Thursday, November 27, 2008

Coached part II: Homework

Stuff I want to check out at the earliest possible convenience:

1. Filter in HEM for big pots on the flop. Basically, Alan has got me 3-betting and squeezing more than I have been before. This in turn has put me in more spots on the flop with a big pot (the relatively rare times that my raises get called) and I've been feeling a bit uncomfortable about how my game there. So, I will try to construct a filter in HEM for these spots and how I'm doing in them. The filter will be something like this:

  • All hands except for JJ-AA and AQ/AK.
  • Did 3-bet preflop = true
  • Saw flop = true
  • all hand values worse than two pair.
Now, clearly I will lose a lot of money in these spots. That doesn't make the 3-betting/squeezing unprofitable in itself, because those plays are immediately profitable. No, what I need to make sure is happening is that I'm not losing more than my fair share of money once the flop hits and I don't hit a miracle board. The $24+ that I've put in with my 3-bet/squeeze is dead money at this point and what I want to know is that I'm not losing more than that on average because at that point I'd be essentially better off just giving up immediately unless I flop a monster.

So that's something to investigate.

2. I should be firing a second barrel often (always?) when I whiff the flop, but pick up a strong draw on the turn. The situation didn't come up very often last night during the coaching session so I want to go back a bit in time and see what my standard play for these situations is. I have a feeling I check back the turn often with a strong draw, opting to take the free card. If that's the case, I need to do some pen-and-paper work and figure out what my equity is likely to be and what I perceive his range to be and find out if a semi-bluff makes more sense than trying to hit a 20% draw.

3. At some point, I really do need to spend some serious time with PokeRazor. I've downloaded it, installed it and tried it out but I haven't done the work yet. Shame on me. :(

Will post the results here when I have them.


As a sidenote, I'm trying to clear GoldStar on Stars this month for a $100 bonus. A little bit silly, perhaps, with the stakes I'm playing nowadays, but every little bit counts. And why give up free money? But the real reason I put myself up to achieving these goals is because it forces me to put in volume. And I'm a real slacker. Without little mile stones to shoot for, I just don't play as much as I feel I should. This month, I'm hoping for 25k hands. I'm at about 20k right now, which is quite a lot for me. Let's see how I do tonight.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bike Hero

Okay, seriously, this needs to be linked:

I'm a big fan of one-take Youtube stuff, so here's some more, older stuff that you may not have seen:

And after Daft Hands, check out Daft Bodies:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One down.

And my spite-removing of RSS-shortened blogs has yielded its first victim: Daniel Negreanus blog is no longer something I read.

I wonder how he'll sleep at night once he finds out.

Guinness and Poker is still there, though. Then again, Iggy hasn't made a new post yet so who knows whether or not he has changed his ways.

... and there are others, too. Oh yes, I know who you are.

Tick-tock, bitches.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bloggah, Please.

Please, please, please don't use the function of cutting off your blog posts in your RSS feeds. I realize you're doing it for commercial reasons so that people will visit your site and click your links, but I'm this close to spite-removing all blogs from Google Reader that require me to open them in a new window. It's a tiny, tiny HUGE hassle.

I'm looking at you, Iggy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I should probably have made this post almost a week ago, but here's roughly what happened:

Wednesday night, I had my first coaching session. By the time it was over, I was up way past my bedtime and simply crawled into bed and tried to fight off the urge to think about poker and instead sleep. I failed, but that's neither here nor there.

Thursday when I came home from work, I itched badly to play. I wanted to work on the things I had gone over with my coach, Alan. See below. I could have blogged, sure, but playing takes precedence.

Friday night, we were invited over to a friend's house for board games. I went there almost directly from work, so no real time for blogging.

Saturday, a coworker was hosting a small private poker tournament. It took almost all day (and no, no heroic victory for yours truly; although I think I played well the whole time) and after which Lori and I went to another friend's place to celebrate his birthday. Came home late. Came home drunk. Not a good time to blog, either.

Slept awfully that night because my back hurt really badly. Spent Sunday very tired. Had no interest in computers. Stayed away from it, mostly.

Did not sleep at all Sunday night/Monday morning, thanks to the above-mentioned back pains. Went to work, drank lots of coffee, called and got a time the same day with a chiropractor. Went there, he straightened some parts of me out but I'm going back tomorrow. Still, very tired when I got home and not really in a mood for poker or blogging.

Slept better last night, but not great. Still well enough to feel energetic enough after dinner to play a few hundred hands, and now I have exactly 12 minutes until House is on TV, so this leaves me some time to let you know how things have gone.

... and things have gone great. Although one single session is a bit too early to gauge anything from, I'm confident I made a good pick in who I got for a coach. The session went well, at least in terms of what I feel I got out of it. In fact, I figured I'd show you a copy of my post-session notes, and you should keep these two things in mind when you read it:

  1. I am not - or at least was not - very comfortable in situations regarding 3-betting. My own 3-bet percentage is lower than it should be, and I don't particularly enjoy being 3-bet myself. This was one of the topics I informed Alan before-hand that I wanted to look at.
  2. I still haven't shaken the limit hold 'em habit of c-betting every flop. I don't actually c-bet every flop, but it's not far from it. This was another area for Alan in which to talk some sense into me.
So, the four things I made explicit notes of post-session:


Basically, I want to shoot for a number that's closer to 8%, as opposed to my 5% of today. The way I will do this is not by widening my overall 3-betting range, but instead looking for profitable spots to essentially 3-bet 100% of the time when I have opponents on my right that fold too often.


After sleeping on it, I've decided I'm going to try a new approach to c-bets. Coming from LHE, the default move as the preflop raiser is to always c-bet the flop so that's the default action I've taken with me to NLHE. Instead, I'm going to default to checking and look for a reason to bet, as opposed to defaulting to betting and looking for a reason to check. We'll see if it works. I noticed that a lot of the times I was supposed to check, my instinct to bet was mostly just because I didn't really know what else to do.


My stealing percentages are fine in general, but I should look for tables where I can steal virtually any-two on the button and have at it, not widening my overall range. The same situation as with the 3-bets, in other words.


Download it, use it, love it.

Of course, there was a lot more covered in the session, but in broad strokes, these are the four things I really want to work on right now.

So how have I done? To be perfectly honest (and why not) I haven't done that well. I think a large part of that comes from simply not having a chance to play much yet, which I hope to rectify in the upcoming days and especially this weekend. But part of it is also that I don't yet prepare before a session in a way that lets me focus on the items that I want to work on before I play. And that's where I'll try to be smarter next time; set up goals for the upcoming 500 hands for things I want to work on. If I'm playing 4-6 tables, I think working on items 1-3 simultaneously should not be a problem.

Okay, 1 minute to House. I shall wrap it up here, then.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

TT Out Of Position

$1/$2 NL at Party, I'm dealt TcTd in the hi-jack, and open to $6.

My primary reason for being at this table, the cut-off, is a 70/9/1.5 player who takes any pair to showdown and is probably really easy to double up against. He unsurprisingly calls my raise with what I can only assume are two cards.

On the button sits one of Party's better regulars at 200NL, who raises it up to $32. The blinds fold and the action is on me.

Effective stack is $200 (they both have me covered). What's my play?

I ended up calling. The flop came 7-7-3 rainbow. A nightmare flop; I have $168 left and the pot is almost $100 and I have an overpair. I can't easily get away from my hand. I'm first to act. What's my play?

I decided to check and see if I could get some useful information out of their actions. The CO checked as well and the solid button bet $70. Action's on me. What's my play?

So again I'm stuck with the "well, I can't fold" dilemma, but this is also the committment threshold right here. Since I can't fold, all my money is now set on going into the middle. How do I make the best of it? I decided that just calling his bet (as opposed to shoving) was the way to go. A shove will doubtfully make any better hand fold - I don't think he'll fold JJ here - and while my fold equity vs AK is nothing to sneeze at I'm more interested in getting the awful CO in the action with me.

The turn is a 5, I now have $98 left and the pot is $239. Again, I fall back to my defensive line; better to get all the money in with him shoving than with him calling since his shoving range contains bluffs where as his calling range does not. Then again, if he checks back the turn he gets a free look at the river with what's often going to be 6 outs.


I think this is a tough hand on almost all decisions except for my initial raise. I think the biggest problem I faced was on the flop, because I'm about to commit and I don't have a plan. The guy I'm hiring for coaching, Alan, suggested a different line on the flop that I agree with: Lead out instead of checking. It has some advantages:

1. I will immediately "find out" if the bad CO is interested in continuing or not. It's his money I'm shooting for, after all, not the button's. If CO folds, I'm suddenly in a reverse implied odds situation and can basically give up if the button continues. Some of the time, button will call my flop donk with a better hand and then check back the turn and river fearing that I'm trapping, but I think this particular player is good enough to realize what I'm doing once I check the turn, though.

2. If I lead out and CO calls, button's going to have a Very Hard Time (tm) raising anything but hands that have me crushed. The pot is protected; he's not going to raise with KQs or any kind of bluff hand here. We're committed and he knows it.

3. It prevents the free card disaster that could happen if both CO and button check. Together they may have as many as 12 outs if I'm currently ahead, and a free card is expensive for me in such a big pot.

So, in conclusion: A better plan would have been to lead the flop, for maybe $55, and set myself up for a situation where I can more easily get away from my hand if the bad player folds and the good player calls.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I've decided to pay for private coaching, to speed up my learning curve a bit and make me prepared for 2/4 and 3/6 (and, maybe just maybe even 5/10) in 2009. The coach is Alan "Dixon" Jackson from Stoxpoker, and I'll document the experience as best I can.

Before we get started, he has requested that I send him a quick bio where I include info about what I want out of poker and spots that make me uncomfortable. This is what I sent him:


About me
I'm 31, live in Linköping, Sweden, married to Lori since a little over a year back and we have a baby on the way which is exciting but nerve-wrecking. I work for a small company (about 30 people) who develop software for set top boxes (digital TV).

Playing poker
I first started playing poker with some friends in high school. Obviously had no idea what we were doing, and playing no-limit poker without table stakes is clearly lunacy. But the bug bit me and so when playing poker online became available, I jumped at it. Paradise Poker, specifically. I bought in for $50, lost it quickly and then decided that there were more fun computer games out there for me to play, and I got stuck with EverQuest for a few years.

In the summer of 2005 I was travelling in business quite a bit and wanted something to do while sitting in hotel rooms in various cities in the world, and decided that online poker would be a good choice since it required so little in terms of network connection and computer hardware; it would have been more difficult for me to install and run World of Warcraft or some other high-graphics game on my work laptop. So I went with poker, and started looking around for tips on how to play on the web.

Found a site called, read some of their articles, registered on the forum and got involved in discussion. I very quickly appreciated the theory behind poker, and decided to read all the poker books I could get my hands on. Went through Hold 'em for Advanced Players, Theory of Poker, and essentially started to order everything 2+2 had published. I played limit hold 'em, starting at the micro limits and moved up from there.

I could never play very much poker because of my job and other commitments, but I studied it carefully and tried to make the most of my time spent playing. I climbed the limits up to $5/$10 and some $10/$20 but at that point I was outmatched and very ill prepared for a downswing, both in terms of bankroll management and mentally. So when the downswing came, I gradually lost most of my bankroll in the late summer and fall of 2007. I moved down to $1/$2 and kept grinding, but felt frustrated with limit hold 'em and eventually decided to take the plunge and move to no-limit permanently. I had played a little NL here and there but not seriously.

So on April 1st this year, I loaded up a few $25NL tables at Stars and started trying to learn how to play. I had about a $2k bankroll at the time, but didn't want to start higher than $25 because I wanted to limit the potential loss. After a successful month at 25NL, I moved up to 50NL, and then in June started playing a little bit of 100NL when I found good tables. In August, I had been fortunate enough to get a bankroll sized to play a little bit of $200NL and that's where I've been since then. It's been going up and down a bit, but mostly up and I think I've learned a lot in the past few months.

I'm naturally a bit passive, and I've had to work pretty hard to become more aggressive.

Poker goals
Poker will probably never be my primary income, but I want to maximize it as a secondary income. If I can comfortably play $3/$6 and maybe some $5/$10 and have a modest win-rate, I'd be more than happy with that. A lot of what holds me back is the volume of hands that I play which means I need to learn how to multitable better. I've installed AHK and I have a dual monitor set up (20' + 24') but I still feel like I need to get more decisions on autopilot in order to play more than 6 tables at once. Basically, I'm hoping to, in 2009, reach a level of skill that allows me to play ~30k hands a month of 3/6 profitably.

Spots that make me uncomfortable
Being 3-bet by aggressive players. And although I've gotten better I'm still not entirely comfortable with when to c-bet or not. I used to c-bet virtually every flop (and in the 30k hand sample I think this will be reflected somewhat; I only in the past few weeks started checking flops more frequently). I try to table select pretty carefully because I just don't feel like I'm a winning when I'm playing regulars. I don't think I'm necessarily losing, but if there's a profit there, it's probably eaten by the rake.