February 27, 2009

Sod Fixed Limit / Another stretch of Heads-Up STTs looms...

I suffered a rather sick downswing at fixed limit, and from the stats I've gained over the 20 days of play, I simply haven't won enough and was almost solely relying on rakeback. It has showsnthat heads-ups are much more worth my time. Having had a break from them I feel I have recovered from my burn out.

With the FLH I jumped limits a bit fast and wasn't abiding totally by my own rules, so I thought one way to ensure this doesn't happen with my heads-up play is to get some staking. I've employed some strict guidelines that I must abide by else I'll be handing out refunds all over the place.

Starting with a €1200 bankroll (of which I contribute €600, and the backers who contributed the other €600 will get 25% of my profits), this set-up will last for the duration of March. I must abide by these buy-in rules for Heads Up STTs, and the occasional MTT, whilst completely refraining from cash play.

Buy-in.........Required Bankroll:

For further details you can peek here

Kick-off on March 1st.

February 24, 2009

LHE Challenge: Days 11-15

Total Profit: +€1100 ... BB/100: 0.85
Due to playing a couple of live tournaments and my birthday and such things, I've played a rather meagre amount of poker online over the last few days. In 5 days of play I've only managed 2,200 hands. Took a little hit to my actual profit, but covered it with rakeback, so I'm not much better off than I was this time last week! Really need to try and play more. I wish there was a little bit more traffic on Boss. I try my best to table select and sometimes that means I'm only playing 1 or 2 tables if a lot of regulars are around. When I get my rakeback paid at the end of the month, I might try having a roll somewhere else for when the traffic is bad.

"Big Bets Won for Hands Played" graph now looks like this: Hands Played: 14,768

Hours Played: 65
Profit: €500
Rakeback: €600
Hourly Expectation (inc. RB): €17.26
Avg Number of Tables Open: 2.6

Just as a side note, I'm intending to play next months DTD £300 as my next live tournament...

February 23, 2009

GUKPT Walsall £150 Side Event

Just a quick update for this one. Enjoyed my table, was sat with a few familiar faces and got chatting to the guy on my direct right. Was also good to see Stu Rutter who I hadn't caught up with for a while...

I made a lot of chips early on with things going my way. Just about trebled my starting stack of 6000 in the first couple of levels. Having sweated an all in on 89J with JT, only to find out I was up against another JT (the sick backdoor flush was teased, but I faded the river!). Had 44 vs Q7 all-in on 347, then a hand where I'd check raised a AT7 flop with T7 to get one caller. I moved him in for slightly less than the pot on the K turn and he snapped with AK. I re-sucked out with a 7 river. Re-suck outs like that seem v.rare so that was a nice suprise!

But from then I just couldn't win a pot. Got a short stack in with QQ against my AA. I flopped the nut flush, but he spiked the Q on the river. I raised with KQ, 88 and KK, but couldn't duck bad flops. I also paid off Lucy Rokach twice with the 2nd best hand, 2 pair on KQ69A vs her nut straight and A7 on 97595 vs her A9.

So down to 11k when I got cooooooolered. I flopped 578 from the small blind with 69 in a multi-way limped pot. I made a little balls up in my check raise after UTG bet out because as I bet two of my 1000 chips got stuck together and I raised to 2300 when i meant to raise to 1300! I felt I was inadvertently giving off strength when I pointed this out, I perhaps should have stayed quiet! Anyway he moved all in and I snap called. He had top set, and BANG, quadded up on the turn.

Down to 2.3k I lasted 3 rounds with very few shoving opportunities arising. Until I picked up KK only for every one to fold. With blinds just hitting 200/400 (25) I picked up 66 and shoved to a raiser, who had AQ and the board came an interesting TTKTQ, which sent me packing....

A good tournament structure of only a £150 event, and enjoyed it, but it always sucks when you go out of a tournament because of a hand where you get your money all-in with the stone cold nuts...

February 21, 2009

Broadway Festival £300 Double Chance Freezeout

After a full two months of no live poker, it felt good to be playing without the glare of a screen and surrounded by actual real people who talk and everything! Met a few cool people I hadn't played with before, sat locally to me which always makes the game more enjoyable.

Got off to a terrible start. The guy that appeared to be the loosest early on fired flop, turn and river on an 83342 board. I held 77s and felt confident with my call down, but he had hit the turn with 44. I then made trips with 66 on a 762 board. 3 people insta checked like they had nothing, so I decided to check in position to let them catch up. A 3 on the turn looked harmless, they all checked, I bet and got 1 caller. 5 on the river, which brought a possible backdoor flush. He checked to me. I thought about what to do, as this had brought 4 to a straight as well, but felt it was worth a value bet, which he duly called with A4o. Well played sir?!!

I then played limpey dimpey with AA UTG, only to get the ugly 5 handed scenario even though every other limp had been punished by someone throughout the night. Other than the 567 board with a flush draw I didn't possess as I was expecting, it came K83, and my bet only got 1 caller. All looked promising til the King turn. I check called 2 very small value bets, I def should have passed the river but the size of the bets worked well for my opponent. Down to 3k from an 8k starting stack (4k + 4k I took after the sevens hand), but blinds only at 50/100.

From this point on I proceeded to have a v.good tournament, some hands went my way to give me some chips, and I was playing well generally. Doubled up with AA vs 88 on T63 board. Somehow managed to get my opponent to ship his money in with AT vs my AQ for a 11k pot.

After peaking at a 17k stack, I hovered between 12-15k after going a bit far with J9s on a 9xx board, turning a flush draw. This was the case until level 300/600 kicked in. Picking up TT in the big blind I was facing a short-stack shove for 3.5k and a flat call from the big blind who had about 17k back. I shipped it all in to make sure I had the best pot equity. The short-stack dragged the pot though with his KQ off which improved. Down to 9.5k.

Shipped the lot in after a guy new to the table, seemingly steaming made his 4th raise in 6 or 7 hands. I felt my KJs was well ahead of his range, but this time he had AJs and even though I flopped a royal flush draw, he took the pot. This left me with 2k. I felt good about putting it in with AQ, but the prior raiser had 44 and I couldn't improve.

I didn't feel too bad about my exit, as I had played well for the most part. A bit of a boost to the confidence for my all-around poker game, which seems to be in tact despite concentrating on short handed LHE and heads-ups this year...

February 18, 2009

LHE Challenge: Days 8-10

Total Profit: +€1100 ... BB/100: 1.30
Well done to me. I did have a post written here that I edited out when creating my next subsequent post, (reuse the template each time, and accidentally edited this post rather than creating a new one!). I seem to remember commenting on hitting a very nice upswing right at the end of my most recent session. Something to do with a lot of donkey players around at the weekend. I definitely mentioned a hand where a guy 20 or 30 bet me preflop with AJs when I had AA, and we got it all in for a €160 pot. Well done that man.

Fortunately I can recover the stats on Poker Tracker:

Hands Played: 12,529

Hours Played: 53
Profit: €650
Rakeback: €450
Hourly Expectation (inc. RB): €20.12
Avg Number of Tables Open: 2.8

February 14, 2009

LHE Challenge: Days 6-7

Total Profit: +€650 ... BB/100: 1.13
Progress seems to be a bit more steady now. It's definitely nothing more than that! At times it really is a grind for what seems like little reward in terms of actual profit, but TFFRB (thank **** for rake back!).

It's been interesting trying to combat a couple of maniacs recently, who play like a 75% VPIP, 45% PFR. They force you to play big pots, sometimes with marginal holdings, and they get paid off with the goods. But when they decide to 5 bet you preflop with 67 off and you have Aces you don't mind so much. I really wish I still had my hand histories from when I used to play high stakes limit on Tribeca. I wonder if I played a slightly maniac style. It def worked then, but I think the 30/20 style I am employing works at these lower limits.
Hands Played: 10,094
Hours Played: 42

Profit: €280
Rakeback: €370

Hourly Expectation (inc. RB): €15.50
Least Profitable Hand (by average big bets per hand): J7s

On a side note, bust 6/13 in the Blonde League Competition on Celeb Poker. Outlasted by someone who sat out the whole game, that kinda sucks! Cooler for my bust hand: Ac4d in the big blind, massive chip leader limps from small, I check. 2c 3c 7d flop. He bets half the pot, I call. Turn is the 5c. A wheel with the nut flush draw! He bets big, I think about moving in, but incase he's bluffing or has perhaps the Kc I flat. He shoves the Jd river. I snap. He has K4cc. GG!

February 11, 2009

LHE Challenge: Days 4-5

Total Profit: +€425 ... BB/100: 1.11
Things seem to have been going much better the last couple of days, although bizaarely my bb/100 has gone down. I have been playing much more sensibly, am playing €1/2 games as standard with at most one table of €2/4 mixed in. This is mostly just so I am playing enough tables, as traffic is sometimes a little light, and partly due to table selection; I have no interest in playing on a table with 4 regs who all play a 30/20 style.

Limit is so swingy, as my graph below depicts. Fortunately I had a very nice upswing at the end of today, largely due to picking up AA, AA, KK, KK and QQ in a short space of time on different tables and winning 2 big pots, 2 small pots and lost only a small pot with them. This plus there were a couple of maniacs feeding me chips!

My hourly rate is now similar to what I was making at heads ups. I think I can play more hours of this, and I'm playing the lowest limits I'm ever going to bother with right now so definitely potential for that to rise. Am doing some reading to iron some of the kinks out of my game, hopefully my bb/100 can increase a little bit over the next couple of days...

Hands Played: 6908
Hours Played: 27

Profit: €200
Rakeback: €225

Hourly Expectation (inc. RB): €15.50
Most Profitable Hand (by average big bets per hand): AA

On a side note, I have helped staked a couple of Blondeites who are going to play a bunch of MTTs on Blonde Poker. Have a 5% chunk of them both, here's hoping they score big!!

February 09, 2009

LHE Challenge: Days 1-3

Total Profit: +€90 ... BB/100: 1.27
Quite simply a shaky start to the challenge, a result of my lack of discipline. It's almost hypocritical how I can write an article about taking the gambling out of poker a few days ago, and yet not follow my own advice straight after! Have been playing higher than my bankroll allows, seeking the soft games.

I forgot how swingy limit can be. 50-100 big bet swings look standard. I'm generally playing 4 tables at a time, which I think is my max capability. Generally I think I've been playing well, although there are times when I need to stop paying people off which must be eating into my winrate. Still, I'm not too far away from the 2 bb/100 gold standard of limit hold 'em, and my general stats hit the range that 2+2 suggests.

My graph will have to be in big bet form, as on Boss Media, you play in 2 or 3 different currencies (with major discrepencies, one is worth less than half a euro), but PT considers them all as $; so the cash figures are always going to be inaccurate.

Hands Played: 3936
Hours Played: 16

Profit: -€60
Rakeback: €150

Hourly Expectation (inc. RB): €5.55
Most Profitable Hand (by big bets per hand): KJs

Obviously things need to improve for this to be worth it, but I think they will if only I stay disciplined!...

February 07, 2009

Limit Hold 'em Challenge

Like I said, I'm burnt out from Heads Up STTs, so I'm going to see what I can make playing limit for a while. It makes sense to keep this seperate from my heads up blogging, which I envisage continuing from where I left off (day 28) at some point in the not too distant future.

I was very happy with my grinding at heads up, and have decided to give this a shot from only a €600 bankroll. I realise it's a little lower than the requirements from my own article below, but for now am going to employ a 300 big bet rule to be allowed to play a certain game, therefore I will start at €1/2. If this doesn't work out I will look at being a little stricter.

Am setting myself a target to rake €2500 in the next 3 weeks. I haven't really played this low a limit before, so I'm not sure how many hours that will mean putting in. My first interest is seeing how my hourly rate compares to my heads-up grindage...

February 05, 2009

Taking the Gamble out of Poker

Poker is a form of gambling. This is a true statement, and certainly one that would be held by the average member of the public. However, for the professional poker player; and really any one who wishes to make money from poker; the gambling aspect of poker must be reduced as much as possible.

Poker is an ‘exception to the rule’ in terms of gambling. It is the only game that isn’t played against ‘the house’, therefore differing from blackjack, roulette, craps and all other casino games. If you played all those games to infinity, you would be guaranteed to lose money. However this isn’t necessarily the case in poker, assuming you have an edge against the players you are playing against, and can beat the rake that the poker room charges.

Of course, luck is a big factor in gambling, and it is a hotly debated subject in poker whether it is a game of skill or luck. I am on the fence on this one. It is a game that includes both elements. However, to be a profitable poker player, it is important to make the ‘luck’ factor of the game as small as possible.

Number of Buyins:
This is very important for reducing the gambling aspect in poker. If you have your whole bankroll on one table, you can get your money all-in preflop with AA against 23, they hit quads, and you’re out of the game. However, this scenario is very unlikely to happen 50 times over, and assuming you are a good player who often gets your money into the pot with the best hand, playing a game with 1/50 of your bankroll should feel fairly safe, and less like gambling.

General Buy-in Rules:
NL Hold ‘em Cash Game, 9/10 Handed: 30 buy-ins
NL Hold ‘em Cash Game, 5/6 Handed: 40 buy-ins
NL Hold ‘em Cash Game, Heads Up: 50 buy-ins
Limit Hold ‘em Cash Game, 9/10 Handed: 400 big bets
Limit Hold ‘em Cash Game, 5/6 Handed: 500 big bets
Limit Hold ‘em Cash Game, Heads Up: 600 big bets
NL Hold ‘em Single Table Tournaments, 6-10 Handed: 75 buy-ins
NL Hold ‘em Single Table Tournaments, Heads Up: 40 buy-ins
NL Hold ‘em Multi-Table Tournaments, 100 to 200 times your average buy-in

If Omaha is your game, it’s generally accepted you need double the amount of buy-ins that you do for Texas Hold 'em.

Number of Hands/Games:
Quite simply, the more hands or tournaments you play, the more luck will even itself out, allowing any edge you have in the game to come through. So the professional poker player needs to put in the hours if he desires to have any kind of expected income. I’d suggest 30 hours a week is a minimum.

This is another way to combat the ‘luck’ element of the game, as while you are busy having your Aces cracked on one table, you can be outdrawing AK with AQ on another table. Be careful though, as although it decreases variance, less concentration can be put into each table so you will be playing each one worse. For me, I can play 2 heads up tables at once, 4 cash game tables at once, or 6 STT tables at once, but anything above that is beyond me. Some people can manage much more, others less, it’s about what you can play comfortably.

Tilt Control:
If you are gambling, there are going to be times when you are losing money, no matter how lucky you happen to be. Often when losing money, people don’t know how to stop. The infamous gambler Archie Karas is an extreme example of this, as he amassed $40 million from gambling, and went on to lose every last penny.

Losing money puts people on tilt, and if you recognise that you are tilting, and playing worse than usual because of it, you need to take a break from playing. If you are thinking of calling for all your chips with only a flush draw when you don’t have the odds to do it; just because it’s a quick way to make back some money; take a break. Otherwise you are just gambling, and this article is about distancing yourself from the gambling side of poker.

It’s human nature not to want to be down in cash at any given time, but sadly in poker this is inevitable and something you must be able to deal with. I often feel much better about a loss the day after it happens, so for me it is important to stop playing for the rest of the day if I have a really bad session.

Increasing your edge:
Your ‘edge’ at poker is the only thing that stands between you and gambling. If you are the worst player on the table, you are simply gambling; hoping to get lucky. The average poker player is much better in 2009 than they were in 2005, and the edges are getting slimmer. Therefore any way you have of increasing your edge you should look into. This goes for reading books, joining poker forums (blondepoker.com FTW!), reviewing your hand histories, watching training videos, or simply talking poker with other poker enthusiasts.

Poker is a form of gambling, but this notion can help you improve your game. Make sure you do all the things possible to make sure the skill aspect of poker overrides the luck factor.

Article by James Atkin

February 04, 2009

€250 Challenge - Days 26-28

Profit: +€2400
It has been a great start to the month of February, and I have been running really well. However I have discovered that I am burnt out playing heads ups. Perhaps it doesn't make sense to stop playing them when I've hit a nice upswing, but I have struggled to find myself registering for them over the last couple of days, and have decided I need to take a break from them. I'm not sure how long for, but I feel I need to do it to stay sane.

I had a little experiment playing normal STTs and Double or Nothing STTs yesterday. I think my edge in Heads Up STTs is bigger than in normal STTs; however I might do some more experimenting with the "DONs". They are a strange breed of tournament, but I have done well in a small sample size, and might give them a shot to see if they can be more/as profitable than heads ups.

So my graph does include a few non-heads up STTs now, and now looks like this:

Played: 1248
Won: 677
Lost: 536
Win percentage: 53.9%
Total ROI: 5.75%
Avg. Profit per game: €1.81
Hourly Expectation: €18.41
(incorporates rakeback & leaderboard prizes)
Heads Up-Profit: €1700

STT Profit: €150
Limit Hold 'em Profit: -€50
Rakeback: €450
Leaderboard Prizes: €155
Day-One Starting Roll: €250
Tomorrow's Starting Roll: €980

Now I have a reasonable bankroll to work with, I might experiment a little with some cash game limit hold 'em over the next couple of days, depending on how I find it and how it goes. I'm really just trying to mix up what I'm playing to stay motivated...

February 02, 2009

€250 Challenge - January Summary

January Profit: +€1950
Well it's been a big grind. A major hiccup midway through the amount of games I played throughout January definitely put a spanner in the works, and perhaps I could have come out with an impressive profit if it wasn't for that dip.

Nonetheless, after starting with only €250 bankroll, nearly €2k's worth of profit isn't a bad start to this challenge. It's been successful as far as I'm concerned, and has served the purpose it was meant to: to get me back on track winning at poker, and finding something I can be guaranteed to make a steady profit at. I'm now working with a €850 live bankroll, and am happy to keep playing similar games as I have throughout January for the time being.

I have to say I was surprised that my monthly winrate was 54%. However, I've looked into it, and I notice that the most profitable heads-up player on Boss (who has made almost €200k in Heads Ups), the most profitable player on Boss last month (up €60k) and the most profitable player on Boss in the "$16-35" category; all have a winrate of only 55%. So perhaps this month was reasonably representative of what I can expect. Although hopefully I can add at least 1 percent to my winrate next month!

Played: 1220
Won: 659

Lost: 562
Win percentage: 54.0%
Total ROI: 5%
Profit: €1400

Rakeback: €400
Leaderboard Prizes: €155
Avg. Profit per game: €1.64
Hourly Expectation: €16.76

(incorporates rakeback & leaderboard prizes)

Day-One Starting Roll: €250
Yesterday's Starting Roll: €750
Tomorrow's Starting Roll: €850

I just would prefer to win steadily rather than have reasonably downswing followed by reasonably big upswing as was the pattern to the last 2 weeks! But obviously poker is random and undpredictable so maybe that's a bit too much to ask!