December poker goals

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I believe that goal setting should be done using attainable goals. But I don’t mean that I should set the level of my goals too low, making it easy to obtain them.

It has taken me over three months to recoup my early losses at DoylesRoom.com. I was  playing Limit Hold ‘Em trying to avoid the exact same losses that I sustained. Since that time, I have switched over to playing  No Limit Hold ‘Em.  I have had winning sessions that have grown my bankroll with Doyle’s to within $25 of what I had started with three months ago.

Having said that, my December goal is to increase my account with Doyle’s by $62 in winnings. At that point, I will move up from the .25/.50 cash games with a $30 buy-in to the .50/1.00 with a $50 buy-in. I realize that by moving up, the games will be a little harder as the players tend to be a little better and more experienced.  In the event that my account dips below my November level, I would step down a level or back to .25/.50 until I rebuild my account.

My 2010 goal for playing at DoylesRoom is to steadily win and move up to the $2/$4 by the end of the year at the least. My ultimate goal is to be able to generate a steady income by playing poker, a game and a challenge that I enjoy.

My tournament goals for this year are being limited to mostly Twitter Poker Tour and Railbird events until my tourney playing skills improve.  Yes, I will take an occasional shot at a satellite tourney but knowing that I still have a lot to learn, I will be patient until my skills catch up with my ambitions.

Do you set poker goals? How do you define them? Do you have a fall back plan to keep you from depleting your bankroll?

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Player Types – How do you identify them?

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When ever I play online at either the cash games, tourneys or Sit N Go’s, I try to take the time to identify the player types that are at the table. But up till now, I really did not have a way to classify them so I could tell their tendencies.  I would note if they were aggressive or always entering a pot with a pot sized raise.  If the pot size raiser was on the button or cutoff position, meaning they were just before the small blind, I would put a notation that said “blind stealer?”.  This same description would be placed in the notes of a player that almost always raised UTG or in early position and later showed down a poor starting hand.

The problem with my notes is that they lacked definition. That is, until I read a chapter in the book,  The Poker Tournament Formula by Arnold Snyder that dealt with classifying certain players.  In Chapter 8, he listed the player type names that he uses and it made sense to me after reading the explanation of each one.  The following are a few examples of player types that Snyder describes:

Ace Master
Flush Master
Pair Masters
Cagey Codgers
Show N Tellers
Wimps
Oafs

He had a few others but these are types that I have seen and can use these titles for them. The “Ace Master” who plays a Ace with any other card regardless of its value. The “Flush Master” who comes raising a pot with K 3 suited. Another one I might add is the “All in’er”, a short stacked player who goes all in with Ace any, AK, any pair or two suited connectors. If the “all in’er” hits or misses, he disappears from the table with his prize or whit nothing. He does not hang around to be criticized for playing the way that he does.

It has helped my cash game to record their actions in the notes and then play accordingly. Has taking notes helped your game?

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Gumby always raises big before entering a pot

Nopey and Gumby in "Stuck on Books"
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During a cash game this week, I encountered a player I will call Gumby as the first part of the player’s name is “Gumb”. My hand details show only the first four characters to protect the players identity.  I call her a “she” as the avatar being used is a female one.  I know that the gender may not be accurate as I have seen players change avatars from male to female and back again for whatever reason.

Every time that Gumby entered a pot first she would raise the amount of the pot. That raise would be enough to take down the pot and win the blinds. If someone else had limped into the pot, Gumby put in a raise equal to two or 2 1/2 times the pot. Again that would be enough to win the pot without even seeing the flop.

I was in the cutoff seat with a Q9 of clubs. All the other players ahead of me folded. I entered the pot with a raise the size of the pot hoping to pick up the pot right then. I was prepared to play the hand if called as Q9 suited in the cutoff is not too bad of a hand. I had position. But Gumby re-raised me  by almost 2 1/2 times the current pot. I was not getting the right odds to call as this was a drawing hand. In hindsight, perhaps I should have limped in against this aggressive player. After 15 seconds of pondering my decision,  I elected to fold instead of calling or re-raising.

About thirty hands later, I was under the gun, first player to bet and I was dealt a pair of pocket Jacks. This is a troublesome hand to play but I put in a pot sized bet and everyone folded except Gumby who re-raised me. Again. By the size of the new pot or $4.00. But this time with the pocket Jacks, I decided to just call and see the flop.  If the flop contained higher cards than my Jacks I was going to fold if Gumby raised.  The flop was 10 Q K. A bad flop for me. I checked and to my surprise Gumby checked right behind me. The turn card was a 2. I checked again and Gumby checked. The river was a 7. We both checked and she turned over an AQ to win with a pair of queens.

The flop must have scared her as there was a king and there was a straight possible. If a nine or an ace came up I would have a straight.  Whatever the reason she just checked, I got to see how she plays AQ. Had she raised after the flop, I would have folded my Jacks. Of course I wonder what would have happened if I had raised after the flop. I have seen her re-raise all in with other players. I thought my Jacks were dominated and I did not want to take the chance without the best hand against a known aggressive player.

How do you play pocket Jacks? Do you know when to hold them and when to fold them? How do you handle aggressive players? Do you play back to them with re-raises or all ins?

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A slow week at poker but I ran into Duke a couple of times

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Last week I had other duties and chores that keep me away from the online felt most of the week. But I did have an occasion to play some satellites and cash games.

On the Set N Go Step games at Doyles I am stuck in the early steps but still alive trying to get past Step 4. But of more interest, I keep running into the same people and I wrote notes to help me in the event of a repeat meet-up. One player, whom I will call Duke is unbluffable.  Do not even try.

I had AK and raised the pot to a pot size bet pre-flop and was called by Duke. The flop was Q 9 5. No help to me but I decided to try a continuation bet of 1/2 of the pot.  Duke called again. Now he had me thinking that he either had a medium or high pocket pair? The turn was a J. Still no help for me except that now I had a straight draw. So I let out again with a  1/3 pot size bet, hoping that the smaller amount might make him think that I wanted a call and he would fold. But no, he called again. The river card was a7.

I gave up betting as I had put over a third of my chips into the pot with to avail. I figured if I moved all in with nothing, he would just call again. He turned over his pocket pair of threes. He was not about to be bluffed or moved off of his threes.  Even in the face of the fact that all of the cards being flopped were higher than his cards.  While my betting with just AK might have bad, his calling in the face of such strength was just as bad.

I have seen him since, and he is still unbluffable, and he is losing in his attempt to advance a level also. In the last hand I saw him play against another opponent, he ended up with AK and the board had K 10 8 Q 4. His opponent had KQ for two pairs. Duke called the all in bets at the turn because he could not be bluffed from his holding of top pair with an Ace kicker. Know his inability to fold, I would not try bluffing him again but if I had two pair or trips I would probably go after him if we were in a pot together. Knowing how he plays does help me in the long run.

If I run into Duke again in the future, there is a player note about him that says  he cannot be bluffed. That will help me unless he changes his style of play.

Have you ever tried to take the pot with AK with a pre-flop pot size bet only to have a caller or a re-raiser? What did you do? Fold or call to see the flop? If you missed the flop, did you give up your attempt to buy the pot?

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Twitter and poker – they do mix

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Yesterday I shared some of the blogs that I read. After doing so, I got some responses and tweets about it. It made me realize that I have quite a few poker friends and poker pros that I follow on Twitter. I follow about 380 twitterers and I am followed by as least as much.

Recently, when I mentioned that I wanted to find a way to cover up my cards when I play online poker, I got back at least 8 responses. Some were suggestions of how I could accomplish that. Thank you.  Two were supportive of the concept and one even supplied me with a poker article about a poker player who played against 180 and won the tournament without once ever looking at her cards. One of the respondents was genuinely concerned that I might be giving up an edge to my opponent if I tried that out.

For those of you who don’t know about twitter, let’s just say that it is a method of communications on the Internet. Twitter  allows you to express yourself in a message of 140 characters or less.  The messages are called “tweets”.  The persons sending messages are called “twitterers”. Go to Mashable.Com to see a whole list of twitter terms.

If you don’t have an account, that’s ok. Go to WWW.Twitter.com. Just use their search box and type in #poker or #tpt or even stevebrogan.  There you will see the information that people are typing; their conversations.  Caution: People are allowed to say anything they want, so cover your ears if bad words might offend you.

If you don’t use twitter, you might be missing out on a new experience. Start slowing. Follow people and organizations that interest you. Participate and enjoy.

Do you use twitter to enhance your poker experience? Do you follow the pros as well as the amateurs?

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Switching Gears!

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Today’s post is a bit off topic as I share with you some of the blogs that I like to read and that I think have value. I use Google Reader and subscribe to about 50 poker related blogs. Using Google Reader allows me to preview the current postings and then choose the ones I want to read in detail.

One of the blogs I read is the “Poker Bankroll Blog”, which uses guest writers. There is usually something there that I find educational or at least very entertaining.

This week I read Swyyft’s posterous blog and was entertained by the story he shared concerning the chat during a session with a high stakes online poker player.

The Mystical Jett is another blog site that contains very interesting and thoughtful posts and reviews.  Jett’s twitter account is @mysticaljett. I play poker online from time to time with him.

Paul Ellis writes on Pablos Place where he brings a lot of passion about poker, putting a “Bad Beat on Cancer”.  On twitter he is known as @coolwhipflea. We also run into each other on the online felt.

Bill Rini, a professional poker player is currently living in Thailand and always has something interesting, and very often, important to say about the state of online poker around the world at Bill’s Poker Blog.   Just visiting to see what pictures he has posted there is an adventure.  Follow Bill on twitter, @billrini.

Goeff Manning, aka @cprpoker on Twitter, has at least three great blogs. Complete Poker Rules contains recent stories regarding poker as well as sections about the rules of various poker games.  The Twitter Poker Tour site is both a forum and a resource for those of us who play on the #TPT tourneys. You will find the leader board, schedules and lots lots more. His latest site, Worth Cause Poker is dedicated to getting out information about fund raising poker events for charity. If you know of any local or national events, please let him know so that he can include it in his blog.

These are just a few of the many blogs that I check daily. Do you have any favorite blogs that you go for poker news or entertainment? Do you have some that you would recommend to me or others?

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A slight break from cash games

A poker tournament in progress. Taken by me.
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I took a break last night from playing the cash games and instead decided to play some Step sit n go’s at DoylesRoom.com. I have been reading The Poker Tournament Formula by Arnold Snyder. This book is different than the more than 15 books I have already read about playing in a No Limit Tournament. I am barely 90 pages into the 327 plus pages of the book.

While Mr. Snyder actually states what types of tourneys I should enter to employ these new ideas, I decided to give them a try while playing the Sit n Go’s at Doyles.

I need to give Mr. Snyder credit where credit is due. Trying these new ideas based on position in a tourney of less than the suggested minimum three tables and blind levels of less than the 20 minutes he suggested did not work for me at all.

So I think that until I finish his book and the practices he suggests in the manner he suggests, I will go back to my loose and aggressive, LAG, and tight and aggressive, TAG, methods of playing single table sit and go’s.

If and when I can enter the appropriate tourneys to use these skills, I will record my results and let you know how I made out. When I twittered on what I was going to try, I got all kinds of responses; from great ideas to what the heck are you trying to do!

Have you ever experimented with advance poker concepts only to find out you were not applying them to the right circumstances? Did you realize your errors and adjust your playing style back to your standard method of play?

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Double or Nothing!

Gambling man
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Last night I played No Limit Hold ‘Em at DoylesRoom.com while watching a previously recorded interview of Sarah Palin by Oprah. Lately, I had been playing my hands in what I called automatic mode so playing a cash game and watching a little TV at the same time should not be too big a deal. After all, I have been folding almost 85 to 92% of my hands pre-flop, even some of those when I was in the small blind as well.

The reason for most of my folding was that the table I was playing on was very aggressive and unless you had a strong hand or extremely good draw, you would be unable to call most of the pre-flop raises made by some of the aggressive players. Some raised the pot almost 6 times in a row so you knew they were playing power poker and were stealing the blinds. It is very unlikely to have a good starting hand in the top 16 that many times in a row.

If you were in the big blind or small blind when someone else raised the pot by at least three to four times the big blind, it was hard to defend when you were holding a 3 5, 7 8 or even a J 10. You really needed something to be able to either call or re-raise with. If you called and did not get a good flop you would be out at least 5 or 6 big blinds. Worse, if you did catch a pair with such a starting hand,  your opponent might have made a larger pair or trips. So in those circumstances, I would wait for AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, 99, 88, 77, ,66, 55, 44, 33, AK, AQ, Aj, or AT. Some of those hands I would even throw away if I was in early position or under the gun, meaning I was the first to bet or that there would be at least  four or five more to follow me if I bet or called the big blind.

28 hands were played while Diane and I watched the Oprah interview of Sarah Palin. I won a couple of small pots when I made pot size bets with no callers. Then I looked down and saw that I had pocket Kings, Cowboys. I was in early position so I put in a 4x the big blind raise or $2.00. I was re-raised by $2 and everyone else folded and I called. The flop was 6 K 10. with two cards of the same suit on the flop.  Unless my opponent was betting heavily on a flush draw, I was in good shape.  I placed a pot size brt, which left me with only a third of my stack. My opponent insta-called with no hesitation. The turn card was an Ace of diamonds which was a bit of a scare card as he could have had pocket Aces and this would have crushed my hand. I checked and he raised me all-in and I called as I was pot committed. Woot!!! He turned over AK against my KK. I had him dominated, as they say in the poker world. The only card he could catch on the river to win was one of the two remaining Aces. The river card was a 10, giving me a full house of Kings full of Tens for the best hand.

In just one hand, I had doubled up my starting stack from $25 to over $50 dollars. And only 29 hands had been dealt so far. This was going to be a great evening of poker for me. I had visions of increasing my bankroll even further by my careful playing style.

In less than five hands later, I was dealt pocket Kings again. I could not believe my good fortune.  I opened the pot by betting out $2.25. The opponent that I had beat with my last set of pocket Kings raised me to $7.50, pre-flop and I called. All of the other players had folded to this action. The flop was Qs,6s,Th, and I bet out a pot size bet of $16, trying to win the pot right there. My opponent shoved in his remaining $50 making it an all-in or fold decision for me. Without giving it too much thought, I called and was shocked to see that my opponent had pocket Aces. He had me crushed. The turn was a 5d and the river was a Jh. No help for me.

I lost my entire stack of $55 in just one hand. This was just like a game of double or nothing.  My wife looked over at me and said what happened? I said well, honey, that was variance. She looked at me and said “No dear, that was gambling!”. And she was right.  I had misplayed the hand. With my opponent’s raise, I should have figured out that he might have pocket Aces and when I did not improve at the flop, my best course of action should have been to check and fold if raised.

I did reload for another $25 and left the table an hour later with $19. Overall, I had lost $31 during the session.

Do you ever play on cruise control, not really following what is happening too carefully but just going by your hand value? Have you  ever made bad calls? How did you handle the loss? How did you keep from going on tilt?

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TPT "Bad Beat on Cancer" event was a success

Poker
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The BBoC event sponsored by the Twitter Poker Tour was a success with 314 players attending. This was more that triple the number of players that played the August 10, 2009 event.

The prize pool was $1,570 and $1,670 was raised for the Prevent Cancer Foundation as additional money was added to the donation based on the number of players entered in the event. The tourney started at 6:25 pm EST and had 12 Full Tilt Poker pros at the tables.

I was lucky enough to have Michael Craig at my table. Michael, who writes the Full Tilt Poker Blog, is a very good professional poker player.  The two hands I played against him had cost me a third of my chips. I was on an opened ended straight draw and called his pre-flop and post flop bet for about a third of my stack. We checked it down but I did not make my straight and his pair of Aces won the pot.

Of note, none of the 12 FTP pros made the money. And I am not sure why?  Within the first 10 hands at our table, Michael Craig’s stack went from 1,500 to less than 800. In the next ten hands he was able to triple up to over 2,400 and by the time I left the table he had over 3,400 in chips.

The structure for this tourney was a starting stack of 1,500 per player, with blinds increasing at every ten minutes, starting at 10/15 and increasing by level nine to 100/200 before antes start being paid by each player. I finished in 232th position out of 314. Only the top 27 players got paid for their efforts.

With 314 players you would need at least 52,500 to be in good shape to reach the final table. I arrived at that by multiplying the 1,500 in starting chips by 314 to get 471,000. Then I divided that by 9 at the final table. This is just a rough method that I use to determine what chip stack goals I should aim to achieve in order to finish and make the finial table.

This is a worthwhile charity even if you don’t win or don’t even play. We had some players that were “sitting out” because they could not make the event but registered anyway. Half of their registration fee went towards the charity. There were some players that announced that part of all of their winnings would be donated to the charity as well.

Perhaps the TPT BBoC event can become a quarterly event held on the third Sunday of February, May, August and November? We shall see.

Do you play charity events? Do you play for the win or are you satisfied to just participate for a good cause?

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