Playing poker for profit while keeping the day job.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Getting into the game.

Well, clearing the distractions out of the way seemed to help but one session doesn't prove the theory. Finished up 140BB for a 4 hour session and more importantly didn't have to rebound from a series of early losses.

One lesson I learnt for sure was bankroll management, albiet on a micro scale. I transferred $20 to Stars a little while ago to try an experiment, can I build up the initial deposit in the $2 satellites to earn enough tourny cash to fund shots at bigger tournaments. Did the first part quite nicely but got carried away with the second part and several tournaments later had gone through the entire fund. Doesn't matter how good I am at building up the fund if there's nothing to start it again!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

I've noticed a trend in my recent sessions where I lose several buyins early on and the result of the session eventually comes down to two things, how soon do I get my head in the game and start winning more than I lose and how long the session lasts after that point.

This does raise an important point about how I'm playing, I'm drifting into games while I'm still browsing the net, checking out ebay or whatever. Eventually the distractions dry up and I start to give the game my full attention and the results start to turn. There's a really obvious conclusion to draw from this...don't start playing until you're ready to play. Instead of missing out on profitable playing time you're probably saving yourself a considerable amount when you add up all the sessions.

This is only a thing I've noticed since playing NL, with limit the decisions were so much more mathmatical and less player based I found autopilot would suffice more often than not.

Luckily I've a handy tool to get me ready to play, I can't open a table until I've updated this blog!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

It's all a balancing act

I've been away from the tables for a while as other areas of the work/life/poker trilogy took priority but I've managed to squeeze some time in. After a disastrous start to the month where I was down $350 I've managed to turn that around so I'm $50 up, the trick has been cutting back from playing 6->8 tables of .25/.50 NL and only playing 2 tables. It's a lot less effective at working off bonuses but it demonstrates the difference between limit and no-limit, with limit it was about playing a small edge across as many tables as possible while you can make the same money playing just a couple of no-limit tables well.

Tonights session ended up $60 despite a costly hand running aces into queens that flop a set (I still get stacked in these situations), the hand that came to my rescue was a gutshot that hit. With QJo in the big blind I had to call $1 with four players already in, the raise was from early position so I expect I need to hit the flop hard but I'm getting nearly 7:1. The flop comes rainbow A98 and the pre-flop raiser bets $4, a mid-position player calls and I make the call as I close the action. This is a play I'm making more often on the flop since playing NL cash tables as you tend to get very high implied odds if you hit and can easily throw it away to a large bet on the turn if you miss. The Ten hits on the turn and the pre-flop raiser bets $15, mid position shoves for $25 and I call as this puts the other player all-in too (he obliges by calling his last few $). EP had AK, MP had 67s and my straight took the pot. Part of the benefit of playing only a couple of tables I think has been finding spots to stack opponents, these can look more like folds if you're scanning over 8 tables.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Limp-Shove is the new Check-Raise?

I read an article recently that laid out a potentially risky way to play pocket aces in a specific set of conditions. The problem was laid out thus: Getting dealt aces is great but when you're in early position your raise looks as strong as it is and people get out of the way (unless they're unlucky enough to have hit a monster of their own) so you don't get much action. What you need is a situation where there is pressure on players to get their chips in and where a limp begs to be raised.

Depending on the blind structure of the tournament it happens at different points but there's usually a point where players are getting short of chips relative to the blinds and the table gets very aggressive. If limps are virtually always getting raised then it's a potential spot to limp the aces, invite the raise and shove over the top. The shove looks like it could be a small/mid PP not wanting to play the flop and invites a call from a range of hands that you have in a world of trouble (AK->AJ, mid PP).

You do need to have an eye on the table conditions though, I've tried this on three occaisions now when the situation has looked promising and twice it's worked like a charm getting me heads up with a dominated hand. The other time it pulled in 3 callers and I ended up out of position facing a dangerous flop of Ks Js 4c (for the record I check-raised all-in on the flop and stacked two of the three who both had KQ).

It's not often that it's useful but at a point in the tourny where getting some value from the aces is crucial I think it's worth considering.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Welcome to 2010

Last nights session was the perfect start to 2010, well, perfect if I wanted to highlight the positives and negatives in my game at least.

On the plus side, I played in 5 tournaments and ran pretty well. Got quite deep in all of them, won a seat in both satellites (including to the $125k guarantee on Cake tomorrow) but busted out of the rest shortly before the money in hands that I'm okay with (sometimes you have to survive a few flips and 50-50's are going to go the other guys way as often as not). Down $53 for the session though, unless you count the $162 seat as winnings.

On the negative side, the cash tables were brutal, those times when I got the money in ahead I was outdrawn and when I was behind I watched in vain for my turn to catch a break. It also perfectly highlighted the weakness in my NL cash play, I basically give the implied odds to call for their crazy draws because I end up paying off when they hit their miracle draw. Playing across 4 tables at .25$/.5$ this lead to a loss of $228 for the session.

So it's a good point to evaluate things, over the last 6 months I've shifted from limit to no-limit as the limit tables I was playing simply disappeared in what appeared to be a headlong rush to NL. A few positive months and a few negative months (but more lost than won overall) means that the bankroll has taken a hit as I've tried to pick up the new game. I thought that a decent tournament game married with a mixed aggressive/trappy limit game would translate well onto the NL cash tables and I think it still will if I can just cut out those big hands that I lose.

So the plan is to cut back to playing on the sites where I seem to be doing better (I'm up on a couple of sites) and reduce my exposure while I'm still finding my feet. You get used to a certain level of activity playing 6 tables of limit and a tourny or two, cutting that back to a couple of tables is going to test my discipline.

Friday, 1 January 2010

A piece of cake?

Ugh. Cake Poker.

Lured by the dual promise of rakeback and bonus I signed up to Cake Poker last month, joining a new site is pretty unusual for me as I've accounts at a lot of them from the early days when bonuses were very competitive and I'd move from site to site "harvesting" the bonuses. But recently getting a decent bonus offer combined with rakeback is much less common.

The software is fine, easy enough to use if you've played a reasonable number of other sites and convenient to multi-table (this is crucial when trying to work off bonuses in my experience). There's none of the hassles of "click a button here, enter a value there and click another button to place the bet" issues that some sites have.

The players even seem friendly enough, I don't think I ever saw the kind of tirade in the chat box that I've become accustomed to as players get outdrawn in some unlikely scenario.

The rakeback and bonuses are well handled too, the bonuses are paid off in small chunks and the rakeback paid weekly.

What's the problem then? Well, it comes back to those players, they come across as a quiet, unninterested bunch and they really don't like to get involved. The percentage of players seeing the flop (on NL tables as low as 5c/10c, never mind the 25c/50c I started looking at) was incredibly low, the majority were in the 10-25% range (for full ring tables). Now, I'm sure you could transform a controlled aggressive game into a decent return with so many tight players but I found that I'd win lots of small pots then run into the (seemingly innevitable) overpair vs set and lose a large chunk. The net result was a slow grinding away of my deposit as I lost more on the few big hands than I won on the more numerous smaller hands.

I came to the conclusion that the same thing that drew me in had brought in a large number of players grinding out bonuses and being stubborn I kept playing hoping that I could adjust my game to play these tight tables effectively but after a while you've got to cut your losses and go where the games are juicier.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009


I've always been a bigger fan of new year than christmas, sure xmas morning with the kids running wild is great but the sense of a new start, a chance for change and (for me at least) a feeling of optimism beats the excesses of xmas (great though they are).

It's a great chance to reflect on everything in your life and see what needs attention, that includes my game and this year it's in serious need of some attention.

So this is the first step in sorting out my game, write a blog about it. I figure if I'm going to hang my mistakes out there to public ridicule then it's an incentive to make fewer of them, so this blog should certainly be +EV in the long term (and you've got to think long term!).

My plan is to post up commentary on how things are going, leaks I'm finding, how sites are playing and anything else that comes to mind.