February 10, 2014

Winning Poker in 2014

One of my favorite aspects of poker (and probably some people’s least favorite) is the cut-throat nature of the game. If your game stagnates and you cease to improve, then you lose. Contrastingly, a willingness to work on your game breeds success, and seals the fate of those that rest on their heels. And after playing professionally for more almost four years now, I remain astounded by how fast the game changes, and fascinated by the new training materials and methods employed by some of the games best players.

And since I often get asked how to become good at poker in the first place.. And how someone can go from nothin’ to somethin’ in the shortest time frame possible.. It feels appropriate to spend a few minutes offering some advice on the topic. 

You know.. Poker training has evolved significantly in the past several years.. And just in the past twelve months, there are several new tools available for purchase that promise to transform you into a monster at the tables. Whether it be new sites like Run It Once or Ivey League Poker.. Or even new software tools like the Odds Oracle, Omaha Ranger, or Poker Juice, everything out there seems to hold the solution to revamping your game.

Call me old fashioned.. But I don’t think any of these are the answer to your poker problems. From both the perspective of playing poker for a living and seeking a boost to my own game, as well as someone that markets training tools to the poker playing constituency.. I can honestly say that hitting the felt and gaining real-life experience is the truest way to see an improvement. 

The funny thing about poker players is that they are obsessed with instant gratification, and most (but not all) are quite lazy with regards to their improvement approach. They want software programs with built in alerts that tell them whether to raise, fold, or call. They want giant HUD’s that reveal everything about their opponent. They want an instructor to teach them which hands to three-bet and which stats on the HUD help them play more tables without suffering a losing session (for a price affordable that everyone can afford, obv) 

But the truth is that poker is an incredibly complex game.. One that uses more than just finite factors to determine who the winners or the losers are. Factors such as tilt, game selection, and bankroll management create the “human-element” … As Ben Sulsky puts it, “I feel like just because our software is really good at measuring equity, sometimes we think equity is what we want to measure.” The aforementioned human-element is what makes poker beautiful, and keeps me engaged with this game, and I hope (and don’t foresee) this changing any time soon.

Over the past several years amidst grinding millions of hands, coaching more than 200 players at all stakes, and talking to countless successful players, I can honestly say that what everything that encompasses winning (and losing) in poker relies on two areas: poker theory, and your ability to apply that poker theory. Or more simply, theory, and application. Counter-intuitively, most successful players that I have come to know personally do not have world class theory. In fact, very few of them even watch poker videos or read any strategy. But you can bet money they have an ocean of invaluable experience from grinding and understanding the opposition. Similarly, I know many players that have a keen understanding of poker theory, but can’t seem to break out of playing low stakes. In fact, I used to be the same.

If you want to be a winning player in 2014, then take responsibility for your game. Learn how to pull the trigger. Force yourself to breach the comfort zone that’s forged from years of autopiloting. Now, each player has different thresholds for their “comfort zone”. For a beginner, their blood may pump when the bubble breaks for the first time. For an advanced player, it could be final tabling a Sunday major, or bluffing a tough reg with a big river bet in a high stakes cash game. Regardless, you need to recognize it, create a plan to feel the burn, and then get yourself to think straight in a high-pressure spot.

Some months ago, I read an interesting article that said the primary reason most heart-attack victims end up dying, is because they can’t dial 911 on the telephone. They are so panicked from the realization of having a heart attack, they can’t settle down enough to guide their fingers accurately on the keypad.

Of course this is an exaggerated example, but I believe a similar takes place in a poker hand. The first time you encounter a “big-hand” that breaches the aforementioned comfort zone, valuable moments are spent thinking “oh my god, this is a big hand.. It’s time to take big-hand measures!”, and before you know it, confusion ensues..  And self-pity follows when the pot is pushed the other way. 

Here’s the point. I’ve found that most poker players (even good ones) live in fear. Poker training sites do a good job of creating an element of fear in the sense that if you don’t have a membership to their site.. If you don’t listen to the latest perspective from the most recently successful, high-stakes pro, then you’ll “miss out”.. Fall behind the curve.. And quickly become outmatched by the other players at the table. And worst of all, be broke because of your lack of participation!

The truth.. Is that most poker content is subpar, and even the best instructors often make poor videos. This is due to the fact that making high quality content is very time consuming and for a top-notch player, equates to a terrible hourly rate. I can count the number of instructors I respect on one hand, and typically find watching videos from anyone else to be –EV. 

Not to say these instructors are bad players.. They’re not. In fact many are quite good. But the issue behind relying too much on poker videos for the advancement of your game has to do with the inability of most instructors to actually teach you how to think through a poker hand. While it’s true that watching poker videos won’t necessarily hurt you.. 99% of instructors fail to teach how to apply the strategy they employ at the tables. More than anything, what constitutes a winning player is their ability to transform hard-earned knowledge into bb’s. It’s dangerous to copy other player’s games. The best skill-sharpening activity, and most bona-fide way to organically grow your poker game is learn to think for yourself and have the confidence/humility to make decisions based off your own moxy, and most importantly, learn from your mistakes.

So ultimately.. When you arrive at the decision between whether to invest in something for your poker game.. Be it a coach.. Training site.. Or poker book.. Just make sure that it's geared towards the refinement of your poker decision process..  Time is of the essence, and how well you spend the time between training and playing will determine how much you make at the end of the day. 

GL,

KK

Founder/Lead Instructor at www.PLOQuickPro.com

 

 

Posted By KasinoKrime at 11:02 PM

96 Comments

Tags: poker plo improving poker training PLO QuickPro

June 02, 2013

MADE A WSOP FINAL TABLE!!!!

Hey guys!

This is going to be really short and quick because I need to get some rest, but I'm really excited because I have made my first final table at the WSOP! It's the 1500NL Six-Max. I am 3/7 of the seven remaining. First gets $324k. I've played really well to get here, and I'm looking forward to getting a huge score tomorrow! If anyone from DC is out here in LV, stop by and say hello!

Here's a link to the live stream and live reporting for those interested. 

http://www.wsop.com/2013/live-video/

http://www.pokernews.com/live-reporting/2013-world-series-of-poker/event-4-no-limit-hold-em-six-handed/

Wish me luck! 

John

@jbeauprez

Posted By KasinoKrime at 11:01 AM

43 Comments

July 15, 2012

Bring On Day 6!

Hey guys!

Although I'm dead tired from playing all day, I wanted to write a quick entry letting you know I advanced to day 6 of the main event! There's 97 players left, and I have 2.5M in chips. The average is ~2M I think, so I'm looking pretty good. Just got a look at my table draw for tomorrow, and it appears my table has a TON of chips on it. From the looks of it, it will probably be the featured table. The chip leader of the whole tourney with ~7M chips is on my direct right, which is certainly better than dealing with Vanessa on my left (which is what I had to battle for a couple of levels yesterday). 

I want to do my best to rest up for tomorrow, and I've been writing down many of the big or interesting hands I've played for later review, which I'd like to include in some blog posts/articles later, but right now I'm having an argument with my roommate Chance about what the best line to take is regarding a hand I played towards the end of the night, and I want your guys opinion too. 

Here's the situation. I got moved a few times throughout the day, and eventually landed on a table that included Isaac Baron, David "ODB" Baker, and a few other unknowns. I built my stack up from 1.1M to 2M pretty quickly, but then got back down to like 1.7M to begin this hand. I have some history involved with the villain in this hand. He and I have played a lot of PLO at the Aria (mostly 5/10), and he knows I'm a solid thinking player, that I make PLO training videos etc. He's sitting with 3M to start this hand. 

Blinds are 15k/30k/4k. He opens to 65k from UTG+2, and I alled from the hijack with AKo. Could make an argument for 3b'ing, but there were two shorty's behind us and also Isaac Baron was in the BB and I thought there was a chance he could put the squeeze on, in which case I could back raise jam it. As it happens, we go heads-up to the flop. 

Flop (211k): Th7d6s

He checks, and physically I thought he looked strong. I also thought he would cb air and overcards, and it seemed to me that he was checking with the intention of continuing, so I decided to check back, particularly since I don't have enough chips to threaten his tournament life, and I dont' want to burn a large % of my stack triple barreling a solid player on a thin bluff. I check back.

Turn (211k): Qh

We both check again. Same logic for checking back the flop applies here on the turn as well. Against fish I would bet here, but against competent players I think checking is better. Although, if I was against a fish I probably would've just stabbed on the flop. 

River (211k): Jx

Here's where it gets interesting. Villain leads 85k. I raise 295k, thinking he must be value betting his slow plays and backdoored 2prs/sets, and assuming that my hand is under-repped since I didn't raise pre. And given that he knows I'm a thinking player, he could perceive me to have bluffs in my range, so then his range is inelastic here. Turns out... He makes it 595k straight.. Now, I have 1.3M total behind (excluding the 295k I already bet). Do we jam, or do we raise a smaller amount? If you raise smaller, what's your sizing and why? Any additional comments are appreciated. 

Follow me for updates from the main event on twitter (@jbeauprez) if you'd like. Wish me luck!

KK

Posted By KasinoKrime at 10:27 AM

18 Comments

July 14, 2012

Day 5 Comin' Up!

Yo!

Although I'm short (320k going to 6k/12k/2k), I'm very optimistic going into tomorrow. I felt like I played great on day 4 to just stay alive, survive the periods where I was completely card dead, and also felt like I was reading physically pretty well. To be honest, today was one of the most fun days I've had playing poker probably ever. Lots of interesting pots, and the environment is extremely electric with the ESPN crew swarming to the table with cameras each time a big pot occurs. 

Just had a chance to look at my table draw for tomorrow. OUCH! Vanessa is obviously on my direct left with a mountain of chips, and Isaac Baron is at my table too. In a weird way, I'm glad I'm short because it should give me a good opportunity to pick up some dead money from all the aggression. Also, if I actually had a ton of chips, I would have to play tight and straightforward with Vanessa on my left. 

I still have a few friends in the event (my roommate Chance Kornuth and my close friend Loren Klein), so I'm rooting hard for them too. Anyhow, time to sleep! Follow @jbeauprez for updates if you wanna rail. Wish me luck!

KK

Posted By KasinoKrime at 08:45 AM

14 Comments

July 13, 2012

Made it to Day 4

Hey Guys!

Real quickly, just wanted to write a quick entry and say that I made it to day four of the main event! I began day 3 with only 70k in chips, got as low as 49k, but never really gave up and eventually built my stack up to 300k to end the night! There are ~740 players left and 666 pay, so will definitely be hitting the bubble in the first couple of hours tomorrow. Would love to write a more detailed report about the day, but I'm already tired as it is so the cool hands will just have to wait :)


GL to all DC guys still in it! Follow me @jbeauprez on twitter for updates if you'd like!


KK

Posted By KasinoKrime at 10:40 AM

50 Comments

July 12, 2012

Main Event HH Review

Hey Guys - 

Having trouble sleeping again, so thought that typing out some HH's I've played so far in the main event would help speed up the process, and hopefully ignite some good discussion. I'll post some HH's and my thoughts about the players, and you guys tell me what your line would be, or where I messed up. 

Day 1: 

Blinds: 100/200 no ante

I open to 450 with 6d7d from the hijack. BTN calls. 

Flop (1200): Ad7x3d

I cb 675, BTN quickly makes it 2k. I call. 

Turn (5200) 9d

I check. BTN quickly and confidently makes it 3.5k. I have 27k behind and he covers. So here's where I think our options can diverge. Is check/raising better than check/calling? If we check/call, do we lead blank rivers, or look to c/c again? Reads are obviously important. Villain is middle aged donk from SoCal, and has been built up a reasonable stack by getting hit in the face with the deck. He's also open limped with TT and KK from EP. I also saw him raise a cb on a Js4x2s flop with TT earlier in the level. 

I personally think check/calling and leading the river is the best option. From my experience, these types of players are unlikely to raise cb's with draws (even KQdd usually peels), so his flop raise and turn betting range is heavily weighted towards made hands. While check/raising could theoretically maximize our value, I think he will get away from naked Ax hands if I c/r, and will only call the c/r with a set or 2pr.. But if I call the turn and look to c/c the river, I'll miss value from these same hands (he'll almost always check back his entire range here unless he makes a flush), so it's important to lead the river imo to extract the most value. 

Results: I called the turn. River was Qx and it checked thru (mistake). He showed A9 and I won a decent pot early on. 

Blinds: 100/200 no ante

Hijack limps, SB completes and I check my option in the BB holding 97s. 

Flop (600) 778r

SB checks, I check, HJ who was extremely passive preflop but somewhat aggressive postflop bets 1k... I call. Here's a c/r or lead could be debated, but I settled on a c/c for a copule of reasons. First, you want the opponents to improve to one pair hands that will call one or two streets of betting. If I lead the flop the only result will be folds a high % of the time, and since it's a rainbow flop, there's even fewer draws that can peel me. Additionally, I'm less concerned about giving SD's free cards because the 9 fills me up anyway. Additionally, physically the HJ appeared weak, so I wanted him to continue barreling. 

Turn: (2600) 2x

Villain bets 2k. I call. Same reasoning as above. He looks weak, and although I was confident with my read, a passive opponent is still firing bombs at me on a paired board, so there's a potential that my trips are no good here some % of the time. 

River: (6600) 9x (OH HELLLLO)

This part is up for debate. Do we lead or c/r? Effective stacks are ~30k. In the hand I felt c/r'ing was best. I still believe most players will bet naked 9x here, and if he just made a straight he will obviously value bet it. Any spot where opponents will vb thinly we must c/r the nuts. And although our hand isn't the "nuts", it should essentially be treated as such here imo. Although against this particular opponent, if i c/r and he jammed I would probably fold. 

Results: Villain bets 5k, I c/r to 17.5k and he calls with 56 and I win another nice pot early on. 

Day 2: 

Blinds are 300/600/75

UTG player is a younger player from the UK and seems somewhat fishy, but it's only been a couple of orbits so difficult to tell. As this hand is being dealt, he mentions that "nobody has limped at our table so far, which is odd to him because there were tons of limped pots at his previous table". 

UTG limps for 600, and I raise to 1850 from MP2 holding Ac3c. UTG calls. 

Flop (4975): Tc5x4c

UTG check/calls 3400

Turn (11,775): Qx

UTG quickly leads for 3600 with 30k behind. I cover. What's our best line here? I'm not going to post results for this one until afterwards, because I think there are many options, and I would like to hear some opinions here before I reveal what I did. 

Blinds: 300/600/75

I open UTG to 1450 with AcAd and get called by the HJ and the BTN, both of whom I cover. 

Flop (5925): Js8x3s

I cb 3800 and only the btn calls. Not a ton of info on the btn other than he's been relatively straight forward so far. When I googled him before the day began, I saw that he went deep in the main three years ago, but otherwise no notable scores since then. Probably a recreational player that plays the main event and some other big tourneys each year. 

Turn (13,525): Kx

I cb 8900, and after some hesitation he makes the call. 

River (31,325): As

Villain has ~55k back and we cover. What's our best plan on this river? Again, I want to hear your thoughts about villain's likely range, and what we should do. 

Anyhow, I think that's all I have for now. At dinner break on day 2 I had 140k which felt like a mountain at the time, but unfortunately didn't win a hand after dinner break and my stack has been reduced to 72k. Think the average is around 90k so I'm still doing ok, but will definitely need to make up some ground on day 3, which begins in 10 hours, so I should probably get some sleep! Thanks to everyone for reading the blog. Feel free to follow some updates tomorrow @jbeauprez, and good luck to anyone else that's in it!


John


Posted By KasinoKrime at 09:17 AM

12 Comments

July 10, 2012

Main Event Day 2 Comin' Up

What's up guys? 

Having a lot of trouble falling asleep right now, so figured writing up a blog would help me get some rest.. And rest is certainly important, because tomorrow is day 2 of the main event, and I have some chips to work with (94k with blinds starting at 250/500/50), which is a stark contrast to last year, where I began day 3 with only 36.5k. I ended up cashing last year for $22k, so definitely have high hopes this year with a much healthier stack. 

I know it's cheesey and everyone says it, but the ME is truly the best tournament in the world. The size of the prize pool, the deep structure, and the mixture of recreational and world class players makes me feel the same excitement as I did when I was a kid on Christmas Eve. It's like.. No matter how poorly your year has gone.. No matter how badly you've played... How badly you've tilted.. Or how badly you've ran during the series.. Everyone has the inner feeling that all is forgiven if you can just run well and play well for a 10 day stretch. It's an incredible environment, and I'm cherishing every moment! I'm seriously so thankful to have the opportunity to compete in such a sporting event, and I will do my best to make the most of it. 

I already spent a few moments yesterday Googling the players at my table, and as far as I can tell, I got pretty lucky with my table draw. There's a few unknowns and a few other players with fairly mediocre results. I also have position on the only player at the table who has me covered, so definitely can't complain about that. My focus tomorrow will be on taking my time for each decision, and making sure I only turn on my phone during breaks so I can maintain continuous focus both during the hand, and on sixth street. 

Anyhow, wish me luck! I'll write up some hands after the day tomorrow, both from day 1 and from day 2. Follow me on twitter (@jbeauprez) if you'd like to scope some updates. GL to krantz, and any other DC members/coaches who are playing tomorrow too!

John

Posted By KasinoKrime at 09:51 AM

12 Comments

June 08, 2012

WSOP Update

What's up guys? 

Because I'm in between tourneys, I figured now was a better time than ever to do a WSOP update. This is the third summer I've spent significant time out in the desert grinding the WSOP, although it's really only my second year playing any tourneys (the first year I played solely cash games). Having a year of experience under my belt has been really valuable, although I don't necessarily have the results to back it up quite yet. Last year, although I tried my best to fight it, I definitely had the jitters in my first few events. The distractions are numerous (both on and off the tables), and overall the WSOP can be an overwhelming environment if you don't know what to expect. I think my play last year reflected my mood, and Black Friday certainly didn't encourage a profitable mindset either. Overall, last year I played like I was "just happy to be there", and this year, I feel more like I belong with the better players and deserve better results because of the amount of preparation I've done since last July. 

So far I've played the 3k HU NL/PLO and the 1500NL Re-entry. Both were really fun tournaments, although I definitely enjoyed the HU tournament much more. I was really looking forward to this tourney because I spent a few days playing HU SNG's against several of my good friends using the WSOP structure so we could all prepare and gain an edge. I received a bye in the first round and then lost in a fairly standard way to some guy from the Czech Republic. He was clearly better than me in NL, and I was clearly better than him in PLO, so really it was a matter of trying to minimize the damage incurred in the NL round and then maximize as much value as possible in the PLO round. I had a chance to knock him out at one point. I had a 2/1 chip lead when we got AIPF, and my AQT8ds couldn't outrun his KQQ8ss on a T749x runout. Finally got all in with 10bb's with KK but couldn't beat his A6o and that was it for me. Was extremely happy with how I played though, and am definitely looking forward to that one next year. 

I did play one interesting hand during the match. In the first level with the blinds at 50/100, he opened to 250 and I peeled with J8dd. Flop was 9TTr. He bet 225 and I c/r'd to some amount (can't remember). He called. Turn was a very nice Qx and I bet 950 into 1600 and he called. River was the not-so-great Jx. There's ~3700 out there and I have 3k behind. What's our plan? fwiw I still had my 2 rebuy chips left (you get 9k starting chips but can use them in 3k increments however you want). Didn't have too many reads on him at this point besides that he seemed very competent NL player (he beat Chris Demaci in the previous match). 

On another note, the cash game action out here has been incredible so far. I've mostly been playing the 5/10/25 limits (btn straddle) and as one would expect, the games have been playing pretty big. It's common to see a 100 or even 200 straddle put on. Sitting with 10k+ is very normal in this game, and more often than not the 5/10/25 plays more like a 25/50 game. A few nights ago I had a 14k stack and was probably the 4th or 5th biggest stack at the table.. And it's supposed to be a 5/10/25 game! 

One of the coolest aspects of the WSOP is having the opportunity to play with top level players that you otherwise wouldn't be able to play at other times in the year. In the 1500NL, I was fortunate (or unfortunate depending on how you look at it) to play with Brian Rast for a day. I say "fortunate" because I learned a lot playing with someone of his caliber, and was really impressed with his level of play. You can tell that he's seeing the game differently than everyone else, and it's easy to understand why he's had so much success over the last several years. I played with Vanessa earlier this year in a cash game at LAPC, and I got the same vibe from Brian that I did from her in the sense that they are both clearly much more intelligent than everyone else. Additionally, I was really impressed with his level of focus at the table. I figured Brian would have a difficult time staying focused in a 1500 buy-in, but he was completely engaged with each hand, and made sure that his presence was felt at the table. 

I'll probably stay away from tournaments and grind cash games until the 5k PLO six-max on Tuesday. It's by far my favorite event of the series, and I can't wait to give it another try this year. Follow me on twitter (@jbeauprez) for some chip updates and random PLO advice. GL!

John

PS - Congrats to my former student Matt Maggard for his deep run in the 1500PLO a couple of days ago. Nice work man!

Posted By KasinoKrime at 12:29 AM

77 Comments

April 22, 2012

Mo' PLO

What’s up guys?

Before I write my next topic, I want to address a couple of questions from the comments section from my previous entry.

Do you ever differ the amount you buy in for? Like if you have a bad seat in relation to fish/good reg? Sure, it’d be foolish not to adjust the buy-in amount based off of table dynamics. It’s one of the clear methods for gaining an edge, both online and live. Although, I will say that avoiding the “tough regs” and accounting for position in relation to the good players matters less live, simply because the player pool is softer on average. From my experience, the good players tend to stay out of each others way, and are content with taking turns hammering on the fish. Also, since the games are very loose and 7+ handed the majority of the time, you encounter far less HU situations (folding around to the button, and bvb situations are much rarer in live PLO than in online six-max).

Typically, I never buy in deep immediately, unless I already have strong reads on each player at the table. I used to make the mistake of always coming in for the maximum buy in regardless of my position, reads, or mood. Now, I typically buy in for 100bb’s, and reload gradually as the night progresses and my reads strengthen. Playing deep PLO successfully requires strong reads, and there’s nothing worse than feeling helpless in the middle of a big pot early on in the night without any reads. Put more simply, at the beginning of the night when you don’t have any reads, making a light stack off or a poor call against an unknown is less costly with a 100bb stack than it is with a 200 or 300bb stack. All of us have experienced a situation where we make a certain play early in the night, and then after playing with “x” opponent’ for a couple of hours, realize how terrible our line was given whom the player ended up being. This can lead to either a bad stack off, or a bad fold, which can obviously induce tilt too.

Of course, if the fish is on my right, I will always at least have a stack that covers him if possible.

 

Do you run it more than once? Certainly. It depends on the situation. A few years ago FWF wrote a very informative article (can’t find it now, seems like DC took it down for some reason?) about the advantages of running it twice. I don’t remember everything from the article, but I do remember that his advice was to pay attention to who was running it twice, and that you should be more inclined to semi-bluff these players lighter, since you’ll have two chances at winning the pot. Basically, it’s a low variance semi-bluff. I think that’s how the argument went? 

Anyhow, I typically run it twice when I know the equities are close and the pot is big. As I mentioned in the last blog, it’s difficult to see more than 150 hands in a night playing live FR PLO, so the variance can be huge at times, particularly with deep stacks in play. For pots 200bb’s or less I typically don’t run it twice, but once the pots get to be 300bb’s+ I’ll run it twice most of the time, unless I have a very strong hand and don’t want to give them the opportunity to chop a big pot. 

Additionally, I think running it only once is good for your image. It makes players reluctant to play a big pot against you without the nuts, because they know they only have one shot at scooping it. This of course makes them play more straightforwardly.

Something to consider: If you run it twice, the equities are not the same on the 2nd board due to card removal. If you have a FD (or a set) and you bink it on the first try, it decreases the odds of making the draw again.

 

Do you try to play more hands because you don’t get many of them per hour or fewer because it’s full ring? Not really. I tend to play quite tight in full-ring, and quite loose when it’s 5 handed or less. The number of hands/hour is somewhat irrelevant. Just try to play every hand goooood no matter how many of them you’re seeing imo.

Do you open limp? Sure. I typically don’t open limp from MP onward but from EP it’s definitely feasible in very loose and passive games where players will let you get away with it. In all forms of poker one of the primary goals is to avoid building up pots only to give up on them later, and in the loose full-ring games, raising preflop from EP often doesn’t change the # of players in the pot very much. So if the flop is going to be 4+ handed, and you’re probably going to need to flop some equity in one way or another to continue with the hand (in other words, unlikely you will be c-bet bluffing), then seeing cheap flops is a fine approach imo. Although most of my EP limp hands are the weaker polarized hands (weak KK/QQ/AA hands, AKJTr, A987ss), I’ll still raise my very strong hands. Since their limping range and peeling range preflop are essentially the same, I want to build a pot with my strong hands so they can stack off with dominated draws.

Do you ever shortstack? Almost never. Although I had success on FTP playing the shallow tables, 100bb effective stacks is where my comfort zone its. The only reason I would buy in shorter than this was if I was taking a shot in a bigger game. But even in that case I typically just buy in for 100bb’s and sell action as needed. As mentioned, many of the players in these games lack postflop skills. So if you think you have a considerable postflop edge, you’d be costing yourself a lot of money coming in short. If you’re coming in short because the game is too big, my advice is to come in for 100bb’s and sell some action off. Besides, if you choose to play in a bigger game in the first place.. It’s likely to be a soft game. So why cost yourself money by buying in short?

Hopefully this cleared up your questions. I have another blog already written, but I think this one is long enough already, so I'll just post it in a couple of days. Thanks for reading! 

GL,

John

Posted By KasinoKrime at 03:22 AM

51 Comments

April 20, 2012

PLO Grindin'

What's up guys? 

It feels great to finally catch up on my blog! Ironically the reason for my blog-absence certainly isn't due to a lack of available topics. In fact, I find myself constantly encountering great blog content every day, but as they say, "life gets in the way", and somehow writing a new entry tomorrow faded into writing a new entry 10 months later.. 

Anyhow, rather than waste everyone's time recounting my experiences over the past ten months since the conclusion of the WSOP, most of the people who read this are looking for poker strategy, so I think it's best to focus my efforts on making you a better poker player. 

One of the questions I get the most from students, friends, and casual poker fans is the nuances separating live PLO from online PLO. I feel uniquely qualified to comment on this subject because I originally started out grinding underground live games before I turned 21 (and before I discovered online poker), transitioned to exclusively short-handed/HU PLO games, and then have finally landed once again on playing in the casino. 

So with almost 2000 hours of live PLO grinding over the past year in the books, I'd like to share a few pieces of advice that I've picked up along the way. I feel qualified to talk about this because I have struggled mightily in the past, but have since embraced the intricacies of live PLO, and think there is great profit to be had for those willing to devote time to it. Off of the top of my head, here are a few observations I've noticed, including some adjustments you can make. 

  • Live PLO plays BIGGER. I've played games as small as .50/1 and as big as 25/50, and in every game the stakes played considerably bigger than a typical online six-max game. The primary reason (imo) is due to frequent (and highly encouraged) straddling. This is somewhat true in NL as well, but PLO is legendary for it's gambling nature (and the action-starved patrons it attracts). For a recreational player, nothing gets the blood pumping like picking up a big hand on the straddle. Most Vegas casinos only allow UTG straddles, but in many other casinos (including the RIO during the WSOP) and underground games, Mississippi straddling (straddling the button) is also permitted. Occasionally you'll even see double straddling. In fact, about 18 months ago, I played a game at Aria that began as typical 2/5 game.. But by the end of the night, we changed it to a mandatory straddle of 2/5/10/20/40/80! Needless to say, frequent straddling results in more action.. Lighter stack-offs.. Frequent rebuys.. And deeper stacks than are seen in both online PLO and live NL. For example, buying in for 1.5k at 2/5 is normal, as is coming in for 2-5k at 5/10. 

ADVICE: Unless you're feeling an itch for some extra gambool, straddling is definitely -EV. The lure of straddling is derived from having the last option pre-flop. In NL this has some merit when facing loose-passive and straightforward opponents that will either:


A) Limp/fold to a raise B) Call your raise and play passively to c-bets 


In PLO, the latter may be true in some instances but generally straddling only incentivizes multi-way action, thereby virtually eliminating any preflop fold equity (since the maximum bet isn't enough to drive anyone out of the pot). Although straddling is generally -EV, here's a few situations where I think it can actually be +EV: 


A)

When everyone is doing it.

Clearly, if the straddle is on every hand, no player holds an edge from a game-theory standpoint. When this happens, note that the stakes have effectively doubled.  B)

To keep the fish in the game.

It's no secret that when fish get bored, they swim away. Particularly in short-handed games, I make it a point to adhere to any demands the fish may have. If straddling is the difference between landing a fish or watching him swim away, I'll gladly fulfill his request.  C)

Four-handed with a tight player on your left.

This is an ideal situation, because you basically get the button twice per orbit.  D)

Three-handed button straddle.

Last Action Preflop (information advantage) + Dead Money From Limps/Raises = $$$$ E)

Heads-Up button straddle.

Even an opponent with a balanced limp/raising strategy has a difficult time countering the advantage of a HU btn straddle. 


  • Do you have a pot problem? Be honest.. Can you calculate the maximum raise size without asking for help from the dealer? Many of us (myself included) began playing in the online PLO universe, where wagering a full pot-bet was only a couple of measly clicks away. As a result, many online converts commit costly mistakes because they don't know how to determine the maximum raise size. What's arguably worse, I've discovered that most players don't even know how big the pot they're betting into is. If you don't know how to calculate pot-size, then check out n0whereman's video, where he provides a couple of useful methods for it. Here's a few situations where this has serious consequences:
Three-betting:

Similar to low-stakes online games, many live PLO players play very fit/fold and straightforward in three-bet pots. Against these player types, your profit is mainly derived from capitalizing on the dead money created when they call preflop and fold to postflop bets. A failure to raise the maximum amount preflop against these players will chop bb's out of your winrate. 


Postflop Pot-Size Awareness:

Remarking on the importance of the size of the pot in a pot-limit game is a candid observation. Therefore, I'm astonished at how poorly most players keep track of the pot size. As any skilled PLO player will tell you, SPR is one of the driving factors in the decision making process. From multi-street planning to stack-off decisions, having knowledge of the SPR is crucial for determining the best line to take onward from the flop. Since the stack sizes aren't clearly displayed on a monitor, many players (even experienced ones) make the mistake of figuring out how deep an opponent is after heavy action has already occurred. Nothing is worse than realizing an opponent is either very short, or very deep when you're already in the middle of a hand. 


ADVICE: Practice keeping track of the pot size while in between hands. Quiz yourself by asking questions like "If the CO wanted to re-raise pot, how much would it be?". 


Most of the aforementioned mistakes can be attributed to laziness or lack of focus. My one complaint about live PLO is how slowww it is, so maintaining acute focus can be difficult at times. In most nine-handed games you're probably seeing 17-20 hands an hour (FML). This is mainly because PLO hands:


A) Go to SD more often B) Are typically 3+ way C) Dealing four cards takes longer than 2


Anyhow, I think that's all I have for tonight. Starting off with some basic advice, I'm going to try to use my blog as a personal "grinding" journal from now until the WSOP. As a result, I'll expand on all of this more as the WSOP gets closer. I'd be happy to write about any topics you guys have in mind. Please comment and let me know what you'd like to read about. Thanks!


GL,


John




Posted By KasinoKrime at 05:45 AM

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