Playing some No Limit cash sessions at Full Tilt Poker

Full Tilt Poker
Image via Wikipedia

For the last two months or so I had been playing mostly on DoylesRoom.com. I was playing at the cash games and the satellite tourneys for an entry to an upcoming WPT event. This week I decided to mix things up a bit. While I continued to play the Step tourneys, I went to other sites to play No Limit Hold ‘Em cash games.

Since my play and success had improved on Doyles, I wanted to see if my adjustments to the game would work on other sites. While I know that on any given day even a good player can have a bad session, I have had good results this week at DoylesRoom, Bodog and now at Full Tilt Poker.

I like the FTP interface, the detachable chat and easy access to the stats. The tables look normal, at least to me. The only technical problem I have is that my avatar does not express emotion. That might seem silly, but my opponents have the ability to make their avatar seem happy, angry, confused or just normal. Mine just sits like a bump on a log. I have tried a couple of different ones but to no avail. But this is not the important thing.

For the last six months, the only reason I log onto FTP was to play in either Twitter Poker Tour or Railbird.Com events. I had given up playing the cash tables because I always seemed to lose if I played.

Last night I bought into the .10/.25 cash tables and played in the style I have been accustomed to playing for the last two months, which is a tight but aggressive style playing mostly premium top 16 hands or when in position, drawing hands with great potential.

Last night I played for over 3 hours and was able to increase my bankroll by 50% before leaving the session and retiring for the night. I might have done a little better but my propensity for misplaying pocket Jacks of late cut into my winnings.  Maybe I should read some more about how to play with pocket Jacks? You think?

How many poker sites do you play on? Are they all the same to you? What is your favorite site?

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Chipping away at Bodog …

Bodog 15-Year Anniversary Emblem
Image by BodogCom via Flickr

I decided to take a break from playing the cash game at DoylesRoom.com and play at another site, Bodog. My account there allows me to play the .05/.10 No Limit tables without jeopardizing my bankroll. Based on my success at Doyles, I decided to try my skills out at Bodog.

I had forgotten that I don’t really like the site interface. Just the overall table view puts me off. But the players there are fairly loose. You might get 6 or 7 players out of nine in the pot with everyone limping in. That can cause problems if you have good hands like pocket Aces or Kings. If there are too many people in the pot, there is a greater chance that someone might out draw you and beat your hand. Overall, I was able to increase my bankroll by 10% before calling it a night.

While there appeared to be plenty of tables available at the stakes I was playing, I would join a table and within 15 minutes, people starting leaving. I know it could not have been my deodorant as we were online? With my style of play, I do not like to play with less then 8 people because the blinds will start eating away my stack while I wait for the best hands to play in the proper position. So when the amount of players got to less than 7, I would sit out and then leave the table to find one with at least 7 or 8 players.  As a result, I might have had to put in the large and small blinds without winning. This happened at least three times before I was able to find a table that played for at least an hour.

Overall, I think that a good player can do well at Bodog at the micro stakes level. Once my bankroll increases to about 3x it’s current amount, I will consider moving up to the next cash level of  .10/.25.

Do you play at more than one site? Do you have a favorite? Is one site more profitable for you than another?

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Jacks set me back – oops….

141/365 - Discipline
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I like to think that I have a lot of patience and discipline at the tables. In playing No Limit Cash games, I usually wait for good hands. I even fold A 10, KQ, KJ when I am first to bet, UTG, under the gun or UTG+1. In middle position I might call or raise with these hands. I will admit to occasionally misplaying AQ, UTG, but for the most part I stick to my plan.

Last night I played two separate cash game sessions. The first one, I ended up ahead by taking back more than twice what I started with. In between the first and second cash session, I played a Step 4 session and left in fourth place, winning another ticket to a Step 4 session. My last cash game session was not as good as the first.

There were some new players and I did not take the time to see how they play. In the hand that I had pocket Jacks, I was in the small blind and a middle position player raised to 4BB, big blinds, or $2.  My initial thought was to call and fold if I did not hit a Jack or fold if I did hit a Jack but an Ace, King or Queen also showed on the board.  I called the $2 bet. The flop was 6 2 10, rainbow, no flush draw likely. Instead of checking I bet $5 and my opponent raised to $10. Instead of folding, I called and now was pot committed. The pot size was such that I did not want to lose to a bluff, which I doubted. The turn was a 7 and my opponent bet all-in and I called. He turned over QQ for the best hand and won the pot.  My lack of discipline in that one hand had cost me my buy-in and had cut my gains for the day to just under $5.00.  In No Limit, all it takes is one badly played hand.

Do you play no limit? Do you give your opponents credit for better hands than yours based on their betting patterns? Do you have losing sessions at No Limit and how do you handle it?

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What you might encounter at DoylesRoom.com

Doyle Brunson in 2006 World Series of Poker - ...
Image via Wikipedia

For the past two months I have been spending most of my online poker playing time at DoylesRoom.com. Doyles Room was one of the first sites that I started playing at over four years ago.  I used to know some of the people I played against quite well back then. I am learning new people now. Prior to two months ago, I played almost exclusively at the Limit Hold ‘Em tables.

I used to hold my own at Limit but for some reason Limit is not played as much at DoylesRoom and when I did play it was against players who were better than I was and I lost.

I switched over to No Limit tables and read and re-read my No Limit books to be sure I would have an edge. Since playing No Limit, I have started to build up my bankroll there. Most sessions have shown to be profitable with just an occasional set back.

What I have noticed is the level of expertise by players, even at the .25/.50 tables. It seems that at least four or five of the nine people at the table have read both Super System and Super System 2 by Doyle Brunson.  Perhaps they got the books as a sign up bonus or as a prize. Whatever the case, some of these players make the Doyle Brunson text book moves described in his book. Doyle’s aggressive style of play is not for everyone.  I am not that aggressive, but knowing about that style allows me to defend myself properly.

In general, if you play Doyle’s recommended style of play, you will try to gain control of the table and you will attempt to take the blinds as often as possible. In general, you will enter the table with as large a stack as allowed and you will try to bully your way into winning pots. With good hand selections, you will be able to stand up to anyone who challenges you or tries to stop you from taking the blinds. You will come into a pot by betting the size of the pot and if you are challenged you will bet 3x the pot size to force your opponent to fold. You will show that you are willing to go all in with the worst of it and come out with the best of it. Of course all this sounds pretty good until you realize that perhaps other opponents have cards as well.

Still, these Doyle like players do pretty well and they do win and lose large size pots. In fact, I chose these type of players because of the large pot sizes. They make the occasional error and I sometime find myself in position to take advantage of these errors. Sometimes they overvalue their hands and think that AK pre-flop is the best all-in hand they can have. I don’t often go all-in pre-flop but when holding pocket Aces or Kings I will make an exception, especially when I know the other player’s possible range of cards.

Have you read either Super System or Super System 2 by Doyle Brunson? Do you play his style of No Limit? Are you able to play against that style of players?

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Doyle Brunson’s Super System: A Course in Power Poker, 3rd Edition

Super System 2: Winning strategies for limit hold’em cash games and tournament tactics

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Miscellany: Poker, Life, Chores and Thoughts+

Gambling man
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I am still trying to sort out my poker goals and integrate them into my daily life. I have yet to make regular visits to the local poker rooms but I know that I need to in order to improve my game, both at the cash tables and at the tournaments. It is just a matter of scheduling and planning.

While I am stuck at Step 4 at DoylesRoom.com on my quest to winning an entry into the “Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic” being held December 14th – 19th at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, I am pleased the results at the .25/.50 No Limit cash games at DoylesRoom. I am almost back to the beginning my initial starting balance. I have been averaging a gain of about 25% to 75% of my buy-in at each session. I do have an occasional losing session but am able to continue increasing my overall deposit. I currently have about eight buy-ins at the .25/.50 level and as soon as I have twelve buy-ins, I intend to move to the .50/1.00 tables. My overall goal is to grind my way up to the $5/$10 tables  within the next 12 months.

On the home front, this is our busy season at Brogan-Arts.com when special orders come in for  the Holiday season. I am gearing up for the special picture orders that we transpose into keepsake treasures.

While this might not seem exciting to some, I am thrilled about the fact that we will be able to have one of our cars in the garage this fall and winter. We can now move some of our garden tools and snow blower into the new storage shed.

Getting it all together can be tricky sometimes. Do you have poker goals and aspirations? How do you integrate poker with life and family?

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A reminder about putting a "Bad beat on Cancer"!

Bad Beat on Cancer Pin
Image by larrykang via Flickr

Even though I have already posted about this topic, I think it is important enough to repeat. I have lost relatives, friends and co-workers to cancer and I am sure you know someone who has as well. Anything we can do to bring awareness to this cause will help.

The following paragraph is from my friends at the “Twitter Poker Tour”. They are joining scores of other poker related sites to help raise awareness and money to fight cancer and support research. Please take the time to read this and do what you can. If you can not play in the tourney, please consider contributing to the fight against cancer. Even if you are unable to play, consider registering anyway. Your contribution will go to a good cause. Thank you.

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On November 15th, the Twitter Poker Tour will be conducting its Second Charity Tournament to benefit Bad Beat on Cancer. The tournament will again be hosted online at Full Tilt Poker. This time around the tournament will again headline Full Tilt Poker Professional Andy Bloch, and for the first time, Full Tilt Poker Co-Creator and Bad Beat on Cancer Co-Founder, Phil Gordon. Many other Professional poker players and celebrities are expected to also join the event. Read more

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The effects of getting tired hit me again while playing poker.

sleepy face
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Since October 18 I have played in 12 Step Sit N Go’s and my progress is as follows: 5,4,5,5,6,4,4,4,3,4,5,5,5 and I am currently back to having an entry ticket for Step 4 again.

Yesterday was a busy day for us. Besides doing some work for Brogan-Arts.com, we volunteered to do some grandchildren watching for Chis and his wife Katrina while they went out and enjoyed a date. He is only home a few days a month since the book he co-authored, “Trust Agents”, was released.  While the children are very well behaved, they are demanding in that they want to do things with Poppy and Grandma. Harold wants me to help him with WII games, and Violette likes to have Grandma help her with her projects. We only had the children for four hours or so but by the time they were picked up to go home, I was very exhausted.

So what did I do? Why I fired up DoylesRoom.com online poker site and registered for a Step tourney. I was the second registrant and I knew it might take an hour or so before enough people were available to play. I saw that a satellite for the Wednesday night bounty was running a late registration and I entered. I am not sure what I was thinking because I ended up busted out of the tournament in 20 minutes or less, 47th of 53 players. I absolutely was not rested enough to think properly about tourney play.

So I decided I would find a cash table and play there until my Step Sit N Go tourney started. I found a .25/.50 No Limit table that had a high dollar per pot average and sat in.  Over the course of the next 90 minutes, I was able to increase my buy-in from $25 to over $70. This was because I am conditioned to playing only premium hands or drawing hands in position. I was very satisfied with my results and my hand selection even though I did play in more than 16% of the hands dealt to me. I find if I fold at least 85% to 92% of the hands that I am dealt, I win more and lose less overall.

Just as I was dealt another hand, a second table opened up on my screen.  The Step Sit N Go #5, just started. I quickly exited from the cash game after folding my inferior hand and proceeded to play the tourney.

For the most part, I was doing well. I was always at least average or above average in chips. At some point during the session, my wife Diane asked if she could rail me so I set up my Netbook to display the Sit N Go on our large screen TV in the living room area of our house.  As I either folded, called, bet or raised with a hand, I would explain what I was doing and why.

At one point we were down to five players so all of us would get something for our effort. We would either advance to the next level, repeat this level or go down one level. I was the small blind and I was dealt an A7 off suit. I decided to bet out and see if I could take the pot right then. I bet 500 which was five times the big blind of 100. The chip leader called and all the rest folded. The flop was A 8 2 and gave me top pair. I bet out 200 and the big blind called. The turn was a Q and I bet out 200, hoping that my opponent would fold. The river was a K and I gave up betting and just checked. My opponent bet out 500 and I folded. Because I allowed myself to play a poor hand poorly, I gave up over 700 of my chips and now was in danger of falling from third place to fourth.  I knew that I should not have gone against the chip leader without at lease two pair or better in this case.

My final hand was a J 3 off suit, when I was in the big blind. The small blind called and the flop was J 8 2. I had top pair and bet out a pot size bet. At this time, the blinds were 100/200 and the bet took over a third of my stack. The small blind raised and I went all in only to face an A J. He also had top pair but with a great kicker. The only thought I had after the flop was that I had top pair. I had failed to even consider that my kicker was too low to be of any value. This was because I really was overtired and was not thinking about all the possibilities.  I ended finishing in 5th place and will have to start again, just one level lower than this one.

The whole point of this post is that I know or should know better than to play when I am not rested. Or I should be more careful, taking into account that I am not playing at full capacity. Except for the cash game win, it was a very frustrated end of the day all brought on by myself.  Sometimes I am my worst opponent.

How do you handle tiredness? Can you adjust your play to make up for how you feel? Do you just wait another day? What are your thoughts about playing tired?

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Jack's back!

Jack Love
Image by HAURY! via Flickr

In my previous post I talked about what  I learned on how to play with Jacks. But I may not have taken my own advice as I ran into Jacks in two of the poker sessions that I played yesterday.

In the morning session, I was dealt a pair of Jacks in early position. I placed a pot sized bet and was called by one person. The flop was J 10 6, rainbow, no matching suits. I made a 3/4 pot size bet and was called. The turn card was a 2, matching the 6, making it possible for a flush draw. I made a 3/4 pot size bet and again was called. The river card was an Ace. I bet 1/2 of the pot and was called. My opponent turned over his cards, a 10 6, for two pair and my three Jacks won a large pot. This time, having Jacks and playing them the way I did, produced good results for me.

Three hands later I was dealt pocket nines. I was in early position and just called the bet, not putting in a raise.  The flop was J 8 3. I bet out a 1/2 pot size raise and was called. The turn card was a Jack, giving me a pair of nines with a pair of Jacks on the board. As I was the first to act, I again bet a 1/2 the pot size. My opponent called. The river card was a Jack, giving me a full house of Jacks over nines. This did concern me as my opponent might have had a pocket pair higher than my nines. But his betting did not seem to indicate that this was the case. Or so I thought. I lead out with a 3/4 pot size bet and my opponent re-raised with a pot size bet. If I called, I would be all in and would lose my entire stack if I was wrong.

I gave the situation some thought, trying to figure out if he did have a higher full house than mine. Based on the betting, it did not seem likely.  So I called for all of my cash. We both turned over our cards.

I might have had the highest full house, but, he had a Jack 10, giving him four jacks, four of a kind for the best hand. He had let me do the betting for him. Not once had I considered that he might have had a Jack and that he was slow-playing this monster hand. Definitely, Jack was back, with a vengeance.

Being beat by four of a kind or quads, happened to me twice yesterday. The second time, I had pocket 10’s. At the end of the hand, at the river, there were three eights on the board, giving me a full house of eights over tens. And just like the morning session, I did not give my opponent credit for having an eight in his hand. The results of the evening session were the same. I ended up losing my buy-in with a full house against four eights. Overall, an interesting but frustrating way to end the day.  On the bright side, I am learning to be careful how I bet a full house when holding the smaller end of  the hand.  Before retiring for the night, I had recovered almost 70% of what I had lost.

When you have a full house, do you take into consideration that your opponent might have a larger full house? Do you bet cautiously or do you try to increase the pot size and force your opponent to fold if he has a hand that cannot beat yours? What has your results been when having the smaller half of  the full house? Have you ever had your full house beaten by quads?

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Fishhooks, Hooks, Jokers, Johnnies… Whatever you call them they can be bad news!

Jacks Back!
Image by rubyblossom. via Flickr

No matter what you call them, they can spell trouble in either a cash game or a tourney. I have been told that there are three ways to play pocket Jacks:  call with them, raise with them, or fold them. I have also been told that all three choices are wrong. I have had pocket Jacks. I have called with them, I have raised with them, and yes, I have folded them.

The problem with pocket jacks is that they can be beaten pre-flop by AA, KK, QQ and after the flop by AK and AQ. If you don’t hit your flop by getting another jack, your opponent who had Ax, Kx or Qx might have hit. Also, those players with smaller pairs from TT, 99, 88 on down to 22 might hit their card and have a set and if you did not get a Jack you might be out “jack”.

Even if you raise in early position, you might get callers and still don’t know where you stand until the flop and post-flop betting takes place.

I would not always throw these cards away.  As a rule, if I raised in early position or UTG, under the gun, and was re-raised, I might consider folding.  A re-raise in early position usually indicates pocket Queens or higher. Depending on the size of my stack, I might call and hope to hit a set on the flop. I would bet or raise if the flop had small cards with a Jack. If the flop were AKJ or AQJ, I would be very careful and might just check it down or fold to a raise unless I was pot committed.

How do you play pocket Jacks? Have you ever busted out with them because you gave them too much value? Were you able get away from them if the flop had two or more over cards?

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"Hello Dolly" and good bye chips!

Ace of Spades (Langford Style)
Image by Malkav via Flickr

The last couple of Twitter Poker Tour tournaments I have been in I have run across a hand that has been disastrous to get and play.

Back quite a few years ago, the hand, Ace Queen, or AQ was known as a “Doy;e Brunson” because he happened to get that hand quite a lot and lost a lot of pots and a lot of money when he played those two cards, suited or otherwise. In his first Super System volume he is quoted as saying “I never play those two cards!”.  Since winning back to back WSOP Main events in 1976 and 1977, the card combination of 10-2 has become the new “Doyle Brunson”.

Because Doyle Brunson is also know as “Texas Dolly” and because Dolly Parton is a beautiful lady, I would like to rename the “Ace Queen” the “Hello Dolly”. That way the person for whom the original hand was named after will still be associated with the hand and the beauty of the hand can be a reflection of DP.

But beware! This hand is not a premium hand and falls below AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT and AK in value. In some circles it is considered to be only the tenth highest ranked hand.

It was in last weeks #TPT Thursday night tourney that I came to know and dread the AQ. I caught the hand four times during the game and I lost with it, three time for a 75% losing rate. The problem with this hand is that if you catch a queen, you can still be beaten by AA, KK, AK or QQ. In any case, my misplaying of the hand cost me over 3/4 of my stack. I eventually busted out of the tourney in 6th place, one place off of the bubble.

Bear in mind, playing this hand was horrible because I had read Super System 2 by Doyle Brunson and knew what he had to say about this hand. Of course I had seen him play this hand on TV so he did not even follow his own advice.  I have also seen Phil Ivey lose three attempts to win a WPT, World Poker Tour, event because he also misplayed the AQ hand. Does that put me in the same league as Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey? NO WAY! It is just that the seductiveness of the hand will cause you to say good bye to your chips, cash and tourney hopes if you play or misplay the Hello Dolly.

Do you have a hand that causes you to lose every time you play them? Are you superstitious about certain card combinations? Do you fold your dreaded hand or play them any way, hoping for the best?

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