Sunday, November 29, 2009

Extreme Discipline

Because poker is such a long-run game, the best players are able to continue making accurate folds even when it seems like it's impossible for their opponents to be running so good.

I'm inspired by players who are able to sit down at the table for countless hours, days, weeks and months while making endless impartial judgments on bad rivers. They resist the temptation to call down just once, to sate their curiosity with a showdown, to think that their opponent is trying to run them over with another big bet.

This discipline can be seen by Durrrr vs. Antonius in the Aussie Millions cash game, where Tom Dwan manages to make repeatedly correct laydowns and lose much less than he could have lost.

Or you can see it when Haseeb Qureshi folds flushes and full houses to river raises.

Or when Tommy Angelo discusses folding Aces preflop.

Or when Doyle Brunson talks on High Stakes Poker about how easy it is to lay down Aces when he's playing well.

This is what separates the great players from the rest of us. Relative hand strength means everything, and absolute hand strength means nothing. They're not attached to their premium hands, and they can throw them away even though look so good.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Back to Blogging

With the winter blogger gathering coming up in Las Vegas the weekend of Dec. 11, I became motivated to get back to posting.

The main reasons for my four-month hiatus were that I ran out of things to write about and felt when I did post, it wasn't any good. I got annoyed with the quality of the blog and burned out on a feeling of obligation to update. So I took a break.

My poker habits haven't changed in that time. I've been playing just about every day while also studying and reading about the game. I just haven't been writing about it.

I've always known that blogging helps make me a better poker player because it reinforces hand histories, provides a forum to get feedback and puts stray thoughts into concrete words. I needed to get back in the habit. I hope the content here is useful to readers as well.

Can't wait for Vegas. During the blogger tournament, Bayne, RecessRampage and I are forming a team to win the last-longer sidebet organized by Up For Poker and juiced with $2,000 added to the prize pool by PokerStars. See you there!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Run it Twice FTW

Run it twice pays off after we got it all-in preflop. Scoop!

A misplayed draw

I made a big mistake in this hand when I flopped a flush draw and overcards. I didn't stop to think about the hand and just spewed my money in.

Because the pot size was still small, I would have been better off calling the flop. Then I could have decided whether to make a move on the turn when the pot was bigger and I'd have more fold equity against draws that dominate mine.

I also should have slowed down after my opponent put in the 3-bet on the flop. Instead, I went all in with no fold equity whatsoever. By that point, I had screwed up so badly that I had resigned myself to getting it all in.

Full Tilt Poker $2/$4 No Limit Hold'em - 6 players - View hand 392462
The Official Hand History Converter

SB: $842.50
BB: $416.20
UTG: $412.00
Hero (MP): $555.00
CO: $107.00
BTN: $400.00

Pre Flop: ($6.00) Hero is MP with J of diamonds Q of diamonds

UTG raises to $12, Hero calls $12, CO requests TIME, 4 folds

Flop: ($30.00) 9 of diamonds 6 of hearts 5 of diamonds (2 players)

UTG bets $20, Hero raises to $74, UTG raises to $188, Hero raises to $543 all in, UTG calls $212 all in

Turn: ($830.00) 2 of clubs (2 players - 2 are all in)

River: ($830.00) 4 of clubs (2 players - 2 are all in)

Final Pot: $830.00

UTG shows K of diamonds T of diamonds (King Ten high)
Hero shows J of diamonds Q of diamonds (Queen Jack high)
UTG wins $827.00
(Rake: $3.00)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

State Taxes

States including Hawaii, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Ohio now prohibit deductions of gambling losses on state income taxes. These laws could make it difficult for even a winning player to have much money left over.

Fortunately, there's an alternative -- filing as a professional gambler.

Even in these states that bar gambling deductions, it appears that filing as a professional allows you to deduct losses on a Schedule C to the extent of winnings. Check with an accountant to be sure.

Filing as a professional comes with some disadvantages as well because you have to pay self-employment taxes, but that hardship is far less than the burden of paying taxes on gross profits.

Also check out Poker Cats' recent post on online gambling and taxes.

In other news, it looks like the Treasury Department has delayed enforcement of UIGEA regulations for six months, according to PokerNews.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Run it Twice

As Full Tilt's "Run it Twice" feature becomes available at a wider variety of stakes, I'm finding it to be a valuable tool in reducing variance.

The trend I'm seeing is that not many players are taking advantage of this feature at the 2/4 NL games, which is a shame. All players in a hand must agree before you can run it twice. Details about how it works are explained here.

Running it twice increases the maximum rake on a hand from $3 to $4, but it still seems like a good deal to me.

Isn't it worth that $1 to avoid 200bb swings every time you get it all in preflop with 100bb stacks?

Some people will say, "no," because why would you pay extra rake when your results tend to reflect your equity in the long run? What they fail to realize is that the long run can take forever to arrive, and I'll gladly hasten that process by seeing two boards when I get it all in.

Additionally, solid players should want to run the board more than once because they're more likely than their average opponent to get it all in with strong hands. When results more closely mirror equities, bad beats come along less often and the player with the best hand wins more often.

Most of all, running it twice is fun. I like seeing all those boards in hopes that I can scoop, or at least decrease the chances of a painful suckout for my entire stack.