Lucky Straights

The ramblings and mumblings of a wannabe poker pro

Starting to play online poker for real money

I hope that you have been playing your heart out at some of the featured online poker sites. The play money poker sites may be fun, and you may win a lot, but is the stimulation of a real game, real people, and most of all, real money there?

There are several reasons for this. First, you don’t have any hard earned money on the line. Second of all, your opponents don’t have any hard earned money on the line. These two stipulations in unison with each other make a poker game loose and careless. Have you ever had pocket aces in a hand and bet or raised everything you could and yet despite your raises, there are still at least five players at the showdown? Of course you have! This is play money, not real money.

There are no repercussions. Of course, with you pocket aces in hand you would normally think that they will hold up. Not in a play money game they won’t. Aces are always cracked by opponents that hit their gutshot draws, backdoor flushes, and a low two pair (on the river). Nobody cares about the chips, because that’s exactly what they are to these people. They are just chips, no real money!Play money games are played too loosely and the players can no longer be taken seriously because they have no consequence for their actions at a play money poker table. The worst that can happen to them is that they lose all of their play money poker chips and buy back in with no risk. Some people will bet too much and some will call too much and by too much I mean it in both essences of the word. Your opponents call too many hands and the call to large of bets. When you make the transition from play money poker to real money poker sites, you will finally realize how the game should truly be played and you the chips should truly be respected.

So now that you are killing the play money tables, it is time to make that transition to playing against players for real money. Make sure that you have played at least 1000 hands at the online card room of your choice so you are used to the placement of the buttons, the bet sizes, and the culture. We are not going to start at the high stakes tables, nor the medium stakes tables, and not even the low stakes tables. We are going to begin playing online poker at the micro limit tables at Full Tilt Poker which range from $0.01/$0.02 up to $0.50/$1.00. This is where you will find the fish and the new players. This is also where you will learn how drastically differently the game is played when the stakes are real rather than play money.

When you are playing in this game you will notice that there are far less lunatics in the game. Rather than 7 people calling your preflop raises, you only have between 2-4 people calling your raises. Your opponents didn’t make that money in front of them to simply give it away. They want to keep it!

We should begin by depositing $50 into your account and putting it on the table. If this doesn’t last you at least 20 hours of playing time then you are not and will not be prepared to move up the ranks. You don’t just have to beat your opponents in this game. You are now trying to beat the rake as well. Don’t ever move up in the ranks if you are only breaking even. The players at higher stakes get better and better as you move on. There is a dramatic difference between this texas holdem online poker game and a $5/$10 game as you may come to notice when it is your time to move up to that rank. Not moving up if you are only breaking even is a good rule to abide by at every level of play.

Okay, now you are probably worried about losing all of your money because you don’t know exactly which cards to play. No problem! Just play it this way… Tight is right! Play the top 10 hands if you are playing no limit and the top 20 hands if you are playing limit. Ace Face, pocket pairs above 7’s, and suited big cards. That is all that you have to worry about playing for now. Once you get a better feel for the game then you can add some variety in there for deception.

When you are playing at first, stay away from those junk cards that you used to play. J9o is NOT a good hand to play at a full table. Remember that you want to play tight. If you don’t play tight you will lose all of your money very quickly. If you lose all of your money at this stake then you should stop dreaming about being a professional (or even an amateur) poker player. You should stop right now before you develop a problem.

To show you why you should not make stupid loose plays I will illustrate an even that happened to me in the past. I was playing once in a $300 buy in tournament and it was down to a heads up match and I thought that the other player was playing too tight for heads up play. So what did I do? I raised him with 93o when I was not on the button. Naturally, he called with his Q10s and let me bet into him and then he raised me on the turn. I called because I had picked up a flush draw. I hit my 9 high flush, but I hadn’t realized that he had already made his flush on the turn. I was embarrassed about my play and went home a loser. I could have won $5000 more if I had just stuck to my guns and drug it out.So the moral of the story is that real money poker players play differently than play money players. When it is your time, be prepared to play a tighter game and keep your chips in front of you.

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June 17, 2008 Posted by | Limit Cash Games, NL Cash Games, Sit-N-Go's 2, Tournaments and Freerolls | , | Leave a comment

Recently, Poker

Firstly, I just want to apologize for not posting very frequently recently. Don’t really know why I haven’t, the blog is usually my first port of call, probably down to the amount of heads-up games I’ve been playing recently. There usually isn’t much to write about with them.

Anyways, recently in poker, I have been doing okay, and feeling good about my play, and perhaps more importantly I’ve started to have some fun, especially on Full Tilt. I completed my first sit ‘n go’s on Full Tilt just before the weekend, busting out early in the first, and then finishing 4th out of 18 immediately after. I didn’t mind failing to cash in the first one, I just needed to adjust to the new structure, but I was terribly disappointed about my premature bust-out in 4th. I had more chips then anyone else, and lost it all within around 4 hands.

We did get in a 4 handed home tournament after that though for some loose change, and we even implemented some re-buy’s, though after 3 each it was getting out of hand lol. I made 2nd, with a huge mountain to climb and pushed all-in with middle pair, chip leader woke up with a flopped two pair to send me out and take the win, but I had fun.

Since then, I’ve been focussed back on the heads-up matches, trying to earn points for my bonus on Poker Stars as fast as possible, whilst still earning a small profit, and I’m also using them on Full Tilt to try and build a modest bankroll from the $15 a friend transfered for me. Since doing them for so long, I feel like I’ve lost a bit of patience with the regular sit ‘n go’s at the moment, but as long as I’m doing well in the heads-up games, I’m not too worried about it.

Today, I’ve been stuck on Full Tilt, with 4 heads-up matches completed so far, 3 of which where against the same opponent, whilst I wait for Poker Stars to restart there servers so I can get some games done there, and earn some points for my bonus.

February 12, 2008 Posted by | Home Poker, Sit-N-Go's 2, Tournaments and Freerolls | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moving up in limits!

I’ve been pondering when to make this move after earn my bonus, and had previously settled on building my bankroll up a little more in the 1c/2c cash games, before moving up in limits, but after only two regular games on Poker Stars, since I stopped playing them awhile back, I’ve realized just what a bunch of total dick heads play the $1 games and I’m now moving up to the $5 games as soon as I earn my bonus.

It would be nice for me to have earned the move up via profits from cashes and wins, but I’m past caring, my bonus will pad out my bankroll enough that I can start to play the $5 games, and I’ve put up with far too much shit, so I don’t care what anyone thinks anymore, I’m moving up.

There is always a tipping point in these decisions, and mine is no different, it is having a jerk call your pre-flop raise with Q2, then not drop it when he hits, who then goes all-in when he spikes two pair on the river to bust you. Yeah I know, only TPTK, I could have gotten away from this, it felt like the idiot made two pair, etc… but none of that changes my decision or my views on the total pricks that frequent games.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?2061699

February 7, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Poker Review

I haven’t been playing much at all recently for two reasons. Firstly my eyes are shot to shit, so even if I do sit in a quick heads-up game, I’m often too distracted to play well, and I’m sick of loosing money just to pick up points for my bonus. I have played a few recently though, picking up 6 wins in a row from the heads-up sit ‘n go’s, before loosing two games earlier today.

I’ve been on a bit of a high today though, most importantly I’ve picked up a new concoction of medication, which I’m hoping will have my eyes back to normal in a week or two and I’ve also been helping a good friend with his own Sit ‘n Go play on Full Tilt, which included me taking over his $10, 18 player match before the bubble when he had to take an urgent phone call and making 2nd for a nice $44 profit!

I also had a fun time, giving the loose aggressive style a try on two friends in a 3 way home tournament, busted one within 4 hands, and after he re-bought I busted both of them within two more hands, I couldn’t ask for more could I really. 🙂

So, haven’t played much, but I have been watching and reading quite a lot of poker recently, and with my eyes hopefully on the mend I am very excited about getting back to playing some regular Sit ‘n Go’s. I’ve asked my friend to sit alongside me when I start them up again, as a boost to my confidence, as I haven’t played a regular game for ages, and even when I was my confidence hasn’t been great, so hopefully his support and encouragement, will see me rapidly build my bankroll. I seem to be doing just fine mentoring him on Full Tilt, so I should be able to do the same for myself on Poker Stars.

February 6, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Equity Not EV

I have recently received a copy of Collin Moshman’s Sit ‘n Go Strategy and before finishing the first chapter, I have already improved my Sit ‘n Go play in an area where I have been struggling up until now.

This is in the realization that in the Sit ‘n Go’s, EV (cEV) or chip Expected Value, does not equal equity, your $ value for each play or decision. The clearest example I can give of this is early in a Sit ‘n Go, where I hold AK and I’m tempted to get all of my money in against a one or two opponents.

From a cEV point of view, I’m always happy to get all of my money in pre-flop with AK, unless I’m reasonably confident my opponent is holding the aces or kings. However, realizing that in such a situation my equity actually goes down, because I am likely in a race for all of my chips, with no real increase in equity even if I win, so early in the tournament, I have begun to question my approach to these situations.

Its not only the new text that has brought this into focus however, its a change of venue. I have begun to watch a friend play the $2 Sit ‘n Go’s on Full Tilt Poker, and the general standard of his competition, seems far ahead of what I am used to facing in the $1 Sit ‘n Go’s on Poker Stars. Not to the extent of making them any harder, but certainly to the extent that his opponents are more predictable. For instance in the AK example above, in my regular Sit ‘n Go’s, often I will be re-raised by AQ, or even AJ and on occassions I have been raised all-in by opponents holding pocket 3’s, in the $2 Full Tilt games however, a re-raise is ussually QQ – AA.

I’m still avoding regular sessions at the moment, because of problems with my eyes, only playing the occassional heads-up match to maintain my bonus, but as soon as I am able, I plan to work on building a bankroll from these $2 Sit ‘n Go’s on Full Tilt, and to use them, aided by the Moshman text to improve my tournament and Sit ‘n Go play.

February 5, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Areas of Improvement

Thought I’ll write a post about a few areas where I need to improve. It will serve as a reminder for me, and may stir you into thinking about where you can improve too.

The Big Post Mistake

In the online sit-n-gos’, even the heads-up ones I have been focusing on lately, and especially in home games with my friends, I suffer from something I would call the big pot mistake. This is where, I pick up lots of small pots, and manage to navigate out of trouble easily, until I’m faced with one big decision often involving a big pot, and I invariably screw it up. Its utterly pointless being skilled enough to pick up twenty or so small pots early on, if I then give away 3/4 of my stack to my opponent from making a stupid play or an horrendous call.

The Frustrated Push

The next mistake is often connected with the above, I loose a huge pot, either by making a bad decision or being sucked out on, both live and online, and I have a tendency to try and steel a pot away from my opponent by pushing my chips in on a draw, sometimes even with just an inside straight draw on the turn. Instead I should just concentrate, take my time and play my hand correctly, instead of making a risky move for the rest of my chips, where if I was patient I would have enough chips and time to still do considerable damage.

Passivity

My next mistake, evolves around my style of play in the online sit-n-go’s. I play to survive foremost and then for the win, this is my biggest strength but it is also my biggest weakness. I usually end up being far too passive around 4 or 5 handed, when my stack is around the average. These are the times where I should be pushing the action to try and build my stack to put me in a good position to make the money and to win.

I’ve often argued that I can’t raise with such and such here, because my opponents will always call me down, and that is often the case, but rather then accepting this chicken shit generalization, I should be assessing my table and my opponents, and making the correct moves to build my stack regardless of what my cards are. This is pretty basic stuff, and I’ll have to adapt again at higher buy-in’s or among friends who now this type of strategy, but down with the fish this is what works, so I should be doing it!

The Biggest Mistake of Them All!

Playing  when I am not able to, I do this all the time, and its a large part of why I’m not making money at poker. Besides a short period a couple of weeks a go, I’ve been in pain every day since before Christmas, yet I still keep playing. Its got to the point where I can’t sit still again, yet me being stupid, I keep sitting in games, as I have just done, and invariably I end up loosing.

There’s other distractions too of course, such as hunger, tiredness,  boredom, etc and I usually ignore all of these too, but seldom do I overcome them and do well. Part of this is me trying to get my bonus cleared, and part of it is me just wanting to play, either way i shouldn’t play when I’m not able to concentrate fully on the game at hand.

That’s all for now…

February 2, 2008 Posted by | Home Poker, Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Complacent…

After a full day of doing nothing but $2 Heads-Up sit-n-go’s I’ve found I have become a bit complacent with them, especially when I set myself a fixed target of completing so many to achieve a frequent player point target, as I did today.

In future I’m going to space these out, rather then doing one after another, maybe one during a break between cash game sessions or mix them up with some regular sit-n-go play. At the moment though, my eye is starting to bug me again, so I’m choosing to do these solely until it stops distracting me, as I don’t have the patience to sit in a full length game with it as it is.

The day’s left me at a small deficit, after only cashing in 4 out of 9 of these heads-up matches, which is less then I hoped for, and at least two I probably gave away in frustration. I did however reach my frequent player point target for the day. I now have only 150 more to earn to complete my bonus.

February 2, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts…

I’ve been thinking a lot about my poker recently, not so much how I play, though I’ve thought of that as well, but more what I play, what I seem to be good at and how to advance. Despite my frequent periods of self-doubt and low self-confidence, I know I’ve got some talents at poker, sometimes I just feel great about how I play, but (theres always a but lol), I also feel I have some gapping holes in my overall abilities One could easily be that I often have to fight the pressure, where I shouldn’t really be pressured at all, another one could be that I can sometimes play too passively, where I should be picking up pots with aggression.

Most though, evolve around my lack of fundamental concepts, such as math and probability based plays, as well as EV and expectation. These are the areas that I really want to work, as above anything else they are largely to have the biggest impact on my success, especially at the micro and low stakes levels, where my read based plays are reduced in value, and often worthless.

Now that I’ve out lined the problem, its time to outline the solution. Its Sklanksy. I’ve got a copy of his NL Hold ’em Theory and Practice book, co authored by Ed Miller, which I intend to slowly work through day by day until I have these fundamentals bolted down. I’m also looking to pick up a copy of Sklansky’s Theory of Poker as soon as I can afford it.

As for the games, today I have been playing $2 heads-up sit-n-go’s exclusively, because they are very quick, usually lasting under ten minutes each, and a few of these have put me out of my comfort zone, which is good experience for me, and being on the “cash bubble” so many times, may actually help me get around my sometimes passive play on the bubble in the regular sit-n-go’s.

My main aim at the moment is to earn my deposit bonus on Poker Stars as quickly as I can, so I commit fully to the 1c/2c cash games for awhile without having to worry about picking up frequent player points for my bonus.

February 1, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mishandling a flopped set on a draw heavy board…?

Just sat down in another sit-n-go, and I’m on the felt after the first hand, I think this is the fist time every I’ve been felted on the first hand in one of these, and it feels shit.

The very first hand, I find 44 and call the BB. I was tempted to fold here, has I feel I’m often too willing to try and flop a set with small pairs early on in the sit-n-go’s, but being on the button I decide to call.

The flop is the worst I could ask for, giving me a set, whilst offering a flush draw and 3 cards to a straight. Its more likely my opponents are drawing here, then they have a made hand, and even if one of them did flop a straight I still have outs to beat them, so I make a pot sized raise hoping to take the pot down here. Instead I get two callers. The turn doesn’t bring any relief and piles on more pressure, I elect to lead out with a large bet, and get one call and one fold.

The river is a nightmare and completes four cards to a flush, to make things worse my opponent pushes all-in. I don’t rush to the decision, and eventual call to find he made a flush on the river.

Here’s what went from my mind at the time. If he’s got the flush I’m out of the tournament, obviously, and with four to a flush there was a reasonable chance he back doored a flush here, this was looking like a fold. However, I had put almost half my stack on the line here, and with a precedent in folding in these spots in that past, I would expect to not make the money without picking up a hand sooner then I would usually need with only $870 left if I fold. I was beginning to steel feel like folding was the best play, because if I did it a hand before the blinds reached 25/50, I’ll still have a shot at the money.

What changed my mind though was the action of the hand, I begun to feel like he was trying to pick up a got shot, and missed, and a push on the end was a defiant steel attempt. I’ve seen this pattern enough, and felt sure enough in my read that a call here was correct.

In hindsight, I could have handled this better :

Firstly, I had a strong hand, but on this board it was very vulnerable. In this instance I took a protective line and tried to make draws pay. At this limit though, and maybe higher too, I feel now this was a mistake on this board. If someone had flopped a straight and intended to slow play it I was drawing thin so should have kept the pot cheap. Also if someone was on a straight draw or especially a flush draw, very few of my opponents would fold, even if I pushed all my chips in. So playing it cheap allows me to avoid committing half of my stack into a situation where I could be beat on the turn, if the turn was blank I could then raise out any draws.


http://www.pokerhand.org/?2024365

Here’s a link to the Home Porker Tourney thread I created on the play of the hand :

Mishandling a flopped set

January 31, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Heads-Up Madness

Couldn’t sleep, so I decide to sit in another heads-up sit-n-go. I fold my first hand, and the next two hands end up all-in, each time its a split pot. I look for reasons to fold, but this guy is going all-in over and over, and I can’t keep folding hands like KJ against him, so I call, only for a split pot, the next hand the same a split pot. Then I call his all-in with ATs, he shows KJ off suite, but makes his flush on the river to bust me.

I was steaming, not because of the hand, but because he sat in a heads-up match just to throw all is money in and gamble, and the prick forced me to do the same. I would like to wish something horrible to happen to him, but I wont…

Here’s my big mistake, I immediately sign up for another hoping it isn’t more of the same, it isn’t, but as good as, with my opponent willing to get all the money in on the 3rd hand in, I make a couple of calls with dominated hands, only to survive by miracle split pots, until my stack is decimated. Next hand I find 65s and flop a straight, my opponent puts me all-in with his pocket tens, and goes on to fill up on the river.

Determined to not blow off another stack, and take a legitimate win back, I sign up for another. Again though its not long before where all-in pre-flop, I re-raised with AQ and he pushes all-in, no way I can fold this heads-up, he turns over AK and I wish I had, until the river where I hit my 3 outer.

Obviously I’m very happy to steel a win with my AQ on the final (yes final!) match of the night, but its clear these heads-up NL matches are going to be a huge test to my tilt control, and maybe that’s a good thing, especially if I want to learn to play PLO :p

After tonight’s episode though, I’m not willing to commit as much money to these as I would have liked, and besides the high volatility of dodging constant all-in’s pre-flop, I’m not improving my game at all, by simply pushing and folding, there pointless. I’m a sucker for punishment though, so I’ll probably do one or two a week and hope to pick a time when there not filling up by complete morons.

January 30, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment