Monday, April 30, 2007

Donking out after the bubble

I chipped up in the Sunday $400K Guaranteed tourney mostly from steals, a timely bluff with 95o and a double-up with KK. Pretty standard.

The bubble had burst a few minutes beforehand when I went bust myself close to 250th place. It's a shame because I was in good shape going into this hand. I had 22,440 chips, and my M was over 7. I wonder if I played this hand poorly?

600/1200 Ante 150
Seat 1: smizmiatch (22,440)
smizmiatch posts the big blind of 1,200
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to smizmiatch [3d Tc]
1creeper calls 1,200
smizmiatch checks
*** FLOP *** [Ts 5c 6d]
smizmiatch checks
1creeper bets 3,600
smizmiatch calls 3,600
*** TURN *** [Ts 5c 6d] [4s]
smizmiatch checks
1creeper bets 7,200
smizmiatch raises to 17,490, and is all in
1creeper calls 10,290
smizmiatch shows [3d Tc]
1creeper shows [Jd Td]
*** RIVER *** [Ts 5c 6d 4s] [6c]
smizmiatch shows two pair, Tens and Sixes
1creeper shows two pair, Tens and Sixes
1creeper wins the pot (46,530) with two pair, Tens and Sixes
smizmiatch stands up

The way I played this hand is plenty debatable. I could have folded. I could have bet out the flop. I could have pushed all-in on the turn when I picked up the open-ended straight draw to go along with my top pair. I could have even check-called the turn and folded the river.

Instead, I decided to check-raise all-in on the turn. My reasoning was that a check-raise would
get more folds than an outright shove on the turn. Also, I felt like it was a good semibluffing opportunity because I had so many outs (11).

I ran the numbers on and found that I was a 75-25 dog on the turn.

I'm curious to hear from people who would play this hand differently. Let me know, because I need to improve my tournament play, and this is the kind of hand in which I'm never sure whether I'm being foolish to risk my stack or if I'm making the most of an opportunity.

Friday, April 27, 2007

New Layout and HOTD

I've felt very comfortable with my revised PokerAce layout. It's similar to my old layout, but I've removed both total Aggression Factor and Aggression Frequency, and I've added Aggression Frequency by street.

Here's what it looks like (although the colors aren't as bright as they actually appear on-screen). Click on it for a larger image:


Left hand column: Flop aggression frequency, turn aggression frequency, river aggression frequency
Middle column: VP$IP and Folds to Continuation Bet (purple)
Right column: PFR, Went to Showdown (yellow) and Total Hands (Blue)


And now for a Hand of the Day! This was fun because of my opponent's overbet, which definitely NOT for value.

Hero is dealt [As Ah] in SB
Villain raises to $35
Hero raises to $100
Villain calls $65 (his first mistake)
FLOP [Kc Jd Jh]
Hero bets $150
Villain calls $150 (I guess he could have a Jack, but AK or a draw is more likely)
TURN [Kc Jd Jh][3h]
Hero checks (I decide that it's very probable that I'm ahead, and I want to see what Villain does)
Villain bets $774 and is all-in (Now I know for sure I'm good. I can't see him playing trip Jacks like this unless he's smarter than I give him credit for)
Hero calls $774
RIVER [Kc Jd Jh 3h][9h]
Villain shows [Ac Th] (A Pair of Jacks, Ace high) (Nice hand, genius)
Hero shows [As Ah] (Two Pairs, Aces and Jacks, King high)
Hero collected $2055 from Main pot


I'm feeling pretty optimistic about the poker world now.

Sure, Barney Frank's UIGEA repeal legislation is a longshot, but it's progress. And now that Yahoo! is entering the real money poker world on the BOSS network, that's a mainstream sign from a big business that isn't as afraid of the recent U.S. actions against gambling. Of course, U.S. players can't play on Yahoo!, but I would have thought Yahoo!'s executives would have feared prosecution.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

How not to play AK

Sometime last fall I finally felt like I got to a point where I could make good laydowns with strong preflop hands like AA and KK. It's not something I like to do, but I got it into my head how quickly these hands can turn to crap.

You'd think a lesser and more obvious hand like AK would be easier to fold. Perhaps it's difficult because AK has to connect with the flop to be worth a damn. Once it hits, it's harder to let go. Here are a couple of examples of how not to play AK.

In this first hand, I believe my mistake was firing a third bullet on the river against this weak-passive opponent. What can I beat that he would call with?

Hero is dealt [Ac, Ks] in BB
SB calls $ 5
Hero raises $ 30
SB calls $ 30
DEALING FLOP [6s, 7h, Kc]
SB checks.
Hero bets $ 55
SB calls $ 55
SB checks.
Hero bets $ 175
SB calls $ 175
SB checks.
Hero is all-In.
SB is all-In.
SB shows [7d, 6d]two pairs, Sevens and Sixes.
Hero shows [Ac, Ks] a pair of Kings.
SB wins $1,200 from the main pot with two pairs, Sevens and Sixes.

This next hand isn't as bad as I originally thought now that I look at it again. I hit top pair Kings on the flop, bet $200, got minraised and pushed all in against a medium-stack for his last $256. His minraise sucked me in, and instead of folding and losing just my $200 flop bet, I lost $456 more. I should have been tipped off that my opponent held a strong hand because of the shortstack's dead money in the side pot. But I had a hard time folding because my opponent had (relatively) few chips left. I felt committed, but really I could have gotten away.

Hero posts the small blind $5.00
Hero is dealt [Ac,Ks]
Villain calls $10.00
Shortstack calls $10.00
Hero raises $60.00 to $70.00
Villain calls $60.00
Shortstack goes all in $96.00
Hero calls $36.00 (I wasn't allowed to reraise)
Villain calls $36.00
Hero bets $200.00
Villain raises $200.00 to $400.00
Hero goes all in $887.00
Villain goes all in $256.00
$431.00 is not called, return back to Hero
Villain shows [3s,3d], Three of a Kind, Threes
Shortstack shows [Qd,As], High Card, Ace
Hero shows [Ac,Ks], Two Pair, Kings and Threes
Villain shows [3s,3d], Four of a Kind, Threes
Shortstack shows [Qd,As], a Pair, Threes
Villain wins side pot($1,309.60) with Four of a Kind, Threes
Villain wins main pot($327.40) with Four of a Kind, Threes

The overall difficulty for me is that AK is a strong hand, but it loses its biggest pots when I get what I wish for and hit top pair on the flop.

I don't think there's an easy answer about how to play AK except to take things slow, read the board texture, consider opponents' hand ranges and keep in mind that AK is one of the most obvious and likely holdings for my opponents to put me on when an A or a K flops.

I'm just going to throw this out there: Maybe it wouldn't be so wrong to occasionally limp preflop with AK for deception purposes, even though most of AK's value is in its preflop strength.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"The Children of Hurin"


"The Children of Hurin," which was released last week, is supposedly the last of J.R.R. Tolkien's works to be edited and published by his son Christopher.

Check out the trailer.

It's pretty damn good, but the people who are going to like it the most are those who have read "The Silmarillion."

I liked that it was a standalone narrative of one of Tolkien's core legends. I was disappointed that it ended somewhat abruptly, without even summarizing the Wanderings of Hurin, in which he kills Mim, unintentionally tips off the secret location of Gondolin and sets in motion the fall of Doriath.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

WSOP Bound

I'm planning to play in my first World Series event!

It'll be the $1,500 buy-in 6-max No Limit event that starts at noon on Thursday, June 7. I'm really excited about it because it's not too expensive, it coincides with the summer blogger trip and it's a shorthanded event.

Here's a link to the three-day event's structure.

So far, all I've done is pre-register for the event using the links on the World Series of Poker site.

Then they sent me an e-mail with payment options: wire transfer, cashiers check or money order by credit card. I chose the cashier's check option, and I'll also need to register in person at the Rio. The only thing I'm concerned about is that I won't be arriving in Vegas until 6:30 a.m. the morning of the tourney, but I figure that should give me enough time to register beforehand. I'm going to confirm that by phone tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, I guess I need to sharpen my MTT skills a bit. I have a hard time grasping the differences between cash and tournament play, outside of short-stacked play. So I'll register in some big weekend online events and watch instructional videos.

Part of me feels like I shouldn't try to out-think the average tourney donk, but that's probably not the right attitude. I have a lot to learn, so I need to put some effort into it.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

MyWebATM Trip Report

Cliff Notes: MyWebATM sucks and won't let me open an account because I'm debt-free.

Since Congress passed a law that limits deposit and withdrawal options from Internet poker sites, it's been a bit tougher for U.S. players to access their money. At Full Tilt Poker, U.S. players' options are limited to transfers by paper check, ePassporte or MyWebATM. Because I don't like waiting for checks to arrive in the mail and I had previously closed my ePassporte account, I tried to set up a MyWebATM account.

They wouldn't let me sign up for an account, and they don't have a good reason for it.

As I understand it, MyWebATM would function like Neteller used to by allowing online transactions to gambling sites. In addition, they issue a card that allows you to withdraw money
from ATMs.

I'll try to keep this as brief as I can:

On MyWebATM's Web site, they ask you several security questions about your credit history before they will issue you an account. In my case, they asked me about auto leases and home mortgages that have nothing to do with me. I have never leased a car or mortgaged a home. Because I answered "None of the above" to each of the questions, the Web site informed they could not create my account.

Here are the questions I was asked:

Your credit file indicates you may have a mortgage loan, opened in or around March 2003. Who is the credit provider for this account?

What are the terms for the above-referenced account?

Your credit file indicates you may have an auto loan/lease, opened in or around July 2005. Who is the credit provider for this account?

What is the total monthly payment for the above-referenced account?

Your credit file indicates you may have an installment account (personal loans, electronic/appliance accounts, jeweler accounts, auto loans, etc.), opened in or around April 2005. Who is the credit provider for this account?

What are the terms for the above-referenced account?

I sent them an e-mail (to, and they said they would review my information. They wrote back saying they could not create my account, but they did not offer an explanation. I sent them a second e-mail, and their support staff never replied.

At this point I got worried that MyWebATM was asking me about private credit information that had nothing to do with me. I thought, "Maybe they're accessing my credit report, and I have some bad information on there that's hurting my credit."

When I checked my credit report, I found that I had a perfect record and had never made a late payment. There was no evidence of mortgages or leases on there.

Then I e-mailed Full Tilt for help, and they told me to call them at 1-888-845-8729. Their representative was friendly, but the only thing she could tell me was that I should try to call MyWebATM directly. She said MyWebATM comes up with its security questions using a system that's linked to my Social Security Number.

MyWebATM has removed its phone number from their Web site, but Full Tilt gave it to me. For anyone out there who wants to give them a try, the number is 1-866-746-7246. Then when the automated system asks for your account number, just bang on the "0" key about 20 or 30 times until a customer service representative picks up.

The first time I tried this, I was told that the MyWebATM part of the company was closed for the evening.

The second time, I finally got through to a representative.

Basically, she told me that because I'm debt-free, I can't set up an account.

Unless I had a mortgage or an auto lease, there's no way for me to answer their security questions. I asked if there were any other security questions I could answer, and the representative said there were not.

This doesn't make much sense to me. It's certainly no way to run a business, if they won't work with people like me who don't owe anyone any money and have pristine credit.

MyWebATM may work for some people, but I don't have much faith that their money is safe based on my experience.

Here's a 2+2 thread with more information on MyWebATM.

Monster Draws

The sting of tax day still hurts. I hate losing bankroll because it sets back future earning potential and makes my goals for the year harder to reach. I've always wanted to get my bankroll up to $100,000, but it looks like it'll take few more months to get there. I guess that's the cost of doing business. Bleh.


I'm a big fan of pushing my big draws on the flop, especially when I flop a pair and a flush draw. With 9 outs for the flush and as many as 5 for two pair, I often tell myself that I have close to 50 percent equity to hit one of my draws on either the turn or the river. And even if I'm slightly below 50 percent, I figure that fold equity can make up the deficit.

But a recent post from MiamiDon got me thinking about the times when it may be foolish to push draws that look good at the time but may not stand up against strong hand ranges. In his post, MiamiDon flops top pair Aces with the nut flush draw, but he's still worried about the pot growing too large on the flop.

In the end, he calls the flop, makes the nuts on the turn and busts his opponent, who held a set of 5s. A third player in the hand folded the turn. Presto not so gold.

I ran the numbers, and I was a little surprised to find that the so-called monster draw was in bad shape against other strong holdings:
pokenum  -h ad 3d  - 5c 5s  -- ah 8d 5d
Holdem Hi: 990 enumerated boards containing 8d 5d Ah
cards win %win lose %lose tie %tie EV
Ad 3d 304 30.71 686 69.29 0 0.00 0.307
5s 5c 686 69.29 304 30.71 0 0.00 0.693
pokenum  -h ad 3d  - 5c 5s  - as kd  -- ah 8d 5d
Holdem Hi: 903 enumerated boards containing 8d 5d Ah
cards win %win lose %lose tie %tie EV
Ad 3d 256 28.35 641 70.99 6 0.66 0.287
5s 5c 635 70.32 268 29.68 0 0.00 0.703
As Kd 6 0.66 891 98.67 6 0.66 0.010
pokenum  -h ad 3d  - 5c 5s  - 6d 7d  -- ah 8d 5d
Holdem Hi: 903 enumerated boards containing 8d 5d Ah
cards win %win lose %lose tie %tie EV
Ad 3d 161 17.83 742 82.17 0 0.00 0.178
5s 5c 506 56.04 397 43.96 0 0.00 0.560
7d 6d 236 26.14 667 73.86 0 0.00 0.261
The lesson here is that jamming on the flop with a big draw isn't a good idea when you smell genuine strength in a multiway pot. While folding on such a great flop would be very weak, that doesn't mean you always need to go crazy.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Play 'em like AK!

I wanted to post this hand where I play Aces hard preflop and get maximum value.

I raised my Aces under the gun, and then I get a cold caller and a button raiser. The button raiser does this habitually, and he's a regular at these tables. I believe that if I put in a normal 4-bet, both of my opponents could fold because my holding would be obvious. And I didn't want to just call his raise because I wanted to trap the middle position player's money in the pot.

So I pushed all in.

This move is usually reserved for AK hands in exactly this type of situation. By overbetting my Aces, I believe I'll get calls from lesser hands who would likely misread me, thinking I held a hand like AK.

In this situation, pushing preflop may have been the only way for me to win a piece of this pot because I was out of position with a scary flop. I may have been forced to fold on the flop if I had played the hand slower.

5/10 NL
Dealt to Hero [ Ad Ah ]
Hero raises [$ 35 ]
MP calls [$ 35 ]
Button raises [$ 135 ]
Hero is all-In [$865].
MP is all-In [$357.5].
Button calls [$ 765 ]
** Dealing Flop ** [ Qd, 4c, Jd ]
** Dealing Turn ** [ 3h ]
** Dealing River ** [ 2d ]
Button shows [ Ac, As ]a pair of Aces.
Hero shows [ Ad, Ah ]a pair of Aces.
MP doesn't show [ 9h, Th ]high card Queen.
Hero wins $ 507.50 from side pot #1 with a pair of Aces.
Button wins $ 507.50 from side pot #1 with a pair of Aces.
Hero wins $ 594.75 from the main pot with a pair of Aces.
Button wins $ 594.75 from the main pot with a pair of Aces.
Hero's Net: +$202.25

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It's all fun and games till the taxman comes

Man, the government rake is terrible!

I haven't double checked my math yet, but it looks like I owe somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 percent taxes on my $51,000 in winnings from 2006. That's such a bad beat. In fact, it's the worst beat I've ever taken.

The government really screws gamblers in every way. The tax code is incomprehensible. The requirement of having to itemize losses as a deduction is ridiculous. What's more, all this money had been taxed many times before it reached my poker accounts, and now I'm paying a hefty price. I guess it's like a transaction fee for the fish to send their money to me.

What's even more annoying about this is that I'm giving all this money to a federal government that's try to prohibit me from participating in the activity that generated this revenue.

Dear federal government,

I won a fair amount of money from gambling in 2006. I would appreciate it if you would stop trying to inhibit legal activities that result in large payments to you.


Poker Gnome

Monday, April 09, 2007

Limit is exciting!

I can't resist getting my limit hold 'em fix every once in a while. It's such an interesting game to me, and I love all the action.

People say that all the action is in no limit, but there are so many more bets and raises on multiple streets in limit. The 6-max games play crazy these days, and there's a fine line between strong loose-aggressive opponents and those who simply spew.

I played this hand last night at a table with an average VP$IP over 40 percent. You can't fold too many decent hands against opponents like this -- you just need to hold on for dear life.

FullTiltPoker Game #2170998384: Table Pioche (6 max) - $30/$60 - Limit Hold'em
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Hero [Ac As]
UTG raises to $60
Hero raises to $90
Button calls $90
SB calls $75
BB calls $60
UTG raises to $120 (I figure he he has a hand between QQ and AA, but I saw them do this with 99 and hit a set earlier)
Hero calls $30
Button calls $30
SB calls $30
BB calls $30
*** FLOP *** [7d 3s 8c]
SB checks
BB checks
UTG bets $30
Hero calls $30 (I'm not sure about this play. I figure it's impossible to protect my hand in this large pot, so I plan on raising the turn when UTG bets into me again)
Button calls $30
SB calls $30
BB calls $30
*** TURN *** [7d 3s 8c] [Jh]
SB checks
BB checks
UTG bets $60
Hero raises to $120
Button calls $120
SB calls $120
BB calls $120
UTG raises to $180 (OK, I got tons of action, but now I'm worried about a set of J)
Hero calls $60 (I don't see much value in 4-betting the turn. Maybe I'm wrong in a game this wild)
Button calls $60
SB calls $60
BB calls $60
*** RIVER *** [7d 3s 8c Jh] [2s]
SB checks
BB checks
UTG bets $60
Hero calls $60 (I guess I'm beat?)
Button folds
SB folds
BB folds
*** SHOW DOWN ***
UTG shows [Kc Kh] (a pair of Kings)
Hero wins the pot ($1,767) with a pair of Aces

Playing 'em like Aces

April is going well so far. I'm playing better poker, and I'm up a couple of buy-ins.

I noticed that I'd been folding to continuation bets around 75-80 percent of the time, and even more at some tables. I figured the way to fix this problem wasn't to call more continuation bets, but to raise more preflop.

This means that I've been putting in a third raise with some medium-strength hands in addition to AA and KK. I've found it necessary to four-bet light when your opponents are three-betting you light. So far, they've folded every time! The fourth bet means Aces, right? One guy typed in chat that he laid down TT preflop to my re-re-raise when I held J9s. He would've folded to my continuation bet anyway.

One problem with this strategy is that it won't take long for people to start looking me up. So I'll need to be sure to also make a third raise with AA and KK when I'm against people who have seen me raise a lot recently.

Hero ($1998)
Villain ($2599)
dealt to Hero [9s Js]
Hero raises to $70
Villain raises to $180
Hero raises to $500
Villain folds
Returned uncalled bets $320 to Hero
Hero collected $390 from Main pot

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Scattered Strategems

I've been looking back over some hand histories of the last two weeks in an effort to derive some value from the beats. I realized that many of the times when I lost, I made errors when I should have known better. I guess it takes repetition for some poker lessons to sink in.

So I wanted to list some common-sense poker guidelines that I find are easy to forget in the heat of the moment. Maybe if I write them down, I won't be as likely to forget them again:

_ Ace-King is a very good preflop hand, but it's usually not worth pushing all in with preflop in cash games. Sure there's a time and a place for it, especially when I want to four-bet/squeeze play/resteal with dead money trapped between you and the initial raiser. But most of the time, I'll either win a small pot or lose a big one. The only hands that will call have me crushed -- AA or KK.

_ Game selection is perhaps the most important poker skill. It isn't hard to spend time to find good tables, especially with the aid of PokerTracker and PokerAce. I'm not here to become the best poker player in the world; I'm here to grow my bankroll and make as much money as I can. I believe that it's untrue that you need to play strong players in order to learn. I learn just as much from the fish. There are often good players near the fish anyway, but that doesn't mean I want to get involved in many hands with them.

_ Ax suited simply doesn't play well out of position, even many times when I think I have odds to call.

_ I should put in a raise at some point when I'm way ahead or way behind, especially when I may be dominated. The raise will either take down the pot, tell me I'm beaten, or buy me a free showdown. Cally cally won't fly in Vegas.

_ All-in bets are sometimes more likely to get called than large pot-sized bets because they look more like bluffs.

_ While a loose-aggressive image may be my goal in shorthanded NL games, it's merely a means to an end. No matter what style I play, most of my profits will come from recognizing and taking advantage of my opponents' mistakes.

_ If I check the turn with a weak hand I think is likely best, I must call a river bet most of the time because my check will frequently induce bluffs no matter what card falls.

Those are rather scattered items, but I wanted to get them down in writing. Good luck at the tables! Go Braves!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

March Review

Ug, March sucked poker-wise. It was my first down month since December 2005, with most of those losses coming in the last week when I dropped more than $7,000 while chasing a $300 bonus on Full Tilt.

I feel like such an idiot. I fully recovered from a downswing at the beginning of the month, but then I suffered some bad beats. Then I made some stupid calls and failed big bluffs, and poof!, there go my profits. Overall, I finished the month down about $2,000, which isn't too bad.

My play yesterday shows why I'm upset with myself. I had been thinking earlier about the merits of cold calling with AK from the big blind and then check-raising when you hit. Of course, I fell for that exact play when I held Ace-rag on an Ace-high flop. For some reason, I couldn't find the fold button. Then on another hand, I thought I had flopped trip 2s off K2 from the big blind. Unfortunately, I had misread my hand and I actually had K6.

Obviously, I'm not thinking straight. These are rookie mistakes.

The reasons for this are lack of confidence, poor analytical reasoning, impatience, fancy play syndrome and the wearing down effect of the grind. In addition, the large dollar amounts of the 10/20 NL games got to me, even though I should know better. Everything should be measured in buy-ins and big bets, not dollar figures.

I usually can accept losses that happen due to bad luck, but I can't stand it when it's my fault for shitty play!

Fortunately, it's a new month. Enough of this whining and irrational blather. None of this crap should affect my game. If it continues to, I simply won't play. Carry on; nothing to see here.