Friday, February 24, 2006

6+ Buy-Ins

Nothing too spectacular really, but these kind of sessions don't just come around every day:

.05/.10 NLHE (6 max)
$10 max buy in
Left table with $74.65
Time: 4 hours
Profit: $64.65
BB/hour: 161

Actually, looking through my records, that's the single biggest session out of 165 total that I've played thus far at nickel/dime. I do recall one other that was in the $60+ profit range at one point, but ended with a couple big losing hands.

Perhaps the most important poker truism: Winning is rarely the effect of your own brilliance, and almost always the effect of your opponenents errors.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Running Okay

I'm sure you know how poker players like to talk about "running bad" and "running good"... a general description of how cards are falling combined with how they've been playing. I've been more along the lines of "running okay" in the past month or two, I suppose, not so much because I've been seeing some lackluster distribution of cards and fate, or even because I've been somehow playing mediocre poker. It's more of a feeling you get when you have literally seen it all, and have a firm grasp of how to play just about every situation that arises... nothing is very exciting (as it really shouldn't be), and it's just the grind, day after day. You don't really run good or bad or hot or cold, you just run.

More colorful persons than I, I'm sure, would find noteable strategy and moments here to write about, but I'm left just looking more at the bigger picture of discipline and emotional control. Don't get me wrong, I still have my buy-in depleting moments here and there, in situations that I know *way* better than to be in. But overall, I've been playing much more relaxed and opportunistic poker, in both cash games and tournaments of late. The online bank is back to steadily growing at the NL nickel/dime shorthanded tables... getting much closer to that elusive $500 mark, where I can play with the big boys of dime/quarter. I did sneak in a half a dozen sessions a few weeks ago, netting a couple of buyins. People tell me I could be killing the limit games, but for now, that's just an animal I don't have the time to start tackling.

Mostly, online, I've just been hammering away with the big hands, and lying in wait with all those top-pairs, four-flushes, and OESDs. A couple of online NL cash game strategy points here to note:

1. For whatever reason, 90% of players will immediately call almost any reraise of their pre-flop raise. You limp with KK under the gun, someone raises behind... they will almost always call a reraise from you, even when it's a ridiculous amount and it's clear that they are beat. I don't know if this is a "balls" or ego thing, or if their raise is just an indicator that they like their hand and will marry to it, but it makes limping in early position with big pairs on an agressive table, well worth it.

2. Playing AK, AQ, AJ, etc for a raise pre-flop, probably isn't the best strategy, at least for me. "Leading" a hand, just isn't a position I think you want to be in in these donkey infested micro limits, at least without the nuts or a well disguised hand. People will argue with me, I'm sure, and some of those people's style might lend itself well to playing big paint cards hard, but it dosen't work for me. If you hit, mostly, and I'm talking top-pair-top-kicker and the like, even the donks will be thinking what you might have. They know what they are likely to be up against. You however, have about zero clue what you're being called down with. If you check on later streets to a scary card or whatever, your opponents are often going to try and buy the pot right there (if they don't already have you beat), and I'm not in the business of calling down pot bets with top pair.

However, limping, and calling raises with AK, AQ, and the like can work quite well. In fact, for a limp, I'll even play just about any Ace-rag. Checking top pair on the flop, and either making or calling small bets on later streets with reasonable action and few scare cards, is usually a very +EV play, at least in my experience. The donks know they'd bet top pair, and when you don't, they think that turn that hit them is gold. There's more here, but I'll leave it at that: you get the idea.

3. Nevermind what I said above, at the right table, you can make decent chunks of coin raising good hands and betting the flop hard, hit or miss. Some players (a lot), will pay almost any reasonable 3x 4x 5x BB raise to see that flop, and will fold to any bet if it misses them. You've got to pick your players, and pick your spots, but I bet a full quarter of my recent profit has come from outright dogging on these "have to see the flop" guys. And don't forget that sometimes you'll actually hit and can play the hand out for maximum value.

4. Build the stack and the reputation, find the solid guys, and bluffs are dramatically easy. When you're sitting there with three buy-ins, having played with a few other solid players for a while (maybe burning them with a great hand, or letting them watch you clean a hump or two), they're probably not going to tangle with you for much investment without the near nuts. Use it sparingly and wisely, and well timed bluffs can keep you breaking even through those cold spells. You only need to steal a few small pots in a whole session to pay for your blinds and failed limps.

And check out Keystone Poker Tables sometime. I hear they make sweet tables. ;)