Thursday, October 25, 2007

HOTD-Outs 'n' rags

This hand of the day played out well.

FullTiltPoker $3/$6 - 4 handed
Dealt to smizmiatch [6c 5d]
CO folds
smizmiatch raises to $21 from Button
SB folds
Villain calls $15 from BB <-- He's very loose from the blinds.
*** FLOP *** [4c 2d 8d] <-- I flop great with a double belly buster
Villain bets $25
smizmiatch calls $25 <-- I call rather than raise because my hand is well-disguised and I figure my opponent caught a piece of the flop
*** TURN *** [4c 2d 8d] [6s]
Villain bets $60 <-- I don't know what to put him on. Some kind of draw? Some weird BB two pair hand? Why would he bet it out on two streets?
smizmiatch raises to $180 <-- I'm going to try to put an end to this right now with about 5 trillion outs
Villain raises to $300 <-- Wtf is up with the minraise?
smizmiatch has requested TIME

Here is where I go into the tank. I think about going all in, but the villain has shown nothing but strength. I'd hate to call drawing dead to a 7. But really, I think I'm up against some random two pair at this point, in which case I also don't want to go all in.

If I'm not going to push, I guess I have to do the math. I fumbled around on my keyboard for a second before finding the Windows calculator.

My pot odds were better than I thought they'd be at 21 percent (120/575)! With as many as 13 outs, I'm calling here for sure.

outs Click for enlarged view

smizmiatch calls $120
*** RIVER *** [4c 2d 8d 6s] [8h] <-- Actually, a great card because it would counterfeit a hand like 64 or 55. But my read is fuzzy.
Villain bets $256, and is all in <-- Is he doing this just because I took so much time on the turn?
smizmiatch has requested TIME
smizmiatch calls $254, and is all in <-- The pot is offering 3:1 odds. I think I'm good more than a quarter of the time. For some reason, my spider sense is telling me he doesn't have an 8.
Uncalled bet of $2 returned to Villain
*** SHOW DOWN ***
Villain shows [7h 3h] a pair of Eights <-- Missed his gutshot draw
smizmiatch shows [6c 5d] two pair, Eights and Sixes
smizmiatch wins the pot ($1,201) with two pair, Eights and Sixes <-- El doble!
Villain is sitting out

I don't know how to feel about this hand. I sensed weakness somewhere, but my read was wrong.

It must have been the minraise on the turn that seemed weak, even though it was meant to look strong.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Damn Shortstacks

Ed Miller claims The Biggest No-Limit Myth is that "big stacks can 'bully' the table, and short stacks have to sit and take it."

He tries to make the point that "big stacks don’t hold any inherent advantage over small stacks," but I believe his conclusion that you should "go ahead and buy in for whatever you want to buy in for" is bad advice for many players.

There's a simple reason why I like to buy in as much as possible in a no limit game: it maximizes my winrate.

Because I have a skill advantage over my opposition, I want to be able to go all in and get paid off for the highest amount possible when I have the best hand. Sure, I could play as mathematically as well with a shortstack, but why would I want to do that when I could get be getting paid off bigger?

If I only have 50 BB in front of me, that means I can only win up to 50 BB of a big-stacked fish's money at a time. What's the sense in that when my goal is to bust the idiot calling station for all his money when I hold the nuts?

Most winning cash game players should buy in the highest amount they can to make the most of their edge. I can't understand why solid, well-bankrolled players would want to confine themselves to a shortstack strategy.


Here's a hand against a shortstacker I wanted to look at:

From the cutoff in a 5/10 game, I raised first in with QJs to $35. The BB, with only $200 in front of him, makes a mini-raise to $80, leaving him with $120 behind. This screams of a premium hand, either AA or KK.

But with $120 already in the pot, I called another $55 to see a flop. This may be a small leak on my part: the most I can win is $240, and I'm paying $55 more preflop with about a 19 percent chance of winning. This is bad because 55/240=23 percent > 19 percent.

I hate shortstacks. I just want to bust them. Fortunately, that's what I did. I bet $120 on an excellent flop to put the shortstack guy's AA all in:
pokenum -h ah ad - qh jh -- jd 8h th
Holdem Hi: 990 enumerated boards containing Jd Th 8h
cards win %win lose %lose tie %tie EV
Ad Ah 458 46.26 523 52.83 9 0.91 0.467
Qh Jh 523 52.83 458 46.26 9 0.91 0.533
The river brought a 9 to make my straight and it was all over for Mr. Too Scared To Buy In Full.

I guess I should have folded preflop though if I trusted my read. But it's a closer call if I expand the shortstack's range of hands.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Absolute cheating

This Absolute Poker scandal is a real mess, huh?

I don't have much to add to the discussion, but I feel like I should mention it after previously highlighting Absolute's interest-bearing accounts.

Obviously, I won't be putting money in there after someone apparently called down a big bet with Ten-high to win a tournament because he could see hole cards.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tweaking preflop play

For most of this year, I've been pushing all in with premium hands preflop rather than putting in the third raise. For example, if I raised first in with AA and the button reraised, I would go all in rather than reraising him a smaller amount.

This strategy is effective because few people believed I would make such an all-in raise with a premium hand. Opponents immediately thought this was a typical move to make with AK preflop, so many lesser hands -- from TT to QQ -- would call a push.

I only made this move with AA, KK and sometimes AK (if I felt confident I wasn't against a monster), so I got by far the best of it over time. With lesser hands (QQ and below), I would either call or fold.

The problem is that playing this way is way too limiting. Because I would only make this move with premium hands, I couldn't effective 4-bet bluff with lesser hands because an observant opponent might grasp that I was only overbetting my very best holdings. Worse, I felt like I was missing out on value those frequent times when opponents folded their lesser hands to an all-in bet preflop.

In addition, 3-betting with a lot of hands is the trendy thing to do these days in the games I play. Solid loose-aggressive players are taking the initiative with a very wide range preflop, and the only way to make them pay is to reraise them.

The obvious answer is to put in that extra raise with a much wider range of hands, both as a bluff and with top-tier hands:

Dealt to smizmiatch [Ah 3c]
5 folds
smizmiatch raises to $14 from the button
SB folds
chislodc raises to $48 from BB. <-- chislodc is an aggressive player known to 3-bet lightly
smizmiatch raises to $148
chislodc folds
Uncalled bet of $100 returned to smizmiatch
smizmiatch wins the pot ($98)

This works even better when you actually have a good hand and get action:

*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to smizmiatch [Ac Ad]
3 folds
Button calls $6
smizmiatch raises to $34 from SB
sohigh247 raises to $108 from BB
Button folds
smizmiatch raises to $275
sohigh247 raises to $617.10, and is all in
smizmiatch calls $319, and is all in
sohigh247 shows [Qd Qs]
smizmiatch shows [Ac Ad]
*** FLOP *** [6c 8c 6s]
*** TURN *** [6c 8c 6s] [9c]
*** RIVER *** [6c 8c 6s 9c] [2c]
sohigh247 shows two pair, Queens and Sixes
smizmiatch shows a flush, Ace high
smizmiatch wins the pot ($1,191) with a flush, Ace high

Most players know the rule of thumb that the fourth bet/third raise usually means Aces. This kind of reraising can exploit that belief.


Sometimes though, things get wacky.

I don't have the hand history in front of me, but I was playing a 5/10 game a few days ago in which I found KK in the small blind of a shorthanded game.

The UTG player raised, the loose/wild button reraised, and I reraised again. The small blind, playing with a $500 stack, went all in. The utg player folded, and then the button went all in too!

I can only recall one or two other times when I folded KK preflop, but this seemed like a clear decision. If the fourth bet usually means Aces, then surely the sixth bet always means Aces. So I laid it down, feeling confident that this was one of those times where KK was just no good preflop.

I was wrong. The BB turned up 33, and the Button had 99, which held up to take down the pot.

I didn't make money from them this time, but some of these players are just giving it away.

Monday, October 08, 2007


I found Kick Ass Poker Blog's breakdown of the UIGEA regulations to be informative.

Check it out here (don't let the multipart format scare you):

Inside the UIGEA Regulations, Part I: Introduction and Background
Part 2: Implementation
Part 3: Deputizing the Banks
Part 4: Comments and Timing

So what we have here is a law that doesn't specifically mention poker, explicitly permits paper checks to be used, relies on banks for enforcement and is still many months away from going into effect, more than a year after it was originally passed as part of a port security bill. Great.


I realized the other day that I've been overestimating the probability that two unpaired cards will flop a pair. I think the math should look like this: 1 - (44/50 * 43/49 * 42/48) = 32.4 percent.

Or it's easier just to look it up on the Internet at a site like Planet Stacked that has all kinds of odds listed.


Lee Jones says he'll bet $10,000 with Daniel Negreanu that you shouldn't be able to show one card to an opponent when two people are in a tournament hand heads up.

But he doesn't explain his reasoning. I don't get it. Why shouldn't you be allowed to show a card? Someone fill me in please.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

PokerStars Blogger Freeroll

Poker Tournament

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker!

This Online Poker Tournament is a No Limit Texas Holdem event exclusive to Bloggers.

Registration code: 6452402

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I love coinflips.

In a cash game, I'll take them any chance I can get, especially if I'm the one able to put the pressure on.

Only good things can happen when you put your chips in with a 50 percent shot at winning the hand. Your opponent could fold, giving you the existing pot. At worst, your opponent calls, which isn't the end of the world because of pot odds.

When there's decent money in the pot already and you have an even chance at winning, you want to fight for that money. Sometimes, even when slightly behind, the money in the pot is enough to make a big bet worthwhile.

Hands with a pair and a flush draw are the classic example. These hands have about 14 outs and they're not dominated by much except for sets and higher flush draws. Even then, there's a significant chance of sucking out.

There's also some utility preflop in betting big with AK because it's a coinflip at worst against anything except AA or KK. Even if QQ or JJ makes a read and calls your preflop all-in, you're in fine shape to win the pot half the time. I'm not advocating pushing all-in with AK frequently, but there's some value in making a move when you think you can pick up a growing pot preflop.

Just don't do it when your opponents have you dominated!

I hear people all the time say they'd rather "wait for a better spot" than get it all-in on a coinflip. While this may be correct at times in tournaments, it's rarely right in cash games.

While you're waiting for a better spot, your aggressive opponents are picking up lots of small and medium-sized pots uncontested.


Here's a hand of the day:

In a full ring 5/10 NL game, everyone is playing normally except for one maniac. He general strategy is to raise and then push all-in against anyone's reraise. His stats are about 45/38/5.

At first, everyone respects his all-in raises, but it doesn't take long for people to figure out that he has hands worth less than trash.

That became abundantly clear when he raised from middle position to $40, and I re-raised to $120 from the button with AA. He pushed all-in, and I had an easy call to make. He flipped over T5s and somehow didn't suck out, giving me a $2,084 pot.

After that hand, everyone at the table wanted a piece of this guy's money before it ran out.

A few hands later, an early position player limps, and I make it $45 to go with KQs from MP. The cutoff player calls the $45, and then the maniac on the button goes all in for nearly $700. It folds around to me.

What should I do with KQs? It's behind any Ace and dominated by AK or AQ.

But I figure I'm ahead of this crazy guy's incredibly wide range. I'm a tiny bit worried about the player behind me, but I only had one move. I raised all-in to isolate the maniac and try to bust him with what I figure to be a decent enough hand. I don't think I had ever raised all-in preflop with KQs, but the time was right against this guy.

As I hoped, the cutoff player folds. What does the maniac turn up?

Jh. 5c. Just as I suspected.

Flop comes 26J. Turn is a J, and I had doubled the maniac up.

But that's OK. I still netted about a $500 profit because of the AA hand, and I got it in with KQ against J5, which I'll take any day of the week.

My only regret is that I couldn't get the rest of the maniac's money. He busted out soon afterward with his AK vs. QQ.