Friday, February 29, 2008

Learning HU plus a little live action

I've been a member of the forums at for a long time. It's a poker strategy forum run by a publishing company who have always published the best literature on poker available. For a few years a group of short handed players have run a tournament amongst themselves. A list of captains draft players from a pool of interested people and then each week teams square off against each other and play head's up matches. I've never participated because I have never been into head's up play and was never sure I'd be able to play all of matches due to work and other commitments. This year I changed my mind and signed up for it.

I was drafted 20th out of 24 players (some did not get drafted) and it was probably a fair draft pick since I am not very experienced at head's up play, but I do want to get better. I believe there is a lot of potential money out there for a head's up player and I think it should be part of my arsenal. Tuesday I played my first match. It was a 50BB freeze-out and I won it after approximately 2 hours of play. I feel like I played very well and also ran decent. Also, our matches are just played for play money but every player in the tournament put in $200 and the winning team splits the total prize pool. My team went 3-2 this week so we are doing ok so far.

That's the part of head's up which I am having problems grasping right now. Tough to see where I am winning (or losing) due to variance or getting out played. At times I think it's hard to differentiate. For instance, last night, for fun, I played a friend of mine. We have played 3 times recently and he has beat me all three. The first one I was experimenting with a few things and ended up not liking them. The second one I just quit after a little while because I couldn't handle it. I was getting run over and never making anything. Last night, I also got ran over. It felt like I also may have gotten outplayed, but it's hard to say. He told me that he was getting hit over the head with the deck, which I believe. So did I get outplayed? It's hard to know. I play him mainly to learn the game (through experience against a good player) and he is doing the same. In the future we are each going to make video's via camtasia studio and then merge the hole cards into one video so that we can each see what the other person hand on each hand. I think that will be the best way to truly learn from the matches with him.

Wednesday night, after squash, I went down the Elbow and played some 15-30. For the first time ever the games were not good. I mean, they weren't horrible, but just weren't as good as I expect for live games. Since I made the effort to get down there and wait in a 4-8 game for a half hour I decided to stick around and see if they improved. They did not, but at least my game became short handed.

Live players do not play much short handed at all, so most of them really have no clue how to adjust. This is good for me, a short handed expert. So when my table dropped to four handed I felt pretty good about my chances of coming back (I was stuck $650 at the time) and maybe booking a win. One problem, they all knew each other. What was happening was that if I was in a pot then they would play normal, betting, check, check raising, etc. But, as soon as I wasn't in the pot anymore they just checked it down to the river. This is very bad for me. In fact, it's cheating. Now, these players were not consciously cheating me, and I could tell that, but never the less they were cheating me so after a little while I said something.

"So, you guys aren't playing against each other at all? Just against me, eh?"

"Well, yah, I guess so."

"Hmm, well this is my last hand then. I would rather play while waiting to get into the main game, but it's really bad for me if you guys are not playing against each other. You can bet and raise until I fold and then check it down."

"Yah, you are right, but we haven't done that."

"I know, but still... it sucks for me right?"

"Yah, it does suck for you. I understand."

One of the other guys pipes up, "Yah, I understand too. Makes sense. We won't do that anymore."

"Yah, if you want to play still we will play each other."


A little while later I was even. We all moved to the main game, which sucked. I stayed another hour and basically broke even on the night (lost $77), but I'm glad I spoke up. I'm usually not one to speak up as I don't like confrontations, but for whatever reason I decided to that night and am glad that I did.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An interesting hand

The contest is wrapping up. It doesn't look like I'm going to win it though. Some dude really turned on the jets on the weekend and caught up, pass me, and pulled away. I have to give him props; he played hard to do what he did.
Today is the last play day for the contest, and I haven't seen results for yesterday's play yet, but I really don't think I can catch him.
Anyways, yesterday I played a pretty interesting hand. I'm in the big blind with some janky Ace, like A6o and the button open raises in a 6 handed game. He's the reason I am in this game. Pretty aggressive donkey. I call and we see a flop head's up.
The flop is AAK. Bingo! Well, I am going to check raise him because he will go to the river with anything and I don't really feel like getting too tricky. He checks behind! OK, foiled. Maybe the turn will be kinder.
The turn is a 4. I check again. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." He checks behind. AIYA!! I can't believe this guy will check two times on that board. He must have like 23 or something. Well, I better bet the river and hope he calls.
The river is another 4. I bet out and get raised! This doesn't make any sense. I guess he was getting really tricky with an ace too. I reraise, just in case he's goofing around, and he caps it! Oh well, chop it up.
Villian turns over... wait for it.... wait.... wait... wait... KK!!!!
Talk about letting me get there!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Contest

So, I'm still running like shit. Nothing new there. I did have one really good day, but dumped all of that back this morning running at -30BB/100 for 250 hands of 15/30 for a -1900 session. Oh well, at least I'm not working.

My rakeback provider is currently having a contest. Actually, it's three separate contests. Actually, it's the same contest at three different locations.

February 1st through 10th - Absolute Poker
February 11th through 20th - Ultimate Bet
February 21st through 29th - Cake Poker

During the above dates, at the specific site mentioned, my rakeback provider is giving away $3000 to the 20 people with the highest MGR at that specific site. I forget what MGR stands for, and don't want to look it up, but it is the amount of rake a player generates for a site. I don't play at Absolute Poker, so I didn't have a chance at that one but I figured I had a reasonable chance at Ultimate Bet so I set my mind to winning this contest. First prize is $900, and since I'm going to be playing anyways, it really is free money. Just in case it doesn't work out, I should mention that second is $600, and third is $450.

After the first day the results were:
1. 370'ish
2. 320'ish
3. 280'ish (me)

but, I had played a lot of hands late at night that I knew weren't counted in this set of results so I was optomistic that I would be ahead the next time results were posted. Those results have just been posted so after two days it's now:
1. 796 (me)
2. 665
3. 647

So it looks pretty good for me so far.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Every post needs a title

I've added "bucky's Associated Press" over on the right hand side of this blog. It's an RSS feed for my Google reader shared items. If you use an RSS aggregator, like Google reader, feel free to add my feed to yours. For anyone who doesn’t know what an RSS feed is, and you know who you are, basically I use Google reader to gather news stories from a variety of different sources and then I can go their and sort through it and just read what I want. It’s a lot more efficient. Now, you can see the 5 most recent stories I’ve read that I find interesting. BTW, I recommend the Mos Def link.

I know in my last post I said that I haven’t been up to too much lately but since then I went down to the Elbow and played a little 15/30 and also went cross country skiing with Bryan. If he emails me some pictures I’ll make sure to post some of them. I’m going to talk about my live play, the skiing as well as a small segment on coffee near the bottom. Read whatever interests you. I would have talked about the democratic debate that I watched, but no one is interesting in my thoughts about that and I won’t have space.

Down at the Elbow Thursday night I treaded water for about four and a half hours. I was up $200, down $200, up $200, down $200, etc. I think I went up and down 3 or 4 times. A couple of times I paid off and if the hand had happened online I would have been 100% correct to pay off in that spot, but live, I’m not sure that I was correct. I think my reads were correct at a high enough accuracy for me to correctly fold, but I erred on the side of caution.

Here’s an example:

A slightly too loose, trying to play good, but lacking some skills young kid opens in early position. He is called in about three spots and I am in the BB with AA so I 3-bet. The young guy caps and we see the flop five ways for four bets each.

Flop: JJ3 rainbow and I check. The young guy obligingly bets and everyone folds to a lady on the button who raises. The lady on the button strikes me as a pretty decent player. She’s tricky, she’s a little loose pre-flop (of course, this is her biggest leak, like it is for everyone in the casino), but I respect her post-flop game. We’ve played together before, but she doesn’t remember me. No one ever remembers me. I decide to 3-bet, as I really think there is a good chance my hand is still best.

Thinking back on this 3-bet I am not sure it’s the best play. This is classic way ahead / way behind type of stuff which means I am either a huge favorite or a huge dog and typically in those spots you are best to simply check/call all the way to the end to allow your opponent to bluff off their chips. The thing is that this spot is a little different. It’s true that I am either way ahead or way behind, but when the action comes to me there is 23 small bets in the pot, and if I call then the young kid will be getting 25 to one to call and he will be correct to peel to try and spike on the turn. In fact, he’s probably correct to call with anything that he has (which is most likely KK or QQ). If I 3-bet, he will probably call me with those two hands and would be making a big mistake. The lady could very well have a jack, or she could have a medium pair like 99. In fact, I think those medium pairs will be a large part of her total range of hands in this spot. These are the factors that lead me to 3-bet in this spot.

The young kid folded and the lady capped. She will almost always have a jack in this spot. I called, the turn was a queen and I check/called. The river was another jack and I check/called again. This is where I am not sure it is worth it for me to call. On the river I am getting 17.5:1 to call and have to be best only 5.4% of the time. Online this is an easy call. Live, I’m not sure. If she has that medium pair that I think she might have had I don’t think a typical live player will value bet it there. They do not value bet light enough live; this is a classic mistake of your otherwise good live player. But the way she bet, and the look on her face was pure confidence. It’s true that the last jack really reduces the number of possible hands she could have that contain a jack, but I’m still not sure. I called and said, “I really think you have quads, but I’m not good enough to fold.” Of course she had quads. Shrug, it really is a small mistake, if it’s a mistake at all.

The only other interesting hand and the one that really put me into the black finally, was a kill pot where the betting limits double. The killer was in early position and he was one of the donkies that were making this game unbelievable. He raised his kill to 60, and the guy on his left, who was playing the big NL game (5/10) head’s up for about an hour raised to 90 and I looked down to see QQ on the button. Upstairs! 120 biatches! SB cold calls before I get my chips into the pot. Ruh-Roh! $495 in the pot before we see the flop.

Flop: QJ9 rainbow. Bingo! Top set, but dangerous board. SB checks, donkey checks, and NL guy bets into me. Well, board is dangerous and pot is big so this is an easy raise. SB cold calls again and donkey folds. NL guy calls. Pot is now $675.

Turn: 8. Can it get much worse? Well, a Ten would be worse. Anyways, check, check to me. I bet and when they both just call I know I’m best.

River: 2. Check, check to me and I bet and they both fold saying they each had AK and were drawing to that Ten. Final pot: $855. My profit: $710 (after rake). That pot had quite a crowd gathered around the table and the players discussed it for a while afterwards because I never did say, or show, what I had.

After that pot I won a few more good ones and finished +$1043 for the evening. Not bad for 8 hours of work.

I know I was going to talk about cross country skiing but this is getting pretty long. I’ll wait until I have pictures and talk it about it then.

On to the coffee. I like coffee. I drink coffee everyday. It brings me a small measure of joy and it’s only vice I have left (is gambling a vice? Hmm….). For Christmas I got a French press and have been making my own coffee but it hasn’t tasted as good as the stuff I get from Second Cup, even though I am using the same beans. This has bothered me, so today I got all scientific and shit.

I grinded up the same amount of beans that I normally use and then measured the amount of ground coffee that I had produced. It came out to ~9 tablespoons. I’ve read in a few places, including the bag the beans came in, that the correct ratio of beans / water is 2 tablespoons ground coffee per 170 ml water. Alright, so I need 765 ml of water. I bust out the measuring cup and poor the correct amount of freshly boiled water into the French press and stir. After 4 minutes I engage the press and drink. The result was as close as I’ve ever gotten to store bough coffee. It was GOOD! It was a lot, but it was GOOD! I’ll reduce the number of beans that I’m grinding so that I don’t make so much coffee but I was really happy with my results today.

The next thing I’m going to do is buy myself one of these. They are supposed to be the absolute shit. I’m ordering mine today and will give you a trip report after I get it.