Bad Beat Jackpots – are they worth it?

BAD BEAT Storyboard - Shot#12
Image by Víctor Pérez via Flickr

Last night I was playing a cash game – Limit Hold ‘Em – at Absolute Poker. I find that the tables at AP are rather loose. I actually saw a small stacked player, having less than $2.oo in his stack, raise and re-raise until all of his money was all in the pot pre-flop.  All he had was a 7 2 of clubs. Yes they were suited – I could not believe it – and the worst part – there was only one club in the flop, one club on the turn and one club on the river and he won the entire pot! And this was against a pair of Kings! His opponent did not have even have one club. 7 2 against K K and 7 2 wins. This was loose to the extreme.

The tables I was playing on were called “Bad Beat” tables. Basically a small amount  is taken from each pot to build a “Bad Beat Jackpot”. If you lose as a result of a bad beat –  say you had quad eights and were beaten by a higher hand – you would win the lion’s share of the jackpot. Each online poker site that has this type of promotion has their own rules and regulations. To see what Absolute Poker rules are, click here!

Someone had taken a bad beat while I was playing on a table of similar stakes. He/she held a hand that had four eights and lost the hand. At the time, the total jackpot amount was $98,000 and his/her share was about $34,000. The table stacks being played were .50/1.00 with most people having an average stack of about $15.00. Can you imagine winning $34,00o with a losing hand, playing on a micro stakes table? The winning hand received a similar amount and the remaining other 74 players at bad beat tables for the same stakes each got $91.14 as a bad beat payout even though they were not directly involved in the bad beat.

I ended up the evening with over $100 more than I started with as a result of both the bad beat share and my winnings from the loose players. If the action was loose prior to the jackpot, it got even looser as all players receiving the prize were credited  immediately and could use that money at the tables.

Do you play at sites that have bad beat tables? Have you ever had a bad beat and been paid for it? Or do you just avoid this type of site or promotion?

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My ship barely got out of the harbor …

Paris Exposition: ship, Paris, France, 1900
Image by Brooklyn Museum via Flickr

My ship barely got out of the harbor yesterday. Doing some routine things like taking my wife for a doctor’s visit turned into an all day affair. (She is much better today, thank you).

When the day was about done, I pulled back up to the docks and settled down for a simple game of Limit Hold ‘Em at AbsolutePoker. Prior to playing I had just finished reading a review suggested by one of the twitter poker people that I follow. The article  suggested that some of the players at the lower stakes played less than optimal, meaning I should be able to beat them.

Of course when you play on a table with loose and non-aggressive players, you also can suffer some high losses as well. These type of players won’t fold if there is even the slightest chance that their hand will win once they see the river. They will not bet, but will call right up until the last card. If they hit, you can count on a raise or a re-raise from them. Even if they don’t make their hand they might call a bet on the end anyway, in the hopes that you really did not have a hand either. They will play any two suited cards; an Ace with any kicker, suited or unsuited. They may even play AK with out hitting anything and bet it up right up to the river hoping that you fold or that you have a weaker hand than AK.

So even though I played in less than 17% of the hands overall and only played my best hands, I had wide swings in the size of my stack during the game. At one point I had lost over 65% of my starting stack, being rivered when I had the best hand right up to seeing the last card. I had also increased my stack to more than 65% of the starting amount as well, but I ended up almost even after 2 1/2 hours of play.

Would I play there again? Against these types of opponents? ABsolute-ly!

Where do you chose to play? What type of players do you like to play against? Where do you earn the most profit in your play?

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Inspiration – is sometimes just one click away

Blog World Expo 2008 Chris Brogan
Image by ShashiBellamkonda via Flickr

On Dads Poker Blog, I try to post once a day, usually on weekdays. I like to include in the post some of my thoughts, experiences and revelations learned about poker, either by playing or studying or watching. Some of what I write, I hope is either interesting, entertaining, instructive or thought provoking.

Some days are harder than most when it comes to fresh or interesting ideas to discuss. Sometimes I look back and rehash an idea with a different perspective based on new experiences.

Prior to writing my post for the day, I usually follow a routine of checking my email, twitters, and looking at, or reading Chris Brogan’s Blog. This morning was no exception.

Most all of his blogs are great (I say this sincerely, even though he is my son), but his blog was “spot on” for me. His post was titled “You are the Captain”. His ideas and thoughts are just what I needed today.  You can read the entire post by clicking here.

An excerpt of the ending of his post follows:
*****
“You are the captain, no matter where you sit in the organization. You command a vessel of one. Some day? Maybe a fleet. But start today. And look your ship over.

Do you have the right maps aboard?
Do you have a compass to guide you?
Do you have a telescope to see beyond the next wave?
Do you have a thirst for exploration and a hunger for reward?”
*****

Of late my poker ship has been rudderless. I have been adrift in a sea of  lassitude and stuck in a sand bank of morass.  My sails have no air. I am missing my oars. Well, you get the picture. I have been playing in Sit n Go’s of little or no value, cash games below the level that I know I can play in and in tourneys that are not good choices for me. It is time for me to once again become the captain of my poker ship and start shipping those cash games, tourneys and Sit n Go’s. Full speed ahead – avast ye poker donks – my ship is bearing down on you!

Note: Chris Brogan is the older of my two sons, Thom is the younger. Both are fine young men.

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If dogs could talk ….

"WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME THAT WAY?"
Image by roberthuffstutter via Flickr

Okay, yesterday I said that it was time to experience poker again. But I was still in reading and studying mode and I could not get my poker mind working as Phil Ivey had suggested I should do in his Full Tilt Poker Tip.   And now for the rest of the story.

For the last four weeks I have been reading the poker essays of Mason Malmuth and this week I finished reading his revised essay Gambling Theory and Other Topics. At the end of his book, Mason reviews and rates over 120 books on poker and over 100 books on general gambling topics. The only books he did not rate were his own or ones that he had co-authored with other poker or gambling professionals. The number one book that he recommended was The Theory of Poker written by David Sklansky.

In “The Theory of Poker”. David states the basis for this book, “The Fundemental Theorem of Poker” which is as follows.

Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponents’ cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose. Converse, every time opponents play their hands differently from the way they would have if they could see all your cards, you gain; and every time they play their hands the same way they would have played if they could see all your cards, you lose.”

When my oldest son Chris was in the second grade, the teacher gave his class an assignment. Write about what dogs would say if they could talk. He refused to do it and my wife was called to a teacher’s conference to discuss it. My son told the teacher that dogs cannot talk. When the teacher asked my wife about it, my wife agreed with Chris, dogs can’t talk.  This was my initial take on seeing what cards my opponent had. I can’t see their cards and they can’t see mine. But if I want to become a better player, I need to start “seeing” their cards.

I have read this book before and I am going to finish reading it again. This appears to be a very deep think piece, but, I believe that the deeper meaning is that you need to gain the ability to read your opponents’ cards and play in a way that causes them to lose. They either lose, when you have a better hand, or they lose bets as you fold when they have a better hand.

After having read just the first four chapters, my playing at the table in both cash games, small tourneys and Sit n Go’s were affected negatively as I may have over thought the situations and not gone with my instincts.

Have you ever made decisions based on the way players acted before you, only to find that the hands they were playing were much weaker than the way they were betting? How much does prior betting affect your playing with smaller pairs or drawing hands?

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Phil Ivey says just be yourself …

Phil Ivey
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At 6:07 am this Saturday I got an email from Phil Ivey with the subject line “Phil Ivey – Don’t Read This Tip?”. And I did not read it … until 11:07 pm that night. Well … it really was not sent by Phil Ivey but by Full Tilt Poker on his behalf as I am a member of Full Tilt Poker.

The article is well timed for me as I am in the process of defining who I am in the poker world. I have read well over 40 books about poker and have watched videos and televised poker. I can tell you the amount of information that I have gathered is both astounding and contradictory. Some authors will tell you up front that a lot of what is out there for us to read and learn from is unreliable. That brings me to the following question. Who do you trust for your poker information?

I have no easy answer because of a lot of what is out there is pretty good, at least on the surface. And all that brings me back to the tip from Phil Ivey about just being yourself.

He basically said that you should read what you can about poker, discuss poker with friends, talk about poker and think about poker. But the bottom line is that when you come to the table, just play poker. Gain your experience from playing and don’t worry about the right or the wrong thing to do. The experience you gain playing will help you integrate the book and video learning. Develop your own style. Play your own game. Yes, it is helpful to know the math and the odds of making a poker hand but you also have to know who you are playing against and the books won’t give you that information. Your playing experience will.

With all of my training, it is now  time for me to experience poker. How do you integrate your poker training into your playing? Is it possible to over think your playing? Do you gain all of your knowledge by just playing?

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Chasing bad draws – not a winning idea!

Flush draw
Image by robad0b via Flickr

There are times, when one is playing poker, that a drawing hand is worth playing. The reasons for staying would be to win a large pot if you make your hand. The other reason that you stay in is that you have many outs to win. Say you have two suited cards and two of the three cards on the flop are in your suit. You then have nine possible cards left in the deck to complete your flush. You also have 6 cards left in the deck that could pair your cards as well, giving you more ways to win. The idea here is that now you have more chances. In terms of making a flush, you need to consider your highest card versus that of your opponent. If you have the Ace in your hand, you have the best possible drawing – the nut flush. Anything else, well you are hoping that your opponent has a lower flush than you. And hoping is not the best way to play winning poker.

During my last two sit and go’s and one tourney, I found myself chasing bad draws. I had two cards of the same suit in my hand and two of the three flop cards were of the same suit as well. I called small bets on the flop, the turn and river in an attempt to stay in the hand. Two of the cards I needed would have given me a straight flush but those cards did not come out. I did end up with a flush and when my opponent bet out, I called by putting in about a third of my remaining chips in the pot. Although my opponent did not have the nut flush, the best possible flush, Ace high, his flush was higher than mine. I barely had half of my original starting amount of chips after losing that bet.

The results of these bad decisions made it difficult, if not impossible to recover from and win the games that I was playing in. In the end, I had lost both of the Sit n Go’s and the tourney.  By being more selective about my starting hands and by not chasing after the flop, I might have had more success. If I did chase, I should have chased only if my draw was the best possible one.

Do you chase flush draws? Do you chase straight draws? Are they the nuts or do you just hope that they hold up? What is your approach to drawing out?

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Thoughts on how long to play at one setting…

Silas Hoadley clock face, from a grandfather c...
Image via Wikipedia

Recently I played 9 Sit n Go’s in one day. I played four in a row and then five in a row. Overall, I had cashed in six of the nine, winning once in first place, four times in second place and once in third place.

I played each set without a break in between to do something different. Did playing so many games in a row affect my ability to play? I am not sure how to tell.

Sometimes I will play a cash game session that will last a couple of hours before I stop or the game breaks up. Am I playing optimally throughout the whole session? Are my results an indication of how well I am playing or concentrating on the game?

When playing online during Sit n Go’s, I will sometimes read my tweets from my cell phone while playing and setting out a hand. By doing so, am I missing some important play that could help me win the game? When I play a multi-table event such as the #TPT, on the Twitter Poker Tour, I will barely even chat because I want to see what everyone is doing at my table even when I am not in a hand. I try to follow the chat because I don’t want to be rude but this is a really tough group of players and one misstep can be disastrous.

So if I gave my Sit n Go games the same attention I gave my #TPT tourneys, would I have done better? More first place wins, more overall wins? Not sure but I will certainly give it a try.

When playing online, do you multitask? Or do you just concentrate on the game at hand?

——

Thanks go to Diane, my wife, for this post’s theme. It was the results of observations she made while watching me play online.

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Cash games or tournaments or both?

Harry Truman's poker chips
Image via Wikipedia

Lately I have been having some discussions with other poker friends as to what type of poker games one should play in? Should a player concentrate on just cash games or play only in tournaments? Or should a player do both? Based on reading, talking and studying about the topic, it appears that there is no one correct answer.

There are two different mindsets for each type of game format. The actual game format is different as well. Generally, in a cash game, the size of the blinds and antes, if any, are fixed throughout the entire game. Whereas in a tourney, the blinds and antes increase at fixed intervals during the game.

In a cash game, you buy in for a certain amount which is usually based on a number of big blinds. You can play for as long as you have chips in front of you. If you run out of chips, you can buy more. You can leave whenever you want.

In a tourney, you buy in for a fixed amount and get a specific amount of chips for that buy in. You play until you either win all of the chips in the tourney or lose all of your chips. In some tourneys, you are allowed to rebuy chips for a certain time period or number of levels. Once that period is over, the only way to increase the number of chips is to win them. You cannot leave a tournament when you want to. You can leave when you no longer have any chips or have won them all.

In a cash game, it is easier to fold weak starting hands as the most you lose might be your big or small blind amount. It is fixed and does not change. In a tourney, your blinds increase at each level and you might be forced to play a hand you would not normally play because you are staring to run low of chips.

These are just some of the ways that cash games differ from tourneys and some players do better at one versus the other. There are only  a few that can play both formats successfully.

Are you a cash game specialist? Are you a tournament player? Do you play both? What is your preference?

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Nine SnG's at UB –

Poker After Dark
Image by supersolice via Flickr

Yesterday, I spent most of my down time playing on UltimateBet and watching “Poker after Dark” with my wife, Diane. On “PAD”, they had three young Internet players and Doyle Brunson, Gabe Kaplan and Eli Elezra at the table. We watched over five episodes while I played nine SnG’s.

My UB account was low on funds, not having made a deposit in a while and having lost most of my funds playing No Limit Hold ‘Em cash games that I am not good at. Strangely, I do reasonably well playing No Limit Hold ‘Em Sit n Go’s. I had only 40 cents left and could only play in the .25 Sit N Go’s, which is what I did. I played in nine games overall and the following are my results:

2: STEVIE_TREYS, payout $0.45
1: STEVIE_TREYS, payout $1.12
3: STEVIE_TREYS, payout $0.45
9: STEVIE_TREYS, payout $0.00
6: STEVIE_TREYS, payout $0.00
2: STEVIE_TREYS, payout $0.67
2: STEVIE_TREYS, payout $0.67
6: STEVIE_TREYS, payout $0.00
2: STEVIE_TREYS, payout $0.67

I had cashed in 6 of the nine games. I played tight for the most part, making an occasional bluff in position. I was able to build my account balance up to almost $2.00. When I hit $5.00, I will play in the .50c SnG’s. Instead of making a deposit, I intend to grow my account at UB and other sites as well.

I was doing this while watching the “Poker After Dark” players place a “live straddle bet” and also making prop bets while their game was going.  One of the prop bets was if any player won a hand with a 72, everyone else would pay that player $1,000, even if they were not in the hand and had folded pre-flop. In one hand, we saw Eli Elezra open and eventually raise the pot to almost $20,000 in an attempt to win an extra $5,000 while having a 72. That attempt failed as one of the players had a hand good enough that he was not folding to Eli’s attempt to steal. That was a very costly way to play 72. Wow! Three previous 72 steal attempts were successful before Eli’s hand.

I found it interesting to see what the pros do versus what they say to do in their books and blogs. But in their case, they have the experience and the money to back up their play.

Do you ever watch the pros play and wonder why they do what they do? You know the appropriate strategy, but see them play differently than they say you should? When you try what they do, what are your results?

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More thoughts on bankroll management.

Stacks of money
Image via Wikipedia

I am still playing at the micro and low levels at the online tables. My live play is done at a poker room in Seabrook NH, close to where I live. There, I play in the $2/4 Limit Hold ‘Em tables.

Many different people have many different ideas as to when to move up a level. As I play mostly Limit Hold ‘Em cash games,  I use a figure of 500 big blinds (BB) for my Limit Hold ‘Em bankroll and 2000 big blinds (BB) for No Limit. I also use a percentage figure of 2% of my bankroll to determine the maximum buy-in to tournaments.

Assuming that I have  a $2,500 bankroll, I can play in Limit Cash games with a maximum big blind of $5.00 (2500/500 = 5.00.)  In No Limit Games with big blinds of no more than $1.25 or rounded down to a $1.00. Using the 2% rule, I can play in a tourney of up to a $50 dollar buy in (2% times 2500 = $50.)  If my bankroll increases, I can move up using the same 500BB – 2000BB – 2% formula.

Depending on your success at the tables, your acceptable levels risk may vary. Just what percentages you use might be different than mine. If I were a great player, I might only need 150BB  for limit, 300BB for no limit and could play for buy-ins for up to 5% in tourneys.  If I were a worse, but still winning player, I might have to use 1000BB – 5000BB – .50% figures.

The idea behind bankroll management is to allow you to play without going broke during those times when you will run bad. However, if you are a losing player, no amount of bankroll mangement will keep you from going broke. Again, the guidelines that I use were culled from suggestions made by various “poker pros” in the many books and videos I have read and watched.

How do you manage your bankroll? What percentages do you use? Do you ever play in games above your level? Do you step down in levels when your bankroll goes down?

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