Wednesday, August 30, 2006
........and it only seems like 24!
Wow, another year has passed already and it is time for the annual suck-up post of the year from yours truly. Not that I feel like I need to suck up at all, but I know it pleases the wifey and believe me, there is nothing better than having a pleased wifey around the house. You can move all-in on that.
I have sang the praises of my wife right here on these pages many times before, but seeing as tomorrow is our 12th wedding anniversary, I feel the need to continue on and honor her in a way that she so deserves.
My wife is the most caring, gentle, loving and understanding woman on the planet. Now, before you call me a suck up, she already knows full well that I feel this way. I am not always the best at showing my true feelings or conveying them in such a way that everybody understands, but she definitely understands. She knows me better than anybody in the world, of that I am sure. That doesn’t mean that she does not like to hear it (or in this case read it) every now and again.
She is also the best friend, mate, lover and parent that I know. She goes out of her way on a daily basis to make sure that her family is taken care of in every way possible and for that I am very grateful. I certainly could not fathom her not being around to check on me in the late afternoon, when all hell is breaking loose at work and I am really in need of a kind word. She is always there to lend an ear or a shoulder for support to her daughter, her Mom and her husband and for that, we are all extremely blessed.
I am not always the easiest person in the world to live with, but my wife knows that about me and puts up with just about all my shortcomings. She has always got a smile on her face and a kind word for anybody in need of cheering up. I am not sure my daughter realizes what a special relationship she has with her Mom, but in due time, rest assured she will recognize it.
Carrie, as always, I love you more every day and I thank you for being not only my wife, but my best friend.
posted by GaryC @ 4:53 PM, ,
Beware, this site is under construction. We, and I say we in the very broadest sense, are going to be changing things up around here in the next few days. I will basically be playing poker while my IT guy does all the work. I have noticed that the comments section is not working (pretty obvious now) but it took an e-mail from DuggleBogey to bring it to my attention. Thanks Duggle. That too, will hopefully be up and running soon. If you have tried to leave a comment thank you and I am sorry that it has not been working. I am not technically proficient enough to fix such things on my own, so I have filled out the proper paperwork and filled out a work order for somebody much smarter than me to have a look at it. There are many things in the works right now and hopefully in the near future we will be able to reveal them all.
On to other things. I had my second trip to the bowling alley last night for bowling league. Thankfully, this time my ankle was feeling much better and much of the soreness from the last three weeks is going away. However, on a completely unrelated note, the shot was not nearly as kind to me last night as I shot a pitiful 197, 203 , 199 for a 599 series, dropping my overall average to 210. I realize those scores are not exactly pitiful, but when you are averaging 220, they are definitely sub-par. I could not get anything going last night due to the dryness of the lanes. When I finally did get lined up in the second game, I could not carry a strike to save my life. Oh well, better luck next week.
The rest of this week should include much pokery goodness. My anniversary is this Friday, but we are going out to eat right after work and then I should be home to play for the rest of the evening, since I have to get up and work this Saturday. Damn the man! I am going to keep this post short and sweet today. Join me for the Mook tonight and for the few of you that were looking for the password last week (I know, I do not check my email often enough) it is always the same: Vegas1
On a side note, my post tomorrow night will not show up until very late Thursday evening. Friday is my anniversary and while I have a post ready, I do not want many folks to see it until Friday.
Have a good one.
posted by GaryC @ 3:53 PM, ,
Simple Tips To Consistently Win At Poker
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I’m going to share some of my deepest secrets today that I have figured out over the last couple of years playing poker on-line. I’m going to give you a few of my favorite tips that should help you consistently crush this game, whether it be micro-limit, low-limit or high-limit.
First and foremost: Win all your coin flips!
If you win every coin flip you are involved in, you will eventually win the tournament or break up the cash table that you are sitting at with all the money. This sounds like pretty simple advice, but you would be surprised how easy it is to make money at this game when you win every time you get your money in a 50-50 situation.
Tips for winning all your coin flips:
-Rub your lucky rabbit’s foot ferociously while screaming NO THREE! at the top of your lungs.
-Adjust your tin-foil hat into a proper fit the second you know it is a coin flip.
-Never, ever watch the screen thinking of your opponent’s card.
Second: Consistently pick up HUGE hands throughout the play, whether at a tournament or cash table.
Consistently picking up major, top-ten hands is the easiest way to win at poker. If you pick up A-A or K-K about twice or three times an orbit at the table, you will be crushing your table in a matter of no time at all. You don’t even have to be a brain surgeon to figure out how to play them, just keep raising pre-flop and sooner or later, someone will get tired of it and call you down. As long as you keep catching great cards, your hands will normally hold up, so keep on a raising! The only uncomfortable thing about this situation is that if the horseshoe that is rammed up your ass turns sideways, you can have a problem, so don’t squirm around in your seat.
Third: Always, always push your flush draws and gut-shot draws to the max, especially if you FEEL like they are going to hit.
You know that feeling, that old, solid player across from you that doesn’t play too many hands, but suddenly is calling your raises? When this happens and you have a “reasonable” draw, play it like it’s the nuts. And, if you “sense” or :have a feeling” that the flush or straight draw is going to hit before the river, go ahead and push all-in, since the best the other guy has is a set or TPTK and you KNOW your flush will beat either of those hands.
Fourth: At cash tables, when someone has called you all the way down and you missed your draw, go ahead and push all-in here also.
You want to give your opponent a chance to fold and if you think he is a “solid” player, he will fold to an all-in bet with King high about 97% of the time. Even if you have as low as Jack or Ten high, get all your chips in there, because he probably missed his draw, as well.
That is my advice in a nut-shell. Have fun with it and remember, if somebody happens to bust you, hang around the table for 30 minutes or so berating them for their horrible play. That will let everybody at the table know how good a player you are and that they should tag you as “solid” immediately. If possible, throw in a few curse words that get blanked out so they know you mean business and if you have the time, hang around the table until it breaks, throwing in the occasional “fish” or “donkey” just so they know you are still watching them. That is a sure-fire way to let everybody at the table know just how good a player you are and that you are dead-serious at the poker table.
posted by GaryC @ 3:05 PM, ,
A Big Surprise For You...
Monday, August 28, 2006
...some actual content, for a change.
Wow, it seems like I haven’t written anything worth reading here in a LONG time. I could have posted something last Thursday night, but after reading the drivel I had written, I didn’t feel like even putting it up. For that, I apologize. I was then gone all weekend dodging storms and lightning bolts on the lake and hanging out in a microwave trailer (the AC quit this weekend) for the rest of the weekend. When I finally got home yesterday, all I wanted to do was sleep inside in a cool room. And sleep I did, all freaking afternoon.
I woke up around 5 pm and while the wife was cooking dinner, I thought I would fire up some Party Poker and sit down and play. I did for a few minutes, but it didn’t take me long to realize that my heart wasn’t in that either, so I logged off and spent the evening watching my Rangers finally take a game from the A’s. It looks like another disappointing finish for my Rangers this year, but, there’s always next year! I also watched almost all of Deadwood on HBO last night. I’m not sure if that was the last episode of the season, but I sure hope not. It is really starting to get good and I look forward to more of it next week.(like I do every week)
We have a busy karaoke schedule in the coming weekends, so it will leave me little time for playing poker except during the week. This Friday night will be the exception to that statement. We do have to do karaoke on Saturday night this weekend, but I have to work on Saturday morning, so I will be at home Friday night, probably alone, and left to play some poker without interruptions. So, it could be the Crazy $3 Re-Buy time on Stars this Friday night. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Now for lack of anything better to write about, I present:
Low Limit SNG Tournament Strategy
There are differing theories of how to approach the early portions of a SNG and really, there are many good strategies that can be employed. You can start out as the aggressive maniac, trying to build a stack early and coasting into the money. Good strategy that works very well if you indeed build a large stack of chips. You can also start out the early stages of a SNG playing the tight, rock, only entering pots for raises with premium hands. This is the strategy that I use most often and it works well when you catch good starting hands or hit a few flops hard.
The key to the early portions of a single table tournament is to build chips and avoid coin flips. I won’t put all my chips at risk early in a tournament unless I know that I’m ahead when the money goes in. I shy away from confrontation for the most part, unless I know that I am dominating the other player. I want to be able to make it to the middle portion of the tournament regardless of what my chip count is and getting three-outered early on in a tournament defeats my purpose.
My purpose in the SNG’s is simple. Make it to the money. Of course, I want to win every single SNG that I play, but you cannot win a SNG without making it into the final three spots. I tend to stay out of the way for the most part until I have made it into the paying spots. Even if I limp into third place with the short stack, that is the immediate goal.
Once you have started to build a stack in the early portion of a tournament, you have several more options available to you. You can sit back and play only strong starting hands and try to pick off the short stacks or you can become the table bully and push everybody around with your big stack. I’m not very good at it but there are a ton of folks out there that live and die by this strategy. It usually ends up in one of two ways. They either continue to catch cards and crush all the other players or they are quickly busted back down to an average stack or dispatched from the tournament before the money. These are the players that I try to trap at every opportunity.
My personal strategy in the early stages is that of the tight rock. I know that probably comes as a shock to most of you, but I am what I am. I do play a few more hands early on in a tournament than I would ordinarily play in the middle stages of the tournament. I like to limp in and see cheap flops with hands that could turn into monsters. Small pairs looking for a set, or suited connectors, looking to flop big are typical hands that I will come into a cheap pot with. These types of hands are the types that can certainly double you up with the right flop and set you up to be a competitor in the middle to late stages of the tournament.
My own opinion of early stage play is to play tight and avoid confrontation at all costs, unless you know you are ahead. Not think, but know, that you are ahead. I prefer to do my gambling in the end game. My only goal during the early stages of a SNG is to make it to the middle stages. If I happen to double up or build my stack up a bit during the early stages, that is just gravy, but as long as I make it to the final 6 players, I am happy, because you cannot make it to the money without first making it to the middle stages of the tournament. Harrington said it best: It’s all about survival baby!
The middles stages of a SNG are normally where the play starts to tighten up across the board from all the competitors. Nobody wants to go out before the money and the play during this portion of the tournament reflects that.
My own strategy during this portion of the tournament is to play only very strong starting hands and play them for a raise every single time. I don’t limp into very many pots during this time unless I have a commanding chip lead. If I have a lot of chips, I will play a few more hands and see a few more flops, hoping to flop the big hand and pick off the short stacks. Like I said before, I don’t take on the role of bully very well, so I usually avoid it at all costs. That doesn’t mean that I won’t take a coin flip at this point in the tournament if it means I have a legitimate chance to knock somebody out.
If I don’t have a lot of chips, I pick my spots very carefully at this point. Often times when we get down to 6 people left in the tournament, I will have played only a few hands and have a bit less than the starting 1500 chips. If this is the case, it is still no time to panic. More times than not, the blinds are still very manageable at this point and there is absolutely no reason to lose your mind and start playing hands any differently than you have thus far.
One of my main strategies during any stage of a SNG is to vary the size of my raises and/or bets. You can bet that at least a couple of people at the table are paying pretty close attention to what is going on at the table, as you should be, as well. You should be noting all sorts of different things that are going on, whether you write them down or not is up to you, but a mental note should definitely be made any time you see something that you could possibly use to your advantage later in the tournament. Back to the point, I vary my raises from (gasp) min. raises to standard (4x the big blind) raises to larger (often 5 or 6 times the big blind) raises, depending on my hand. The thing that I’m trying to accomplish is to make it near impossible for my opponents to put me on a range of hands. I also never show down a hand unless I get called down. In my opinion, this is free information for your opponents and I don’t believe in giving out any information that they don’t pay to see. As soon as you start showing down hands, your opponents start to develop their own thoughts regarding your style. The more thoughts they form about your style, the more ammunition they have to use against you later in the tournament. The early portions of a tournament usually don’t involve a ton of strategy. Normally, the poor players push their poor hands and are scooped up by the better players. When you make it down to six players left, they are usually 6 decent players. Occasionally, this is not the case, but for the most part, the middle game is populated by players that have a decent understanding of the game and the play normally reflects that.
My only goal, once I have made it to the middle stages, is to make it into the money. If I have a big stack, I will usually steal a bit more than I do in the early stages, but, that doesn’t mean I will try to steal with any two cards, because there is nothing worse than being priced into making a call when you are holding trash. One or two of those situations and you have depleted your stack a bit and given somebody on the respirator a second life. Bad business and I try to avoid that situation at all costs. Often, that means throwing away a speculative hand before the flop, rather than trying to steal with it. If you have a read on the players behind you, this situation becomes a bit clearer, but you still have to treat each situation very carefully. Remember, at this point in the tournament, you are looking to make it into the money. Worrying about moving up a spot or winning the whole tournament comes later.
I break the end game down to three levels. Bubble, ITM and heads-up and I will try to discuss all three of those here.
Obviously, you have not made it into the money at this point and that is your first goal. If I am the big stack in this situation, I tread very lightly and look for every opportunity to pick off the short stacks. Often, this means slow-playing some pretty strong hands in situations where I wouldn’t normally play slow. Pocket pairs in the big blind with only one caller is my favorite hand to slow play, especially if he just calls and I flop my set. Most of the time, a large bet post-flop will scare off your opponent, so you have to give him a chance to hang himself. A lot of times, a simple check-check will accomplish this task, especially if they are down to desperation time with their chips.
Remember, when you are on the bubble, you are one bad call or one lucky flop from going to the rail with no money coming back into your account, so take that into consideration at this point. Most of the time, there is one and sometimes two short stacks that are in desperation mode. The rule of 10 or M of 8 says that they push most of the time at this point, so you want to be very careful with the cards that you enter a pot with.
If we get to this point and I am the short stack, I have one move – all-in. I fold everything but decent hands and I push at every opportunity, hoping one of my opponents gets impatient and calls me with less than stellar hands. Until I get to a point that I am not the short stack, I am pushing or folding. There are opportunities to slow-play at this point, but I do not advise it, nor do I do it very often. Slow-playing A-A in this situation will get you three callers, a very coordinated flop for someone else and you, muttering about a bad beat to yourself. It works on occasion and I use it on occasion, but slow-playing a big hand pre-flop is just asking to be sucked out on, in my opinion.
On the other hand, slow-playing post-flop in this situation is a move that I use often. If I happen to see a free flop and flop a monster, I will invariably check, hoping for a bet from someone else. My ultimate goal here is to double up and continue on in the tournament and a bet, often times, will lead to nothing but folds. Just know this about slow-playing: It might still be a bad beat, but you are the only one responsible if your Aces get cracked because you slow-played them. It might have been a terrible call on his part, but scooping the blinds with a raise or push is a lot better than someone flopping two pair with 10-4 off-suit, because you limped in.
In The Money
Once you have made it into the final three players and have cashed for sure, you can loosen up your play even more than before. In fact, you have to loosen up your play more, because, at this point, the blinds are becoming a factor and if you are still in fold, fold, fold mode, you will be blinded into oblivion before you catch a hand. Also, if you are still not playing any hands, you will not get any action from the other two players when you do finally catch a hand and raise it up pre-flop.
At this point, you have accomplished one of your original goals: Making the money. Now, your goal becomes moving up from 3rd to 2nd position or protecting your chip lead and ultimately, winning the tournament. With a substantial chip lead, I move into a more aggressive mode with my bets, raises and starting hand selections. I play a lot more hands than I’ve played earlier in the tournament and I raise with a lot more hands than I raised with earlier. Hopefully, at this point, the other two players have tagged you as a solid, rockish player that hasn’t gotten out of line too much during the tournament. This will lead, at least for a while, to them still showing respect for your raises. Obviously, if they are severely short-stacked, the respect goes out the window, because they will be pushing with any decent holdings, but you should already know this and not get caught with your hand in the cookie jar, trying to steal their blinds.
This is also a spot where I will slow-play a big hand, given the opportunity. You want all of your opponent’s chips in the middle and a chance for you to scoop them. Again, sometimes it is best to let them hang themselves. Overall, I am an opponent when it comes to slow-playing big hands, but there are certainly good opportunities for it, especially during the final three or heads-up portion of the tournament.
Playing an opponent heads up at the end of a tournament requires a much different strategy than you have used up to this point. I like to raise or fold in every single spot when I am heads up. I try to vary the size of the raises in order to keep my opponent guessing as to my holdings. I raise big with poorer holdings and min-raise with big hands for a while and then change it up to just the opposite the deeper we get into the tourney.
Playing heads up requires a lot of practice to become accomplished. I don’t think anybody is a good heads up player at first, I know I wasn’t. It wasn’t until I had made it into that position many times that I finally started to realize what worked and what didn’t. I don’t play any heads up matches on-line, unless it is at the end of a tournament, but I feel like I have become a better player at the end of the game than I was before. Again, it was only after doing it many times that I started to get into a groove and really felt like I could outplay my opponent more often than not. Good cards helps, but they only go so far. You have to be able to outplay your opponent heads up to win a tournament more often than not.
That is about all I have to say on the subject of low level SNG strategy. Obviously, these are just my modest recommendations and they come with no guarantee that they will work. You have to develop your own style in order to be successful on a regular basis. These are just some tips that have worked for me. Good luck to you.
posted by GaryC @ 3:32 PM, ,
Big Surprise For Me
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I got home from work yesterday with an hour to kill before going to the bowling alley. What’s a guy to do? I popped the top on a cold, Keystone Light and fired up the computer. I might as well play a little poker before I head to the lanes.
I did a quick check of my e-mail and what’s waiting for me in my in-box? A little note from Party Poker saying that they missed me and were offering me $40 of restricted bonus, real money just to come back and donk it up on their site. I was a bit skeptical at first, since Party had never even offered me a sign-up bonus or anything else of the like, but I fired up Party, installed their newest software and lo and behold, there was $40 worth of bonus money sitting in my account. I just have to play 7 billion raked hands before they will release it to me as real money. (Actually it is 400 raked hands and fairly easy to check)
Like I said yesterday, I finished my DreamPoker bonus on PSO and have requested a $100 gift certificate to Party Poker, but I don’t have a lot of things lined up right now, so I started in on clearing the 400 hands. I believe I have 10 days to do it and judging from last night’s work, I should be able to finish it with no problems. I managed to run my $40 into a little more than $70 before I was finished last night and cleared 30 or so hands in about an hour. The game of choice was .50/1.00 Limit Stud Hi-Lo and I think that will be the only game I play for a while trying to clear this bonus. The players are bad. Not that they aren’t bad at all the games on Party Poker, but they are particularly bad at Stud.
The bowling alley was a pleasant experience last night. With my still-swollen and still-sore right ankle in tow, I headed out to bowl for the first time since last May. After throwing my first practice ball, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it, but it finally loosened up enough and I finally got used to going to the line really slow and was able to last through the three games. I shot 258-198-209 for a 663 series and an average of 221 for the first night. I will certainly take it. The shot seemed to be exactly where I left it and when I threw it well, it went where it was supposed to for the most part. My ankle is very sore this morning, but I am hoping that it loosens up during the day enough that the pain will go away, at least.
I will be joining the Mook tonight on Stars and you should as well. Mookie will be spotlighting one of my favorite bloggers tonight. DuggleBogey has the honor of being the first bust-out of last week’s tournament, so he gets to be in the spotlight tonight. Thank goodness it’s not me this time.
Have a good one.
posted by GaryC @ 3:22 PM, ,
At A Complete Loss
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
I would like to regale you with stories of flopped Quads and huge pots sliding my way, but that would not be the truth. I haven’t played enough in the last two days to warrant wasting space here. I did finally finish up all my raked hands at DreamPoker and completed my PokerSourceOnline promotion. Soon, I will be back to the fishy waters of Party Poker with a brand new $100 gift certificate to try my luck. The current over/under at busting on Party is 4 days, any takers? Before you bet, remember that I have busted out of Party three times already. Apparently, I am part of the vast array of fish that inhabit that site, but I do plan on changing my luck this time around.
I am off to the bowling alley tonight for my first night of league bowling this year. Have you started yet Drizz? I missed the first week last week with a swollen right ankle, but with a new ankle brace and a week’s worth of healing, I will be up to the challenge tonight. Of course, I haven’t thrown a bowling ball since last May, so it could be an ugly night at the bowling alley.
Speaking of the bowling alley, is it my imagination or are they trying to run off all the league bowlers? About three years ago, the State of Oklahoma passed a law that there would be no smoking in the bowling alley, so approximately 75% of my league has to walk all the way outside to smoke a cigarette, thus slowing the league down to a crawl. They have consistently raised lineage over the last ten years or so to the point that it costs us $15.00 a night for bowling league, just so that we can have enough money in the prize fund at the end of the year to make it worth our while. In the old days, the team that won the league won enough prize money that it basically paid for the entire money they spent during the year on league fees. Now, it doesn’t even come close, even though our overall pay out each night is more than double what it used to be. Add in the fact that AMF does not believe in beer specials and you have a league that is thoroughly pissed off about everything going on. $14.50 for a bucket of (6) beers is no freaking deal, jackasses! And these same people wonder why they can’t fill an entire league anymore?
Enough of the bowling alley rant. Have a good night and join us tomorrow on Stars for the Mookie! I’ll be there.
posted by GaryC @ 3:10 PM, ,
New Games on Old Sites
Monday, August 21, 2006
I’m sure everybody has noticed this already, but I am, as usual, late to the party, apparently. Stars and Absolute are both offering up Razz now in their menu of games and Stars has added HORSE to their slate, as well. I’m not sure how long they have been there, but under “Other Games” on both sites, Razz is being spread and it appears to me that the folks playing this game still do not know what the hell they are doing. Over on Full Tilt, as has almost always been the case, the players seem to have a better overall feel for the game. Of course, at least in my opinion, the players on Full Tilt are stronger than on most other sites at the lower levels where I play.
I played two sessions of Razz on Full Tilt this weekend and doubled my $10 buy-in both times. I also played two sessions on Absolute and made money both times. We had a little harder time keeping a full table together on Absolute, but the play was pretty poor from what I could see.
After my “Quad-flop” from Friday night, I am finding it increasingly difficult to lay down J-10 suited in nearly any instance. I fully realize that playing that to two raises is not always a prudent move, but from what I’ve seen of the players at Dream Poker, respect for raises is reserved for “them” respecting my pre-flop raise, NOT vice versa. The re-raiser in the hand from Friday night when I flopped Quad 10’s had A-6 off-suit. Obviously, in bad position and without some sort of read on the players, I don’t make that call with J-10 in very many instances, but these guys were there to gamble, so I gambled with them. I felt like I could have gotten away from the hand post-flop had I not hit anything and with the size of their stacks, could almost certainly double up if I hit the flop hard, which is exactly what happened. (I nearly tripled up) So, in the end, my pre-flop call was a bit loose, I freely admit that, but knowing that I could lay it down post-flop and knowing what I know about the players at Dream, I think it’s probably a call I make about half the time. I was just extremely lucky that I called the raise this time.
The bankroll is on a bit of an “up-swing” as of late. I hesitate to call it an “up-swing” but it is climbing back into playability. I don’t, however, have any money on Ultimate Bet as of now and that pissed me off on Saturday night. SoxLover and Garth were patrolling the Triple Draw tables with a known fish of gigantic proportions. For those of you that don’t know, Triple Draw is like crack cocaine or crystal meth. Now, first off, I have very little knowledge of the game, having only played it a few times, but, that is often the case with nearly everybody at the table, SoxLover being the exception. He is also very much willing to help a brother out with a bit of strategy about the game, as well. Suffice it to say, when the opportunity arises, I will be re-depositing on Ultimate Bet, if for no other reason than to jump in a Triple Draw game on a drunken Saturday night.
I am 79 SNG’s deep into my personal challenge and plan to finish up the entire 100 in the coming weeks. My numbers are down from the last update, but the times that I have cashed (3 of the last 10) have all been 1st place finishes. I’ve got some work to do in the final 21, but am still pretty happy with my play. For instance, last Friday night, I busted out of a SNG on the very first hand. While I am not happy with the results, I made a solid read and forced my opponent to put all his money in looking for one of two outs in the deck. Of course, he hit his two-outer and I was sent to the rail, but most of the time (I don’t even want to think about the percentages) I double up on the first hand of the tournament. (K-K against 2-2, if you must know) Surprisingly, my reaction was poor this time. I felt the need to tell him how poor a play he made and ended up looking like the stalking tool I often write about on this blog. Finally, after blowing up, I closed that table, started another tourney and finished first in that SNG, so maybe I am making strides in dealing with these beats. I’m not proud of the way I reacted initially, but it didn’t affect my play for the rest of the night and for that, I am proud.
I think that dealing with tilt and with bad beats is something that a poker player never fully gets good at. At least in my case, I have been dealing with trying to handle them better for a few months now after my initial melt-down. While I am still not very good at it all the time, the learning process is making strides. I a still, on occasion, blowing a gasket, but, so far at least, I haven’t let it affect further play. I have logged off a couple of times and quit playing for the night right after a blow up, but I think that is a good thing, too. Determining when it will affect my play and when it won’t is half the battle, in my opinion. The key is to not let it affect future play and as long as that is the case, I can live with the occasional blow-ups. I would like to get to the point that it doesn’t affect me at all, but I will be the first to admit, I am not there yet. There is at least one full table at Full Tilt from Friday night that can attest to that fact.
I have an extremely busy next couple of weeks and will probably have less time than normal at the tables. My bowling league has started again on Tuesday nights and that was one of my best times to play, so that is out until at least 10:30 now. We also have a heavy booking for karaoke in the coming weeks, so that will put a damper on any weekend playing for the time being. We are at the lake for the next three weekends, as well, as it is drawing close to the end of summer and we want to take advantage of all the time possible to hit the water and have some fun. We can probably ride the jet-ski’s until at least the end of September, but the water starts getting pretty cold after that, so for the next 5-6 weeks, we will be down there at every opportunity.
That’s about all I have for today. I am going to try to do the Hoy and the Mookie this week, but I can’t make any promises. Tonight is a busy night, but I should be able to do Wednesday with no problems.(plus, that $22 buy-in is a bit rich for my “low-limit” blood right now) I’ll see what I can do about winning a sng prior to the start so I can join with no hits to the bankroll.
Have a good week.
posted by GaryC @ 4:54 PM, ,
Why Can't All Nights Start Like This???
Friday, August 18, 2006
First hand at a $20 NL table, I pick up Q-Q and get two raisers in front of me. I end up just calling and then raising on the river to drag a $16 pot. I didn't hit my Q, but it was an all-low flop and I just felt like they were full of shit and it turned out they folded to my river raise and I won.
I didn't have either of these fellows tagged yet, but they both had a little more in front of them than I did. (about $40)
About four or five hands later, I see J-10 suited in the small blind and the first fellow from earlier raises to $1 and the other guy re-raises on the button to $2.50. I make the call and the three of us see a flop of 10-10-10!
Suffice it to say, I slow-played my way into an $82 pot at the .10/.20 NL tables. It doesn't make much sense to me why we can't start every single night out just like this. Anybody agree?
posted by GaryC @ 7:07 PM, ,
I Wasn't FIrst Out!
Thursday, August 17, 2006
I played in the Mookie last night for a while. I actually lasted past the first break with an above average stack. Above average, that is, until I ran into my nemeses. BoobieLover and Marxst1 were at my table and I knew better than to get involved with either one of them, but get involved I did. That would be where “get involved” means calling bets, raises and all-ins with far inferior hands. 8-8 vs. Q-Q and 5-5 vs. A-10, you get the picture.
I actually played very well until the two hands, almost in succession, that bounced me from the tourney. I felt pretty good last night and actually had thoughts of a final table, but those all went up in smoke quickly. When I speak of Wes and Marx, I don’t mean to sound bitter because I’m not. It just seems like lately, those two are always the one that I end up being pwned by and I actually said out loud last night, “do your best to stay away from them.” Note to self, listen to what you say out loud, moron.
Rather than paying heed to my inner and outer voice, I, of course, call Marx’s all-in with only 8-8. He has Q-Q and I lose 2/3 of my stack. Then, two hands later, with only around 1300 chips, I push over the top of Wes’s raise with 5-5, knowing full well that Wes will call with any two cards. I was just hoping for the hammer again, but no such luck this time and I went out somewhere in the teens, I think.
I want to say thanks to Mookie for the spotlight last night, but here’s to hoping I don’t ever have to be there again. I had already decided that I was folding the first hand last night, no matter what it was. I think Duggles now gets the opportunity to be in the spotlight next week. I guess it has to be somebody, it just sucks when it is you!
I played 5 SNG’s last night toward my personal SNG challenge and monied in 2 of 5, but I made them count. I won both of those and bubbled out of one other while the heads up portion was happening in one of the other SNG’s. I have no doubt that I could have held on for the money if I hadn’t been involved in the other one at the time. Something to think about in the future maybe, only playing one at a time or staggering them so that I don’t end up at the end game at the same time. Here are my updated results:
37 of 65 - In the money - 57%
1st – 13
2nd – 9
3rd – 15
4th – 7
5th – 9
6th – 8
7th – 1
8th – 3
9th – 0
Entry fees - $396.00
Monies won - $526.00
Return On Investment – 33%
The overall challenge is still going pretty well and I am feeling pretty good overall about the numbers. There is certainly room for improvement and save for a couple of bad beats, they could already be a bit better, but still, I am happy thus far. I have decided to go through with this challenge to 100 SNG’s at the $5 level, mostly because of bankroll considerations at this point, but also to try and get a larger sample size before deciding to go further with this type of challenge. I’m very pleased with the relatively low number of “bubble” finishes for sure. The last time I tried to keep track of a significant number of tournament results, my 3rd and 4th place totals were much higher. The thing I learned from that experience was that I was too often trying to coast and/or fold into the money and while that is often times a solid strategy, it leaves you with too few chips to compete once you are in the money. My middle game has been much stronger this time around and I have gotten down to the money spots with more of a fighting chance to win the thing, more often than not.
One of my wins last night was an interesting match. I played A-Q from late position on the very first hand of the tournament. UTG raises to 120 and four of us see a flop of J-10-9. It checks around and the turn is a beautiful, or so I thought, 8. It checks to me and I lead out with a pot-sized bet. Only the original raiser calls my bet and the turn is a meaningless 2 and he suddenly leads out for all but 300 of my chips. I am doing my best to put this moron on a hand, but like I said, this is the first hand of the SNG. I just could not give him credit for K-Q, so I called and he flipped up K-Q and I was down to 300 chips after the very first hand.
I went into push mode immediately and luckily picked up several nice hands. I doubled up twice, but not before a huge scare. I raised my paltry 300 all-in after four or five limpers with A-6 suited. The same moron that cracked me on the first hand raises all 2800 of his chips over the top of me and does a fine job of isolating. Everyone else folds and the moron flips up A-4 off-suit. A dodged gut-shot on the river doubles me up and he gets a lot of WTF’s in the chat box. I put the “tag” on his ass after that hand and abused him for the rest of the tournament which………he bubbled out of and…….I came back to win! Tag your fish before they leave the table.
I am going to do the family thing tonight with the wife and daughter, so poker playing may be limited this evening. My daughter started school yesterday and her gymnastics class begins tonight also, so we will be spending an hour at the gym and then probably getting something to eat on the way home. I will probably try to sneak in a couple of tourneys after that though.
Have a good rest of the week.
posted by GaryC @ 2:56 PM, ,
Making Calls Knowing You Are Behind
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
As I was watching the WSOP Circuit Event last night on ESPN, I noticed a few times when players either A) made a big call knowing full well they were behind in the hand or B) finally laid down a hand to a big raise, because they knew they were well behind.
Not too long after see that on TV, I started thinking about applying some of those thoughts to my own game. I had joined a $20 NL table at DreamPoker and we had one particular big stack with well over $80, seated immediately to my left. He was raising every pot significantly and I started in on my big “trap” plan almost immediately.
I called him down with pocket 4’s on a scary board and won the pot. I then called him down with pocket 10’s and won another medium-sized pot. Suddenly, the big stack was cowering to my moves. He hadn’t stopped raising every pot, but he definitely slowed down if I was in the pot with him.
I then started to call a few of his raises with what I like to call “speculative” hands. First of all, I was playing at a 6-Max table and the other four players had less than $10 each in front of them. I love this scenario, as they are really looking to gamble usually and if I can take a coin flip with them for a little amount, I will do it most of the time, especially if I think I’m ahead pre-flop. Anyway, I started calling his pre-flop raises with cards I don’t play all the time at these tables…small suited connectors and suited one-gappers and the like.
I was making these calls knowing full well that I was behind, but that if I hit the flop extremely hard, I could likely double up off of the big stack. I still played my premium hands exactly the same way as always and several re-raises met with no resistance, but he was still looking to gamble.
I called a $1 pre-flop raise with J-9 Clubs one time and flopped a flush. He didn’t seem to believe me until I moved all-in over his re-raise. I made a wheel with 4-5 of Spades and again, got him to lay down his pre-flop raising monster. I ended up more than doubling up my buy-in, mostly from his stack and when I logged off, I think he was glad to see me go.
While sitting at the computer, following my Rangers choking off another game in the 8th inning, I started thinking about the concept of calling raises when you are positive you are behind and I came up with a few scenarios where I think I can use it to my advantage.
Playing in games where everybody knows your style, especially blogger games or a table where you have come in and cleaned house right off the bat (and the players are paying attention, seemingly) could allow you to speculate a bit more with less than premium hands. Chances are, most of the players are still going to give you credit for a hand and if they hit nothing on the flop, your opportunities for stealing pots become much more likely. Another plus to incorporating this into your game is this: The first time you flop a monster with one of these hands and actually have to show it down, your table image is immediately altered in your opponents’ eyes. (and hopefully all the other players at the table, as well) Suddenly, they will start to see you as a “lucky” player or a “very loose” player. These perceptions can be abused at the table for a good long while with solid starting hands.
I don’t recommend employing this strategy on a regular basis, nor do I recommend using it when out of position at the table, but it can be an extremely useful tool when used appropriately. Specifically last night, Daniel laid down two hands that I remember where he was behind, knew he was behind, but still at least felt like a call could have been made. Bryant King made a call with the bull-rider when he knew he was behind, but also knew that he had the best draw. It seemed like everybody at the table knew exactly what each other had and they either felt like gambling or they didn’t. Daniel was very impressive last night, laying down several hands to re-raises when he was the underdog and masterfully getting all of Wendall’s chips when he flopped and turned the nuts with his A-A. That Daniel is a tricky, solid player, I’ll give him that.
Remember, Mookie is tonight. I’m going to try and make it out for the tourney, if everything works out right. I’m also going to try and last more than two hands tonight, but I make no promises.
posted by GaryC @ 3:45 PM, ,
Origins Of My Interest
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I’ve said before here on these pages that watching Moneymaker win the WSOP in 2003 was the initial springboard into my playing poker on-line. That is both true and not true in many different ways. While I had never even heard of on-line poker before that event, my ties to poker and card games in general, go way back.
My family and I played Pitch and Spades as far back as I can remember. We also played Dominoes on a regular basis and the competition between my Mom and Dad and I really heated up as I got older and started to understand the game a little better.
When I went away to college, the gambling game of choice was Hearts. We would stay up for hours on end, when we should have been studying, drinking beer and playing Hearts for money. I loved the game even more than Spades or Pitch and became quite adept at “running them.” I played in a dorm room with 6 or 8 other guys and most of them were good players, so, you either learned the game quickly or you lost a lot of money.
When I got out of college, I found myself playing in a semi-regular poker game consisting of dealer’s choice games. We played between the sheets, Stud, with both high Chicago and low Chicago and a myriad of wild card games. Not once was Hold Em ever mentioned at my buddys’ games. In fact, other than a shot or two on ESPN on occasion, I had never even seen the game played. When I first watched the movie Rounders, I started to develop an interest in learning this game. Of course, back then, there was nobody playing Hold Em on a regular basis, at least not around here.
That all changed over the Thanksgiving break back in 2003. I spent nearly the entire weekend in a turkey induced coma, laying on the couch, watching every episode of Moneymaker’s run to the title. I loved his demeanor and his attitude. Of course, I also loved Sammy Farha’s calm and cool demeanor, as well, but one guy at that final table captured most of my attention. While Farha and Moneymaker were firing bluff after bluff at the other unsuspecting players, I watched Dan Harrington fold his way to a top three finish, outlasting various other professional players with much larger chip-stacks. My style was born right then and there and I didn’t even know it when it happened.
As soon as I got back home from Thanksgiving break, it seems everybody I knew was throwing together a home game or a Hold Em tournament of some sort. We were definitely not lacking for games and I found myself playing one or two nights a week, nearly every week. I also found myself developing my own little style and I came to realize, especially during the 2004 coverage of the WSOP, that I was playing tight, cautious poker, just like “Action” Dan Harrington. He went back to back in 03 and 04, making final tables both years in what was then, the two most participants ever in these events. A lot of folks considered this accomplishment to be at least the equivalent of winning two back to back in the old days.
So, that and my addictive personality are what have led me to where I am today. I still like to play Hearts on occasion, but find little thrill in it if there is no money involved. I’m also a puzzle freak. I do the Crossword, the Cryptoquote and the Sudoku in our paper every day. I don’t know about any of you, but those damn Sudoku puzzles are freakishly addictive. I’m thinking of joining a gambling league on-line just to do these puzzles.
Bowling league starts tonight, but with my swollen right ankle, I will probably be sitting out for a few weeks, at least.
Have a good week.
posted by GaryC @ 3:16 PM, ,
Monday, August 14, 2006
I got home from the lake yesterday after sustaining injuries on Friday night. We did karaoke at a little bar in El Reno on Friday evening before heading down and loading up the equipment proved to be a bit difficult. I walked out the back door of the bar in my boots, carrying a 109 lb. speaker and stepped directly off into a hole. SNAP! Would have been an understatement. After several minutes of jumping around and whimpering like a little girl (no offense to little girls) I decided I could make it through this and finished loading up the equipment. After the requisite stop at Taco Mayo for after-bar snacks, the wife and I started the 50 mile trek down to the lake around 2:30 am.
After making it down and picking up our daughter at the baby sitters’ house, we went to our trailer and pulled the jet ski’s out of the barn to hook them up to the battery charger. I wanted them fired up and ready to roll as soon as we woke up Saturday morning. Then came the ugly part, my wife attempting to remove the boot from my right foot. After what seemed like hours, she was finally able to work it off and we got to see the softball-sized knot that used to be my right ankle. I spent what was left of the night in the recliner, with ice on my ankle and my foot elevated as much as I could stand.
To make the long story short, the ice helped take the swelling down and I toughed it out on the lake all day Saturday and all night Saturday night at the bar. The beers were in abundance and it didn’t take long to forget that I was dragging around a huge weight at the end of my right leg. I was a bit sore Sunday morning and it is still swollen a bit, but the hard part is over now. I just have to get past the black and blue ugliness that used to be my right foot.
Anyway, on to “The Dream.” After getting home yesterday and taking a short nap, I got up ready to watch my favorite baseball team dominate the Seattle Mariners again and win their 5th straight game to try and stay in the race for the A.L. West. I am fully aware that my Rangers don’t have enough pitching to contend, but please, give me my dreams while they are still in the race. Speakers’ Athletics are just as hot as my Rangers, so they haven’t made up any ground to speak of lately, but they are playing better and I do love my Rangers. Now, on to “the Dream.”
So, after the game last night, I hit the sack, worn out from the weekends’ activities. I awoke from my dream about 2:00 am and it was the most vivid dream I’ve had in a long while. Of course, it involved a WSOP final table and millions of dollars, so, what better dream to have, right?
It was the Main Event and I had somehow won an entry into it, but could not be in Vegas for the entire time, so I had sent a replacement player. (probably against the rules, but it’s my dream, remember?) Anyway, I sent my buddy from here out with strict orders to “play tight and not be afraid to put his money in the middle if he thought he was ahead.” Apparently, my buddy was a stud at the poker table, because he called me after every round, explaining how he did and his chip count was steadily rising. Finally, down to two tables, I booked a flight and flew into Vegas just in time to start the next round.
I don’t remember a single hand from the first table, but people were busting out right and left and suddenly, we were moved to the final table. I don’t think I had played a single hand, but came to the final table with plenty of chips to play with. I wasn’t the chip-leader, but I was far from the short stack. The first hand I see at the final table is A-K suited and I make a standard 4x the BB opening raise. It is folded around to a big name pro (Esfandiari, I think) and he re-raises a bunch. I instantly move all-in and he folds rather quickly. It reminded me of the Johnny Chan scene in Rounders at the time, but I knew I was ahead, so I went for it. (Antonio fucking Esfandiari!)
That is when everything gets fuzzy, except for one small part: The money. I busted out in 5th place, but won $1,120,000.00 for my efforts. The final hand saw another pro trying to make a move on a pot and I called his all-in with A-9. His 3-5 was dominated until he caught two pair on the flop and made a boat on the turn.
I don’t remember my reaction, but I’d like to think I was a gracious loser…..probably not, in that particular instance. It was probably more like “I guess if there wasn’t luck involved, I’d win every one.” But, hey, it was my dream, so let’s pretend like I was a gracious loser.
All I can remember from then on was being joined by my family and trying to comprehend exactly how this “life-changing” money was going to impact our lives. More to the point, my wife and I were trying to figure out exactly how we were going to spend that much money. I think we had it figured out by the time I woke up.
My normal dream involves me rounding third base and being in complete slow-motion, like I’m running in quicksand, trying to score the winning run for my team, but inevitably, being thrown out at home because of the fucking quicksand. That would make this dream extremely special. Any time I don’t awake from a dream in a cold sweat it is a good thing, but last night’s dream was phenomenal. I can’t explain to you what kind of mood I woke up in because of it, but suffice it to say, it’s the best mood I’ve been in on a Monday morning in a long while. I hope it carries over to the tables tonight.
posted by GaryC @ 3:02 PM, ,
Beers and Lakes
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Imagine that cooler on the left, if you will, full of cold Keystone Light and floating between my wife and myself in the middle of the lake all freaking day on Saturday afternoon. That's what I have to look forward to just one day after tomorrow.
We have to do a little karaoke in El Reno on Friday evening, but are heading southwest to our little paradise as soon as the show is over and heading out to "Jet Boat Cove" to join up with our freinds as soon as we arise Saturday morning.
I hope everybody has as good a weekend as I am looking forward to. See you on Sunday.
A quick SNG update as well:
After a slow 2 days that saw me go 3 for 9 in the money on Tuesday and Wednesday, I sat down tonight with a renewed confidence.
6 for freaking 6 baby. Two 1st's, one 2nd and three 3rds.
Total stats for the challenge:
32 of 53 ITM = 60%
Looking better after two tough days.
posted by GaryC @ 7:24 PM, ,
Flaming fucking donk-tastic!
I played the Mook last night and set a new world record! Call Guinness, the book of world records, that is, not the BlogFather, for he would surely find amusement with my brilliant plays last night.
I lasted a grand total of two hands! That’s right, TWO fucking hands! How in the world, you ask, does the tightest player on the planet get all his chips in the middle on the second hand of the night and go home first out of 45? It was really fucking easy, let me explain.
I am UTG on the very first hand of the tournament and see A-K of Diamonds. I make a standard raise and get one caller. We see a rainbow flop that is Queen high. I fire a pot sized continuation bet and get called again. At this point, I am done with the hand and fold to a pot bet after the river.
Next hand, in the big blind, I find Q-Q and call a small raise along with 4 other players. We see a Jack high rainbow flop and before you can say, “the small raiser has Aces,” all our money is in the middle and IGHN. That’s all there is to it, I’m all about speed baby and that might have been the fastest exit in the history of blogger tournaments.
The funny thing is, I wasn’t even upset about it. I told the other player “NH” and I meant it. He played his Aces well and was going to get all my chips on that hand, regardless of how I played it. That’s poker and hell, I was ready for bed anyway. I just didn’t know HOW ready for bed I was, but it certainly didn’t take long to figure it out.
If that is not the definition of donk-tastic play, I don’t know what is. I know I’ve been the first person out of tournaments before, but I can’t remember the last time it happened so quickly. Looking back at the hands, unless I’m going to fold A-K suited under the gun or fold pocket Queens to a small raise pre-flop, I don’t see any way possible that I’m going to get away from those hands in those situations. Like I said, I wasn’t upset at all with my play or my opponents’ play, I’m pretty sure I would have done exactly what they did in that situation and I have also realized that I wouldn’t play those hands any differently in most instances. The good thing about the entire deal was how I handled it....THAT’S POKER!
Have a good weekend and I will see you next week.
If you have been living under a rock or something and would like to know what's happening at the final table at the WSOP, stop by Pauly's Tao of Poker for all the latest updates. He is doing a fantastic job as always and deserves all of our support. Thanks Pauly.
posted by GaryC @ 3:15 PM, ,
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Need I say more?
<------- Be there.
Google Searches Continued
I mentioned last week that I receive a lot of Google Search hits for this particular phrase, more or less:
“How to beat low limit poker.”
I even expounded on the thought and tried to give out a bit of advice, albeit advice best taken with a grain of salt. I don’t claim to be tearing up the on-line poker world, but have found a few successful strategies and have continued to stay “in the black” over the last two-plus years.
Now, maybe I’m missing something, but if I were searching for a site that might tell me how to beat the lower limits of on-line poker on a consistent basis, might I actually stop and read a bit of the author’s work if his web-site came up under my search? I’ve had no less than 5 hits in the last 24 hours searching this exact topic and each searcher spent exactly 0 seconds checking out my material.
Perhaps I am being a bit over-sensitive, but if it were me and I was actually searching for some help at the low limit games, I might want to see what this guy that calls himself the “Low Limit Grinder” has to say. Maybe he is completely full of shit and doesn’t know a damn thing about what he is trying to talk about or maybe he just gets lucky a lot and writes about a lot of bad beats. Maybe, maybe, maybe, but, if I were actually spending the time on a google search, perhaps a bit of reading might uncover the truth. 0 seconds……and we wonder why the population of fish is endless, it seems, in the on-line poker rooms.
Imagine with me, if you will, if the people that actually searched that term, actually stopped and read a few posts by say, me, or Jordan, or TripJax, or God forbid, they actually found their way to DoubleAs blog and actually shelled out the money to buy his book. The next time you or I sit down at a SNG table, we are facing our worst nightmare….5 or 6 people at the table, playing exactly like us! How in the world are we supposed to combat that? How would you like to face DoubleAs at a $5 SNG table? Believe me, I know what I’m talking about when I say this, you do NOT want to be sitting across from him at any table. Trust me, because I have sat at the tables with him a while back and was lucky to hold my own at the .01/.02 Pineapple tables with him two seats to my right. ;)
I, for one, am not worried about that scenario happening, because I know that these people are not willing to put in the time, studying, taking notes and playing the millions of hands that it requires to become a good poker player. These folks are out there looking for the quick score, much like the donkeys that buy in for $5 at a $50 NL table. They are there to gamble and try and double that money up very quickly, when, in all likelihood, they are just there to piss away $5.
The quick fix that they are looking for is simply not out there. Oh sure, you can go on a nice run and clean house for a while, but sooner or later, it all comes down to skill. Short term luck notwithstanding, a skillful poker player will make more money over the long haul than the luck box that is there to gamble. The guy that keeps track of his wins and losses, takes the time to read the books that are out there and spends the time at the tables will eventually become a winning player at these limits. It is inevitable that they will either start winning if they do these things, because right now, there are so many bad players out there, even marginally decent players with a small set of skills can consistently beat these games. I speak from experience here.
I would like to know where some of these guys get the money to just throw away as quickly as they do. I, for one, am playing at the $20 and $50 NL tables out of necessity, not necessarily because I want to. I would much rather be playing for higher stakes, but that is simply not possible right now with my bankroll. Night after night, I see the same people on the same tables, blowing through another two stacks of chips before finally leaving the table. I assume they are just there to “have a good time” no matter what and have no care at all about the money, but are there really that many people out there with that much disposable income lying around that they can just throw away $100 night after night? I saw a guy last night get stacked twice for $100 each time on the very first hand he played both times. He then re-loads a 3rd $100 and goes on a huge run to build it up to almost $600. About an hour later, he got stacked again and was down $300 for the night at that table alone. I wish I had that kind of money lying around.
It seems to me that the people out there looking for good information can certainly find it all over the internet. Perhaps their idea of low limits and my idea of low limits are two completely different things? Maybe I should be the Micro-Limit Grinder instead and save all these searchers a little time and hassle. That way they wouldn’t even have to bother clicking on my link, just to immediately hit the back button on their browser. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Chat Box Abuse
I’m also going to talk about something today that is really starting to wear me thin. There are so many “$5 Pros” out there at the SNG’s that I play that feel it is absolutely necessary to talk shit, abuse other players, table-captain, etc. I’ve got news for you folks, that ain’t the way to go about it.
We had a guy just last night that took a typical “two-outer bad beat” early in the tournament, but felt it was necessary to hang around the table until 8 other players got knocked out, abusing the guy that sucked out on him. Trust me when I tell you this, YOU look like the jackass for hanging around a table that long when you could already be in another tournament. Take your bad beat like a man and leave the table. The guy knows that he sucked out on you and most times, they actually feel bad about it, as was the case with this guy. He apologized before the hand was over, for pete’s sake. You had him trapped but good and he fell for your tricky play and it blew up in your face. Sorry for your luck, now shut up and go join another tournament and bless another table with your wondrous knowledge of the game of poker.
I was in a recent SNG with another typical player at these levels. He was no table captain, but apparently he had played one on TV recently. He was letting everybody know how poorly they played every single hand and why, in his own words, “this was going to continue all night long.” (referring to himself running over the table) Here’s a newsflash for you brother, when you act like that and nobody at the table says anything back to you in the chat box, every single one of them is gunning to trap your ass, I promise you. Every player at the table will be biding their time, just waiting for the chance to trap you in a hand and bust your ass, so you’d best be careful what you say in the chat box. It’s been my experience that these types normally go out fairly early, well before the payouts arrive.
I also had a female player in a recent SNG that apparently thought she was the best player on the planet, as well. She would constantly taunt players while the hand was still going on with “Haha, I just got lucky” or “do you really not think I have a King?” By the time somebody finally trapped her, we were down to 4 players, but the other player stacked her, putting the rest of us in the money. Of course, her mood changed a bit then and she turned into the demonic stalker in the chat box.
My Grandma used to have a saying that is of particular use in this situation: “If you don’t have anything good to say, keep your fucking mouth shut!” I will leave it at that.
Have a good night and join the Mookie if you have the time. Good times, I promise.
posted by GaryC @ 3:11 PM, ,
SNG Challenge Stats
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I haven’t updated my statistics on my SNG challenge in a while, so I thought I would take a minute today to go over some numbers. I am keeping a pretty detailed spreadsheet and am going to continue to do so for a while yet. I like the results so far and they bear out what I already felt was certain. I can definitely beat the $5 SNG’s on a regular basis and in a short while, will be moving up to the $10 level to try my luck.
38 SNG’s played so far – all at the $5 + .50 level.
23 In The Money finishes thus far – 60% ITM.
-I like this number so far. It could still be higher with a bit of luck here and there, but I am pleased with 60%.
$209.00 spent in entry fees.
$315.50 in monies won.
-If my math is correct, that makes my Return On Investment 66%. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Here’s a breakdown of the finishes thus far:
1st – 6
2nd – 8
3rd – 9
4th – 4
5th-7th – 11
8th-10th – 0
I really like the fact that I have absolutely 0 finishes in the 8 through 10 spots. This shows me that I have been very patient and have resisted the urge to really gamboool early on in any SNG.
That being said, I wanted to discuss a hand from a SNG that I played just last night. Keep in mind that this is the very first hand of the tournament.
I am in the big blind with A-J of diamonds and only one limper ahead of me. I bump it to 70 to go and he makes it 150. I smooth call the re-raise and we see a flop of 3-diamonds, 5-diamonds and 6-diamonds. I quickly check out of position and he fires another 150, which I just smooth call. The turn is the Jack of Spades and again, I check to him. He bets out 350 and I min-raise him to 700. He pushes the rest of his chips into the middle with 6-6 and my Flush holds up. The first hand ends and I have 3010 in chips and one guy already out. I can’t see a much better start than that!
I also like the total of 4 in the fourth place finishes. The last time I kept track of any significant amount of tournaments, my bubble finishes were much higher. This tells me that I am playing a more aggressive middle game and have been getting down to the bubble with more ammunition than I have in the past.
Obviously, this is not a huge sample, but I am very pleased with the results so far. I played three tourneys yesterday and, but for two bad beats, would have had a 1st and two 2nds. Instead, I got two 2nds and a 3rd. It finally appears like I am getting over the “bad-beat tilt” that I’ve been dealing with for the last month or so. It still pisses me off to no end, but getting pissed off and letting it affect your play are two different things and I seem to have the latter under control much better these days. It certainly takes some getting used to and some experience in dealing with it to be able to put it behind you, but the sooner you can put a bad beat behind you, the sooner you can get back to playing winning poker. I’m a firm believer in that and am doing my best to not let it affect my future play.
I think I am going to go to a total of 50 tournaments at this level before making the jump up to the $10 SNG’s. With my bankroll on the rise slightly, I should be able to afford it by then if my numbers hold up. The rise in bankroll has not been dramatic, but it has been steadily climbing in the right direction as a result of this little SNG experiment.
The bankroll has also seen a bit of a rise due to the bonus chasing I’ve been doing through PokerSourceOnline. I finished up PokerShare last week and booked around a $200 profit there and have since started DreamPoker and am currently ahead around $75 and nearly halfway finished with the requirements. Once that one is finished I will have $150 worth of gift certificates added to my bankroll in short order. That doesn’t sound like a lot of money to most, but it will be a nice little hit to my struggling roll.
With my increased confidence in my tournament ability, I am also thinking of taking a few shots at some MTT’s in the near future. The cash game grind of clearing bonuses certainly gets boring after a while and so far, the SNG’s have served as a nice little break from that grind. I think perhaps I will play two SNG’s simultaneously at the start of the evening and should I money in both of them, maybe take a shot at a MTT if I can find one to my liking. Of course, I plan on doing the same thing on Wednesday nights to join the Mookie also, but the MATH tourney on Mondays will not be in my near future until I build up a little padding on Stars. I apologize for that, but $20 is just too steep right now. I’ll be back soon with a vengeance, I give you my word on that.
The wife and I are going to be joining some friends out on the lake this weekend for some extracurricular activities. Many beers will be consumed, many karaoke songs sang and much time spent in the sweltering heat of the Oklahoma summer. We are in the midst of our hottest summer in recent memory and there does not appear to be much relief in sight. It’s a damn shame when 99 degrees is a welcome respite from the 103 degree average we have experienced over the last several months. It’s not too bad when you are motoring across the water, but just sitting still out on the lake it feels like a hot bath. Like I said, MANY beers will be consumed this weekend.
I also want to send out a big thank you to everybody that stopped by my buddy Neil’s web-site and offered some words of encouragement. I remember how it was when I first started out and it makes a big difference when you get some comments from people that have been doing it for a while. Thanks again.
I plan on trying to play the Mook tomorrow night, so join me if you will.
posted by GaryC @ 3:27 PM, ,
Monday, August 07, 2006
I'm going to dedicate this post to my newest reader, Neil, from www.geekster.org. He sounds like all the rest of us out here just trying to make some scratch from our wonderful hobby. Please go by and leave him a comment if you get time.
I am by no means an authority on poker advice, but I will give you my 2 cents worth.
First off, some of the questions you ask about don't have any real answers that can be conveyed from me or from any other poker player, for that matter. They are very personal questions that can only be overcome through trial and error on your part.
How to play better poker?
Read books, study strategy posts on every blog out there, watch it on tv and finally, just play. Even if you are playing for play money or for very low stakes, play poker. Experience is gained through participating and watching (and applying) everything you see at the tables to your own game. My advice may be very good for one player, but yet not be worth a nickel to the next player. The critical point is to take all the advice out there and apply it to your indiviual game in order to find out what works for you. Only you can decide that and only you can pick out the good advice from the bad advice.
Avoiding tilt is something that every poker player the world over has to work at and learn to overcome. If you read my last two months' worth of posts, you will know that I am wrestling with that same problem and there is no simple solution. It takes your own experience and experimenting with many different options to be able to overcome it. Alot of times, the best medicine is to log off immediately. Easy to say, not so easy to do, I know.
You are at least one step toward heading in the right direction, as you have realized what happened and are now looking for a solution to the problem. I hope you don't think any of us can tell you what to do in order to handle it, because there is no cut and dried answer. Take your break, that always does my game alot of good. I like that you are re-reading some poker books, it never hurts to re-read something that you have found useful in the past.
Some other tips for you: (remember, take them for what they are worth)
-Try a different game. Either move away from Hold Em for a while or if you are playing ring games, move to sng's or vice versa. Mix in a little diversity into your game to change things up. If you've never played Stud, Omaha or Razz, use the time you are taking away from poker right now to study up on a new game. When you return, you will have a clearer head and be ready for the challenge of a new game.(as well as being armed with a bit of strategy, hopefully)
-Set aside XX amount of dollars and buy into a higher-limit game than you are used to playing. Play tight and watch the play at the table, but play poker. Know that the buy-in may go away (quickly) but use it as a learning experience and realize that even at the higher limits, the players still suck out and for the most part, the play is close to the same as at your regular limits.
Finally, there is a term in poker know as "variance" and believe me, variance is a bitch! This is something that you have to be able to live with in order to continually make money at this hobby that we all love. Bad beats and variance happen to every single player at every single limit out there on a regular basis. The key to playing solid, winning poker is found in how you learn to deal with the hard times. I promise you, the good times are that much sweeter when you finally get away from the variance.
Hang in there and good luck to you.
posted by GaryC @ 9:59 AM, ,
One Outer For The Home Team!
Sunday, August 06, 2006
I finally hit one of those son-of-a-bitchin’ one-outers on somebody else, instead of vice-versa Thursday night. Oooooh, was that guy pissed. I was playing 1-2 Limit Stud on DreamPoker, working on clearing my bonus requirements, when I stumbled into a huge hand.
I had (K-J) K and raised in early position. Damn, it was capped before it got to me and 6 of us saw another card.
My next card was a J giving me (K-J)K,J and a solid two pair, but I also saw that one of my other Kings was out on the board. Oh well, with the odds in this pot and possibly three outs, I had to give it a shot.
Long story short, one of my opponents made his full house on the 5th card, but I caught the case King on the river to make a bigger full house and rake a huge pot that saw three other players all-in. It turns that one of the other two Jacks would have made me a winner as well, so I don’t really see me getting away from this hand with so many people in it and my holdings. The table broke up quickly after that because three people busted on the hand and the guy with the full house was unloading. That was too bad too, because I really wanted to play with him some more. He was a tilting maniac at that point, but did not rebuy.
Score one for the good guys!
posted by GaryC @ 5:39 PM, ,
Back In The Swing For A Couple Of Days
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Well, the last few days have felt pretty good. After finally finding some sort of inspiration to blog about, I’ve been pretty pleased with the outcome. I’ve been playing a lot the last few days, which always puts me in a better mood and in more of a mood to write something down to transfer to these pages. It hasn’t really been any earth-shattering news but hopefully, somebody can find some use for the blatherings of a low limit idiot.
I played in the Mookie and went out in typical laughing-hyena fashion. I doubled up early on with a big blind special of 9-4 off-suit and a flop containing two 9’s. I built my stack up to around 4K and was among the leaders at the first break, but my downfall came soon after moving to a new table.
The first hand that hurt was a pre-flop raise with the HAMMER! I had to lay it down to avoid a 50-50 coin flip with Waffles and his A-A. I ended up pushing with 4-4 and hoping Waffles had just two overs…and he did….a Q…..and another Q. Whooops! I went out somewhere in the middle of the pack, which I guess is better than going out early or on the bubble. It still pisses me off when I play like a donkey, but playing in these blogger events tend to make me feel like a donkey every time I bust out. Good times, though, thanks Mook.
This will be my last post for a few days as I am heading down to the lake on Friday evening after work. I’m looking forward as always to getting away from the city for a few days and playing on the water and at the bar.
I started clearing the PSO requirements at Poker Dream last night and so far, it appears that it won’t take long at all to earn the 600 raked hands. I played for a couple of hours last night and cleared almost 100 already, so three good sessions ought to finish that one off. It is part of the Prima Network, so it is the same as Royal Vegas, Poker Rewards, etc. Many European players and not so many Americans, which, in my humble opinion, is a good thing at the low limit tables. I had a guy bluff $20 into me with a Jack high last night.(He called me with Jack high!) I will never understand that, but I don’t mind when they do it.
As soon as I finish the PSO requirements I will be re-installing the infamous Party Poker on my desktop and giving their low limit tables another go. I had sworn them off in the past after busting not once….not twice…..but three separate times on that freaking site. This time, I will be stationing myself at the $25 NL tables for a while in an effort to build up some coin and take a few shots at some of their juicier tournaments. There is nothing about Party that particularly disturbs me, I just haven’t had any success there in the past, other than their SNG’s, which used to have the worst structure on the internet. (I hear that has changed and am eagerly anticipating finding out for sure)
Thanks to everybody for the nice words about yesterday’s post. I’m not sure I said exactly what I was trying to say, but it felt good to bang out a little strategy and find out that some people got what I was trying to say. Obviously, with all the strategies and tactics in play at a poker table, a player has to adapt each and every type to his or her own playing style. Some things discussed here will definitely not work for a more aggressive player, just as the aggressive strategies don’t seem to work too well for me.(The Rock! Except when I get pocket 4’s)
The key to playing solid, winning poker over the long haul is to take a little bit from here and a little bit from every source that you are reading and adapt it all into your own style. Making all the tips and hints work with your own style is the only way to become a winning player, so, that being said, take my advice with a grain of salt. Like I said, it works for me for the most part, but that does not mean that it will work for you
A little bonus-whoring discussion:
Having jumped back in feet first into the PSO bonuses lately, I thought I would discuss a few options when it comes to joining a new site with the sole intent to pick up your bonuses and pack your bags.
A lot of these sites offered up on PSO and VPP do not have the high traffic that the bigger sites have, thus they are offering up extremely good deposit bonuses for first time players. PokerShare offered up a 100% match to go along with the PSO promotions and DreamPoker has offered up a 120% match. The play-thru requirements are fairly high, but not undoable if you remain cognizant of the fact that you are there to earn your bonuses.
When I start at a new site, I start out very slow and very low, even if the play-thru requires you to play at a certain level, I almost always start out at a very low level in order to get used to the bells and whistles of each individual site. Nothing worse than clicking what you think is the fold button and mistakenly calling someone’s all-in bet instead. Doh! I spend at least three or four orbits getting used to the speed of the software and locating the fold, bet and raise buttons and familiarizing myself with the site as a whole. I also use this time to change any options that I want to change.(Normally only the 4 color deck option, but there can be more)
After I’ve gotten comfortable, I go into full bonus-clearing mode. I decide which game is going to be my bonus-clearer and I go to work. Deciding on the game can be a difficult decision sometimes, but after you’ve done a few of them, you will have a better idea of what you want to play and how fast each of the different games will allow you to clear the bonus. Here are a few examples:
At PokerShare, they had absolutely zero traffic at the Stud tables. (at least the lower limit Stud tables) I like Stud as a bonus-clearing option because if the site maintains that you have to contribute to the pot for it to count as a raked hand, your ante on every hand serves that purpose. Playing 7-card Stud requires a certain amount of knowledge of the game and I don’t recommend you try it if you’ve never played Stud, but once you have a handle on the game, it is a fantastic opportunity to make money and clear bonus hands at the same time. Some of the sites don’t require that you contribute to the hand for it to count to your total, but for the ones that do require your contribution, check out some Seven Card Stud, it’s a good game, you contribute every single hand and the players are not very good, for the most part.
So, since PokerShare did not have any Stud games going on, I quickly decided on the 6-max $50 NL tables as my best option to clear the hands. After a three hour session, I figured that I could finish the PSO requirements in one weeks time, if I were to two-table $50 NL most of the time and that is exactly what I did.
The next question is this: Why 6-Max instead of full ring game?
While it is true that you will pay more blinds more often at the 6-max tables, I chose them exclusively because of the amount of traffic and the amount of donkeys I witnessed in my first session at Share. The play was horrendous and I figured that I could turn a profit on top of the bonuses and I was exactly right. I booked a solid $200 win on top of the bonuses from the site and from PSO, which is an incredible 12000 PSO points right now. I highly recommend doing the PokerShare bonus through them right now. Easy money.
Most folks advocate loosening up your starting hand requirements at the 6-max tables or face blinding down to death in a slow and tortuous fashion. I am of the opposite opinion, at least at PokerShare. I think when you are playing with comparable players or what you would consider “good” players, then you have to loosen up in order to maintain some sort of table image. They will notice that you aren’t playing very many hands and bully you around all day long. Conversely, at the 6-max tables on Share, I would often fold around for two or three orbits, yet whenever I felt the need to raise, like with A-A, two or three of those donkeys paid absolutely no attention to the fact that I hadn’t played a hand in the last 20 and that I was UTG. I was handsomely rewarded time and time again with my big hands and even at the very aggressive tables, I was able to trap some of them into paying me off.
DreamPoker looks as if it will be a Stud site for me while I am there clearing my latest bonus. It is only 600 raked hands and as I said earlier, I cleared nearly 100 hands last night in less than three hours, mostly at the .50/1.00 Stud table. They seem to only have one of them going, but it stayed busy enough the entire time I was there.
I can’t stress enough the benefits of the bonus sites, such as PokerSourceOnline and VegasPokerPro. They are offering you the opportunity to add more value to something that you are already doing. If you are playing on-line poker for real money, their bonus prizes, along with the increased deposit bonuses from most of their sites, more than make up for the fact that the room doesn’t have a ton of traffic. It is an excellent way to increase your bankroll without having to risk a lot up front. I’ve only had to re-deposit one time in order to clear bonuses and that was a long time ago at PokerRoom.
I’ve learned a lot since then about patience, position etc. that I have discussed here the last couple of days and so far, I have been able to put what I’ve learned to good use in the bonus clearing situations. Remember, when you are clearing bonus requirements, you don’t want to be taking coin flips and gambling the entire time, because that will catch up with you, especially at the lower limits. Sit back and relax and wait for the big hands, because they will come and there will almost always be a braying donkey sitting there at your table, willing to pay you off every single time.
Hee haw bonus chasers!
I got abused in the chat box last night for being a fish. The guy that did the abusing was from across the pond and he certainly did not like my play.
Here’s the set up:
I’m in the big blind with +/- $20 in chips. The pre-flop raiser raises from .20 to 1.40. One guy ahead of me calls and I make the call.(getting better than three to one, if my math is correct) I have Q-10 of Clubs. The flop comes out Jack-Clubs, 9-Clubs and 7-Diamonds.
EP checks and I check also, knowing full well that he is going to bet. I don’t want to scare him off yet, but I am hoping to make my hand on the turn in order to check-raise then. He bets $2.00 and the first guy folds. $2 to call in a pot of $6.20 still seems like the math says call, so I call with my monster draw.
The turn brings a beautiful Club, but it is the 7 of clubs. I lead out and bet the pot and the raiser moves me all-in for my last $15 or so. I make the call, still feeling like I’m ahead and he flips over K-K. I was a little surprised that he was as strong as he was, but indeed, I was ahead.
The river was the King of Clubs, adding insult to injury and giving him his full house and me the straight flush. He was hopping mad, as I probably would have been in his situation, but I still feel like I had the proper odds to call the whole way. Yes, I was drawing, but when somebody is acting strong and you have a monster draw, don’t the implied odds dictate that you call? Especially when you are getting the correct odds to call in the first place?
I would like some feedback from some of you math guys out there, because I am not and have never claimed to be a math expert. The action often happens entirely too quick at the on-line tables for me to figure out if I’m getting proper odds to call. I talked a little about the math yesterday, but again, I am no expert and am much more of a feel player than a math guy. I know most of the percentages and how to figure out the pot odds, but would like your feedback on how I played this hand and if indeed, I am a fish. (I already know I’m a fish, so you can skip that part of the question)
I'm out-hope everybody has a profitable weekend.
posted by GaryC @ 4:02 PM, ,
Never Look A Gift Donkey In The Mouth
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
First off, I'm playing the Mookie tonight and you should as well. Good times and good blogger friends, not to mention the quotes that can come out of the chat box. Be there.
I played last night for several hours and was stuck on PokerShare, since my withdrawl had not hit Neteller yet. I took a couple of beats and made a couple of dubious calls and was quickly down $40 or so. I scratched and clawed but was making no headway, so I left Share and joined a SNG at Full Tilt. I ended up winning the SNG and toward the end, I got an IM from Weak_Player to join a blogger ring game on Stars. What the hell, I thought? What the hell indeed. It was indeed a tough table, featuring the likes of Weak, SoxLover, Katitude, Kaellin and 23Skiddoo.(sorry, don't have the link) I bought in short due to lack of fundage on Stars and was quickly sent to the rail when my A-K found a worthy adversary in Kat’s A-A. Doh! Damn tough table and I was not going to rebuy there. $10 is fine, but I can’t see putting any more into that game, although the chat was freaking hilarious the entire time.
When I got there Weak had some poor schmo so worked up that he went bust with 9-7. Of course, they were soooted, so he had that going for him. Sir Mike was playing the role of table captain before my arrival and thought that he was going to abuse Weak in the chat box, that is, until we all started hammering away on his unsuspecting ass. He shut up rather quickly after that. Good times, oops, wrong chat box!
So, I am down for the night now, what to do? I fire Share back up and scan the $50 NL tables and sure enough, I find a good one with notes on two donkeys and take my seat. One of these donkeys has over $200 in front of him, so I am licking my chops. I ended up playing back at him too hard twice very early on and he saw fit to stay out of my way.
Eventually we work our way down to three handed with donkey #1 holding $200+ and donkey #2 holding around $70, about the same as I have. We trade blinds for a while and I finally raise from the button with A-9. Only donkey #2 calls and the flop comes out with a non-scary A-8-5. He checks and I bet the pot……smooth call. The turn is another 8 and he checks again and I again bet the pot……..smooth call. The river is a 7 and donkey #2 immediately moves the rest of his money (about $45) all-in. I think for a minute and trust my instincts and my read and call. He had A-3 and gifted me almost $70, thinking I would lay down my Ace.
I certainly could have gone broke there, but I trusted my read and my instincts and it helped that I had him tagged, but it was still a tough call. I sure am glad I made it though and I am never one to look a gift donkey in the mouth!
I want to send out some thank you’s to a few people who have been checking in on me lately. Believe me, I am okay and will soon be back in the swing of things just like the old days. I got myself in a little rut, personally, but I am clawing my way back out of it and trying hard to get back to the way things were. Trip, Jordan, Surflexus and everybody that has stopped by the blog and left me a comment, I really appreciate it folks. It’s nice to know that a few people notice when you are gone and care enough to want to know what’s up. I appreciate the thoughts and look for me to be back with a vengeance before long. Maybe not quite full time like before, but I will be back in the mix soon. Thanks again for the kind words and well wishes.
I’ve had a ton of hits lately from Google searches, mostly all with the same theme:
“How to beat low limit no limit poker games”
Folks, with all the information at your fingertips on the internet and in book stores these days, if you still have to ask how to beat the low limits, I have a newsflash for you: You can’t beat the low limits!
There are many factors that would come into play, but the fact of the matter is this: If you have been trying to play poker on-line at the low limits and had no success, you probably won’t start seeing any more success any time soon. It takes time, experience, knowledge and yes, (SHOCK) even a little bit of good fortune to stay ahead of the game, even at its’ lowest limits.
Obviously, the more experienced and better prepared you are, the easier it will be to continually rake pots, but time and time again, you can get your money in with the best of it, be it 60% to 40% or 80% to 20% and you can still go broke. It happens every day to good players and bad players, donkeys and sharks, all day, every day.
The first thing you need to realize at the lower limits is that all the fancy moves that you’ve seen on TV should be tossed right out the window. Unless you want to end up with a J-10 against K-K like Pham against Hachem last night, you should leave the tricky plays for more experienced professional players at live tables and in big tournaments. The players at the low limit tables will simply not lay down a hand if they have any piece of the flop or any kind of draw, be it gut-shot or runner-runner.
There is no easy answer for “How to beat the low limit cash games on-line.” The uber-simple answer is this: Get your money in with the best of it, time and time again, and then hope like hell that your hand holds up. Make solid decisions based on your reads at the table and stick to some pretty strict starting hand requirements and you can keep yourself out of a lot of trouble and keep yourself from facing hard decisions for all your chips. You always want to be the guy that is making the other players make tough decisions, not vice versa. This does not mean bluffing big a ton of times to put pressure on somebody else, because sooner or later, somebody is going to catch on to that and slow-play you right out of your stack. It happens all the time at the lower limits and is one of my main strategies when I find a hyper-aggressive player.
Aggression is a key component to being a successful poker player, but over-aggression is a sure recipe for getting stacked by a tight-box like me. Granted, I leave lots of bets on the table a lot of times because of my conservative nature, but when I run into a hyper-aggressive player and my money goes in the pot, he’s usually drawing dead and I’m doubling up. There is a fine line between over-aggresssiveness and just the right amount of aggression. This varies from player to player and there is no exact science to figuring out which side of the scale you need to be on. You are the only person that can determine if aggression works for you or if you are more conservative, like me.
I have tried adjusting my play during tournaments and have had mixed results. If I get good cards, it is pretty easy to play the part of aggressive gambler, but when the deck is running cold, there is not much strategy involved for me. Sure, I pick my spots to bluff-steal, in late position and entering the pot first or firing at orphan pots when there is a scary board and nobody else appears interested in buying it, but for the most part, if I raise, I have a hand, otherwise, I fold. My reputation in the blogging community is that of tight-box or rock. I don’t mind that reputation in the least. I usually get respect for my raises, whether or not I’m holding the goods and that works for me. Conversely, that same reputation also costs me some action at the tables, as well, but learning how to manipulate pots and players when you are weak-tight is a necessary weapon to have in your arsenal. Manipulation is something that is only learned after countless hours of actually trying to do it, there is no way in the world someone can sit down and explain how to manipulate a pot or another player in one session. It is something that is learned, not taught and only comes with experience.
The next thing I would like to discuss and one of the first major lessons I learned when I started to play on-line a lot is that of position. Position at the table is the single biggest factor in whether or not you can take a pot away from somebody. I consistently fold decent holdings (K-Q, K-10 suited,e tc.) when UTG or UTG + 1 just because I know I will be out of position the entire hand and playing a hand out of position requires an inordinate amount of skill that is only learned through experience. I’m still not very good at it and avoid it at all costs. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but for the most part, I’m only playing top 10 hands from early position.
On the contrary, those marginal hands that I immediately throw away in EP, I might raise with in LP. You have so many more options when you have position on your opponent for the entire hand. It is much easier to make a standard raise with a marginal hand, in an attempt to steal the blinds, but then fold that same hand quickly when faced with aggression from another player. It is also easier to put the out of position player to the test. Short of the EP player pushing all his chips in the middle after the flop, you have many options with which to deliver information to your opponent. Small bets look weak and big bets look like steals. This is where manipulation comes into play and the players that are good at it consistently beat the players who are being manipulated.
So, in short and in my humble opinion, the way to beat low limit games on-line boils down to a few basic things:
1) Stick to a strict set of starting hands.
2) Don’t chase draws for the most part.
3) Don’t be afraid to put your money in the middle if you think you have the best hand.
4) Play position poker-this cannot be stressed enough and is one of the most important aspects at the table.
There you have it, my take on how to beat the low limit poker games on the internet. Not everybody is going to agree with me, but I can tell you from experience at the low limit tables, that it will work over time. It might not work for you, but it has worked for me on a consistent basis over the last two years.
I talked a little bit about manipulation earlier and wanted to try and expound on it a little bit here. When I talk about manipulation at the poker table, I am talking about a couple of different things.
First, I am talking about manipulating your opponent into doing something that is to your benefit. Whether you are holding nothing and trying to get your opponent to lay down his hand or whether you are holding the nuts and trying to entice him into making a tough call, if you are good at manipulating people, you can do it, even in the virtual rooms of on-line poker.
There are many tells in on-line poker, like how quick somebody acts or doesn’t act or their talkativeness in the chat box, but the most important tell, in my opinion, is the sizes of bets and what each bet may or may not mean. For example, over-bets at pots after river can often mean weakness or missed draws. Conversely, they can also mean that the player is holding the nuts and trying to entice a call from his opponent by making it appear that he is trying to buy the pot. Manipulation at its’ finest. The key to it, again, in my humble opinion, is to be the player doing the manipulating and not the player being manipulated.
That is most often something that is easier said than done. Countless times, I’ve played a hand to the river, thinking the entire time that I was manipulating my opponent and I was actually being manipulated by him. Doh! The importance of being able to “read” the other player cannot be stressed enough. You have to have some idea what he is trying to do and be able to tell quickly when you’ve been had. Saving as many bets when you are being manipulated is of utmost importance. In a SNG, it can be the difference between busting out and living to fight another day.
I’ve mentioned in the past my “reputation” of being a rock or tight-box, at least at the blogger tables. I take this as a compliment, especially from the bloggers that I play with and against on a regular basis. I have tried from the beginning to emulate Dan Harrington circa WSOP 2003 and tried to pattern my play after his tight-box image. With this “tight” reputation, playing pots and maximizing the value of your good hands becomes much more work than the average aggressive player.
Because I am not involved in many pots, I am generally raising when I do come into the pot. Playing, say an average of 12- 14% of the hands in any given tournament, this generally means I have a big hand when I make a raise. Most of the bloggers I play against realize this and give me credit for a strong hand most of the time. This does not mean that I don’t get played back at, it simply doesn’t happen very often. In order to get some value and stack up some chips, I have to send out false information in the form of reverse tells, if you will. I want them to think my actions indicate one thing, when in fact they indicate the exact opposite.
There are several ways to accomplish this. The main way I go about this is to bet slightly less than pot or ½ pot amounts. This is a classic sign on-line that the original raiser has a strong hand, but is vulnerable to the flop or has missed the flop completely. I will often use this betting strategy when I have really nailed a flop, in hopes of keeping my opponent around or better yet, urge him to make a play at the pot by coming over the top of my weak bet. It doesn’t work all the time, but when it does, they usually never even saw it coming.
Another on-line tell that can be used in your favor is the massive over-bet of the pot. Say you are holding A-A and make a standard 4-5 times the Big Blind raise and see a rainbow flop containing an Ace. Your opponent checks it to you and you have a decision to make. Now, before I continue, you are not likely to make any more money on this hand in this situation anyway, but, if you can manipulate your opponent into thinking that the flop scared you, perhaps, you can still get paid off. The first thing I do after that flop is check right behind my opponent….and I check quickly to make it appear that I had clicked on the check/fold button. The speed of the check is very important here in order to convey that you are indeed scared of that Ace. After the turn, I feel like you have to bet and here you have two choices: Very small bet, perhaps less than half the pot or thereabouts, to hopefully entice a call from your opponent OR a quick move all-in. This all-in will only be called on very rare occasions, but in this instance, it is so unlikely that you are going to get paid off anyway, it is worth a shot.
The second type of manipulation is the manipulation of the pot. Many, many players, pro’s and amateurs alike, use pot odds and implied odds to at least partly determine their actions on a given hand. The math is a very important part of the game and a part that we should all learn to use if we are going to be winning poker players.
Manipulating the size of the pot is simply put, giving your opponent the correct odds to make the call. I’m not going to go into detail here on the math portion, because there is great literature out there that explains it far better than I could ever do it, but basically, you want to bet the amount of money that will keep your opponent “priced” into the hand when you are holding a monster. By manipulating the size of the pot, you make it the “correct” play for him to call, even if he knows he is behind. On-line and at the low limit tables that I play, this is not something that is a huge concern, because perhaps 1 of 20 players at that level are even semi-concerned with their pot odds, but as you move up in limits, you will run into more and more players determining their move by what the math tells them to do.
As you develop the skills to coerce players into calls when they should fold or better yet, re-raising you when they should obviously fold, you will become increasingly aware that other players are trying to do the same to you all the time. Whether it be a cash game or a NL tournament, manipulating your opponents is an invaluable asset to any good poker player.
Wow, a bit uber-ish today, huh? Sorry about that, but maybe the rut is getting smaller and hopefully I'm on the way back.
posted by GaryC @ 3:09 PM, ,