Sunday, April 24, 2005


YTD: +$53820.86

I remember outré as one of the very first words I looked up in a proper dictionary. I suspect I was going through an adolescent Lovecraftian phase. And the pronunciation marks I confused for punctuation marks :)

For those of my Faithful Readers who don't frequent, or Innsmouth, outré means bizarre or beyond normal propriety. And that is what decision making is like on Party in the PLO games at the moment. Time and time again, in big pots and in small, I see normally sane players making insane decisions.

On the decision-making front, I've been enjoying Pete Birk's wrestlings with PLO. Paradoxically, what he dislikes about PLO is what invigorates me about the game - that making decisions really matters. Now many people believe that limit holdem is also about making decisions, but really, until you get to high enough stakes, its about replacing decisions with playing more hands. Until you reach a boundary limit of playability, playing more hands will nearly always be more profitable than eking out every ounce of EV out of every hand. What is also strange for an experienced PLO player is that decision making is more important in small pots than in large ones. Small pots are where good limit holdem players craft out nice parts of their hourly rate; big pots are where even a chimp learns that it is nearly always right to call on the end.

I saw an outré play today. For a change the variance went the right way and I booked a healthy winning session. This strange hand certainly helped:

Unraised pot with a flop of QJx. A loose UTG, stack of 1k, bets the pot and the other limpers pass to me. I have JJJ and some backdoors. And a 2k stack. I decide that it would be very unusual for this loose player to bet out the full pot with the nuts, so I raise it up to 200. A tight player, Outré, also with 1k, flat calls. UTG raises again allin. After a little thought, I can't get over my initial impression that UTG was not holding QQ and was now trying to squeeze me out against the cold caller. Who surely must be drawing. It seems to make sense to try and get Outré out and I also move in, and Outré calls for a nice 3k ish pot. Standard play so far? BDD in healthy shape?

I have one out.

UTG had kinda the hand I suspected, 33KT. But Outré had QQ!

At first I thought this was a terrible play, timidity in the face of possible draws and that Outré was trying to wait for a blank turn. But now I'm not so sure.

On one hand, the pot is now big and its worth his while to try and win it now. If he reraised I am *probably* going to pass - this is Party after all - and maybe UTG will move too. Pot won, no risk. There is also the losing his market fear if we are both drawing and it pairs up. Lastly, what does he do if the straight hits? Pass to a bet?

But say Outré has read both UTG and myself well. Say he puts UTG on a poorish hand, and myself either on a big draw or a big wrap. If he raises, I only stay with the hand that hurts him most! By calling, he locks me into a hand with 1 out, if I am behind, and keeps the pot potentially small if I do have the drawing monster. And if UTG goes bonkers, I might misread him...

Unfortunately genius and idiocy is often inseparable in PLO.

And FWIW, I hit the case Jack.

Outré indeed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Shake your Money, Maker

YTD: +$41871.53

We have looked at previously how a lot of people are overplaying draws online. In fact I have passed *a lot* of nut flush draws recently because I thought the situation wasn't right. Let's now turn this on its head and look at how drawing hands can be a money maker in the right situation.

Of course the best way to work out the profitability of these things is to run through the maths yourself. Back in the day, I actually, geekily, used to do this with pen and paper and then on spreadsheets. Now there are a whole range of free simulators out there on the Net for you to play with. However, for the less mathematically inclined, I’ve put together a simple check list that can guide your play:

1.Is the pot big?
Now you don’t necessarily want it to be so huge that there can be no real action left, because then you will have probably made a different kind of error in that you will have put too much money in preflop in relation to the stack sizes in play.

2.Is the pot multiway?
Although that normally means that some of your drawing outs are in your foe’s hands, this is compensated by the much greater money you can win.

3.Are you drawing to the nuts?

If you are lumping it in on a draw, it normally makes sense to make sure that if you hit, you win. Especially against more than one opponent. Good nut draws are of course our old friend the nut flush draw, but are also straight draws where you have more than 8 cards to hit, often called a “wrap”.

4.Have you got another draw?
If you have another draw as well as your main draw this can make a huge difference. Even if it is as little as a middle pin straight draw or two pair.

If you can answer yes to all these points, it is almost certainly mathematically correct to play your draw and probably play it fast.

Here’s an example from my own play. I called a preflop raise with A K J 7 double suited from a loose player and we went to the flop three-way. We all had healthy stacks of $600 or so. The flop came K J 9, giving me two of my suit and also top two pair. The initial raiser bet and I raised him, got reraised by the player behind me and we all got our money in on the flop. Of course they both had the QT and there was much grumbling when the river gave me the nut flush. But if you look at the maths of the situation, with three way action, I was actually a monster favourite, having over 50% chance of winning the pot. As the breakeven point in this situation is 33% this is a massive edge

It may have looked like gambling, but in fact it was a sure money maker.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

100 Bullets

YTD: +$42537.25

The Party games are still very, very good. This was obviously going to be the case. You were never going to go from 2 games of 5-10 all across the Net to 4-6 games just on one site and fill them just with good players. Even the good players have interesting leaks in their games and the bad players, well the bad players are truly some of the worst I have played with.

Since I last posted I won 5k then lost it in a fairly amazing sequence. The tail end of the upswing was a bit disappointing - rating my game I felt I had started to play poorly and should have won much more. The next day my bad play continued and I threw off 5k in a bad day's session. Was this the end of the swing...far from it, just the beginning.

I hit the game the next day determined to play better and within 10 minutes I was up 3k, job done you might think. Now I am not one to "leave some sugar on the table" and I ploughed on, ending up 5k down. Yes a 8k swing. Play resumed again in the evening and once again I was just under 3k up, only to finish the day up 500 bucks. So what happened?

Well, a few hands I played badly, one in particular for a 6k+ pot which was especially bad, taking my obvious set of aces (I had check raised preflop) against an obvious top straight on the flop, battering in 2800 as a serious dog.

However, close analysis showed that I had been involved in 17k on pots where I was allin as a favourite. Now that is not a typo, $17000. 17 dimes. It turned out I was 400 to 1 to lose all of them, which I duly did. In fact I was only 20 to 1 to win them ALL. So it would have been considerably easier to be up 17k in just one day.

I find these statistics quite warming. I think its key to review your play in PLO and ensure you have been focused on decisions and not winning pots. It's stats like this that stave off tilt. And in such loose games you should fully expect such fierce swings. One hand in particular springs to mind. I called a bet on the flop in a raised pot with the nut flush draw, hoping to pick up another caller, which I did. (The flop had an ace on it, hence the caution.) The caller had a four high flush draw, a small pair and a small middle pin straight draw. The turn brought the only card that could get us both involved. A flush card that also hit his small pair. I bet the pot, leaving a little left over, and the river brought a pair up, giving him the pot. This parlay, the only one in which I can lose any money at all, was 164 to 1. Then to add insult to injury, he had top set against my middle set and bust me again in a 4k pot, with money he only had from that unfeasible hand.

In a very real sense, long may it continue. Just with different outcomes :)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Deus Ex Machina

YTD: +$42805.97

Sometimes I see ghosts. Sometimes I go looking for them; sometimes they go looking for me. When you have haunted the net for as long as I have, the damned place seems littered with the corpses of fallen friends and foes, games and sites.

I like to go to the Neverwinpoker forum for two reasons. I like to see old Linden_Arden, who I used to play with on Stars back in the day; and I am afraid to look at the onlinechamp forum, if it even still exists.

The ghost of Onlinechamp is an instructional one. A couple of years ago, the biggest ring game online was the 15-30 Limit Hilo, then quickly after the 30-60 Hilo. For arrivistes to the poker scene this probably seems incredible. After all there are games many times that size now, some even 10x. But back then, unless you wanted to play King of Ding headsup on UB, this game was it. And because it was the biggest, it also attracted the maddest. And the best. And the worst. I played in the game for quite some time, mostly out of ego as I doubt I made money in it. Not all of the casualties got broke – after all, Big Dave D is never seen on any sites now either – but a fair few got turned into ghosts along the way.

El Ganador evolved into a PLO expert. The clinically insane DARTHVADER seemed to spin off into the stars and out of the Stars, although as a lottery winner in the US he had money to burn. My dear friend LEECHKA seemed to drop off the end of the world. ORION1 seemed to turn himself into a parody of every Cold Country maniac stereotype I ever piss-taked about, either riding the crest of a massive rush or crashing down to near brokedom. Alex1, the tournament wizard and seemingly the worst cash game player I have ever played. And of course the infamous Mr Robert, who is now beating the 75-150, probably chatting no more than 5 words a year and still confounding the critics as to how he did it.

But in my mind the ghost of Onlinechamp overshadows them all. The first time I met OLC, as he was affectionately known, he was being praised by some anonymous railbird. Whereas today you can see this quite often, especially if it’s a well known player, back then it really stood out. As did his catchphrase, “Ship the Sherbert to Herbert” whenever he won a pot. Yes, he really did have a catchphrase.

This probably makes him sound quite annoying. Which he was. But he was also good fun, and as his rush continued, he built his own site, which for a time attracted seem serious names from Stars, including Josh Arieh.

Then the rush ended, and boy did it end. The rumour mill was he lost 60k in a couple of weeks, which effectively wiped him out. He sat in, and then sat out the entire time in the fledgling 100-200 holdem game, clearly just for showboating purposes. The web site was the scene of a very public disintegration. Like one of those scenes in a disaster movie, where the support cables start to “POP” out of the ground, snaking cables whipping around, building swaying, but still standing while you watch and wait for the next snap. At times he seemed barely rational. I guess the end was a very public, lawyer threatening bust up with Josh Arieh.

Of course the tragic thing about this ghost is that if he had held on just a while longer, who knows what might have happened in the super boom of the last year. I mean people go to the Neverwin site even though NEVERWIN ALMOST NEVER POSTS THERE. I guess what haunts poor OLC most is that he would of almost certainly have had a piece of Josh Arieh if they had still been friends, and that alone may have cost him up to $250 000.

I said that sometimes the ghosts come to me. Whilst looking at the Neverwin site, I noticed a very strange post by DanDruff, the 100-200 player. It seems that has an entry for Andy Glazer. For those who don’t know, this is a very comprehensive info site on cinema, maintained by user submissions. Why on earth would the Poker Pundit have an entry there, as he had almost no involvement with the film industry except a cameo in the Stuey movie? This becomes even more curious, if you check out the entry, in that there is a very comprehensive bio, as well as the mention of the date he died and the fact he committed suicide, which in itself is not well know. And who submitted this entry? Andy Glazer. A strange and chilling testimony.

Vincent Gray: Do you know why you're afraid when you're alone? I do