Monday, May 09, 2011

Keeping score with Squaretender

Please take a look at, a website I help write about baseball scorekeeping.

Since the site launched before Opening Day this season, we've highlighted historic scorecards, unique scorekeeping methods, tablet/phone scorekeeping apps and momentous plays.

We'll continue to update it regularly, and we hope it provides a compelling outlet for baseball fans.

Hope you like it!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WPBT '10

The highlights of the annual blogger trip to Vegas were a victory in the Last Longer Challenge, a 10th-place finish in the tourney, showing my wife the town for the first time, and of course hanging out with distant friends that I don't get to see often enough.

It was a blast as always, and I miss it as soon as I leave.

I'll start with the WPBT group itself. Everyone is fantastic, welcoming and fun. There's always someone who wants to drink, talk, play table games or even play poker. I'm thankful to be a part of a group originally bound together by poker blogging that has since evolved into stronger friendships. While many people don't blog as much anymore (I'm guilty), the group remains solid.

Team Roach took down the Last Longer Challenge for the second straight year when Bayne and I made the final two tables. Along with new team member Garth, we split the prop bet money and the added online cash. Thanks PokerStars!

The Aria poker room and its staff impressed me. They were accommodating, ran a good tourney and kept everyone happy by doing the little things right, like keeping steady drink service and allowing me to charge my cell phone at their desk. Aria provides a comfortable gambling environment, which makes the experience more fun.

My poker room rankings for WPBT tourneys are:
1. Aria
2. Caesars
3. Venetian
4. Orleans (aka The Dump)

During the tourney, Avoque was seated to my right for a few hours before he busted and I won a cool bounty of clear red dice labeled "I busted Avoque. WPBT 12/2010." As he prepared to leave and dusted off a drink, he put five $1 chips in front of me, saying he'd bet me that I would break CK. So I would win the bet if she lost to anyone else, and he would win if she went out to me. At the time, I was rolling along and accumulating chips.

Sure enough, I had top pair on a Qxy twotone flop, and CK shoved. I called and she showed a flush draw, which didn't get there on the turn or river. Hours later, I surprised Avoque by returning his chips for his win of the side bet. I didn't remember until later that I should have paid him an additional $5 for the bet. I owe him next year.

I won't attempt a lengthy summary of the good times I had hanging out at the Geisha Bar, shooting craps and seeing shows like "Blue Man Group" and "Ka" with my wife. Mixed games at the MGM looked like fun, but I just hung out at the bar. I misread a board badly during a 1/2 game at the IP, leading to me losing some chips and quitting the game early. I won money at Bellagio and Caesars.

When you combine gambling with cool people from across the world, it's always a good time. Thanks, and I'm looking forward to next year.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The problem with 4-bet shoving preflop

If you're up against an opponent who 3-bets too frequently preflop, it stands to reason that you could profitably 4-bet shove against him because a large portion of his range would be forced to fold.

I don't know exactly how high an opponent's 3-bet percentage needs to be to make a 4-bet shove profitable, but math and PokerStove indicate to me that it's somewhere between 15 percent and 20 percent, according to a couple of scenarios I wrote out. I think it's fairly safe to say that you can 4-bet shove profitably against someone who's 3-betting more than 20 percent of their hands preflop over the long run. CTS also mentions the possibility of 4-bet shoving in his famous 3-bet post.

For a week or two, I tried 4-bet shoving against opponents who reraised too often. I put my 4-bet shoving range around 88+ and AQ+. My relatively small sample showed negative results.

There are a few problems with 4-bet shoving in shorthanded NL cash games:

_ If you 4-bet shove all the time instead of making smaller 4-bets, you can't ever 4-bet bluff. 4-bet shoving limits your range and your options. jcl touches on this point in his excellent CardRunners series, "Making the Jump."

_ It only really works when you're out of position. A 4-bet in position narrows your range too much, especially if you ever want to be able to call a 3-bet. However, out of position 4-bets may be more reasonable than in position 4-bets because you should pretty much never be calling a 3-bet out of position. It's a raise or fold situation.

4-bet shoving has its place, especially in some players' heads-up strategies. But it's applications are limited in shorthanded and full ring games, and it detracts from a well-rounded overall strategy.

Resolutions '10

I need to find a way to play as well as I used to. I don't know how to do this except to do it. It starts with becoming more disciplined and making better decisions. I learned a lot last year, and now I need to plug the leaks that seem to have kept pace with my improvements.

I'll stop making hero calls. I'd better have a damn good reason for calling down multiple streets besides the thought that I simply don't believe my opponents. Too often, I lose money when an opponent's line doesn't make sense. I should realize that these days, strange betting lines are far more likely to be the nuts than air.

I'll quit playing the first time I curse at the computer. I'll keep playing when I'm on my game.

Those are my resolutions for 2010, and I plan to stick to them every day of the year.

Good luck this year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

2009 Year in Review

I didn't win much money in 2009. I made a little bit, but only a little. It was my worst year of poker in terms of profits since my rookie year of online play in 2004.

What went wrong? How did I go from winning so much in each of the last three years to barely making a profit this year?

There's no single answer to this question, but here are a few plausible explanations:

1. The games have gotten tougher. There are still plenty of fish around, but overall, everyone is improving their games. Even the fish are more likely to be aggressive than loose-passive, which was more common in the years immediately after the boom.

2. My efforts to improve have sacrificed short-term profits for long-term gain. Over the last 18 months, I've changed a lot of things about my game. I played heads-up for a while, tried to become more of a LAG, forced myself to make more postflop decisions and dropped down in stakes to 2/4. It's essential that I continue to learn new things and incorporate them into my game, but those efforts don't always pay off immediately.

3. I played poorly. My efforts to reduce spew were replaced by leaks that led me to pay off too often. As I loosened up my game, I wasn't as comfortable playing aggressively because I was playing a weaker range of hands. I lost my ambition to keep moving up in stakes, which cut into my motivation.

4. I switched to shorthanded NL exclusively, cutting the one or two full ring tables I previously played. There are just too many shortstacks in full ring games, and game selection becomes tedious.

5. Full Tilt stopped allowing data mining of observed hands. Data mining observed hands wasn't something that I abused by leaving the client running when I wasn't playing, but it definitely helped me decide what tables to sit at because I could wait 10 or 20 hands to get an idea for how they were playing.

I'm comforted a little bit to know that I was unlucky this year, according to the Showdown Equity Calculator, which figures out street-by-street equities and compares them to results. SECT showed that I ran about 40 buy-ins below expectation this year. I guess that makes up for my good fortune in previous years.

For 2010, I need to do better. I need to pay off fewer value bets, play fewer hands out of position and refocus on game selection.

Good luck to you all in the new year!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

WPBT09 Recap, part 3

After settling in to Vegas, I had a free day on Friday.

First, I hit the Neon Boneyard in downtown. It was cool to see all the old signs that once made up the Vegas skyline. They're grouped in two lots along Las Vegas Boulevard, their faded bling representing fenced-in memories.

Then it was time to get out of town.

I drove up to Red Rock Casino to get more of the local gambling flavor. To be sure, the players there weren't tourists, but that doesn't mean they were much better at poker. The lineup looked like avatars from Party Poker: a gentleman in a black suit with a hat, two dudes wearing baseball caps, one guy bundled up in a jacket and knit hat.

The game was fun, with stupid arguments breaking out sporadically. The table got into it over whether the game should be 2/5 or 3/5 NL, which the floor had ruled could only be spread from Monday to Thursday. They weren't just discussing a difference of $1 though -- the 3/5 game had a $1,500 cap and a mandatory straddle.

Another point of contention was the college football bowl system. I want to see the top eight teams go at it in a playoff, but one guy wouldn't hear it. In his view, it had to be a 12-team playoff or nothing, with four teams getting a bye and the conference championships abolished. He erupted his point and then wouldn't hear any further debate. Right on, dude.

I fetched a rack when I was ugt+1, but I kept it on my lap so that everyone wouldn't know I was leaving after this round unless they had seen me return to the table with the rack. I picked up 22 utg and thought about simply folding it and getting out of there, but that didn't make sense. You play for the chance to make a big hand, and if you pass up too many opportunities you can't win.

Short story: I raised to $15, got a few callers, flopped a set, called the BB's bet on the flop, raised the turn when a flush draw appeared and snapcalled a shove. I think the board was 942J. The BB said he had a monster draw on the turn and didn't see the point of calling (rather than shoving) even though he knew I wouldn't fold. Love the logic. He was pissed off when he learned I was leaving, but I had the rack right there. I was leaving after that hand no matter what.

From there, I still had time to drive through Red Rock Canyon.

Tiny spots of rain and snow fell from the sky, a new sight for me in the normally dry Nevada landscape. It was definitely worth visiting Red Rock Canyon, and I'd like to return to hike on the trails. As it was, I stopped at a few lookouts and drove along winding roads before exiting onto a highway leading back toward the Strip.

Then I hit the Hard Rock Casino, which spread two tables of 1/2 NL and PLO mixed games for us bloggers. They even pitched in free food. Thanks Dan for setting it up! I had a good time.

From there, it was on for drinks at the MGM and the Imperial Palace, followed by the WPBT tourney on Saturday and additional hanging out Saturday night.

As I was drinking, I seemed to recall that some blogger had bought Patrick Swayze a drink at the IP Hooker Bar last year. Did that happen? I asked Iggy, who probably thought I was out of my mind. But I wasn't crazy. I had this memory somehow.

After fiddling with my phone's Web browser for a few minutes, I found that I had been remembering Derek's post about buying a drink for a guy at the end of the bar who looked like Swayze. As it turns out, that guy (who "looks more like Gilligan after a 3 hour tour") was Iggy himself. I had fallen for it. To be honest, I don't know how you can mistake a midget for either Gilligan or Swayze.

I'll end the trip report here, although not for lack of content. There are a few dozen more bloggers who I had good times with who I haven't mentioned in these recaps, and I want y'all to know you made it a lot of fun. Hope to see everyone next year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WPBT09 Recap, part 2

I arrived at the Imperial Palace on Thursday morning, but I didn't make it to the check-in counter for a little while longer. The Hooker Bar and shots of SoCo were in the way.

I met up with Alcanthang, Pauly, Derek, JoeSpeaker and StB during my first stop at the bar. There's nothing surprising about how long it took for me to start drinking. Luggage in hand, I took four shots of SoCo and drank a beer before even checking in. It went down smooth.

I eventually did check in before returning to the bar for more drinking and socializing. I remember talking to F-Train, RecessRampage, ButchHoward, Penner and an ever-growing accumulation of other kick-ass personalities who my blurry memory fails to recall at the moment. It's hilarious to me how vivid some of the Vegas recaps from those first few hours are, before the drinks impaired happy recollections.

I remember heading to the roulette table at some point, and true to my word, I set a stop loss. I booked a $115 win and never got back to roulette again. Later I headed with to the Venetian with the Penner bros, where we ate dinner and played poker. I got 10 hours of sleep that first night in preparation for significantly less sleep during the rest of the trip.

The Hooker Bar is the perfect central location for everyone to hang out. In this sixth year of the annual Winter Gathering, I realized how few new faces there were. Almost everyone had been on a blogger trip before. I don't see many new poker blogs being written. I hope new bloggers come along, and I welcome them, but I don't think they will. Most of us are products of the Moneymaker era, and the poker and blogging boom is our bond.

I hope it lasts for many years to come. I had a great time as always.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

WPBT09 Recap, part 1

To Poker Gnome,
You may have been luckier on this day, but it likely won't last. To help you be as lucky as me, I offer the essential guide.
Good Luck,
The Luckbox
--Note written on inside page of "Luck: The Essential Guide," which Luckbox awarded me as his bounty from WPBT tourney

Everything had to go right to make a run at the World Poker Blogger Tour Winter '09 tournament. Most everything did fall into place, allowing Team Roach to win the Luckbox Last Longer Challenge and me to finish in fifth place overall.

Image from RecessRampage. Thanks!

And that's just the tournament. The remainder of the annual blogger weekend was a blast as well.

But let's start with the tourney:

Eighty-six bloggers registered for the $100 buy-in tourney at Caesar's, with most of them participating in the last longer challenge. The challenge cost $10 per person, and included $2,000 added by PokerStars, thanks to UpForPoker. Thanks guys!

My last longer team consisted of Bayne, RecessRampage and myself. We called ourselves "Team Roach" due to Bayne's incredible survival skills that we hoped would serve us all well.

My starting table looked pretty brutal, and it lived up to that image by eventually putting four players at the final table. The table included F-Train, TheRooster, Smokkee, CracknAces, AlCantHang, Chilly and others.

I could have gone out near the beginning when Rooster limped, F-Train limped and I limped with 87s. The flop came 872, and Rooster open shoved. F-Train called. I thought for just a moment for dishing my top two. I didn't think it was good against two all-ins in a limped pot, and I was right. Rooster turned over KK, and F-Train tabled 22 for the flopped set.

I was shortstacked for a long time before finally doubling up with the hammer. Again, this is just one of those things that goes right in a blogger tournament: You're looking for a hand to go with, and you find 72. Push! I don't remember who called me or what he had, but I was glad to see the 2 fall.

Everyone got so shortstacked for so long, but they were still playing pretty tight. Because a shove could pick up so much dead money in the middle, survival was a matter of picking your spots and trying to steal the blinds and antes. I later broke Lightning36 with Q7 when he shoved and pot odds dictated a call. He brought me my first bounty, a University of Illinois hat.

The goods piled up when I knocked out ButchHoward, whose bounty was a very cool shot glass with the words "WPBT 09" imprinted on it. Then came my knockout of the Luckbox himself and gained the book of luck. Later, I was fortunate to pair my 32, which I had shoved into Change100's KQ.

At the final table, the blinds were reset so that the average stack was 20BBs -- a nice accommodation by Caesars to get more play when it counted. This adjustment essentially added two levels to the tourney, knocking us down from the 4,000/8,000/2,000 level to the 1,500/3,000/400 level. I was at my high chip count for the tournament thus far, at about 120,000.

Early on, I raised to 9k with AT and got a call from eventual champion Astin, who I had covered. The flop came down 986, and I continuation bet 20,000 into the ~30,000 pot with my overpair and gutshot draw. Astin shoved for 11k more with 76s, and his pair held up. That was a big hit to my stack.

A little later, Astin nailed me again. This time, I had enough chips to raise without shoving with K2o from the button. Astin called from the blind. We checked it down until the river, when the board read J87QT with a flush possible on the turn. On the river, I bet 40k as a bluff with my airball hand, and Astin raised me 50k more. Of course I folded, and I was essentially crippled. He said he had T8s.

Astin did a great job of recounting the hand in his recap: "It was easily my favourite hand of the tournament," he writes.

But the fun wasn't over yet. I still got to tilt Alcanthang, who had a ton of chips before I shoved J3 into his AJ. I hit a 3, diminished his stack and pissed him off. Sorry man!

That's OK though -- he got some of my chips back on my bust-out hand when I shoved J4 into Al's 55 and someone else's AK (I think). Al hit a 5 on the flop, and presto was gold!

Along the way, I got tremendously lucky to hit the cards I needed. I was fortunate to have two shoves in front of me at my opening table, to win flips, to hit my rags when all-in, and to have two strong teammates on Team Roach so that we could take down the last longer trophy and cash.

That's the nature of tourneys and Vegas gambling. I'm glad it was my turn to hit for $512 in 5th place money, $120 for my share of the last longer prop, and $500 on top from PokerStars!