An odd hand

May. 8th, 2006 09:10 pm
peterbirks: (Default)
I'm playing in the Virgin Bloggers tournament on Thursday, so I suppose I had better put their banner here for a while. Here it is. Followed by a typical Virgin Limit Hand.

Plan the Play.

Virgin Poker

You are in the Small Blind at $5-$10 (blinds $2.50/$5) and pick up Qs Qh

It's your second hand, but you watched three or four hands before you played, and two of these were passed round until late position and then raised. So, we are not looking at a loose-fest here.

UTG+1 raises to $10. MP1 reraises to $15.

Do you (a) fold? (b) call or (c) cap it?

If you fold, then that's the end of the problem. Suppose you either call or cap it.

UTG+1 goes into the tank, times out and deliberately gets himself all-in.

If you call, the flop comes Kc Td 4c. MP1 bets $5. Do you (d) fold? (e) call? or (f) raise?

If you cap it, MP1 flat-calls (he has an option to five-bet, since it is now heads-up)

Flop comes Kc Td 4c. MP1 bets $5. Do you (g) fold? (h) call? or (i) raise?

What range do you put the all-in player on?

What range do you put the active opponent on?
peterbirks: (Default)
OK, this could quite possibly be a long poker post. It’s all off the top of my head, so please excuse any logical flaws and contradictions that appear in my arguments.

First, a Mr D Pommo of Spearmint Rhino’s, Tottenham Court Road, sent a belated reply to BDD’s points a week or so ago. Since no-one reads a blog entry more than two days old, and since I have some comments to make on the reply, I’ll reprint it here:

Have been reading your blog for a while and enjoy the regular updates on "blogland" :)

Having read Dave D's comments about myself I felt obliged to reply. I have reported losing weeks(?!), and wanting to get away from the swings is not just from having big losses, a large part of it is purely because, why does anyone want the stress? I'm not THAT big on money. Spending has always been my biggest loss, and that probably won't change any time soon :). The swings of cash had started to affect my game for the worse I can accept that, but why can't a guy change games without it being assumed that he has lost the plot and is on a downward slope!


more )
peterbirks: (Default)
I've written a macro to convert Virgin hand histories to something more manageable.

Here's a few limit hands from today, with commentaries:

click here )
peterbirks: (Default)
What would be your view of this hand?

A typical $2-$4 game on Party, Sunday morning US time: No reads on players except where indicated.

You get A♥ 7♥ in MP2

UTG (conservative possibly weak-tight) limps. UTG+1 folds. MP1 limps. You limp. Button (loose-passive) limps. Small blind (slightly aggressive, dangerous) raises. Big blind calls (always defends blind). UTG calls. MP1 calls. You call. Button calls. Pot = $24.

Flop comes J♥, 6♣, 4♥

Small blind bets out, big blind folds, UTG calls, MP1 calls. You raise. Button folds. SB three-bets. UTG calls, MP1 calls. You call. $48 in pot.

Turn brings J♠. Small Blind bets out. UTG raises. MP1 folds. $60 in pot. What do you do? And what question are you asking at the moment?

click here )
peterbirks: (Default)
I played like a dipshit this morning. Becaise I took a nap Sunday afternoon and went to bed (relatively) early, I woke up about 3.30am/ Instead of doing what I should have done, and turning over in an attempt to go back to sleep, I got up and put in an hour at the table. You know that you are not on form when, while I was typing in my table stake at table two while posting on table one, I got in for free with Kh 7h. Flop came 9d 6h 4s. I pay no attention and clicked check-fold. Then the table beeps at me to make a decision to an opponent’s bet, so I fold. Whoops, card had appeared without me seeing it and I had folded to the turn bet. The turn card was, of course, the six of hearts. That just about gave me odds to call $4 into a $12 pot (15 outs). The river, needless to say, was a three, and I would have won a small pot.

it got worse... )
peterbirks: (Default)
Bluff wrote in a message here a couple of weeks ago about the Ray Zee principle that you should move up in stakes when things are going well and move back down when they are not. I was instinctively uncomfortable with this theory, but it took me until now to formulate my thoughts coherently.

There is an understandable reason for moving up when things are going well — you have the bankroll to do it. And so for many of the players at the highest stakes, the path to those levels has normally been "do well, move up, get spanked, move back down, do well, move up, get spanked, move back down" and so on, until you get a "do well, move up, do well" sequence.

The other understandable reason for moving up when things are going well is that you are full of confidence. And, if you go into a game thinking that you are going to lose, you are probably doomed. So it makes sense to go into a new game thinking that you can beat it.

there's more, click here )
peterbirks: (Default)
A couple of boring hands that show the subtle differences that can lead you to make a different decision in superficially similar situations. What was interesting about this pair of hands is that one came immediately after the other.

The hands )
peterbirks: (Default)
BLUFFThis made a comment on an earlier post that he thought 15-30 was more suited to my style of game, because you got fewer calling stations who would inevitably suck out on you. In other words, you got less pot equity and more fold equity.

As I said in that post, my major problem with 15-30 is not the quality of my opponents. I will happily go bulldozing away in an aggression battle, no matter what the limit. My problem is that I am uncomfortable with the real money represented by the stakes. This leads to the fatal flaw of protecting wins and chasing losses. It's vital that you do not fall into this trap when you move up in levels.

Another factor is that BLUFF tends not to play at the same time as I do. I have recently signed back into Party, having negotiated an under-the-counter rakeback (note link above if you are interested in opening up one of these yourself!) but, because the new account stops me using my old Neteller account, I have had to deposit my own money via Visa. And, since it is a "new" account, the deposit was limited to $500. I thus have to suffer the humiliation of playing $2-$4 until I can build up a reasonable stack.

Anyway, even at $2-$4, in certain types of game, the more aggressive style of play can reap regular dividends. It's the following kind of hand where the money is made, not the Ace-x suited that hits a flush on the turn.

$2/$4 Texas Hold'em

Seat 2 (Birks) is the button

Seat 1: samlclemens ( $233 )
Seat 2: Birks ( $138 )
Seat 3: rollemhigh1 ( $132 )
Seat 4: GaryPaulD ( $177 )
Seat 5: TEPop ( $77.58 )
Seat 6: joeyjett ( $33 )
Seat 7: LoveRedApple ( $69 )
Seat 8: chengjimmy ( $200.75 )
Seat 9: sidcrosby ( $106 )
Seat 10: shiggy9 ( $105.50 )

rollemhigh1 posts small blind [$1].
GaryPaulD posts big blind [$2].

Dealt to Birks [ 8h Th ]
joeyjett (UTG+1) calls [$2].
Birks raises [$4].
rollemhigh1 (SB) calls [$3].
GaryPaulD(BB) folds.
joeyjett calls [$2].

The raise of one limper (and, although this is not the case here, the raise of two limpers) gives more verisimilitude to your hand than a raise without any previous callers. At $2-$4, the players see it as less likely to be a semi-steal of the blinds.

Flop Jh, 8s, Jd

I quite like this flop. Unless one of my two opponents has a Jack or something like A8 suited, I'm likely to be in front. I've just run a Monte Carlo on it against likely calling hands and my pot equity comes out at 46.5%

rollemhigh1 checks.
joeyjett checks.
Birks bets [$2].
rollemhigh1 calls [$2].
joeyjett calls [$2].

Turn 7h

Should I be worried? Well, if the Jack is out there, I'm going to get check-raised on the turn. But this is no reason to slow down. My pot equity (with the flush draw) is now over 50%. It's this kind of situation where I differ seriously from the conventional wisdom, that suggests checking "half and half" hands on the turn, saving your bets for very strong hands and outright bluffs that you can fold to a check-raise without hesitation.

rollemhigh1 checks.
joeyjett checks.

Birks bets [$4].

rollemhigh1 folds.
joeyjett folds.

Birks wins $23.

End of story. I would guess that they both took a card off on the flop with either two overcards, or an overcard and a gutshot, or a small pair. In all these cases I am right to bet the turn, even though I am forced to call a check raise.
peterbirks: (Default)
Here's a hand I had earlier this morning. It's interesting because it features a river decision (which you don't get very often at NL) and because it's a river decision that crops up relatively often (probably about 1 hand in a hundred, maybe a bit more). As such, it's vital that you make the correct EV move (i.e., the one that maximises your gain in the long run).

Table "Mimosa" (real money) -- Seat 7 is the button
Seat 1: TATERLEGS ($282.00 in chips)
Seat 2: baseballfan ($489.00 in chips)
Seat 3: jungo13 ($183.50 in chips)
Seat 4: pokermon69 ($56.00 in chips)
Seat 5: tdog74 ($188.50 in chips)
Seat 6: gambler2525s ($185.50 in chips)
Seat 7: BIRKS ($381.00 in chips)
Seat 8: KrazyEYKilla ($44.00 in chips)
Seat 9: wph1 ($129.00 in chips)

KrazyEYKilla: Post Small Blind ($2)
wph1 : Post Big Blind ($5)

Dealt to BIRKS (Button) [ Ah ] [ 8h ]
jungo13 : Call ($5)
gambler2525s: Call ($5)
BIRKS : Raise ($10)
jungo13 : Call ($5)
gambler2525s: Call ($5)

Abdulish play here. I’m not folding A8s on the button with two limpers, so I might as well raise.

*** FLOP *** : [ 6c Ad Qs ]

This is a very good flop for me. Opponents might have QK, QJ, QT, or Ax where my kicker beats theirs. With 66 I would have expected at least the first player to have raised rather than limped. In fact, the only hand I can see myself losing to at the moment is A6.

jungo13 : Check
gambler2525s: Check
BIRKS : Bet ($5)
jungo13 : Call ($5)
gambler2525s: Call ($5)

*** TURN *** : [ 6c Ad Qs ] [ 5c ]

Not much change. Someone might have justifiable cause to chase, that’s all.

jungo13 : Check
gambler2525s: Check
BIRKS : Bet ($10)
jungo13 : Call ($10)
gambler2525s: Call ($10)

*** RIVER *** : [ 6c Ad Qs 5c ] [ Ks ]

I have top pair, medium kicker.

jungo13 : Check
gambler2525s: Check

What do I do here? Bet? Or check? There is $79 in the pot.
peterbirks: (Default)
I never really thought that the day would come when I could say that I had played in home games with three of the last thirty or so players in a major poker event, but that was the case this week. So I take some kind of vicarious railbird-like pleasure in mentioning that Nick Persaud (Tooting game), John Iannou (Steve Bennett's game) and Richard Gryko (one time Diplomacy-hobby member, James Butler's game, MSO) did well in this week's Monte Carlo Millions, but none of them made the money.

Gryko is going to win a big one eventually. I know this because he seems to show no fear of going out on the bubble, even in big tournaments. This time it was 14th, with 12 getting paid.


I made a bad mistake yesterday. Flushed with success on Sunday, when everything went right, just about, I was keen to sit down after work to continue my winning streak. Normally I take a nap first, but yesterday I fired straight in there and, of course, absolutely did my bollocks. I would have lost anyway, but being tired is bound to exacerbate the nightmare, especially when by 10pm you decide that three tables of 2/4 is the only answer.

If anything, I was too laggy for the 3/6 (and then 2/4) games that I was playing. Some of the players were good enough to look me up on less than premium hands, at which point I often foolishly decided to get into battles because it was "only" 2/4. If the luck's running with you, this can result in a big win. But the luck wasn't running with me, so it didn't. Result, all of Sunday's win wiped out, and then some, with only the accumulated bonus points on Party and rakeback money on Empire as compensation. Oh, and I managed to win on Ultimate, where they were so weak-tight that they didn't start looking me up until I was gettin' me coat.

A lesson learnt.

But I did get Aces cracked by Kings (once), Kings cracked by Queens (twice), and Aces cracked by QJ and AQ. Plus QJ of clubs in BB beaten by AT of clubs in SB on a flop of Kxx of clubs! Get away from that one! Needless to say, river flushes and straights when I was pushing never came.... End of whinge out of turn.
peterbirks: (Default)
On the Gutshot forum at the moment there is a spate of the occasionally recurring "online poker is rigged" nonsense. This is usually exemplified by illogical arguments, changing of parameters every time you shoot down a previous argument and, generally, displays of stupidity that make you realize that you don't need to worry about finding fish at poker tables for some time yet.

Anyway, my own version of the "cash-out curse" has tended to be that I nearly always lose when I get to my bonus, be it on Stars or Party or Empire. Now, there are reasons for this. If you are "stuck", then you are more likely to hang around, which makes it more likely that you will be losing when you reach the bonus level. And, of course, it isn't necessarily true. The last time I hit my Stars bonus, I chopped it off for $600 in about an hour and a half. I was on fire.

But not this time. I had crawled to a profit of about $150 in a week (on Stars), and needed a mere 30 points to get my bonus. During that short accumulation I got slaughtered left, right and centre. In the required 52 hands, I got four pairs (Aces, nines, sevens and Queens) and lost with the lot. The Queens came last, just as I was about to reach the required 750 points. Fans of conspiracy theories, enjoy.

click here for the hand )
peterbirks: (Default)
Okay, GIQ, I know. But I've waited a long while to do this to another player.

The Hand )


Oct. 27th, 2005 06:33 pm
peterbirks: (Default)
I've been reading Dalla's book on Ungar and Greenstein's Ace in the Hole this past week (along with the Iain M Banks SF novel and Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale ... I really must focus, sigh) and I came across a great observation by Greenstein.

Basically, he points out that there are many mid-limit players who are technically as good as the high limit players, but who can't make it at the top level for various other reasons. This is spot on. In a sense, I feel sure that my card-reading and technical abilities at limit are in the, say 15-30 to 80-160 region at the Bellagio (a wide range, I admit!), but many other factors need to be overcome before I can start thinking about beating those games. Only now, on my eighth visit there, do I think that I am mentally prepared for the 15-30.

So, what is it that disqualifies me from the 80-160? A number of things, only one of which is the stake level. I don't quite have the recommended bankroll of $50,000, but, as Greenstein says, if the game is good, such pedantries would not frighten the poker player who has the right stuff. You can always pop a shot with, say, $5,000, and go back to rebuilding your bankroll if you get spanked (as I probably would be).

When I think of playing at these higher stakes, I always remind myself of a couple of youngsters who played in the 4-8 game in the Flamingo three or so years ago. These were the first of the Internet generation. They had read the books, they knew the odds, they understood domination, implied odds, and, the way they talked, they clearly knew how to play.

And they had no chance whatsoever.

1) They didn't have a big enough bankroll (they had a hundred bucks apiece I think)
2) They had too much respect for the value of $100. Losing that hundred bucks each hurt these guys. In other words, they did not have the ability to split money into "spending money" and "poker ammunition".
3) They didn't have the mental strength. They weren't beaten when they started losing. They were beaten the first time an idiot came in and hit them with a two-outer.
4) They didn't know that they were in the wrong game. (it had to be the wrong game - they were playing me).
5) They wanted to show that they were good at the game, that they weren't "out of their class". In poker, as in life, it's usually best to beware the quiet man.

Now, I think of myself hypothetically sitting down in the 80-160 game this December, and I would be like these kids were in the 4-8 game. I would display all the faults and I would be subject to all the dangers. Someone would hit a two-outer, costing me a $2,400 pot, or whatever, and it would prey on my mind. Quite simply, I do not have the ability which Greenstein says is important to great poker players -- not to be worried about playing with a large percentage of your bankroll.

This is why it's taken me five years just to build up to 15-30. I can now take a $2000 loss in an evening (it won't happen but, if it did, it wouldn't worry me), which I couldn't do even 18 months ago. And if I do lose it, I'll come back the following night. I'll know to stand up from bad games, stick with the good ones, and, most importantly, not worry about the volatility inherent to 15-30 at thet madfest that is the Bellagio during tournaments. I won't need to show people that I am not scared of the stakes, because I genuinely am not scared of the stakes.

People write quite a lot about the impact of losing on a player, but I think an equal factor is the impact of winning. If you are two grand up in a 15-30 game, having sat down with your last grand, how tempting must it be to say "what I have I hold" and to turn weak-tight? In other words, the two grand profit needs to be irrelevant. It needs to be a small percentage of your bankroll. That is the only way to stop your style of play altering. (Well, it is in my case. As Greenstein wrote, for the great players, this is not the case. Dalla makes a great comment on the late Jack Straus. Apparently he needed to have 110% of his bankroll in action every day. Let's be honest, you have to have some admiration for the guy.)
peterbirks: (Default)
It's a lot easier playing when there is a vague degree of predicatbility in the world. Although I expect a raft of "How can you do that?"s from my play here.

Hero on button with AA in a $3-$6 game.

Call from UTG (loose, prepared to raise). Call from CO (loose, not many raises). Raise from me. Call from the Big Blind (Loose). Reraise from UTG (probably a pair of some kind - could just be pissed that I raised him). Call from CO. Call from me. Call from BB.

I'll cap it about half the time here with Aces and flat-call the other half of the time.

Flop comes J43 two hearts (I have no heart). Check from BB, check from UTG, Bet from CO. I raise. Fold from BB. UTG now 3-bets it and CO caps it.

Now there are many possibilities here. UTG could have JJ, but I really place him with either KK or AA But CO looks to me to be on set for 33 or 44. Indeed, I'd say that 70% of the time this would be a set. But, of course, I don't normally play at this time of night. I am not, as it were, "in the zone". This is one of the situations I get into time and time again when the madmen are out in the US. If I call, it turns out that I have two outs, whereas if I fold, my Aces would have held up to win.

So, through gritted teeth, I call the $6. UTG calls.

Turn brings 5d, making a board of J435 two hearts. UTG checks and CO bets. I call. UTG raises and CO reraises. What do I do?

(I'll give you a clue. This is not a Barron Vangor Toth story. I occasionally lose pots).


I sold my shares in Compass earlier this week at 199.5p. I bought them at the beginning of the year at 235p as a recovery play. History has told me that when the recovery does not happen, it's best to get out before things go seriously pear-shaped (Mayflower is one example that springs to mind.... that cost me quite a lot). I mean, it takes a bit of skill to get a company that provides catering to get embroiled in a scandal in Iraq.

No real ideas of what to put this money into, actually. Given that the "sell in May and go away" punters have got seriously burned this year (hah! Good!) there might be some profit-taking as the year-end approaches and books are squared up. Methinks a cash holding will be as good as anything. Let's see what interest those Barclays scumbags pay on it. Probably 0.10%.

I am seriously thinking of a yen punt against the dollar in the near future. Although I'm not particularly dollar-bearish, I'm quite yen bullish. You only need the whiff of positive interest rates to get a bit closer to reality and I can see a nice little yen spurt early next year as a result.
peterbirks: (Default)
I worked from home today, and after managing to restore my Outlook connection to the main server (I don't know what the IT people are up to, and what worries me is that I fear that they don't, either) I finally got the newsletter out of the way.

Being a bit bored with $3-$6 limit, I looked at Betfair to see what the biggest game was that had a full table. When I saw, I gritted my teeth and sat down at, yes, 25p/50p. The grinders have sure destroyed William Hill/Befair.

Anyway, I decided to practise some three-tabling, and also to remind myself of what the $2-$4 games can be like in Vegas.

After an hour, I knew. What about this for stats in 185 hands? Aces, 0 for 3. Kings, 0 for 2, Queens, 0 for 1.

Needless to say, these minor set backs were not enough to stop me winning the grand sum of £2.89, which I make the equivalent of more than 5 big bets an hour. Next stop, 50p-£1; if I can find anyone on Betfair willing to play at such rarefied stakes.

This kind of level really is a different world. For example, I won money 24% of the time I saw a flop, which I would consider abhorrent at any level $3-$6 and above. At this level, it's enough to win money. You also have to seriously reassess your hand rankings.

Playing at this level is good for you. It stops you getting used to a single style of play that you can beat. I don't think it's a coincidence that most of the differences amongst the experts on how to play properly at limit revolve not around the higher stakes games, but at these low levels, where the normal laws of physics clearly do not apply. One guy sort of thought that he knew what he was doing. So he raised to get a free card (pointless, the guy in small blind bet pn the turn anyway) and raised to thin the field (pointless, guy on his immediate left cold-called the raise with a flop that gave him no flush draw, a single overcard and a three-card gustshot straight). So, throw away all the following tricks: 1) Stealing blinds, (2) Semi-bluffs. (3) raising to get a free card and (4) raising to thin the field when you face reverse implied odds.

Curiously, one "advanced" trick worked -- the "Harman raise" on the turn.

All this was fun, in a strange kind of way. Mind you, I might have thought it less fun until my AKs in the small blind flopped KKQ and got caught in a raising war from K5 and AQ. £13.90 pot! Wow. That's, er, $280 in a $5-$10 game.


I made a list of all the things (well, some of the things) that I needed to get done, given that I was at home. I wrote down 20 "must do's' without pausing for breath. So far I've done, er, three of them.

Back when I lived in Turney Road with Gamble, Oakes, Leila and Marie, I used to compile lists of things that I had to do that very day, and I would cunningly insert things like "Play James Bond Game on the Spectrum". That way I could tick off things on the list, feel righteous, and yet not get anything useful done.
peterbirks: (Default)
I had a 2,000-word piece in Insurance Day today, where I managed to get in a quote from a former WSOP champ. Yes, "Robert Baldwin" (as he now seems to be known) was commenting on the damage to the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. I'm now trying to work out how to get a Phil Hellmuth quote in there.


I continue to burn money at the Party Poker tables as I move slowly towards accumulating enough hands for the by now relatively worthless $200 bonus. Once again, I flittered from table to table, looking for a "good" game. By the time I found one, I was more than $80 up. Which I proceeded to throw down the drain and several hundred dollars after it as two players on my right (one calling 48% of the time and only raising pre-flop with Aces, the other calling 60% of the time) continually outdrew me. I gave up expecting to hit any kind of flop. Obviously when my Aces finally hit a set on the flop, no-one called me, even though I gave them a chance to catch up a bit. Very depressing. Net result, about $200 disappears again over three hours. I made one frustrated call with AKs on a board of QQ763, solely on the (not that remote) chance that my UTG raiser opponent had either AK or AJs. Obviously he had AQ off. I'm beginining to forget what it's like to win. In addition, the game is MUCH more tiring to play when you are losing! Eventually one of the fish went broke (it took him three hours, and he didn't lose it to me) and the other one left after he won back some of his substantial losses (he did win some of it from me). I could cite some hands from the past few days, but they aren't that remarkable. Standard limit stuff of players either beating you when you had them beaten at the start or on the turn (and you can't criticise their call) or beating you on the river when they shouldn't be in the hand at all (which means that you WANT them to call).

You keep chanting the mantra, but it's tough sometimes, very tough. Still, maybe things will be different tomorrow. And perhaps they won't.
peterbirks: (Default)
I was two-tabling this morning on Party when one of the games suddenly became short-handed. Now, if there are seven or eight players, but at least one of them is very weak, I am happy to stay at the table. The conventional wisdom is that your advantage is now greater, since there are fewer good players to take the weak player's cash. But this game rapidly decreased to just four players, although one of them was a serious fish (71% flops, few raises).

At this point a paradox develops. Although there are now only three of your trying to take the poor player's money, that person's own play automatically becomes less bad. If he carries on playing just as he did before (no alteration of starting standards) his style might even become marginally profitable!

Anyway, I stuck with the game, despite my own lack of experience in the four-handed realm. I did so partly because I want to gain some experience in short-handed (so I might as well do it when I know that there is a fish around). And, happily, I won a few bucks. I think that I did this partly because the other two "good" players were equally inexperienced at short-handed (clearly they were thinking the same as me!), but they over-compensated, playing too aggressively and too loosely. Then again, four-handed is not six-handed. An interesting half-hour.


I spend so much time recounting hands where it all went tits-up for me (I folded a hand yesterday, last to bet for $10, into a $172 pot, which, as it turned out, I would have won. And I would fold again if the same sequence of betting turned up). But I get so much hindsightitis (people are less willing to venture an opinion when they do not know the result, I notice!) that I am hesitant to reproduce the hand.

So, here's one where I can say "look, it all went right".

$5/$10 Texas Hold'em
Table Money Machine (Real Money)
Seat 3 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 2: sparkycal ( $171.51 )
Seat 3: PlayMeSoft ( $520.50 )
Seat 4: andysmith33 ( $127.50 )
Seat 6: boatman21111 ( $602.35 )
Seat 8: Pjoker ( $212.50 )
Seat 10: edefect ( $384 )
Seat 5: RBRINK24 ( $114 )
Seat 7: Birks ( $443 )
Seat 9: patty3outer ( $178.57 )
Seat 1: TheOnlyAlex ( $250 )
andysmith33 posts small blind [$2].
RBRINK24 posts big blind [$5].

** Dealing down cards **

Dealt to Birks [ Ac Ad ]

UTG+1 is not the greatest spot to get AA, but I'll live with 'em anywhere.

boatman21111 calls [$5].

Birks raises [$10].
PlayMeSoft raises [$15].

boatman21111 calls [$10].
Birks calls [$5].

The crucial play

** Dealing Flop ** [ 8d, 8s, 3d ]

boatman21111 bets [$5].

Unless boatman has an 8, this is not a strong play. I haven't seen any evidence that boatman is capable of thinking two levels up. I reckon him on either a diamond draw or a mediocre pair that is testing the water for AK vs AK.

Birks calls [$5].

However, boatman's bet gives me another opportunity to stitch up PlayMeSoft, a tightish winning player whom I am already putting on KK (he could have QQ or AA, but I know for sure that he isn't beating me at the moment).

PlayMeSoft raises [$10].

Sure enough. He reckons boatman is on a "test" or a draw, and that I have AK, AQ, AJs or something like that.

boatman21111 calls [$5].
Birks raises [$10].

Time to pull the trigger. If boatman had folded I might have just flat-called here.

PlayMeSoft calls [$5].
boatman21111 calls [$5].

** Dealing Turn ** [ 2s ]

I very much like this card.

boatman21111 checks.
Birks bets [$10].
PlayMeSoft calls [$10].

PlayMeSoft probably has an impending sense of doom, but the pot is big enough for him to be willing to call it down for two big bets

boatman21111 calls [$10].

Presumably still on a draw. No way does he have an 8, because he would either have raised on the flop when he had the opportunity or raised here.

** Dealing River ** [ 9c ]

I like this card as well

boatman21111 checks.
Birks bets [$10].
PlayMeSoft calls [$10].
boatman21111 calls [$10].

Birks shows [ Ac, Ad ] two pairs, aces and eights.
PlayMeSoft doesn't show [ Qs, Qh ] two pairs, queens and eights.
boatman21111 doesn't show [ 4d, 4s ] two pairs, eights and fours.

Birks wins $154 from the main pot with two pairs, aces and eights.

I will admit, if a four had come on the river and boated boatman up, I would have been caught for at least three bets on the river!
peterbirks: (Default)
Rousting myself to unheard-of levels of efficiency, I went to bed at 8.30pm last night (because I was tired) and woke, inevitably, at four in the morning. So I got up, put the whites in the washing machine, and wrote the newsletter (whilst playing some 5-10 on the other computer), which I sent out at 8.30am. Day's work done, and $60 up as well.

How to celebrate such an achievement, I asked myself? Hell, Most people in the poker world weren't even out of bed yet.

So I started giving the kitchen a proper clean. Yes, we certainly know how to live at Lewisham Towers.

Two hours later, I had finished one side, yes, one side, of the kitchen. I now have the most lopsidely-clean kitchen in Christendom. On the hob side, the cupboards are sorted and spotless, inside and out. The hob and oven gleam like a sergeant-major's boots.

On the other side, the fridge looks like several species of animal have gone extinct inside it, while the freezer has the detritus of several families of vegetable lingering at the base. I'll get round to it, eventually. I really will.


The cricket went well. I've twice traded in and out, increasing my certain profit each time. The draw is currently my smallest winner (£2.10! Wow!) But a win for either England or Australia and I am doing well.

Richie Benaud's commentary reaches new lows. Hell, he was senile-going-on-Alzheimer's in 1994, but now he's going blind as well. Can I have been the only person who saw the Ponting wicket and said straight away that he got a nick before the ball hit his pads? Meanwhile, we get an hour's worth of slow-motion replays, and after seeing these Benaud said that the ball hit the pad and then the bat.

The view on the first ball of the day, given not out when there was clearly a nick before the ball went through to the keeper, was further obfuscated by Simon Hughes when he said that the "fat" noise shown on the "snickometer" was not the same as the "thin" noise caused when the bat nicks the ball, so that the noise was that of the batsman's bat hitting the ground, not of the bat hitting the ball. What should have been blindingly obvious was that this "fat" noise was of such a shape that the "thin" noise of the nick could have been subsumed within it. Jeez, all this technology, and people stop using their eyes.


I reckon that, not counting the FPP freerolls, I have gone something like 18 tournaments without cashing. That in itself is a factor in the poor finances this month. Add to that the fact that I was convinced that I wasn't really doing anything wrong in limit -- that I had just been plain unlucky for eight weeks (I had been treading water since June 30), and it was a bloody good feeling when this afternoon it all clicked and for a couple of hours I could do no wrong. 13 pairs in 163 hands, and 11 of them won. That's all you need, and the profit kicked in accordingly. I shall stick to my promise and not mention any actual numbers less than five figures (or even four figures :-)). But, I tell you, it was a bloody nice sensation after weeks and weeks of feeling that you are swimming upstream.
peterbirks: (Default)
After a not-very-good run this month, it was obviously a good idea not to blame bad cards and think no more about it. Even if bad cards were partly to blame, a little self-analysis wouldn't do any harm.

I'd fallen back into two bad habits -- one was limping after a couple of callers when I should really either fold or raise, while the other was failing to bet for value often enough on the river.

Richard Gryko made the remarkably perceptive point that limit play improves your ability in deep stack no limit (cash and tournaments) because it forces you to learn how to play better through the turn and river (unless you want to go broke).

Now, if you swivel this line of thought, it follows that a lot of the new limit players who have come up via ESPN and NL tournaments, are likely to be LESS experienced on the turn and river. I have noticed this. The average standard of play is improving pre-flop and on the flop, but on the turn and river the rule tends to be that they bet if they have it and they don't if they don't. The only players who try to check-raise me on the river are experienced players who have met me before (:-))

Anyway, I promised myself to push in bets more often on the river, even if by doing so I risked a check-raise. Within a couple of not-very long sessions this has already put me $30 to the better than I would have been if I had fallen back into the habit of checking the river when I wasn't to sure.

With hindsight, a bet in the following hand on the river is obvious, but you would be surprised at how many players fail to bet in such situations.

$5/$10 Texas Hold'em - Friday, July 22, 05:34:16 EDT 2005
Seat 8 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 1: dirtup2000 ( $298 )
Seat 2: Princess414 ( $129.50 )
Seat 3: Vrtnar111 ( $245.50 )
Seat 4: DJOHNT ( $192 )
Seat 5: ptpab ( $392.50 )
Seat 10: Birks ( $445 )
Seat 9: swept ( $245 )
Seat 8: DntUknoWhoIM ( $204 )
Seat 7: WalkamoHB ( $48 )
Seat 6: HSL74 ( $245 )
swept posts small blind [$2].
Birks posts big blind [$5].

Dealt to Birks 5d 6h
dirtup2000 folds.
Princess414 folds.
Vrtnar111 folds.
DJOHNT folds.
ptpab folds.
HSL74 raises [$10].
WalkamoHB calls [$10].
DntUknoWhoIM calls [$10].

swept folds.
Birks calls [$5].

pleasing play number 1. Instead of clicking the "check/fold" button, with this kind of hand (which is unlikely to be dominated) it's a good idea to see how many players come in for the raise. In this case, three opponents gives me odds of more than 7-to-1, implied odds of about 12-to-1 (VERY ROUGH ESTIMATE!) and little chance of me getting into deep trouble. One could take a deeper look here at the 750,000 possible flops and actually ask whether there are more than 70,000 flops that make it worthwhile me seeing a turn card, but I'll just stick with the principle that these odds are good enough for me.

** Dealing Flop ** [ 5s, Qc, 6c ]

Bottom two-pair. A difficult hand to play for the novice (and occasionally for the experienced player! But a check is the right play unless you are looking for deception.

Birks checks.
HSL74 bets [$5].
WalkamoHB calls [$5].
DntUknoWhoIM calls [$5].
Birks calls [$5].

One would normally be looking for a check-raise here, but the bet from the player on my immediate left means that if I do raise at this point, I'm not going to knock anyone out and I AM going to give drawing hands pot odds on the turn, even if they are facing a bet of $20 cold. Therefore I call.

** Dealing Turn ** [ 9h ]

this is actually a very nice card for me, for reasons that will soon become apparent.

Birks checks.
HSL74 checks.
WalkamoHB checks.
DntUknoWhoIM bets [$10].
Birks raises [$20].

HSL74 folds.
WalkamoHB folds.
DntUknoWhoIM calls [$10].

This time the bet is from the player on my right, so the check-raise is right, meaning that anyone calling with a gutshot (apart from the initial bettor) is doing so incorrectly.

** Dealing River ** [ 4s ]

Birks bets [$10].

Here the advantage of the 9 on the turn becomes obvious. Even if I am losing here to a very odd Q9, Q5, Q6 or some other such horrific combination (I knew nothing about this opponent), he can't raise me on the river with two-pair, because I have played the hand as if I have 87 and the straight. Contrarily, if he has the more likely holding of QK, QJ or QT, he is unlikely to lay the hand down.

DntUknoWhoIM calls [$10].

and, he doesn't.

Birks shows [ 5d, 6h ] two pairs, sixes and fives.
DntUknoWhoIM doesn't show [ Qs, Kd ] a pair of queens.
Birks wins $119 from the main pot with two pairs, sixes and fives.

As I wrote, in retrospect a bet on the river seems obvious, but it is very easy to check here when you are on auto-pilot.
peterbirks: (Default)
The strange thing about multi-tabling is that, even if you are paying attention to the players and their styles, you can suddenly find yourself $400 down at $5-$10 and say to yourself "hell, where did THAT all go?"

In a way that was what happened to me yesterday (except that by the end of 300 hands I was "only" $270 down). In one (very small) way, this is good. It means that I am concentrating on playing each hand properly, rather than on how much I am up or down. A few times last month I found myself several hundred dollars up and wondered to myself where it had come from.

But this time I was down, so I thought about where it had gone. My stats were interesting. I had 12 pairs in 300 hands (five short of the expected), but with a reasonable distribution of high and low, and the pairs were in profit on both tables (as they should be!). So, no clue there. Then I remembered three hands, one where with 98s I had seen a board of 6-9-9-4-2 and promptly lost to a pair of sixes. Another where my raise with KQ off in MP2 found a flop of QQ3, a turn of a 5 and a river of a 10 and I promptly lost to a player who cold-called a raise with QTs behind me. And a third where I played KJs aggressively, hit a King on the turn after a rag flop and promptly lost to another aggressive player with KTs who hit a ten on the river.

All three were $100+ swings and were "the way it goes". So, in a way, I had at least some explanation.

I also looked at my VPIP% and raising percentage and saw that at one table I had an almost laughable 28% VPIP$ and a raise percentage of 16%, over 150 hands. Now, unless I had suddenly become a semi-maniac without noticing, this meant that I had been getting a lot of those hands that I raise with, but which this time were going nowhere. Quite simply, I kept missing flops and my continuations got bitten off (more than 90% of the time by better hands rather than rebluffs, I hasten to add!) more than they usually do.

And this can happen. It can happen for a long long time.

So, not unhappy, despite my loss for the month now approaching $400.


Another humorous development over the past, well, five months, has been the precipitous decline of sterling against the dollar. As you may know, I have a semi-permanent "dollar hedge" in position to cover my dollar holdings. This is currently running at a hundred quid a cent (put into place at $1.86 and $1.84).

So, although I am sitting here watching the value of my dollar holdings (in sterling terms) rise nicely (last month's profit, for example, was £223 higher than it would have been last December), that doesn't make it any more comfortable when, over four days, I have to lob a grand into my Financial Spreads account to avoid suffering a margin call.

My current contracts expire in September and I was seriously considering "taking that grand back" from the US, but sterling appears to have bottomed out for the moment, recovering a few cents. Stan James seems to be a bit behind the times when it comes to adjusting their currency rates, so perhaps I should shift most of my dollar holdings there back into sterling.

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