Saturday, August 28, 2010

Plo (and latest Poker Road podcast)

So I dabbled in some $1-$2 and $2-$4 plo today and did ok winning about $1700. I had fun playing it and might spend some time learning the game. There are little nuances that I need to learn. I think a lot of the same concepts from nl can be applied to plo. Anyway I decided to download the omaha upgrade for Hold'em Manager to see my stats today. I know I've dabbled in it a little bit over the past 2 years and I was pleasantly surprised to see my results (inc. the $1700 win today)...

I guess saying I've been running good in the game is an understatement. Also what sticks out is my vpip, which stands at 47.3! I knew I was playing a lot of hands but didn't know I was playing nearly half my hands. I think pretty much all my plo play has been in 6max games but still I'm sure it's probably not wise to play so many hands. Also I probably should 3bet a little bit more but I'll need to learn what type of hands I should be doing it w/. Granted it's a small sample size at 6500 hands but I do think w/ a little bit of study I should hold my own (or even crush) at midstakes.

I will also say that I noticed a lot of bad play, more so than at the same stakes in nl. I'm not an expert at plo but I could see the mistakes others were making. Speaking of mistakes I'm sure I butchered this hand...

Full Tilt, $2/$4 PL Omaha Cash Game, 4 Players - Hand History Converter

UTG: $484.30

BTN: $2,126.40

Hero (SB): $1,324.20

BB: $236.55

Pre-Flop: J J A 3 dealt to Hero (SB)

UTG folds, BTN raises to $14, Hero calls $12, BB folds

Flop: ($32) J 9 K (2 Players)

Hero checks, BTN bets $24, Hero raises to $75, BTN calls $51

Turn: ($182) 4 (2 Players)

Hero bets $165, BTN raises to $677, Hero folds

Results: $512 Pot

BTN showed and WON $1,022 (+$768 NET)

That's right..I folded middle set + nut flush draw on the turn! At the time I didn't mean to fold and timed out by accident because I forgot to click the timebank (doh!) but even still it might've been the right fold (but probably not the correct fold). I made 1 glaring mistake in the hand (which has nothing to do w/ the actual correct way of playing it). It was that I was unaware of stack sizes preflop and flop. I saw the flop and automatically checkraised w/ intent of getting it all in (thinking it was 100bbs effective) then realized we were super deep at the turn. I still felt like I needed to bet the turn but wasn't sure what to do once villain raised pot. In plo people have nuttier hands way more often so I wasn't in love w/ my hand at the turn but in hindsight I think I should've just shoved it in even though we're close to 300bbs effective. Obviously I'm gonna puke if he shows me QTxx or KKxx but I had decent equity still. Also there is the chance he shows up w/ worse, eg 99xx, some combo draw of his own, etc. He was also multabling so I assume he was a reg and could be making a play w/ worse.

I do think I should've 3bet the hand preflop because we were so deep and my hand plays well in a big pot because of the big pair + nut flush potential + few straights potential. If I had 3bet it, it would've been much easier to stack off at some point in the hand because I would've been getting a much better price (stack to pot ratio would've been smaller so would've been closer to a no brainer to just go w/ it). Anyway I felt bad after my hand I had butchered the hand. Oh well, it's definitely a learning process and I'm planning on getting better!

**Latest PokerRoad podcast available. We interviewed Jonathan "driverseati" Tamayo, who has done well in mtts (live and online) and is a limit hold'em specialist....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Live Tournament Cash ($25k woohoo!)

So I played the Detox main event ($550 buyin) over the weekend at the Hard Rock here in Vegas and finished 3rd for $25,400. Not a bad pay day but disappointed in not winning it all esp. the cool trophy that comes w/ it. Here's a pic of it (w/ some deadmoney next to that's my buddy Joe that won the 1st event and $31k..Matt Savage next to him).

I started the day 13th in chips out of 18 and really didn't pick up any hands at all all day and nursed a short stack until we were 4 handed. It helped that the levels were increased from 40 mins to 60 mins at the final table. Matt Savage usually runs player friendly tournaments and this was no exception. He is arguably the best tournament director out there today, and he's very friendly w/ players. He's also a mod on 2+2 and contributes there a lot so if that's not cool, idk what is (the fact that he's a well know tournament director for major events yet has the time to be a 2+2 mod, and he doesn't just post in the mtt threads...his posts are all over 2+2). He also has a charity golf tournament named after him (which he hosts) so he's into philanthropy as well (shameless request..Matt if you ever read this I'd love to be invited to it sometime!).

Anyway at the final table I never picked up a hand before a timely double up w AK vs J7 aipf. That only got me to 12 bbs or so. If there was one complaint I had about the tournament it was that there wasn't much play when were we 4-7 handed. I think there was a decent amount of play hu but alas I didn't make it, which compounded my disappointment because I felt (knew) I was the best player at the final table and probably been a favorite hu even if I was outchipped (unless I was really short).

When we got down to 6 handed, others proposed a deal and even though I only had 10 bbs at the time (along w/ 2 others at 10bbs, the cl's w/ about 25-30bbs) I nixed the deal (deal consisted of me receiving $16k when 1st was $60k w/o the deal) for a couple of reasons...I was the best player (stating my opinion w/o trying to sound arrogant) and a couple of the guys really wanted the deal so I knew there was a lot of fold equity against them. I was able to bust the next best player w/ QQ vs ATs and was up to 400k w/ blinds at 15k-30k and they proposed another deal. This time I was offered $25k and after deliberating on it for a few mins (others wanted the deal) I decided to take it for 1 reason only...because there still wasn't much play w/ the stacks at 200k, 300k, 400k (me), 1mil, 1.2 mil with blinds 20k-40k (see not much play). I knew it was somewhat of a crapshoot and I could bust out 5th easily and receive $10k (vs the $25k I was to get w/ the deal + 10k left to play for for 1st..actually $7k for 1st, $3k for 2nd) so I took it but wasn't excited about it like the others were.

There was an older asian guy that kept telling me I should take the deal because I'm getting $25k and that that's a lot...he hounded me for a few mins. about it while I deliberated it. I had to tell him everybody has different interests in regards to the $ and the tournament. He wouldn't let up though and asked me for my name because he said I must've been someone important in the poker world not to take the deal (especially since I was the only guy that was hesitant on it). I gave it to him and he said he would look me up online. Well sir if you are reading this, you found me and congrats on your 4th place finish.

Anyway after I unenthusiastically accepted the deal I lost every hand. I opr w 99 fr the sb and bb called, flop J86r, I cbet bb raised little over 2x, I tanked for awhile and folded and he showed me QJ. Then the asian guy opr to 120k on the button w/ 400k behind and I look down at KJo in the sb w/ 700k and based on his physical tells I was nearly 100% certain he didn't want to face a reraise (I guess I'll help him out if he's reading this but he got really silent when he held big hands preflop and talked a lot when he held weaker hands..was such an obvious tell...he was talking a lot here after opr) so I elected to shove and he tanked and started talking about how happy he was to have locked up $18k (like very very happy, remember he was hounding me to take the deal) and I was thinking uh oh, I didn't think about the fact that he's very happy securing $18k so I prob. have way less fold equity. Anyway after a couple of minutes about how happy he was w/ $18k (he was pretty nitty before the deal) he said, I'm gambling ..I call!! and rolls over 44 and it holds and cripples me. It was a shame because I would've been 3handed w/ equal stacks w/ the 2 older gentlemen (1 played ok, somewhat abc but ok, other loose and somewhat below avg).

Anyway after the asian guy busts w/ a very bad call (sb opl, he raises, sb shoves huge, he again goes into his usual outburst about $18k and how he didn't expect to make it this far and calls w AT and busts to AK). It was a bad call because the sb's range crushes AT based on my reads of the sb and the asian guy had plenty of chips to work w/ if he just folds (about 1mil w/ blinds at 20k-40k). Couple of hands later I was down to 285k and decided to shove K2o on the button and got called by KJ and that's all she wrote. The hu match was 2 guys in their 50s and the better player ended up winning it.

Anyway back to the asian guy he was irritating while amusing to play w/ because of his outbursts and his nonstop endless chatter when deliberating to call or fold. Think a lesser versian of Hevad Khan (during his deep main event run) but in an older asian guy's body. If you want proof, check out his post bust out interview, esp. the end when he finds out he's itm....

Yeah he was doing that dance and more every time he won a hand, especially when he doubled up. Now I thought he was out of line when he was hounding me to take the deal and his outbursts were a little annoying at times but for the most part I found it amusing and I must say my impression of him is that he's actually a nice guy that was excited to get as deep as he did so it's all good.

As for me they interviewed me as well....

As you can see, it was a more low key, more somber interview than the interview w/ the other asian guy. Also the interviewer's reaction when he finds out my online sn is kinda funny..."really, you're Nicolak, what was that again?" My thought while watching it...geez I need a new hair stylist!

Overall though I enjoyed the experience and enjoy playing live mtts from time to time ...although I felt like I wasted 2 months playing a lot of WSOP events over the summer, as evidenced by my June and July results. I should mention I brought my ipad w/ me and pretty much did stuff on it between hands while playing. After all I'm used to playing 1k hands/hr so seeing 30 hands/hr seems snail pace to me and needed to stimulate my brain somehow (by reading football stuff for this upcoming season on the ipad).

Also I will try not to take any time off after this score (for me a modest score but I know it's different w/ everybody). I get in the habit of taking a lot of time off after any tournament cash of significance. I pretty much took the year off when I won $250k on Partypoker back in Jan.'05, took the last 4 months off after winning $135k on FTP back in aug '07, and took the entire month off after winning the double deuce for $32k early in March of last year. If anything, it's the best time to grind as much poker as possible w/ an inflated bankroll and possibly take shots at higher stakes. I'm gonna fight the nit and complacency in me and keep grinding online this time. Oh and I guess I'm having a nice balanced month being up $30k in mtts and $30k in cash games!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Limit vs No Limit

I thought I'd offer my thoughts on each type of format and some similarities and differences between the 2. I should mention I played limit hold'em the 1st 6 years of my career and nl the past 6-7 years of my career but in no way am I saying I'm an expert but I do consider myself proficient in both (although my limit hold'em game probably has been passed by the new generation).

I'll talk about limit hold'em 1st. It's mostly a game of maximizing bets when you have the best (best hand or more specifically +ev spots in any situation) and minimizing bets when you are behind. When you have top pair top kicker you usually have the best hand and want to be betting and raising at just about every opportunity. Also you can win at a pretty good rate just playing tight and straightforward up to midstakes (live). I'm kind of out of the loop when it comes to limit hold'em games online nowadays but figure they're probably tougher than they were when I was playing full time.

It is a simpler game than nl. You can basically memorize a chart of hands to play in certain positions. I think David Sklansky had some good limit hold'em books that included charts. Obviously full ring is going to be simpler than 6max or hu (the same applies to nl for the most part) because you can play straightforward more and actually just play based on the absolute strength on your own hand sometimes whereas shorthanded (and in nl) you have to be aware of the range of hands of your opponents (so relative strength of your hand).

Also it is a game where you or your opponents are correct in calling a high % of time at river because the pot odds are so great since it only costs 1 big bet to call (to win a 5+ big bets pot usually). Also it helps to know the mathematics of poker (obvious statement I know). There is an interesting scenario where you get dealt any pp and are supposed to raise preflop if you see 8+ players limp in front of you whether in late position (assume 1 or both blinds call if lp) or in the blinds. This even includes raising 22. The reason being that it's about 7.5-1 to flop a set so therefore you're getting an overlay on any additional money put in because you can expect everyone to call 1 more small bet preflop. The times you wouldn't do it is if you're suspicious the 1st limper limped w/ the intent of 3betting but most don't do that. Also I'm just throwing out any postflop scenarios because it would complicate things flopping underset, losing to straights +, but it prob. evens out or shows a profit overall when players are tied to their draws or top pair type hands because of the bloated pots (plus you can win unimproved sometimes).

I remember playing $100-$200 a few years ago and a very good limit hold'em player checked 77 from the bb after 8 people had called preflop for 1 bet (sometimes the games were good even at those stakes back then). Anyway he flopped a set and won a big pot but should've been a bigger pot for the reasons I mentioned.

As for winrates, it was assumed when I was playing that the very good players won at a rate of 1 big bet/hr (live) so at $20-$40, about $40/hr. I'm not too familiar w/ winrates online even though I played a lot during the PartyPoker days (from $10-$20 to $100-$200, $30-$60 being the main game for me).

Now I'm going to talk about nl which is a much more familiar game to me now. I have to admit I made a ton of mistakes early on in my nl career, mistakes that most nl players would not make if they just started playing nl from the get go. It was due to the fact that I was playing nl a lot like limit early on because that's pretty much how I knew to play hold'em. Top pair good kicker? No problem, stack off on the flop. Shove turn or river as a bluff? Umm, nah because I could lose my whole stack whereas in limit I would lose just 1 big bet.

I was able to win from the get go because I've always had a good feel for any form of poker and played my A game consistently (not tilting). I've since found out that nl is a much more pure form of poker in that you are playing your opponents more than your actual hands (whereas in limit you are relying on your and your opponents' hands more). Also nl is a game where you can win pots by skillfully executing lines that are credible, inducing opponents to bluff or shove w/ worse, threatening opponents for their entire stacks, among other things that doesn't apply to limit as much.

There is a reason why the worst players in nl games went broke much earlier than the worst players in limit games. It took constant pounding (of many hands) to break a bad limit hold'em player but it could take just 1 hand to break a bad nl player.

Also the range of hands you play in each game differs. In limit hands that flop top pairs w/ good kickers trump (along w/ mid to big pps) such as KJ, KQ, AJ, etc because you can bet bet bet whenever you flop a big pair (obv. slow down on certain board textures and vs certain opponents). There are a couple of reasons for can't lose too much if you're behind and a lot of players play any 2 broadways so you'll have them outkicked enough times. The flip side is you don't want to play small cards, even suited, like 65s unless you get 4+ players going into the flop. It's a volume hand meaning you need lots of players in to make it profitable to play. Ideally you're hoping to make a straight or a flush and it's hard to make those. Also when you do make one you can only win a couple of big bets.

In nl it's sort of backwards for the hands I mentioned. You generally don't want to play QJo, KJo, ATo, esp. when there is a raise because you don't want to come in 2nd place (kicker problems) because it's hard to fold when you make top pair and will end up losing too much vs. winning enough to make up for the losses. You'll probably lose at least 2 streets of betting if you're behind and 2 streets of betting in nl is a whole lot more than 2 streets of betting in limit. Also suited connectors, even the smaller ones like 45s have a lot more value because the implied odds are huge (in limit you may win 2-3 big bets, in nl you may win opponent's entire stack) so you can play them frequently.

As for bankrolls for each form of poker, it was generally thought that you needed 300 big bets for whatever stakes you were playing for limit hold'em and 30 buyins for nl (assuming you're a winning player). Obviously it really depends on your skill level relative to your opponents'. If it is narrow then you might need more of a bankroll and if the gap is wide then you could use less. Now w/ the games being tough as ever today I would probably say 1.5-2x the aforementioned bankrolls would be advised.

Now since I live in Vegas I'll just say the best place to play limit hold'em is Bellagio where they spread $4-$8 up to $60-$120 on a daily basis. Anything higher is dependent on a few things. There are lots of $15-$30 and $30-$60 limit games and for the most part they're still beatable if you have a solid grasp of the game and don't tilt much (and have good br management..again stating the obvious). They used to have a $100-$200 game daily (which I frequented back in the days) but it kinda died. There are $10-$20 and smaller games around town as well. As for nl I still like the Bellagio but since nl is king right now there are games everywhere around town. The highest games that run daily outside of Bellagio is prob. $5-$10 (uncapped) at Venetian and the Wynn. Bellagio has several different stakes and runs $10-$20 nl daily which is a pretty good game usually. They'll get a $25-$50 game sometimes (and much bigger in Bobby's room).

I'm sure I didn't cover everything when it comes to limit vs nl but I hope you can see some of the differences in the 2 variations of the games. Both can be fun but for the most part, nl is tougher to get a grasp of but probably more fun because there are more options available (my thoughts anyway). Also if you're starting out I'd recommend learning nl 1st because there are many more games available than limit and also just about every tournament is a nl tournament so you'd like to have the option of playing cash games or tournaments when you want. I am a believer in learning as many forms of poker as you can because it's nice to have a variety of games to choose from day to day (plus there might be softer games in one form of poker than the other form) and this inc. limit, nl, mix games, plo, and whatever other forms of poker is out there today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mid Month Update

Funny how I hire a personal asst to free up time for me to play more poker yet I still have a hard time finding time to grind. I guess I need to allocate my time more wisely. Anyway I've put in 32.5 hrs on the felt for online cash games so far and doing well...

I'm just sticking to 6max and hu which plays more to my strengths than full ring. I did have the misfortune of playing some mix games, notably 2-7 triple draw, yesterday and dropped close to 4 dimes..yikes!

As for tournaments I'm beginning to hate them w/ a passion. I know it's hard to evaluate how you're running in them because HEM shows in chips and you might lose several flips in early stages and win one in the middle stages and show that you're above ev based on actual chip counts when in reality you could've gone 1-6 in flips. Anyway I'm way below ev in mtts based on my HEM but I knew that because I see all the damn flips, 3-2's, 2-3's, and 4-1's I'm losing in mtts. Take yesterday for example, 1st 4 tournaments in the 1st hr I bust out of 2 w/ QQ vs 55 aipf and AA vs 99 aipf. The rest of the day was pretty much the same. I was out of the 2 big ones (Sunday Million and FTOPs main event) relatively quickly.

I did manage a relatively deep run in the $530 Horse FTOPs last week...finished around 28th for about $1800 and knocked out a red pro for another $200. Just another "I busted a pro at FTP" tshirt to add to my collection. They were way more cooler when they sent you the tshirts w/ the actual pro you busted. I have one that says "I busted Rafe Furst on FTP". I like it because it's kind of random and some people don't know who the hell Rafe Furst is. My dream in poker, besides winning the WSOP main event, is to be on a live tournament table w/ Rafe while wearing that tshirt.

I do have to give a shout out to my buddy Joe Tehan (who's won a WPT main event before for a cool $1mil) for winning the $350nl tournament at the Hard Rock yesterday. He won $31k and change. I was fortunate to have swapped 10% w/ him because I played in it as well but busted on Saturday running KK into AA (typical). There was an awkward, kinda funny moment on the table where I was seated w/ Joe and Joe's ex gf. He opr utg, his ex shoves, he calls and she shows KK, he shows AA and busts her. I was just thinking it would've been great if his current gf, fiancee, actually dealt that hand but she was dealing at the table next to us at the time.

Anyway hand histories are fun to dissect or show, especially when they're close to 600bbs...

No-Limit Hold'em, $4.00 BB (4 handed) - Hold'em Manager Converter Tool from

Button ($400)
Hero (SB) ($1141.40)
BB ($461.40)
UTG ($1187.10)

Preflop: Hero is SB with 9, 10
UTG bets $12, 1 fold, Hero raises $36, 1 fold, UTG calls $26

Flop: ($80) 8, 4, 6 (2 players)
Hero bets $55, UTG raises $110, Hero calls $55

Turn: ($300) 7 (2 players)
Hero checks, UTG bets $240, Hero raises $993.40 (All-In), UTG calls $753.40

River: ($2286.80) J (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: $2286.80

Hero had 9, 10 (straight, Jack high).
UTG had 6, 8 (two pair, eights and sixes).
Outcome: Hero won $2284.80

I'm gonna talk about limit vs no limit (hold'em) in an upcoming blog post for those interested in knowing the differences. I'm gonna use my experiences from my past, having playing limit hold'em for 5 years, and nl hold'em for 7 years. Hopefully I'll get that up this week.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Got Durrrred!

So I was playing some 2/4 nl yesterday and in sits Tom "Durrrr" Dwan to my direct right. He tells the table he is going to play for 20 minutes. I assume he's making a video for the FTP academy. Anyway how often do you get a chance to play vs him at these stakes? So I looked for every opportunity to play hands vs him and they didn't end well as evidenced below.

Full Tilt, $2/$4 No Limit Hold'em Cash, 5 Players

Poker Tools by CardRunners - Hand Details

UPsDaeSy: $465 (116.3 bb)

Tweelingen: $777.60 (194.4 bb)

durrrr: $548.20 (137.1 bb)

Hero: $400 (100 bb)

cwalk2k3: $406 (101.5 bb)

Preflop: Hero is SB with 4 of hearts 5 of hearts

UPsDaeSy raises to $12, Tweelingen folds, durrrr calls $12, Hero calls $10, cwalk2k3 folds

Flop: ($40) 3 of clubs A of hearts 7 of clubs (3 players)

Hero checks, UPsDaeSy checks, durrrr bets $31, Hero calls $31, UPsDaeSy folds

Turn: ($102) T of hearts (2 players)

Hero checks, durrrr checks

River: ($102) 8 of hearts (2 players)

Hero bets $82, durrrr raises to $505.20 and is all-in, Hero calls $275 and is all-in


Full Tilt, $2/$4 No Limit Hold'em Cash, 5 Players

Poker Tools by CardRunners - Hand Details

UPsDaeSy: $495 (123.8 bb)

Tweelingen: $777.60 (194.4 bb)

durrrr: $885.20 (221.3 bb)

Hero: $400 (100 bb)

cwalk2k3: $433 (108.3 bb)

Preflop: Hero is BTN with 8 of diamonds 4 of diamonds

Tweelingen folds, durrrr raises to $12, Hero raises to $36, 2 folds, durrrr calls $24

Flop: ($78) 6 of hearts 6 of diamonds 5 of spades (2 players)

durrrr checks, Hero bets $40, durrrr calls $40

Turn: ($158) 7 of hearts (2 players)

durrrr checks, Hero bets $92, durrrr calls $92

River: ($342) 2 of hearts (2 players)

durrrr checks, Hero bets $232 and is all-in, durrrr calls $232

Obviously they're not +ev spots $ wise but they are +ev in happiness and experience. Also I'd rather lose to him at 2/4 than say 50/100.

As for my actual play of hands postflop I think they were ok and tbh were coolers in his favor. The 1st hand I thought I could be beat when he shoved but he's Durrrr, he's capable of bluffing anytime. The 2nd hand I thought @ turn I got this dude now (w/ thoughts of stacking Durrrr by 3betting w/ 84s..get a taste of your own medicine Tom!!). Oh how wrong I was! Anyway I got owned by him and he quit shortly after he stacked me for the 2nd time. Hit n Runner!

Anyway besides that I'm off to a good start to the month. Just been grinding 6max (w/ a little hu) 2/4 nl...

Now this is the way to start off a month! I'll be looking to play 3/6 and 5/10 soon and hope the good run continues. No matter how I run, I'm gonna aim to play a ton of hrs this month. I wanna give myself a chance of having my best year ever in terms of $ won and even if I don't reach that goal, I wanna know I tried my best.

As for other stuff, I've been getting exposure which is a good thing I guess. I guess I should've started a blog years ago. Anyway I was asked to come on Cardplayer's UTG show to provide some strategic advice...I thought I could've done a better job here...

Also I got to answer some questions about my career and hosting Cash Plays on PokerRoad. I thought this came out well...