Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Noted Poker Authority: Playing NL Hold 'Em With a Plan

One of the best articles I've read in a long time...


Get it while it's hot.

Poker Drivel: Eschew Egregious Obfuscation

What the heck is "Eschew Egregious Obfuscation", anyway?

That's my favorite geek-humor, tongue-in-cheek way of saying "don't make things more complicated than they need to be", more literally translated (from Middle Dorkish) as "avoid needless complications ".

You see, we as ambitious human beings have this habit, especially when we start to get good at something... We're naturally curious and we want to explore the concepts and practices to their very fringes, honing the finer points and developing a skill in the subject of which we can be truly proud. While there's nothing ultimately wrong with that, we can get our heads so firmly planted in the details that we forget the basics.

I've spent a lot of time honing the finer points of a bluff and learning how to put an opponent solidly on a hand... I've played around with the right size of bet to feed into chasers to maximize my profit when they don't catch and minimize my losses when they do. I've explored the art of Texas Hold 'Em down to the nitty gritty and found myself occassionally losing sight of the ultimate measure of a successful poker game... Profit.

While I'm sure there are players out there who are truly good enough to play a dazzling poker game full of complexity, access every trick from their repetoire without hesitation or flaw, and constantly maintain focus... That's not me. And it probably isn't you either.

So, while you're reading the various blogs and learning finer points, remember this also... Relax. Work these things into your game slowly. Especially when you're on an emotional or mental edge for some reason, sometimes it's best to keep the tricks and traps in a bag and simply play solid, tight poker.

Eschew Egregious Obfuscation.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Down, down, down...

What's happened to Poker Drivel?

That's a very good question and it begs a good answer... The answer is, I've been on a slide that has really shaken my core foundation and made me wonder why I ever played this game and why I should continue.

Flop two pair with big slick. Bet. Get Raised. Re-Raise. Opponent goes all-in. Call. He's got pocket T's. Turn is a T.

Very next hand. I have Aces in late position. Raise significantly pre-flop and am called by big blind. Flop is junk. He bets pot. Don't figure him for a set or he would have bet less or not at all on flop. I raise. He calls. Turn is also junk. Potential straight, but he'd have to be playing something like 5-7. He bets pot. I raise. We're getting thin behind and pot is getting very large. He raises all-in. I call. He has pocket K's. River is a K.

I don't post these to whine about these specific hands or seek sympathy on any level... Only to wonder allowed how I can have stretches of days, even weeks, where hands like this are the norm. I fear hitting a really good hand because I know, given my current run, I'm a solid 75% to lose it.

It boggles my mind, beats me up, and really makes me want to throw the countless hours I've spent at the poker table and all the experience I've gained in the toilet. Screw this game.

Who needs it?

Had turned a 300% profit on intial buy-in at FTP in 2 months. Dropped down to a 30% loss in a week of complete inability to win a worthwile hand no matter how I played it. Now I'm at about 10% profit after I took down a random SnG last night.

I find myself wondering if I should start over or just walk...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lots and lots of talent...

...and, incidentally, cute as a button.


Only real critique I would have is that her vocal range seems quite limited. But still, she's got a great sound and a catchy tune, especially for a girl of probably... 16?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The problem with Poker Academy...

So I took a break from my Full Tilt adventures a few nights ago to play poker with my friends at Poker Academy. It went well, I managed to respect my PAX enough to play a decent game, and it almost reminded me of the good old days where IdahoAs, Chana_Pal, UncleTrick, Stillyxx and many of the other old regulars all sat down at the same table every night. It's not the same players every night anymore, but there are usually enough familiar names to hang a hat on.

Based on this information, I logged into Poker Academy again last night... Time for a relaxing game. Too tired to play seriously at FTP. One problem, though... While there are several tables running, all of those who have any players at all are entirely full. There are no waiting lists, so my only option is to enter into an open-ended waiting situation, making sure not to surf the internet or do anything else that would distract my attention long enough for someone else to come in and get the next open seat.


Now that I remember, this is one of the things that has driven me away from PAO. It seems we're right on the border of too many and not enough players... We've got enough to keep a few tables completely full but not enough to generate tables that are partly full and ready for new players... Since no one wants to sit in a room and wait for a half hour for the game to kick off (after which I generally give up), you're reduced to hoping you get lucky...

Double ugh.

I'd really like to play more with you guys, honest, but I can't spare so much waiting time... I often log in after my (dear) wife goes to bed in the hopes of playing for an hour before I follow... If I'm doing my math correctly, a half hour wait cuts significantly into that time.

So it's off to FTP again, grinding ever upward... With a silent apology to my friends for never being around anymore.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

POKER DRIVEL: Pocket Pairs and Limiting Losses

To borrow a line from Ed Miller, middle to low pocket pairs are "binary hands"... That is to say, the flop either makes your hand or it doesn't. Rarely will you flop a draw with this kind of starting hand. That's nice because you can make a good bit of money on a flopped set (or better) but more importantly because you're going to save money by not calling down draws. If you don't hit, lay 'em down and move on.

As a quick side note, I wanted to illustrate why I say limiting your losses is more important than maximizing wins, at least at the micro-stakes online games... Because it's a lot harder to do. Large bets are far too common at these tables and losing pots you've fed to the river can get very expensive to do with any kind of regularity. If you get really good at limiting your losses when your luck is running bad, you've already taken a large step toward long term profitability. Don't get me wrong, though, you should never use this advice as a reason to cut back on the aggression... It's just something you should look at as you go... Everyone focuses on how they can win more, but a really good player also spends a lot of time analyzing how they can lose less.

Depending on the size of the pot, the bet I am facing, and position, I am going to generally see a flop with any pocket pair... Yes, even Ducks. There was a time when I'd auto-fold wired 2's to a $1 preflop bet at a $.10 / $.25 table. Now I'll generally call that bet, even when it'll put me HU with the raiser. I'll almost certainly call it from position. If a 2 flops, it's time to look at the board, consider the hands and draws I might be against, and plan my next action. If it doesn't, I'm either going to consider the hand folded weigh my options on making a move, remembering that 22 still beats AK on a flop of 469. Generally, though, if I miss the set, it's easy enough to get out of this situation without losing much, if any, more than the initial call.

Remember you'll flop the set about 1 in 8 times. So what you should do, based on your past experience and the current table, is estimate the average value of the hand if you do flop the set. If they're not paying off a lot, maybe you lay it down anyway. But, generally a $.10/$.25 is very profitable on a fairly typical flop of K29. He's going to overplay top pair, as almost all of these players do, and you're likely to make a nice profit... Probably much more than the $8 pot required to make the call. (Speaking for myself personally, I probably average more like $15 - $20 pots when I flop a set. This scenario has definitely proven my most profitable area so far.)

Next time you look down at that tiny (or midlin) pair and think "it's only a pair of 3s (or whatever)", consider the potential of the hand before laying it down. You may be folding a goldmine to a relatively small bet...