What would you be IF you weren't afraid?
“In a balance of mutual terror, whoever acts first has the advantage!”

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT. Where is the action coming from in Poker?

Probability of action, is to your left!

"Where there is motion, there is information."

If everyone has folded before you, the probability of action from the left is 100% 
and only you can reduce it to something more manageable.
If you Fold, Check or Call, it will not change the probability of action on your left. 

There are only 4 positions on your left that are meaningful.
The Hi Jack, Cutoff, Button and Small Blind.
Tommy Angelo rates the Cutoff Seat of more importance than the Hi Jack seat. To me they are equal; I've stolen more blinds from the Hi Jack seat than from the Cutoff seat, but only slightly more.

From the Hi Jack seat, the two seats to the left are the most powerful seats.
I like to classify these 3 seats (Button, Cutoff, and Hijack) as the “IN Position” seats, because one of these seats will usually be the last to act. Most players don't give this collective seat the respect it deserves, but this is the seat that gets the most notice when it raises and can create the most fear of having a high valued hand. All other seats are “OUT of position” seats, until you get to the final 5 in a tournament, where it becomes the worst seat, the “Under-the-Gun” seat.

From the Cutoff seat, be aware that the Button will frequently raise with anything, if no one has bet before him. If it looks like the Button will fold, you will inherit the power position.  This is frequently where the blinds are stolen.

From the Button, you're immediate concern is the action from the Small Blind, but you may notice an action from the Big Blind that the Small Blind didn't.

From the Small Blind, if you look left, it's only the Big Blind that has the ability to act last, but only if he checks. You are looking to see if he appears like he is going to raise. You already know what's happened on the right. How did it influence the Big Blind on your left?

Sometimes looking to the left doesn't matter because there's no real story developing, but when there is, it’s a neon headlight.
You want the tight player to be on the left anyway so keep an eye on them.

PS: There is one seat that will usually dictate action with a raise. Many players call in the LO Jack seat, the seat to the right of the Hi Jack seat. When this seat is the first to act and it's a raise, there is usually a WOW moment at the table. I've actually stolen more blinds from this seat than any other seat, that's why I refer to as the Grand Larceny seat.
It's a seat where you can easily get sandwiched between one of the blinds and the other 4 "IN Position" seats, so if you are re-raised you should probably fold.

Here’s the deal. Raising has little significance in a Limit poker game, compared to No Limit and Pot Limit. Most players will play any two cards above a seven that is connected and/or suited.
       It just signifies a good to powerful hand, because it’s only a one big blind bet.

In Limit, it’s the 2nd, 3rd, and CAP bets that indicate a great to dominating hand.
You may have to actually look farther to the left, one or two seats, to see if anyone is indicating they may raise the bet.

In a No Limit game, the first raise could be anywhere from 2 big blinds, the pot, or All In. You can't get there, All In, in a Limit game or a Pot Limit game, on a single raise.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Updated 2/11/2017
14 World Series of Poker Bracelets
Phil Hellmuth, the "Poker Brat". Love him or hate him, I hear he's reasonably sane away from the Poker table, but you can't deny his success at the green felt arena.
14 WSOP Bracelets, to go with his 108 WSOP cashes, a record, 7 of those at the main event, and 52 WSOP final tables, also also a record! What is really amazing is that 22 of his final tables have not been at Texas Hold'em events, like Seven Card Razz, 2-7 Lowball, Seven Card Stud, Stud Hi-Lo, Omaha Hi-Lo, Pot Limit, Limit, No Limit Omaha Hold'em and event that great game of HORSE, a mixed poker, as well as the Poker Players Championship eight game mixed event. He also finished 4th in the 2012 "Big One for One Drop" $1 Million buy-in event, for a big $2,645,333 payday, which only had 48 players, of which 9 players finished in the money. He's even got his own logo.

Up until the advent of micro cams to view a players cards while playing poker, the field of participants never got over 8,773 for a single event at the World Series of Poker. Back in those days they had only a few games that were played and only a few WSOP events. The first few years of the WSOP main event had less than 20 players. It added a few games and tables and you only had to outlast less than 100 players in the big game, which after 20 years grew to around 200 players.

This year there were 68 events, some of the poker games have come and gone, but the audience has grown every year, even after Poker's Black Friday, which actually helped increase the live game venue. The new kid on the block this year, the "Colusus", with low buy-in of $568, had 22,000 players, exceeding the projected max expected to be 20,000. The winner got $638,000 for a $568 buy in, a cool 1.123:1 profit. I expect it will be even bigger next year, and more of the WSOP satellites will include a low entry event.

Most casinos that even offer poker now, only spread a few games for the cash table players and the tournaments are mainly designed to get you to bust out early and get you back to the cash table games, same with the card rooms at places that are not full fledged casinos. The WSOP events are structured a little better now and with the 22,347 players for one event, not to mention the other 67 events, the Disneyland of the desert should be making lots of money. The entourage for each player may be an additional 2 or more people, who may spend a few hundred to a few thousand dollars each, because they have to stay around for up to 5 days for the one event. That's a lot of income for Sin City.

One of my favorite poker games is RAZZ, a great poker game, and the one Phil Hellmuth has been specializing in lately, which helped him win that bracelet this year and $271,105 for 1st place. It may only have had 102 players, but at $10k per seat I'll take a 27:1 profit any time I can. It's lots eaiser than trying to beat 22,374 No Limit Texas Hold'em players.

Now he's up to $12 million in WSOP winnings and $18.5 million in live tournaments. He's won 2 main event WSOP bracelets in No Limit Texas Hold'em, 3 bracelets in Limit Texas Hold'em, 6 bracelets in other WSOP No Limit Texas Hole'em events, 1 Pot Limit Texas Hold'em bracelet and 2 in Seven Card Razz.

Now how about that Paper Microscope!


Monday, June 1, 2015

A day at the Gardens: Hawaiian Gardens Casino CA

Updated 2/11/2017

A Day at the Gardens: Hawaiian Gardens Casino CA

I've played at most of the card rooms in the LA area; Hollywood Park, Hustler, The Bike, Commerce, even Crystal.
If I had to rank them it would most likely be:
1. Commerce Casino a slight edge over
2.The Bike,
3. Hustler
4. Hawaiian Gardens Casino
5. Hollywood Park
6. Crystal Casino.
Haven't played at Normandie yet, but from what I hear, I would put it slightly over Crystal.

Hawaiian Gardens Casino
I've been looking for more Sit and Go games and Omaha games, in my price range, and heard they had some at Hawaiian Gardens Casino. Hollywood Park advertises Sit and Go's but I have yet to see one as they keep saying they don't have enough dealers. The Bike and Commerce have them during their big tournaments, but not normally. None of the other local casinos offer them.

I tried a couple of the Sit and Go tournaments at Hawaiian Gardens. They have a couple of formats. A 6 max that pays the top 2. A full single table that pays half the table and a 3 table shoot out. They are all turbo games, 10 min rounds, fast and more gamble in them than skill, but a fun game. I played my first shoot out a week or so ago, busted out midway in a it.

This week I wanted to try the 6 max, but it wasn't starting for another couple of hours, but they had a single table Sit and Go for $175 which payed the top two. Again it's a turbo, 10 min rounds and 1500 in chips, so it's fast. Threw away a couple of marginal hands, out of position, didn't really get any playable hands that weren't already family pots by the time it got to me. Finally got a monster, AA, two from the UTG position, I'm kind of short stacked, only about 12 big blinds, and I'm sandwiched anyway, so I just called a min raise (my first mistake), and two others called. There's 5 in the pot and the flop comes like 9,5,4, and I raise the pot (my second mistake). The cutoff raises all-in, he just barely has me covered, everyone else folds, I call, (my final mistake). The turn and river are no help to either of us, he shows 44 and cracks my AA and I'm out.

Chances are if I would have gone All-in pre-flop, he would have called anyway since we were both needing chips. So I look around at some of the cash games going on. Most look like they are good games. I like No Limit and Pot Limit and Omaha 8, but my favorite is Pot Limit Omaha. Most of the local casinos don't' have one that fits my pocket book, but they have one here with a $100-$200 to buy-in and $1-$2 blinds. They had a seat open so I jump in.

OK, they are playing $2-$4 blinds because they all decided to raise them, but if I only wanted $1-$2 blinds they would accommodate  Not my favorite stack ratio now that it's instantly depleted 50$, which cuts my "M" in half and puts me below my "CM", but I decide to play at $2-$4. They have some real action players, so my normal game should do quite well. In fact I won the first hand I played and got a fair sized pot. Played a couple of other hands along the way, but didn't get any favorable flops. Some of them liked to run it twice in an All-in bet, not my cup of tea, don't really see the point of a 50% tie over a 33% win ratio. The game was going OK for an hour or so, a couple of players busted out and bought back in and a couple of players busted out, left, and others joined.

One of the players who joined was another old fogy. Most of the players know him, as the players here often know each other. This one didn't want to play $2-$4, so after hemming and hawing about it, they changed to $1-$2, but wanted a $5 bring in on the next bet or call, which was kind of OK, but he didn't really sound too happy about it.

The game was kind of up and down as far as action now. The action players would raise pre-flop almost every hand, I won a few and lost a few, but still liked the game. The only misstep was when I raised hands instead of calling post flop without the nuts. I fixed that leak after my stack was down 50%. Some of the players were starting to cash out or bust out and no new players were on the board, so after we were down to 4, the table broke. A couple of the players, including the old fogy, decided to go to the Commerce, said they were going to play a proposed PLO game, they already had some signed in as "interested". Just in time for the Sit and Go Shootout here. I came out with a slight profit in the Omaha game.
This will be one of my games to play in the future.

The Shootout was looking kind of slim, but Tina, the tournament boss said it should fill up nicely. About 10 minutes after it was supposed to start, each table had only about 4 to 5 sitting, looking kind of iffy, but after about 10 min, we filled up. One of the players at table 1 had won the 2 earlier Sit and Go's, was getting kind of loaded, and busted out early. I was in about the middle of the pack at table 2, had 5 left and 2 were already short stacked. I decided not to play anymore hands to get to the final table, but I got a couple of good ones, one was Ten/Ten, won that round, another KQ, flopped the Q, won that one. Finally the 2 short stacks busted out and we broke for the final table.

Stacks were reformatted to the beginning of the tournament, we started at $1500 with $25/$25 blinds and 10 min rounds again. I must have gotten AK about 4 times in the game, won some pots. We were down to 5 players again and I was 2nd in chips. Busted one player out and now the chip leader, though not by much. Another player busted out and we were down to 3. Forth place paid $110, so now I was in the money and 3rd place paid about $350. Another player busted out and we were down to 2 with the chip lead see-sawing back and forth due to the blinds increasing. Each hand was more of a gamble and there really no skill going now. Most of my hands have been good, at least one face card with a middle kicker, only had to throw one low hand away, 2-3o. Every hand now is All-in and after a couple rounds where my opponent folded, I finally won and came in 1st, paid $656, not bad for a $70 entry, which helped set off the $175 I lost in the first Sit and Go.

I think the PLO games at Hawaiian Gardens will be financing my Sit and Go's, and some of the other deep stack tournaments I plan on playing.

Looks like they have discontinued the Sit and Go tournaments and rarely have PLO games anymore.

Would have been a regular stomping ground for me, but not anymore.



One Flop, Ten Hands

Updated 2/11/2017

One Flop, Ten Hands
Ed Miller Explores Ten Situations On One Flop
What happened pre-flop?
You have a $1,000 stack, and most of your opponents have you covered. Everyone folds to the player two off the button who opens for $30, [a $20 raise, 2x BB, with $5/$10 blinds.] You call on the button. The blinds fold. It’s two players to the flop, and the pot is $75. 
[Seat 8 could have anything depending on the type of player. Tight players would most likely raise 3xBB with AA-TT, any raise Minimum to 2xBB is more likely AK to AJ, possibly KQ or QJ, Loose players would probably raise 3xBB with anything if everyone folded to him. Selective Aggressive and Solid players are more likely to raise 2BB with any good suited connectors or trying to trap with over pairs, below AA. The flop is the real decision maker for most players.]
10♣  6  3 (no flushes or straights made, best non-paired hand is a straight on the turn or flush on the river)
Top set, I would just call. Slow playing top set is natural, since the holding cripples the deck for our opponent. On this board, I will be raising nearly all my value hands, so it’s nice to still be able to threaten the nuts when I just call the flop. Some players would look at the possible draws and think it’s too dangerous to slow play. With most hands we aren't slow playing. Just this one.
Middle set is a raise. We’re raising a lot of hands, so we definitely should raise bottom and middle set. If we catch our opponent with an overpair or A-10, we could easily win stacks.
[Over pairs] 
Do not always reraise (over pairs like Q-Q) preflop in position, and one reason I don’t is that I like to have this hand in my range on flops like this one. This is a flop raise. If I’m going to apply pressure with bluffs, I need to have real hands sometimes also.
[Two over cards, Ace high] 
Call. We have two overcards, a backdoor-flush draw to the queen, and possible ace-high showdown value. It’s not a great hand, but recall that our strategy has us folding infrequently because of our structural advantages in the pot. I prefer calling with this hand over bluffing, as calling preserves the showdown value, and we’ll almost never end the hand with the nuts, so there’s no value to building a pot.
[Drawing hands] 
A wrong-suited gutshot to the nuts. This is a hand I’d raise. Again, we’re raising frequently to push our positional advantage and possibly to punish our opponent for continuation betting too many hands. Gutshots to the nuts make good bluff-raising hands in general, as they typically have no showdown value, and they also can justify building the pot since you will end up occasionally stacking an opponent when you hit the nuts. If you get reraised, you fold.
Top pair with a marginal kicker. This is a straightforward call. If this pot blows up, your hand is not good. It’s best suited to pick off bluffs and to protect your calling range (since you’re also calling with unpaired hands).
Middle pair with 2 card backdoor-flush and low end 2 card straight draws. This is a hand I might have reraised preflop. But if I didn’t, I’m likely raising it now. The potential to make three sixes or the backdoor draws add value to this hand in a big pot. Many turn cards add equity to this hand — any spade and any six through deuce. If our opponent calls the flop raise, we will frequently get to bet big on the turn with a decent chance of drawing out when called.
Bottom pair with the nut-flush 2 card draw. Many people raise this hand reflexively, but I prefer to call here. If you get this hand all-in on the flop, you’re likely up against a set or a big overpair — a range against which you are a slight dog.
[Gapped Low pairs, between middle pair and low pair, such as 55 or 44] 
This is the type of hand I fold. There’s a small amount of showdown value, but that’s it. The draw isn’t strong enough to risk a big pot. And it can’t handle a second bet. I also fold hands that need 2 cards to complete a straight or flush.
Backdoor 2 card flush and 2 card straight draws with an over card. I would likely call. The backdoor draws mean a lot of turn cards will justify aggression. I’m defending a hand this weak because I have the structural advantage (position), and in most cases I’m not going to let this pot go without a fight. ♠
About Flop Textures part 1 part 2