Thursday, 31 March 2016

[Poker] Goals for April 2016

After the negativity of writing the last one, I'm looking forward to this. I'm going to adjust the format of this, mostly just to make it a bit easier on myself, but also to add an element of focus. Last month I wanted to do quite a lot in every branch of my game, which I think was a big factor in me failing at every branch. I think from now on I'll focus in on one large broad goal, and have some other less important side goals. Before I discuss my goals for April, it's important to mention that I have a month off to study for my exams in May, so that'll be what takes up most of my time for the next 2 months. My goals this month will reflect that.

1) Studying - As this is going to be a mostly studying month, I'll treat poker the same way. I will massively skew my time this month towards post session review and off-table studying to compensate for last month. This will involve two things primarily, I will finish reading PLOQuickPro, and make myself a set of notes on the important concepts. I will also go through and review every single VPP hand from last month, of which there are about 3000. This is about 100 hands a day (maths degree finally paying off), and I imagine the majority are steal and cbet or defend and miss OOP, so most will be fairly quick to review so this won't take me long. I want to use this to identify patterns in my own game to pinpoint the issues I faced. If I manage to finish both of these, I'll start using my studying time by watching PLO videos, or by reading another book.

2) Mental Game - I have a suspicion a lot of the reason I went on such a bad downswing was because of tilt. I began to read TMGOP, and I reached the point where all of the tilt concepts were explained, but I hadn't read anything about how to deal with them. I will read both of his books this month. I am quite a fast reader, and in total this is about 400 pages left, so I think it is very doable. This seems to important to ignore as a couple of times this month (including my final session a couple of hours ago) I felt tilted, actively identified that I was on tilt, debated making a hero call with two pair on a wet board, realised that I was never good here and I was only considering calling because I was on tilt. And then I called. This is just ridiculous and evidently I need to stop.

3) Actual Poker - I'm not setting a goal for profits or EV this month. However I am considering making one big change - switching to normal PLO tables from ZOOM. This is made a bit more difficult with the shitty laptop, but I am going to invest in a monitor to connect to the laptop and be able to play more tables comfortably that way. I also want to decide how I want to multitable through experimenting between tiling, stacking and cascading. I am determined to prioritise the other goals this month and not just spend my small amounts of free time grinding without any review or improvement. The actual goal here is to become more comfortable playing standard tables and then make a more informed decision about which to play.

4) Timetable - I will have to strictly timetable my revision next month, and each day I plan on devoting 90-120 minutes to poker, depending on how long it takes me to get my work done. How the time will be divided exactly I don't know yet, but poker will be a part of it, and the elements of poker I want to work on will be timetabled too. 

5) More regular blog posting - With me going back through hand histories, I will select the most interesting hands and write about them more regularly. Depending on timetabling, I will either aim to post a hand history with review either every day or every other day. The main reason I do this is because it forces me to be correct - I really don't like the idea of publicly stating an incorrect opinion (although I'm sure I do it constantly!) so I go into a lot of detail with the hand and make sure I've looked at it from every angle and used PJ to its full potential with it. I'll save the most difficult and interesting spots for this.

6) PokerJuice - there are two main PJ goals I have. The first one being to completely understand everything it does, as right now I'd say I am fluent at using 70% of the features. PJ is just so amazingly invaluable to the modern day PLO player I'd be putting myself at a disadvantage to not use everything it offers. The other goal is to use their forums more - never in my life have I spoken to such a helpful, friendly and patient group as the people who comment on hand histories in the PJ Club on Most importantly, most of them seem to be (in my experience) coaches so they articulate their points very well, and don't just tell you an answer, they explain why and allow you to take the information on board into your own game. There is absolutely no reason as to why I wouldn't go here as my first port of call if I can't solve a problem myself. I will be writing a more extensive review at the end of the month of PJ once I am 100% unconsciously competent using all of the features. 

7) Don't go broke.

So, to summarise, the large broad goal this month is to spend more time learning the game whilst not gambling. There is so much information and software at my disposal it feels a bit stupid to play another hand without processing all of it. 

That's it from me today. I'm going away again in a few days so I may not reappear for a while. Once I do I'll be posting regular hand history reviews.

Hopefully see you next time! Seacombe

[Poker] March 2016 Review

March 2016, in terms of personal satisfaction, was probably the worst poker month I've had, definitely in my PLO time. There are several reasons for this, the main one disappointly being the most obvious - I just haven't played all that well. Below is my graph for March 2016, playing about 9000 hands of PLO2 Zoom, and about 1000 of PLO2.
There are a few reasons I think I underperformed so much this month. The first one being that I went back home to Liverpool for about a week, which killed my rhythm as I had a lot less time to play. The second being that I was trying to adapt to playing twice the amount of hands I was previously, which gave me half the thinking time I had previously, and I ended up losing a lot of money making elaborate bluffs that didn't really make sense, and I usually realise quite quickly in post review that they didn't make sense. I could use the bad variance as a factor for doing so poorly, but my EV graph isn't exactly good either, so I don't think thats valid. Going through the goals individually (which were discussed in the earlier post, Goals for March 2016);

1) I did not make profit this month. Rakeback softened the blow so I didn't lose quite as much as the graph suggests, but the goal was profit and I didn't achieve that. However, I disagree that profit should be a goal here in hindsight, +EV should be the goal, but I failed that too. 

2) This is a more interesting one. Again, I failed in making profit, however I definitely feel I adapted towards the end to playing two tables. At about 4k hands I felt very comfortable with it. However, I went on a bit of a downswing and I don't think I ever completely recovered from it in terms of my mental game, and my decision making speed suffered, and I began to almost unadapt. 

3) I half succeeded with this, in the sense I've read half of both. I may have been slightly optimistic with me reading two books, playing regularly, going and spending time with family and also doing all of my university work, of which there's a huge amount at the moment as I come up to exam period.

4) I feel this was successful, I'm now quite comfortable with both PJ and PT, and both are utterly fantastic. I remember when reading about PT I saw people saying the HUD was the least valuable part of it, which I found strange because it was the primary reason I bought it. I now 100% agree with this statement, it is fantastic software for post session review. PokerJuice I can see being the best investment I've ever made. I'll talk more about these in another post.

5) Funnily enough, I actually did this, which is quite ironic considering its the one I was convinced I wouldn't do, and it ended up being one of the few I did.

6) With rakeback, I'm still fairly well rolled at about 25BI. Not ideal, but it'll do for now. 

There are some important messages I need to take from this month, the main one being that playing sporadically whenever I have time is not profitable for me. I need a schedule to follow, with both time for play and review. I need to strictly timetable my playing, or I won't succeed. I also need to devote more time to review than I currently am, as the past couple of weeks I've hardly had any poker time and it was review that lost out, I just really wanted to play. I need to plan for lost time and reduce both evenly as oppose to just fucking off my review time and grinding. 

Okay, so that's the negative bit done. I have two more posts to write today, both of which should be really positive and optimistic.

Hopefully see you next time! Seacombe

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

[Poker] Hand #2 - Mistakes with Aces

The more time I spend reviewing hands, ranging opponents, looking at equities and implied odds etc etc, the more I realise one thing - bad folds are just as costly EV wise as bad calls. To a seasoned poker veteran this seems like a very obvious concept, and is one I was certainly accepting of, but until properly intense review using PokerJuice I didn't realise just quite how costly it can be. The hand I want to discuss today is a spot where I made some very -EV plays, which at the time multitabling making snap decisions seemed quite standard, but upon review it was a costly mistake. 
Note: I've decided all hand reviews I do from this point onwards will be displayed in big blinds. This is more for my own personal benefit than anything as I need to get into the habit of thinking in big blinds. 
We have double suited aces in the small blind. A player who is playing a 25/18 raises UTG. My only reads on the player so far are that he plays very aggressively when he has the betting lead, apart from that he seems to be a very standard player. I elected to 3bet here, which is about the only decision I made in this hand that I actually like - it serves well to both get as much money in with our powerful hand as possible, and also reduces the SPR, which reduces our positional disadvantage. However, it does come with the drawback of playing bloated pots out of position on scary board textures, which we will see, as he elects to call. 

The flop is interesting. We have the nut flush draw, but the board is already paired in a way that I thought hits his range very very hard. I decided to bet small here, just over 1/3 of the pot, to try and bluff massive value. This is the first decision I don't like, because in doing this I'm pricing him in to call with wraps, a ten, or a complete float looking to bluff the turn. This small bet actually achieves the opposite of what I wanted by keeping his range very wide, as a larger bet wouldn't be called by a float, and a wrap would probably give up too. I would've preferred in hindsight to go about 14 or 15 on this flop, or even check call, which probably represents more strength than a small bet. He calls the small bet and I shudder. 

The turn is a horrid card for me, as it double pairs the board. In my mind at the time, he has to have either a ten or a king here when we consider his preflop range and his flop action. I was content to check-fold this flop, which I don't think is horrible to a large pot committing bet. However, when I checked, he bet less than 1/4 of the pot. I decided this was a bet designed to make me call with my probably quite obvious aces, so I folded. This is a very bad fold for one main reason - it is very unlikely he has a boat or better here. He needs specifically KT (or quads) to have me beat, and there are only four combinations of that left in the deck, so it drastically reduces the odds he has it. Yes he has trips an awful lot of the time, but my pot odds are 5.2:1 against a range I almost certainly have good equity against with my flush draw and 2 outer for a boat. Once I posted this hands on the forums of the lovely people of PokerJuice, Nikolaj calculated, using the PJ RD module, that using a range of trips or better on the turn, he only has a boat 22.29% of the time, and his range is often much wider than that. Check-calling the turn is almost certainly a better play, as I have outs which I'm being laid good odds to hit, and there's a good chance he gives up on the river with any bluffs and I can take it down. 

Pretty small post today because I only really had one message with it - missing out on EV comes in both calling too light and folding too tight. I've been back home on an impromptu visit this week so I've hardly played at all, which was enjoyable but I'm looking forward to getting back to it. Monthly review coming soon (be prepared for a super negative post with that one). I'm also going to write a review of the softwares I've been using, namely PT and PJ (be prepared for a super positive post with that one). 

Hopefully see you next time! Seacombe

Saturday, 5 March 2016

[Poker] Hand #1 - 673BB Pot

I feel like I'm starting to understand what people mean when they say PLO is swingy. I have some serious issues with the way I played this hand, and I'll discuss them at the end.

(Note: I removed HUD stats from the screenshots, this is because I had less than 10 hands on every player and got nothing from the information, so I just felt it was screen clutter)


I'm UTG with double suited kings. I opened for pot (I feel this is fairly standard). I figured this being PLO I'd see some action, but didn't anticipate quite this much. 

We got 3 callers in position on us and then the small blind repots it. OOP, this much aggression into a raise and 3 calls to me just absolutely screams aces - any other premium drawing hand doesn't make sense, as bloating the pot OOP without a made hand potentially against 5 players is an SPR disaster in my opinion. I suppose he could have premium kings but I block that, so I think we can safely say he has aces, probably good ones (again, no real reads on the player, no idea if he's flatting or potting weak aces in this spot). BB folds, back to me. I'm dominated, but I have position, and I have double suited kings, and the chances are I'm going to see more action behind me so I have excellent implied odds, especially as aces have to play it OOP and I estimate he won't have much more than a pot size bet left behind, so it's going in and then I can make the decision. We see 3 more calls.

The flop comes KT5 rainbow, which is just about the best flop I could've hoped for. As predicted, the small blind lead out for about 80% of pot, which to me just enforces the idea he has aces (not that I care much anymore!) as if he'd hit this board in any real way he'd most likely be looking to check-shove to maximise value and not scare away action. Here I elect to just flat call, absolutely terrified of scaring away any action. 

This is where it really gets weird. The guy on my left shoves, and the button flat calls. The shove confuses me, as what could he possibly have that he's so desperate to get the chips in with? I conclude a big wrap or a lower set, maybe a two pair looking to crack aces. I have good equity against that. Then the button just flat calls, as if he's begging me to shove. What could he have? I have no idea, he's representing the hand I have. I conclude also just a set or a big nut wrap. The small blind shoves the remainder of his stack and I flat call. To be honest, this was just a misclick and I leave myself with about $0.30 behind and shove it on the turn and obviously get called. So we go to showdown on the turn, 4 ways; 

I decided to go to the showdown on the flop, as it was going all in on the turn regardless of the card that came out, and the equities are a bit more relevant here. I was right about the small blind, he had strong aces, however he also had a gutterball and a backdoor flush draw. The one who shoved on my left has two pair, which I suppose makes sense as my flat sort of represents a draw or a hand I want to see a turn with and he has aces cracked so there's a good chance he has the best hand. The button has fuck all, a bare gutshot to a non-nut straight and a wrap draw, if that's even a thing. This call is just utterly atrocious, even if he is getting quite good odds he still needs to be good about 25% of the time as he's getting 2.95:1, and is a non-nut gutshot ever 25% here? No. So as is, I need to dodge a queen which I block, or one of the two remaining aces, one of which is held. Luckily I do hold to scoop a massive pot, which brought me right back into the green for the morning.

I have some serious issues with my preflop decision and really cannot decide if calling was right. In my head, I was looking for either a flush draw or a king to shove multiway and give myself good pot odds, but both of my flush draws were dominated. Especially considering how there was a lot of action preflop, people were representing strong hands, a lot of which naturally have kings in them, so I feel a lot of the time I'm drawing nearly dead preflop. Yes I won a huge pot, but this happens almost never in this spot, as I knew I was dominated and that was the best case. I had assumed I'd see more action behind me after I called pre but most of the time am I getting the right odds even then? I decided to ask PokerJuice. 

For Preflop ranges, I gave the small blind AAxx and 2% 3bet OOP, and the other 3 I gave them 12% FI range and excluded 6% 3betIP, as we would've heard about those when I originally raised. I pretty much guessed the ranges as I know nothing about the players, but I'm also completely new to PJ - I'd love to hear what the general rules are for guessing opponent ranges. According to this, I take it down 20%, which for me is an okay call pre, considering the implied odds of having more callers behind me and the almost certain big bet from the small blind on almost any flop. It also suggests to me I was probably unlucky to be dominated in both flush draws, and it's not actually that much of a disaster here due to the low SPR - if I'd hit a good flush draw and been dominated when 500BB deep I imagine I'd have to consider the possibility of someone having the nut draw when the table shows this much aggression, but for my flop odds I don't think its terrible. 
Sorry for the long post, I just wanted to really delve into this and make sure I played it okay, to be honest I'm still not positive I did, but I have arguments as to why I think its fine and explanations for each step and I think that's more important than anything in terms of improving. I'd absolutely love some feedback if anyone has any, especially about PJ ranging - I'm a bit clueless. 

Hopefully see you next time! Seacombe

Friday, 4 March 2016

[Poker] Realisations

Hey guys, quick update. I've played/ran really quite badly over the past few days, and decided to change the way I'm approaching this a bit and prioritise some goals over others. I put the actual poker on the back-burner for a bit and decided to spend a while doing an extensive database review of myself and reading a lot. I learned a few things very quickly;

The Mental Game of Poker is a must - I started reading it this morning after it finally arrived. I got about halfway through it without averting my gaze; it was the most productive poker morning I've most likely ever had. I learned so much about my game, it made me realise a lot of my preconceptions about mental game and emotion were complete bullshit, and that I very seriously needed to re-think how I learn the game. It also made it clear to me I'm overconfident - learning a game as complex as PLO through raw trial and error and reading the scarce available literature is going to lose me a lot of money very quickly. This leads me to my second point;
I'm going to hire a coach - My main issue at the moment is that I struggle to identify my own leaks (I am consciously incompetent in leak finding some might say, cheers Jared) and I think hiring a coach to teach me how to find them would be hugely beneficial in the long run. I'm not decided on who yet, but I do have a name in mind. If anyone has any suggestions feel free to let me know @SeacombePLO or in a comment, I'm looking for someone I can have weekly sessions with over the next year or so and consistently review my game and keep me on the right track.
I found a massive leak - I was exploring the properties of PT4 and found that you could organise your hand database by position. What I saw shocked me.
It's definitely notable to say this is only VPIP hands - this is not including the blinds I've just folded. I think its probably fair to say I'm playing incorrectly out of the blinds, specifically the small blind. Firstly, I'm playing more hands from the small blind than I am the button. With position being everything in PLO, this is just so stupid, as I'm effectively widening my range the worse my situation is. Delving further, I found a lot of these losses were huge pots that I'd either run into the nuts with a second or third nuts type of hand, or I'd blown off huge amounts with elaborate bluffs. I'm actually winning 55% of my VPIP hands from the small blind which is why I'm probably so aggressive, generally I'm winning so it feels profitable, however the times I do lose it ends up being such huge pots that it really isn't correct at all. Observation from this; tighten up from the blinds, don't go crazy OOP. Apart from that I don't think my stats are too crazy, I could maybe do with playing a bit more aggressively from the cutoff but I don't think the other profit numbers can be taken as gospel given the small sample size.
PokerJuice is phenomenal - I spent a few hours the other day really trying to get to grips with everything it can do and I have to say, I spent £215 on the yearly subscription, and it is worth every penny and more. I spent hours just plugging in random hands against random ranges on random flops and I got such a massive insight into PLO equities, which can be very deceptive. I spent about an hour just focused on all AAxx scenarios and I think my game is going to be a lot more solid with this information about how to play with and against them. 

I felt a lot better about being able to approach the game positively tonight than I have done so far this month so decided to sit down on 2 PLO2Z tables. I made a very modest profit of $0.65 over 244 hands. It would've been a lot higher but I got sucked out on in a large pot, which is fine, it happens. I feel like if that'd happened yesterday I would've been bouncing off the walls but I genuinely think TMGOP is already helping me. To be honest, I stopped the session early because I was very keen on turning any form of profit for the session - got a bit sick of seeing red on my PT. I realise writing this that stopping to risk any profit for no reason other than fear of losing it is a very negative approach to the game, but I managed to turn a profit, find a huge leak, made massive mental game progress, not blow up when losing to a 4 outer and finally feel comfortable with two tables. I'm recording today as a massive win for me.

Hopefully see you next time! I'm off to review my last session.