Sunday, February 27, 2011

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

I’ve recently started using PokerTracker for Texas Hold’em. It’s been a great tool, however, I wasn’t using the information it provided correctly and it ended up costing me. I was trying to use the stats is provided to make decisions before I had enough data to make the stats meaningful. I went on a bad run because of that mistake, tilting some in the process, and am just now starting to hopefully recover. Last night I finished 16th in a deepstack 6-max for my first cash in 2 weeks.

Yesterday I also finally purchased Harrington on Online Cash Games; 6-Max No-Limit Hold 'em. I love 6-max, the reviews are good and they indicate that the book is geared towards using Pokertracker . I think that studying it will be a big help to my game.

Tuesday I played in at the Horseshoe, in a re-buy tournament. While I did fairly well and may play again, due to the cost of re-buys and add-ons, it'll have to be after I have a good bankroll built up for live games. I had a rather large stack after my first and only re-buy, more than doubling up twice, including once when I slow-played my flopped boat. However, I ended up giving a lot of those chips back when my opponent hit a boat. He raised in early position and at least one of the two players between us called. I was holding A9 hearts, but because of the other players in, thought I was getting decent odds and made the call, and I believe one other person did as well. The flop comes 3J9 with two hearts. He bets, I'm the only caller. Turn is another black 9. He bets and I push all-in. He calls quickly and shows pocket Js, the worst hand I could be up against. I had put him on an overpair like Qs or Ks, or maybe AJ. I missed the case 9 and became rather short stacked. He had been very aggressive, and I just couldn't put him on Js. However, I was able to hold on to my stack until we made the final table. I missed a couple of chances to potentially pick up some chips, based on the final hands shown, but I feel made the correct decisions at the time. My final hand was KT spades in the cutoff. I push and the button calls, showing AK clubs. Ouch. Looking into it later, I find I'm a 70-30 undedog, although my equity is good until I'm only getting called with about the top 13% of all hands. While normally that's probably a good play, especially with a bigger stack, in that position, I think I should've waited until I was in the money to try that.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One step closer to a big goal.

I'm making progress in some of my goals, but still having trouble with others. I am having trouble making the time to visit the forums and playing every day, although most of the times I do play, I'm doing well. Also, I've been trying out PokerTracker 3, and am pleased with it so far. I've found the Heads Up Display to be very helpful, and my wife has offered to help me purchase it.

Last Friday I was geared up to try out a semi-private cash tournament. However, when I got there, it had been cancelled, as there was no one to run it. So I came home and got online. I played in a 6-max NLHE tournament, but busted just 3 hands into it when my Queens ran into Kings. I then found an Omaha Hi/Lo tournament. I was doing well, holding my own, even among the chip leaders for a while. As the blinds went up, I started getting fewer winners, but was able to make it through the bubble and finish in 4th for another nice cash.

Saturday I played some in the morning, finishing 2nd in a 7card Stud Hi/Lo SNG. Later in the day, I played in some more 6-max tournaments. I finished just out of the money in a turbo, busted early in a deep stack, then took down a regular 6 max.for another big cash. I won the last 4 hands, first taking over the chip lead, then eliminating each of the remaining players on a hand. That pushed me over one of my money goals.

I was amused during one of the tournaments as the following occurred:

Full Tilt - |200/400 NL - Holdem - 6 players
Hand converted by PokerTracker 3:

CO: 6,580.00
BTN: 8,155.00
SB: 6,600.00
Hero (BB): 3,825.00
UTG: 805.00
MP: 11,647.00

CO posts ante 50.00, BTN posts ante 50.00, SB posts ante 50.00, Hero posts ante 50.00, UTG posts ante 50.00, MP posts ante 50.00, SB posts SB 200.00, Hero posts BB 400.00

Pre Flop: (900.00) Hero has 4s Ks

UTG raises to 755.00 and is all-in, fold, fold, fold, SB raises to 800.00, Hero calls 400.00

Flop: (2655.00, 3 players) Kc 3s Qs
SB bets 1,000.00, Hero raises to 2,975.00 and is all-in, SB calls 1,975.00

Turn: (8605.00, 3 players) Qd

River: (8605.00, 3 players) Ac

Hero shows 4s Ks (Two Pair, Kings and Queens) (PreFlop 27%, Flop 86%, Turn 90%)
UTG shows 9d Ah (Two Pair, Aces and Queens) (PreFlop 25%, Flop 6%, Turn 5%)
SB shows Jh Js (Two Pair, Queens and Jacks) (PreFlop 48%, Flop 8%, Turn 5%)
Hero wins 6,040.00
UTG wins 2,565.00

After this hand, the SB starts ranting in the chat box about my play. He incorrectly claimed that he re-raised the all-in call of the UTG. Technically speaking, since the UTG did not make a full 400 raise, the SB did not re-raise. Oddly enough, I'm surprised he did not shove and isolate with his pocket Jacks. He even continued ranting about others playing badly after he was eliminated. Fortunately, I have observer chat disabled and rarely pay attention to the chat box.

Sunday I didn't make it to the casino early enough for the 10am tournament. There were already 20 people on the waiting list, so I passed and came back home. I played in an 8 player SNG, but was rather tired and didn't play my best, busting out in 7th. Sunday night I did well at the bar, playing in just the 1st session, since the grill was closed and I needed to eat dinner. I built a big chip stack early when one of the regulars played his drunk and shove blind game. I ended up busting him out twice. I had to rebuy once when I flopped a pair of Qs and a flush draw with KQ suited. I was all-in by the river, but ran into AQ and hadn't hit any of my outs. I earned points for quads and a pocket pair on my way to finishing 2nd. Heads up I could've done better, but I got a bit impatient as my opponent shoved about 4 times in a row and I finally called with a less than stellar hand that he easily had dominated. I was down to 2 BB, and was eliminated a couple of hands later.

I've found a few things I need to work on, first, I shouldn't start playing when I'm tired, especially SNGs. Second, I need to work on a weekly poker schedule, fitting in times to play and study. Finally, as part of my goal of participating more in the forums, I need to post hands, and the one above may be my first one. I'm also considering posting links to news articles of interest, and creating a twitter account just for this blog and my poker results.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I think I can win this!

While preparing to write this blog entry, I was going over my records and noticed something I wanted to double check in my hand history. Unfortunately, none of the software I have will load and replay all of my saved hand histories. Both fpdb and Pokermemento freeze when trying to load my saved files. I did report the fpdb bug, but I haven't figured out why Pokermemento is hanging, just where. On top of that, I realized that the hand replayer in fpdb doesn't work yet anyway. I finally used Pokermemento to read in just the tournament I wanted to review before continuing this entry.

It was very frustrating, looking for a simple hand database and replayer that would work with every variation I play, or even just the 3 main ones of 7 card Stud, Omaha and Hold'em. There’s really not a whole lot out there. The big two, PokerTracker and Hold’em Manager are both relatively pricey for a small stakes player like me, although it is an investment I’m considering. However, neither have full support for anything other than Hold'em and Omaha. PokerTracker has a Stud tracker, but it’s a separate product, and as of May 2011, will no longer be updated. HEM is rumored to have a stud app in development, but I could find nothing to confirm it.

On the 27th, I played in a couple of the 90 player KO tournaments I'd cashed in before, but only scored 2 knockouts and finished well out of the prize money. On the 29th I tried again, but quickly went on tilt, again with only 2 KOs and no other cashes out of the 5 tournaments. I even tried a HORSE tournament but was out of it early. On the 30th, I wasn't feeling well, and skipped playing at the bar. I got on Fulltilt and found some Stud games, but busted early in 2 tournaments and 1 SNG before finding a HORSE SNG where I broke out of my rut with a much needed victory. However, I was still in the hole for the month. But I was feeling much better, and no longer tilting.

The next night I signed on again and looked for a tournament to play in. I knew that the 90 player KOs were out of the question. I pondered a satellite into a FTOPS, but it was a winner take all tournament and I didn't think I had a chance at it. I signed up for the deep stack 6-max (again, having forgotten playing in it just over a week before), and pondered another tournament, but for some reason I wasn't very enthused about it, especially with it starting after the 6-max.

I played cautiously at first, building my stack, but staying below average. I was only at risk once, when I raised with AQ and the big blind doubled my bet. I call and the flop is king high. He leads into me with a bet of 480 into a 1000 pot. I call, as the small bet seemed weak and I thought I could take the pot on the turn with a big raise. Turn is a queen and again he bets small, 880 into a pot of 1960. I push and he calls with AA, having me covered. River is a Q and I double up. It's fairy smooth sailing from there all the way to victory.

One thing that helped me win was following the advice given in Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time Volume I, and the companion book, Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time Volume II, both of which were Christmas presents from my wife. Throughout the tournament, I thought about what I had read. I tried to mix up my play, and paid attention to my table image. When I had been aggressive with frequent raises, I made sure to back off before the table played back at me. I also made sure to take advantage of the money bubble and picked my spots, not raising without a playable hand, especially with a small stack in the blinds. I felt very confident throughout the middle and late stages of the tournament, even remarking to my wife, as I was among the chip leaders at one point, "I think I can win this!"

With that win, I increased my online bankroll by over 60%. I somewhat wish that I had the FullTilt Academy bankroll challenge active for the tournament, though, as that would have completed the task of increasing my bankroll by 25% again. While I don't have any particular number set in stone, I am close to one of the numbers I have in mind for wanting my bankroll to reach.