Sunday, October 30, 2005

I'm back in town with a lot I want to write about, but I think for now I'll stick to a couple hands I played last night. One of them is even one of those rarely talked about and even more rarely seen online hands!

Since it seems to make the subsequent discussion more interesting, I'll save the results for a day or two and see what people think.

This first hand, I was new to the table and had zero reads. I came really, really, really close to folding the turn.

Paradise Poker 20/40 Hold'em (10 handed)

Preflop: Hero is MP3 with Jd, Qd.

2 folds, UTG+2 raises, 1 fold, MP2 calls, Hero calls, CO calls, 1 fold, SB calls, BB calls.

Flop: (12 SB) 9s, Kh, Th (6 players)

SB checks, BB checks, UTG+2 bets, MP2 folds, Hero raises, CO calls, SB calls, BB folds, UTG+2 3-bets, Hero caps, CO calls, SB calls, UTG+2 calls.

Turn: (14 BB) 3h (4 players)

SB checks, UTG+2 bets, Hero raises, CO folds, SB calls, UTG+2 3-bets, Hero calls, SB caps ($14, all-in), UTG+2 calls, Hero calls.

River: (23.70 BB) Ac (3 players)

UTG+2 bets, Hero calls.

Final Pot: 25.70 BB

To show the difference between online and live play, here's a hand I played last night at the Bellagio 80/160. I thought it was a pretty simple fold, whereas I felt the above hand warranted a call-down.

Nine-handed table. Typical game--most of the players are too loose and people cold-call waaaay too much, but everyone still has a few tricks up their sleeves postflop and they aren't total dummies by any means. MP is so tight he squeaks, although I've been playing a little LAGgish recently, and so his preflop reraising standards might have expanded from two possible hands to about four.

I'm dealt black AA UTG+2. UTG limps. I raise. One fold. MP three-bets. Button cold-calls. BB calls. UTG calls. I four-bet. MP caps. Call, call, call, I call.

Flop (25 SB, 5 players): Kc Qd 8c. BB checks, UTG checks, I check, MP checks (!!!), button bets. BB calls, UTG raises, I three-bet, MP four-bets, call, call, call, I call.

Turn (22.5 BB, 5 players): (Kc Qd 8c) 7h. BB checks, UTG checks, I check, MP bets, button calls, BB calls, UTG calls, I fold.

Fold getting 26.5 to 1? Closing the action?? Am I crazy???

Thursday, October 20, 2005

So I got bored, and motivated by my recent hand where I flopped quads with three on the flop for what I believe is the first time in my live poker playing career, I ran some numbers. (These are all "back of the envelope" calculations, so there may be errors. I think my calculations are good, but let me know if you spot any errors.)

The chances of flopping quads given two non-paired cards is (3/25)(2/49)(1/48) = 6/58,800 = 1/9800. That tells me I almost have to have done it before. If so, I really can't remember. I did it in Omaha once that I can remember, but those odds are much better--twice as likely, in fact, at 1/4900. (For those curious, the chances of flopping quads in hold’em given a pocket pair: ~1/408.)

Of course, maybe that's why I remembered that I haven't done it, because even though it's unlikely, the chances of my going whatever high number of live hands I've played without ever having done it is actually a somewhat low 1/351 (approximately, according to this calculator, with N = 80,000, p = 0.00010204 and t=0).

The most statisitically unlikely things that I've noticed happen to me in live play are probably:

1) flopping a royal, 1/649,740, of course (that's pre-deal odds).

2) I got dealt 88 three hands in a row. The odds of getting dealt the same PP three times in a row is 1/830,297.

3) This just happened a few days ago and I wouldn't have believed it if I didn't see it. I got dealt the exact same two cards three hands in a row. Now, I've been dealt the same two cards two hands in a row many times--that carries a probability of 1/1326, so it happens every week or two. The probability of three times in a row? 1/1,758,256. Not only that, but miraculously the two cards were in the exact same order each of the three times. Td on the left, 6s on the right (alas, no Ad As for me). Updated probability: 1/7,033,104. Some people use their luck to win the lottery, I get the Td 6s powerhouse three times in a row.

(And before some wise-guy comes on here and says something, yes I know the chances of my being dealt the exact two cards I've been dealt each hand of my 80,000 live hands is one in eleventy bajillion.)

Other odds and ends:

* I just realized from one of the above calculations that 1/98 = .01020408163265..., that is, it just about lists the powers of two in order (darn 65 instead of 64!). Pretty nifty.

* I've been a baseball fan all my life, and my current favorite team, the Astros, just won the NLCS to advance to the World Series last night. Later on that night, I'm playing poker and this guy asks, "so when does the World Series start?" and the first thing I think is, "dude, the World Series was months ago! They're already showing episodes on ESPN!" Yeah, poker really has taken over my life...

* I'm going back to Austin on Friday to visit, so it might be a week or so before I'm able to update again, depending on how the games go tonight and whether or not I just have to write about it tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

$33,000. No, that's not how much money I won (or lost) last night. Rather that's how much money these two total fish contributed to the 80/160 game. I didn't even get seated until about 2:30am, and one of the fish was already there. I'll call him Tiltboy, since although he's definitely a donator anyways, last night he was on megatilt due to getting insanely cold-decked and playing even worse than normal. The other fish sat down soon after I did. I'll call Amigo, since that's what everyone was calling him.

To give an example of Tiltboy's, well, tilt, here's a hand I played against him. I open-limped UTG+1 with Ac7c. Not a play I typically recommend, or do, but this was the type of game for it. Six- and seven-way pots were the norm, with only a handful of people doing any real raising. This pot ended up being unraised and five-handed, with Tiltboy in the cutoff.

Flop: Jc 7d 3c. Pair+flush draw. SB bets out, one fold, and I raise. One fold, Tiltboy cold-calls and the SB calls.

Turn: (Jc 7d 3c) 9s. Check, I bet, Tiltboy calls, SB calls.

River: (Jc 7d 3c 9s) x (I really can't remember, but it was irrelevant). SB checks, I check figuring any worse hand will fold while any better hand--a jack for example--will call. Tiltboy checks and turns over...A5o. No pair, no draw, calling all the way anyways. SB shows Ts7s and so MHIG.

Tiltboy's final tally: $14,000.

On a wholly different planet was Amigo. Amigo was in the game last week and dropped a considerable sum, perhaps $20,000 over the week. It would have been more, but he was getting lucky. Well last night his luck ran out, and actually went all the way over to considerably unlucky.

Amigo was a nice guy. Very kind, laughing a lot. Also he was very rich. And he knew absolutely nothing about poker. Acting out of turn, not acting when it was actually his turn, calling any amount with any random cards and as a result producing some unholy suckouts. These last two weeks may very well have been his first experience playing actual poker.

He once called someone on the river with 9-high, just to see what he had. I made the perhaps ill-advised attempt to bluff him, and he of course called and caught me. After that he said that he was never folding to me again. Muahahahaha. After winning a few hands where I value-bet him to death (where perhaps he had 9-high, as well), this hand came up.

Now this hand doesn't actually totally represent the egregiousness of his play in general, but it does a decent enough job of that. However, it also represents a first for me, so I'm kinda killing two birds with one stone here.

Amigo open-limps, which happens a lot as he plays 90% of his hands. I raise in the CO with AJo. BB calls, Amigo calls, three of us.

Flop: A A A. Well, would you look at that.

Check, check, I bet (remember, I can bet with impunity against Amigo), call, call.

Turn: (A A A) 5

BB, a solid player, bets, Amigo calls, I raise. BB folds, Amigo, of course, calls.

River: (A A A 5) K. Amigo checks, I bet, and surprising the hell out of me Amigo check-raises me, with a huge grin on his face. I three-bet and have visions of the time he went 8 bets on the river with an eight-high flush (against, of course, the nuts). But that was so many hands and so long ago (a week) when he was inexperienced and naive; he's a wily veteran now. He only calls, and flips over his....K6o.

Given that I flopped quad fucking aces, that's a much bigger pot than I deserved.

That hand was the first time in my live hold 'em playing career that I'd ever flopped quads with three on the board. I've flopped quads "many" times with pocket pairs. Hell, I've flopped a royal flush, the hardest thing to do in poker. But somehow, flopping quads when I don't hold a pocket pair had eluded me in my thousands of hours of live play until that very moment. What made it more interesting was that about two hours earlier another guy had flopped quad 4s holding 64o (hey, he was in the SB and it was only raised once preflop!) and I commented how that was something I'd never done (the flopping quads part, not the calling two bets out of the SB with 64o part, ahem). And then, wham, it happens, and I get paid off handsomely to boot.

Amigo's final tally: $19,000 for the night and nearly $40,000 for the two weeks or so.

Between the two of them, the game didn't budge for hours. I couldn't leave, and neither could anyone else. It was one of those games where maybe every three hours a seat would open up, and then when the uberfish finally left, the dealer's calls rang out to the floor, "One open seat on thirteen! Make that two! Two open seats! Three! Three open seats on thirteen! Four seats!"

One of those recently vacated seats had belonged to me. I intentionally avoided looking at my cell phone clock while playing and when I finally did upon leaving it looked exactly the same as it did when I had sat down so long ago. 2:30. Only it was now PM.

That session ended one hell of a week in the 80 game. I think an entire book could be written on the things that happened in the high-limit section this past week. Amigo was the star of the 80 game; there was another guy in the 25/50 NL game apparently raising and betting blind practically every other hand. This one drunk guy sat at the 80 game and proceeded to play every hand, raising most of them, and he would turn one of his cards face up every time. Seriously. This one hand he turns over an Ace (with how loosely he was playing his other card could be any single card in the deck) and he was against two other opponents, with position. He of course raised, they called, and the flop came K 6 4. Check, check, drunkboy with his A showing, checks. Turn: (K 6 4) J. Check, check, check. River: (K 6 4 J) 9. Check, check, check.

Both opponents then look at the board, look at their cards, look at drunkboy's bare Ace, frown, and then slowly muck, while the entire table cackled with glee. Drunkboy of course walked away hours later a huge winner.

One night, one of the ultra-high-limit players came over and played ultra-drunk 25/50NL blowing through a ton of cash that was only a few BBs in his regular game, laughing and toasting everyone the entire time. Another night, there was a physical fight right there in the high-limit section. Another night, a couple ordered a bunch of food that got passed around the table like it was a party (and given how people were playing, it really was a party). There were the $60,000 pots in the big NL games that had seemingly half the casino over watching how they turned out. Every night, people were laughing and shouting and complaining, eating and drinking and gambling, giving each other back rubs and high-fives, and all with gobs of money on the table and even more practically (and sometimes literally) spilling out of their pockets.

Yes, all told, it was one hell of a week. There's still a few more days left in this tourney. But already I can't wait for the next one.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Just got done with an eight-hour session last night. 2:30am - 10:30am. What a game. I got stuck a small car and made most of it back.

I have to say I'm really enjoying the 80/160 if for no other reason than it's really giving me an opportunity to play against better players and isolate leaks. Also, it's giving me a chance to work on moves and become more fearless. Since any tables beyond the first are always must-move, I find myself short-handed quite a bit. I've played probably half my hours five-handed or less (with a long session heads up one night) and that's been quite educational. You simply will not beat the game if you can't sit there and either bet or raise the river with absolutely nothing and be able to stoically take a twenty-second staredown without breaking a sweat.

The games can be fierce. At some games, a preflop raise is relatively rare. Games like last night, not only is every hand raised preflop, probably half or more of them are three-bet.

It's not surprising, then, that I nosedived to start. Although some poor decisions helped in that. A few pots, a bet or raise on the river would have won them for me, and a few others I was clearly beat yet threw in that final call.

I made most of it back thanks to a nice run of cards when we got five-handed. Three hands in a row, I got AA, QQ and then KK. I've never had that happen before. And, amazingly, all three held up.

Anyways, here's a hand that I want to see people's opinions on. At the time, I made a good read which should have led to the obvious play, but alas, I choked under pressure. I think my three options are clearly ranked 1, 2 and 3, and of course I chose #3.

It's a time-pot, so people are playing tighter than normal. The SB is a very solid, winning player who respects me.

I open in MP with AhQc. Folds around to the SB who three-bets. BB folds, I call. SB's three-betting standards are probably any pocket pair down to 66, AK, perhaps AQ, but probably AQs-ATs.

Flop: Kd 8c 8s

SB bets, as she would with any hand on any flop. I call, intending to raise the turn.

Turn: (Kd 8c 8s) 4h

SB now checks. I bet. She grits her teeth and calls.

River: (Kd 8c 8s 4h) Ks

"I don't believe you have three kings," SB says as she bets.

What does she have? What's my play?

(PS--I just wanted to point out an excellent article by Peter Birks that features a hand I so lovingly screwed up and posted here.)

Friday, October 14, 2005

With this tourney in town, the 80/160 has been 4/8. No lie. I may have to put a moratorium on the online play for the next week. That's how good the games have been.

UTG raises. UTG+1 cold-calls with...J8o.

Five bets preflop. SB calls with...84s.

Gut-shots are not being folded for any number of bets, or heads-up in the tiniest pots. Runner-runner flush draws are golden.

Maybe I should start going on the tourament circuit. Not to actually play in any tournaments, but simply for all the side games. I can't even being to describe it.

Now I really have to get to bed, so I'm ready to dive right back in tonight.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Bad news and good news.

I got killed in the 40/80 Omaha/8 game last night. Once again, I got a reminder about why I hate limit Omaha/8. There's just so much less opportunity for creativity. Of course, it doesn't help that I try to get "creative" anyways and of course get killed. I also need to learn that if you have the second nuts and get raised, fold. Even heads up. I pay off way too much.

But. That all pales in comparison to the good news, which is that the monkey seems to be off my back. Okay, that's a good way to get it right back on my back. But for now at least the downswing is over. I peaked August 28th and then hit a downswing through the first half of September, and then bounced around up and down, slowly climbing until finally on October 7 I once again surpassed my August 28th mark.

This past week I hit a nice rush and actually zoomed past it. It's good to be hitting cards once again, last night notwithstanding. Downswings and long break-even streaks suck, but if there's one good thing I can say about them, it's that they really get me examining my play--and I mean going over it with a fine-toothed comb--and so I always come out a better player than I was before.

I feel that I'm a much, much better player now than I was just in late August, and so despite the 40-day break-even streak it may very well have been worth it.

Now I just hope I didn't just jinx myself into having another one.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Here's an 80/160 hand I played last night that I thought was interesting. I think my play on every street is debateable, even preflop (although I think preflop is the least interesting street). I'll give a brief description of the other players, but otherwise I'll give the hand without comment, and see what people think.

UTG is the worst player in the game, bar none. The BB and MP are pretty bad, and the button is a bit of LAG. Collectively, they are the four worst players in the game; they are bad to the point that besides BB, none should even be playing 15/30. BB, UTG, and MP pretty much bet their hands, while the button likes to bluff and take stabs at pots.

I'm in the SB. UTG limps, MP limps, button limps, I complete with Jc9d. BB checks.

Flop (5 players): 8c 7s 5c

I check, BB checks, UTG checks, MP checks, button bets. I raise. Sb folds, UTG cold-calls, button calls.

Turn (3 players): (8c 7s 5c) 3d

I bet. UTG calls. Button agonizes for a few seconds and folds.

River (2 players): (8c 7s 5c 3d) 6s

I bet. UTG raises. I call.

UTG shows Qh4h and MHIG.

Monday, October 03, 2005

So this is the type of hand you'll never ever see at low-limits.

Bellagio 80/160 and I'm in the BB. It folds around to the button, an extremely smart, knowledgable player that I've been playing with for hours. He open-limps. Another smart player that I've only been at the table with for about twenty minutes completes in the SB. I check with 85o.

It's worth noting that I've shown the ability to make moves on pots and semi-bluff. I've also been running kind of badly. But also, I've shown the "ability" to not fold reasonable hands to someone else showing strength (I've twice paid of sets hit against me, for example).

The flop comes 7 7 5 rainbow. SB checks, I bet out expecting to take it right there, figuring both players are most likely on random overcards. Call, call. Was the button open limping with a big hand there? Often it's A-rag in that spot, and he'd probably raise A5 on the flop. SB's hand is not defined at all, although people calling with random overcards in that situation is common enough at least at, say, 30/60, so his call doesn't mean much at all.

(7 7 5) Q. SB checks again. I bet out again and again the button calls. He'd almost definitely raise a Q there, and although I've shown the ability to bet out with strong hands, I know they know I most likely only have a 5. So he has something he isn't letting go of, and perhaps waiting for the river to raise. I was fully expecting him to raise AA or KK on the turn, so QQ? He still can't be hanging around with his AK, AJ, Ax, can he? I decide then and there I should check-fold the river if it comes to that.

But it doesn't come to that, as the SB now check-raises. I insta-muck, and the button now thinks for about twenty seconds and mucks as well.

The SB now is eager to show his hand and does. KTo, for a total bluff, into two players who had shown reasonable strength.

Button: "I had JJ." And I believe him, since that perfectly fits in with how he played the hand.

At the time I was trying to decide if that play by the SB was foolhardy or brilliant, and the more I look back on it the more brilliant it seems.

Overall, the 80/160 game has been hit-or-miss. I've played in it five times now (including one night of 60/120) and three times the games were good, while twice they were not. One of those times it was just rocky as all hell. The other time was the night the above hand came from, when it was relatively loose preflop, but there were a good number of players who knew exactly where they (and you) were at postflop, as I think the above hand illustrates. Although there were a couple obvious soft spots in that game, I think I was in a bit over my head that night.

So the obvious conclusion is that I'll have to be very careful with my game selection for those times I want to play in the 80 game. With the big tournament coming up in a few days, the games should be fairly lively I'd think, so hopefully game selection won't be a problem at least for the next couple of weeks.