Lucky Straights

The ramblings and mumblings of a wannabe poker pro

The Perils of Playing on Instict

I’ve been feeling good, 4 straight cashes, including two 1st places, has helped boost my confidence, then a bad read sends me out in 6th, it could have gone either way, but deep down I know I wasn’t focussed as much in this game as I should have been.

Note to self, don’t read, comment on blogs whilst playing online poker!

Here’s the hand, his bet on the turn, screamed weakness, and lots of times it is weakness, but here it wasn’t, I took a shot and it backfired, but if I had my head-in the game, it wouldn’t have cost me my seat, its a situation I should have gotten away from, but didn’t, it will remind me to stay focussed in future.

Here, I obviously wasn’t trying to represent I’ve made a set of Kings, I took too long to think about it, and he wouldn’t buy it anyway, he just felt weak, but looking back at things like how fast he called my 4xBB raise pre-flop, and how he checked the flop, which seemed odd, as he’s the guy whow will almost always lead out here, but I filtered all that out, and didn’t listen to what was important, why is he playing so obviously weak! Also noting A2 was way ahead of me, I made a stupid play and was doomed to go broke.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?2002323

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January 27, 2008 Posted by | Tournaments and Freerolls | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Made 3rd Place on 4% of My Dealt Hands

Just finished another pleasant Sit-N-Go on Poker Stars. I only made 3rd place, but achieved that by only playing 4% of my dealt hands, and that was including the blinds, it was a good experience for me, as lately I’ve probably been playing too many vulnerable hands as the blinds increase, because I’m worried that I need to take a pot. Goes to show that with loose aggressive players knocking each other out, you can afford to wait for a real hand, even when the blinds are stepping up and then punish them.

Here’s the key hands :

UTG, I found AKs and raised to 6xBB pre-flop, more then I would usually, because the table had show itself to call down with a wide range of hands, and I wanted to avoid any suited junk calling to hit two pair, etc. Its folded around to a loose player, who I had seen call a 5xBB raise with 45s, and then the short stack on the button, re-raises all-in for just a little more. We both call.

On the flop, I couldn’t risk having the loose player hang around to spike a pair, so I moved all-in, if he had the Q, I could still get lucky and win, the loose player folds, and its a race between me and the button who shows JJ.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1996862

Having only played the one hand so far, I opened with a raise with AJs, hoping the player in the BB, who seemed to play with his ego, rather then his cards would give it up. My hand was strong enough for him to call, but I didn’t want to face a re-raise from him.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1996900

The action was now 3 handed, and I found 99 in the small blind. I needed to raise, and a limp, re-raise was pointless because it would only invite a call from the BB, a standard raise would also attract company, so I moved all-in.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1996910

This was my final hand, where I held J9 and with an M of less them 4 I moved all-in. I could have folded here, but knew as soon as my stack drops bellow $1k, this guy will call me with just about anything if I push, so felt it was now or never and moved all-in. I felt good about the hand, being only a 6:5 dog, but missed my outs this time and finished in 3rd place.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1996845

Surprisingly, besides the occasional free flop from the BB, those where the only hands I played the entire match.

January 26, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Wonderful Tournament, and Big Praise for AK

I’ve just finished a very refreshing NL Hold’em Sit-N-Go, it could easily be the best I have ever had, if not thee best certainly the best I have had for many many months, and I can’t praise AK enough, it easily deserves to be anyones favorite hand!

I built up a big stack pretty early with my first AK, and several re-appearances later maintained me in good position, until I was in the money. In fact I think I made the money with only taking down 3 pots, all with AK. This is exactly what I needed, just as I’m beginning to question my play with it, and to try and rid some doubts about how I’ve been handling it in the early stages.

This Sit-N-Go more then anything else, confirms my suspicions that I have become too weak with AK in the early stages of the Sit-N-Go’s, seeing so many people call your bets or even re-raise you with AQ or AJ has really re-newed my enthusiasm for AK, and I hope to see plenty more of it in the near future 🙂

I’ll post a few key hands from this wonderful tournament bellow, but first here’s a link to a Home Poker Tourney discussion I started on AQ and AK strategy before I sat down at the tournament.

AQ and AK Strategy

The 3rd hand of the tournament and I find AK in the button, I increase my standard raise to take account of all the limper’s and take down the pot without a fight.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1996001

The 2nd appearance of AK finds me UTG and I open with a 4xBB raise, both the button and SB call. I hit top pair, but with two suited cards, I can’t slow down and bet the pot, the SB calls. The flops a blank, so I push all-in and he calls, to show AJ, here I think I would still push even if a heart fell with the ace of hearts in my hand.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1996002

Much later on, with the table now 4 handed, I find AK again and open with a 4xBB raise, getting quickly re-raised by a short stack push. This guy’s pushed back enough recently and gone all-in a few times, that I can’t credit him for waiting for aces, or even kings and anything else I’m not far behind if he’s holding a pair, so I call, to find he pushed back with AJ.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1996006

Its now 3 handed, and I find 44 in the SB and call, the BB checks. I hit my set on the flop and check, the BB checks behind. The turn presents a risk of flush, so I lead out with a pot sized bet, and the BB calls. I made a huge mistake on the river here by not making a value bet.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1996009

Its now heads-up, where I get lucky and take a huge lead over my opponent. I’m in the BB and the SB raised the minimum. His raising range here is probably pretty wide, knowing I’m a tight player and have mostly been folding, is mistake of course was not raising enough. I call with 87s.

I’m fortunate enough to flop the nut straight and when my opponent leads out, I make a large re-raise, hoping he’ll push back thinking I’m bluffing or making a play. He takes the bait and moves all-in, and I call.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1996018

In the BB, I find KJs and the re-raise the SB’s standard minimum raise to defend my blind, and he pushed back all-in. I thought about this for a moment, and make what is probably a loose call, by pushing back he’s telling me he’s got a real hand, and I probably should have laid this down, but with the chance to end the match, I call and am relieved to find I have him dominated, but the river keeps him a live a little while longer.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1996023

This is by far the biggest mistake of the match for me. the SB makes is ussual and freqent minimum raise to pick up my blind and I deffend with a re-raise, a little larger then last time. I’ve folded enough of my blinds to his raises, for a large re-raise here to be profitable with a wide range of hands. Problem was he re-raises me back, and without thinking too much I push all-in.

My thoughts on the push where, that he’s picked up that I will defend without a great hand, so he’s felt a re-raise would get me off my hand, in hindsight his re-raise was for too weak for that type of play, and he was likely trying to get me to push back at him, and I oblige him. He calls my all-in re-raise with AKs and I’m in terrible shape, but get lucky and re-take the chip lead.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1996027

For the final hand I hold 76s and call the SB’s standard raise. On the flop, I hit a double belly buster / open ended straight draw, and could have easily re-raised his bet, but I elect to call instead. On the turn I make my hand, and my opponent moves all-in, likely to represent what I’m holding and I call, taking 1st place.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1996029

It really was a great tournament, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

January 25, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poker, Mental Strength and Carrying on Through Adversity

The bad run continues, failed to cash in all 5 of tonights games. Even had the misfortune of having my pocket aces cracked twice, nothing I could have done second time round, just one of those things, but after 2 long sessions of constant losses, my net profit for the Sit-N-Go’s as dwindled to nothing.

I need a break, but with my bonus hanging over my head I don’t really have that luxury. Sure I’ve got plenty of days left, but I’m still needing to sit in 3 Sit-N-Go’s per day just to make it by the deadline, and Ideally I’m looking to get there far sooner.

On a few occasions my play does seem to have been affected though, and after almost 3 days of coming up short, I’m finding hard to brush it off and keep playing without the building losses affecting me, both on the table and off.

With that in mind, I’m taking some positive steps, within minutes I’m ordering Collin Moshman’s Sit ‘n Go Strategy and will reduce my time at the tables other the next couple of days, trying to pick up a more modest 3 or 4 frequent player points instead of the 10 I have been aiming for these past 3 days. I will also get back to reading my copy of Harrington on Hold ’em Volume 1.

As strange as it sounds, I’m also going to look more into Zen, meditation, techniques to improve your my power, inner strength and such, as reading Zen and the Art of Poker as opened my eyes to other disciplines that might be of benefit to my game. An example would be using teachings from other disciplines, such as Zen to help me improve my ability to steel pots late in tournaments without the cards. This is one of the weakest areas of my game, which I feel is more a process of mental strength as opposed to strategical thinking.

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Thoughts on My Sit-N-Go Play and Switching Games

Maybe its just because I’m having a bit of a rough time with the game a the moment, but I’m starting to question myself and how I’m doing things. Not in a panicky, desperate way like I seemed to do the last time I was in a bad run, but still I’m beginning to pose some questions to myself.

Maybe its just because of lost rather a lot of games since I got back into it, far too many in fact, but then again, maybe thats the reason why I’m able to see these things, we don’t question ourselves too much when where winning do we?

I’m finding myself in lots of situations where I feel torn between how best to play it, and I’m not talking about moves or read based plays or even about math based plays, I’m referring to basic strategy.

I’m consistently, of late anyways, faced with situations in the Sit-N-Go’s, where I believe in theoretical sense I should take one course of action, but also acknowledge the opposite course, which seems to have left me sometimes doing one, sometimes doing the other, almost at random, without no real sense of it at all. All of these situations relate to the stages of a Sit-N-Go, where I’m adjusting my play based on how deep I am in to the tournament and how big the blinds are relative to my stack.

A basic tenet of my Sit-N-Go play, as been pieced together from the NL section of Lee Jones book ‘Winning Low Limit Hold’em’, which I wholeheartedly agree with, but I’m begging to face lots of situations where I feel this isn’t working for me, and may actually be costing me pots, and with that tournaments cashes.

These issues are beginning to affect me so much that I am starting to consider moving to cash games once I’ve achieved my bonus, at least for a while. I have a copy of Skylansky’s NL Hold’em Theory and Practice which I could use as my guide, and can I give the Sit-N-Go’s a break, maybe just playing the occasional two table or a larger “bargain tournament” scheduled on Poker Stars and try and build up my bankroll via this route, returning to the Sit-N-Go’s with enough funds to rejoin them at the higher, $5 level.

A closing thoughts, should I be aware of playing hands according to the stage of the tournament I am in, but be willing to play the hand as if in a vacuum when the situation warrants it?

These are two recent hands that seems typical of this dilemma I seem to have put myself in :

Here in the BB I find AK and with a raise to 4xBB and two calls, I elect to call instead of re-raise, as a re-raise would commit a large portion of my stack very early in the tournament.

I did the complete opposite of what I feel I should do, because of the “early stage” game plan I have developed, based on the Lee Jone’s txt, whereby I would only re-raise with kings or aces so early. I was fortunate here, as if an ace fell I would likely have gone broke.

Treating this hand as if the stage of the Sit-N-Go didn’t matter, perhaps in a cash game, I would re-raise around $400. After watching this player throughout the rest of the match, he would likely go all-in at this point, then I would likely fold with no information about the player to suggest otherwise.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1980689

I limped in here with AQ in MP with some a call and two folds in front, because I felt it was too early to raise. Though this is something I mentioned not long ago, I’m willing to call a standard raise with AQ here, so I should be willing to make a standard raise here with AQ, correct?

Everyone else calls and the big blind checks. On the flop I hit TP. There are two checks and a bet of 3xBB in front of me, so I raise him $140 more, to put him to the test and to chase out any draws. I get a call behind me. Then the raiser comes over the top for a further $400. I fold, and I fold because its the 1st level, and I didn’t felt my AQ wasn’t strong enough to play for all of my chips against a caller and a re-raiser. Its unlikely he held AK, but with me not raising pre-flop he could certainly have had A8 or A9.

This is a problem I’ve faced before in the $1 Sit-N-Go’s, where ego-minded players tend to play back at you, because the assume you must be bluffing in these spots because you didn’t raise pre-flop.

Playing this without consideration to how early this hand occurred in the tournament, I would make a standard raise to around 5xBB pre-flop, and on the same flop, be prepared to go all the way with it, depending on the individual and is betting action.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1986196

Any thoughts on this?

January 24, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Few Key Hands

Okay, I admit it, my last session wasn’t actually my last session, I did one more. Two tabling the $1 Sit-N-Go’s again.

Here’s a few key hands :

Here I held AQ on the button and raised it up to 5xBB. I get two callers, and I totally miss the flop, but both players check, so I check behind, and its checked all the way to showdown. Theres a few draws out there, and either one of them could hit a pair by the river, should I have made a c-bet on the flop, its a move I rarely do with an un-paired hand this early. Assuming I do, and the turn doesn’t seem to complete any obvious draws, do I fire again or look to check it down?

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1982106

In the Big Blind, I’m allowed to see a free flop with J3 and hit two pair. Being an un-raised pot someone could be drawing to a straight with the 23, so I lead out with a bet of around 2/3’s the pot. I get re-raised a little more, and feel he’s raising me with TP and a decent kicker, thinking I’m trying to buy the pot, as opposed him making a set with 22 or 33, so I double his re-raise, hoping he’ll call.

The turn brings a scary card, adding a flush draw to the mix, so I go all-in and villain calls to show an over pair,two kings. I was surprised at how strong he was, and felt a little sorry for him at first, but then realized he’ tried to get cute by limping in with his monster, so it was his own undoing here.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1982147

This hand affected me more then it should have done, and left me annoyed for the next two or three hands, despite that fact I was only a slight favorite anyway.

The tables 5 handed, and I’m on the button with TT. I raise to 4xBB and get instantly re-raised all-in by one of the bigger stacks. My first thought was to push and roll the dice, and in the hands that followed I wish I did, but instead I took my time and reasoned that he has never made a play like this before, each time he had a hand he would open with a standard raise or re-raise, not push all-in, it could have been a bluff, but it felt more likely he was strong. I pictured aces and fold, for him to show AJ.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1982189

With the blinds worth fighting for, and having folded most of my recent hands, I decided to open with a raise with 88 rather then limp in. The short stack quickly re-raised all-in, and there was a call behind. Initially I was tempted to fold, but then realize its only a little more to call and getting a great prize to call and flop my set, so I call.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1982203

Here, its 4 handed and I have AQ in the big blind. The small blind raises to around half my stack and I decide to push. I’ve seen him make several big raises pre-flop like this, but only one went to showdown where he held AJ, I reason theres enough hands I’m ahead of to push back, and I was guaranteed 3rd place money (I think?) as a fall back.

Whats your views on this, was I too hasty to push, I don’t like flat calling for 1/2 my stack, so I guess the question is, should I have folded, let the short stack get knocked out and wait for a better spot?

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1982276

January 23, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Multiple-tabling, whilst on a bad run?

Too quick to judge, maybe, but after one long session, cashing in only two out of my eight games, suggests I’m on a bad run, especially considering some of the hands. AK and KK both run into aces, my TT gets out flopped by 77, and my AQ gets out flopped by AJ…. I could go on, but you get the idea.

So, I’ve come to thinking, should I be multi-tabling the Sit-N-Go’s whilst I appear to be on a bad run?

The statistical approach, at least from what I understand of it, suggests that I should, as everything evens out in the end, and the more hands I play the sooner I’ll get through the bad run. Then there’s the psychological approach that suggest you should stop and take a break, because a bad run can affect your play, and put you on tilt.

Well I’m certainly not on tilt, not during the session anyway. Though I must admit to feeling a bit down about it afterwards, more so the final two games, where it was yet more of the same that I had experienced during the start of the session.

I’m pondering with the idea that I should slow down, and only play a single table…. (yes its a recurring theme for tonight / today) instead of 2 tabling them, as I feel like I’m on a bad run, and that way I’ll loose less, or actually lose money more slowly… but I can’t help reverting back to the statistical approach and I agree with it, as long as I’m not on tilt, and letting previous games affect the current session I should keep playing, and keep multi-tabling, if that’s what makes me happy, shouldn’t I?

January 23, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Multi-Tabling Sit-N-Go Tournaments

I’ve attempted this a couple times, but never with much success. I always feel like I’m missing out on pots, because I’m distracted or not able to focus on previous action as I otherwise would (or at least should).

However I have tried it again tonight, again without success of a financial sense, but loosing to aces twice in a row is anther topic (one I forced myself not to write!), but I have found an alternative method that I find easier and less distracting, which will hopefully yield results for me sooner or later.

Previously when multi-tabling, as I have done with cash games I have reduced the size of each tournament window, so that I can get all the games in view without having to move them around on the same screen. I have managed to play 3 or 4 cash games at the same time in this manner, but have only tried with 2 tables at once with the Sit-N-Go’s and even found this distracting.

My solution, I realized tonight, was simply to keep both tournaments close to full screen, and have one in front of the other, where I could click between each one between hands to observe the action at each table, without being distracted by the action at the other table. The Poker Stars client software would even bring the tournament window, requiring action from me, to the front, so I never missed my turn.

I have found this method far easier, and I am now much more likely to be willing to play multiple Sit-N-Go’s at the same time.

January 23, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My First Ever Straight Flush!

Just finished the 4th game of the day, and its been one of those rare games where you get a kaleidoscope of great hands coming your way in a very peculiar fashion. For instance, I found pocket queens immediately followed by pocket jacks, and then much later on found pocket jacks immediately followed by pocket queens!

Thats not the best bit of course, I actually made my first ever straight flush. I was so shocked, I checked the board about twenty times before committing my stack, and it still took a few moments to sink in as the pot was pushed to me. Imagine how devastated I would be, if I was busted by a higher one, it doesn’t bare thinking about lol

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1980465

January 23, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Folding and Pushing with AQ

First Sit-N-Go of the day, my usual $1 single table NL affair and I only make 5th place. I put this squarely down to the play of AQ, I held it twice and lost a huge amount of money each time, firstly indirectly by folding the best hand, and then later on directly by pushing all-in into kings.

Here, with AQ in early position I decided to simply call the big blind, as it was the first level and I judged it to be too early to push the action with a potentially dominated hand. Theres one more caller behind me and then a large raise to around 12xBB and I fold without hesitation.

This is pretty standard for me, being so early, however I’m realizing I’m loosing money in situations like this, more so with AJ, but still, if I’m loosing money with AQ its something I should address.

My first thought of improvement comes from the fact that when I limp in with AQ, I’m often happy to call a modest raise, maybe not here being at the very first level and being in early position, but otherwise it wouldn’t be too far fetched for me to call a 3 or 4xBB raise with AQ. Now, as we all know you need a stronger hand to call a raise with then you do to open with a raise, so by reversing that argument, if I’m willing to call a modest raise with AQ I should be willing to open with a modest raise with AQ suited or unsuited (I’ll always raise with AQs).

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1979549

Now, the blinds are up to 75/150. I’m in the big blind facing a minimum raise from the button and I re-raise all-in.

My thoughts on the hand where pretty simple here, I could have called, but didn’t want to be forced off my hand on the flop and be left with only around enough for 6 orbits, and with the blinds up in two minutes I wouldn’t even  have that. I’m also aware that I haven’t played a hand for a long time, and certainly haven’t raised or re-raised, and at the same time may of the players had started to open with modest raises pre-flop often with mediocre hands. So I could either have the best hand or could benefit from my tight image and get a middle pair to fold, it felt like a good spot to push, so I did.

http://www.pokerhand.org/?1979534

January 22, 2008 Posted by | Sit-N-Go's 2 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment