Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Another Kind of Russian Roulette

YTD: +$40413.22

Whilst desperately trying to find something poker related and INTERESTING to read this morning I was delighted to discover that my old buddy Burnley John had won the Main Event at Dublin and pocketed himself the best part of $200k. Thereby confirming his status as a top Tourney pro and proving that his result in the EPT in London last year was no fluke.

Of course I am being sarcastic.

FWIW, it was a thread about John, previously known as Grumpy John, that finally finished me off on The Hendon Mob forum. I ended up arguing with a poster who said that "his results spoke for themselves" and was insisting that he was a great player, even though he had never played with him and I had for the best part of the year. The penny finally dropped :)

My own view on John is fairly irrelevant and certainly out of date. He may have transformed himself as a player. Certainly when I knew him, no one would pack up their cases and leave Dodge when he sat down. He wasn't a complete fish either. The point is, and I've made it before, is that short term results on tournaments tell you almost nothing.

One of my favourite old time RGPers says it best. Sgt. Rock's seminal post can be found in full here:

My favourite excerpt is:

Russian Roulette (Just Shoot Me, Please)

Is there some guy in your game who seems to win over time, even though you think he plays like shit? Do you lie awake nights trying to figureout how God could let this happen? It does happen. You probably already thought of some of these possible explanations for the phenomenon:
1. You just THINK he plays bad, but he's actually using winning
strategies more advanced than you ever imagined.
2. He's really a loser, but sneaks chips onto his stacks to appear a
3. He's really a loser, but you only saw his good days, and missed all
the times he got his ass kicked.
4. He cheats.

Each of those things do happen sometimes. Some are common, and some are rare. Any one of them might explain an instance of the "bad player whowins" phenomenon, which also does happen sometimes.There is another possible explanation that you may not have considered.Maybe he really does play badly (i.e., to a negative expectation, trial after trial) but maybe he really has been winning for six months, or two years, or however long you've known him. Huh? How can that be?

Imagine this: At dawn tomorrow, everyone on Earth plays Russian Roulette. Six chambers, one bullet, spin, one pull. Next dawn, everyone left standing does it again, and so on, day after day. Before long, world population gets pretty sparse. No more traffic jams,Blockbuster always has the movie you want, and whenever you actually encounter another still-living person, you know that, hey, this guy is a SURVIVOR! So far. He's gone up against some tough odds, but he's still here. So far. Just like that jerk in the poker room who plays likeshit but has been running over everyone. So far.

Genuinely bad players in the poker scene are in more ways than one just like the "players" in the Global Russian Roulette analogy; all are destined to eventually bite the big one. Those who bust out early or on schedule fade from memory quickly, while the few survivors stand out,and appear to be phenomena. At least until dawn tomorrow.

By the way, the daily Russian Roulette scenario reduces the 6.2 billion world population to just one million in about 48 days; to one thousand in about 85 days; to one hundred in about 97 days, and makes our species extinct somewhere around day 120. Give or take, depending on who gets lucky and who doesn't. Bad players, on the other hand, well, no,they're not headed for extinction. Truly bad players will eventually lose, and unless they have other income, will go broke. But many do have other income, and these days, for every one who doesn't, and who goes broke and leaves poker, *1.414 new guys step in to take his place.That's not attrition, it's growth.

[ * 3.141 in Los Angeles only ]

You may wonder where I'm getting all these numbers. Don't worry,they're just statistics, and a recent study revealed that 88% of all statistics are completely made up.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Port Of Amsterdam

YTD: +$33895.48

One of the things I have always been proud of in the production of this blog has been my titles. Over time we have had hip-hop to philosophy. I guess today's title shows quite a bit of how my mind works. I was going to do the classic clichéd Bowie "Ch-ch-changes" thang, then I realised quite how REALLY clichéd that actually is, so instead I chose a slightly less well known Bowie song. Not one that has worn the ravages of time well, but still better than that bizarre garden gnome effort. (BTW I'm not a Bowie fan; I was brain-washed by my brother as a child.)

So what are the ch-ch-new things then?

Well the good news is that I am back in the world of the gainfully employed, starting in early April. This means that my wife can finally stop holding her breath and I can surgically remove my laptop from my hands. I think this spells good news for the blog. I have been aware for a while that the volume of posts has dropped. This is a function of having played something like 1000 hands a day. At the end of that, poker is the very last thing on your mind.

So I think less will be more.

Ok, some poker now.

I have been giving the 1k game on Party a spin of late, with moderately good results so far. I guess the first interesting observation is that although the play is often too loose, there hasn't been many of the complete donkeys that you would expect, and often filled the Stars game in its heyday. There have been some strange short stack players, playing maybe 15% of their hands and raising with nearly all of them, which is a new style for those size of games. Also many people are playing almost exactly the same, playing something like 35% of their hands and raising between 10-15% of them. This is a classic winning style, but requires a lot of flop onwards skill, and its clear a lot of them just don't have it.

Anyway, just to show that I practice what I preach:

$1000 PL Omaha Hi
Seat 7 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 2: Hero ( $1788.75 )
Seat 3: AIG86 ( $2248.5 )
Seat 4: lidoooo ( $155 )
Seat 5: Alphabetx ( $175.75 )
Seat 6: crusader3 ( $1127 )
Seat 7: Foe ( $2450.75 )
Seat 8: dmc213 ( $2385.5 )
Seat 10: churchel ( $2890 )
Seat 1: onedayflyer ( $985 )
Seat 9: Jacob93 ( $935 )
dmc213 posts small blind [$5].
Jacob93 posts big blind [$10].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [ As Ac Kc Ks ]
onedayflyer folds.
Hero calls [$10].
AIG86 folds.
lidoooo folds.
Alphabetx folds.
crusader3 folds.
Foe raises [$20].
dmc213 calls [$15].
Jacob93 folds.
Hero calls [$10].
** Dealing Flop ** [ 7d, 7c, 3h ]
dmc213 checks.
Hero checks.
Foe checks.
** Dealing Turn ** [ Th ]
dmc213 checks.
Hero checks.
Foe bets [$67].
dmc213 folds.
Hero calls [$67].
** Dealing River ** [ Qs ]
Hero checks.
Foe bets [$201].
Hero calls [$201].
Foe shows [ Ad, 3d, Js, 2h ] two pairs, sevens and threes.
Hero shows [ As, Ac, Kc, Ks ] two pairs, aces and sevens.
Hero wins $603 from the main pot with two pairs, aces and sevens.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

The Dark Side of the Moon

YTD: +$29750.86

Although it looks like a nice improvement in my YTD, actually its been a fairly painful swing...I actually shot up over 6.5k from the last figure, only to crash and burn 4.5k in a couple of hours yesterday, most of them thankfully bad beats.

One of the problems of playing between 500-1000 hands a day is that they start to wash over you, a blur of nuts, draws, suckouts and bad beats. Very rarely do I sit up and find myself in a uniquely challenging or surprising hand. The hand below is a rare exception:

$400 PL Omaha Hi - Thursday, March 17
Table Table 36545 (Real Money)
Seat 8 is the button
Total number of players : 9
Seat 7: sieuwping ( $561 )
Seat 8: Hero ( $1621.9 )
Seat 6: pentium ( $400 )
Seat 4: kaffeuffe ( $219.8 )
Seat 2: ucrags ( $511.3 )
Seat 1: ofiss ( $261.4 )
Seat 10: spybar ( $400 )
Seat 9: zeeman72 ( $405.3 )
Seat 3: pannekoek111 ( $80 )
zeeman72 posts small blind [$2].
spybar posts big blind [$4].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [ 7c Jh 8d 9s ]
ofiss calls [$4].
kaffeuffe folds.
pentium folds.
sieuwping could not respond in time.(disconnected)
sieuwping folds.
Hero raises [$12].

This is a loose but mostly ok raise. It will disguise my hand and maybe move out the blinds. Regardless, playing a bigger pot, in position, with this hand is not a bad thing.

zeeman72 calls [$10].
spybar calls [$8].
ofiss calls [$8].
** Dealing Flop ** [ 8s, Jd, 6h ]
zeeman72 checks.
spybar checks.
ofiss checks.
Hero bets [$40].

This is a great flop as my hand is completely disguised. I may get action from MUCH inferior hands, thinking I have AA.

zeeman72 raises [$165.6].
spybar calls [$165.6].
ofiss folds.

This was very bizarre. I must admit that at the time I was completely flummoxed. Make no mistake, if I was headsup against zeeman all the money would have gone in on the flop. But what kind of hands could spybar be calling with? Surely only a monster draw or perhaps bottom trips to basically put in nearly half his stack cold. What should my action be?

Like most players, I can tend to make decisions fairly quickly simply because I have played or analysed similar situations many times before. This was a genuine original and I had to use Party's miserly think time. And I did something strange...I called. Clearly I have a at least 6 nut outs, unless the very improbable worst case is out there. There is also a very real chance that they both have draws and in that case I am in good shape, especially considering the fact I am getting 3 to 1. Let's use position and see how things develop.

Hero calls [$125.6].

** Dealing Turn ** [ Qc ]
zeeman72 checks.
spybar checks.

This is a death card. This must have made someone a straight, but why do they then check? Any decent player would bet the pot with the straight to give the worse possible odds to drawing hands. But this is Party :-) And many, many times I have seen people trap check here even though it is insane. Also, and an important factor, I cannot make trips pass here as there is ample odds to call, unless the Foe makes a terrible mistake.

Hero checks.
** Dealing River ** [ 2c ]
zeeman72 checks.
spybar checks.

??? There is now a surprising case for a bet. Although again if you are called you are probably beat. I chicken out.

Hero checks.
zeeman72 shows [ Ac, 5s, Ad, 7h ] a pair of aces.
spybar doesn't show [ 9h, 7s, 3c, 8c ] a pair of eights.
Hero shows [ 7c, Jh, 8d, 9s ] two pairs, jacks and eights.
Hero wins $541.8 from the main pot with two pairs, jacks and eights.

Insane play by spybar and overplay by zeeman. The deceptive raise had its affect in confusing my opponents; unfortunately it also confused me :-(

Monday, March 14, 2005

Mandelbrot Set

YTD: +27882.59

I remember a while back, Chaos coming up with his theory of strange attractors for tournaments. Without going into too much detail, he was coining a chaos theory term, a branch of physics/maths, to show how certain stack sizes evolve into larger or smaller sizes, somewhat regardless of how the person plays. It's an interesting and useful idea.

Another theory from the same set of disciplines, fractals, also has some interesting ramifications for poker thought. Basically, a fractal can be defined as a system having similar detail at all scales. Have you not noticed that a lot of poker games are like that? Take holdem for example. There are lots of differences between say the 5-10 limit game and the 100-200 game on Stars. But also a huge amount of similarities. Sure, the game plays differently because of a huge increase of aggression, but the fundamentals stay the same. A guy playing 40% of his hands would be just as much a fish in the big game as the little. And a lot of the technical plays, such as blind defense, are also basically the same.

Limit holdem is a fractal.

Looking through Pete B's excellent blog, I realised that PLO is very different. PB is currently exploring low limit PLO and he commented on some hands he played. Looking at them, I realised that I would play them very differently in the games I frequent. This corroborates my old thinking that if you want to learn PLO, don't expect what you learn in the micro-limits to have much value once you move up into meaningful money.

With Pete's permission, here are the hands, with my comments in italics:

Hand 1

PB calls a small raise with 5h 6s 7s 7h and 4 other players take a flop of 3s 4c 2s. UTG calls, as does someone else, the initial raiser folds, and Pete calls. The turn brings a blank, everyone takes off and goes allin, and PB scoops against the other top straights when he hits his small flush on the river.

This is a great example of a backgammon concept that crosses the divide really well - losing one's market. This is that you are NOT afraid that you will get outdrawn, rather that the next card will be so terrifying for your opponent that you won't be able to get any more money out of him. So if he is bluffing, he probably switches off once you flat call anyway; if he has a hand, you need to sweep him in now before he gets nervous about a deadly looking turn. A figure closely approximating zero of online players are capable of passing the "dry" nuts at this point.

Hand 2

PB dealt AAJ8 single-suited under the gun, raises and gets one caller - a conservative player. PB has about $124 against his $30. The flop came 833 rainbow. PB bet 2/3rds of the pot and gets raised the pot. PB puts the foe on a big pair and reraises, foe passes.

I don't like the UTG raise, but that is a stylistic point more than anything. I like the bet on the flop but the reraise is not a good play, at least in my games. First off, he could have a three. But that isn't the real point. The reraise is a variation of my famous "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" play. Ok it's only famous if you have been reading this blog :-( You're damned if he has the 3, cos you are putting in a big chunk of change for 2 outs. But critically, you're kinda damned if he doesn't have the 3 because you are making him pass when he has something like 2 outs. These aren't free cards...he is charging himself for them! If you go limp he may have a rush of blood to the head and bluff off his money. And if you are losing, the result is the same. More upside, same downside.

Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Pots You Could Jump a Dawg Over

YTD: +$28301.74

Well before I could even bask in the glow of a good start to the month, I went on a rare but deadly tilt-fest. 6k in 6 hours. At least half of that just money set fire to. I got into one of those moods, impossibly dangerous online, where the money was meaningless. I might just have well been playing a video game. Anyway I put the brakes back on a won a little back yesterday. Whilst treading water again at Party I saw this massive 3.5k pot in the 400 buyin game. No that is not a typo:

***** Hand History for Game xxx *****
$400 PL Omaha Hi - Wednesday, March 09, x EDT 2005
Table Table 36798 (Real Money)
Seat 9 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 3: AwwwNutz ( $1605.85 )
Seat 8: MMMIII ( $409.8 )
Seat 9: chiseler ( $1526.4 )
Seat 2: Hero ( $573.6 )
Seat 5: BERDYFISH ( $473.7 )
Seat 10: PimpOwnage ( $417 )
Seat 6: Dr__Q__ ( $390 )
Seat 7: ALCHEMIST33 ( $200 )
Seat 1: pannekoek111 ( $76 )
Seat 4: greeengoat ( $192 )
PimpOwnage posts small blind [$2].
pannekoek111 posts big blind [$4].
ALCHEMIST33 posts big blind [$4].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Hero [ 5c 8h Kd Js ]
>You have options at Table 36695 Table!.
Hero folds.

I told you I was playing better!

AwwwNutz calls [$4].
greeengoat folds.
Dr__Q__ calls [$4].
ALCHEMIST33 checks.
MMMIII folds.
chiseler raises [$26].

This guy had been like Chufty on speed. I had a vague suspicion that it was Darwinism from Stars, but I couldnt figure why he would be playing so small.

PimpOwnage calls [$24].
pannekoek111 folds.
AwwwNutz calls [$22].
Dr__Q__ calls [$22].
ALCHEMIST33 folds.
** Dealing Flop ** [ Ts, 4c, 2s ]
PimpOwnage checks.
AwwwNutz bets [$109].
Dr__Q__ calls [$109].
chiseler calls [$109].
PimpOwnage folds.
** Dealing Turn ** [ Jd ]
AwwwNutz bets [$436].

Unless Awww has at least top trips, this is a bet of death here. He will only be called by better hands. The J is a magic card because this is a raised pot and the TJ combination is likely to hit a lot of hands. But Aww is Scandinavian :)

Dr__Q__ is all-In. (roughly 255 ish)

Q is no idiot...this is a real death knell for Aww's hand if he is pushing two pair.

chiseler calls [$436].
** Dealing River ** [ Ac ]
AwwwNutz is all-In. (about 950ish)
chiseler is all-In. (called the bet)
AwwwNutz shows [ 4d, 8d, 7s, Tc ] two pairs, tens and fours.
Dr__Q__ shows [ 4h, Jh, 4s, Jc ] three of a kind, jacks.
chiseler shows [ Qd, Qs, Td, Ks ] a straight, ten to ace.
AwwwNutz wins $79.45 from side pot #2 with two pairs, tens and fours.
chiseler wins $2272.8 from side pot #1 with a straight, ten to ace.
chiseler wins $1201 from the main pot with a straight, ten to ace.

What a mess. Played like a holdem hand, this hand should have been given up on the turn. Its a hell of a parlay for Aww to be winning on the turn now and still survive a river. And the river bet is a foolish bluff. Chiseler has been very loose and may call with just aces up for value. And he may be betting into a dry pot anyway.

God bless Party. If only I could take advantage :)

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

YTD: +$32106.74

Well, the madness has descended. On the outside these guys look like PLO players, or at least they fill up the seats on the screen. Inside, however, they are demonic creatures beyond sane comprehension. They are Party Poker players.

Party has gone PLO mad, with the limit increase causing a frenzy. Last week, there was barely a game of 5-10 PLO on Stars a day. Now there are 4-6 around the clock. The lower limits are similarly pumping.

I wish I could report I am doing well, but I'm not. Variance is going to be huge. A pair with a bad flush draw is enough to call off your money through to the river, may all that see it bless it. Some are no doubt winning big. Some are doing their bollocks. One guy, probably the best PLO8b player on the net, lost the best part of 20k in 48 hours. These guys were not laying down hands :(

Personally I'm treading water, but I'm looking forward to much, much more.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Youth is Wasted on the Young

YTD: +$27289.09

One of the perennial posters on the UK scene is David Young. My views on him are fairly well-known, in fact I posted something to this effect on Andy Ward's blog the other day. In brief I like his integrity, but wonder what the poker point is. In general, poker does not seem to be DY's subject, but he did come up with something once that has lodged in my mind ever since.

The Cash Game Tournament.

The idea is simple. You sit in a cash game, ideally one a bit below money-wise than you are used to. The object of the tournament is to play up your money until you can buy into the next biggest game. And then the next. Ad infinitum. It can be quite fun, although it smells too much of gambling to be my taste. Anyway, the new 10-20 game on Stars was looming over me and I thought I would try and spin 200 in the 1-2 to get a buyin. Of course I lasted about half an hour :-(

The hand that basically finished me off really showed how badly newbies to the game can cause themselves mischief trying out PLO. Although he beat me in this particular instance :-( And remember this was a 1-2 blind game so it was supposed to be of a reasonable standard.

I raised quite loosely on the button with a suited ace - I had been showing some speed. The SB reraised me..quite likely aces, and I called. The flop came Q J T mixed suits. He checked and so did I. The turn came a 6, giving me a nut flush draw. He checked and I bet about 3/4 of the pot, roughly half his remaining stack. He called. The turn gave us an interesting K. He checked again, and not having even a pair to show I set him allin. He was maybe getting 3-4 to 1 on this call. He just had Aces! And no draw to even call the turn. He had decided that I was bluffing, without thinking through the fact that I could be bluffing with better than one pair. Also, I think he thought that the AA in his hand made it more likely that I was bluffing, when in actual fact it was the opposite. This isn't holdem. 99% of the time I must have some part of this board.

I guess the 10-20 game is a little way off still.