Is Poker Rocket Science?

The Saturn V rocket - the one that launched the majority of Apollo missions - consists of three stages. The first stage, or first gear, had the job of lifting the weighty rocket off the ground, defying Earth's gravity. Fully fuelled it weighed 5 million pounds, and would take the rocket about 40 miles upwards in a little over 2.5 minutes.

The second stage of the rocket was lighter in weight, smaller in size and had a moving start. Second gear's job was to accelerate through the upper atmosphere.

The third stage was smaller and lighter still. The third stage was used to propel the rocket out from Earth's orbit, releasing mankind from the clutches of the world and throwing them towards the eternity of space.

So what has this all got to do with poker?

Well, I've been hovering around the $80 mark for quite some time. My goal is the $100 mark. I've hit it very briefly and then plummeted back down, and then gone on a good run and almost hit that three figure number again, but then gone back down. I seem to be bungee jumping all over the place. I'm constantly having a $30 swing and can't seem to escape the clutches of the two-figure numbers. I have momentum; I've broken away from the ground, traveling through the upper atmosphere. Now I just need my rocket boosters to kick in so I can slip clear of two-figure orbit.

And yes, that was a rather late, tenuous analogy!


It's been a while...

Don't worry, neither myself or Pablo have stopped playing poker... it's just been a while since our last post. I guess we have both been getting more "serious" if that's possible. A lot of analysis etc...

I think both myself and Pablo have had amazing winning streaks destroyed by equally amazing losing streaks...losing at least $100 each since our last post. But that is poker, and when you're on a learning curve like we both are, these swings can be quite sharp. However, I think we have curbed these swings somewhat, by stepping down to the 5c/10c from the 10c/25c and getting some Tilt control.

So now we are both on a steady upward curve, which obviously does have its ups and downs, but mainly is positively going upwards. And that is due to a simple but quite difficult mindset to get into. We both realize now, that if we have a losing session, which every poker player does, it's making sure that we lose the minimum, so that we are not playing catch up, when/if we go on a winning session in the future.

As all poker fans will know it's the WSOP... and it's the main event... ELKY is still in a healthy position with about 1.5 million chips, and James Akenhead is still up there with over 2 million chips... however Phil Ivey is up to around 1.5 million after being down at 275k yesterday.. what will happen if he makes another run tonight....

Pablo and I intend to play the main event... in about 10 years time! But we will play it....


Superdonk, starring Pablo_Bueno as the Pay Off Wizard

Here's the good news: over two weeks I'm up $30.

The bad: I'm down $70 on the week.

I'm so angry with myself right now. I can't believe how quickly I've lost money. Everyone seems to have better hands than me, hitting amazing straights and flushes on the turn and river cards. It's depressing. I'm chilling myself out on the 2/5c tables, waiting for the storm to pass. The problem is, the weather report is unreliable and I can see dark clouds all the way out to the horizon.


The Vic was LIVE!

So Pablo and I both played live, along with another friend of ours, Money DJH (don't ask...) at the Vic on Saturday night!

It was an experience to say the least, and having had a couple of days to reflect on this experience I felt I should write what I thought, as I promised.

So did I felt, no not at all, in fact I walked out with 55 bucks profit, which was amazing! I didn't expect to have such a great night, but I did!

I felted out a guy, when he had QQ and I held AA. I opened to 3 x BB and this guy re-raised to 10. I smooth called and the flop came down with 3 bricks. I checked to him and he continuation bet 20 and I raised him to 40, he called. The turn came down and he shoved all in. I knew at this point he was totally playing his hole cards and his hole cards only. I hollywooded and looked at my aces, as there was a heart flush draw on now after the turn and I had the ace of hearts. I called and the river was another brick, he asked if I had a nine, I showed pocket Aces, he showed queens... He put me on nines, which would have completed a set.

Then the real fun started, when his Phil Hellmuth wannabe mate, called my 3 x BB with aces gay! This guy loved checking in the dark and now for some reason, he and his other friend, decided it was time to felt me out! Luckily I could see that they were whispering against me, and I made sure not to play another pot with them again all night. He seemed a little pissed off at the end.

So I enjoyed the actual play of the poker, but these two cocky young poker wannabes made it feel like I was in a war zone. Maybe this is what live poker is like, and after more playing live I'll realize this. We'll have to wait and see.


Pre-Flop Shove! Oh Yea...

One thing about micro to low stakes online poker players, they love a pre-flop shove! What is it that they like about it? Poker is a game of skill, information and dis-information. It's about making the right decision, and being able to value the information that you have obtained from your opponent. That is why it is so popular, because using this skill can earn you a lot of money.

When you shove your stack pre-flop, before you have even seen a card on the table, you take all that skill, every single last drop of it, throw it outta the window and make poker a coin flip. And why oh why do these low limit players love to do it? Well, simple really, they don't have the skill to play poker even at these fairly uncomplicated levels. So they think if they can get their stack in, within a few seconds they could have doubled what they had. It's frustrating and boring to play against. But this is how it is, so you just gotta ride it out.

Pablo and I are off to the casino to play live, not online, tomorrow evening. I feel it may be brutal and disturbing, no doubt we will be writing about it in due course. If we survive.


Winning Makes Me Tilt!

Following in the footsteps of ollyscope, I left the 2/5c tables behind and headed to the 10/25c tables about a week ago. I had had enough of the bet-bet-shove, bet-bet-shove mentality...I wasn't winning, and more importantly, I wasn't learning. So, down to a bankroll of $22, I stepped it up - Chris Ferguson would have had a heart attack!

I pretty much took ollyscope's advice - on the 10/25c tables don't go in on a ridiculous pre-flop bet, keep it fairly tight but bet fairly aggressively when you have the best hand. You can pretty much read what a player has on the strength of the bet (there are a few exceptions, but compared to the 2/5c tables it's much easier to predict hands).

Long story short: I'm one week into playing to 10/25c tables. Started with $22, haven't bought back in, and currently stand at a bankroll of $107. So, I've increased my bankroll over five-fold in less than seven days. Obviously, I'm a happy boy. I firmly believe that this increase in wins is because I'm playing better, reading the game better, not being afraid to fold out a decent hand. And of course, a tiny amount of luck. But I have a problem...

When I get one part of my game sorted, I discover a flaw somewhere else. My problem is perhaps slightly unusual: when I win, I start to tilt. Yep, stupid I know. Shortstackers tilt. Donks tilt. And so does Pablo_Bueno when his stack gets so large he can't see the felt from the chips. For example, last night I won a monster pot in up around the $30 mark, so I'm sitting with a stack of $43 (my usual buy in is $20). My tight play goes out the window...I'm awesome now, I'm untouchable...let's have a go on this hand that I'd never dream of playing if I wasn't up...oh, what a rubbish flop, let's try and bully this other guy off the table...oh dear, he has the best hand.

So I lost part of my stack to the guy I won big from (despite ollyscope warning me I was a POW), and then I found myself in a pot with another guy (who had felted out twice already) after hitting a set of 3s. I bet big, despite the flush being on. Ollyscope warns me not to be a POW again. I don't listen. I call the flop. He shove all in on the turn. I call. Damn, he has the flush. But wait, is that another J coming down to give me a full house! An undeserved win. I couldn't function after that and I turned the computer off. Although I won the pot, I felt dirty because I did exactly what those 2/5c players did to me. Retribution, perhaps? I don't know.

What I do know is that I need to keep my head when I start winning big.



Oh man, me and my poker buddy (author in waiting) Pablo Bueno both play the 10/25c, but we both play a completely different game. I asked him what the biggest pot he had played recently was and he replied "$8 I think"..... Oh I wish!

I enjoyed (or didn't enjoy) a $40 swing last night.... I lost $20 when I got it all in with queens against aces, and I just played that hand horrible... When I first started playing, it was always oh I played that hand perfectly, oh I did this and he played 5 2 os after calling my 3xBB pre-flop raise... as I have played more hands, I have realized that I play bad sometimes... hey we all do.. go watch a Phil Hellmuth game, he tells everyone!

I berated myself, knowing I had lost all my weekends' work and then some...

I sat down and got aggressive... I was on a slight tilt... but I started re-raising when I had a hand instead of flat calling... I made people pay to beat me if they had a better hand... and then I hit cards... I hit a lot of cards.. I had KAos twice and KK four times! The pinnacle of it all was when I won a $26 pot with KAos and the flop came down A 7 A... so sick... after I won that hand, I retired from the cash games for the night and played a 6 max SnG... and I won that! So even though I went on a $48 winning streak, I'd rather be playing small pots for like $4 here and there, like Pablo does, I really would. Perhaps we could swap poker souls for a night, I think he'd like to experience one of these $40 pots.

No really, I think he really would!

Don't forget to check all of the latest WSOP news.


An Up, Down and Up Runner Runner Flush Weekend!

WOW! I simply seem to get flushes at the moment (not the red and hot kind).... and seemingly for some big cash! It's weird I played all weekend, got trips once, flopped a full house once, but got about 4 or 5 flushes? Weird hey?

Friday, from what I remember was a successful night, the odd pot here and there, but I remember being up around $15 by the time I retired for the evening.

Saturday was a different day completely. It all started when I called a big pre-flop re-raise with QA suited. The flop gave me a nut flush draw (surprise surprise) and by the river I managed to get my complete $20 stack in the middle. Needless to say I missed the flush and I was down $20 to start the day. The profit I had grinded out on Thursday and Friday and - GONE in 25 mins... I walked around the house berating myself for playing so poorly, my friend said I was acting like Phil Hellmuth, if only I had, I wouldn't have lost $20!

So I sit down and start playing a little steaming, but not to much.... After about another 10 mins or so, I get AJ so I go to the flop with some other dude... and the flop comes down AAQ... OK i've got trip A's here... great.... He checks... I fire out a barrell... he calls.... OK.... turn comes... I fire another barrel.... he calls again.... Hold on whats going on here... I check the river... he fires out a weak, defensive bet... I call.... and bam he's got QA... oh thats a great beat to have after I played so poorly the hand before!?

So I was about $34 down now... and it wasn't even lunch.... oh man.. all that hard work, when I wasn't catching cards and running cards dead the days before... and it had gone in 2 hours of play....

So i had some lunch... and I came back and started playing again... I managed to get some luck.. and hit trip Kings against trip 6's on the flop... and the dude got it all in on the river... that was for a $32 pot.. so I was about half to getting my money back... I lost about another $7 by the end of the day.. leaving me $30 down for the day.

Frustrating was not the word and as I already knew, easy come, easy go.... and so Sunday... I did well in my first post-lunch session and made about $5 profit....

After this session I started again and this time, it seemed a little like the god's were against me... I was hitting hands but other players had better hands... and I lost the $5 pretty quickly....then i got really lucky and but also had my gamble re-paid!

I got Jc 10c dealt to me and I post a min raise to 50c... the other dude re-raises me to $1.50... and I had noticed that he had been re-raising pre-flop a lot... maybe I was a little pissed off as well, but I called... flop came down 4c 9h Qh.... Ok so I've got an open ended straight draw... he fires out $1.50, so at this point I put him on queens with a good kicker QK, QA, QJ... so I decided that this guy is gonna have to pay for his two pair and I re-raise him to $3... the next play was weird but also a massive tell.... (each of us have about $20 stacks btw) he fires out a 3 bet of $12... so I'm like WTF is that? $12 dollars.... OK this guy has a hand... he must have trip Queens... or Kings or Aces... but he has to have two pair in his hand to bet that hard and that strong.... Well I've still got my flush draw.... and he hasn't put me all in on this street, though I might have to shove the rest on the turn... but that much money, speaks of desperation to me..if he did have trip Queens (or even trip 9s) would you really shove that much... surely you'd want to get the maximum out of me?... and he knows I'm playing tight.... thats it; he doesn't want me to call him... so I call the $12 and bam on the turn, Qc... oh right this guys got quads... no way has he got quads.... he shoves me all in.... I've still got outs and now I've got a flush draw as well.... I called and BAM a 9 of clubs on the river and $40 ships itself my way.... his hand; pocket Aces!....

So all in all I am in profit again, good healthy profit..... right I gotta go now and see if kid poker has got another bracelet!


Flushes and the WSOP....

So I didn't play Wednesday, I had to do other stuff with real people...

But I played last night and I had about a $15 swing, ending in a $5 profit! Last night was a really satisfying night of poker, didn't really catch any big hole cards pairs, only queens all night, and I got jacks about 4 times... made a flush off one of them... but I didn't hit a straight all night, no trips, no two pair and no full house... so with that in mind it was cool - no, very cool - to walk away with $5 profit, considering at one point I was $10 down.... concentration is the key!

I grinded all night, and I had two big hands, which got me even and then put me into profit for the night. The first hand was a little bit tricky from me and I guess a little lucky as well. I had 6h 4h UTG and I min raised. I got called by this dude who had re-raised me a few hands before, when I was sure he was bluffing, but I laid down that time.

The flop came Ad 10h Qh and I have a flush draw. I bet like 50c into a $1.20-ish pot and he re-raises me again to $1.50... I have to admit it kinda pissed me off... but I thought to myself.. this guy either has AQ or trip Qs, something like that... the pot odds weren't great but not that bad either, with that all floating around in my mind, I called.... an interesting card for me, a Js.... now he could have completed his straight with a king... I felt well and truly beaten now and checked... expecting a bet from him... but he checks too... I now knew he didn't have a king, so no straight for him.... so what comes on the river Kh!!!! OK so I've made the flush... and he had $4 left and the pot was $4 dollars, so any bet he's gonna raise to all in... so I put him all in and he flips over Ah 10s... I don't know if he thought it was a split pot...but he obviously didn't see the flush... and I did.... never won a flush on two low cards like that before though.....

I had QQ against him later and he got his short stack in there pre-flop (he was tilting at this point) he has A 10 and my queens held up and I was in profit! Woo-Hoo!

I had to really grind and make sure my focus didn't slip for one hand and waited for a bit of luck and a bit of tilt and I got some profit! Hopefully tonight I can catch a few cards on the flop and it won't be as much of a struggle as last night was!

PHIL IVEY braclet number 6... this world series of poker is great... lots of competitors... and seems that Ivey is in good form.... It must be so cool right now to be in the Rio with all the best players in the world... must be like star spotting... Doyle says that he can feel number 11 coming in the mixed 10k... now that would be sick!

Check out Poker After Dark's hecklers week... Sam Grizzle and of course Phil Hellmuth are so funny!


Is My Experiement Working?

So I reloaded last night... and I finally got to play some poker!

I sat down at the 10/25c tables, and I must admit that I still had my 2/5c hat on and I quickly blew $10. All my months of frustrations playing donks were obviously still there. And even though I knew I was playing a better standard of player, for about an hour I was like, "these donks just have anything, I called with my QAos cos they won't have an ace.... yea but they have a boarded pair of jacks, you moron".... and so I stopped made some dinner and kept repeating to myself "why do these dudes always have a better hand than me!" Then it dawned on me these dudes always have a better hand than me cos you're only playing your hand! I had been playing my hand for so long I had forgotten that the other players have cards as well!

So you're reading this right now and thinking, Wow this guy really is a dick! But wait! You see when playing 2/5c tables, you cannot read the other players, you can't even presume to guess what they might have. And why? Well, they don't know the value of their hands, these guys will raise it to 25c pre-flop on the 2/5c tables with KA... a drawing hand, which could get easily beaten by pocket 9s. The point being you cannot read what they have pre-flop because they really don't know how to value it! And of course if they raise it up pre flop on the 2/5c to 25c and have say AJ and the board comes down K 8 4, they will continuation bet, even though they could be destroyed by a fellow donk who is play K 3 for example!

Anyways enough about the jungle folk.... back to the poker peeps up in 10/25c....

So I started reading hands on pre-flop.... and most of the time like 60-70% of time the following occurs:

pre-flop call - medium -quite high pocket pairs or a suited connector like 7 8
pre-flop min raise - K 10 A J Q A pocket 9s pocket 10s A 10 K10 - stuff like that
pre-flop 3xBB raise - AA KK QQ JJ AK - for sure without a doubt....

Don't take this as the absolute truth, but this is what I found last night. And maybe when I play again, I might find this isn't the way, but I played three different tables last night and that was the way for ALL three.

So once you can make this kind of guess, the game is a lot easier, you can narrow the range of your opponents hands, and once you've called... you know where you are.... Lets put it this way when I lost a load on my QAos if I had realized he called my min raise, then called my flop and turn bet.... he obviously had a jack or something on the board.... but not pockets.... could have saved myself some money!

Also on the 2/5c tables you see the river 6-7 times out of every 10 hands, on these tables you see the river every 3-4 hands out of 10 and the showdown, every 3-4 outta 20 hands!!! What does that tell you!

Anyways, on the third table I joined, on the 6th hand, I get pocket 8s. I'm UTG or near it... and I decided to get a little tricky and raise it up 3xBB (I almost folded, it did cross my mind)... two callers... the board comes down 8 Q 9.... and I put a continuation bet in of $1.75. One caller folds the other calls.... I cannot remember the turn but it was a brick... I bet $2.25 into a $5-6pot... and the other dude puts me all in. Instantly that said to me, this guys got pocket Qs or he is semi bluffing with a draw.... and I called... expecting another bad beat...

I had trip 8s, he had a heart flush draw.... no heart on the river and I take down a $40 pot for a healthy $10 profit on the night! (as opposed to 37c!).... it just felt good to not have a bad beat for once, and for a massive pot... but I don't intend to play pots like that too often, they're easy come and easy go.... after a month of bad beats.... I'm ready to play POKER with my new 10/25c buddies and grind out a few dollars a night if I am lucky enough.... and if I hardly go to the river or a showdown, I won't be able to get a bad beat... now that sounds good to me!


Bad Beats and Badder Beats

I went to the Vic about a month to 3 weeks ago and since then, I've come home to find my house is Bad Beats-Ville, population ME!

The latest one, I get 9 5 os and I hit two pair, the other dude has 99.... maybe it's me, maybe I just play so bad that I induce bad beats... but I don't think so!

It's weird whenever I have a hand, someone has a better hand. I had KJ and some dude had A2, i paired my jack and he paired his ace, and cos it's the micros there is no way for me to shake him, as it's the classic, I've got an Ace must have the best hand... even though the other dude can have 2 pair! No matter how he bets or if he check raises me gonna hang onto this ace and collect my pot, cos I'm awesome! Yea right....

So me and my buddy have discussed this for hours recently, read articles and woke up in cold sweats. The question is: "How do I play poker when I cannot bluff, when the value of a bet means nothing and when of course everyone can very easily reload!?"

You might have read the earlier post and the chat I had which was good and informative. But is that guy really playing poker? I mean why do we play poker? If you play at micros are you playing for cash? God no we play for fun!" And my buddy said to me...

"Is it really that much fun grinding away every night, playing these donks for 25c profit!"

Well no it's not.

So what can you do about it?

Re-load and leave the micro's behind. And step up to the low limit stakes. I have enough poker skill and knowledge to hold my own there, and I think I can turn more profit by Friday than I could ever do at 2/5c?

So thats my experiment for the week. And I'll have to see what happens. Starting tonight.

(If I actually have enough balls to do it!)


Nuggets of Information - Part 3

And here is the final installment of my chat with a fellow frustrated low limit poker player. I've definitely taken a lot from this chat and will try and play a little more cautiously, but I can't help thinking that there is no definite strategy to combat the shovers:

behindontheflop: i think at this level, knowing when you're beaten is really important....folding a good pre-flop hand when it doesn't connect is a powerful weapon.

pokerplayer: The problem is, I've seen people shove with middle pair so many times.

behindontheflop: exactly.... it turns in a lotto.

pokerplayer: You can't trust people to play intelligently. I generally call short stackers more often than not. Short stackers play worse than players who don't short stack. In fact, I've never known one short-stacker to be profitable at these limits. Because they play it like craps

behindontheflop: not enough gamble?

pokerplayer: They've got too much gamble.

behindontheflop: oh I see...

pokerplayer: There's this one guy, he plays the 1/2 cent game and he buys in for 40 cents, the minimum, and he will multitable like 10 tables at once. And basically he just looks for pocket pairs: AA KK JJ QQ TT 99 88. And if he gets any of those hands, he shoves

behindontheflop: wow

pokerplayer: Here's the problem with this strategy his VPIP is like 2%, but anyone who's paying attention will see what he's doing and once they've spotted his strategy they're only going to call him if they've got aces or kings.

behindontheflop: but that’s the thing, not everyone is a student of the game.

pokerplayer: Sure, but in the long run he's still bound to lose out.

Nuggets of Information - Part 2

Here's the next part of my conversation with a fellow frustrated micro stakes cash player. I think he makes some very good points:

pokerplayer: In terms of BB/100 profitability this is the most profitable game out there.

behindontheflop: the micros?

pokerplayer: Yeah. I'm not talking in terms of dollars, just Big Bets per 100 hands. Most people are considered playing good at the higher limits if they average like 2-5 Big Bets per 100 hands. But a good player on the micros can average 15-20+. I think I average somewhere around the 7.5 area

behindontheflop: how long you been playing?

pokerplayer: I've only been playing seriously for about 2 or 3 months myself. I think my first day playing, like a year ago. I deposited $50 and lost it within 24 hours.

behindontheflop: can I ask... is your hand range quite wide on these tables or fairly tight?

pokerplayer: It depends on your point of view. Right now, I've got two pair. I don't play garbage hands. I won't play ace-rag, for instance. I think my bottom limit is like, A9o.

behindontheflop: i try not to play any face card with a kicker lower than 10.

pokerplayer: That's probably smart. I play suited connectors. I'll play suited aces most of the time. I won't play any king though. Like K6 suited, I would never play that. Even K8s. Hell, even K9s unless I'm on the button. I'd say that I'm appropriately cautious for these limits.

behindontheflop: I just get so frustrated when people go in pre flop to like 60c or 70c.

pokerplayer: Well, most people don't know the difference between cash games and tournaments. And they see these guys on edited WSOP tournaments on TV shoving pre-flop every hand and they really think that's what poker's all about.

behindontheflop: it's a shame the mechanics of poker don't translate from high to micro...

pokerplayer: If somebody raises and re-raises pre-flop. I'm not touching that hand unless I have AA KK or QQ. I'd probably muck AKs.

behindontheflop: really... AK?

pokerplayer: AK is gonna lose to pocket deuces more often than not. Keep in mind that AK is a drawing hand. And drawing hands miss 2/3rds of the time.

Nuggets of Information - Part 1

I'm finding it really difficult to play micro stakes (2/5c) poker online at the moment. I started off fairly well, but recently I've had a series of bad beats. How do you play against players who go all in pre-flop? How do you play against someone who doesn't play with the bankroll in their poker account, rather the bankroll in their bank account? It's all very well putting $4 into the pot when you have top pair, but when there's a straight or flush on the board, surely that's insane?

I got talking to a fellow struggler last night, who wants to play poker the right way but is also finding it hard playing against these types of players. He offered up some nuggets of information:

pokerplayer: You're playing the micro limits where 99% of the players are retarded enough to call any sized bet to the river even with ace-high or bottom pair.

behindontheflop: Yea there are some weird bet sizes here.

pokerplayer: And when you play every hand to the river the best hand on the flop is going to be the worst hand by the river a good portion of the time. My point being just that you’re going to take a lot more bad beats than you would at better tables.

behindontheflop: So if I can ask... how do you counter that?

pokerplayer: Well mostly you can't. Which sucks. However me personally, I counter it by playing a very low variance style of poker. Look up Daniel Negreanu's line of books. He talks all about small ball poker. It's useful anywhere, but I've found it to be really useful at the micros. The idea being basically that you avoid playing big pots in marginal situations. And you don't try to raise, raise, raise every single time you hit the board.

behindontheflop: Ok...I get you...bet big when you have a hand.

pokerplayer: Like playing obscenely tight poker. And whenever you get a hand you bet super hard.

behindontheflop: No semi bluffing.... and what about drawing hands...

pokerplayer: That might actually be a better way. But it's less fun. I prefer to play lots of hands but avoid playing big pots when I can. Except when I'm pretty sure I have the best hand.

behindontheflop: I see.... it's a shame not being able to bluff here at the micros.

pokerplayer: I pretty much never bluff. There's definitely a time for it. Higher limits are different. People tend to respect raises.

behindontheflop: EXACTLY.... no-one respects the value of the bet.

pokerplayer: That's the price of playing poker for pennies.