Jul. 13th, 2006 07:35 pm
peterbirks: (Default)
Time, there just never is enough of it. I had meant to take some photos of the "plate-glass misspellings" today; perhaps I could start a trend. My entire blog could become a collection of misspelt glass (or stone) engravings worldwide.

But then I got the famous signal of battery low", at which point the camera stopped functioning. I took this as a sign. That sign being that the battery was low. So, no pictures today, or before next Tuesday, as I am now parked at home ready to resume my hermit-like and definitely nowhere near Central London-like existence for three days.


Three plumbers (well, one plumber and his two mates) are coming to install a new boiler tomorrow, to power flush all eight radiators, to fix thermostats on said radiators, to remove the external timer, and generally to cost me a fortune, in return for which I hope to have a Rolls Royce of boilers and a fully functioning central heating system. This winter I might get air-conditioning installed. I guess it's cheaper to get that done when the temperature is on the low side.


Grubby is Leaving Las Vegas, heading to Chicago. A good move for Grubby, a lovable guy but clearly a gambling freak. Las Vegas is not a good place to live if you are a gambling freak. But the way he describes what is happening to LV at the moment almost makes me want to be a part of it (and, hell, I'm not a gambling freak). Three "urban villages" (good name for them) on the strip, in the gaps between Monte Carlo and Bellagio, the gapt to come between Paris and the Venetian, and between Fashion Mall and, well, possibly the Stratosphere, will transform the Strip from a gambling mecca to a place focused more on shopping, eating and residents. Robert Silverberg's Towers of Glass are set to become reality.


I'm playing well at the moment. I've really gritted my teeth, focused on making every decision one that I think is positive EV and, if in doubt, getting out early. This has inevitably led to me dumping the more speculative hands that I would often play if things were normal (i.e., I was winning as much as I expected to be winning). Because my reputation is somewhat looser than the way I am playing at the moment, I am getting paid off with my hands and winning. Unfortunately, just as Laggy play eventually catches up with you when people spot that your raising values are thinner than they had previously thought, so this tight style catches up with you when people realize that you aren't playing as loose-aggressive as you used to.

This is a good advertisement for the "mix it up" advice given in most good poker books, but the timetable for mixing it up is probably different from that given for live play.

It looks to me as if there is something like an eight-week window (and this is with me playing every day) before opponents in sufficient number get to categorize you correctly. At this point, some kind of shift is a good idea. This doesn't have to be a massive shift. You could, for example, move from 19% VPIP with 13.5% raises to 16.5% VPIP and 12% raises, and then to 18% VPIP with 8% raises. These apparent small shifts in percentages are quite significant enough to throw off your regular opponents. For the here-today-and-gone-tomorrow fish, you will still win roughly the same amount off them.


I had a little think about a common situation that I come across in my games.

You get AK in middle position and raise first in. It is passed round to the Big Blind who calls. The flop comes something like Q74 rainbow, and the Blind bets out, making the pot worth 2.5 big bets.

You can quite logically call, fold or raise here and each is correct in certain circumstances.

However, in the games that I am playing at the moment, with a number of weak-tights, this bet usually means a medium hand, probably a pair of Queens, but perhaps something like a pair of sevens with an ace kicker. For the sake of argument, let's assume that this is what our opponent has.

If I raise here, let's assume for mathematical simplicity that opponent will flat call the flop, turn and river with his Queens. He might, just might fold the middle pair if I keep betting at him and if some marginal scare card appears on the turn or river. If I raise the flop and check a rag turn card, he is likely to bet his queens for value on the river unless an ace or a king appears.

If I call here, opponent will bet the turn and will continue betting so long as an ace or king does not appear on turn or river.

If I fold, my expectation for the hand is zero.

So, the question is, how often should I raise with my AK to represent AA, KK or QQ? Clearly not 100% of the time, and clearly not 0% of the time. But what is the "saddlepoint" where it does not matter if my opponent calls me down or folds?

John Fox covers this kind of situation (for Draw poker when you are pulling for a flush) in some detail, and I could probably work it out (very slowly) for the above parameters. But you don't need a precise number here.

In this situation, I will have AA, KK AQ or QQ, 23 times. I will have JJ down to 88 (quite within my raising range here) 24 times. I will have AK AJ or AT, 72 times. I will have some other kind of hand about 20 times.

That gives us about 140 hands, of which only just over 14% really frighten my opponent (if he has Queens) and 28% of them will frighten him if he has the middle pin. Let's assume he has the Queeens twice as often as the middle pin. That gives us an average of 18% of hands frightening him (i.e., beating his hand) and 82% of hands not beating him.

So, assuming we always raise him with the 18% of hands that beat him (meaning that I raise with the big pairs all the time, and I raise with the smaller pairs 88 to JJ about half the time), how often should I raise with my AK, AJ or AT when I have that instead? Well, roughtly, I want to raise with the AK AJ or AT about the same number of times, so that, as far as my opponent is concerned, it's 50:50 that I am beating him or not. Since I will have the AK and AJ or AT (or some other hand that does not beat him) about 82% of the time, that means I should raise with it 18/82 times, or about 22%.

Shoving those numbers roughly into my head, I reckon that means that I should fold any of the hands where I think I am behind apart from the AK, and that I should raise with the AK about two-thirds of the time. Then, assuming the turn is a rag, I should check behind half the time and continue betting half the time. The same principle then applies on the river.

Note, I would only apply this given the parameters given at the start. If there is a significant possibility that the blind is betting out with air, in an attempt to get your AK, AJ or AT to fold, then you have to increase the percentage of times that you raise. By how much should this percentage be increased? That depends on the chance that your opponent is betting with air. However, once you get to $10-$20 or above, there's a much higher chance that the bet out will be with air. At these levels, the decision becomes significantly more player-dependent. Multi-tabling at $2-$4, you can get away with applying a more general algorithm.



Feb. 25th, 2006 02:01 pm
peterbirks: (Default)
Andy Ward pointed out that, when things are not going well, it's far more of a slog than when they are running prettily. The week (ending today) will be only my second losing week of the year and, unless some kind of Lazarus-like reinvigoration strikes me later today, by far my worst. The strange thing is that I am not in the least bit downhearted about it. I'm not at new stakes. I know that I can beat this level. I'm just suffering a short-term bad run.

However, in my latest session I did notice some worrying shifts towards caution. Pavlov is at work here and when you get stuffed time and time again over a three-day period, it's hard to remember that your aggression paid off for the two weeks before that. Here's an example.

I get AJ suited in MP2 and raise first in. A noted loose player (50%/14%) who is on the button calls, as he has every other raise I have made this session.

Flop comes KJ9 with two spades and none of my suit. I bet, loosey calls. Turn is another Jack, giving me trips, top kicker. I bet, he raises, I just call. This is mistake number one. No need in pointing out to me why. But like I say, when you find people cold-calling your raises with QT and flopping straights with monotonous regularity, you get a bit scared of grasping hold of the rod, because you fear another electric shock. River is something innocuous. I check (this is mistake number two), planning to call, and he checks behind (which is why I should have three-bet the turn). I win, but I have thrown away one, possibly two, big bets.

Getting used to the downturns and not letting it impact your play negatively in this fashion is an important part of being a winning player. In one sense, having the rather tough bonus schedule at Empire is good for me, because it means that I have to "play through it" and I have to do so now. So there's no recording a quick win and then sodding off because I am frightened of losing it back again and, as a result, recording another loss for the session.

The other point, of course, is that the more hands I play, the more frequent will be downswings of more than 100 BBs. I reckon that I should expect them once every three weeks or so. Once again this is, believe it or not, good. Because the more often you experience this kind of thing, the less badly it affects your play. Even now my errors are what might be called "on the margin" -- but my style of play seems to dictate a long-term win rate of 1BB a hundred. I try to plug the leaks, and this works in the short term, but by doing so, other leaks spring up, and back I come to that long-term 1BB a hundred. This is also accompanied by a rather low standard deviation compared to that experienced by other players. You don't need to be a hold'em genius, therefore, to see what is happening. I'm winning a lot of small pots without showdowns (many of which I ought not to win), but my aggressive play mitigates against the building of large pots (as recommended by Mr Miller in Small Stakes Hold 'em). This means that I suffer fewer suck-outs, but I am probably reducing my long term EV by raising in places that I should just be calling (the so-called "build the pot" hands). To be frank, this is probably the best way for a person like me to play.


I decided to tidy up my online passwords, records etc. Without much thinking, I compiled a list of 43 sites that require a password to access and which I use on a fairly regular basis. Some of these sites ask you to change the password once every 8 weeks or so. Others "allocate" the password. Some have several different things you have to remember, such as user name (is it pbirks, peterbirks, peter.birks, or peterjbirks?) "LogIn ID", password and a pin number. Then you have to remember the e-mail address (not such a problem for me, but presumably hell on earth for these compulsory e-mail address changers). Luckily, I tell the truth and only live in one place, so things like birthdates and home are not a problem, but I can imagine these causing problems elsewhere.

So, to hell with the warnings, I write the stuff down and keep it in a file. Except that even the file stuff is now out of date, so I have to update it.

My particular bugbear at the moment is American Express, which asks for a 4-figure code before you can speak to them on the phone The problem is that it is usually the four-figure code that I have forgotten and I want to get them to tell me. But they won't tell me. What they will let me do is set a new one. So I set a new one. And, of course, this means that I can't remember which one of the five regular codes I use I have used in this particular case. So I have to phone them up, and the cycle repeats. I think that the only way to solve this is to add a sixth "regular" code, that I can assign in my brain to Amex.


I am not renowned for the smallness of my ego. But some bloggers/ contributors to blogs appear to have an ego so large that they have some system that notifies them whenever they are mentioned in another blog. I presume "crawlers" exist for the major blog operations (i.e., all the ones except the one that David Young uses) and that these guys religiously set them to run to check whether they have been mentioned in any other blog. Frightening. If I get that worried about what people are saying about me, shoot me now, please.
peterbirks: (Default)








Grand Total

Party Poker








Ultimate Bet
















Stan James
































Avge Per hour









Well, I "saved as HTML" this time. Net result is nicer, I admit, but I can't figure out how to reduce the height of the cells! Changing the "height" parameter(yes, even I can work that one out) doesn't seem to make any difference, no matter whether I do it in points, percentages, or just as a simple number. Much of the Office coding is utterly incomprehensible (as well as being pointlessly bloated) and it's hard to see how it links in with the Live Journal restrictions.

At first sight this is not a promising month. $270 in bonuses and oly $280 profit. But I was happy with it. I can take a Zennish attitude to losses (indeed, a series of losses) at this level. I have lost $180 today (although I got $100 of that back in a bonus), but I felt quite calm and in control, which is the important thing.

I was also somewhat cheered by Roswell's figures. Roswell is what I would call a typical very good young American player. He can win absolutely bundles at $15-$30 ... and then will always find some other means by which to lose it back. Then he will beat himself up about it, promise never to try $100-$200 or $10-$20 NL again, or something like that, and go back to the $15-$30 grindstone.

Anyway, that wasn't what cheered me. What it was that gave me a calmer outlook was the revelation that over 30,000 hands or thereabouts, at which he won $20,000, there was a period of 14,000 hands in the middle where he lost $1,000. As Roswell points out, the margins are so thin at upper levels that you can play for a very long time before you can even be sure that you are a winning player.

The point here is that, for 14,000 hands, that could mean seven months or so for me. This makes my chart for this year somewhat easier to bear (a kind of decent rise through to May, then an atmospheric air-sucking leap over a six-week period, followed by stasis for three months) and easier for me to understand. Basically, at 2,000 to 3,000 hands a month, this is quite within expected levels of variance.

By playing $3-$6 I think that I reduce my variance significantly (at least, that is how it seems from the past couple of weeks' play). I'm not sure that I really want that, in the long term, but at the moment it's the right thing for me.


Picked up Hero from HMV yesterday. And that is what I'm just about to watch (again!).
peterbirks: (Default)
It's easy to see why, when times get bad, people go silent. To be frank, there is little one feels like less after a long losing session than proclaiming your hopelessness to the world. And when you do really feel that you have been slightly (if not very) unlucky, then it's best not to feel too bad.

But I do.

To clear my bonus on Party, I double-tabled 5-10 rather than 15-30. This should reduce variance, slightly reduce win rate, and result in a comfortable $100 bonus after a few hours. Yes?


Just looking at one of the depths into Stygian horror, at one 271-hand table I see that I had a VPIP of 14.4% (a bit low, but not horrifically), and a won$ when saw flop of 42.86%. I won $ at showdown 47.6% of the time. To be frank, they look like break-even numbers at worst. So why does the number come in at minus $262? Perhaps it was that I got just 10 pairs. And I lost $59 with those. If you don't win with your pairs, you are in trouble. But the loss still seems too great. The other major losing session (136 hands) had a VPIP of 15.5% (once again, a bit low, but not worryingly so), and a won$ when-saw-flop of 42.4%. Here there was a won % at showdown percentage of 37.5%, which is low. But the net loss of $214 still seems excessive. Once again, I lost money on my pairs. And the third session (where I didn't lose so much) had a VPIP of 18.5%, a won$ when saw flop of 42% and a won $ at showdown of 57%. Now, these are winning percentages. So how come I lost $37 on the deal? Well, my Aces got cracked for $60, but I should still have won more than even $25.

So this, as they say, is worrying. I suspect that part of it is that the games were reminiscent of the type of Pokerstars $2-$4 and $3-$6 game that I have always had difficulty in beating. My aggression walks into a soft cushion, and if my opponents are hitting their pairs in the blinds, I am going to lose significantly. If they miss their pair, they fold straight away (no check-raise bluffs to try to scare me off). So, under normal circumstances, I get a lot of raise, call from the blind, fold, which wins me not very much,plus a few raise, call from the blind, call, call, (or call, raise), which costs me quite a lot. You only need the latter scenario to become more common by, say, 15% in a long session, and what looks like it should be a winning set becomes a losing one.

I write this because it's fairly depressing when you look at $350 profit in 10 hours of $15-$30, and $618 loss in seven hours (14 table hours) of $5-$10.

By this parameter, I should move up to $30-$60 if I want to win more and move down to $2-$4 if I want to do my bollocks.

I have a strong feeling that this abysmal performance over the past few weeks at $5-$10 is directly related to my play at $15-$30. What works at $15-$30, quite simply leaks me money at $5-$10. But if I were a good player, I could adapt to this; I could change my game.

Alternatively, I might just be getting my bad cards at $5-$10 and my good ones at $15-$30, which is how I want things to be!

Further alternatively, it could be the two-tabling (although I do not think that this is the case), or it could be that I am not concentrating as much (which I also doubt). No, I'm sure it's a mix of style and poor cards.

Currently £272 down on the month ($490), which is one good session at $15-$30 -- a level to which I intend to return forthwith!

Onwards and upwards.

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