EMHD #3: Bubble Boy

I took one of the worst beats of my life to get bounced from EMHD #3 in 6th place (2 out of the money). I had recently doubled up through Julio with AQ over A-8 (I think that was the hand) to about $34,000 or $35,000 in chips. Blinds were $2k/$4k, and I’m in the SB with Fat Tony in the BB. It’s folded around to me, and I pick up Ad/Kd and raise to $10k. Fat Tony (who had been playing super aggressive, especially for him) came over the top for all my chips. After rechecking my cards and assuring myself that I have to call (not necessarily pot committed, but I only have 5 BB’s left, and I have a top 14 hand), I called. Fat Tony had As/5c.

The flop: Qs-Qc-2s. I’m still looking good, but I’m not loving my position.

The turn: Ks. Not a great card for me. While Tony loses the 5d and 5h as outs to win, he gains the 9 remaining spades as outs. I’m about 81% to win the pot, but I’m not feeling awesome.

The river: 3s. Fat Tony scoops the pot with the nut flush. I’m in shock.

Obviously, if Tony knows what I have, he maybe flat calls there at best, but given the stack sizes and the situation, it was a play that he thought he could make and maybe even be ahead if I’m playing KQ/KJ. I’m still a bit in shock that it went down that way, but it is what it is. I really think that given the situation and my stack size, plus how well I think I was playing, that if I had won that pot, I would have had a really strong chance to place very highly in the tournament. Maybe with the big stack, I really could have done some damage and won the thing. We’ll never know…



At the pre-game event number 3 of the EMHD, BMRK explained that he got nervous in tournaments. EMG exclaimed “Turkey Nerrrrrvous!”

Remember: When you’re playing poker, it’s just a game. No need to come down with a bad case of the TurkeyNERRRRRVES!

No Rakeback = No More Full Tilt?

Being a bit of a novice online player, I’m always looking to learn new things about how to grow my bankroll. I am an avid listener of Mediocre Poker Radio, which plays on 106.7 WJFK on Sunday nights. If you miss the show, you can always catch podcasts on the Mediocre Poker site. The Hulk or myself will discuss the merits of this show another time, but one thing that EB (the co-host) talks about constantly is rakeback. Listening to the most recent podcast, one of the guests tauted the absolute critical need for every grinder out there to have rakeback. Of course, I had always wondered what it was, but I had never looked into this type of service. Here’s what I learned:

  • Rakeback is a refund of the “rake” that you pay to play any cash game or tournament. Depending on the host site and the rakeback site, you can earn anywhere from 25%-35% in refunds if you use any of these providers. The rakeback provider tracks your play at whatever game/stake, then will refund the set % of the raked amount back into your account on a monthly basis.
  • Cash players pay more rake than tournament players because pretty much every hand that sees a flop is “raked” a set percentage. As such, cash players are entitled to more rakeback.
  • Cash players have an added bonus here because they not only get the refund on pots they play/win, but they also receive the same rate on raked hands that they do not play. Essentially, if you are dealt cards, you are eligible to receive rakeback for that pot.
  • According to Guido, who is a very wise man, if you generate a large volume of hands seen and are a break-even player, you can build your bankroll via rakeback alone. (Of course, being a winning player is also helpful).
  • For more info, I trust this site.

I did a brief calculation based on my tournament and cash play since I rebought back in August 2008. I estimate that I cost myself (and my roll) about $75 in rakeback rewards (even playing at 5/10 cent and $1-$5 tournaments), and it pisses me off that I wasn’t aware enough to take advantage of this sooner.

The problem here is that Full Tilt is notoriously stingy about offering rakeback to existing account holders. Many of the sites I looked into would not submit a request for my account. However, www.raketherake.com was willing to handle this on my behalf, but they did not promise any results. Given that I want to build my bankroll, I have to take advantage of every opportunity, both on the table and off. If FT won’t help a brother out, I’ll have to take my business elsewhere. I’ll keep you all updated about what transpires…

Live Hand : Omaha Hi Lo 1/25

In a previous post EMG told tales from Texas Crint’s Game. After he left we played some dealer’s choice. There were a few rounds of Hold ‘Em , but Omaha, 3 card Omaha, and Pot Limit Omaha 8 or better were added to the menu. This hand happened after I turned into a card rack, and made for the biggest pot I’d played in months:

We were 5 handed, I sat in the little blind, MH62 in the big. Texas Crint was Under the Gun, Julio P was next, and el Pinata had the button and the deck.

Pre Flop: Texas Crint called the 50 cent BB, Julio P folded, Pinata calls on the button, and I complete the blind. MH62 raises pot, making it 2 dollars to go. With Texas Crint and Pinata calling, it seemed to make sense to call with the following hole cards:

Hulk Hole Cards:

The Flop:

This is undoubtedly a good flop for me, I’ve made the 2nd nut straight, and have redraws to the nut low, and a heart flush. Since I’m acting first this round, I decide to bet pot, 8 dollars after the pre-flop action, and much to my surprise MH62 raises pot, making it another $24 to see the turn. Texas Crint and el Pinata fold moving the action back to me. A more experienced player probably re-raises here, the 2nd nuts, redraw to the wheel for the nut low, and the flush redraw which might be good, or at least block the better flush MH62 could be drawing for might make it elementary … but I agonize about it. Maybe at another game I can discount 4 7 with a pre-flop raise, but look at the logo of this blog. I’m also without an Ace for the nut low, and MH62 re-raised ME ! EMG’s mentioned in other posts that I’m pretty tight, so I’m sure he’s strong here, maybe stronger than I want him to be. Ah Ac 4h 7s ? 44 77 ? Both hands run through my mind, but I finally decide to call. Not a strong move, and I hated myself for it at the time, but I know that MH62 isn’t afraid to draw, and I want some more information before I commit the rest of my chips. I’m just not able to narrow his hand range down enough for the re-raise, and want to keep some of my stack around for later hands.

The Turn:

Any agony that plagued me after the re-raise passed, and as soon as the 10 of diamonds hit I bet pot, which after my call post-flop was a substantial 72 dollars. It was enough to put MH62 all in, and he called for the 61 dollars left in his stack. It wasn’t necessarily the turn card that made me lead out. The card didn’t change anything for either of us, but I was relieved to see it not be a heart. With that card not meaning anything, I decided that there really wasn’t any way I was folding the hand, so it was time to get it over with. We both showed before the river came and

MH62 showed:

The River:

The River was the Ace of Diamonds. The river not pairing the board gives me the 6 high straight, and Ace to 5 low, allowing me to scoop the 194 dollar pot. If you’re up for it, dissect the hand. I believe any errors in the hand were mine, most notably the lack of re-raise after the flop and I’m interested in hearing what the players think.

(Note: After discussion with Pinata and MH62, we still can’t narrow down some details like card suit, but the spirit of this hand remains the same. MH62 did not have a flush draw at any point.)

Online Breakthrough?

In an earlier post, I highlighted some of the changes I had made to my bankroll management and my overall strategy. It had been paying some dividends, but yesterday/last night, I had a run that was based way more around skill than luck. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m seeing so many online hands (100 SNG tournaments this month alone), plus I’ve been analyzing my own play, but I cashed in 7 of 11 $5 + $.50 tournaments for a profit (post rake) of $45. Sure, it’s a small time effort, but I think I’ve really turned the corner in terms of playing these small stakes tournaments. Here are some of my adjustments:

  • Peg it early. Trying to peg the entire table within the first 5 hands, then building my image off those reads. My assessment is that bad players (as most of these guys are) want to convey their image to everyone else because they are first level donks and don’t understand higher level thinking. They are almost always playing their hand and not asking themselves what everyone else has. Because of this, I can quickly pinpoint the attack targets, the trap targets, etc., then adjust my play quickly based on how they react to my play.
  • Very few pot-sized continuation bets. I play a little more loose and much more aggressive in these tournaments than I do live because of the quality of competition and because it works better than tighter play, I’ve found. I realized that I kept getting involved in monster pots where I had to bet all in on the turn to take it down because I was betting too much on the flop. I also found that when I had a monster and bet pot, I wasn’t getting enough callers. So, I adjusted it down and am working to build pots with half-pot bets. In this case, if I get raised (or even mini-raised), I have fold equity or pot-building equity. I can get away from a semibluff or a draw much more easily and with more of my stack intact. By consistently raising a set amount based on blind level (usually a little more than 3x the BB) and then continuation betting 1/2 to 2/3 of the pot on the flop, I’m taking down the same number of pots, but I’m also taking down bigger pots and losing less when I get reraised. I also have very few betting pattern tells.
  • Making reads. I like to think I have acceptable skills at reading physical tells. Certainly players like Fat Tony, MH62, and Hulk (and I’m sure others) are better than me, but I like to think that I can read betting patterns and decipher what is going on in a hand better than many experienced players. Since there are no physical tells other than the amount of time it takes a player to bet + the betting patterns, it is up to me (or anyone) to determine why the bet was made and what my opponents’ holdings might be. Again, having seen several thousand online hands against some abysmal players, I have been better and better at getting away from hands when I know I’m beat and really making some solid calls. For instance, a few nights ago, I had a flush draw on a board of A-K-7, and bet it, then got reraised all in by a player who had limped on the button. I folded and wrote “you’re A-7 is good for now…”. He flashed A-7. How did I know? Well, the all-in didn’t make sense unless he had A-7 or K-7. Any other hand, and it’s a retarded move. He didn’t seem like a terrible player, so I put him on 2 pair and not wanting to get drawn on. Of course, he sucked all the value out of the hand by pushing, but if I’m stupid enough to call on a draw, he’s a solid favorite…
  • Not over-raising/over-calling. We all know that bad players play badly at all times, but a short-stacked bad player should never be doubled up just to get the knockout. I was trying to push the action and investing way too much of my stack with marginal edges (or as a 3:1 dog). Likewise, when I was short-stacked, I was pushing all-in before I had to and in early position with weak A’s or medium K’s and getting called down by players in bad spots. By making later position plays with my short stack and not calling significant portions of my stack on all-ins without strong holdings, I maintained my chip lead (or my stack) and was able to get the money in in a better situation. Likewise, I tighten up as the blinds reach the 50/100 and 60/120 level to avoid getting reraised all in and being pot committed. I’ll then change gears when it’s 80/160, 100/200+ when it becomes profitable and less risky again.
  • Not giving up. I really realized my breakthrough last night around 10 PM. On the first hand of a tournament, I got crippled. I held A-8 and checked in the BB. The flop came A-9-8. I called a small raise from the SB. The turn was a 9, which worried me, but I called a 3/4 pot bet from the same guy. I thought he had a 9 for sure, but I was stubborn and had played against so many bad players, I figured if he had A-9, he would have just gone all in… The river was an 8, giving me the 4th nuts (behind AA, 99, and A9). He bet out most of my stack, and I (I suppose stupidly) flat called in case he was playing 10-9 or 9-8. He had A-9, and I had 255 chips starting the second hand. I told myself that I was better than everyone else, and there was no excuse why I couldn’t still win. I ground it out, got some luck, picked my spots, and I ended up placing second in that tournament. I didn’t just throw my chips in and look to the next SNG. I was determined to make something happen, and I did. I knew that I’m never out of anything as long as I have chips. I can build off that “victory” for the future.

I’m not sure whether I can keep up this high level of play, but I know that I can truly dominate the $5 SNG level on Full Tilt regardless of chip position, position, and stack size. That confidence (as long as it doesn’t hinder my risk tolerance) should allow me to really build my roll. I am feeling pretty good today, but I want to string together a week of these results before I can really be sure.

Upcoming Games

A somewhat action-packed week ahead. Tomorrow we will observe Pinata’s departure from the East Coast with a SHOE or HORSE game at Fat Tony’s. Expected to be in attendance: Fat Tony, Pinata, Guido, MH62, Hulk, Nate, Dan, and Texas Crint. We’re playing $1/$2 with a $.25 ante on the stud games and $.25/$.50 (probably with a $1 straddle much of the time) on the Omaha games. Should be a rip-roaring good time with Pinata stories and perhaps some surprises…

EMHD #3 kicks off Saturday at 3 PM. We’re going to celebrate the occasion with a little brunch action and a $20 HORSE tournament. Winner gets bought in to the tournament. Expected participants: Hulk, MH62, Dan, Jocko, Pinata, Shawn, and I. Should be fun and interesting.

Lots more entries to come as we bet, trap, fold, and bluff our way along!

Online Hand History… Overvaluing AA (Part 2 of 2)

In Part 1 of this Story EMG examined the following hand from the point of view of djp4516, the player who’s pocket aces were cracked in a large pot near the very end of the tournament. EMG and I thought it might be fun to examine the hand from the point of view of pireslousa and that’s what I’m gonna try to do

Larger Version

Pre Flop: I’ve done as much thinking as I can about this mini raise to 2k. I don’t like it. I know that professionals like Daniel Negreanu say that a min-raise has its place, but as I understand it he advocates this when the blinds are significant amounts of the stacks and the size of the stacks at this table certainly don’t fall into that criteria. I’d have rather pireslousa made a raise to 3500 – 4500, but I can imagine a few thought processes that would lead to this action:

  1. Really Tight table – They’ll toss anything if they’re not willing to play a big pot with me. If the respect my stack, they’ll leave, and if any of the small stacks shove, I’m not so invested that I can’t leave, or if I really think they’ll shove with hands like AK, I’ll race for up to 12k.
  2. Scared of Jacks – Maybe this stands on its own, maybe in combination with scenario 1, the min raise is just enough to say I’m interested in this hand, but let the other players at the table make the next move and let me see where I fit in and gauge my comfort level.

Regardless, the call after the raise from djp4516 and the shove of k9luvr’s short stack make it at the very least acceptable. Folding here isn’t a bad play either, not wanting to get mixed up in a three way pot with JJ is understandable, but if you’re gunnin’ for the top prize, the call gets you into a pot that can put you in really nice shape, especially since I don’t think the all-in was enough to allow a re-raise if flat called.

Post Flop: This is not the flop JJ was dreaming about, but with 2nd pair and a redraw to a flush, it might be worth the 6k bet into the (fairly) dry side-pot to isolate against that short stack. The more I’ve thought about it the more I like the bet. It represents about 1/5th of the pot, and a little less than 1/4th of djp4516’s stack. It’s just enough that it should eliminate the flat call from djp4516’s arsenal and if pireslousa get raised here, folding leaves him 24k in chips at 1k/2k blinds puts him in 3rd or 4th place at that table, not optimal, but in good shape to make the money. The call, however is something I can’t believe happened. djp4516’s shove should make pireslousa hit the fold button. The only defense of pirelousa’s is the pot odds. If I do it right, there’s about 63k in the pot, the call for about 20k makes it just over 3 to 1, close enough for the flush redraw if it’s good, add two more outs for the other Jacks in the deck and it’s a decent price … but that’s cash game talk and I don’t think you can even believe your flush would be good if it got there in that spot. In the late stages of a tournament, when you’re one big mistake from zero, I think it’s a reckless call. Let me know in the comments what I’m wrong about.

Texas Crint Hosts a Game, 1/25

Played a lunch money-esque game at Texas Crint’s house last night from 6 PM – 8:45 PM (give or take). In attendance during my session were Texas Crint, MH62, Julio, Pinata, and Big John. It was a 6-handed game, so starting hand values went up, obviously. I was decently card dead for a lot of the time, and I didn’t play well. I made a theoretically bad laydown to Pinata, who pushed all in on a board of J-7-2 after raising preflop, and I had Turkey Nerd (7-4). It was a $17 raise into a $10 pot, and I tanked for a while, then folded, putting him on A-7/K-7, meaning I had 3 outs at best. He showed the bluff with 10-5. Not sure if I should have made that play, but I likely had outs if I had. Later, Texas Crint caught a 3 outer on my J-10 with J-2, and I paid him off on the river (read it like a busted flush draw, which was realistic given the way the hand was played). I later made a stupid all in call of $14 against Pinata, who had flopped a boat. After that, I was decently scared and totally card-dead. Not at all a good combination. I technically could have quit, but I wanted to grind through it. I didn’t take unnecessary risks, which I am happy about… I saw 1 pocket pair and zero double suited hands in 12 Omahahands. I think I saw only 2 suited hands total in my Omaha time, which is quite odd. I played them tight and really didn’t invest much in these weak starting hands, which was good.

Overall, I was stuck $50, which is not terrible, but I missed a few bets and should have called Pinata’s all in early and not called that last $14 later. Given my cards, I estimate that I should have been stuck about $20, but I played well below my best for the last hour, and that led to the poor result. Chalk up $30 in losses to bad play and $20 in losses to variance.

Online Hand History… Overvaluing AA (Part 1 of 2)

See the video below. Here is a large version. This hand history was presented to us from a friend on a non-poker message board (in the poker thread). This is from the final stages of a $10 + $1 90 man deep stack tournament on an unnamed online site. There are 15 players left, and the top 9 get paid.First place earns roughly $325. Our “hero” has AA in late position with 7 people at the table…


Preflop: I like the raise there. Obviously, you’re reraising preflop (raised or not) with AA here. The size of the bet is about right to me. You’re hoping that everyone folds, and you take down a $4k pot. Worst case, you’re looking at an all-in from the baby stack or a reraise from an underpair, then you get it all in as a 4:1 fave. The BB goes all in, which has to be a worry. Why put your entire tournament on the line when there’s a raise and a reraise? Sure, you have AA, but that has to be a concern. Here, the UTG miniraiser flat-calls. Personally, I can’t stand a mini-raise at any point in any NL game. Either make a man-sized raise, call, or fold… However, the guy just flat calls with 3:1 odds. You have to immediately put him on a range of hands. I probably focus in on AK suited, KK, QQ, maybe JJ or 10’s. I don’t see most players risking that much with anything less, especially at a $10 buy-in. You have to figure that the dead money is already out at this point. You can probably discount KK because KK probably reraises all in there to isolate. In lower limits, people also overvalue AK, so AK probably reraises all in.

The Flop: Horrible flop here. You have no hearts, and it’s come Q-10-4, all hearts. If you have the guy on a pair from 8’s-Q’s, there’s a decent likelihood that he hit a set there. If he just has AK, he could have a made nut flush or the Ah/Kh, meaning you need a runner-runner boat to win. He bets out at this flop. The fact that he’s betting into you after you showed so much strength preflop says 1 of 3 things: 1) “I have a set of Q’s or 10’s, back off”. 2) I have a made flush. Go away.” or 3) “I have an overpair and a heart. Back off.” Given the size of the bet (1/6 of the pot), you almost have to put him on the nut flush (AhKh, maybe AhJh. Why else would he value bet? Worst case, he has a set, meaning you have 2 outs at best to win (or runner-runner for a full house). Of all the hands he could have, the best case scenario is AQ with the Ah.

The Push: I personally think you have to fold and take your $26k (26 BB’s) and wait for another spot. In fact, I probably check it down unless I hit running boat cards. Instead, the “Hero” came over the top for $26k total. Really not the right play. As I mentioned, you have 26 BB’s left, and you’re still healthy. You have enough chips to play 16-18 rounds. You’re also betting $26k to win $6k if he folds, and you’re still up against the all-in player. I’m not shocked that the Hero got called, but the real amazement on my end is that he got called by JJ with the Jh. While the push was the wrong decision, I have no idea why the opponent bet or the called there. The Hulk will examine the hand from the viewpoint of the JJ player.

Enter The Hulk

Since MH62 can’t quite figure out THE BLOGSPOT (credit to Fat Tony for the reference), I have recruited The Hulk to discuss, post, and make general merriment on the site. He gave us the first version of Turkey Nerd history, and his understanding of the game (both online and live cash/tournament) is excellent. I look forward to his contributions. Likewise, if Mr. Primetime chooses to contribute, that would be beautimus!