January 15, 2010

I Love This Game

What’s Up Degens?

I just realized it’s been a few weeks since my last post, so I’ll try to do a little catching up without boring everyone to death or going overboard. Like always, here’s a few songs I think everyone should check out.

Mobb Deep – Give Up The Goods (Just Step). Mobb Deep is one of my favorite artists, but I prefer their hip-hop type songs than the gangster I’m gonna spray your brains shit. Their lyrics are pretty ridic, so be sure to check it out, especially the last verse.

Raekwon – Gihad. Cool beat, me likey.

The last few weeks have been really awesome. In my previous post, I mentioned how my main poker goal for 2010 was to maintain my focus on being a learner and not a winner. Learning should definitely always be your priority, and winning is just a nice bonus for learning a bunch and improving your game.

For the past couple of weeks, my mindset has completely changed. I’ve been practically sprinting out of bed to get to the computer and watch videos, review hands, post on forums, and have mainly just been really enthusiastic about getting better. At the beginning of the day, I’m mainly just saying in my mind “man, I can’t wait to see how much I learn today, or how much better I’m going to get”, instead of what I used to say, which was “man, I can’t wait to see how much money I win today”. I think this is a really positive step in the direction I want to go with poker because honestly there’s so much variance in poker (particularly PLO) that if you only focus on winning money, you’re going to be pretty depressed on the days when you don’t. Your thoughts eventually devolve from “I can’t wait to see how much money I make today”, to “man, I hope I don’t lose as much today as I did yesterday”. Focusing your progress and results on learning allows you to win something EVERY DAY. I’ve come to the realization that my goals in poker will never actualize unless I learn the necessary skills to get there, and there’s no better time to begin than now!

To prove to myself that I was only going to focus on learning and playing my A game, I decided to move down in stakes and play 6 tables. I’ve spent about two weeks playing PLO100, and have done pretty well. I think I’m up something like 30bi’s, but more important than winning I’ve learned a lot about what it means to play within your bankroll, and how much clearer decisions are when you are completely detached from the money. I was having a conversation with a student the other day about the progress he’s making. He explained that it’s a great feeling to be able to go back and play his old stakes and basically crush the regulars that he revered when he first started playing. I remember when I first started playing PLO, I figured I’d be the happiest guy in the world if I could beat PLO100 for a decent clip on a consistent basis. I vividly remember feeling terrible after losing 10bi’s the first time I played PLO100, and basically tilting my nuts off because I felt completely uneasy and unprepared for the new limit. The regulars seemed so good! They were more aggressive than the PLO50 regs, and I didn’t know how to adjust; I was completely uncomfortable with almost every situation that came up.

Oh, how things have changed. It’s been really awesome going back and playing and seeing things wiht a clearer perspective. Understanding that you’ve actually made some progress in your game in the past 18 months or so is a huge confidence builder. Sometimes if you have really elevated expectations for your game, you feel like you’re not improving at all, or you’re even getting worse, which is a terrible feeling. Anytime you’re putting a ton of effort into an activity and aren’t getting back what you feel is deserved, it’s a very empty feeling. One of my favorite quotes is “You must always be asking yourself if the juice is worth the squeeze”.

For 2010, I’d like to continue my focus on learning and not worry about the money at all. I’m going to learn my ass off, and build my bankroll by learning the most I can from every article, book, coaching session, video, and playing session I can. I don’t care if I lose 20bi’s in a session; if I learned 20 bi’s worth of information then I’ll be happy. The money will eventually come back. I plan to advance my game by doing several things:

1. Get the most out of my coaching with LearnedFromTV. This will probably be the activity I’ll be focusing on the most, both because I paid a lot for his book/coaching package, but also because I think the stuff he’s teaching me is really juicy, and truthfully a pretty scarce resource to the rest of the PLO world.

2. Post more in forums. I’m pretty bad at posting in forums, but I’m a member on like five different forums so there’s no excuse to not be getting in there and learning from the posts of others, as well as analyzing tough spots as well.

3. Play more HU against students. I’ve really learned a lot by playing a few of my students in the past few weeks. It’s been fun because between the four of them, they are all really good poker minds, have been successful in different areas of poker (HUPLO, MTT’s/Cash, 6max etc.), so adapting to each style and making the correct adjustments has revealed some pretty glaring flaws in my game. I also have picked up some cool tips from them in regards to how to adjust to certain player, and I really like some of the lines they take in several spots. It’s been really useful.

4. Be honest with myself. The first step to being a solid poker player is taking the most objective perspective you can when analyzing your play and the play of others. Whatever situations I come across, I want to be as honest with myself about whether I played it profitably or not, and what the weakest parts of my game are. I want to find myself in as many uncomfortable situations as possible, and then turn them into a strength in my game. For example, one thing I’d like to work on is playing 200bb+ against opponents. It’s a big disadvantage if you don’t know how to play deep stacked in PLO for a few reasons. First, pots get huge, and stacks are constantly trading. Additionally, fish love to play deep, so you’re losing a ton of ev if you don’t know what the correct line to take is against them on later streets. I play to get better at this through always buying deep (even if that means moving down), and playing deep HU as much as possible.

By focusing on these four things, I hope to finally reach my goal of playing 5/10 by the end of the summer. It will take some work and grinding, but I think it will definitely be worth it once I get there.

Here’s a few tips for anyone that’s reading this and wants to know how to crush the lower and micro stakes of PLO. Although PLO 100, 200 and 400 get tougher as the stakes increase, I noticed several glaring mistakes that players make at PLO100 that aren’t as common at PLO400 and higher. You’ll still see a bunch of these mistakes at PLO200, but a little less.

1. Players really don’t three bet enough, but particularly OOP. One thing I’ve changed in my game that I’ve found to be really effective at all limits is 3b’ing a wider range OOP against aggressive late position openers. Assuming we’re 100bb deep, there’s a lot of advantages to widening your 3b’ing range OOP, particularly against the players who are opening aggressively in late position. I’ve said in earlier posts that the two main reasons for 3b’ing are for isolation and for value, and that doesn’t change when you’re OOP. Another good reason for 3b’ing instead of flatting out of the SB is because flatting puts in you many tough spots by reducing your options postflop significantly. If you flat instead of 3b, the BB comes along a very high percentage of the time, so bluffing postflop becomes really tricky unless you get a good board to do it on or you flop some reasonable equity that you’re comfortable c/r’ing with.

2. Players
The kind of hands I like to 3b with are a variety of middle and upper rundowns, and then big suited broadways and double paired hands, and generally any hands that have a reasonably smooth equity distribution postflop. This makes sense, because we’re mainly just looking to flop a strong piece of equity we’re either comfortable going with on a variety of boards, or that dominates our opponent’s getting it in range. Also, I like 3b’ing rundowns because you not only get it in with good equity on a wide range of boards, but you can rep A-high or K-high boards easily as well. It’s probably not a surprise that I’m unenthusiastic about 3b’ing trashy AA** and KK** hands OOP (unless Villain is super fit/fold postflop). Most opponents place a high percentage of AA** or broadways in your OOP 3b’ing range anyway… So I don’t know about you, but telling our opponent what our hand is, making the pot big, and giving him position on us doesn’t sound too appealing. Strong KK** and AA** hands (mostly the ones that have smoother equity distribution) are still fine to three bet though.

Three betting lowers the SPR for us, which is good when we’re OOP because it’s much more difficult for the BTN to bluff us, which means we force him to play more ABC against us. There’s very few boards where an opponent can bluff raise us with an SPR of 3, so it makes our value betting/calling ranges more defined, as well as our bet/folding ranges. Having the initiative is really important for maximizing our fold equity, since we’ll be c-betting most of the time when we 3b OOP. In general, we mostly want the SPR to be lower OOP and higher IP.

Mostly just make sure you’re 3b’ing late position openers with high card smooth hands and your life will be easy.

2. Regs miss out on a ton of value. Thin value betting is the name of the game, particularly since the state of the games at the lower limits is really passive. Players calling ranges are so wide, that you can get some insane value in spots you never thought possible. It seems like everyone is so scared of “value-owning” themselves, that they’ve forgotten about bet sizing. I see a lot of regs checking back J high flushes against monster fishes that would call them with bottom two.

On the topic of value, it’s important to recognize the correlation between the amount you bet and the range that’s calling you. More simply, the bigger you bet, the narrower the range that will call you (assuming normal calling ranges, obviously big fish have inelastic calling ranges but that’s a discussion for another day), and the smaller you bet, the wider someone will call you. For the sake of examples, let’s say we’re playing .50/1 NLHE, and I open to $500, you’re only going to call me with monsters, but if I min raise, you’ll call me with a very wide range that includes Ax hands, Kx, and both suited and unsuited connectors and pairs.

Let’s use a simple example with a postflop scenario. You raise preflop and get called by a loose-passive player in the blinds. Flop is T46dd, LP checks, you bet 8 into a pot of 10 with Jd7s4s9c and get called. Turn is the 2d completing the flush, and the LP leads 10 into 18, you call. River is a brick, LP checks, and with a pot of 38, how much should you bet? I see a ton of regs checking this back. You can honestly bet like 1/4 here to get called by a very wide range that included straights, two pairs, and worse flushes. Obviously if you bomb the river you’re probably only getting called by bigger flushes, but by betting 1/4 pot or 1/3 pot, you can widen his calling range considerably. A big mistake of beginning players is thinking that they can only bet big on later streets for value, and that in fact their only two options are to bet big or check back so they don’t “value own” themselves. Who cares if you value own yourself for 1/4 pot? Given how wide is calling range is, the times he calls you with a better hand are far less frequent then the times you show a winner in a situation like that.

The one thing you really need to be aware of when value betting thin on the river is the player type you’re doing it against. If you think he’s capable of bluff-raising you light, don’t value bet thin. You’ll be forced to b/f the winner too much. Contrastingly, if you think an opponent is capable of value-betting thin, then you can check raise bluff HIM on the river.

Anyways, I guess I’ll post a few hands to wrap it up that I’ve played in the last few weeks. I’ve saved probably fifty or so hands to post for the blog, but I kept putting off the blog until now, so I’ll just post the best ones for entertainment.

Winners:

Fun Flop
Here’s one from awhile ago that I found that I think is funny. What line would you take on the flop when you flop this strong? I like mine personally. If I check it’s too obvious, If I bet small people often will call once and then fold later, so it’s hard to get value that way. The pot is already pretty big, so I don’t think someone can throw away trips if I bomb it. Plus, they know I’m capable of 3b’ing light in that situation, so knowing that I’m capable of 3b’ing non-AA hands is definitely in the back of their minds. It looks like I’m bluffing, ya? What do you do there with trip Jacks? I don’t think I would fold tbh lol.

River Value
I want to talk about this hand because we had some discussion about these concepts earlier. First, I like min opening hands like this because these players weren’t very 3b’y, so if they do 3b me I can fold pretty easily since my hand plays terribly against a tight 3b’ing range. But it plays fine MW, and in general I prefer min-raising over limping, because if you limp, players will isolate you light, but if you min-raise, they’ll play more straight forwardly, and it’s harder for them to define your range. In general, anytime I can widen my range and narrow theirs, I’m happy to do so.

Anyway, posflop is where it gets interesting. First, we’re going to harp on Tomc for a sec. His bet sizing on the flop is very bad. Pot these flops into two other opponents always imo. It’s wet, and against a c/r’ing or c/c’ing range your equity isn’t going to be super awesome, so by only betting 2/3 pot he’s widening our calling ranges on a board where he probably shouldn’t be. My turn bet is really standard for obvious reasons. I have the nuts, but the board is pretty bad and I have no redraws. Once he calls, his hand is basically face up as either a set or two pair, or a missed draw.

The river kind of goes along with what I was referring to earlier about value betting on the river. We know he doesn’t have the nuts, so how do we select our bet sizing? I picked 31 because I figured his range was either the ignorant straight, a missed draw, or a set/2pr. I definitely want a call, but if I bomb the river he’s going to lay down a set or 2pr very easily. I chose something close to 1/4 pot because I knew he’d probably still call me with most of his range, but since he’s aggressive, it gives him room to try to turn his missed draws into bluffs as well. I might be able to bet like 51’ish, but I think you get the point. I think I picked a lower amount because I weighted his range more heavily towards missed draws than made hands. If I knew what he had, I probably would’ve bet bigger since he’s never going to bluff raise me, he’s only going to call with that type of hand. Make sense?

Gotcha
-Opponent is pretty barrely, and on this kind of board I like flatting because there aren’t that many draws, so I’m ok gambling that the draw doesn’t get there and giving a free card to try and get him to commit on the turn and win a stack. Fortunately it worked out. 100% equity on the turn is nice.

Standard
His hand is pretty bad for calling 3b’s fwiw.

Nice Flop

Weekends FTW

570bb yay

This is why Jacks suck deep imo

LOL
-This one is sort of standard, but I kind of want to mention it because I don’t normally 3b UTG openers very much, but these are the sort of hands to do it with that are non-AA. The KK are smooth enough, we’re deep, and he was pretty aggro so I know he can have a reasonably wide UTG opening range. Plus, I figured he could stack off 200bb with something like he did :).

wtf is he doing?

Weeeee

Games Are Good

Big Flop 3 Way

Losers:
KKKQ = Nuts imo

:(
I considered 4b’ing pre flop, but meh. This guy’s an aggro fish, so this is definitely the top of his range. He should fold a lot, pretty standard but my equity should be pretty good here overall. So it goes.

Weird Hand
Am I supposed to just call the river??

Awkward Spot
It’s a weird spot because of the stack sizes and being OOP. Plus it’s tricky to judge your equity because I have the NFD but a lot of non-SD outs. Having the pair here is big though. The problem here is that he was a tight player, so his UTG opening range is suited rundowns, broadways and big pairs. He would never c-bet this flop lightly in position, so I know he has a hand. I figured he has a set or two pair here a lot, and then the rest is combo draws that I’m doing ok against, and I probably even have a little FE. Calling is awkward because spades and straight cards kill my action, so since I’m never in like super terrible shape shipping was my only option. Being OOP sucksss. Standard though.

vul
Felt like I ranged this guy to almost exactly what he had, but meh. I have blockers to sets, so he always donks draws here, so basically waiting for a safe turn and shipping is the only play. I love position!

87% Flop Equity, wtf is he doing?

Weirdest Hand Ever
I should honestly just copy paste my analysis from the email convo I had with someone about this, but basically the moral of the story is I should have checked back the riv. Villain is nitty 18/8/0 through 100 hands, 1.0 aff, and this deep I would’ve heard from QJ already, especially if he has a redraw, and I really can’t see a single worse hand on the river that calls me. If I am going to bet, I should be something like 30 just in case he somehow rivered a jack high flush or by some act of God has tens full, but he basically never ever does given the board texture. Bet sizing is everything! I had 7 tables open at the time, and just kind of looked over, saw that I filled up, and typed in bet, and then like right when I bet, I shouted “NO! HE HAS ACES FULL, HE’S GOING TO C/R ME, FUCK!”. So it goes. Would’ve been the sickest check back everrr.

Yuck
Don’t think I can fold riv. And he still calls me with 100% of his raising range, which I think includes enough 8’s full, 86 and A6 combos to be profitable for me.

One Time!
Like LFTV says, this is one of those situations where you just call pre flop until you can’t anymore.

I think this ended up being longer than I expected it to be, but meh. Like I’ve said before, I have a problem with writing short entries, so hope y’all don’t mind. Kudos to those who finished and checked out the hands. They’re pretty entertaining imo. I hope everyone is running well!

GL,

John

Posted By KasinoKrime at 02:31 AM

13 Comments

13 Comments:

Gauss posted on January 18, 2010 at 02:40 AM

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I very much agree with the idea stated that playing at a stake where you can handle the losses is crucial.


Gauss posted on January 18, 2010 at 02:41 AM

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as in "completely detached" from the money, good


KasinoKrime posted on January 19, 2010 at 00:51 AM

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Hi Gauss -

Thanks for checking out the blog!


heh posted on January 22, 2010 at 03:49 AM

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You should move on to the next level and expand your 4 betting range against habitual positional 3 betters.

Happy to discuss.


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