Thursday, May 31, 2007

BBT and Other Random Musings

Congratulations to Zeem and Dugglebogey who chopped the top two spots in the Mookie this week, marking Zeem's second large blogger tournament win in I think as many weeks. For guy who like me started off slow in the BBT race, Zeem is really turning it on lately and making a run at the top ten. Impressive. Hope I get to sit next to both of you guys at a poker table next week in L.V.

I made the points again in the Mookie myself this week, which is always fun. Kind of. I like making the BBT points and I definitely would like to do the best I can to make a run in the last month of the BBT series. I'm stuck firmly in the 30s right now, with just the one win (chopped with Zeem, in fact) from the last Riverchasers tournament and just that one cash and just that one final table. So, basically I've played like absolute and utter shizznot in the BBT, and I would surely like a strong June to help erase that fact. But the bottom line is, there is nothing actually fun to a guy like me about going out in 27th place out of 61 runners in the Mookie. Especially when I make great reads and get all my chips in ahead where I am almost exactly 2-to-1 chip up into the top 5 of the remaining players, but then lose to an undercard that pairs my opponent on the turn, run pocket pair into higher pocket pair two hands later in a setup hand and IGH just like that.

I've had horrendous luck overall over the entirety of the BBT tournaments. To be perfectly honest, most of the guys who have won the BBT tournaments have clearly done it largely by luck. I mean, there is no doubt that the guys in the top 10 or 15 of the BBT leaderboard are using their BBT-scoring-style poker tournament prowess to last until the points and then make good moves. You don't make the points in 80% of the blonkaments you play without very much knowing what you're doing. But I'm talking about the guys who've actually won these things. I've watched the final table, and many of the tables on the way to the final table, in more BBT tournaments than I can count, and in my experience I don't actually recall a single tournament winner who didn't make a bad play in a big spot and then suck out to survive at least one time during their BBT winning run. And this applies just as much to my own victory in the last Riverchasers tournament two weeks ago tonight, where you can read for yourself about my multiple luckshots along the way to chopping the top two spots with Zeem when I had a slight chip lead as heads-up play began. But in all seriousness, luck has played a huge factor in mostly ever win I've seen in these BBT blonkaments, and almost across the board -- basically with that one Riverchasers win aside -- I have been on the losing end of the luck thang in these tournaments. I have lost big pots in big spots as a 65%-95% favorite in probably more than 2/3 of the BBT events I have played in. That just ain't right.

I know I've written about this before, but the more BBT tournaments I play, the more I feel like the scoring system is just not the best one to use for this purpose. Maybe it works well for the pokerstars TLB since that takes into account such a large variety and scope of mtt's in a given week or a given month or something. But in a series like the BBT, I just can't help but wonder what the point is of a list that automatically awards points to everyone who finishes in the top half of the field. You make that just to everyone who final tables, or who top 10s, or who cashes or something, and that makes much more sense to me. IMO we should really not have a scoring system that actually encourages people to play tighter than they otherwise might, in most cases basically sacrificing any chance of actually winning or often even of running deep in these tournaments, just to reach 31st place out of 60 entrants, and then donk allin right after that. When I log in around BBT bubble time and I see the exact same names at the bottom of the leaderboard, clearly just hanging on to make the points, in almost every single tournament, I definitely ask myself questions. And make no mistake, that list of names at the bottom of the BBT points bubble leaderboard every week is growing, not shrinking, as the BBT wears on. More and more and more blonkeys just hanging on for the points, week in and week out, tournament in and tournament out. That also ain't right. I still prefer a system more like my 2007 moneyboard to track the MATH performances. Only awarding leaderboard points when people actually cash in the event -- i.e., finishing in the top 7 in the Mookie this week, or the top 6 of this week's MATH tournament, etc. -- is still to me a much preferable system for this exact reason. I solemnly guarantee you that there is aboslutely zero of the tightydonk hang-on-till-the-points mentality going on in the MATH. Why? Because it doesn't help you. Tightydonking your way to the midway point of the entrants in the MATH doesn't get you any closer to the cash in the event that you'll need to move up the leaderboard. In fact, it almost surely hurts you in that endeavor, since even if you do manage to final table by playing tightydonk, you're going to be short stacked and more likely than not, you're not going to make the top few spots. I just can't help but think "Lame! Lame!" every time I see those same names near the bottom of the leaderboard heading into the BBT points bubble in every one of these things.

And no btw, I'm not talking about jeciimd, who amazingly still has not cashed in a single BBT tournament despite being in the top 5 overall on the BBT leaderboard. For the most part I'm talking about some of you other people, because half the time jec is in the top 10 or 15 when bubble time comes around, despite the lack of eventual cashes in these tournaments. There's no need to name names as is my way (this year), but you know who you are. I am just so not into folding to the points. But then I'm not in the top 10 in the BBT leaderboard either, and nowhere near it as my non-folding strategy has led me to miss the BBT points far more than my tightydonk colleagues. Who knows what's right.

And speaking of which, I think Waffles might be right -- my post (whatever post that was) probably did curse jeciimd. Curse him to not only consistently beat you in the BBT race but also curse his bankroll to outlast yours overall. Again. By a mile. Dam you for going busto in the middle of the BBT man. Hopefully you can find some poor sap to pay you just to rant a lot and then bust again in another few weeks, hopefully with a little bit left over to play some live poker with me in Vegas next week. But tell me man, how do you make such a big deal of the BBT and then go busto in the middle of the series? I thought you had some kind of $800 bankroll just like two weeks ago? What happened? Fucking razz cash finally get you like it does all of us? I don't know my lifetime stats in razz cash on full tilt, but what I do know is that at first for a long while my overall stats were way in the positive, and then at some point that turned around and by the end I had lost consistently enough that I knew it was time to quit. I still donk around in the 8-16 or 5-10 razz cash games once in a while on full tilt, and I'm probably the greatest razz cash player who's ever lived -- don't get me wrong -- but I'm not living off of those games like I was last summer during one of the worst downswings I've endured as an online poker player.

What I am living off of lately continues to be the cash games. I've lost about $500 from my highs earlier this week at $400 nl 6-max, which is directly attributable to losing an $600 pot when my pc somehow timed out in about 3 seconds after I had flopped trips and gotten my opponent to call a large bet from me on the flop and then bet big into me as well on the turn, and now the three (count them, three!) $800 suckouts I have been nailed with on the river over the past two days. These were two 8-outers on the river, each about a 5.5-to-1 shot in my favor, and one 2-outer, or a 19-to-1 shot with one card to come. With those few favorites and that set hand not timing out, I would be up more than 4k; as it stands I am back down around 2k on my Poker Tracker, plus another $1500 or so before I got PT up and running. I am still finding the cash tables fun, challenging and yet consistently profitable, in particular since I started using PT for table selection. The bottom line is that there are a few players out there who have lost upwards of 4k in the evenings over just the past few weeks since I started data mining with PT, who are just spewing their money all over the place at a rapid pace, and last night again I went and searched out a few of those players and took advantage. Although the suckouts left me slightly negative once again in my play on Wednesday night, aside from those two big river losses my play was once again top notch overall. I continue to believe cash nlh games are where it's at online, and I look forward to copntinuing to build my roll from them every night I play.

Am I the only one who loves it when Irongirl wishes us "Good Cardma"? It's just so clever or something. I love it and desperately wish I had thought of it myself.

Go Ducks!! (That is for you, big guy!) Two more wins to go.

Lastly, why does Dan Harrington say all through his Harrington on Holdem volumes that standard continuation bets should be roughly half the pot? Half the pot? Does this guy actually play any no-limit holdem tournaments anymore? Half-pot bets don't chase anybody off of any hands. You all said yourselves in a comment to a flop bet-sizing post I put up a couple of months back that even full-pot bets don't get anyone to fold hands with primary draws, middle pairs with Ace kickers, and most top pair hands. So how the eff is a half-pot bet going to get that accomplished? To me this is like the dirty little secret nobody wants to ever talk about -- everybody knows that half the pot is simply not enough for a continuation bet. It all but screams weakness, it probably invites many players who might not otherwise have stayed in to just be tempted to float against you because you're clearly weak, and worst of all it basically requires your opponents to stay in and chase their draws if they have any kind of a primary draw and probably many other 4-outers or more as well. Half-pot continuation bets is a recipe for failure in no-limit holdem in my view, either in cash games or in tournaments. Certainly as the quality of play goes up I cannot see this move as being anything but negative over time. And the dumbest part about it is, it would require only a very small increase in the bet sizing from half the pot to make your c-bets about ten times more effective IMO. You bet between 2/3 and the full size of the pot for your c-bets and your bets with good hands alike, and you're all good. People with second pair will fold far more often to a slightly larger bet like this, and you've made your oesd's and flush draws pay measurably more to chase you when they were probably going to chase anyways against a reasonably-sized flop bet from you and where they are significantly under 50% to win the hand with you. Half the pot is practically begging them to chase, or to float and then bet you out of the pot. That's bad strategy right there IMO, bad strategy from the guy who wrote what is still the greatest pure tournament poker book ever written in Volume 2 of his 3-part series.

OK enough poker randomness for today. Don't forget tonight is the latest BBT tournament, Al's Riverchasers Event #11. This event will go off as usual at 9pm ET on full tilt, and the password is back to the original for this week, just plain old "riverchasers" according to Al's blog. I definitely plan to be there to defend my co-title from the last RC tournament two weeks ago, and you should be too. I didn't get to pay my bounty out last night because it was a setup and not a suckout that eventually did me in in the Mookie, even though it had been a suckout and not a setup that stole away most of my chips in the tournament, but no bounty tonight since I want to focus that attention on the Mookie tournaments right now as this remains the one major long-running blogger event that I have yet to win. I think maybe I came in 3rd place once or twice last year sometime, but otherwise I have had absolutely no love and no luck whatsoever in the Mookie over the past 6 months or more. Gross. Better luck for me tonight in my co-title defense in Riverchasers.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Misdirection and Reads in One-Pair Cash Hands

I've been thinking about how I have managed to have as much success as I have with one-pair hands at the cash tables in 6-max no-limit holdem. Through around 3000 hands I am up more than a buyin with hands where I ended up holding just one pair, nothing more. Of course, part of it is just that at 6-max, one pair wins startistically noticeably more often than at a full ring table with 9 or 10 players (or 11 if you're playing WSOP circuit events, blech). But it's more than that, as one pair is a significant losing hand for most of the players I run into on my Poker Tracker software, mostly all of which are mined from 1-2 or 2-4 6max nlh play. And from careful study and review of my hands over the past week or so, I believe I have figured it out as far as why I have success playing one-pair hands in nlh 6-max cash. I'm not just playing any old one-pair hand and winning more often than I'm losing with it. I am playing my hands such that I'm taking it to the river with my one pair only when I've done something with the hand to suggest that I am likely to be best.

A large part of it is misdirection, plain and simple. I'm not about to call off a big chunk of my stack with just one pair, unless I've specifically done something in the hand such that I know my opponent may think that his worse one pair is actually ahead. So I'm not calling a big bet on the river with 77 on a board of AK954 when my opponent has been betting into me solidly ever since the flop. If I played hands like those, I would never be up over time with one pair on Poker Tracker. But, I might instead call that big bet on the river with my KK or JJ on a board of QQ974 if I have played it slow enough, and managed to get enough of a read that my opponent only has a 9 in his hand, such that there seems to be a good shot that I can win it.

Here are some examples from my play last night, where incidentally I ended up losing about half a buyin overall thanks to just playing too long and too loose, after I had previously been up 2.5 buyins on strong, solid play and a few big hands to boot.

First, I have AQo in the big blind at a 2-4 cash 6-max table, and MP open-raises it up to the standard pot-raise of $14. The action folds around to me, and I call with what I figure is the best Ace. So, most likely either I'm behind a smaller pocket pair with many chances to draw out with a straight draw, a Queen or an Ace on the flop, or I'm already ahead and dominating a lower Ace in my opponent's hand. The flop comes 752 with two spades. I check from the big blind, and MP leads for $24 into the $30 pot. Now I've got the two overcards, and frankly my read on my opponent was that he had a lower Ace. I've seen him c-bet before pretty consistently when he raised it up preflop, so his lead bet of $24 here tells me precisely zero about the hand he's holding. Sure he could have pocket Aces, but he would make this identical bet with pocket 7s for the flopped set, and he would also make the bet with a total miss hand like A9s, which he would have also raised with preflop like he did. So, since there's a chance that I'm already ahead here and I've seen no information to tell me otherwise, and since any Ace or Queen will in my mind likely move me ahead even if I am currently behind here, I call his $24 bet, signalling to my opponent that I like my hand here and will not be pushed off with nothing:

So there is now $87 in the pot as we see a turn card:

Bingo! Now this is a really good card for me, in that I have put this guy on a lower Ace than my AQ all through the hand, and now I've hit top pair and probably a better kicker against a guy who (1) must think his Ax is now the best hand since I called his flop bet, and (2) I am actually dominating. Plus, if he did have some kind of medium pocket pair, now I am back out way in front with just one card to come with my top pair Aces and second kicker. So I know I can bet out here, but instead I check it as you can see above. Why? Because if this guy has an Ace in his hand, I've shown no real strength in the hand so far, basically just calling his bets without moving at the pot at all myself, and now this guy has (I think) just turned top pair in a situation where he is probably not going to put me on an Ace as well given how I've played the hand so far. I know he's going to bet his top pair here, with the $87 in the pot already making the pot worth winning, and then I can check-raise him with what is probably the best hand, and where he will probably think he has the best hand because I have not pushed at all with my AQ either preflop or with top pair second kicker on the turn.

He bets after I check:

And I'm going to stick with my plan to checkraise, hopefully taking the pot down here:

Now that is surely a big bet here, but what can I say I had a read and I went with it. And when he bet out the $80 into the $87 pot on the turn, I all but knew he had an Ace. If he was sitting on a hand like pocket 9s or Tens, is he going to bet that big when the Ace falls on the turn, when I've been a caller (indicating some kind of a drawing hand, like a decent Ace on this raggy flop) since the very beginning. No, I don't think he bets it out quite this strong. I now have him more than ever on that medium Ace, so I'm moving in for the kill.

He reraises me allin:

and now I'm thinking for the first time that I could be beat. I still think he has that A8 or A9 type of hand (these kinds of donks are all over the place online), but no way I'm folding for just another $132 here, giving me basically 5-to-1 pot odds where I think I may actually be ahead anyways right now.

I call, and voila:

Donkey. And I win a $799 pot with one pair, just top pair second kicker:

So you see, I don't play my one-pair hands like he does. I don't take AT against a guy who could have a stronger Ace and reraise over the top allin with it against a very large reraise from my opponent. That's what my opponent did in this hand here, and that's why he has a significantly losing record with one pair like most people, while I remain positive overall with one-pair hands.

Here's another example. Again I'm at 2-4 6max, and again I'm in the big blind. The cutoff open-raises the standard pot-raise to $16, which means nothing since this guy is a known and observed preflop stealer with the potraise, and the small blind calls the $16 ahead of me. I've got TT in the big blind, so I call as well for $12 and we see a flop with $48 in the pot:

J83, no flush possibilities, and no realistic straight draw either since I'm holding two of the Tens. The small blind bets out very small, $12 into a $45 pot. I don't see him just calling (and not reraising the stealer) preflop if he held a big overpair JJ through AA (maybe with JJ, surely not with QQ, KK or AA), so unless this guy has a Jack, my Tens should be in good shape here. And if he did hold a Jack in his hand, would he ever have bet so small into the pot on the flop here, basically making a bet of around 25% of the pot? I say no. So I'm raising with what I believe is the best hand, and unlike the small blind, I'm raising big. I want to find out now if my Tens are ahead, and if not, if my opponent can maybe be pushed off his hand:

The cutoff folds to my big raise, and then the small blind just calls. When the turn brings an ostensibly harmless and offsuit 5♣, my opponent checks the action to me to see what I'm going to do here. This to me simply does not seem like the actions of someone who has flopped top pair. He called a raise preflop -- albeit from a stealer on the button -- but if he has a Jack of some kind it is probably something like J8, J9, JT or JQ since I don't see him calling the preflop raise with a hand like J2 and since I see him reraising with AJ or KJ probably preflop since the raise came from a button stealer. That's the way 6-max is generally played online, at least at this level. So, I'm thinking, if he did have the Jack with a decent kicker, why not reraise me on the flop instead of just smooth calling my large raise, or at least bet out after another raggy card on the turn, if you have a decent top pair hand? Since I also called a raise before the flop, he needs to figure out as soon as possible if his top pair decent kicker is ahead, dominated by a higher Jack or maybe even an overpair. So, when he checked this turn card to me, I figured he either does not have a Jack after all (i.e., he called my flop raise out of stubbornness, maybe with middle pair, a draw maybe or something like that), or at least as likely, he has a Jack that is not AJ and probably not KJ either.

So, since I think he likely has a Jack of some kind, and since I haven't been able to get out of him just how strong that Jack is, but I know he did call a $47 raise on the flop, I checked behind on the turn, hoping for some love at the river or at least to be able to get him to lay down with a bet on the river if he shows some more weakness to me at that point:

The river brought an Ace, a perfect scare card once my opponent checked again to me on that river:

Incidentally, this was a bad check by him, as if he had bet big on the appearance of the Ace on the river, I am clearly folding my pocket 10s. But his check on the turn followed by another check on the river told me beyond a doubt that he was frightened at this point. Probably he never had a Jack to begin with, or if he did it was a weak Jack and in any event now this Ace makes him think he is behind. He made a big mistake not betting that Ace on the river, because, with me having just checked behind on the turn, he can't possibly be sure enough that I'm going to bet and let him checkraise that he would risk checking to me with a monster. No way. So, since I clearly have him on a weak hand at this point, I'm going to go and take this pot away with the appearance of that beautiful Ace:

This pot sized bet is clearly going to do the job if he in fact does not have an Ace. Even if he had been slowplaying a little with a hand like QJ or KJ, at this point he is going to fold to my bet. I know it even before I made that bet. And I was right:

So there's another $139 into my PT stats for one-pair hands.

Again the secret to both of these hands? Sticking with my reads, and misdirection. On all streets. Sometimes I am smooth calling before the flop with a solid pocket pair, sometimes I'm betting small or outright checking a strong hand on the turn. Other times I'll bet the flop but then purposely slow down on the turn even though in reality I am confident that I'm ahead. And at all times I am actively putting my opponent on a hand, refining that prediction, and just generally letting my instincts tell me what he has, while trying to send off incorrect or at least mixed signals about what I've got in my own hand. That's how I won $800 on the first hand above, by playing slow with a good starting hand and then again checking when I made top pair second kicker on the turn, and I then turned that around and won $139 on the second hand by starting with a decent pocket pair, and then using enough misdirection and taking advantage of a river scare card to take it down with just my one pair, not even as high as second pair on the board by the end.

On the slate tonight for me: Mookie: The Return I'm looking very much forward to playing in my first Mookie tournament without Lost to distract me in...oh...about 18 weeks, so I am more than thrilled about that. Time to get back on the horse with my goal to win just one frucking Mookie tournament before this year is out. And my quest to avoid the suckouts starts tonight. So, knock me out of the Mookie this evening with a hand that is behind mine when all the money goes in, and I'll buy you in to next week's Mookie tournament by transferring you $11 cash money tonight. Talk about the easiest bounty in poker, just call my preflop raise or reraise with AJ and you can't lose. Enjoy, and I'll see you tonight at the Mook.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

MATH Recap, and Cash Games Update

It was another fun time in the run for the roses as 36 players participated in a holiday-shortened MATH tournament field, one that saw many of the current BBT leaders bow out early due to various suckouts and just generally over-aggressive play. I made the BBT points again despite suffering not one not two but three hideous suckouts, all three of which where I double dog duped my opponent who took the bait hook line and sinker and then proceeded to hit his 3-to-1 or worse chance to steal thousands of chips from me. Phucking sick, but equally phucking typical. In the end I succumbed just after reaching the BBT points when I reraised allin with a soooted connector preflop on a shortish stack, and then proceeded to get called by someone for about 35% of their chips guessed it...AJ. Of suit. As I told Bayne last night in the girly chat, at this point whenever a clown donkeycalls me for a big portion of their stack with the JackAce, I don't even stick around to watch. I just exit the tournament and move on to winning money at the cash tables. So I didn't need to wait around to see the Jack on the flop, I knew I was out but I will take the BBT points and leave it at that for the effort.

Anyways, back to the successful MATH runners, here are this week's cashers, out of 36 entrants, with 18 receiving BBT points and the top 4 cashing, a bit less for the MATH since the BBT rolled into town but not surprising given the holiday weekend:

4. In 4th place, winning $103.68 for his efforts, was perennial BBT tighty Blinders, who used a couple of very well-timed premium hands to swell his stack size after the BBT points were reached, executing excellently on the tight-early strategy for another fine BBT run and tournament cash.

3. 3rd place this week and $155.52 goes to NumbBono, who took the blogger world by storm earlier this year by winning I think his first ever Mookie tournament, and now is back this week with his first MATH cash of the year as well.

2. In second place this week is another big score for Tripjax, winning another $216 to add to his two other MATH cashes so far during the BBT. This also makes something like five consecutive weeks where either Trip or his brother ChapelncHill has cashed in the MATH. What a great poker-playing family.

1. And this week's winner, making I think his second MATH cash of the year, is NewinNov, who won $388.80 for his efforts in winning his first MATH title of 2007.

And now here are the updated 2007 MATH moneyboard standings as of this week's tournament:

1. Iggy $641
2. Astin $616
3. Columbo $606
4. Hoyazo $580
5. NewinNov $579
5. Bayne_s $579
7. Tripjax $561
8. Julius Goat $507
9. mtnrider81 $492
10. scots_chris $474
11. Fuel55 $458
12. Otis $429
13. Miami Don $402
14. Blinders $379
14. Chad $379
16. Pirate Wes $372
17. IslandBum1 $357
18. ChapelncHill $353
19. Zeem $330
20. Mike_Maloney $326
21. cmitch $312
21 oossuuu754 $312
23. VinNay $310
24. Waffles $294
25. Wigginx $288
26. ScottMc $282
27. Manik79 $252
28. Wippy1313 $248
29. Byron $234
30. RecessRampage $224
31. Omega_man_99 $210
32. lightning36 $205
33. bartonfa $180
34. 23Skidoo $176
35. Santa Clauss $170
36. Iakaris $162
36. Smokkee $162
38. NumbBono $156
39. lester000 $147
40. DDionysus $137
41. Pushmonkey72 $129
41. InstantTragedy $129
43. Buddydank $124
44. Ganton516 $114
45. Gracie $94
45. Scurvydog $94
47. Shag0103 $84
48. PhinCity $80
48. jeciimd $80
50. Alceste $71
51. dbirider $71
52. Easycure $67

So there you have it, including this week's winner NewinNov sliding up to a tie for 5th place on the 2007 Hoy moneyboard with his big Memorial Day takedown this week, and with NumbBono entering the moneyboard at #38 with his first MATH cash of the year. And there's me, still up in 4th place for the year despite my inability to cash in this event ever since the Watergate scandal, so I'm looking to help myself continue to slide down the board as the weeks progress in this thing. And congratulations again to all of this week's cashers, and to the 18 players who added some more BBT points to their leaderboard tallies as the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments looks to really heat up heading into the last month of the series.

So on the cash poker front, this was another very strong weekend for me, as I continue to run steaming hot at the $400 nl 6-max tables. Frankly, what I did this weekend was really calculated and almost embarrassing for me, and I have my doubts as to how fair it would even be considered to be by the other players involved. But, now that I have thousands and thousands of hands for over 2000 different players saved up on my Poker Tracker, I have started just going and searching out the biggest long-term donks to see who is online, using my PT stats as a filter, and then getting seats at their tables with those proven bad players on my right, and from there I just commence the abuse. And abuse these donkeys I have been doing.

Here were a couple of my biggest hands against these players, who for the most part are guys who are down around a couple grand or more over at least 1000 or hopefully more like 2000+ hands. So this way, I know these guys suck, and I have a high confidence that my sample size, although not optimal by a long shot, is sufficient for me to make some general judgments about the quality of their overall play. I mean, if a guy has had 29 sessions that I have recorded, has lost money in 22 of those sessions and is down, say, $2500 over 25 hours of play, I am ready to want that guy at my table. To my right, if at all possible, but I will take them anywhere to get to sit at the table with them.

In this hand, one of the big 2000+ hand losers open-raised from the cutoff to $14, which I reraised up to $44 from the big blind with AKs. My opponent then re-reraised allin for his last $220, leaving it at about another $175 to me to see a full board and take my chances:

In the end, this guy has lost so much money over time playing at 2-4 nl 6-max that I figured he could have a lot of different things, and I wasn't going to just put him on pocket Aces having made the third raise here. I figured a reasonable range for him was AK or JJ-AA. Against this range I liked my AKs -- and frankly, not to be a soooted donk or anything but the soootedness of my big slick really played into my decision here -- so I made the call, and found myself up against this:

Here is one interesting way that PT can actually hurt my play, I find. It can lead me to make decisions that are more based on past history, and less based on what I am observing in front of me during actual hand play. That's something I expect to work at over time, but for now I probably need to find a better balance between how much I weight what my instincts tell me, and how much weight I give to cold, hard, long-term(ish) statistics that I have on record. In any event, I was looking pretty grim there against pocket Aces, but never fear:

Booooooooom! God I love sucking out on people, especially at the cash tables. I think I made the right play here and I just love getting rewarded for that every once in a long while. Helps ease the pain just a little bit from the two $800+ pots I got sucked out on on Monday night alone at those same cash tables. That's right, four buyins down the drain on those two hands that should have both clearly been mine, in each case with me not getting all the money in until after the flop when my hand was at least a 3-to-1 favorite. Gross, but then I go get to experience suckouts like this one in my favor once in a while, so it's all good (I guess).

This next hand was against an even bigger money-loser, to the tune of over $3000 over the past few weeks that I have recorded stats on him, and here was one where it turns out there was just no way either one of us was not going to get this allin after the flop that came out. Basically, the fish raised it up preflop to $14 from the cutoff, and I elected to just smooth call from the small blind with pocket Aces. This of course is a variation play, but I like to throw in that kind of variation in this sort of situation, where I have little concern of a third player entering the hand by not reraising, and where the player making the initial raise plays a somewhat suspect brand of poker where I have reason to believe I could really get paid off with my ultimate overpair. So the flop comes AK8 with two spades, giving me the nuts with my set of Aces, so I lead out for $24 into the $30 pot. My opponent quickly reraises me:

OK so I know I have the current nuts here, I currently have my opponent covered, and he has more than 5 times the current bet still behind. Given his preflop raise and now his flop raise on the two-high-card board, I figured there was a decent chance I was up against AK or maybe AQ, either of which this known fishy player is likely to be willing to commit many chips with at this point given his stats so far on my Poker Tracker. So, I decide that the large reraise is my best move here:

He immediately moves allin over the top for his last $444 total (that move worked perfectly, huh?):

and check out what just happened to him:

Now this one is not a suckout of course as I was ahead on all streets including before the flop, but damn that is a setup if I ever saw one. It's not enough that he has the pocket Kings, and it's not enough that he hits his set on the flop. The flop also happens to contain an Ace, the most likely card for me to be holding given my own responses to his actions thus far in the hand, and what's worse, I have actually made top set on the flop where he has also made 2nd set with pocket Kings. That is rough. Rough, to the tune of $916 and change into my stack:

Sweet. And both of these guys have lost even more money now at 2-4 6-max thanks to me. And I'm all too happy to oblige.

Before I go, here are some more interesting Poker Tracker stats for my play so far at the cash tables since I got PT working a few weeks back:

Notice I am now the third most profitable player out of 2284 players I have tracked at the 1-2, 2-4 and 3-6 tables this month. So more confirmation that I am running very, very hot of late, though to be honest I am still getting sucked out on far more than I am the one doing the sucking out. So it's not like these results are based on luck at all, given what I've seen in the actual hands I've played to achieve these results. I am just consistently a winner at the cash games it seems, be it with bloggers or otherwise, and I know that table selection, and choosing actively to play with donks is a large part of the reason behind that success. I also found it interesting, however, that my Win % at Showdown (WSD) has now dropped to just under 47%, a stat which seems to be slowly dropping to the point that now it is the third worst among the 19 most profitable players appearing on this screen of my Poker Tracker. So I know I have simply got to get that number back solidly above 50% if I expect to be making high quality poker decisions in all aspects of my game, and in particular before I start thinking about another move up in stakes I want to prove to myself that I can get my WSD number more in-line with where I think it needs to be to be optimal.

In the middle of this screenshot you can see my most profitable hands listed:

Not surprisingly, pocket Aces is up at the top, but probably very surprisingly (certainly to me, and I think to this guy as well who claims he can't win with this hand to save his life) is that my second most profitable starting hand overall has amazingly been AQo. Yes that's right, not even sooooted. I've been dealt AQo an inordinately large number of 24 times, and of those instances, I have won 17 of those hands for a total profit of nearly $650 or over 1.5 buyins just with AQo. That's always good when you can turn a trouble hand like that into a consistent, measurable profit. Funny enough, each of my #2, #3 and #4 most profitable hands are all trouble hands, with AQo followed by the even lowlier T9o, and then by the fish trap known as KJs. So somehow, I am making it work with a number of typically questionable hands, which is obviously a big source of my profit so far through a little over 2000 hands of almost exclusively 2-4 play as far as what is recorded on my Poker Tracker database.

All that being said, a number of these "trouble" sort of hands are still costing me bigtime, as can be seen from this screenshot at the other end of the spectrum, my least profitable (biggest loss) hands over the past 2000+ hands I've played:

Right at the top (bottom) of the list, you will find everybody's friend KTs, which I have only managed to win at all with once out of the 9 times I have been dealt the hand. I think I always overplay this hand in particular, it is something I have specifically noted before but at the same time, being able to see it right here in statistical evidence form is always a great way to drive home that point. Make no mistake about it, KT (even sooooted) is trash in no-limit cash, and it needs to be treated as such, and you can bet I will be internalizing that further as my game progresses over the coming days and weeks. Other similar trouble hands like QJo and 98s also make appearances on this "least profitable" list, so I know I need to try to focus more on limiting my losses with hands that are easily dominatable and/or most likely subject to made straights, straight draws and even two pairs when I connect with them. Also on this list are a couple of random Ace-rag hands, which is not at all characteristic of my game but which I have a number of special circumstances for why I played these hands as often as I did and as far as I did in each case, and, annoyingly JJ is also sitting there as my fourth least profitable hand. Meh indeed.

OK I think that's all for today. I will try to be in the WWdN tonight at 8:30pm ET on pokerstars (password is "monkey" as always), but I don't know that I can get back from the gym in time so I may end up sitting that one out, but I'll almost certainly be back at the $400 nl 6-max tables at some point this evening to continue my assault on daily profitability from what I still view as generally the very formulaic play I routinely see at this limit. I may even dabble a bit in 3-6 just to see what that is all about, as most of the players I play with at 2-4 seem to play in 3-6 as well from what I've seen, but otherwise I should be hitting up the usual mtt stuff as well as some cash play during my poker evening tonight.

And did I mention that I'm leaving for Las Vegas in 8 days?! Eight. Fucking. Days. To say that I can't wait would be the understatement of the year. I have a WSOP elimination here just waiting for Joe Hachem to sit at my table. Digweed.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day MATH is On!

No post today, as I'm at home with my family for the long weekend. But I just wanted to make sure everyone knows about this:

Memorial Day or otherwise, the MATH will go on every Monday night at 10pm ET on full tilt Password is "hammer" as always, so I look forward to seeing who the real poker fans are out there and who really cares about the BBT. I'll be there so so should you!

Btw, after last week's utter domination of the nightly 26k by Chad, the Goat went and final tabled that biatch as well. Please stop by Goat's blog and congratulate him on his deepest mtt run ever, and otherwise have an awesome holiday and I'll be back and better than ever on Tuesday morning with a proper post.

Happy Memorial Day everyone! Was this weather on the east cost the tits or what?!


Friday, May 25, 2007

More Lost, and More Sklansky

Today I've got another item from Sklanksy's No Limit Holdem: Theory & Practice book that I'd love to get your thoughts on. I like it how some of you guys clearly hate David Sklansky as a poker author. I mean, it's easy to hate him as a writer. I hate him as a writer. He's arrogant ("The most skilled players in the world know that I am correct"), he's talk-downy ("Do you see why?") and he's over-analytical. All that said, his poker analysis, and the thought processes he goes through with respect to various aspects of the game, are IMO pretty awesome and a useful tool to anyone who plays a lot and/or wants to learn a lot about the analysis behind the game. That said, some of you guys really can't seem to stand Sklansky and generally seem to balk at most of his advice. So today I think I've got something good for you guys to chew on.

But first, a couple of quick points about Lost. I've got to hand it to Le Donkeypuncher. Not only is his blog one of the funniest around, but I think he made two solid comments on Lost here on the blog yesterday. First, I like his prediction that it's going to be Ben in the coffin where Jack flashed-forward to. Personally, I think it's either Juliette or Ben myself, I don't know which but I think they are the only two people I know who seem to fit well each of (1) the reaction that Jack had to learning of the death, (2) the fact that there was no one at the funeral and (3) Kate's indignant question of why she would ever go to the funeral. If it's Ben, Jack could be upset because clearly he wants to get back to the island and he might have viewed Ben as one of the only people who knows how to get him back there, and if it's Juliette, Jack might semi-like her or have some kind of weird feelings for her (despite telling Kate he loved her, inexplicably out of the blue in the finale). Similarly, Ben really fits the "no one at the funeral thing" since he hasn't lived back in the regular Earth for almost his entire life, and Juliette doesn't fit this exactly but it could easily be that everyone assumes she is dead already from a few years earlier when she disappeared and never made contact again. If her obit was in the newspaper then that isn't necessarily a great theory, but it's possible. With Ben it's more than possible, it's highly improbable that there could be anyone at his funeral outside of the island environment. And lastly, the way that Kate reacted viscerally when Jack asked her about the funeral, that's got to be someone who Kate has quasi-negative feelings for at least. In other words, she isn't reacting like that about going to Michael's funeral or Sun's funeral. She might not go to those funerals, I don't know, but she would not have that highly reactive, negatory reaction about the question of her going.

Anyways, the other point that Donkeypuncher made about Lost that I 100% believe is correct is that, starting next year, I believe as well that we will quickly realize that what we thought was a "flash forward" in the finale this week is really the present time, once they've already been rescued from the island. We will realize probably even in the first episode of Season 4 that all of the stuff we've seen for three years about the island has been flashbacks. All of it. We will be watching the story of Jack and Kate (and who knows who else from the island is out there in the world with them at this point) out in the real world, with Jack all depressed and desperately trying to get back to the island, and some portion of next season will be flashbacks to us of the rescue, picking up from when Jack called and those guys answered on Naomi's satellite phone. So we will get to see the rest of what happened with the rescue next season, but not as we have been as if that is in fact happening in the present time on the show. We will now appreciate that for what it is, and for what everything we've seen through the first three seasons of the show is, one giant flashback from the present time, post-rescue, first of how the plane crashed, how they found the hatch, met the others, and all the way up until the rescue. So I am looking forward to that, and to another 8 flucking months of waiting around, until we get to see what Season 4 brings. All in all, though, a good finale from a show with very high expectations. The second half of this season was top notch on Lost, you have got to admit.

OK back to Sklansky. Today's point comes in the "Concepts and Weapons" part in the back of the book, and in fact it is Concept #36 if you're reading at home. Here Sklansky says "Be more apt to slowplay very good hands that aren't quite the nuts than the nuts itself." In favor of this position, Sklansky argues that slowplaying a hand like K6 on a flop of J66 (but not slowplaying JJ on this same flop) is right because (1) it may induce a bluff from an opponent, (2) it may allow someone to make a hand on the turn and then lose some more money rather than having folded if you had bet hard on the flop, and (3) it may limit your losses somewhat if you happen to be up against A6 or JJ.

More specifically, and the example that I found really interesting, Sklansky goes on to say, "Likewise, you should be more inclined to slowplay A2 on a 543 flop than 76 on the same flop. With A2, you're happy to give a free card to someone who might make a big pair on the turn or river. But with 765 you don't want to lose your action if someone made a smaller straight against you or is drawing to something like a pair and a straight draw." This is the advice that I just can't quite jibe with my own view on things. I mean, I get Sklansky's overall point here, that all things being equal you would rather be betting early in the hands because that's how you eventually get by the turn or river to be stacking the guy who made the second-nuts against your mortal nuts. But, I think Sklansky overlooks a major piece of the puzzle in his analysis of this particular point.

With A2 on a 345 board, you have flopped a straight and are almost surely ahead here on the flop. This is where Sklansky advises it is better to slowplay than it would be if you flopped the stone nuts with 76 on that same 345 board. But if you check or fail to bet out solidly with the A2, then you already know that any 6 will basically kill your action, and in fact you are probably behind if you get any serious action from a hand like A7 that might have folded to a real bet from you on the flop. In fact, if even a 7 falls on the turn or river, you will basically have to give up this entire pot to any significant action on a later street. With the 76 you do not have this problem, in that not only do you have the top end of the straight, but you have to two-overcards version, so that even if a 6 does happen to fall on the turn or river then you've still got an overcard on the top end of the straight you've made. So the way I see it, that is at least as strong of an argument for slowplaying with the 76, where you're basically not worried about any card hitting the board except for something that makes a pair and could create a boat (or quads) for an opponent. But with the A2, you not only are in a bad position, but you most likely have to fold and lose the entire pot if any 6 or even any 7 falls on the turn or the river.

For this reason, I actually think slowplaying with the 76 is a perfectly acceptable response on a board of 345. I have done that before I am sure, and I would do it again I can tell you right now. The slowplay with 76 still accomplishes the first two objectives of the slowplay that Sklansky outlined above -- namely, that a check may induce a bluff into your mortal nuts hand, and that it may give someone a chance to pick up a big pair or two pairs or a hidden set and get you some extra action. And although the slowplay with 76 on the 345 board does not get you Sklansky's third objective above -- that you can save some money if you run into the mortal nuts (because you already hold the mortal nuts in this spot) -- it does carry the extra benefit not mentioned by Sklansky that you will give no chance to the guy who does hold A2 or 62 on that same flop to get away from the hand. So, I like the slowplay with 76, and for similar reasons I do not like the slowplay there with A2. You have a hand that is very strong and is almost surely ahead right now, but slowplaying the flop gives your opponent a free shot at winning the entire pot from you on any 6 or 7 falling, and makes for a very tough decision for you to boot in that situation where you could find yourself tempted to call off the rest of your chips with a flopped straight using both of your holecards where you are flat out drawing dead if you're up against the higher straight.

That, right there, is some baaaaad advice by Sklansky if you ask me. I'm all about slowplaying any hand where it seems that the best combination of a high chance to stack my opponent coupled with a low chance to allow free cards that cause me to lose the pot lies with a slowplay. But slowplaying ass-end flopped straights is, to me, a recipe for no-limit disaster and it is not a move I recommend. Anybody agree / disagree?

I read on Al's blog that the next WPBT tournament is this Sunday night at 9pm ET on full tilt. I also do not recall receiving the usual email on the WPBT list announcing this tournament, but Al found it under the "private" tournament tab on full tilt so here is the information for the 7-Stud contest for the WPBT this weekend:

What: WPBT POY Event #5 - Stud 7
When: Sunday, May 27th
Time: 9pm ET
Where: Full Tilt Poker
How Much: $24 + $2
Password: I guess we don't want to give this out on the blogs, but it is the initials of the organization that hosts the event followed by the numbers of the Hammer -- if you don't get that then hit me up on the girly chat this weekend sometime and I will surely tell you.
Restrictions: Bloggers only, please.

I should be around in the evenings this weekend as per my usual, probably hitting up a few tournaments as well as trying to pad those stats at the $400 nl 6-max cash tables. If you know how to play aggro poker and don't mind getting stacked, then come sit at one of my tables this weekend and we'll see what happens.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

L O S T, Hoyas and a Another NLH Tidbit


Wow. What an episode. I mean, even though the entire script had been basically released and known to all of the spoiler sites by the day or two preceding Wednesday night's airing of the Season III finale of Lost on ABC, the show itself still delivered to my expectations when I actually saw it all shake out. I'm not going to do a big rehash here in case anyone hasn't seen it or, more applicably, in case some of you somehow don't watch the best show of the last decade-plus and just aren't interested. But let me just provide this list of some of the interesting questions and issues left open or raised from this episode:

1. Whose funeral was this that Jack attended? Many of the blogs and other Lost sites out there are suggesting Kate's father in law, whom she burned in a previous lifetime, or maybe Sawyer or another member of the Losties' crew. I don't see how it could ever be Kate's father in law, as Jack knew nothing of the man and would not possibly have had the reaction that he did to reading the obituary in the newspaper. But I have no clue whose funeral that was, other than maybe that it could have been the funeral of another person who was on the island with them. Kate's visceral reaction ("Why would I ever go to the funeral, Jack?") suggests that it's not someone she was close with there, but I really don't know what that means, and I wish I did.

2. Who does Kate have to "get back to" at the end? Who is that who's going to wonder where she is? Again a number of outlets have suggested that this is maybe her father in law in some other time, or perhaps another U.S. Marshal sent to capture her. Again I don't really see these possibilities as realities since Kate would not say she has to get back to a Marshall (they would never have let her out to visit Jack like that anyways) and similarly would not have been speaking of her father in law in that way. I suppose it could be Sawyer, assuming Kate and he ended up together, but I've always been of the mind that Kate and Jack may end up together in some way, so I don't know that I believe that either. I don't even really know what to make of this question, or, frankly, if it is even important specifically who she has to get back to.

3. Why does Jack multiple times refer to his father being alive still, if this is truly Lost's first flash-forward after three seasons of flash-backs? In fact, why did Naomi tell the Losties just a few weeks ago that Oceanic Airlines went out of business a few weeks after the crash of Flight 815, and yet we see Jack flying on Oceanic at the beginning of the flash-forward, and he and Kate discuss the "golden passes" that Oceanic gave them for surviving the crash, and how Jack flies across the Pacific every single weekend in a blind attempt to get back to the island. I don't have any good explanation for this, other than two possibilities, one of which I bet is correct on some level. First, maybe Naomi has been lying, which is entirely possibly since she clearly is not who she says she is -- I don't see how or why Penny would lie and say she doesn't know Naomi -- in which case maybe Naomi made up everything about what happened in the Losties' original timeline after the crash, and thus there is nothing odd about Jack flying on Oceanic after being rescued from the island. But this does nothing to explain why Jack's father might be alive and a practicing physician again in the flash-forward. Which brings me to explanation #2, which is again that there is some kind of temporal or dimensional transport going on here.

4. Why would Ben tell his Other companions to only pretend shoot Jack's friends, instead of really shooting them? This seems minor compared to some of those larger issues above, but what was Ben's end game with that move? I don't get it.

Some cool theories or tidbits I've read out there on the Internets regarding the finale and information we learned in the finale:

1. The woman Jack killed by leaving his car on the bridge when he was about to kill himself is in fact the big mistake that Jack makes in his life, ultimately leading to his presence on the island in the first place, in another time period. There are a lot of holes to this theory that still need to be filled in, but basically it posits that all of the main characters on the island seem to have messed up somewhere, made some terrible decision, in their past lives before arriving at the island. On some level this has given rise to all the theories about the island really being heaven, or purgatory, or something like that, and that these people are here to atone for their sins in some form or another. Well, up to this finale we have been led to believe that Jack's big issue has been the bungled relationship with his father, or perhaps his infidelity to and ultimately split from his ex-wife. Now we see that perhaps killing this woman (they referred to her as the "Alden girl" a few times I believe, does that name ring a bell to anyone? It is not immediately familiar to me.)

2. The Losties are somehow caught in a temporal loop of some time, not to sound all TNG'ish on you. That is, they are each somehow caught in a loop where they are sent to this island, and continue to make mistakes rather than properly live out their right destinies on the island, and are thereby doomed to repeatedly be brought to the island, with no memory of their past lives and past trials there, in an attempt to "get it right". Again, this is really just a bare bones theory with a lot of details still to be filled in, but it appears to have a lot of support out there among the die-hard Lost fanbase. So, for example, Desmond is not really seeing the future with all of these premonitions. Instead, because of his proximity to the hatch and the button when the electromagnetism shot out and took down the Losties' plane originally, he is merely able to see some of the various "other" visits this group has all made to the island in past travels here, where many of the exact same decisions are made. Simlarly, those two skeletons sitting in the caves when the Losties first moved to the caves with the fresh running water back in season I, those two skeletons are actually Jack and Kate's skeletons, there from a prior visit by these same characters to the island in a previous attempt to correctly live out their destinies there, which also failed which is why the group is back there again for our viewing of the Lost series. Another nice aspect of this theory is that when the chica tells Charlie underwater in the finale this week that the code to the communications jamming equipment "was written by a musician", in reality that code was written by Charlie, in a previous, and yet unremembered, time at the island. In the same way, the whispering is Losties from other timelines, possibly trying to communicate with one another and help each other figure out what to change this time around.

3. This may all be a Dharma experiment. They are purposely guiding the Losties in this temporal or dimensional loop. Pressing the button kept them in the loop. It was all Dharma's doing. Once Desmond blew the hatch, he gained this power to see into the other timelines. Suddenly, he could change the future. He warned Charlie about his death, so Charlie got the marker and wrote the list. Because of this, Charlie has the pen in the looking glass station and was able to warn desmond it isn't Penny's boat. Maybe the future was changed in this episode as a result? Also, the hatch blast shot Desmond back to before he met Penny. This worried Dharma as their experiment can only go on with Desmond setting sail and crashing on the island to press the button. To this end, Dharma has sent agents traveling through time (such as the old woman from Desmond's 'ring' episode) to guide Desmond to meet Penny. The old woman might not be the only agent traveling in and out of timelines.

4. Staying on the alternate dimension theme I've been on for several weeks now, maybe being rescued by Naomi's people has led Jack and Kate (and others?) to be "returned", but returned to a different timeline, a different reality, than the one they came from (where they are already dead from the plane crash, per Naomi). In other words, Jack is thrust back into a world where his father is still alive and Oceanic Airlines is still in operation, and Kate is returned to a state where she is not currently under pursuit by U.S. Marshals for her crimes. In fact, the kicker of this theory is that the reason that Jack is so utterly depressed and hopeless after his rescue from the island is that he knows he is not in his "right" timeline. His father is alive and he feels completely out of place and lost (pun intended). Kate, on the other hand, is happier in her "new" place in the space-time continuum (I just had to work that phrase into this post somehow), as she is no longer being chased and at risk of going to jail, and thus she does not share Jack's desire to go back and make things right at the island.

I think that is all I'm going to get to today, but as always on Thursday mornings Mr. Goat is in da house with this take on the world, Lost-wise, so go check him out, always a great read when it comes to our favorite televsion series.

In other news relevant to me in Hammer Land, word is out as of Wednesday afternoon that star Georgetown forward and 2006-07 Big East Player of the Year Jeff Green will leave the school and begin selecting an agent immediately as he plans to remain in the NBA draft and forego his senior year of eligibility at Georgetown. That is too bad, but I think moreso for Jeff Green and less so for my alma mater. Jeff Green is not ready for the NBA yet (I doubt he will ever be), but his presence will be replaceable on this Georgetown team. I mean, Green had a nice career and a great junior season at Georgetown, but his game is not one that is overpowing in any aspect. He's a good scorer (14 ppg led the team this year), a good rebounder (6 rpg) and a decent passer (3 assists per game), but in college basketball these days, numbers like that are not irreplaceable. Especially when you've got the second part of Wednesday's big announcement out of the basketball team in the DC area -- 7-foot-2 big man center Roy Hibbert will, in fact, return to the Hoyas for his senior season. Now, to be sure Hibbert has got a lot of work to do and a lot of improvement to undergo if he expects to be NBA-ready after one more year of college ball. But, he will almost surely have his best year as a college player as a senior in 2007-08, and his presence should make the absence of Green under the boards feel more or less non-existent. Similarly, Jessie Sapp and Jonathan Wallace, both returning next season as well, basically averaged as many or more assists per game already than Green, so I really think the biggest deficit with the 2007-08 version of the Hoyas will be on the scoring front, and more than that, on the leadership front as Green really seemed to be the guy to take a lot of those must-have shots late in games during the Hoyas' late-season stretch run. Whether the team will actually be better next year remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain -- if Roy Hibbert has the game, and the guts, to be a real leader for this team in the coming season, not only will he personally go far in his quest to go at the top of the pecking order in the 2008 NBA draft, but the team is in for great things in the coming season as well.

Today before I go I thought I would throw in another little tidbit from David Sklansky's recent work on no-limit holdem, this one about preflop raise-sizing. Those of you who have read a lot of poker books will be familiar with the common views and strategies on sizing your preflop raises in nlh. The most common refrain on this point is to always use the same or similar size for any preflop raises, on the thinking that this way no one can ever glean any useful information about the quality of your starting hand from the way you bet it. This is a strategy that I have followed often, in particular in nlh tournaments. Then Phil Gordon's Little Green Book came along and changed my thinking somewhat on preflop raise-sizes. Gordon argued for a slightly modified approach, one where you also always raise the same amount in similar situations, but where you raise less from up front, an average amount (around 3x) from middle positions, and more, maybe as much as 3.5x to 4x) from late position. There is good logic to this preflop raising strategy as well, and many players I know of -- again, myself included on occasion -- have adopted this or a similar strategy based on different size raises not based on different quality hands so much as on different positions from which you are raising with those same hands.

In his no-limimt book, Sklansky turns this idea on its head by explaining that it is preposterous not to raise certain types of hands more or less than other types of hands based on the nature of the hand and their capacity to win big or small pots. Sklansky classifies starting hands with some promise as either "big pot" hands or "small pot" hands, referring to the likely size of the pot you can win with such a starting hand. For example, according to Sklansky, flopping a set is the classic "big pot" scenario, where you play 44 against a guy with AK on a flop of AK4, and you proceed to stack his ass from here to China in a large pot. In such a situation, when you are dealt a small or medium pocket pair, Sklanksy argues that your best chance of stacking someone in a large pot is going to be if you put in a significant raise preflop. Now, obviously you can't go around bumping it up 10x every time you see a pocket pair before the flop in no-limit holdem cash games, but at the same time Sklansky argues for a somewhat larger raise than "normal" with this sort of a hand under the right circumstances. He gives a good mathematical explanation for how even a $50 larger preflop raise can lead to a $200 larger flop bet, and $600 or more larger bets on the turn and river than if a small preflop raise is used instead, mostly because bets on later streets in deep stack nlh tend to be based on the current size of the pot, which of course includes all previous raises into that pot from before the flop came down.

Sklansky contrasts such a "big pot" hand like a pocket pair -- another fine example is a soooted Ace which can nail a big flush -- with a hand like AK, which Sklansky explains to be a classic "small pot" hand. He classifies AK in this way because, Sklansky argues, you can rarely win a big pot with a hand like AK, but your best chance for a profit is against a dominated hand like AQ or AJ, hands which are more likely to fold if you put in a large preflop raise. So with a "small pot" hand like AK, the argument goes, you are better off putting in a somewhat smaller than "normal" sized raise before the flop, than you are with some of the other hands mentioned above.

The net of all this is to say that Sklansky presents I think a very strong argument for actually varying your raise sizes in big-stack nlh cash games based on the strength of your hand preflop, much in contradiction to the advice provided in the vast majority of poker books in my experience (and I've basically read them all). Of course one must always be careful not to be too robotic in one's application of these rules, lest someone pick up on your preflop raise-sizing tendencies and be able to tell the nature of your starting hand by how much you raised it up preflop. Here Sklansky just makes the very correct observation that, if done correctly and at appropriate times, just a little bit of misdirection on this front -- raising larger with more typical "small pot" hands, and vice versa -- is enough to completely prevent your opponents from being able to get a good handle on the kinds of starting cards you hold in your hand.

Real quick, congrats to Willwonka (I hope that link is right since I never know which wonka is which) for taking down the Mookie last night. I did not play due to Lost, but this week's finale means that, starting next Wednesday, I will be back in the house in a big way and ready to take my shot at my first-ever Mookie title. Will I meet my goal of winning a Mookie sometime during 2007? Only time will tell.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lost, and Thoughts on Cash Games

Back on another Wednesday, and only two things on my mind this morning: the Mookie, and Lost. Tonight is the season finale of Lost, a two-hour extravaganza, apparently preceded by a rerun of that Mysteries of Lost show they ran last Thursday night, and that should make for one dam fine night of television in Hammer Land. As much fun as this season of Lost has been, in a way this finale is kinda like the end of every NFL season -- although clearly I will miss it, especially since I know it will be snowing outside the next time I see a new episode of the show, at the same time it's almost a relief in a way. I mean, I spend more time than I should every single week thinking about Lost, what happened last week, what's going to happen this week, wtf is really going on there, etc. It's a major time suck. And in a life that is already full of several major time sucks, it will be nice to get that portion of my life back, to have one fewer thing to focus on for the next nine months or so. So be there at the next BBT event, Wednesday night's Mookie tournament at 10pm ET on full tilt (password as always is "vegas1"), but also don't forget to be in front of the big screen or set those dvr's at 9pm ET for the early start to the explosive two-hour season finale of Lost. I've heard about ten thousand rumors of what's going to happen tonight, most of it pretty crazy, involving deaths, destruction, major discoveries, mindfucks, rescues, you name it and I've heard it's going to happen to someone on tonight's show. One thing I am very, very sure of is that Charlie has got to die. It's time. They've gone way too far with that at this point to turn back now. And I'm almost equally sure that Locke is alive. With all the other deaths that have been survived somehow on that show, a simple bullet wound, especially one that did not hit the kidney that would have been there if his father had not stolen it from him earlier in his life, is not going to stop him at this point. Especially not with all the Jacob stuff we got a tiny glimpse of a few weeks back. Anyways I am raring to go to see what they come up with tonight, and I'm already looking forward to this guy's writeup on Thursday. Get that shit up early man!

So last night I played another 100 hands or so of $400 nl 6-max. I stopped shortly after being involved in the biggest pot I saw all night, where I flopped bottom set with 99 on a QJ9 board. I liked the flop because I had open-raised from the cutoff with the 9s, and the button had called my preflop raise which I figured meant he had some high cards of some kind, cards that would likely fit in in some way with this two-high-card flop. I bet out the size of the pot on the flop with my set, and he raised me, which I just smooth called after taking some time to think. Surely I had to be ahead here, and the smooth call might hopefully induce another bet on the turn that I could then raise and take down the pot. The turn brings another Jack for a board of QJ9J, and now I've got a boat so even a straight isn't going to scare me (much the opposite, actually). This time my opponent bet out again for about 2/3 the size of the pot, and I took some time to fake-think, and then raised him about 3 times his bet, up to around $180. I had around $200 left behind after my raise, and my opponent had a little bit less if he were to call my bet here. He let his timer run all the way down to nearly the bottom, before reraising me allin for his last $350 or so.

Now this bet scared me a little bit, and for the first time in the hand I had to consider if I might actually be behind. I'd shown massive strength throughout the hand when you look at it, and yet here he is reraising me allin at the river, and I have a strong hand but not the nuts. Any QQ, JJ, QJ or J9 has me beat by a higher boat or quads. The bottom line is that many players would call behind preflop with QQ or JJ, and many would be likely to do the same with QJ or J9, at least with QJs and J9s. So any of those four hands would justify his play on every street including the river in my book, and to those I'm about to get stizznacked. My question was, are there enough other hands that my opponent also might play this way to justify my moving in the rest of my stack in this situation?

Let's think. The most obvious possibility is trips. My opponent could be holding a Jack in his hand, and not be willing to lay it down because he thinks his trips are ahead. The way I've played this hand, if this guy has any clue what he's doing then he has to at least assume that I might have a Jack as well, so the fact that he is reraising here on the end tells me that, if he does have trip Jacks (not Tripjax), it is most likely AJ, for trips with top kicker. So AJ is a distinct possibility that I could see many players playing just like this, and it's a hand I am ahead of.

Similarly, he could have flopped some kind of a straight. That could be either T8 or KT, although again the T8 is somewhat unlikely because he called my preflop raise (though many players on these tables, myself included under the right circumstances, might make that preflop call with T8s and hope to hit a big flop just like this one). But KT was a distinct possibility, also the kind of hand that people tend to call with before the flop, especially if it's sooooted, and that gives him a flopped straight that he must think is best but in reality is far behind me and not something that is going to improve to beat me.

Also, I thought there was an outside chance that he could be moving here with a hand like AQ, for top pair top kicker. It's not a good play by him, but believe me when I say I've played enough 400nl 6-max on full tilt to know this at least has to be considered. Similarly, an overpair is always possible here, maybe even moreso that the AQ hand just discussed, and of course a hand like QT or T9 is also a possibility for two pairs and a lot of optimism on this guy's part.

In the end, I struggled and thought there was maybe a good 35 or 40% chance I was beat, but I decided he probably had a hand like AJ, for second trips and high kicker, and figured this was best or at least worth going to the mat with to see what happened. So I made the call, typing into the chat that I was not happy about his river bet but I just can't find a reason to lay the hand down. I flipped over my pocket 9s for 9s full of Jacks. He flipped up....

KQ. Offsoooot. Top pair second kicker on a board with commonly-held straight possibilities, a pair on the board, and all high cards to boot, against a guy who raised it up preflop. $845 sliding my way. You gotta love it, even at this level. I didn't take it too much longer after that big win, pleased with my performance on the night and feeling very tired after several late nights of late in my recent FTOPS run. Obviously this player is a cash game donkey, but I take a lot of the credit for stacking him here based on the way I played this hand out, and in particular my decision just to smooth call his flop raise. Think about it -- he raised the flop because he had top pair second kicker, and he wanted to find out if I was really strong or not. So he raised my bet on the flop, and by my smooth call instead of a reraise, this guy basically put me on a not-great hand, a read that he could never get away from as this hand progressed further. In many ways I find nlh to be all about manipulating your opponents and thinking one level higher than they are, creating opportunities for yourself through plays like this where you can get inside your opponent's head, know just what he is thinking, and then use that knowledge to force him to believe exactly what you want him to believe.

In general, I know I've been saying this more and more lately, but the bottom line is that building a bankroll is way, way easier through cash games than it will ever, ever be through mtt's. The big tournament scores of course are and always will be the greatest thing ever, blowing away any kind of cash game performance that is reasonably attainable by any of us, but for day-to-day grinding out of a bankroll, it's not even close. The dry spells are just too long and too frequent when you're an mtt guy, and over time only the very, very best will be able to consistently profit every month or so from purely tournament play. But in the cash games, it's not unreasonable if you play enough -- say, two-tabling for the exact same number of hours a night that you would have otherwise spent in a few large mtts -- to leave mostly every week with a tidy profit of, say, a grand or more, much more even depending on the levels you're playing at. No mtt guy I know personally would ever make that kind of claim, that you could add a grand a week to your bankroll just by playing mtts. But in the cash games it really is doable in my view. I'm not even necessarily trying to say that I could do it consistently in cash games. But I'm saying that one could do it. A solid player who never tilts and always plays his smart, solid, aggressive game, could be a consistent weekly or monthly winner at the cash tables. I've made more money at cash in the past month than I make in all but my biggest mtt scores, and those are few and far between. It's amazing to me as I sit here now that I played online poker for two years and never really made the effort to focus on the cash games. And even more amazing to me is that people say these games got a whole lot tougher since the UIGEA last year. To think that there were more fish then than there are now, that is really a shocker and something I can't believe I missed out on all that time.

I thought I would leave you today with an interesting and I think spot-on observation made by David Sklansky in his recently-published no-limit holdem book. In his "Concepts" section on page 244 of the version I have in my hands, Sklansky gives the very sage advice of "Don't give action to tight and trapping players. Know who to play big pots against." That right there is half the battle in nlh cash in my view.

Taking the second type of player listed first, when someone traps me or another player at the cash table hard, that shiat is getting noted instantly by me. You definitely want to know who the trappers are at any cash nlh table you're playing at, and always keep an eye out for those guys. There are enough non-trappers who you don't really ever need to fear making a move on you, that you can actually afford to take note and try to avoid the trappers unless you've got a big big hand. Other than the inevitable suckouts, there is just about nothing worse than betting big into a guy you're sure is weak, and getting called for all your chips by that flopped boat, that turned straight, etc. that blows you out and stacks your ass.

And on Sklansky's first point, you also want to know who the tightydonks are at your table. You have to know. Because you can steal their blinds more or less with abandon, and you do not want to be involved in pots where they are making or calling large bets unless you are very strong yourself. Sklansky goes on to make a great, great point that I think all of us, certainly myself included, have fallen victim to on more than one occasion at the nlh tables -- Sklansky advises us that, when we use aggression to continually bet that tight player out of pot after pot, that we must not imagine that our ability to tilt our opponents is so great that this tight player is thinking "Wow that punk plays all sorts of trash. I think I'll play Ace-Jack against him for all my chips." The tightydonk never thinks like that. Ever. He's a tightydonk. He's not planning to play you for all his chips with the JackAce, Sklansky is totally right. Sklanksy observes, very astutely I believe, that the tightydonk is instead thinking, "I can't wait until I pick up Aces so I can bust this maniac." That's exactly what's going through his head. So, when you find yourself tempted to push allin with that AQ heads-up on a preflop re-reraise against a true tightydonk, think again. As Sklanksy goes on to say, "When all the money goes in, he'll still have pocket Aces or a set, just like he always does. Don't try to outthink these players. Steal all the small pots and refuse to play big pots against them, and you'll be fine." That right there is some of the best stuff in Sklansky's entire nlh book, and IMO it is mighty fine advice for anyone thinking about a foray into the cash nlh tables.

OK that's all for today. Now go get ready for the Mookie, and start looking forward to the finale of the best series on television of the last fifteen years tonight, at its earlier start time of 9pm ET on Fox.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MATH Recap, and Back to Poker Tracker

Another fun time was had by most at Monday night's Mondays at the Hoy tournament on full tilt, with 47 bloggers and non-bloggers alike coming out for their shot at a spot on the 2007 MATH moneyboard, some additional BBT points, and maybe a chance as well to take down the $26 bounty I laid on myself for anyone who sucks out on me with a dominatable bullshit hand that people love to eliminate me from poker tournaments with, especially these blonkaments. And as far as taking me out of this thing, although I did not pay the bounty, the redickulous bad beat sprite once again did not have to worry about going home disappointed about my exit.

How exactly did I go out, you ask? Well, I am dealt QQ (how many of my phucking elimination stories seem to begin that same way?) in middle position, where I open-raise the standard 3x to 180 chips. GCox calls my preflop raise from two seats to my left. The flop comes AQ4. Bingo! With 450 chips in the pot, I'm not a donkey so I'm going to lead out with a bet, into the player who likely has a strong Ace, and who will surely indicate to me from his actions on that bet whether he really likes his hand or not. This is Gary Cox after all, so I don't really have to worry much about him putting a move on me and reraising me with nothing in this spot. So I bet 360 into the 450-chip pot, and Gary minraises:

Now, if you know Gary, this can basically only mean one thing: AK. Literally of all the people I know, even Blinders isn't going to minraise here without a very strong hand, and I don't even think Gary would minraise with a flopped set, which I would think he would be a bit too weary of telegraphing his hand with a minraise. To me, the minraise just screamed out "AK! AK!" and that's what I figured I was up against at this point. So, figuring Gary is trying to figure out where he's at, I didn't want to move in here because I thought Gary might fold just the one pair on the flop (I could have AQ even and have him reverse dominated at this point). Instead I figured I'll just use his own move against him, and I min-reraised him right back:

When Gary smooth called instead of re-re-reraising me, that iced it. He had AK, and he still figured he was best here. When the turn came an offsuit Jack, I moved in the rest of my chips, only equalling half the pot at this point, knowing therefore Gary was likely to call given his large stack:

Gary insta-called:

Booooooom! Then, just as quickly, buuuuuuuust:

Just sick. And the worst part is, I didn't even get to pay out my donkey bounty for the night, as Gary knocked me out with AK and not some donkey-dominated hand like somebody else surely would have taken a run at me with sooner or later in this thing. And for those of you expecting a profanity-laden rant for Gary's play, sorry to disappoint you. He got abused, don't get me wrong, but he played his TPTK like many people would have played it, and I'm not going to kill him just because he fell victim to the kind of trickery that I busted out with early on in the MATH on Monday night. My play would have worked on just about anyone in that spot in this tournament. Once again my ire is directed at the frucking full tilt server that just continually seems to have it in for me in these blonkaments. I know that may sound lame coming from the guy who just won the Riverchasers tournament last Thursday, but the bottom line fact is that last Thursday was the exception and not the rule. I have about two or three too many now of these reconchulous river cards spiking to take my 85 or 90%+ favorite down and knock me out of a good spot in these events. The play is dubious enough in these tournaments already, but for me to be continually losing to 2- and 3- and 4-outers, in particular when I'm purposefully showing the restraint to wait until after the flop is already out before getting it all in, that is just too much to face. Dam you blonkament gods, why have you forsaken me?

Speaking of the blonkaments, I have noticed a very interesting phenomenon over the past few BBT tournaments: the players generally speaking are clearly playing tighter these days. I think over half of the BBT has gone by and has given people a chance to develop their own strategies for success, and frankly the points structure we're using to score the BBT tournaments has incentivized many players to play tighter than they normally would. Thus, lately it has definitely become harder for the fold-till-the-points-guys to just keep sticking around and survive. The full weight of the bbt is beginning to be borne.

I've also been thinking lately, maybe a year or two ago some of us gave DuggleBogey a little bit too much shite when he voiced his concerns over the WPBT tournament scoring system being formulated. Back then, Duggles made the point that scoring these tournaments on a week-to-week basis kinda ruins what many of us are generally trying to do in these blonkaments, which is to have fun, not "make the points". In particular when using a scoring system that does not even award points only to the final table or only to the cashers, but rather to every finisher in just the top half of the total number of entrants, there is a clear incentive to not be aggressive, not push some draws or some hands you might be able to win with, to not make that call preflop with the pocket 7s, to not push that suited AK on the flop with 2 to your suit and 3 raggy undercards, etc. It clearly has changed the play in these events, and while I definitely enjoy a little competition from tournament to tournament among our group, there is something fun about thinking about the WWdN tonight (8:30pm ET on pokerstars, password as always is "monkey"), and being able to "just play" without having to think about making the points, and is my opponent just trying to make the points, etc. On some level I think Duggles might really have been on to something when he voiced this feeling early in 2006 I believe, and maybe some of us were a bit too quick to judge his comments harshly. I certainly don't think the point of the blogger tournaments should be to see who can play supertight until half the field is out and they then feel free to open up their games.

Anyways, back to the MATH, here are this week's cashers, out of 47 entrants with 24 runners winning BBT points and the top 6 cashing as has been usual for the MATH since the BBT rolled into town:

6. Our 6th place casher this week, winning $67.68 for his efforts and a very nice run, is lightning36, who is scoring his second MATH payout of 2007 after a strong performance to make the cash payouts for the week.

5. In 5th place this week, winning $90.24, is Blogger Big Game host MiamiDon, who pads his top-10 BBT tally with yet another BBT final table and cash.

4. RecessRampage also added to his top-10 BBT point standings this week with another 4th place finish in this week's MATH tournament, plus $124.08 cash awarded for yet aonother MATH cash.

3. 3rd place this week and $169.20 goes to Tripjax, folowing in his brother's footsteps and now making it at least three straight weeks that someone in the Trip family line makes a big cash in the MATH.

2. In second place this week is another big score for current BBT moneyleader Mike Maloney, winning another 248.16 to add to his already over $1000 won over 7 weeks of BBT events.

1. And this week's winner, making not only his first MATH win but his first cash in the MATH in all of 2007 in a tournament that he rarely plays, is Pokerstars blogger and all-around fabulous writer Otis, winning 428.64 for his efforts in winning his first ever MATH weekly title.

And now here are the updated 2007 MATH moneyboard standings as of this week's tournament:

1. Iggy $641
2. Astin $616
3. Columbo $606
4. Hoyazo $580
5. Bayne_s $579
6. Julius Goat $507
7. mtnrider81 $492
8. scots_chris $474
9. Fuel55 $458
10. Otis $429
11. Miami Don $402
12. Chad $379
13. Pirate Wes $372
14. IslandBum1 $357
15. ChapelncHill $353
16. Tripjax $345 (how cute the brothers are right next to each other!)
17. Zeem $330
18. Mike_Maloney $326
19. cmitch $312
19 oossuuu754 $312
21. VinNay $310
22. Waffles $294
23. Wigginx $288
24. ScottMc $282
25. Blinders $275
26. Manik79 $252
27. Wippy1313 $248
28. Byron $234
29. RecessRampage $224
30. Omega_man_99 $210
31. lightning36 $205
32. NewinNov $190
33. bartonfa $180
34. 23Skidoo $176
35. Santa Clauss $170
36. Iakaris $162
36. Smokkee $162
38. lester000 $147
39. DDionysus $137
40. Pushmonkey72 $129
40. InstantTragedy $129
42. Buddydank $124
43. Ganton516 $114
44. Gracie $94
44. Scurvydog $94
46. Shag0103 $84
47. PhinCity $80
47. jeciimd $80
49. Alceste $71
49. dbirider $71
51. Easycure $67

So, another strong week for the MATH moneyboard, as this week's winner Otis makes his first appearance on the board, while all five of our other cashers are repeat offenders in cashing in the Hoy during 2007. Congratulations again to all of our cashers and especially to Otis for taking the whole thing down for the first time.

OK before I go today I thought we could take another look at my Poker Tracker stats as I continue to build a database through several hours of playing and observing at the 1-2 and 2-4 6-max nlh tables on full tilt. To be honest I still have a very, very small number of hands to evaluate from (under 900), but it's about 9 times more than I had when I first posted these figures last week, and I'm still trying to figure out how to interpret all these statistics and really in some cases what these numbers even mean in practical terms. Plus, PT is good in that it allows me to compare my results and my statistics to the other profitable players I've seen online, and look at how I fare against those players in a number of key statistical areas.

For starters, here are my General poker stars via Poker Tracker:

Interesting items to focus on from this view include that I am up about 3.5 buyins at 2-4 over 887 hands. It may not sound so impressive to some of you (and to some of you that track record probably would not be that impressive), but #1 I'm not losing, as I used to consistently at the cash tables, and #2 these figures do not even include my first 4 or 5 buyins won when I first started with $400 nl 6-max cash about three weeks ago. I figure I am probably up more like 10 buyins over 1500 hands or so, which is much prettier than 3.5 buyins over 900 hands. So playing 400nl has been very profitable for me this month, and I feel like I am getting increasingly adept at knowing when I am likely ahead or behind, and acting appropriately based on that information. Also, I point out that you can see on that screenshot that I have won exactly 1 out of 8 times I've been dealt AK, either soooted or unsoooted. That is redonkulous and will not persist over time, especially since I am just about the last person online who you will ever see push unimproved AK into a raggy flop against anyone who's shown any semblance of strength so far in a hand. Otherwise, looking at the above numbers, the stats themselves do not seem to have changed too much since I first showed them at right around 100 hands played. Pre-flop raise is still at just under 20%, which is fine I think, and my VP$IP is up to 29, still a bit higher than where I think I want this to be over the long run. That said, I tend to use stealing blinds as an integral part of my strategy at 6-max, and that may explain why this number feels a bit on the high side for what I was expecting to see. The one number I still think really needs to get higher is my Won $ at Showdown percentage, which still sits right at 50%. 50% isn't terrible, but for a winning player who expects to keep winning more and more at this game, I think WSD needs to be closer to 60% or higher to really maximize the efficiency of my profits.

Here are my PT stats sorted by position:

What I love about the top of this screen is that you can see that I am basically playing profitable poker from every position at the table. Yes in the BB I am down $148.25, but if you add back in the price of the big blind I am up a good 5 hundy from there, and the only position where I'm not showing a healthy profit is 2 from the button, which I imagine is just random and over time will even itself out. I also note that at 2 spots away from the button, that is my only slightly negative position at the table, and it is also -- perhaps not coincidentally -- the only spot other than acting last on the button where my preflop cold-call % is over 1. Those of you who know my game know that I am definitely not much of a cold caller -- cold calling preflop is most definitely a recipe for poker losses and not poker profits -- but here you can see even in those few instances where I cold call preflop, it appears to be costing me over time in terms of overall profitability. Another interesting stat that goes along this one is that you can see I am going to the showdown more frequently from 2 spots away from the button -- my only money-losing position -- and I am winning at showdown less frequently with the higher percentage of the time that I see the river and show down the cards. So I can see already that I have some work to do there, as far as ensuring that from all positions at the table I am not staying in too long, in particular to see a showdown, without a hand of sufficient quality to warrant staying in.

Here at my stats sorted per winning hand:

As you can see and as is probably not surprising, with "high card" hands I am strongly negative, as these hands of course tend not to win nlh pots. That said, you can see that I am solidly in the green for every other type of winning hand better than high card. And I once again call your attention to the one-pair category, where I am now up more than a buyin for what is easily my second most profitable hand other than straights, which for some reason have been gold for me thus far, winning me 6 out of 6 showdowns with my straight hands. But my point is, I continue to show evidence that playing with just one pair at 6-max nlh can be a winning strategy, if played correctly, cautiously and if your reads are right-on. Of course it helps that I am not one to call big bets with top pair most of the time, but rather I focus more on overpairs, pocket Aces, etc. for situations to consider calling significant bets with just one pair hands.

Lastly, and this is one of my favorite screens on Poker Tracker, here are my general stats as compared to the list of the other most profitable players I have run into and recorded stats for over the past week I have been running PT during my nightly play:

I like this view because it can really show my generalized statistics against other good (or bad) players, stat-by-stat in the columns. So, out of 1177 total players I have recorded, my profitability has been 7th best among all of those players during the times I have been recording plays online. That is quality right there. I also note in the totals at the bottom that there are a total of 58% losers and only 41% winners during all the time I have recorded. That means there's a whole lot of fish out there to be draining money from, something which I have definitely found myself over recent experience. Anyways, this screen can help put some of my overall stats into good perspective -- for example, my BB/100 rate of 19.95 is actually fairly low, among the good players. That is interesting to me given my success, and the only thing I can think is that maybe I am playing a bit tighter than some of those other players are, or maybe I'm failing to maximize the profit I'm making from my best hands, I don't know. I tend to avoid sitting at tables with more than one large, winning stack, so that may also factor in to lowering somewhat my overall win rate. My VP$IP and my PFR also seems to be just slightly on the high side, as compared to the other profitable players who have recorded more than 3 or 4 sessions to give a good indicator of their general play with both good and bad starting cards, which is something which I have already identified as a potential area for improvement as far as tightening up just a little bit preflop where appropriate. And of course, of the top 19 most profitable players I have recorded at 400nl 6-max, my 50% win rate at showdown is in 15th place of those 19 most profitable players. Again, clearly something I need to improve at if I expect to keep winning, and to keep increasing my win rate, over the long run at this game.

OK so hopefully all those cash play stats are useful or at least interesting to you all out there. I would love any thoughts that any of you Poker Tracker guys have on my play generally or on the very quick analysis I give above on some of the things that jump out at me from these four pages of PT statistics. I look forward tonight to jumping back on to the cash tables for some more action winning with one pair and raising it up preflop a bit too often, in addition to possibly playing the Wheatie at 8:30pm ET on pokerstars, and maybe looking into that WSOP Main Event Tuesday night qualifier as well on full tilt.

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