MTT Poker Player

I am a Professional Poker Player and Coach from England.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Making Tough Laydowns

In SNGs preserving a buy in by making a tough decision at the right time can make a big difference to your long term ROI. Here is an example of a tough decision during the early stages of a SNG.

***** Hand History for Game 72971169538 ***** (Poker Stars)
Tourney Hand NL Texas Hold'em - Thursday, December 29, 03:17:16 ET 2011
Table 491643733 1 (Real Money)
Seat 5 is the button
Seat 1: kermit64 ( $2292.00 USD )
Seat 2: pasteurisi ( $1415.00 USD )
Seat 4: HERO ( $1500.00 USD )
Seat 5: yukon200 ( $2010.00 USD )
Seat 6: Nils>Schrank ( $1248.00 USD )
Seat 7: Stevedr ( $1425.00 USD )
Seat 8: Robit1981 ( $2040.00 USD )
Seat 9: nickriz ( $1570.00 USD )
Nils>Schrank posts small blind [$15.00 USD].
Stevedr posts big blind [$30.00 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to HERO [ Qd Qh ]
Robit1981 raises [$90.00 USD]
nickriz folds
kermit64 folds
pasteurisi folds
HERO raises [$300.00 USD]
yukon200 folds
Nils>Schrank folds
Stevedr folds
Robit1981 raises [$690.00 USD]
HERO folds
Robit1981 wins $480.00 USD
Robit1981 wins $645.00 USD from main pot

The villain in this hand is a tight reg playing 6/4 over a large sample 7-9 handed. Right lets break the hand down. Villains UTG range here is most probably TT+, AQs+ and i am pretty sure he knows im not 3betting light here and probably puts me on AK/QQ+ yet he 4 bets and on the small side to. His range for this 4bet is very tight and prob looks like AK/QQ+ which means i have 40% equity vs his range. Since he covers me the effective stacks are 1500 and his raise commits me and as such may as well be a shove as i cant call here ever. I would be investing 1200 to win 90+300+45+1200 or 1635, which works out as 1635/1200= 1.3625/1 or 42.33% equity needed to call. As you can see this is a fold even in a cash game, once you add in the factor the you need 60+% equity to go bust early in SNGs this comes out as a clear fold, so next time you think well i have a big hand its just a cooler if he has a bigger hand, think through his range and try to make the most profitable decision.

Thanks for reading

Monday, 5 December 2011

A Week In The Life Of A Poker Player

Its been an interesting week for me. I have worked really hard on improving my Sit and Go game using the outlets available to me.

I have been pounding my brain with ICM calculations which are very brain numbing but i know as well as anyone who plays SNGs does that end game is so important and as such i usually spend 30 Min's everyday studying ICM, although this week was probably nearer to an hour a day.

I have also been having some in depth hand analysis conversations with my coach about different preflop ranges. This week i focused mostly on what ranges to call off a 3bet with once i had opened raised when my stack was around the 11-15bb range.

Lastly this week i have been reading the book i got for my birthday, Collin Moshman's Sit And Go Advanced Strategy, its a very good book and i think it is a very good basis to be profitable at the low blind stages of any SNG $30 and below.

The games have actually been pretty good this week and over 139 SNGs i am running at 14.9% ROI. I would like to think now that my game has come on that i am probably beating the $7 SNGs at 10% ROI. The thing that i have noticed after playing a lot of games at this limit is that it is filled with quite a few tight or semi regular type players and although some of these players are no doubt beating the game i am very confident i am exploiting them more than they are exploiting me.

Lastly i feel my heads up game has come on leaps and bounds over the last 1000 SNGs and is something i would recommend working on to any SNG player. The difference between 1st and 2nd has a large impact on your winrate. If i was to give advice to anyone when they get to the heads up stage its to break down every decision and deduce the optimal play. Remember not every player you play heads up will be the same, which means you should adapt your game accordingly.

If you take anything from reading this it should be that if you work hard results will come. Remember lady luck hangs out with those who practice hardest.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 25 November 2011

One Hand At A Time

I wanna talk a little about variance and not letting it effect your game. Firstly I'm gonna talk a little about cold decking.

The last 100 SNG's that i have played have been very frustrating and i will tell you why. Most people see variance as having the best hand and it being outdrawn and although i do define this as variance i don't see it as the most frustrating form. To me cold decking is probably worse. This week i have encountered many situations where i know my ranges are very close to perfect but time after time i am running into hands a lot more than i should whilst stealing or catching someone at the top end of there range and just seeing tourney after tourney disappear into the minus column. Now why is this more frustrating? Because you cant see directly that you was ahead and got unlucky the only way you know whether you was unlucky in that situation is if you know the likely outcome of that hand over infinity and how far away the current hand is from that. Another frustrating part of variance like this is it wont be shown in your Holdem Manager or Poker Tracker EV adjusted figures.

As shown here:

I find as I'm sure some of you do as well that if you have a bad poker day, week or month sometimes it makes you feel better to bring HM or PT up and have a look at Ev adjusted winnings so that you can feel good about yourself. Now take a look at the graph above and find the good! Cold decking is sneaky :)

All this ranting brings me on to my main point ” Playing one hand at a time”

As a poker player you can only control what you do, not what cards are dealt to each player and what cards will come in future or throughout the current hand. So each hand is played on its merit. How is the most profitable way to play this hand? This is answered by past history with the player, hud stats, position, pot size, relative stack size etc. All of this information isn’t effected by any uncontrollable natures of poker and as such you shouldnt change the way you are gonna play a hand just beacause you have been effected by the random elements within the game of poker recently.

I will give two examples of this (SNG):

Last 6 of a SNG: Lag SB(Reg)- stealing sb 80% he opens for standard 2.5bb and you have 10bb holding KTo. Now this is a shove 100%. Now get inside the mind of a player who lost his last 6 coin flips, 3 of his 80% hands and has ran into a hand in the last 3 of 4 SNG's, this can effect his thinking and make him lay this down here.

Same as above but now 4 handed you hold 87s. SB stack is 1400 and you have 2000, blinds 100/200 everyone covers you both. Now this is a fold. But get inside the mind of a player who has cashed his last 10 SNG's and has had 4 1St's in that run. If he is running good he may think a shove is EV+ here when its not.

The Key here is never be results orientated.

Losing Is Actually Winning!

Its an outrageous statement i know but i wanna talk about what i mean and how it applies to poker.

You will often hear quotes along the lines of "You learn more when you lose than you do when you win". This holds very true in poker, probably more so than in other aspects of life.

Say for instance you are a SNG player like me, if you play 200 Sng's in a week and run at 11% roi you feel great. But what are you learning? I know a lot of you will say "well i do study when I'm winning at 11%" I'm not disputing that but can you honestly say that you study as much winning at 11% over 1000 as you would if you was losing at 11% over a 1000? The answer is most probably no and since poker is a long term game and for most of us sad souls a lifetime game the value of learning and becoming better players over our poker careers is worth a lot.

Most people give you a few options if your losing bad as mentioned above.

1) Take a break and come back to the game when you feel you are playing your "A" game again

2) Move down in limits

3) Play through it

Now lets take a look at these options and their merits.

1) Taking a break- This is a valid option and to some that feel that stress building up inside of them is too much for them this is prob best, but what value does it have? When you come back from your break there is a good chance variance will still be there but now you are rustier than you was before and your poker skills if anything have decreased and as such in the long term this is possibly a -EV decision(note this doesn't apply to people who tilt easily and often or people that would use this time purely to study their game. In which case i would advocate that this is the most EV+ option)

2) Move down in limits- Now i see the validity in this option to help you regain your confidence but once again lets ask "what value does it have?" If you are a consistent winner at a particular limit(note once again if you are on very strict bankroll management or cant afford to refill this may be your only option) and you have a bankroll which can easily withstand your current variance stretch then why move down to regain confidence? you know this is a part of poker that will always be there. In the long run if you are a proven winner at limit then moving down is also a -EV$ decision.

These 2 points have led me onto point 3 which is the basis of this blog entry and why i think its beneficial.

3) Play through it- Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that playing through it is the best option for everyone as i have stated above, but think about the benefits you will gain.

Firstly by playing through you will end this particular variance stretch quicker.

Secondly as you keep losing you try harder to win and as such you actively seek leaks in your game and how to fix them.

I see both of these points as EV+. Especially the second point. If by losing 50 buy ins you have filled leaks that will allow you a 0.5% roi increase over your poker career then how much money will that make you over your poker career?!

To conclude you can see that losing can actually have a very positive outcome on your long term game.