Thursday, January 27, 2005

I Pity the Fool

YTD: +$6684.38

Andy Ward, in his usual perceptive style, is having a dig at people who are sponsored in his recent blog entry, although his allusion might be a bit obscure for non-Brits. I agree with his sentiments but very much disagree with his outcomes - if you can get a sponsorship deal then as the curious gambling phrase goes, "fill your boots!" Because these times cannot last.

To explain my thinking, you will have to traverse back with me to the times of the Great Dot-com Explosion. These too were times of great wealth and little sense. I was fortunate, or maybe not, to be involved in a Dot-Bomb at the time. Many times I would meet with very intelligent people with great ideas, wonderful original ideas, but when asked "How do you make money?" they would come over all queasy and blank-eyed (incidentally my favorite answer was "monetize eyeballs"...that brings back the memories.) Internet poker and the sponsorship it brings is very reminiscent of this situation, well without the very intelligent people and ideas bit.

What in very simple terms do the sponsors get from their players? What has The Hendon Mob brought Prima that has justified its tremendous outlay? I don't know what their deal is, who pays RFB and other exes; nor do I know THM except by reputation and rumour. But its fairly clear that if THM were to have even a reasonably bad year, it would be very hard to justify that cost in terms of promotion and gained revenue from new players. In fact I think of myself as being very internet savvy, and to be frank I don't see what they are doing to bring revenue to Prima at all. Their site is mostly abandoned by them; they don't seem to be doing much promotion in terms of playing online; their results in events have mostly been in ones where there has been no logos anyway. The truth is that they are being sponsored because that is what Internet Poker Sites Do, not because of any real, tangible marketing $ to revenue benefit. And if the value of THM is questionable, what about Jac Arama?

What do you think would have happened to Ram and Barney in the recent Atlantic City events, as depicted in their diary, if poker sites were run by professional business people? Or Roy the Boy after admitting he avoided the people he was supposed to be promoting? They would be sacked of course. I am not guessing that these sites are run by the clueless. I know. By a chain of circumstance I happened to know the casino/poker room manager of a very substantial Poker site. He had no experience whatsoever in poker or casinos or gambling or leisure or even entertainment marketing. In fact he had been a junior marketing guy for a consumer goods firm. Excellent

Fill your boots whilst you can.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Shit into Caviar

YTD: +$3290.00

Ok, I'm officially giving up the 5-10 on Stars. Sure I have been unlucky, but I have also played pretty damn poorly in it too. In fact if I had sacked the 5-10 games at the start of the month, instead of now, I would be nearly $5k better off. So for now, multitabling it is instead.

Another quick comment before we get into the hand thing. I picked up Phil H's Play like the Pro's whatever book for a quick browse in Borders today. What a laugh. I'm sure the assistants were wondering what the tall fat guy in the Games section was chuckling at. The PLO section was a joy and pure Phil. If you feel like you want to buy it, send me the money instead - I have a roaring fire burning in my hearth that will save you the trouble.

Here's a very strange hand of PLO8b:

Game - (blinds $2/$4) Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo 8 -

Table "Fort-de-France" (real money) -- Seat 9 is the button
Seat 1: Hero ($390.75 in chips)
Seat 2: OregonG ($205.75 in chips)
Seat 3: jackthepump ($426.50 in chips)
Seat 4: Villan ($789.50 in chips)
Seat 5: hunidoo ($432.50 in chips)
Seat 6: SmartyGL4110 ($118.75 in chips)
Seat 7: dauni ($1,120.50 in chips)
Seat 8: jbrave ($131.00 in chips)
Seat 9: sparky5 ($338.00 in chips)
Seat 10: PBAKID ($209.75 in chips)
PBAKID : Post Small Blind ($2)
Hero: Post Big Blind ($4)
jbrave : Post ($4)
Dealt to Hero [ 6h Qh 9d Jd ]
OregonG : Fold
jackthepump: Call ($4)
Villan: Call ($4)
hunidoo : Call ($4)
SmartyGL4110: Fold
dauni : Fold
jbrave : Check
sparky5 : Call ($4)
PBAKID : Call ($2)
Hero: Check

Free Garbage!

*** FLOP *** : [ 8h Ah Td ]

I've hit a really interesting flop. Of course there are lots of ways, against the field, that I could be in trouble, but the best way to find out is to bet.

PBAKID : Check
Hero: Bet ($20)
jackthepump: Fold
Villan: Raise ($88)
hunidoo : Fold
jbrave : Fold
sparky5 : Call ($88)
PBAKID : Call ($88)

This guy can be erratic, and the value is there for the str8 draws alone.

Hero: Call ($68)
*** TURN *** : [ 8h Ah Td ] [ Qs ]

PBAKID : Check

This is quite a good turn. I have the second nuts. However this is hilo and the pure nuts is much less likely to be here, especially as I have one blocker. If I check, it may get checked around, which would be ugly; if someone else bets I may call anyway. I need to make the low draws pay now.

Hero: Bet ($298.75)
Villan: Call ($298.75)
sparky5 : Call All-in ($246)
PBAKID : Call All-in ($117.75)
*** RIVER *** : [ 8h Ah Td Qs ] [ Qc ]

Bad river :-(

*** SUMMARY ***
Pot: $848 | Side pot 1: $384.75 | Side pot 2: $105.50 | Rake: $3
Board: [ 8h Ah Td Qs Qc ]
Hero bet $390.75, collected $1,338.25, net +$947.50 (showed hand) [
6h Qh 9d Jd ]
HI: a straight, eight to queen
Villan lost $390.75 [ 4h 8s 2s 3h ]
HI: two pair, queens and eights
sparky5 lost $338 (showed hand) [ 4c 3s 2h Jh ]
HI: a pair of queens
PBAKID lost $209.75 (showed hand) [ Kh 8d 7h 9c ]
HI: two pair, queens and eights


An interesting thing about the hand is that if you run some twodimes sims, my equity on the turn is massive, even though a lot of cards were bad for me. It wasn't even that bad on the flop either. This is the way in which 8b is very different than hi only. It is very common, even starting with garbage, to have a hand that is absolutely crushing the opposition, especially if they are drawing for lows. This hand is a freak in that basically all the flush draws were dead, but it still shows that the game is one of playing big edges, not small ones. If only I could remember that in the 5-10 game :-)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Call of calls

YTD: +$1311.25

Here is a very interesting, very marginal hand I played on Paradise. It shows the importance of notes, but also of taking a bit of time to think through the options, something I am very guilty of not doing in many spots, but especially on the river.

(Blinds $2/$4) Pot Limit Omaha Hi -

Seat 1: quads ($393.25 in chips)
Seat 2: shoryuken ($400.00 in chips)
Seat 3: BigRichard ($220.00 in chips)
Seat 4: Hero ($396.75 in chips)
Seat 5: PhilBrodie ($289.25 in chips)
Seat 6: oldman ($1,511.25 in chips)
Seat 7: dauni ($450.00 in chips)
Seat 8: Kwtwa Kwtr ($947.50 in chips)
Seat 9: another ($835.50 in chips)
Seat 10: Foe ($368.00 in chips)
another : Post Small Blind ($2)
Foe : Post Big Blind ($4)
shoryuken: Sit out
Dealt to Hero [ 7s 4c 5c 6c ]
quads : Fold
BigRichard: Raise ($14)
Hero: Call ($14)
PhilBrodie: Fold
oldman : Fold
dauni : Fold
Kwtwa Kwtr: Fold
another : Call ($12)
Foe : Call ($10)

Standard call here.

*** FLOP *** : [ Kd 5h 8c ]
another : Check
Foe : Check
BigRichard: Check
Hero: Bet ($50)
another : Fold
Foe : Call ($50)
BigRichard: Fold

Again fairly standard, with a nice draw, the preflop raiser checking and a chance to win the button.

*** TURN *** : [ Kd 5h 8c ] [ Tc ]
Foe : Check
Hero: Bet ($120)
Foe : Call ($120)

More problematic. I’m both betting the flush draw for value, also setting up the river for a bluff if everything misses. Note that I’m thinking ahead here so I don’t bet the pot and leave him with an autocall on the river. Once he calls, I’m not sure I want to hit the flush :(

*** RIVER *** : [ Kd 5h 8c Tc ] [ Td ]

Not great.

Foe : Bet ($184)
This looks like a simple pass.

Or is it?

Sometimes you get a desperation bet here with something like an overpair by completely clueless types. But although the foe is not a great player, he isn’t quite that bad. He could also have hit trips and decided that as he will call, he may as well bet. But I have played this hand like I have a set, not a draw, and you would expect him to check this. Could my baby pair be winning? Could he have had a draw too and now having missed, sees a bluff as his only out? I looked up his notes. “Checks the nuts on the river”, it says. Hmmm. I am either going to look a genius or a loon.

Hero: Call ($184)

*** SUMMARY ***
Pot: $761 | Rake: $3
Board: [ Kd 5h 8c Tc Td ]

Hero bet $368, collected $761, net +$393 (showed hand) [ 7s 4c 5c
6c ] (two pair, tens and fives)

Foe lost $368 (showed hand) [4s 7c 6h Qc]

Genius is it then!

Of course this is a very marginal hand. He could have very easily had trips, or an overpair. But the play of the hand, thinking through the options, coupled with the extremely valuable note, just about pushed it into being a call.

If only my play had been as thoughtful all month!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Radar Down

YTD: -$1194.25

One of the many blessings, and perhaps curses, of playing online is that you can review key hands. As I have often stressed in this blog, the critical factor is not whether you win or lose, but the quality of the decisions you are making. And boy, am I making some shit decisions. About $2500 of stinkers so far this month. I really find it much more dispiriting and demoralizing to lose a little but play really badly, like I am now, than to lose a lot and know it was just the vagaries of fortune.

Here are some prime examples of poker “skill” in my best game of plo8b:

- I raise UTG with AKK2 and get reraised by a mostly unknown player. So he probably has AA or AA baby. I call and the flop comes T99 two spades. I have the bare A of spades. He bets and I check-raise him allin I nice chunky amount. He improves on his AA to make a small flush. There are so many mistakes in this hand that Sklansky style, I will leave it to others to elaborate.

- I raise in the CO with AJT4 ds and pick up a really bad player caller in the big blind. The flop comes AT9 offsuit and he bets the pot into me. Clearly he either has trips, two pair or a str8 draw, maybe even a wrap. Although the draw is the most likely of these, it also puts me in some considerable harm as it probably gives him a backdoor low too, meaning I have very very few cards to scoop on the turn and river. With this “in mind” I set myself allin to the tune of $1k. His monstrous but not entirely unexpected QJ87 scoops.

- Last, and certainly least in the brains stakes. I call UTG with A247 ds and call a late raise from the most aggressive player in plo8b history. The flop comes 38K mixed suits. I check call. The turn comes a Q giving me a baby flush draw too. I check raise a huge amount allin. Of course there two problems with this play, very different than the allin on the turn coups I have described before. This is that I have no showdown value. I could literally end up with A8 high, which even with this very aggressive opponent will not be winning. Secondly, if he does have a hand, I am likely to get paid off if I hit the perfecta of a low heart. Another meta-game issue is that this particular player has almost never passed to one of my check raises historically, and I knew that as I was doing it. My foe had an easy call with KKQ9 and a nice blank on the river flushed away my $1200.

If I keep on playing so well in my best game, it may turn out to be a long, long year.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Fierce Creatures

YTD: +$665.90

I thought I would start off the year with an old favourite, PLO8b. One of the things I like about the game is that it enables you to mix both passivity and select aggression, perhaps more so than PLO where pure aggression itself is better rewarded. There is probably only one PLO8b player who plays like it is PLO in the 5-10 game on Stars, and he isn't that effective in ring games.

Hopefully this hand will help illustrate this approach.

PokerStars Pot-Limit Omaha/8, $10 BB (9 handed) converter

CO ($829.30)

Button ($607.60)

SB ($939.50)

BB ($1000)

UTG ($728.25)

UTG+1 ($3271.85)

Hero ($1173.50)

MP2 ($1147)

MP3 ($280)

Preflop: Hero is MP1 with 2c, 9c, As, Td.

UTG calls $10, UTG+1 calls $10, Hero calls $10, 2 folds, CO calls $10, 1 fold, SB completes, BB checks.

This is standard call with a weakish A2 in early position. You want more callers in this spot.

Flop: ($60) 3h, 5c, Th (6 players)

SB checks, BB checks, UTG bets $57, UTG+1 folds, Hero calls $57, CO folds, SB folds, BB folds.

Again I don't mind picking up more callers behind me here. The interesting thing is that this player is a momentum type...he is almost certain to bet again on the turn. Also note my pair of tens alone may be in front.

Turn: ($174) Qs (2 players)

UTG bets $171,

This is a classic PL problem. I may be in front; I certainly have a good draw. Even if I am behind I have some outs to get out of trouble. It is very hard for him to be completely crushing me. Also, I cannot just call here as I know he will bet the river if a blank comes and I will have a tough call with just one pair. I must either fold or raise.

Hero raises to $684, UTG folds.

Final Pot: $1029

Main Pot: $516, won by Hero.

Pot 2: $513, returned to Hero.

When you believe you are either in front, or having a good draw on the turn, but you don't know which way you need to go and will struggle to make a decision on the river, then seriously consider raising if it will put you allin or thereabouts. This is a fairly common situation in all PLO-type games, although this is a "thin" example of it, driven by the fact I knew what kind of player it was.

Faithful readers may notice that this is a flip-side of the "damned if he does, damned if he doesn't" play I talked about in a previous post. Whereas in that example, you were often -EV against nearly all the possible range of hands of your foe, here you are either nicely +EV, or a small dog, coupled with the power of folding equity. A powerful combination.