A slight break from cash games

A poker tournament in progress. Taken by me.
Image via Wikipedia

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
Image by waffler via Flickr

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

Image by Lewis Walsh via Flickr

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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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
Image by _mandrew_ via Flickr

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?

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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