Saturday, December 31, 2005

Avoiding Tilt

During my normal 5/10 LHE game last night, I suffered a brutal beat to a lag donkey who caught a 4-outer on the river to beat me out of a big pot. I 3-bet the donk preflop with 99 in LP and only he called. The flop was A-Q-9 and he check-called my bet. The turn brought a 4 and he check-raised, I re-raised and we capped. River Q, he bet, I raised, he re-raised and I called. He had AQ.

But then, an amazing thing happened. I didn't get upset at all - not even a little. If I had it to do all over again, I'd play the hand the exact same way. It's taken a couple of years, but I think I'm finally at that place where I truely care more about maximizing my EV than winning pots. As a result, I can avoid "suckout tilt" and remain focused on playing my A game. I invite you to do the same.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Value bet the donkey's to death!

After selecting a juicy table (and good table position) with the help of Poker Tracker and Poker Ace Hud, you're now in an excellent spot to pound the loose limpers with pre-flop raises and value bet them to death when you hit a hand. Here are a couple examples from my recent 10-handed, 5/10 game.

Donkey (60 VPIP - loose limper and calling station) directly to my right limps and I raise with 99, BB calls, donkey calls and we see a flop of T-6-4 rainbow. Checks to donkey and he bets, I raise, BB folds, donk calls. Turn: T, check-bet-call. River: 8, check-bet-call and he shows K2o. Maximum value!

Donkey (65 VPIP - loose station) two to my right open limps in MP, folds to me and I raise with QJo, yes, just QJo. Why, because I think I have the best hand and the blinds are passive. Only the donk calls and we see a flop of A-Q-7. Check-bet-call. Turn: 6, check-bet-call. River: T, check-bet-call and he shows Q9. Again, maximum value! Get the idea here?!

My 5 BB/100 win rate is probably unsustainable, but when I take my time and find the fish, get position on them and then exploit them again and again, maybe it's not?!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Pound the loose limpers

Solid (tight) players are often too tight against bad (loose) players in late position. Take the following situation: a loose limper with a VPIP of 35 limps in MP and it folds to you on the button. You look down at Q9s and think, "garbage" and muck. ((((BUZZ)))) Wrong play! A player with a VPIP of 35 will have a wide range of trash, even something as weak as 24s or 67o. These are the types of players that you can feed on while you're waiting for your big hands.

Loose limper to you in LP with 55, raise it up! Two loose limpers to you with A5s, raise it up! Anytime you feel that you have the best hand, RAISE IT!! Abuse the hell out of these lemurs! Sure, your variance will go up but so will your win rate over the long-term, and that's what's most important.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Short-Handed Tips

With the sudden interest in short-handed play by Colin, Mourn and others, I give you a couple of interesting articles by John Dagostino. Enjoy!

J-Dags Short-Handed LHE Tips

J-Dags Short-Handed NLHE Tips

Monday, December 12, 2005

Getting away from rockets

10 Players

One MP limper and you raise the cutoff with Ad-Ac. BB and limper call.

FLOP: Qs-Jh-6s, MP checks, you bet, both call.

TURN: 9s, MP checks, you bet, BB calls, MP raises.

10 Players

You open raise in EP with Ah-Ad, LP cold-calls, BB raises, you cap and LP calls.

FLOP: Kc-8c-6c, BB checks, you bet, LP calls, BB raises.

You are spewing chips if you can't fold rockets in these two situations. Most of the time you are drawing dead or extremely thin. In the first hand, MP had Ks-Ts. In the second, BB had KK and LP had Ac-Qs.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

How to parlay $10 into $300

Recently, Empire Poker (where I don't play anymore) put a free $10 into my account, so I decide to try and parlay it at the No-Limit Holdem tables. My strategy at first is to simply find a hand and play fast.

First stop, $25 table:

I fold trash for two orbits and then pick up KK in EP and raise to $1. An idiot directly to my left min raises to $2 and an LP player cold-calls. I jam for my remaining $8.30 and triple up versus JJ and AQ. Sweet!

Next orbit I raise one limper in LP with Ad-Kd and he calls. FLOP: As-Jd-6s and we get all-in. He has Ah-Qs and my hand holds up!

Next stop, $50 table:

I basically fold for 3 orbits and then limp with 55 in MP behind 2 limpers. Button wakes up and raises to $3. We all call. FLOP: Jd-9d-5s. Bingo! I bet $10 and button jams for $65. Both EP players fold and I can't call quickly enough. My set holds up against Ad-As.

Next stop, $100 table:

A couple orbits in I get tricky and raise 5s-6s to $3 UTG. Only button calls. FLOP: 2s-4c-9s, I bet $6 and button raises to $18. I jam and he types, "well you must have AA or KK" and folds, which means he had QQ. I'm now up to about $120.

Very next hand I see a free flop from BB with 7c-4c. FLOP: Js-7s-4h. I bet $4 and UTG (with only $50 behind) raises to $14. MP and SB fold and I jam. He calls with KK and my hand holds up again! Up to $175.

About 5 orbits later a pretty good MP player ($125 behind) opens for $3 and I just call on the button with Ah-Kh. The BB calls as well and we see a flop of Js-Th-3h. BB checks, MP bets $9, I raise to $35, BB folds and MP calls. TURN: 4s, check-check. RIVER: 9h, MP bets $30 and I push him all-in with the nuts. He thinks forever and finally calls with Ks-Qs. Time to go holiday shopping for the wife!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Save that fancy AA limp re-raise for no-limit

Talk about a tell, look at the action on this hand.

A tight/tricky Villain in UTG+1 limps and hero raises with JJ. It folds back to Villain and he re-raises; hero becomes suspicious of a big hand and calls. FLOP: 9-T-Q, Villain bets and hero just calls. TURN: 3, check-check. RIVER: 5, bet-call. Villain has AA.

Now, let's take a look and see what would have happened if Villain wouldn't have gotten so cute.

Villain in UTG+1 raises and hero re-raises. It folds back to Villain who caps, hero calls. FLOP: Villain bets, hero raises, Villain 3-bets, hero calls. TURN: Villain bets and hero calls. RIVER: Villain bets and hero calls. Villain would have collected 3 more small bets and 1 more big bet.

I realize that some very smart people like Abdul Jalib recommend limp re-raising with big hands under certain table conditions, but IMO it's never right in limit holdem. Save that play for the no-limit games with a LAG or two behind you.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Take free cards against solid opponents

In analyzing some recent play, I've come to the conclusion that I'm not taking enough free cards on the turn. The situation is often something like this:

I attempt a steal from late position with something like KJo or A2s and bet a missed flop or draw, only to have my solid (non-peel and fold) opponent call. The turn gives no help or a draw and I fire another shell with the same result or a check raise. Ugh.

It's spots like this that often makes me grab for the barf bag and as my friend Tim reminded me, remember Sklansky: "Don't bet if a raise will make you throw up." That's well put and something that has slipped my mind in recent sessions. Take those free cards and keep the Pepto-Bismol in the cabinet!