Friday, November 30, 2007


Don't tilt. Play good poker. Don't worry about variance. Concentrate on making good decisions. Be aggressive. Make strong reads.

These are some of the bedrock phrases poker players tell themselves over and over again as they try to cope with losses while maintaining the same focus needed to keep winning. Sure these sayings are cliched and overused, but that doesn't make them any less true.

The difficulty is that these words get old and lose their meaning, while improving my game is just as challenging as it always was. I'll never reach a point where I'll feel like I've plugged all my leaks. I'll always have to prove myself over and over again.

I must constantly rededicate myself to the principles of winning poker: don't be results oriented, avoid formulaic decision making, take advantage of every edge.

The tedium of discipline is tough to live with, but it's also a part of what makes this game great. Each day is a clean slate, each action a single data point among countless decisions that eventually add up to something.

I love the grind.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

No original content here

Check out cmitch's post on playing AK preflop in different scenarios.

I like lucko's suggestions and the EV calculations at the end of the post.

Just don't take it the wrong way and spew chips:

CO raises to $20
Button raises to $80
Gnome raises all-in for $1,000 from the BB with As Kd
CO folds.
Button calls all-in.
Flop: Qs 8d Td
Turn: 4c
River: 6s
Button wins $2,079 with Kc Ks

Friday, November 23, 2007

Top 10 Hold 'em Books

10. No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice: I just didn't get much out of it.

9. Little Blue Book: This book isn't revolutionary, but I enjoyed reading the hand histories. I agree with most of Gordon's analysis, which is more than I can say for plenty of other hold 'em books.

8. Theory of Poker: Everyone says this book is one of the very best, but it didn't stand out to me except for the Fundamental Theorem of Poker.

7. Super/System: Gotta give it up for the classics.

6. Hold 'em Poker for Advanced Players: These fundamentals of hold 'em gave me a solid foundation to learn from.

5. Harrington on Hold 'em (Vols. 1-3): Probably the most important book since the poker boom based on M alone.

4. Professional No-Limit Hold 'em: While this book has its flaws, it breaks some new ground on no limit. Its concepts on hand planning are useful and understandable.

3. Winning in Tough Hold 'em Games: Short-Handed and High-Stakes Concepts and Theory for Limit Hold 'em: This book is the real deal. It preaches aggressive tactics for difficult games. While this is a limit book, many of its ideas are applicable to other forms of poker as well.

2. Ace on the River: If you judge books by whether they help you make money, this one gets an A in my book. It's light on strategy but puts me in a winning mindset. I've read through it twice, and I went on crazy winning streaks both times afterward.

1. Small Stakes Hold 'em: No other poker book is so complete from start to finish, with page after page of practical ideas about how to analyze and execute hands. I didn't win the most money immediately after reading "Small Stakes Hold 'em," but it paid off in the long run.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Professional No-Limit Hold 'Em"

Ed Miller and company drive me crazy -- they come up with compelling new concepts and then ignore the reality of how today's no limit games play.

"Professional No-Limit Hold 'em"
by Matt Flynn, Sunny Mehta and Miller shows off the best and worst of 2+2 publishing. The book makes you think about pot commitment, bet sizing and stack adjustment ideas while misapplying them to practical situations. Many parts of the book come off as anything but professional, from the constant typos to the faulty hand examples and sometimes awful advice about preflop raising. It repeats some of the same problems that I pointed out about "No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice."

I'll start with the book's strengths.

It is focused throughout on the idea of quickly planning your hand and bets to avoid messy situations. I like this approach because the authors develop new terminology to more clearly define existing stratagems that experienced no limit players know from thousands of hands of practice. It's similar to when David Sklansky came up with the term "semibluffing" to clarify the existing term "bluffing with outs."

Here's a sampling of the book's vocabulary:

_ Commitment threshold: You reach the commitment threshold when you have invested more than 10 percent of your effective stack size. This means that one more largish bet will get you pot committed in many situations.

_ Commitment: Players are usually pot committed if they have invested more than one-third of their effective stack into the pot. At first, this appears to be a low proportion, but it makes sense because after betting a third of your stack, you're only one pot-sized bet away from being all-in.

_ The REM Process: REM stands for Range, Equity and Maximize -- three steps you should take when evaluating your place in a hand. No shit, Sherlock.

_ SPR: SPR stands for stack-to-pot ratio, which is a number used to plan your hand from the flop onward based on whether it's a top pair hand, overpair or drawing hand. The meat of the book is spent on SPR, which I believe to be a useful but inherently flawed metric.

I won't delve into the details of SPR here because the book does that well enough over about 150 pages. Suffice it to say that SPR fails to accurately account for multiway pots and adjust to differing playing styles. Above all, its chief shortcoming is that the authors use it to rationalize weak play that simply won't fly in many of the 2/5 and 5/10 games that are used in the hand examples.

This is where we get to the book's problems. Although it does a good job of introducing new ways of thinking about hand planning, it falls short when it comes to practical application. I think of it as the difference between a graduate student and a working professional. The graduate student might write a solid thesis, but there's often a reason he can't cut it in the real world.

I can see how thinking about SPR can be a useful practice, but it's more of a means to an end than the end itself. By that I mean that I will use SPR to observe and evaluate likely outcomes, but I won't tailor my preflop play to achieve a certain SPR number. My reasoning is that favorable SPRs only serve to make hands easier to play; they do not necessarily result in higher expected value.

For example, the book suggests limping or minraising with AA or KK for pot control purposes. That misses the point that strong raises with premium hands gets more money in the pot when you have the best of it.

Here's another example: The book recommends occasional raises with suited one-gappers if it will result in an unfavorable SPR for your opponent. But I don't think it really matters to most opponents whether they have an unfavorable SPR or not because they're going to play the hand in the best way they know how, even if their stack size might not be just right for that hand type.

A few of the hand examples in the book are a mess. They place too high of a value on pot control while ignoring that solid players will simply destroy you with overbets and river bluffs if you consistently play hands in a style that's afraid to commit too many chips.

It makes me wonder if the authors of this book are truly professionals. Do they really play in 2/4 and up NL games online? Do they win? Do they practice what they preach? I don't believe it for two reasons: their advice frequently won't stand up to aggression, and I've never seen even one winning player in any of the games I play effectively use this style.

I have a few other complaints. In one of the hand examples, the blinds are incorrectly listed at 50/100 instead of 2/5. Another hand example is from a hypothetical online 2/5 NL game, which isn't even spread at any of the sites open to U.S. players (that I know of). In one paragraph, the authors call a raise from $20 to $75 a "huge overbet," which is just plain wrong because the raise to $75 was exactly a pot-sized raise.

These kinds of things make me seriously question the book's credibility. It should have some peer review, or at least decent copy editing.

Despite all these problems, I would recommend "Professional No-Limit Hold 'em" (I guess no-limit is hyphenated these days?) for players who can separate its strengths from its weaknesses. I wouldn't suggest it for players who are looking to replicate the style advocated within because they'd get run over.

I measure poker books based on whether they make me a better player. By that standard, I have to admit this book is a winner. It introduced me to alternate playing styles and new ideas that give me additional perspective when playing hands. It forced me to think harder about commitment and planning of my plays.

I'll treat it more like a work of untested theory than a textbook based on fact.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Blogger Big Game: Second Thoughts

I'm in Seattle on the second layover of my return trip from Detroit to Honolulu. Fortunately, long plane rides bring on a level of boredom where I'm able to run lengthy equity calculations because I have nothing better to do.

So I decided to try to answer a question left over from this morning's post about the Blogger Big Game: How much equity does emptyman gain from calling a reraise with 88 and calling a flop shove on any lowcard flop compared to simply pushing all-in preflop?

The answer: Very little, if any.

He's at a distinct disadvantage against my tight 3-betting raising range, although he gains value if I'm raising with a wider range.

Even against wider raising standards, there's little discernible difference in equity for emptyman between playing his hand the way he did and simply taking the coinflip preflop.

That said, he wasn't wrong to play 88 this way. While he doesn't gain value from his play, he does increase his chances of survival if he's willing to fold on any flop with an Ace, King or Queen. If the flop came with high cards, he would have lost only the 13,000 he invested preflop instead of his whole stack.

Emptyman's equity won't increase by waiting to see a flop, but he minimizes the chance of busting.

In cash games, value is king because the chance of losing your stack is irrelevant as long as you're making the correct play. MTTs are more about managing risk. Emptyman did well to plan his moves in advance and give himself an opportunity to get away from many hands that dominate him.

Blogger Big Game: No Cigar

I finished in 5th place of the Blogger Big Game last night for a $252 payout -- an OK result considering that it took a couple of suckouts to get there, but disappointing because I have myself to blame for busting.

My tourney came down to a crucial hand against emptyman. With blinds of 800/1600/200, I was in second place with an M of 19 at the start of the hand as we were playing five-handed.

Here's the hand:

FullTiltPoker Game #4224199836: Blogger Big Game (31592875), Table 5 - 800/1600 Ante 200 - No Limit Hold'em - 0:42:21 ET - 2007/11/19
Seat 2: OtisDart (16,034)
Seat 4: smizmiatch (66,342)
Seat 5: VinNay (90,886)
Seat 8: jeciimd (43,252)
Seat 9: emptyman (38,486)
OtisDart antes 200
smizmiatch antes 200
VinNay antes 200
jeciimd antes 200
emptyman antes 200
VinNay posts the small blind of 800
jeciimd posts the big blind of 1,600
The button is in seat #4
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to smizmiatch [Kc Ad]
emptyman raises to 4,800
OtisDart folds
smizmiatch raises to 13,000
VinNay folds
jeciimd folds
emptyman calls 8,200
*** FLOP *** [9d 3s 5d]
emptyman checks
smizmiatch bets 53,142, and is all in
emptyman calls 25,286, and is all in
smizmiatch shows [Kc Ad]
emptyman shows [8s 8d]
Uncalled bet of 27,856 returned to smizmiatch
*** TURN *** [9d 3s 5d] [2h]
*** RIVER *** [9d 3s 5d 2h] [2s]
smizmiatch shows a pair of Twos
emptyman shows two pair, Eights and Twos
emptyman wins the pot (79,972) with two pair, Eights and Twos
emptyman: woot!!!!
smizmiatch: nh
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 79,972 | Rake 0
Board: [9d 3s 5d 2h 2s]
Seat 2: OtisDart folded before the Flop
Seat 4: smizmiatch (button) showed [Kc Ad] and lost with a pair of Twos
Seat 5: VinNay (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 8: jeciimd (big blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 9: emptyman showed [8s 8d] and won (79,972) with two pair, Eights and Twos

Emptyman played this hand well.

With 88, he had to raise preflop, and his call of my raise was good as well. He could have pushed preflop, but I don't think you want to be putting all your chips in against a bigger stack who has reraised you unless you're shortstacked.

I imagine emptyman was thinking that he would call preflop and call any shove on a flop that did not contain an Ace, King or Queen.

I had a sense that he might have a middle pocket pair, but I couldn't resist betting 25,000 into a 25,000 pot when he checked it to me on the flop.

If I had been known better, I wouldn't have pushed all-in if I knew he was planning to call a push on most lowcard flops.

It's fun to think about, though: If he knew that I knew what he was doing, then I would only push with hands that could beat his 88. Then he would have had to fold. Instead, he correctly read that I would push most any flop if he checked it to me.

In the future, I will be able to maximize my equity if I read this situation correctly next time. I'll make more money with overpairs against instacallers with middle pocket pairs, while losing the least amount possible with AK.

I believe this is an important tactic for tourney play that I've screwed up quite a few times in the past as well. I'm starting to get it.

Congrats to VinNay for taking the tourney down! Once he got the big stack, he was hard to tangle with.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Layout

I had been using the layout below for a while. It had a plain dark background and yellow card backs. On the card fronts, this layout displayed solid four-colored cards, borrowed from the PokerStars Hyper-Simple Theme.

This table background and cards are taken from a very long Full Tilt mods thread on 2+2. The part of the thread linked here contains zip files for avatars, buttons, tables and elements -- more mods than most people will ever need.

But there were a few aesthetic changes that I needed to make.

I found that I preferred a lighter background, like the Stainless Steel used by Kaja. I wanted bigger cards (also included in the 2+2 link above) so I would be able to tell more easily who was in the hand. I decided I felt more comfortable with the traditional white-backed 4-color deck.

I ended up with this. The cards are huge.

Here's a look at the PokerAce layout I'm working with these days:

The left-hand column with white numbers is aggression frequency by street: flop, turn and river.

The green number is VP$IP, and the purple number is Folds to Continuation Bet percentage.

The red figure on the right-hand column is Preflop Raise, the yellow is Went to Showdown and the blue is number of hands.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Wow, I played some hands really poorly last week.

I just looked back at my hand histories over 6,742 hands played -- many more than I usually play. That's the first sign that I was asking for trouble, considering that the most obvious dropoff in my winrate comes in sessions of more than 2 hours.

Usually, when I look back at hand histories, I might find a few setup hands, a couple of hands that I could have played better, and one big mistake. This time, I found a lot of mistakes.

_ AK cold calling on a dangerous flop with only a gutshot, hitting the gutshot on the turn and losing to a flush. I never should have called that flop in the first place.

_ Going out of control with top pair in a few heads-up matches.

_ Getting in with QQ vs. AA preflop.

_ Making an incorrect read that I could make a solid player fold top pair, shit kicker to my top pair, shittier kicker heads-up.

_ Check-raising a dangerous turn card all-in with top pair. My opponent had hit his gutshot straight.

Sure, there was some bad luck in these hands. But they were all avoidable.

Notes to self: Remember to fold when beaten, and don't go bust with top pair.

They're kind of funny in retrospect.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Results Oriented

"Parcells believed that even in the NFL a lot of players were more concerned with seeming to want to win that with actually winning, and that many of them did not know the difference."
--"The Blind Side," by Michael Lewis

I set a goal, and I was going to stick to it.

I wanted to rebuild my Full Tilt bankroll from $3,000 to $10,000 before moving up in stakes on other sites where I keep most of my roll. There were several reasons for this challenge: I wanted to rejuvenate my Full Tilt account without making a deposit, experiment with new tactics at 2/4 and 3/6, and prove to myself that I could set a goal and reach it.

I planned to get there in three weeks.

I did well at first, slowly building up on Full Tilt until I got to $8,500. There was nothing spectacular about this run -- just steadily building up toward where I wanted to be. But then things started to go wrong.

I found the juiciest 50/100 shorthanded limit game I had ever seen, with a table average VP$IP of about 48 and a seat open next to a player who was seeing nearly every flop. I felt my overall bankroll could support sitting at this table, so I decided to take a shot.

First I put in a lot of bets with an underboat vs. an overboat. Then QQ got cracked. Then KK fell. Within a few minutes, I was down $4,500. Oh well, I told myself. I knew the risk going in.

When I woke up the next morning, I was determined to push hard toward my goal. Back at 2/4, I opened up my game with lots of 4-bets, steal attempts and efforts to push every little small edge I could perceive. I spewed chips at an alarming rate.

I tried to be the kind of loose-aggressive player who would get paid off because my holdings would be so unpredictable. Instead, I seemed to only get action when I didn't want it.

Down to about $1,500, I dug in. For the first time, I was worried about dropping to dangerously low levels. I played tight -- too tight. I played weak. In one hand against cmitch, I may have been able to take it down with a bet or check-raise on the turn when I made trips. Instead, I meekly called a bet and then paid off on the river when his flush got there.

I dropped down to .50/1 to build back up again. I told myself I could be like Chris Ferguson, and slowly get back to where I wanted to be one small step at a time.

After only two days of play, I lost patience. How could I waste this time playing .50/1 when I could be winning at 5/10 -- or even having a go at 10/20? What was I doing grinding out $2 and $4 pots when my yearly average is so much higher?

I was fully aware that these thoughts would only get me into trouble. The only two options were to stick with my plan for weeks or months of more frustration, or to take one more chance. I played a few topsy-turvy 2/4 heads-up matches, and my roll fell below $200 by the time I was through.

When I dropped this low, I realized what a fish I had been. But it also enabled me to accept failure. I try to treat poker like an investment. It was time to cut my losses.

I adopted a better plan: abandon my goal, transfer money to my Full Tilt account rather than try to rebuild on a short roll, play the limits I wanted to play and quit steaming over a useless challenge.

From the start, this effort was focused on trying to reach a number rather than improving my game. It had little to do with getting better or making smarter decisions.

I like to learn from my mistakes:

1) I never want to play on a site when I'm underrolled. It's too difficult to play my best game when I'm scared to take chances.

2) I should remember that pushing too hard is often counterproductive. I thought I had learned long ago that I can only play my best game for about 2 hours at a time, and the probability of losing money greatly increases when I try to extend sessions beyond that.

3) It's OK to experiment with new strategies and take shots, but I should only try one at a time.

I'm a lucky bastard. As soon as I abandoned my quest, I started winning again. I'm back to playing a style I'm comfortable with -- my style -- and I've won $3,500 in the last three hours at the tables. That's a rate I can be happy with.

Monday, November 12, 2007

True or False?

A couple of recent Cardrunners videos bring up some counterintuitive tactics that I'm not sure I agree with. I'm not saying that Cole South and Brian Townsend are wrong, but a couple of their suggestions raise questions in my mind.

1) CTS 2 $1-2 NL: On the last hand of the video, CTS raises to $7 from the cutoff with AK, and the tight-aggressive button reraises to $24. CTS 4-bets to $61, the button raises all-in, and CTS calls the rest of his 125 BB stack -- another $218. The button naturally turns over AA, dominating CTS completely and costing him a buy-in.

CTS claims he played the hand correctly. "One hundred big blind stack, cutoff vs. the button, I'm certainly not going to play that any different," he says.

True or false? Is this really a good play? Why?

A commenter in the video thread asks the same question:
I dont understand the comment at that AK vs AA hand against the tightest player at the table. You said thats a cooler but I dont agree with that. The guy raised you just 2 or 3 times, he could have big hands, and that last hand he shoved after a 4-bet !! You still think that was a good play and a cooler ?
Someone else responds:
You have to understand that CTS was taking his image and their positions into consideration. Scarecrow was playing tight at first, but near the end he was beginning to 3bet CTS more, plus his stats were leveling off to raising 15%. This, combined with CTSs 4440 stats and the fact that they were CO vs button means AK is a favourite over scarecrows range.
2) Sbrugby 21 $5-10 NL: Sbrugby is the BB with JTs. The button raises, and the small blind calls. Sbrugby says calling from the big blind with a hand like JTs is wrong. True or false?

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Jl514 and Gadzooks64 tagged me. I also did this when I was tagged in May:

A). Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog...
B). Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself...
C). Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs...
D). Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I've been to 19 MLB stadiums in my quest to see them all. Two of them have since been torn down, and several more new ones are being built, so by my count I have 16 to go.
2. I hate olives.
3. Bacon is life.
4. I was good at video games when I was a kid, but I've totally lost it except for Street Fighter II, Super Mario Bros and Zelda.
5. I changed the blog template because I got sick of that yellow background.
6. I'll never bet against my favorite teams, the Braves and UGA, and I don't like betting on them at all.
7. I've witnessed six executions by injection.

No more tags from me!

Monday, November 05, 2007

$1 Rebuy Donkament!

I had a great time at the $1 Rebuy Blogger Donkament on Friday, finishing in second place to IslandBum1 after rebuying about 15 times and sucking out repeatedly. I don't think any tourney has ever made me look like more of a donk, but I guess that's what it's supposed to do.

I want to review some of the more questionable plays I made that may have looked particularly fishy. I'll pick up with hands after the rebuy period ended because that's when actual "poker" was played:

Hand 1:

200/400 Ante 50
Seat 3: dino_burger (25,797)
Seat 5: smizmiatch (10,835)
Dealt to smizmiatch [Ac As]
smizmiatch raises to 1,200
Astin calls 1,200
BuddyDank calls 1,000
dino_burger calls 800
*** FLOP *** [9s 8h 7s]
BuddyDank checks
dino_burger bets 5,150
smizmiatch raises to 9,585, and is all in
Astin folds
BuddyDank folds
dino_burger calls 4,435
smizmiatch shows [Ac As]
dino_burger shows [9c Td]
*** TURN *** [9s 8h 7s] [4s]
*** RIVER *** [9s 8h 7s 4s] [Qc]
smizmiatch shows a pair of Aces
dino_burger shows a pair of Nines
smizmiatch wins the pot (24,320) with a pair of Aces

This is pretty standard, I think. I'm not going to fold what is likely to be the best hand when someone decides to bet out at the pot like that. It felt like exactly what it was -- a strong draw. I was fulling willing to take a coinflip in this situation.

Hand 2:

400/800 Ante 100 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:41:09 ET - 2007/11/02
Seat 1: DontKnow (9,970)
Seat 8: smizmiatch (19,732)
Dealt to smizmiatch [Kh Jh]
smizmiatch raises to 2,400
DontKnow raises to 9,870, and is all in

There was 2,100 in the pot preflop, putting DontKnow's M just under 5. After my raise, there was 4,500 in the pot. After his all-in bet, I had to call 7,470 to win 14,370 -- basically a 2:1 proposition.

Should I have folded here? I put DontKnow on any Ax, any pocket pair or any other playable hand. Against Ax, I'm about a 60:40 dog, against AK, AJ or KQ I'm a 70:30 dog, and against a lower pocket pair I'm in a race situation.

I decided there was too much money in the pot to fold, but I think it's close.

DontKnow showed JJ, but I sucked out a straight on the river, giving me a 34,000-chip stack and leaving me in great shape.

But only a few hands later, I got in trouble again.

Hand 3:

500/1000 Ante 125 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:49:19 ET - 2007/11/02
Seat 2: NumbBono (45,471)
Seat 8: smizmiatch (28,502)
Astin posts the small blind of 500
NumbBono posts the big blind of 1,000
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to smizmiatch [7h 9c] on Button
smizmiatch raises to 3,000
Astin folds
NumbBono calls 2,000
*** FLOP *** [7s 6h Qh]
NumbBono bets 5,600

I thought he would bet out with a wide range, including straight and flush draws. I didn't think I was worse off than being up against a Queen. In retrospect, it's obvious that this raise was a mistake.

smizmiatch raises to 15,000
NumbBono raises to 42,346, and is all in
smizmiatch has 15 seconds left to act
smizmiatch has requested TIME
Astin: got awful quiet here
smizmiatch: crap,
smizmiatch: crappy way to go out

At this point, there was 47,752 in the pot, and I had to call 10,377 more. That's about 4:1 pot odds, and I believed that all of my five outs were live. According to PokerTracker, I had a 22 percent chance of winning the hand and I had to call 21 percent of the pot, so on its surface a call was correct.

I didn't have these exact numbers in front of me at the time, but I knew it was basically a toss-up between folding and calling. So I called.

I never know when it's a good situation to make this kind of call in a tourney and when I should try to survive. I always fall back on my cash game knowledge that say if the pot odds dictate a call, you'd be wrong to fold.

smizmiatch calls 10,377, and is all in
NumbBono shows [Qs 8c]
smizmiatch shows [7h 9c]
Uncalled bet of 16,969 returned to NumbBono
*** TURN *** [7s 6h Qh] [3c]
*** RIVER *** [7s 6h Qh 3c] [7d]
NumbBono shows two pair, Queens and Sevens
smizmiatch shows three of a kind, Sevens
smizmiatch wins the pot (58,129) with three of a kind, Sevens

I didn't stop there. I had many more people to suck out on.

Hand 4:

FullTiltPoker Game #4049972626: Friday Nite Blogger Donkament (30642602), Table 3 - 600/1200 Ante 150 - No Limit Hold'em - 23:56:50 ET - 2007/11/02
Seat 8: smizmiatch (44,854) Button
Seat 9: Astin (12,600) SB
Dealt to smizmiatch [Kc 2h]
smizmiatch raises to 3,600
Astin raises to 12,000 (leaving 450 behind)

I had to call 8,400 to win 6,450. This is a time where I should have folded. What was I hoping for?

I saw Astin's push as a desperation move, and I incorrectly made the call. I wasn't ahead of anything, but that didn't stop me from getting lucky again!

smizmiatch raises to 20,400
Astin calls 450, and is all in
smizmiatch shows [Kc 2h]
Astin shows [As Kd]
Uncalled bet of 7,950 returned to smizmiatch
*** FLOP *** [Tc Ah Qh]
*** TURN *** [Tc Ah Qh] [5h]
*** RIVER *** [Tc Ah Qh 5h] [9h]
smizmiatch shows a flush, Ace high
Astin shows a pair of Aces
smizmiatch wins the pot (27,150) with a flush, Ace high
Astin: oh wow

By this point, everyone at the table hates me. That's what I get for playing like a donk.

Hand 5:

I finally paid for it when I thought the eventual winner was running a bluff. This looked like a good flop for me to rebluff at, but it didn't turn out that way. And who would fold to me at this point anyway?

My only defense is that my PT stats showed IslandBum1's flop aggression at 80 percent, and I figured he would frequently bet at an uncoordinated flop like this with air.

800/1600 Ante 200 - No Limit Hold'em - 0:10:44 ET - 2007/11/03
Seat 7: IslandBum1 (36,336) BB
Seat 8: smizmiatch (64,954) UTG
Dealt to smizmiatch [Qd Js]
smizmiatch raises to 4,500
IslandBum1 calls 2,900
*** FLOP *** [Kc 6s 3h]
IslandBum1 bets 8,000
smizmiatch raises to 35,000
IslandBum1 calls 23,636, and is all in
smizmiatch shows [Qd Js]
IslandBum1 shows [Jd Kd]
Uncalled bet of 3,364 returned to smizmiatch
*** TURN *** [Kc 6s 3h] [Ad]
*** RIVER *** [Kc 6s 3h Ad] [Qc]
smizmiatch shows a pair of Queens
IslandBum1 shows a pair of Kings
IslandBum1 wins the pot (74,272) with a pair of Kings

Wait, how did I not suck out???

Those are the major hands that got me in a position to finish highly. I also doubled up with KK.

Then with four players left, I got lucky again with KQ on a J-high flop when I misread my hand. I thought I had a Jack, but I hit a Queen on the river to luckbox my way to the final three.

In the end, I went out pushing A7o into K8o. IslandBum1's suited 8 was higher than my suited 7 to make a higher flush and take home the title. Congrats!

Anyway, I'd like to hear criticism of my plays and analysis. In particular, should I have made those calls in Hands 1-3 when I felt like I was being offered correct pot odds? When should players back off from a potentially +EV situation for the sake of survival in a tourney?

Having a hard time with all these 4bets

I've been playing a lot of hands at 2/4 and 3/6 on Full Tilt as I try to rebuild there. During this challenge, I've been experimenting a lot with 4-betting preflop, both as a bluff and not.

For example, with a hand like 76s, I could raise from the cutoff to $14, get reraised from the button by an aggressive player to $52, and then I could 4-bet them to $152 in an attempt to take it down preflop. This play needs to work two-thirds of the time to show a profit, so it seems like it makes sense.

But I haven't been seeing good results from it. I would have been much better off sticking to my usual style of either pushing as a 4-bet or folding when out of position. I find myself in so many sticky situations where I hold a hand like QQ against a player who has seen me 4-bet before, and then he pushes on me. Or perhaps he'll be the one making the 4-bet, and I'll make the push. Either way, too often I'm finding myself completely dominated by AA or KK.

QQ should be good more often than not against LAGgy players' 3-betting range, but I keep finding that their 5-bet all-ins almost always have me beaten. I fall into the trap of telling myself that there's too much money in the pot to fold to a potential hand like AK, since there are so many players who like to get it all in preflop with AK these days.

So I have no one to blame but myself, and yet I'm still making the same mistake over and over again. I've got to change it up.

I plan to follow some classic advice that I've linked to before and stop making so many 3X 4-bets. They just aren't working for me often enough for them to be my default restealing strategy.

Instead, I want to go back to (occasionally) making 4-bet all-ins with AA, KK and Ax and see what happens. I'll also mix in some more flat calling out of position and floating in position with premium hands for deception purposes.

I hate to think of the money I've wasted in the last couple of weeks with these 4-bet bluffs that keep getting caught, but I'll tell myself it's all part of the learning curve.

Recommended reading (especially the links within):
let's talk about flat calling 3bets preflop