Monday, July 30, 2007

Posted by Johnnymac 8:27 AM
While reading the online Wall Street Journal this morning, I came across a link to a story at another website that caught my eye: Requiem For a Poker Game. An excerpt:

But this is not the same game that once was America's Friday-night kitchen table staple -- a group of guys and gals gathered over chips, beer, cigars and swaggers, laughing and bluffing. Poker now bears little resemblance to serious cash-game poker once played in a dimly lit Las Vegas backroom by a Damon Runyon-esque collection of high-octane gamblers, bookies, off-season oil riggers, rodeo champs, denizens of the underworld and slumming celebrities who gave poker its color. That was a time when the best players were those who knew both cards and people, sly self-promoters like Amarillo Slim and Stu Ungar who lived off their wits and cunning, including peddling the romantic image of the professional gambler.

Back then, those of us who loved poker would fly to Las Vegas to learn the game from the best, patiently watching and gathering experience, studying how Johnny Moss or Jack Strauss played a particular hand, until we had our personal memorized database of what was thought to be optimal play. Experience was considered a form of wisdom; improving one's game required much face-to-face poker playing, observation of players' styles, patterns of betting, tells, and sharing of stories and strategies. Poker was a social game; good playing required an understanding of probabilities and psychology. Equally important were the social skills that would attract lesser (losing) players.

Not anymore. The vast majority of new young players have primarily learned to play poker online. They have honed their skills with the aid of computer simulations and data mining -- complex software programs that monitor the play of their opponents and provide a detailed categorization of each style of play. This new breed of successful players comes from the virtual arena; they are likely to spend most of their playing time either alone or with similarly inclined computer geeks. As people do in the digital community Second Life, players develop virtual personas, fictitious avatars and cartoonish social skills, and are seldom accountable for their behavior. Other players aren't colleagues, comrades in crime or even casual social acquaintances; they are obstacles to be overcome on the way to the big score.

The massive popularity of tournament poker has irreparably altered the tenor of the game by introducing the lottery aspect of the big win. Unlike cash games in which you can quit whenever you want, in tournament poker, all entrants pay a single entry fee. You cash out only by beating at least 90 percent of the field; only the top 1 percent of participants get a significant payout. To create exciting megaprizes, tournaments are structured to pay huge sums to the top few finishers, while leaving the rest empty-handed -- a sharp contrast with traditional poker games, in which a single table can host multiple winners.

Last year, in bed delirious with the flu, I entered and won a $39 online satellite tournament to the 2006 WSOP main event. A couple of days later, still feverish, I found myself at a table with nine strangers. No one introduced him- or herself. Few bothered to make eye contact, preferring dark glasses and baseball caps, as though hiding in plain sight. During the first day -- 15 hours of grueling play -- I did not hear a single joke, an engaging story or even collegial banter. Once, when a player was criticized by another for endless badmouthing, the player responded by saying, "Hey, I'm not here to make friends. This is all about money."

Today, in casinos and card rooms across the country, the social dimension of poker has been dismissed in favor of computerized playing strategies. Consider the following: In a live game at a casino, a dealer will deal 30 to 40 hands per hour. Online, where the cards do not have to be gathered or shuffled, hands are dealt at a much higher rate -- 80 to 100 hands per hour. Because there is a lot of downtime in poker (you get relatively few playable hands), most online players play multiple games simultaneously. The result is a dramatically compressed experience; the number of hands you might have played in a 10-hour live session can easily be played in one hour online. In a few months you can see combinations of hands that it would take years to see in person.

One of the most popular software programs, Poker Tracker, can keep track of every hand that you and your opponents play. It can provide detailed statistics on how the hand did against other hands, and even how it did dependent upon your table position when you played the hand. It will tell you how well you did with a pair of eights when you are the first player to act, versus playing the hand after several players had already folded. Quickly, you can build up a set of algorithms that determine optimal starting hands dependent on your table position and the playing characteristics of your opponents. Such programs also give you extensive information on what hands your opponents are likely to play. You can set the program to project your opponents' statistics directly over their screen icons, and players soon become known by their statistically determined playing habits rather than by their first names. You do not need to see a player's facial expression or how he or she shifts in the chair; you already know from your data analysis when he or she is or isn't likely to call or raise a hand.

Now, I'm not going to sit here and say, "Yeah, poker sucks now because I have to wade through all of these amatures at the World Series, I tell you!" but this article still does speak to me in a profound way that I can't quite put my finger on. It's worth thinking about - I mean, we all like to win when we play and you can't win if you don't take every advantage that you can get, but the internet game is just so much different than the beer poker we used to play in college and even after college just 7-8 years ago. I remember that I would look forward to poker night not because I might win - but because it was fun to get everyone together and have some beers and order some food and socialize. Hell, even the Friendship Social Club was kind of social, and I hated talking to 90% of the people there.

Now, it's just lingo and mouseclicks and flashy people trying to score something - read all of the big blogs and they are are a bunch of discussions about playing 8 hands at a time on Party Poker and trip reports going to Vegas to look for fish at Caesar's Palace.

I also think that the comparison to Sklansky's "experiment" described in his tournament poker book is very shrewd, too. (Talk about the game being different, Sklansky and his books are practically artifacts these days... esepcially when it comes to all of his advice on beating a middle limit cash game game...)

But yes, I think the point is made and I do indeed agree that somewhere along the way poker has lost a lot of its social aspects. It's just not the same.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Posted by Junelli 10:23 AM
Recently I read a book called "Why You Lose at Poker." It's a good book and I recommend it because it gets you thinking about your own game.

I decided to sit down and start a list of the reasons why "I" lose at poker. Over the next several posts, I'll talk briefly about some of those reasons, and why I think they matter in my game. They may not all apply to you, but I'm sure some of them will. Here's my first one:


Those that know me will all agree that I have ADD. I struggle to pay attention sometimes, and it certainly carries over to the poker table.

But when I talk about "not paying attention," I'm not referring to watching the TV, day dreaming about living Dr. Fro's life, or nodding off to sleep (all of which are important subjects). Rather, I'm referring to not LOOKING at what's going on at the table, whether you're in a hand or not.

When I was a kid, I was terrible about making eye contact. I'm better now, but I still have problems with it at the table. I find it incredibly difficult to look people in the eye in the middle of the hand. It doesn't matter if I have the nuts, or I'm on a stone cold bluff. I just can't do it.

So I look down at the board. I stare at it. Or I glance off to something outside our ring game. It doesn't matter what it is. What matters is that I'm not watching what's going on.

Now this problem of mine is not just happening when I'm in some big pot. It happens all the time. It doesn't matter whether I plan on folding or raising. I constantly look down at the table, and away from the players and their faces.

I miss the classic tells that are there for even the biggest novice to pick up: i.e. complaining about a 3rd spade, shaking head when a 4 card straight appears on board, looking down at chips immediately when the flop is dealt, holding the chips that they plan to bet before the action is to them, etc.

These are all so easy to recognize, and in turn, so easy to miss if you're staring down. In my quest to avoid eye contact (i.e. visual confrontation) I miss that which is in plain sight.

The biggest example of how that stung me happened about 2 years ago in Lake Charles. I flopped a Q high flush, and got into a raising war with some old blue hair at the other end of the table. I was so excited to have this hand, that NOT ONCE did I even look up at him. In fact, I can't even tell you what he looked like. Well we ended up all-in on the flop (after 3 raises), and of course, he had the nut flush.

After the hand was over a guy next to me leaned over and said, "Man you should've watched him during that hand. He was shaking so bad I thought he was going to fall out of his seat." A 2nd player agreed with him.

Ouch. If I had been paying attention, and not staring down (in some feeble attempt to avoid giving off a "tell" about my monster Q high flush) I would've seen this. I would've picked up on the fact that he REALLY liked his hand. I might've just called him down, and saved an enormous amount of money.

About a year ago, a friend of mine who is a very good player pulled me aside and told me that I was losing because I wasn't watching the table. I didn't see that the player I was "giving action to," hadn't played a hand in 2 hours. He told me that one of the biggest ways I could improve my game was to watch what was going on: how someone bets, how much someone bets, how anxious they look, how disinterested they look, how mad they are about losing a hand 5 minutes ago, etc.

You don't have to be an expert in poker tells. You don't have to turn on a mental recorder and memorize every little nuance that happens. Just watch. Just pay attention. It'll help you get a feel for the "rythm" of the game so that you can recognize when something changes (a player suddenly sits up in his chair, a player who normally watches the game, is suddenly totally uninterested in the hand, a player is very reluctant to call your bet).

I really need to work on this. One way to do it is to play shorter sessions (subject of a future post about why I lose at poker). If I play a 3 hour session, I can concentrate on paying attention, and force myself to watch the action. Any longer, and I risk falling back into old habits.

Another way I can help myself is to wear sunglasses. I know it sounds weird, but because I have trouble with eye contact, the glasses give me a feeling of protection. People can't tell who I'm looking at, and more importantly, they can't see my eyes. It allows me to watch the action with more confidence, and not be concerned about any tells I may be giving off. Wearing sunglasses helps me more psychologically than it does cover my eyes. And if something helps you in your own head, do it.

At the end of that day, poker is a game of incomplete information. If you had "complete" information, you would always know what to do, with absolute certainty. But this isn't the case. You don't always know what to do. Therefore any additional information (to aid in your decision making process) can only help you. The more information the better. And if you just pay attention to what's going on around you, you'll see that there is a world of information just waiting to be digested. Sit up. Watch the game. Look at the players. Win some hands.

(2) comments

Posted by Junelli 10:15 AM
I recently discovered a new card room that's located about 5 min from my house. To say it was big is an understatement:

15 tables
Tournaments 7 days a week ($40 freezeouts everday AND $220 freezeouts on Fri/Sat)
Cash games @ 5pm on weekdays (and 12pm on weekends)
$1-$2 NL and $2-$5 NL and $5-$5 ROE
Food, waitresses, massage, etc.
Separate smokeroom
Very professional and well run

I have been twice and both times there were over 100 players.

If you want directions/details, just send me an email.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Posted by Dr Fro 3:44 PM
Playin heads up

I got a request in the IAG mailbag to discuss heads-up play. I have never read much in-depth analysis on proper heads-up play, so this all all based on personal trial and error. Feel free to comment.

I used to end up heads up quite often in tournaments and got 2nd place a whole lot more often than 1st place. So I decided to practice heads-up a lot more. I got into a habit of playing 2-man SNGs on I started out losing, but eventually turned it around and won. According to Sharkscope, my lifetime winnings are:

$5.25.......2 (heads-up)......78...............45............33...........$40.50
misc.........2 (heads-up)......13..............6................7...........-$8.50
All other...6 or 10...............45..............................................$54.50

So, I ain't exactly the world's highest rolling, money-making, ass-kicking heads-up poker player, but I have found a tiny niche where I can make some money. Here are the rules by which I play:

All tactics support the basic strategy hanging in there and waiting for your opponent to make a terrible mistake.

Seven rules for the period of time when the blinds are small:

#1 Keep the pots small.

After all, if you want to hang in there, it is going to be tough if there is a lot of pre-flop action. I make my raises small: typically just 1xBB. I am not at all interested in getting into a pre-flop pissing contest since I consider myself to (possibly) be superior to my opponent in post-flop play. If not, and if they play the same strategy as I do, we will end up in a coin toss when the blinds are huge (see below). Don't piss away your huge advantage of superior post-flop play by pressing tiny pre-flop advantages.

#2 Always, always make your pre-flop raises for the exact same amount.

This is decent advice for a full table, but you can get away with varying your bets at a full tabel, and many opponents will be oblivious to the information you are giving away. In heads-up, even the most unaware opponent will be on to every nuance in your betting patterns. Decide on a standard pre-flop raise amount ( 1.5xBB or 1.0xBB are fine) and stick with it.

#3 It is usually right to call for 3:1 pot odds.

Whether you are in the SB and call when first to act or in the BB and call a raised pot, either way, you are getting 3:1 pot odds. With deep stacks, your implied odds are even better. There just aren't many hands that should be folded. I probably play north of 90% of all hands out there. If the cards have anything in common with each other, I play them. If they are suited, I play. If they are connected or 1-gappers or 2-gappers, I play them. If either card is 10 or higher, I play them. I fold a limited range of hands, the best of which is probably 96o. Anything better, I play.

This advice is limited to the earlier rounds. Once the BB gets very big, your implied odds go down, and it is right to fold a wider range of hands.

#4 It is usually wrong to call when getting much worse than 3:1 odds

Your opponent is raising more than 1.0 or 1.5x the BB because he likes his cards. You should not dance with him unless you have very good cards. Teach him a lesson: you can be pushed around. If he pushes you around enough, he will eventually do one (or both) of two things: raise less with a good hand to get you to call (and you draw out on him) or try to steal your blind when you have a monster. Both could be devastating. Remember, in heads-up play, the value of a decision rarely is defined by what happens on that hand; it is just one point in a portfolio of decisions. It is like "running the ball to set up the pass."

#5 K6o is better than you think

The hands I consider raising with are: all pairs, all hands with an Ace and all hands from K6-KQ. Note that this criteria means that you will raise 52% of the time with what are, roughly the top half of all hands in heads-up poker. Yes, that is right. K6 is quite a bit better than QJ. Also, being suited is never part of a justification for raising. Calling, maybe, but not raising. You just don't hit the flush that often, and if you do, you might not get paid off.

#6 On the flop, I'll bet if I connect. If I don't connect, I will bet.

If I pair at all, which I will do 1/3 of the time, I bet it. If I miss, there is a 2/3 chance he missed, too, so I will bet it. I bet the flop often, but I don't bet much. Half the pot will do. And since we kept the pot low pre-flop, this won't cost me too much if he pops me and I fold.

If he bets, I will call if I paired anything at all, but the big drawing hands are all "throw away hands" to me. I am not going to pay him off for 2 streets hoping to make my straight. Remember, keep the game small potatoes. I might even fold a draw when getting pot odds just to hang around.

Any sort of big raise, re-raise, check-raise or other indication of strength sends me packing.

#7 Don't get caught with your pants down

I never, ever, ever go all-in on a stone cold bluff on any street. Nor do I make a bluff of such magnitude that I am crippled if re-raises.

If my opponent comes at me with all or most of his chips, I will fold just about anything short of the stone cold nuts. If you wait, wait, wait, your time will come. He who turns and walks away, lives to fight another day.

Advice for when the blinds are big compared to the stacks

In a sense, the advice for this stage is the exact opposite of the seven rules above, except perhaps number 5.

Getting 3:1 pot odds, as stated earlier, doesn't lead to big implied odds when the M is small. I typically raise all-in with just about any hand K6 or better. I fold most other hands. This strategy turns the whole enchilada into something of a coin-toss, as your opponent will likely be doing the same. If the tournament gets to this point, oh well, you tried.


Often (I'd say >20%), if you play small pots long enough, you can avoid getting to the point of huge blinds, as your opponent will make a deadly mistake. The most common mistakes are:

- overplaying a dominated hand (e.g., trips into your boat)

- slowplaying and letting you draw out

- bluffing into your monster

I would say that, in my experience, probably 20% of the head-up SNGs I play in end in an early or middle round when my opponent "nutted himself before he could even take off his pants." Many of those times, I only managed to get the opportunity to watch said nutting because I avoided a big pot early. The other 80% of the SNGs turn into coin flips at the end. Winning half of the 80% is 40% plus all of the 20% gets me to 60% winning percentage (appr. ties to table above, NFWCN).

Funny, the above strategy is basically the same one I used to win money at pool in college. I was an above average player, but I won money by employing a strategy against better players: don't take risky shots, leave the cue ball where your opponent has a difficult or risky shot and wait for them to eventually make a mistake. The mistake was typically scratching while making a shot on the eight ball, but it was sometimes just leaving me with an easy run on the table. A similar strategy worked for me in a big (at the time) prop bet I made in Junior High. I bet a guy who was much better than I at tennis that I could beat him once in a set. If I came at him with everything, he would have won the bet. But, I sat back and just returned the ball over and over, never trying to do anything too fancy. Sure enough, on the third game, he made a couple mistakes getting too aggressive, and I won $20.

The above poker, pool and tennis strategy only work against ok players. Do not employ the above strategy against Daniel Negreanu, or he will eat your lunch. Since most of the time we all play against players that aren't all that good, you can take this strategy to the bank.

(1) comments

Friday, July 20, 2007

Posted by Johnnymac 10:59 PM

Oh, why the hell not post this?

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Posted by Johnnymac 9:58 AM
I like Fro's post below so much that I will make a rare in-blog response, which will actually make it an even rarer poker post from me. Next, I will post a picture of the Bigfoot that I saw in my backyard this morning.

I agree with the conclusion about playing pairs versus a reraise, but not with how long it took to get there because I don't think it's a very complicated situation. Middle and small pairs (JJ down) are not particularly strong hands pre-flop and need to be folded against just about any action that comes back at you and I think this is Doyle's point - he seems to be axiomatic that he automatically will fold every time in this situation and not bother thinking about it.

Aside from the standard advice of always opening with a raise and never limping from early position, my personal feeling is that JJ and TT might be worth an opponent-specific raise if there are limpers in front (i.e. if I were playing against myself, because I am a pussy... but you all already know that), otherwise I see any pair other than AA, KK, and QQ (and only sometimes QQ) to be drawing hands, pure and simple: try and see the flop for cheap and then you either flop a set or make some sort of raggedy hand or you fold as soon as there is action.

Preflop play in poker is the easiest part, no doubt.

(1) comments

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Posted by Dr Fro 10:27 PM
Playing Middle Pairs

In June 2005, I wrote:
I have decided to write a complete piece on this later, but here is the situation: pair vs overcards. It is basically a coin toss and it is so close, that I personally find it irrelevant that the pair is a slight favorite. What I do find relevant is how you play this hand in this situation. Adam had a pair (so he says), maybe about a 99. He raised and I popped him hard with AK. He thought for a while and folded. I think he did the right thing, or at least one of the right things. His only options are to fold or go all-in, IMO. A call is so very wrong with a low or middle pair because your BEST case scenario is a coin toss and there is a possibility of the 4.5:1 situation of facing a bigger pair. Fold or raise big. He folded.This hand isn't all that interesting except that it happened the same day that I posted Matusow's rant about calling in this situation and the same day Kim Hock and I analyzed a similiar hand from a tournament in Houston on Friday. Anyway, look for a rambling diatribe soon on how to play your cards in this situation.

I had a followup which covered some math and got some discussion from some players for whom I have respect. Worth a read.

Then I got some mail in the mailbag:

From: K, father of C
Date: 06/19/2005 03:05 PM
To: Dr Fro
Subject: CF's Post on Mid pairs

I read CF's post on IAG and I can't argue w/ any of his assumptions. Whileit is not EV based, Dan Harrington addresses this situation in his book. His scenarios revolve around T-T instead of 9-9 but it is interesting reading. He goes through several scenarios in p (sic) 241-250. He never suggests folding but he does present situations for calling and raising. He uses pot odds to support his conclusions.

I thought that would make for some good reading if you are interested in another perspective on the same topic.

So I re-read pages 241-250.

Action Dan gives examples. Example 5-14 and 5-15*, while offering brilliant advice, are not on point to my original post (a raise that sees a re-raise).

Example 5-16 is, somewhat. It involves the raise, re-raise situation, but because the re-raise is all-in, it is impossible to re-re-raise. So the decision boils down to fold or call. He says to call.

Example 5-17 involves JJ and is only concerned with your initial action, not what you do if you raise and get re-raised.

Example 5-18 involves 22, which is extraordinarily different from a middle pair. Action Dan correctly tells you to fold this hand.

In summary, I don't see anything in Dan's book that tells you what to do if you raise with middle pair and get re-raised. He does correctly consider the threat of a re-raise when advising on what your initial action might be. Too many people ignore this risk and consequently raise too often (and for too much) with middle pairs. Perhaps the reason Dan doesn't advise what you should do in the difficult situation that Adam found himself in is because his preflop play is designed to avoid minimize such a situation. In the end, I think that is perhaps the best lesson of all: don't do shit that puts you in a tough situation.

But I am still looking for wisdom that is on point to the Adam situation. Alas, I found it. On page 483 of S/S, Doyle says that "he might pick up a pair of nines...and I might raise with it...he might play back at me. If he did...he'd get the pot. I'd give the pot to anyone who raised me before (emphasis is most definitely not mine) the flop."

I'll correct his quote rather than sic the whole thing and confuse you, but he finishes with this:

I'd never stand a re-raise when I have a small (this includes JJ and lower) pair before the turn. I won't take any pressure with them. If someone puts a play on me, I throw them away.

Well, it is good to know that I wasn't crazy after all. Some washed up ex-basketball player from Texas agrees with what I wrote. More importantly, he agrees with what Adam did.

* On a side note, you are holding TT, you raise, get a re-raise, call and end up in a three-way pot. The flop comes QQ6. Dan is (not surprisingly) brilliant in pointing out that this a a good flop. KQ6 is a bad flop. QQ6 means that you opponents likely missed the flop. So, he says bet, and I agree. In fact, if you miss this bet on a regular basis, I think you will lose a lot of money at NLHE. Drive out everyone but the all-in dude and in all likelihood, you have him beat. I guess that it worked out well that you called given the flop. Most flops are uglier than that. This is a post-flop play that is fantastic. My post was supposed to be about pre-flop play.

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Posted by Dr Fro 9:51 PM
After weeks of waiting and watching, we finally have the big news from the biggest sports stage in the world:

I am now starting at first base for the PwC softball team.

Oh, and in the news of the wierd, there is a new poker world champion.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Posted by Dr Fro 8:49 AM
Of course the Main Event is going on right now, but when the last big name pro gets eliminated, I lose interest.

+ + + + + + + +

Junell's poker hiatus is going well. In fact, it is going so well that he went to Coushatta this weekend and played $2-$5 NL and won a little money. If I ever quit playing poker, that is how I am going to quit.

+ + + + + + + +

After the All Star game, I looked at the Astros' schedule. This month, we play the Cubs, Dodgers, Padres and Braves. Gulp. It is time for me to admit that we suck and that we have no hope of changing that.

+ + + + + + + +

They have now started to broadcast the 2007 WSOP. Although I am Tivo-ing the whole enchilada, I might just watch the Main Event and the HORSE event. The complete schedule is below:

• Tuesday, July 10 at 8 p.m. -- $5,000 World Championship mixed hold 'em (Event 1)

• Tuesday, July 10 at 9 p.m. -- $1,500 no-limit hold 'em (Event 3)

• Tuesday, July 17 at 8 p.m. -- $1,500 pot-limit hold 'em (Event 4)

• Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. -- $1,000 no-limit hold 'em with rebuys (Event 8)

• Tuesday, July 31 at 8 and 9 p.m. -- $5,000 pot-limit Omaha with rebuys (Event 7)

• Tuesday, August 7 at 8 and 9 p.m. -- $3,000 no-limit hold 'em (Event 28)

• Tuesday, August 14th at 8 p.m. -- $5,000 World Championship pot-limit hold 'em (Event 13)

• Tuesday, August 14th at 9 p.m. -- $5,000 World Championship heads-up and $2,000 seven card stud (Event 31 and 32)

• Tuesdays, August 21 until October 9 at 8 and 9 p.m. -- $10,000 main event no-limit hold 'em (Event 55)

• Tuesdays, October 16 until October 30 at 8 and 9 p.m. -- $50,000 HORSE (Event 39)

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Posted by Dr Fro 12:36 PM
Oklahoma Trip Report

"I am really good at winning the last hand of the session, just ask KTL..."

Feather and I went to Winstar on Saturday. We starting playing at 9:15a.m. and got up at 3:45p.m. Six and a half hours are about right for a poker session, but I am somewhat partial to >20 hour sessions. Feather beat up the 5-10NL table, and I played 2-5.

This was my first trip since Winstar built the new poker room. It is HUGE. There were like, I don't know, like a million tables. Flush with HD flat screens and all the trimmings, it is a pretty sweet poker room. If they could just get the waitresses from the Wynn...

Winstar seats 9 to a table for Holdem, which basically plays the same as 10-handed. However, we often had 2 or 3 guys away from the table, so I spent most of the day playing 6- and 7-handed. That really kinda sucked. The problem was that Winstar is having trouble filling up its upcoming tournament, and so they have a new rule that a player can leave his chips at the table and keep his seat if he goes to one of the 1-table satellites. Huh? What a stupid rule! As a result, we played short-handed, which is simply less fun. Oh well.

Fairly early on, I lost a $600 pot. Dude went all-in on the flop, and I had top set. No brainer call. He had 2h4h and made bottom pair, 4 kicker. He was on a stone cold bluff. The turn and river brought a runner runner flush, and I lost.

He had a 2.4% chance of beating me.

So I spent most of the day down about $600. I had bought in for $1,200, so my stack was around $600 most of the day.

At one point, the super tight pro in the SB made a 4xBB raise. Can you say "Aces"? So I called with 24s. Why? In my opinion, in NL poker, any time you think you know exactly what someone holds, you should call. Although your cards are a dog, you are a huge favorite to outplay your opponent. Anyway, to make for sweet justice on the $600 pot I lost to 24s, I made a flush with my 24s and won a sweet pot.

Time passed and my stack was down to about $550. I had 15 minutes to go before we left. During that 15 minutes, I won $650. For the last hand of the session, I was stacking my chips in a rack and told the table, "I am only going to play this hand if I get AA." I was dealt QQ. I had to play. Flop came up ragged and I got into a raising war with another player. We were almost all-in on the flop, but we got the rest of our chips in there on the turn. He had a draw at the flush and the straight with two streets to get it. Fifteen outs on two streets is one of those rare situations where the drawing hand is the favorite, and the made hand is a dog, albeit a slight one. This dog won, and I dragged a huge pot.

I counted my chips, saw that I had $1,206, gave $6 to the dealer and headed home.

All in all, it was a good session. I bought a lot of pots with continuation bets. I think I made some great laydowns, but I think I was bluffed out of a pot once (that is, if my opponent told me the truth.) I didn't have particularly good hands. I never got AA or KK. I got Big Slick a few times, but I couldn't get any action. Any time I break even when I don't get good cards is just fine with me.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Posted by Johnnymac 12:12 PM
I thought the point of modern video games was that they were supposed to be somewhat realistic. Yes, in the 2006 Rose Bowl there was a quarterback on the field who was capable of winning the game with a 50yd TD run on the last play of the game, but no, it wasn't this one.

I think "Dreamland" is an accurate title for this.

(1) comments

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Posted by Dr Fro 8:47 AM
WSOP prize pool:

PLACE .......... PRIZE
1 ..................... $8,250,000
2 ..................... $4,840,981
3 ..................... $3,048,025
4 ..................... $1,852,721
5 ..................... $1,255,069
6 ..................... $956,243
7 ..................... $705,229
8 ..................... $585,699
9 ..................... $525,934
10 - 12 ........... $476,926
13 - 15 ........... $429,114
16 - 18 ........... $381,302
19 - 27 ........... $333,490
28 - 36 ........... $285,678
37 - 45 ........... $237,865
46 - 54 ........... $190,053
55 - 63 ........... $154,194
64 - 72 ........... $130,288
73 - 81 ........... $106,382
82 - 90 ........... $82,476
91 - 99 ........... $67,535
100 - 162 ...... $58,570
163 - 225 ...... $51,398
226 - 288 ...... $45,422
289 - 351 ...... $39,445
352 - 414 ...... $34,664
415 - 477 ...... $29,883
478 - 549 ...... $25,101
550 - 621 ...... $20,320

Not bad for a few days work. The payout for first is less than what Jamie Gold won but more than Aussie Aussie Aussie Oy Oy Oy won.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Posted by Dr Fro 10:47 PM
The summer line up of blog posts:

- Playing Middle Pairs
- Playing Heads-Up
- Debunking 2-4 on my list of 5, quickly and succinctly
- Trip Report from Oklahoma
- Mack Brown post (surprisingly poker-related)
- The Mark Junell is a Piece of ____ post
- College Football 2007 Predictions
- WSOP 2007 - Why Poker is Better than Ever

Stay tuned

(1) comments

Posted by Dr Fro 9:54 PM

A while ago, I posted 5 points on why conventional wisdom on poker strategy is flawed. (Scroll down to the end of the link.) I quickly elaborated on point #5, but left you hanging on the other four. Hang no more.

Here's the deal: in limit poker, every frickin decision you make counts, but they each only count a little. There are no terrible plays. No bet, raise or call can ever have an EV > the size of the big bet, which really isn't that much. In no limit, you can lose your entire stack with one call. You can also lose it all calling down a suspected bluff that turns out to not be a bluff. While in NL there are plenty of small decisions you might make wrong, there are just a handful in a long session that truly make a difference in your results.

I think that the following big-ticket decisions are the ones that count:

- Bluffing
- Calling a bluff
- Making a big laydown

These skills are a step above the fundamental skills but a step below the highly advanced skills of (IMHO) inducing bluffs and inducing calls. I will not write to those skills, maybe Junell will.

You can raise pre-flop from the small blind with 72o every time you are in that position, and it won't make much of a difference in your success. You raise with middle pair, lay low with middle pair or take off your pants and sing "Dixie" with middle pair, and none of these decisions will have much of an effect on your poker success (though one may get you some tips).

On the other hand, let me name a few tendencies that can absolute break you:

- making a jumungous bluff and getting called
- laying down a monster when being bluffed
- calling with a huge hand to lose to an monster nutty hand

Been there? Done that?

If so, do you remember how you felt? I bet that at some point the thought crossed your mind, "Damn, I played so freaking well, slowly building my bankroll with great little moves all night long that earned me $20 here, $50 here, then BAM! I blew $500 on a stupid freaking decision. DAMN!"

Or worse, maybe you reacted by attributing all those small wins to skill but the big loss to bad luck ("I can't believe my nines full of aces lost to aces full of nines!"). Guess what, those big hands aren't just part of the game, the are the game.

I have played a crapload of poker in my life. The proverbial "long run" has occurred. I can not attribute my net winnings or losses to luck. Yet, I can point to a handful of decision (about 10 in the past 6 years) that single-handedly, materially affect my results to date. Some seemed good luck, some seemed bad luck, but they all tended to fall neatly into the three categories above.

So, stop reading those damn books that tell you that you should only play a select group of starting hands or books that say if you always make continuation bets, you will be a millionaire. This is sage advice, but it would be like me advising you that to save money, you should buy the grande rather than the venti. C'mon, that saves you 25c, but if I tell you not to get into consumer debt, my advice is worth tens of thousands of dollars. Both pieces of advice will save you money, but if you don't get the consumer debt thing right, you could grow your own coffee beans yet always be poor. (By the way, I have no consumer debt, so I treat myself to ventis. This is a true statement both literally and sticking with the metaphor.)

What else to do? Obsess over these three situations. I am not qualified to tell you how to make these decisions properly every time, but if you can realize (when faced with these decisions) that these decisions very much drive your results, you just might give them a little more attention. That alone could make a big difference. Just stop for a second and say to yourself, "Self, this is the decision that changes everything. This is 4th and 5 in the championship game. If I blow this, I lose." Recognize the importance of the decision, take your time, consider every bit of information at your disposal and make a decision. Take notes of how you are doing on these decisions. See if there is a trend. Do your bluffs get called? When considering a laydown that you end up calling, do you tend to lose? Understand that this is what separates winners from losers and ignore all the other noise.

By the way, this addresses point # 1 from the old post. I think that there is still too much focus on the science on the fundamentals of poker, particularly on the earlier streets, as that is how you make money at limit. I do not think there is enough attention paid to the very difficult decisions that have to be made in the later streets, the sort of decisions that can make or break you. This is very important in NL, but it is almost irrelevant in limit when it almost always makes sense to call on the end due to the pot odds. Bringing limit strategy (or NL strategy that is disproportionately focused on areas important to limit) to a NL game would be like showing up to a hockey match dressed for a tennis match.

I am quite open-minded to arguments on all things poker, but this is one of those things to which I have simply never heard a single good rebuttal. If you have one, I'd like to hear it. Or better, if you think I am wrong, let's play poker some day.

Straight flushes,


(1) comments

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Posted by Dr Fro 10:35 PM
This is a decent site full of quick videos for your daily fix of WSOP updates.

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Posted by Dr Fro 10:10 PM

The WSOP Main Event is underway. I am at home drinking wine and watching 14 (and counting) innings of Astros baseball. At least I can't lose $10,000 doing this.

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Posted by Dr Fro 10:07 PM

Some things truly never get old.

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Posted by Dr Fro 9:48 PM

Next weekend, the Fro girls are headed out of town, so I am going to make a run for the border. Whether I play poker at Winstar on Friday evening or Saturday day is a function of who wants to join me and which time they prefer.

Please comment or email me if you want to go.

Little known fact: for all the poker money I have extracted from Nevada, I have never, ever won a red (no pun intended) cent in Oklahoma. Discuss amongst yourselves.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Posted by Dr Fro 10:14 PM
July 4, 2007
Flush out your head gear, new guy. You think we waste gooks for "freedom"? This is a slaughter. If I'm gonna get my balls blown off for a word ... my word is "poontang."
Happy Independence Day. I know that "They" hate our freedoms (Man, do they hate them), but I don't. Nope, I love freedom. Yup. That, and poontang. I love that, too. Don't make me choose. No sirree, I like 'em both. Freedom and poontang. That's what I like.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Posted by Junelli 9:29 AM
"James Gandolfini Shot by Closure-Seeking Fan."

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Posted by Johnnymac 10:03 PM
This is worthy of a quick laugh, but only if you have first heard about this.

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



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