Wednesday, February 18, 2009

HOTD: A rare preflop KK fold

I raised from an early position with KK, got quickly re-raised by a solid player who only 3-bets 2 percent of the time, and then the pot was re-raised again by a regular whose 4-bet range is about 1 percent, according to Hold'em Manager.

Most of the time, I would shove and be unsurprised to see one of my opponents show AA. This time, I looked at the 3 BB I had invested in the pot and made a quiet fold.

While it's possible that the CO was squeezing and the button was resqueezing, I feel comfortable with my play. It's just another hand.

Full Tilt Poker $5/$10 No Limit Hold'em - 8 players - View hand 42502

The Official Hand History Converter

SB: $955.00
BB: $2465.00
UTG: $650.00
UTG+1: $1508.50
Hero (MP1): $2327.00
MP2: $382.50
CO: $3343.50
BTN: $2652.00

Pre Flop: ($15.00) Hero is MP1 with KK of diamonds KK of hearts

2 folds, Hero raises to $30, MP2 calls $30, CO raises to $130, BTN raises to $290, 5 folds

Final Pot: $335.00

BTN wins $335.00

Sunday, February 15, 2009

HU24: Goal Complete

I won my 10 buy-ins at $2/4 NL heads-up! It's pretty incredible when the suckouts don't hit for my opponents.

It took me eight days to achieve the goal, and at one point I was down seven buy-ins. But I came back and rocked some HU fish.

The only downside of this week crushing $2/4 HU is that I played many other game types as well, which resulted in losses at $3/6 HU and $2/4 PLO. Man, do I ever suck at PLO, but I'm sure I'll improve (eventually).

I credit my accomplishment at $2/4 in part to pr1nnyraiding S2, Ep. 5. In that episode, Krantz discusses a flow chart that is posted in the video comments. The flow chart is used as an aid to determine what your opponents' attributes are, and then to think of counterstrategies.

I took the flow chart a step further and started writing down my opponents tendencies and my adjustments as I play. That exercise has really forced me to think harder about how I should be dodging and weaving against various opponent types, which is so important in HU play.

I used to complain that in heads-up play, I always seemed to claw for a buy-in or two but then lose four or five buy-ins within a few minutes. Now I feel like I'm the one with the big wins and small losses.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Calling Shenanigans

So-called poker experts do a great job of tilting me when they spread misinformation. I'm here to call them out.

1. Deuce Plays, Episode 5:

"If you do have Ace-King, four betting I don't think is going to show a profit, because it's very unlikely you're going to get it in against a range of honestly, Kings or Aces, and maybe Queens, so obviously that's a horrible range to get it in against." --Sean Nolan

The reality is that in today's games, many players' preflop all-in range includes AA, KK, QQ and AK from any position. You can feel safe shoving or 4-betting AK preflop against that range for 100BB.

If you start calling or folding AK preflop out of position, you're probably losing money against most opponents. You should fold AK against a range of AA and KK, but realistically, even most nits are shoving and calling shoves with QQ and AK too.

As an aside, I have to give Nolan credit for another point he made about six minutes later into the podcast. He challenged anyone to show him that they're making money by playing 66-22 from early position in a full ring game over a large sample. I filtered my stats and found that he's right: in my case, I'm a slight loser in that situation.

2. Two Plus Two Publishing: Mason Malmuth rips Tommy Angelo's book, "Elements of Poker," in the most recent Two Plus Two Magazine. Then he locks a thread in the Two Plus Two forums ending discussion of his critique. Hard-Boiled Poker covered it Wednesday.

First of all, I loved reading "Elements of Poker." It gave new, refreshing insight into the game from a perspective that Two Plus Two's books fail to offer. The book may not be for everyone, but the job of a critic is to evaluate a work on its merits. Just because a poker book isn't grounded in statistics doesn't mean it has little value.

Secondly, I got more out of "Elements of Poker" than any Two Plus Two book I've read in recent memory. Honestly, Two Plus Two's offerings have mostly sucked over the last couple of years. "Harrington on Cash Games," "Heads-up No-limit Hold'em" and "Professional No-limit Hold'em" all fell far short of expectations and didn't do much to improve my game.

On top of those subpar offerings, Two Plus Two is coming out with Harrington books on shorthanded games. Harrington should stick to tournaments because his cash advice is piss poor. Applying it to today's 6-max online games would be a disaster.

Finally, Malmuth's thread lock seems to show a lack of openness toward other opinions.

3. Pope Ciaffone has a problem with the advice that "You've got to give action to get action":

"Now let's look at what many of the players are actually doing who use the expression, 'You have to give action to get action.' They raise up front with the 9 7, then bet the flop into four callers when it comes A-J-3. They call a raise out of the small blind when holding the J 8 when there are five opponents who limped in and the button raised. They reraise preflop with 9-9 because now they have a 'real hand.' The game plan was to look like a wild player and then play solidly afterward, but they unfortunately got stuck so much in their advertising mode that they were emotionally unable to stick to their game plan. To me, they look like they are auditioning for the poker version of Death Wish III."

Ciaffone doesn't seem to understand what the phrase means. It's not that difficult. What it means is that if you play like a nit, no one will ever pay you off when you do hit a hand. His examples don't reflect that concept at all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Pot-limit Omaha Poker"

I wish more poker books were like "Pot-limit Omaha Poker: The Big Play Strategy," by Jeff Hwang.

Hwang explains fundamental concepts better than most videos. He provides a detailed outline of recognizing various wrap draws and their value. The hand quizzes are well explained and filled with practical examples.

To put it simply, this book does a great job of teaching you how to play a solid Omaha game. It also goes beyond the basics into continuation betting, bluffing, barrelling and hand reading.

Hwang's book succeeds where so many fail. The hand quizzes are based on real hands and clearly convey the author's concepts. The discussion on wrap draws filled in a critical gap in my knowledge that wasn't already covered by the poker training sites. Starting hand analysis was complete but rarely redundant. The section on postflop play was sophisticated yet easy to understand.

I can't think of any part of this book that seems wrong, uninformed or misleading.

Hwang knows what he's writing about, and he does it in a way that makes you ready to start making money at PLO.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

HU23: Overview

Postflop play is hard: No limit hold'em simply doesn't involve as much postflop play as most other forms of poker. Cash game reraises often take down the pot preflop, and tournaments often turn into preflop pushfests.

Heads-up play is different because players are forced to see more flops, turns and rivers. You have to develop a balanced strategy. Determining strong continuation bet percentages, check-raise frequencies, aggression levels per street and bluffing patterns are important.

That means deciding when to check behind on paired flops, when to check-raise a weak flopped pair and how to adjust bet sizing to get maximum value and induce mistakes.

Adjustments: Each opponent is different. Playing a standard game isn't going to make much money. Coming from full ring and 6-max hold'em games, it was difficult for me to get used to making such drastic changes in my game.

Now, I'll rarely 3-bet against some players and blast others with reraises and preflop shoves. I'll donkbet against some and let others do the betting for me.

It's tough to constantly think: If my opponent is showing this attribute, how should I respond? What level of thinking is he on? Do I need to value bet thinly or bluff more often? Players who correctly re-evaluate their situations will be able to exploit their opponents more.

The Big Picture: When three bad beats hit within minutes, it's easy to lose perspective and go on tilt. Nobody wants to go on tilt, but it happens. When emotions cloud judgment, players allow short-term results from the past to influence their present and future actions. Tilt is a failure to see beyond the variance into the distant horizon of countless hands.

Miniquest: I'm confident that my heads-up game has improved to the point where I can beat most of the 2/4 regulars, as well as the fish. Now I want to take a week or two to try to win 10 buy-ins _ $4,000 _ at that limit. I'm already up two buy-ins since I embarked on this goal, so hopefully the remaining eight won't be too far behind. In this small way, I hope to prove to myself that I can dominate this limit.