be to slow-play and wait until the river to bet. I would consider one additional alternative: check the flop and wait to the turn to bet. Here’s why:

- For starters, you should always vary your play slightly to keep your opponents from being able to put you on a hand. Whenever you vary, be sure there are other reasons that justify the move besides varying for the sake of varying, such as:

- The nightmare scenario is that he flopped a set, maybe of 2’s. When out of position to a flopped set, you often bet out and get called on the flop and then you bet out again on the turn and he sticks it up your butt. On the flop, they are thinking “oh goodie, this sucker will bet my hand for me.” Check it and see what he does.

- People expect unraised BB’s to catch the flop when the flop is ragged. He already thinks you may have something

- The flop is so bad, that he probably needs runner-runner to draw out on you. Let him catch up slightly then stick it to him on the turn when he is drawing for one more card.

- If he calls on the turn, you can probably figure out what he is drawing at. When he checks on the flop (especially if he is looking for runner-runner) you have no fckin clue what he is going for. Knowing what you are up against is key to winning, of course.

In summary, aside from maybe A3 or A5, I can’t really think of a hand that you would be ahead of that could pass you up on the turn.

Do not use this strategy in limit poker, if you are in position, or exclusively (only to vary your play).





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Posted by Dr Fro 1:02 PM
Just to be Devil's advocate to JG:

Tourney #1: Four players left, I am short stack, but not by much. I am dealt KK
and go all in before the flop.


I bet big with KK in all situations but 1: being on the bubble. I would have considered giving away a little value and seeing the flop on the cheap. This would decrease the expected # of chips to be won on the hand, but, I believe, give me a better chance of moving up the ladder and making money. Overall, a more profitable play. Again, only on the bubble would I not bet KK. Tourney #3: I am the next-to-shortest stack of about seven remaining players. I am dealt KK from under the gun and go all in. The short stack calls me and the blinds fold. He shows AQo (not again!), the flop has a King and I end up almost doubling up. OK, with seven players remaining, I would bet KK.

Tourney #4: I'm in 5th place and am dealt TT. I raise 3x the big blind and get
one caller.


In Super / System, Doyle advises against betting 3x the bb on TT. I do not know if correct tournament play is different. I also know that most people disagree with Doyle on this point. Personally, I can’t agree with him intuitively, but since I starting following his advice, I have been more successful at playing pockets in NL.



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Posted by Johnnymac 7:32 AM
I played in four Pokerstars tournaments last night and was involved in some very interesting hands while holding very strong cards. A disclaimer here isn't that I'm not really telling bad beat stories - I don't necessarly think I played any of these hands wrong under the circumstances and none of them were just super duper suckouts, I just feel like sharing this morning and seeing if you guys have anything to add.

In particular, I think I already know what TJ Cloutier might say about these hands.

Tourney #1: Four players left, I am short stack, but not by much. I am dealt KK and go all in before the flop. Wild man to my left calls quickly and shows AQo. This is EXACTLY what I was hoping for as he had been playing aggressively with mediocre cards for most of the tournament and I was hoping to get a chance to challenge him. Of course, the flop brings an Ace and I get eliminated. There is a reason why I call KK, "Ace Magnets".

Tourney #2: I am in third place (in the money - woo woo), with a short stack (7% of the outstanding chips). One of the other players has a HUGE stack (85%) and the other player has about the same number of chips as me. The big stack by this point is going all in nearly every hand and putting expert pressure on the small stacks, which is exactly what he should be doing. I get dealt AKs in the big blind and call the big stack's big raise, hoping to catch him and gain some room on the second place guy. The big stack calls and shows AA. I do catch a king on the flop, but I didn't get the other one that I would have needed.

Tourney #3: I am the next-to-shortest stack of about seven remaining players. I am dealt KK from under the gun and go all in. The short stack calls me and the blinds fold. He shows AQo (not again!), the flop has a King and I end up almost doubling up.

Tourney #3 (again): I quickly realized that I was playing with maniacs at this table (calling raises with Ace-anything, taking 22 and 33 all the way to showdown, betting out gutshots) so I hunker down and hope to get close to the money and then have a chance to trap one of the crazies in a bluff or a loose call. I make it into 4th place and am dealt AKs UTG. I limp, as does the maniac to my left, and about shit my pants when the flop comes A-X-K. Thinking this is my chance, I check and maniac to my left underbets the pot with the minimum sized bet. I go all in (Trrrrap!) and he quickly calls and shows KK. Then I really did shit my pants.

Tourney #4: I'm in 5th place and am dealt TT. I raise 3x the big blind and get one caller. The flop is all undercards, I make a pot sized bet and am called, and the turn gives me an open ended straight draw. It's checked to me and at this point I figure that I am up against something like JTs or maybe AXx or KXs that caught a small pair. In either case, I figure I have the best hand and don't want to give him a chance to catch up, and since we're about equally stacked I decide to put him to a decision for all of his chips. I go all in and he quickly calls and shows AA.

(This was probably the trickiest hand of the night I think, because I cannot quite decide who made the mistake. I was obviously steamrolled by his sandbagging, which was his goal, but 4 middle cards of 2 different suits seems kind of a risky place to be calling an all-in bet. Like I said, I can see both sides.)

To summarize - I was eliminated 4 different times last night: KK vs AQ, AKs vs AA, AKs vs KK, and TT vs AA; and another time I eliminated someone else with KK vs AQ.

Perhaps the point of all of this is that aside from the first hand, I was eliminated by, or I myself eliminated someone else with, a big pocket pair. Granted, this all occurred in the later rounds of tournaments, so it's not the same thing as overplaying AK or AQ in a ring game or the early rounds of a tournament, but I think it still says something about the validity of TJ Cloutier's maxim that big pocket pairs are much more valuable than AK or AQ.


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03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009

The Doctor is IN

Dr Fro
aka "slow roller"

Which one is the fish?

Junell
aka "Sunday Stroller"

You go now!

Johnny Mac
aka "Chop Suey"

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

Morris
aka "Mo roller"

Old School

Padilla
"Baby's Daddy"


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