Monday, March 13, 2006

Down the Steps and Back Up again

In my last post, I bragged about making it to step 4 in the Party Poker Mini Steps. I played in one and was busted down all the way to a free roll in step 1. Since then I have clawed my way back and I am at step 4 again.

I have only played one since then. I had a chance to do some damage with 5 players left. I raised from the small blind with AK suited. The BB came over the top all in for quite a bit more. There are some occasions where I might have folded this, but I saw a chance to double up and put myself in great position. Plus, because it looked like such a blatant steal on my part, that he could be pushing with a wide variety of hands. Sure enough he had Ace Jack. 2-1 favorite preflop turns into drawing dead on the flop as he flops two more Jacks and I am out. Luckily just back to step 4 again.

What's really going to suck is getting to step 5 and getting unlucky. I think there is no money for the bottom 5 spots. I would have to think that maybe a proper strategy would be to steal like crazy in the beginning. Everyone will probably be playing incredibly tight. Then when they are sick and tired of you, pray for good hands in the middle rounds and set traps. Between waiting 30 minutes for the tables to fill up, and how tight the players are in the early rounds, this may be the winning strategy.

As for ring games.....I think I am going to start concentrating on 2-4 6 man limit games. Possibly moving up to 3-6 if I am running good. The only site that has a decent selection of 10 player games at 3-6 is Party Poker, and they seem to be infested with tight aggressive players. The 6 player games are much more loose.

According to some of the reading I've done on 2+2, the average vpip in a 6 handed game should be around 25%. Most of the games I've seen poker tracker stats for, have players in the high 40's.

In the mean time, I am trying to clear some bonuses for Party Poker, so this is a way I can play more raked hands per hour.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Moved up to Mini Step 4, 1 away from big money

I managed to dominate a step 2 and move up to step 3. Early in the Step 3 I was dealt AA. I raised and my opponent called. The flop came out 10 high. I bet 1/2 the pot. He raised all in, which was a big overbet. I figured if someone had a real strong hand, they would have bet less or just called. So I called and sure enough, he had pocket Kings. The turn and river did not help him, and I had a quick double up.

From there I played carefully. The blinds started to increase and I managed to steal a few. A couple of times, players played back at me and I had to lay down. Overall, I was slowly chipping up.

Then at level 5 with blinds at 200-400 I was dealt pocket Queens on the button. I started the hand with 4868 in chips. 6 players are left. One fold then Jeff710 goes all in for 1110. Dabeers34 who has 3024 in chips, just calls. I decide to push all in thinking I can pick up the dead money from the blinds and Dabeers. It helps that I cover Dabeers just in case he is slow playing a monster. The blinds fold and Dabeers folds, so it's heads up. Jeff710 shows a pair of 3's and my hand is good. That pumps me up to 7688 in chips with 5 players left.

The final four get a free entry back to level 3 so that is a major bubble point. Nobody likes to go backwards. I am now looking to steal a little more when the situation is right. 2nd place in chips is kbooya with 4283 so I have a cushion.

I wait a few hands. They fold to me in the BB. (They must be trembling in terror). On the button I am dealt As 3s. I raise to 1800 which is now 3x the big blind. I win 900 in blinds. Next hand I am dealt Ac 9c. I open raise to 1800 and win 900 in blinds again. Third hand I am dealt Ac 9c again. Again I open raise, this time from UTG to 1800. kbooya raises me all in for 3183. So it's 1383 to call into a pot of 5883. I am getting over 3 to 1 to call, so I have to. I am hoping he has a small pair. He turns over pocket 9's. However, I get lucky and spike an Ace on the turn and now I am pumped up to 13,871 with 4 left.

Here's where we stand:
larryvq 13871
dutchkid52 4675
Oman7 340
Dabeers 1114

So the strategy is to implicitly collude with dutchkid and play every hand with Oman and Dabeers in the blind. Also to put pressure on dutchkid since he will be in no mood to call any raises with the others so short.

However, the next hand Dabeers wakes up with Ace-Jack and moves all in. Dutch calls with T9o in the big blind and loses. So now Dabeers has 2528 with the blinds at 300-600, so he has a little wiggle room.

Oman is eliminated by Dutchkid the next hand so here's the latest chip count:
Larryvq 13,571
dutchkid 3901
Dabeers 2528

with 300-600 blinds, I feel like I could almost just hang around and do nothing. Both of these players have been weak-passive so I should probably steal occasionally just to maintain my chips.

It took at whopping 58 hands before we finally eliminated another player!!!!

There was a point where I lost the chip lead and even was down to 4x the Big Blind, but I scratched and clawed my way back to the lead, because these guys just would not steal the blinds.

When it was all over we were up to 400-800 blinds with a 25 ante. I didn't even know they had antes in the sit and gos.

Somehow Dutchkid managed to finish in the top two with me and we are on to Level 4. If I manage to get a top 2 placing there, it's on to the final level where first prize is $2000.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

More 8-16 knowledge

I am really beginning to believe that 8-16 at Casino Arizona is the best level of poker. I played for 4 hours last night and lost $4. The play was very loose and mostly passive the entire night.

Here is why I lost. My pocket Aces had 4 callers and the big blind made it to the end with 6-2 offsuit and spiked his 3rd 6 on the river. I lost another pot when the turn made 3 of the same suit on the board. My opponent rechecked her hole cards. Then the 4th suited card came on the river. She lead into me and I had to muck my trip 4's.

Both of those were semi bad beats that are going to happen from time to time when you play with bad players. My mistake was trying to play J-10 offsuit from late middle position 3 different times. Twice it was raised behind me and I had to call another bet. That's $32 wasted dollars right there because I was impatient.

However, I did manage to play well in other situations where I have spewed chips in the past. I threw away my hand on the button 4 or 5 times after it was folded to me. Usually I would auto raise, but my competitors were probably going to call at least 60% of the time. I had crappy cards and I think all I would have done was dig myself a hole if I had bluffed at the blinds.

Also I won two pots by pushing a draw on the flop and turn. My opponents check folded on the turn. One time I even got paid off, when my nut flush draw hit on the river.

Another small mistake was that I was UTG +1. UTG posted a straddle. UTG was a loose aggressive player. He was far too loose, but every once in awhile he would play a little sneaky. I had Ace-Queen of diamonds and reraised to isolate. The big blind called and UTG called. The flop was rags, nothing over a 9. Checked to me, and I continuation bet. I get the big blind to fold, but the UTG calls. The turn was a deuce. Check and I bet again. Again he calls. I now think he must have some piece of the flop and will call it down. The river is a 10. He checks and I check hoping my Ace high is still good. He turns over 5-7 for a pair of 5's. He said he would have folded on the river, because he didn't believe I had anything, but I could have changed his mind with one more bet.

As for online poker.....Full Tilt kicked me in the nuts the other night. My very first hand of .50-1 No Limit, I bought in for the maximum of $100. I was dealt two Kings. The player to my immediate right, raised to $5. I raised to $20. He called. The flop came out 10 high and he bet $20. I raised to $60. He reraised all in. I am praying he doesn't have Aces. I call and he turns over the Aces. Down a quick $100 after one hand. I proceeded to lose another $60 or so on two different tables over the next 2 hours.

I am still at a loss for how to make money at these no limit games. My problem is that I seem to win the small pots and lose the big ones. It's not that I am getting sucked out on, it's that by the time I figure out I am hopelessly behind in a hand, I have lost $10-$30 while, I only seem to win pots of $5-$10 at a time. I keep trying to remember Phil Gordon's mantra of big cards, big pots and small cards, small pots, but it doesn't seem to be working.

I have been very careful about position and rarely find myself in bad position in these spots. It just seems that players hit trips against me when I have top pair and a good kicker, while the opposite does not seem to be holding true.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Bad Month?

I have not calculated the damage yet. I will try and do that tonight when I get home. I am guessing I am down about $1,000 for the month.

Edit: Update. Bankroll on 2/1/2006 $5254
Bankroll on 3/1/2006 $4310

For some reason, I still cannot beat the $55 sng's at Party. They seem even more fishy since the software conversion. I swear in the last 10 I have played there have been at least 3 players gone by the 3rd level from vastly overbetting the pot and someone making a loose call.

Then, as it gets down to the nitty gritty, I seem to have the uncanny knack of making the correct mathematical shove, only to find one of the blinds waking up with a high pocket pair.

Last night was supposed to be a home game at my house, but I could not round up enough players. So off I went to Casino Arizona. My plan was to play 6-12 or 8-16 and try to win at least $130 to free roll the tournament at 7:00.

I was seated right away at a 6-12 table and the first thing I noticed was that a couple of players had at least $500 in front of them. I think the usual buy in is $200 which is one rack of blue $2 chips. I was in the 2 seat and I noticed that the 8 seat, in addition to having a mountain of chips, was drinking vodka straight.

Now I have read many times that if the table is loose, that you should tighten up a little bit. My problem all night was that I had crappy cards and whenever I started with good cards, it was in bad position.

Vodka man proceeded to play every hand for the next 4 hours, raising about 1/2 of them. I think at one time he pumped himself up to over $1,200. I had targeted him as someone I would like to play pots with, since he is likely to have crappy cards and is too drunk to fold.

I probably played 6 or 7 hands with him and I think I lost all but one. Every time I had a hand, he woke up with a better one. The one time I tried to run a bluff, he caught enough of the flop to call it down. The good news is, except for the bluff, I probably lost the minimum.

In fact one time, I had pocket Kings in the small blind. There were 2 limpers before it got to vodka man, who put in the obligatory raise. I thought of reraising, but I knew that I was not going to push out the limpers and it looked like the big blind was already getting ready to fold. I thought, "the pot is going to be multi way. KK does not play well in those pots. Let's keep it small and see the flop". In hind sight, this is a bad play, since I should be "value" betting a hand this good. The chances of me winning are far above average and I need to take advantage of it, no matter how bad I am running. So the flop contains an Ace. I check, first limper bets, and gets two calls before it gets to me. I am sure someone has an Ace, probably a weak one, so I fold. When it's all said and done, there were two aces out there and the winner of the pot spiked a set. So I got lucky to only lose 2 small bets, but it was a bad play.

The rest of the table seemed to know what they were doing, but played a little looser than my taste. They played suited connectors under the gun and often called with two gappers in late position. I won some money off of the other players, but I just was not getting the cards.

There seems to be a pattern at Casino Arizona that every time that I try a new level, I need to lose my first few times playing. I have never felt like I was outplayed, but that the cards seem to have a vendetta. Once I break through with a win, I seem to be fine.

So the strategy question from last night is: What is the proper preflop raising strategy if one player is raising all the time? It is tough to isolate because people were calling preflop, expecting a raise from him later and perfectly willing to call one or two bets more. So basically raising pocket pairs, was not narrowing the field.

After posting this question on 2+2 and reading the responses, here's what I came up with.
1. You need to value raise the AA and KK hands, no matter how many people are in the pot. They are just too powerful to call with.
2. Try to move into the 9 or 1 seat to get directly to the right of the maniac. Then when he raises, you can reraise right away and not have a couple of callers caught in the middle. This will help to isolate raiser.
3. Feel free to play high suited connectors on the button and cutoff for a raise. These pots will have the odds to call and can be huge if you hit.
4. Avoid playing anything but the very best cards in early position. You will leak too many chips, if someone wakes up with a hand, or you end up dominated.