Saturday, August 06, 2005

So, I've been playing $1/2 limit at Full Tilt Poker the last few days. After busting out my last buy-in at $.50/1.00, I still had ten bucks of bonus money to clear (and we can't have that, now, can we). I'm not sure why I chose to sit $1/2, but I doubled my buy-in and, after data mining for a day or so (all hail Poker Tracker, now with FTP support - in beta, but it works just fine for me), I picked a couple tables and had at it.

The results? Even though this is the tiniest change in levels, I found that it really sharpened my focus - just the fact that I was sitting at these different tables. The betting didn't seem scary to me, since I have played $2/4 and $3/6 in the casinos, and the quality of play is just as bad (if not worse) compared to $.50/1.00. I think it may be the allure of the bigger pots that accumulate when 6 people see a flop, cold-calling two and three bets.

I am so happy to have Poker Tracker and GameTime+ in my life again! The heads-up display of GT+ tells me everything I need to know to make decisions against players. When I'm in late position thinking of cold-calling a raise with KQo - I can decide to make the call in a heartbeat from the guy who plays 64% of all of his hands and raises 48% of them, but drop it like it's hot when the raiser is of the 14% VPIP with a 3% preflop raise habit. Those are stats that are just too hard for me to pick up when playing without Poker Tracker. When you're 2 tabling, you've got 16 other people to watch, and they're all just pixelated icons with no defining features. How do you keep three surfer dudes straight when they all look the same online? I can take mental notes easily on playstyles and betting patterns face to face, but online, the lack of defining features makes it tough for me. My notes are usually limited to which hands they show down, and any tendencies I can pick up (draw chasers, habitual bettors of scary boards, etc). With PT and GT+, I have the information I need to make more informed decisions at the tables.

Enough with my PT/GT+ love-fest. (But, if you haven't already gotten the patch to try out the beta support of Full Tilt with Poker Tracker, get it here).

Let's look at last night's results (thanks to the methodology described in the Poker Tracker Guide). I showed a profit of about $40 over 2 1/2 hours.

Top 5 Losing Hands:

1. AKo lost to QJo on a rivered straight to my two pair.
2. 88 - folded after the turn, after challenging a player on a 664 flop. My gut said my hand was good, as my opponent was an aggro anyway. I regret not playing it out, in retrospect.
3. 33 saw raised flop and dropped the hand.

Actually... those are the only hands that I lost more than 1 BB on.

Top 5 Winners:

1. Ac-8c, big blind - turned my flush and brought a top-pair-holding opponent to the river.
2. Kh-Th, big blind - flopped top pair ten's and hung in there when the turn/river came Jack's. My hand held up.
3. 55, MP - I'm surprised I didn't wuss out on this hand, but it was really just how I read my opponent. I don't always get reads, but when I do, I'm trying to see them through and am surprisingly discovering that more often than not, I'm right.

I've got 55 in middle position and limp. Aggro a few to my left raises, and the big blind (tight aggressive player) re-raises. I probably shouldn't have cold-called the extra two bets with my weak fives, but with two aggressive players in, I'd make a fortune if I flopped my set. I called, and the flop came 7-10-3 rainbow. I thought to myself, with these guys raising like banshees preflop, I don't think the range of hands they'd be holding would have hit this flop. I think my pair is good (albeit weak). Big blind throws out a continuation bet. I probably should have raised to try and get a read on the strength of my hand, but I called. Aggro to my left also called. (No re-raise? I had notes typed on him that read, "Loves to re-raise"). I might still be good. The turn, representing the "big" bet round, brought a Jack of diamonds. There may now be a diamond draw or straight draw out there (KQ or AQ or AK seemed reasonable considering the preflop action, and maybe even AJ for aggro over there). Let's see what everyone does. The bettor in the big blind checks! Again, I probably should have bet here, but I feared a trap from the big blind (since he was a good player). Aggro, I had no fear of. The turn checked around!! Alright... I like my 5's now. In post-hand analysis, I'm wondering if a bet on the turn would have benefitted me, but with the pot as large as it was, any open ended straight draw or flush draw had odds to call me anyway, and even the gutshot was close (especially if he held an overcard). So I'm not sure a bet there would have done anything but sweeten the pot for the draws. Anyway, the river came the ten of diamonds, pairing the board and putting 3 diamonds out there. Big blind came out betting, but if he held any of the hands I'd put him on, that 10 didn't help him, and if he's got diamonds, God bless him. I called. Aggro folded, and we flip up cards. Big blind had AK offsuit. My 5's were good. W00t!

4. Pocket 4's, hit a set.

No other wins were more than 1 big bet.

I feel like I played well yesterday. My stats:

VPIP: 19.47%
WtSD: 32.87%
Won $ at SD: 64.29%
PFR: 3.8% (weak! Gotta work on that)
Post-flop aggression: 1.04 (neutral - I'd like to be a little higher there as well)

I'd say that my wins were based more on good reads on situations than on aggression (though I felt like I was playing selectively aggressive - the numbers don't seem to reflect that. I'll need to do some more review).

Goals for my next session:
- Turn up the preflop aggression
- Raise more often post-flop when I think I have the best hand - if only to better define my hand by my opponents' reactions
- Continue working on reads of situations

In other news... Phil Gordon's "Final Table Poker" DVD arrived yesterday, and I couldn't resist watching it. (I'll watch it again with Randy). I loved it. It had some great advice that I would call intermediate level advice, maybe skimming some advanced concepts. There were a lot of things that I've read in books before but for some reason didn't fully absorb and put into practice. The way Phil Gordon explains things, I had many light-bulb moments that I think will allow me to put more of those concepts into practice. Topics included the gap concept, position, hand domination, odds and outs, drawing hands, selective aggression, etc. I thought it was very well done, and Phil Gordon just cracks me the hell up. (He even said "hell" on the video, which made me giggle, for some reason). Chris Halverson wrote up a good review of the DVD, so head over there if you'd like more details. My advice - pick it up. It's a good one.

That's it for me for now. The DirecTV guy is upstairs installing a new receiver for Randy's room so he can have TV up there. (We now have enough TV's in this house that the only room sans television is the bathroom). I guess the kitchen has no TV, but it adjoins the living room, so you can see the TV from the kitchen. When we finally break down and go get that 65" Mitsubishi Diamond series DLP big screen I've been drooling over, the bathroom will literally be the only room without a TV. We need a bigger house so we can spread out the TV's more. :)

This is my last week off before I have to go back to work, so I expect to be getting in some poker before I dive back into reality...


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