Friday, February 29, 2008

AA vs. KK on last SNG hand (HA)

As far as I can remember, this is the first time I've seen this...

Full Tilt Poker, $5 + $0.50 NL Hold'em Sit n' Go, 120/240 Blinds, 2 Players - Hand History Converter

SB: 1,544
Hero (BB): 11,956

Pre-Flop: (360) Ac Ad dealt to Hero (BB)
SB raises to 1,544 and is All-In, Hero calls 1,304

Flop: (3,088) Js Th 9c (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
Turn: (3,088) 5d (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
River: (3,088) 8d (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

Results: 3,088 Pot
SB showed Kc Ks (a pair of Kings) and LOST (-1,544 NET)
Hero showed Ac Ad (a pair of Aces) and WON 3,088 (+1,544 NET)

Fun way to end a fairly solid SNG. Really funny thing was that this was probably the only time I had seen the guy NOT slowplaying a premium hand. He had smooth-called so many bets and preflop minraises with JJ, QQ, and even KK. We're talking being super passive all the way down to the river with not-so-scary boards. He had also limp-called out of position on the first hand with T8o, and lost 2/3rd's of his stack calling down on a board of 9-8-K-T-K. The other guy had KK and rivered quads.

Anyways, I'm going to go ahead and call it a month and do some work on the sites rather than play a few more SNG's or treat myself to the 24k guarantee, like I do sometimes with affiliate funds. I was super busy this month and did not play very much at all, only a pathetic 8 SNG's. Yeah, I know, that's sad. It's also sad that I'm still not overly thrilled about the idea of me multi-tabling SNG's and/or MTT's. Cash NL and especially limit tables I've multi'd before with solid success, and I actually prefer playing 3-4 rather than focusing on one. But with tournaments I've always liked to focus on each hand and develop thorough notes on the other players... particularly in SNG's when they really come in handy during short-handed play and you don't have to worry about being moved around all over the place. I have tried going for two at once, usually a SNG and MTT, but I've continually found that it detracts from my attention and costs me key hands... for instance, missing a perfect steal attempt or position bet... plus I definitely don't have the setup (i.e. a panel of monitors) for multi-tabling.

So getting off that little tangent, February is coming to a close and the bankroll is at $514.19, up from the original $200 I started with piddling away at the $2+.25 SNG's. I'd like to get up around $600+ in March and start consistently playing the $10+1's, and maybe mix in some more MTT's. I have the results so far to know that it's possible, the only question mark is the time for me. Between everything else I'm doing (I'll explain all that later) it's difficult just to find an hour or two on the weekend to relax and play. The other thing I hate is that when I do have the time and want to play, I feel as if I shouldn't since it's like I'm trying to schedule poker in and have to rush through it. Ultimately it's recreational for me, and I shouldn't be watching the clock when I'm trying to relax and enjoy a hobby.

Of course I suppose posting here is also eating up a lot of time, but I enjoy this too... so, whatever. Time to grab some dinner for now.... I'll just leave you with one more thing in case you haven't seen or heard about this yet...

If you know David Sklansky, which most poker players do, I'm pretty sure you're with me in saying...




Monday, February 18, 2008

The Importance of Observations (HA)

In the first hand here I was being very attentive and made a note of how the villian here played his Kings from the BB. For the most part he was fairly passive, even having one of the dominating chipstacks that he had made with a big full house over a little full house and an easy AA shortstack all-in call.

Full Tilt Poker, $5 + $0.50 NL Hold'em Sit n' Go, 50/100 Blinds, 5 Players - Hand History Converter

BB: 3,945
UTG: 2,330
CO: 3,840
Hero (BTN): 1,780
SB: 1,605

Pre-Flop: (150) 9h 5h dealt to Hero (BTN)
UTG folds, CO calls 100, Hero folds, SB calls 50, BB raises to 400, CO calls 300, SB folds

Flop: (900) 7c 9c Th (2 Players)
BB bets 500, CO raises to 3,440 and is All-In, BB calls 2,940
Turn: (7,780) 7d (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
River: (7,780) 7s (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

Results: 7,780 Pot
BB showed Kd Kh (a full house, Sevens full of Kings) and WON 7,780 (+3,940 NET)
CO showed Kc Ts (a full house, Sevens full of Tens) and LOST (-3,840 NET)

So a little while later and we're down to 3. I managed to kinda sneak into the money and am now getting a little more aggressive trying to steal some blinds and keep being a threat. Our villian is in the BB here again, and has remained fairly passive instead of being the big-stack bully. Button has been pretty tricky throughout the SNG but also pretty loose. I'm wary of a possible limp-call with a wide range of hands from him if I push here, and elect to just see a cheap flop and hope to catch someone with a set. See how it goes...

Full Tilt Poker, $5 + $0.50 NL Hold'em Sit n' Go, 120/240 Blinds, 3 Players - Hand History Converter

BB: 7,265
BTN: 3,435
Hero (SB): 2,800

Pre-Flop: (360) 6c 6d dealt to Hero (SB)
BTN calls 240, Hero calls 120, BB raises to 1,000, BTN folds, Hero raises to 2,800 and is All-In, BB calls 1,800
Flop: (5,840) Td 4s 8c (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
Turn: (5,840) Ks (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
River: (5,840) Kh (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

Results: 5,840 Pot
BB showed Qs Qh (two pair, Kings and Queens) and WON 5,840 (+3,040 NET)
Hero showed 6c 6d (two pair, Kings and Sixes) and LOST (-2,800 NET)

Basically here I was putting our villian on a strong hand, given his earlier 4xBB raise from the BB with Kings, but I was also factoring in about a 10% chance of a somewhat passive steal attempt (slightly less possible given his play) and really hoping to see AK or AQ and survive a flip to get back in it. There was also a small chance that I would've pushed him out, but if he's on anything but a total rag steal attempt he'd know enough to call, so basically I was hoping for just the overs and a coinflip.

Moral of the story: should've stuck with what I had seen and observed, thought about it more and realized the likelihood of him having me in really bad shape with an overpair was much higher, and made the easy laydown in this spot rather than the desperation push and pray for a race.

My decision to just call the BB is another discussion, but we'll save that for another day.

Update: HA, HH, and BB Labels

Just a heads up... I'm going to start labeling posts with the following tags just so you can sort through them easier:

HA: Hand Analysis (contains a single converted hand history or two)
HH: Hand History (contains a link to an entire converted hand history for serious discussions of SNG and MTT strategy)
BB: Bad Beat (self-explanatory)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Fateful Monster Hands Early on in MTT's (HA)

Second hand of a double-stack 90 person SNG. This happened a few months ago, but I thought I'd share it. It was one of those very early monster-hand situations where you just know that you're going to bust. Perhaps I could've/should've raised more preflop, being a double-stack low limit game, but I really don't think I'm folding post-flop given the way it played out...

Full Tilt Poker, $5 + $0.50 NL Hold'em Sit n' Go, 15/30 Blinds, 9 Players - Hand History Converter

BTN: 2,970
Hero (SB): 2,970
BB: 3,000
UTG: 3,000
UTG+1: 3,000
UTG+2: 3,000
MP1: 3,000
MP2: 3,060
CO: 3,000

Pre-Flop: (45) Ad As dealt to Hero (SB)
UTG folds, UTG+1 calls 30, UTG+2 folds, MP1 calls 30, MP2 folds, CO calls 30, BTN folds, Hero raises to 180, 2 folds, MP1 calls 150, CO calls 150

Flop: (600) 9s 6d 2s (3 Players)
Hero bets 600, MP1 folds, CO raises to 1,200, Hero raises to 2,790 and is All-In, CO calls 1,590
Turn: (6,180) Js (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
River: (6,180) Jh (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

Results: 6,180 Pot
Hero showed Ad As (two pair, Aces and Jacks) and LOST (-2,970 NET)
CO showed 2d 2c (a full house, Twos full of Jacks) and WON 6,180 (+3,210 NET)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hindsight is for Losers

We've all done it. You lose a hand. You bust out. You sit and stare at the screen and watch as a new player fills your seat and the game continues right along, and you wonder what you could've done to prevent this catastrophe. It's a part of poker that you just can't avoid, and a lot of times it's a part that you just can't forget. The fateful hands that linger in your mind for hours upon hours, distracting you as you start up a new game, haunting you as you go about other daily tasks, and keeping you awake at night with thoughts of retrospection running through your mind. "I should've raised more before the flop. I should've gone with my instincts, I knew I was beat. I should've bet out rather than check raise and not let him get pot committed to his flush draw." Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.

The problem with these sorts of situations is that, just like any other unfortunate event in life, it already happened - it's in the past now; learn from it and move on. Sitting and dwelling on how things played out won't do any good, and neither will going on tilt and starting to play crappy. A lot of times you'll find yourself stuck thinking about hands when you did everything in your power to play correctly and maximize your profits. I can't tell you how many times I've lured opponents in just like I want to, got my chips into the middle with a dominating hand, and got sucked out on to lose in the end. Sure, maybe I could've been more aggressive and pushed harder to get him off his draw... but then I'd be missing out on all those similar situations where the chips would've been sliding my way... where playing the way I did would yield the long-term profits that I'm working for.

In other situations it may be the opposite. "Why did I open-push my pocket Queens in pre-flop with a short stack right on the bubble? I should've known that there was a chance the Big Blind had pocket Kings, played tighter, and just folded those Queens. Maybe then I could've just snuck into the money." Are you kidding me? Now you're just talking crazy.

Remember that the hands we tend to think about the most are the ones we lose, even if they're played relatively perfectly and we just get a little unlucky. Learn to make quick lessons of these hands and to put them out of mind as soon as possible in order to focus on the future hands that will need your full attention. There is only so much in poker that you can control, but there's absolutely nothing in the past that you can change... it's just the facts of life. ~ B

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

AA Limp-Reraise - Should I have known better? (HA)

Here's one of the most interesting hands I've played lately...

Full Tilt Poker, NL Hold'em Tournament, 25/50 Blinds, 8 Players - Hand History Converter
UTG: 2,400
Hero (UTG+1): 1,560
MP1: 1,920
MP2: 1,335
CO: 2,090
BTN: 1,175
SB: 1,660
BB: 1,360

Pre-Flop: (75) Ac Ks dealt to Hero (UTG+1)
UTG calls 50, Hero raises to 200, 6 folds, UTG raises to 500, Hero calls 300
Flop: (1,075) Kh 6c 8d (2 Players)
UTG bets 1,900 and is All-In, Hero calls 1,060 and is All-In
Turn: (3,195) 2h (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
River: (3,195) 2s (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

Results: 3,195 Pot
UTG showed Ad Ah (two pair, Aces and Twos) and WON 3,195 (+1,635 NET)
Hero showed Ac Ks (two pair, Kings and Twos) and LOST (-1,560 NET)

Even though it was fairly early in the SNG and I didn't have much of a read on the villian, my impression of him was of being fairly solid and once he re-raised me pre-flop after limping UTG the AA alarms were going off in my head. My instincts were right, but I just don't see myself getting away from this hand on the flop... doesn't seem +EV at this level. If I was going to give it up I'd say it would've been done pre-flop, but I don't see that as a +EV move either, especially with position. Perhaps calling was bad as well, and I should've shoved or folded. Any thoughts?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Best Bad Beat of 2007 (BB)

I know it's a bit late for a "Best of 2007" list, and this happened quite a few months ago, although it's obviously stuck with me to this day. This has to be the worst bad beat I took in 2007, or probably ever! When the chips got in on the flop, if I'm calculating this right, I was a 98.6% favorite to win it, and he was 0.30%. He needed a runner-runner miracle, and... well, see for yourself...

Full Tilt Poker, $5 + $0.50 NL Hold'em Sit n' Go, 40/80 Blinds, 7 Players - Hand History Converter
BTN: 1,560
SB: 1,000
Hero (BB): 1,590
UTG: 1,255
UTG+1: 2,975
MP: 2,450
CO: 2,670

Pre-Flop: (120) Qs Ac dealt to Hero (BB)
UTG calls 80, 4 folds, SB calls 40, Hero checks
Flop: (240) Ah 7h Qc (3 Players)
SB checks, Hero checks, UTG bets 240, SB folds, Hero raises to 640, UTG raises to 1,175 and is All-In, Hero calls 535
Turn: (2,590) 3h (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
River: (2,590) 3c (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

Results: 2,590 Pot
Hero showed Qs Ac (two pair, Aces and Queens) and LOST (-1,255 NET)
UTG showed As 3s (a full house, Threes full of Aces) and WON 2,590 (+1,335 NET)

Just a few sidenotes about my play on this hand: I probably should've raised from the BB, to around 240-280, but at this point I elected to just take the free flop and disguise my hand, hope to hit at least top pair on a safe board, and set a check-raise trap. I preferred that over being faced with an out-of-position continuation bet against a fairly loose villian (UTG) who would've likely called a preflop raise. Of course the flop was pretty much as good as it gets, and there's no way I'm not going to the felt there without a very special read. I pretty much had the check mark, then the turn teased me a little bit, but when the river came I was totally flabergasted. It was just unreal.

Funny enough, I was down to 335 chips after this hand, and managed to get back up to 1,250 or so, going in to push-or-fold mode. A few dozen hands later, with blinds at 60/120, my comeback came to an end on a coinflip. Not sure if this was a good spot, kinda a questionable sandwich play. Of course if I would've won this hand and gone on to cashed I wouldn't even be posting it here. See what you think of the preflop pressure though... I think it's gotta be another push-or-fold, there's no calling here...

Full Tilt Poker, $5 + $0.50 NL Hold'em Sit n' Go, 60/120 Blinds, 6 Players - Hand History Converter
BTN: 770
Hero (SB): 1,130
BB: 2,780
UTG: 2,675
MP: 3,820
CO: 2,325

Pre-Flop: (180) 8c 8h dealt to Hero (SB)
UTG raises to 360, MP calls 360, CO folds, Hero raises to 1,130 and is All-In, 2 folds, UTG raises to 2,675 and is All-In
Flop: (2,740) 2d 2h Kc (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
Turn: (2,740) 5h (2 Players - 1 is All-In)
River: (2,740) 9h (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

Results: 2,740 Pot
Hero showed 8c 8h (two pair, Eights and Twos) and LOST (-1,130 NET)
UTG showed Ad Kh (two pair, Kings and Twos) and WON 2,740 (+1,610 NET)

Saturday, February 2, 2008


So welcome to my wonderful blog here, I guess I'll begin with a personal introduction. My name's Brian, and I've been playing poker since the summer of 2004 or so, thanks to ESPN and all the Chris Moneymaker mania that I found myself so mysteriously intrigued by. I started playing the typical No Limit Hold'em with friends, entertaining myself with some basic Yahoo Poker between little live games. Soon enough I was downloading various online poker room software and trying to scrap together a bankroll without depositing a dime of my own, playing exclusively in freeroll tournaments, and gradually taking my share of teeny prize pots to the micro-limit tables. Over time I learned more and more about the game, becoming a better player as I slowly moved up levels. Obviously I was becoming a richer player as well, turning my initial $0 bankroll into several thousand.

When the U.S. Poker Apocalypse struck in 2006, I was forced to withdraw the majority of my bankroll funds from some of the more popular online poker rooms. I made the decision to put pretty much all of my winnings into savings, keeping $1,000 on hand for any live games that might pop up with friends (pretty rare these days with all of us out of college and working all over the place), and an additional $200 at Full Tilt Poker, which remained open to U.S. players and continues to be my favorite site to play on.

This brings us to my current position in the poker world, starting back in the low-limit realm, trying to take my initial $200 deposit as high as I can. I haven't been able to play as much as I'd like to since this all started, but so far I have been able to push my initial $200 up to over $500. I started primarily with the $2+.25 SNG's, then moved up to the $5+.50's when the bankroll was right for it. I also like to throw in some of the $5 90-person doublestack MTT's, which I had a great deal of initial success with, finishing 3rd three times, 2nd once, and having a few other final tables in about a dozen or so buy-ins.

Who knows where all of this will lead, but for me it's still basically one giant freeroll, having never actually deposited anything. My poker experiences have, and primarily continue to be, purely recreational, but I have a genuine appreciation for the game and all of its dynamics. I thoroughly enjoy analyzing different situations, with all the math, logic, psychology, and strategy that can go into each excruciating detail. It's something that continues to fascinate me and encourages me to continue along my poker journey in learning as much as I can, becoming more experienced, and rich in my poker wisdom as well as my bankroll. Of course the thrill of catching a 2-outer on the river makes it all enjoyable as well, as long as it's one of your outs :-)

Anyways, I hope you enjoy reading about the ups and downs and twists and turns of my journey to the poker promised land, be it a bad beat rant, a reflection about the parallels between poker and life, or a hand that I played badly and just cannot finish ridiculing myself for. All comments, questions, and discussions are definitely welcome, and feel free to share your own poker experiences here.

Enjoy, and best of luck at the tables! ~ B