Archive for October, 2009


my studies are paying off…

Ok, it’s a small hand sample size, but I’ve been reading poker articles and watching poker videos like they are going out of style tomorrow. Everything from table selection to blind stealing to cold calling. You name it, I’m reading it. 2p2 once you start digging has some great thinking…not all of it, but a lot of it.

In any case, I sat down today to play 4-5 tables instead of 10, and focus on being aggressive even when it felt uncomfortable. If someone limped in, and I had a hand I might usually limp behind with, I was raising. If someone raised from late position, I was considering a 3 bet every time. If I raised, I was betting the flop, and maybe the turn, even with air (even though this can be a bit over the top at 25NL).

Besides the fact that I made a huge 3 bet with AA, got called and stacked off to a flopped set of Jacks, I was still up more than 1 buy-in for 310 hands. (That’s like 45 minutes on 4-5 tables.) Super small hand sample size, but very telling in what works at these limits. My aggression paid off. Instead of being the one taking a lot of heat, I was dishing it out, and it made life much easier. My decisions got easier and my opponents got harder. That’s always +EV.

My usual stats for VPIP/PFR/3bet have been around 13/9/2.5 (at their best). Today I was 20/15/5.2. That’s more like it! My steal% was up over 10% as well, which I’ve been trying to do, but just haven’t been successful with it. Here’s a graph. Green line is actual winnings. Blue line is showdown winnings. Red line is non-showdown winnings. (And the red line is even positive!!!)


So perhaps I was lucky, perhaps not. In either case, I definitely felt like I had a breakthrough. Now I just need to bust out the last 6 or 7 buy-ins at this level and then move up. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that by the EOW. But I do have other goals this week – about 20+ hours of videos to watch and DJ Hero comes out tomorrow. So we’ll have to see how things go…


more coaching

I was holding off on my next coaching session until I felt I had firmly grasped and put to good use the first two sessions. After playing for about 2 weeks, I was ready for the next step. We covered a lot, and as usual, I spent a good day afterwards listening to my recording of the session, taking notes, and compiling them into an “exec summary” that I can read to refresh my memory before I play until it’s fully learned. Since my last lesson, I’ve played almost 11 hours – which isn’t really as much as I’d like, but I’ve been watching videos, reading articles, posting hand histories, studying others, and reviewing my own hand histories after each session – and honestly this takes way more time than you’d expect. Out of six sessions total, I’ve been a winner in five of them and I’m up 7 buy-ins, which is awesome.

It’s amazing how joining the video site and getting some coaching can improve your game. There are so many people out there who think they just can’t be helped by a coach. Terribly wrong…but please, don’t get one, cause I like taking your money. I find myself not able to fit all the learning I’d like to do into the time I have available. I also find myself easily playing longer sessions and instead of feeling like “Is my time up?” – I just want to keep playing.

I guess winding down from Microsoft takes about 10 months. While I always believe in my abilities, it’s nice to be putting up some good profit and feeling like there’s no where but up to go.

I’ve also noticed that “bad beats” in smaller pots don’t bother me in the way they did before. However, the big pots still get to me a little. Yesterday, I had a huge fish at my table. I had been slowly taking his money, and he doubled up (luckboxed it) against someone who had him crushed. While I hate seeing the suckout, more money in his stack is more earning potential for me. We were at even stacks with about 160BBs each. I raised to 5BB with AA, and he min 3 bet me to 9BB. Given his play, I put him on something he wasn’t folding preflop and raised to 80BB. He flat calls. If you’re going to flat call this, you might as well shove because you’re not folding on any flop. The flop comes KTx. I push and he thinks for a while. I’m just hoping he has AK. He finally calls and shows JJ. Ok, he could have folded this flop as obviously he’s beat. The turn is a 5. And the river is a J. My desk got a little fist pound from this one. Eventually I’ll just type nh and move on…but right now those 4 buy-in pots where I play it awesome am a ~94% favorite after the turn and lose just suck. As you might imagine, this session was my only loser of the week. If this hand holds, I’m a 3 buy-in winner in that session instead. Oh well…

The other interesting thing is that now when I sit down at a table, there’s almost no one I’m “scared” of playing. This is a definite change from before where some of the regulars at my level would run me over. Now I just feel like while I might lose in the short term, my studying is paying off quickly.

Hopefully by the end of the month (if not sooner), I’ll be moving up limits back to 50NL. I wanted to earn 50 buy-ins at 25NL first, even though I’m bankrolled to play much much higher. Others would say I should just move up, but I’m really focused on nailing the concepts I’ve learned. Not much longer though…

Oh yeah, and GO BRONCOS!!! 5-0. And Monday Night this week! Awesome.


the difference a day makes

I did decide to hire a coach from DuecesCracked (DC). I paid for 6 sessions and I’ve used up 3 of them (in only 2 sessions). For the first lesson, we watched the 45 minute video I recorded of my play. He pointed out various things I should be differently or not at all. I’d say it was a good session and I learned about a few leaks. He lives in Orlando, so I recorded our Skype call and then went back and took notes in detail. This was super helpful as it cemented the information in my brain.

While the first session was useful, the second session was great. We focused on when to continuation bet. A continuation bet (cbet) is when you raise preflop, and then cbet on the flop. Most people will bet if they hit something on the flop, like top pair, however a lot of people check the flop when they miss. I was cbetting the flop about 50% of the time and when we looked through my hand history, it was rare for me to cbet if I had missed. This session was somewhat repetitive as we covered all the hands I had not cbet in the last 3 days. This was the dialog:

Brian: So this next hand, I assume you wouldn’t cbet here.
Coach: Nope, I’d definitely cbet.
Brian: Ok, well this next one, there’s no way.
Coach: I’d cbet here too.

Obviously he explained his thinking, but you get the point. I should have been cbetting close to 75%. It’s difficult to cbet when you have nothing, but when you start doing it and realize people just fold most of the time, it’s basically printing money. We covered a lot of other misc stuff in the session as well, but this was the focus. It was amazing how much my brain thinks differently now about cbetting, the flop texture, and how others are cbetting. Definitely worth my money. Here’s a progression of my cbet% through September.

Un-coached Week 1: 42.5% with success rate of 64.5%
After watching videos Week 2: 51.1% with success rate of 50.0%
After 1st coaching session Week 3: 56.4% with success rate of 50.4%
After 2nd coaching (cbet) session Week 4: 76.5% with success rate of 46.3%

WOW. Pretty awesome.

In any case, for those that don’t know, I had dropped down to 6-12 tabling 25NL (buy-in = $25; blinds = .10/.25) during my 3.5 month downswing. After my coaching sessions, my goal is to work back up to the 100NL and 200NL games by January-ish. I want to play at least 100k hands at 25NL and make sure I’m crushing it before I move to 50NL, and do the same thing there. That just takes time. I’m probably being over conservative, but that’s okay.

So I was playing 2 days ago, and felt like I was playing well. I was coming off of two good poker sessions after both of my coaching sessions. But the day just didn’t cooperate. I played about 5000 hands throughout the day, and was up almost one buy-in at my high point. I ended the day down almost 6 buy-ins. Ugh. I realize these days will happen, however, it would make them a lot easier to handle if my up days were equal in magnitude. I have 2-4 buy-in wins frequently, but never really 6 or more. Overall a brutal day.

The next day, I sat down to play, and started off the same way, dropping 2 buy-ins in the first 1k hands. Frustrating. I was complaining to my coach and sending him a few hands that were just brutal. I’d make a straight and someone would have flopped a full house. His response was “variance imo”. I know that but it felt a little better to complain. I needed to play about 5k hands today to make my “Gold” rating by the end of the month on Pokerstars. This is about 6 hours of play so I was on the clock.

What a difference a day makes. I guess the poker gods heard me because this was my graph at the end of the day – up 7.5 buy-ins. Excellent! The green line is actual winnings. The blue and red lines (see previous post) are my Showdown and Non-SD earnings. I have been working on making sure the red line is not sloping down as fast as the blue line is sloping up…and you can see it’s working here.


One sick hand yesterday towards the end of my session. I was dealt TT, called a PF raise. The flop was T3T. Quads!!! WOO HOO! He bet and I smooth called. The turn was a Queen. He bet, I raised and he pushed…at which point I was sure he had QQ. I call the all-in, he flips up queens. The river – you guessed it. Another queen for quads over quads. Sick. Runner runnered. That’s about it for today…