Archive

Archive for the ‘Poker’ Category

Grinding Hard & The Mental Game of Poker

May 9, 2012 1 comment

Just over a week into the month and things are looking pretty good. My friend Dave and I made a bet with each other to help motivate us to put in some solid volume. My side of the bet is to play 150k hands this month which was already one of my goals but a little added incentive can’t hurt. Dave’s is to play 60k hands (his is lower for various reasons). The bet is won if one of us hits their goal and the other doesn’t; if neither or both make it it’s a wash. At stake is $500 to the winner and $500 to a charity of their choice. I felt comfortable when the bet was made but then went through a few days of “oh noes” when it dawned on me that a) I was already behind pace and b) the most hands I have ever played in a month was around the 130k mark – and that was a December month with SNE waiting for me at the end of the tunnel. Now though I am back feeling comfortable for a few reasons:

  • I have already played 30k hands and while this is slightly behind pace, I only need to get in slightly over 5k hands per day. Totally doable.
  • I have no travel plans for the month and no significant time consuming events coming up.
  • I’m feeling really good about my game and my health both physically and mentally – this is one month I don’t envision getting burned out in.
MTD May 9th 2012

Month to Date

Going into a bit more detail on that last point – I have been eating exceptionally healthy for the last few days and plan to cut out alcohol entirely for the rest of the month. Both of these add up to having far more poker energy and will help me stay alert at the tables for longer. In addition to this I have been working my way through The Mental Game of Poker by Jared Tendler. It’s a fantastic book. It’s not the easiest read – in fact I have hadThe Mental Game of Poker it downloaded on my iPad for a few months and it took my most recent and most concerted effort to get the book to stick. It’s not a book that you can just read cover to cover and expect to get help out of. There are exercises, writing tools, processes and learning models that require constant work. It’s worth it.

I now begin every poker session with a short warm-up which constitutes of getting myself into the right state of mind and looking over some pre-written notes about my overall game plan. I end sessions with a short cool down which is logging my results into a spreadsheet with a few ratings on my play and comments of the session. I focus more on keeping my attention on the tables and not on twitter, skype or reddit. 2p2 being down is certainly helping in this regard. I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what is possible by applying the techniques within The Mental Game of Poker and am already noticing a marked improvement in my play. My results have been pretty good too but as they are subject to great variance I am learning to apply less weighting on day to day results and more on how well I play.

In other news it’s that time of year again at PokerStars and the SCOOP (Spring Championship of Online Poker) is upon us. Day 3 has just completed and I’ve only played two events – but all the omaha ones are yet to come and I don’t plan to miss any of them. I’ll make another post detailing my schedule a bit more. I also get to host two events as a part of my role as a part of team online – I will be hosting event #24 PLO 1R1A ($11/$109/$1,050) and event #36 PLO 6-max ($55/$530/$5,200). The structure is great in that anyone can give the SCOOP a shot starting out with their low events – so jump in and I’ll see you at the final table!

Poker Update: April Roundup + May Goals

May 2, 2012 2 comments

It’s been too long since my last one of these. April was a pretty good month all things considered. I almost exclusively played 2/4 and 3/6 and while I didn’t run too well, things could certainly have been worse. I felt like I was playing really well and my game is as good as it has ever been.

MTD April 2012

I’m going into May wanting it to be an epic month – mostly in terms of volume but hopefully with results to follow. Day 1 got off to a great start with me putting in almost 8k hands – not a pace I expect to sustain but I would be happy with anything north of 5k/day average for the month. On that note I should come up with some goals. I was reading an article earlier that mentioned a person is considerably more likely to follow through with goals they set if a) they are tangible (ie “I will play 150k hands” and not “I will play more”) and b) if there is a sense of accountability. That accountability can come from anywhere – a bet with a friend, a training partner, friends/family or in my case, the blogosphere. The thought behind it is that if you put your goals out there and have other people know what they are you are far more likely to follow through and succeed because there is an inherent desire within people to want to please others / not disappoint others. So, on that note, goals!

  • 150k hands of poker
  • 8 poker videos (5-6 for UltimateGrinders and 2-3 for PokerStrategy)
  • Follow through with C25K – I’ve been out of shape and inactive for too long and this seems like a good way to get going again

That’s it. I’ve found making too many goals is unrealistic and results in me trying to spread myself too thin and ending up not getting anything done. If I can do the above 3 i’ll be very happy and will look at adding something new for June.

Hope everyone else had a good April and I wish you all good luck for May 🙂

Categories: Poker Tags: , , ,

PokerStars Team Online!

March 30, 2012 8 comments

This post is coming from a very good place – I have been asked to become a part of Team PokerStars – Specifically the “Team Online” subdivision (I accepted, naturally). This has been a goal of mine for a long time now – originally it was to be sponsored by a website and then it became more specific to be sponsored by Stars. Part of the reason they chose me is because of this blog and the following it has gathered, so a very big thank you to everyone reading this right now. I must say that when I began this blog I had dreams of it becoming large enough to garner notice but it was always more of a pipe dream than something that seemed realistic.

I’m honoured and humbled to have been asked to be a part of PokerStars Team Online and will do my very best to represent my position with the site both here in the Australia & New Zealand region as well as around the rest of the world both online and off.

I was asked to answer a few questions regarding this Team Online assignment and I think snippets of the answers will be posted on the PokerStars.com Blog but I’ll post the full responses here for those interested in what becoming a part of team online means to me + what I hope to achieve being on the team:

PokerStars Team Online

1. How do you feel about becoming a member of Team PokerStars Online?
I feel incredibly humbled and honoured to have been chosen to be a part of Team PokerStars Online. It has been a dream of mine for a while now and to actually see it come true is an incredible feeling.

 

2. What do you hope to bring to the game of poker in ANZ?
Currently the main game of poker is No Limit Hold’Em with PLO being a distant second. It is like this in most places in the world but I would like to close the gap between the two and bring more popularity to the wonderful game of PLO. I truly believe that the game is more fun, complex, interesting and challenging and that all poker players should learn to play it.

 

3. What can we expect from you in 2012?
In 2012 I hope to continue to advance as a poker player putting in a lot of volume on PokerStars.com eventually leading up to reaching SNE for the third year in a row. I’d love to work away from the tables as well on increasing the popularity of PLO both in the ANZ region and worldwide.

 

4. How do you think your blog readers will react to the signing?
My blog readers have been incredibly supportive ever since its creation over a year ago. I believe they will be happy for me and eager to see what I can and will do with my new position as a part of the team. I appreciate and value the support of my blog readers incredibly highly.

 

5. If the public should know one thing about Roy Bhasin the man, what would it be? And how about GodlikeRoy the poker player?

 

As a man it would be that I am always eager to try new things and expand my horizons. Whether it be travelling to a new place, eating a new type of food, attempting a new activity or anything in-between. Much in the same veign as that the one thing about me as a poker player is that I am always trying to adapt and am open-minded about all forms and types of poker. I will play try any variant, any format (tournament, cash, SNG) and any number of players (FR, 6max, HU) as well as all ranges of starting stack sizes. I find this approach to poker more interesting and it allows me to stay fresh at all times.  Basically, I just love poker.
So there you have it! As you can imagine this is an incredibly exciting time in my life and a great opportunity for me. I’ll be making a few more posts in the upcoming weeks about what else I have been up to over here along with a well overdue poker update. There is also an upcoming promotion for those in Australia that will be revealed in the coming weeks which I will be a part of – stay tuned 🙂 Hope everyone is well! Cheers!
Edit: Here’s a link to the article on the PokerStars Blog

2012 Aussie Millions Recap + A Restaurant Review: The Atlantic

February 13, 2012 3 comments

That time of year has come and gone again where pros and recreational players from all around Australia (+ those game enough to travel from anywhere else in the world) came together for the Aussie Millions Poker Championship in Melbourne. It’s always a different experience for everyone who comes: some grind a tonne of cash, some play all the tourneys, some just the Main Event and others stop by just for the fun non-poker related activities. For me and the group of friends I was staying with it was mostly a few tourneys + a lot of non-poker related fun. This included a bunch of fantastic meals, a trip to the aquarium and a road trip to Philip Island to see the penguin parade not to mention some more off the beaten track Melbourne exploration. Well I say “off the beaten track” but in reality it was still all very central and beatenly tracky. The thing is — at least when it comes to poker players — anything further than a 5 minute walk away from the casino is basically the outback. So we hopped on our kangaroos and discovered (or re-discovered where others had told us to go, and by others i mean the internet) a few funky bars and one particularly awesome coffee/breakfast joint (ok, this one was recommended by a real person, thanks to Jay “seabeast” Kinkade for recommending it on 2p2!).

We had rented a 3br apartment across the road from Crown where we all stayed. It was Puneet and I, Gavin (Gavz101) and his gf Olivia, Mike (gordo16) and his lady friend Emma and Daniel (he plays euro sites so he has no screen name) and his female counterpart, his 27″ monitor.

Puneet and I were only there for eight days, as were most of the others, so that in itself didn’t leave for a lot of time to fit in cash games, tournaments + other stuff. I personally restricted myself to two tournaments and zero cash games. It wasn’t so much a planned restriction but when there were other amazing and more fun things to do the prospect of grinding live poker just wasn’t high on the list. Besides, I was able to at least muster together the motivation to put in a few hours playing online each day. Daniel and I found ourselves waking up at 7-8am most mornings, walking down to St. Ali for some breakfast + amazing coffee then returning home to put in a few hours of poker. Those sessions definitely stemmed my already limited desires to play live cash.

I played the $5k Chinese poker event as well as the $2.5k PLO. I failed to cash in either but both were fun events and I had swapped 5% with both Daniel and Mike who placed 6th and 7th respectively in the PLO. Also congrats to Mike for placing 2nd in the Chinese poker tourney. I forget Mike, did you get a trophy for that? (excuse the inside joke). The only other notable result was Gavz bubbling the main event by a handful of spots.

On the food and drink side of things we managed to hit up quite a few places: Flower Drum, Spice Temple, Movida, Movida Aqui, Lucky Chan, The Atlantic and St. Ali. I’d like to review them all but that would take forever so I’ll start with one or two and add the rest either as smaller/quicker reviews and/or will post them later as I have more time. Let’s start with The Atlantic:

The Atlantic is a restaurant specialising in seafood (surprise surprise) within Crown along the Southbank side. I went here three times, all for lunch, and all were excellent. In addition to the restaurant part of the venue they also have an oyster bar and a downstairs cocktail lounge called The Den. I didn’t try either but Puneet and Emma went to the cocktail lounge one night while Mike and I were in tourneys for a drink and said it was very nice. Despite not trying the oyster bar per se, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to order oysters off the menu each time I went. They had four options: Cowell Bay (South Australia), Duck Bay (Tasmania), Cloudy Bay (Tasmania) and Moreton Island Rock (New South Wales). They varied in flavour and texture but all were excellent, very fresh, and perfectly shucked.

Oysters at The Atlantic

Oysters at The Atlantic

The food was consistently very good. Twice we ordered individual dishes and the third time we ordered a bunch of their sharing plate options, the food was great in all instances. The Smoked Slow Roasted Quail with grilled figs, rocket salad, quail egg and blasamic jus gras was my favourite starter and of all the mains that I had and tried the Steamed Wild Barramundi with confit fennel, blood orange, fennel foam and pink peppercorn powder was the best. Drinks went off without a hitch too with all the wine we ordered being great not to mention the excellent cocktails. I’ll give the food & drink an 8.5/10.

Steamed Barramundi from The Atlantic

Steamed Barramundi from The Atlantic

Service was a bit of a mixed bag. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t exceptional either. A couple of times we had to wait exceptionally long to place our orders or ask for something else but for the most part it was decent enough. On one occasion our waiter or the manager deduced we were poker players and it was a lunch right before the Chinese poker event Mike and I were playing so he immediately ran to ask the kitchen to rush our food out – that was a nice touch. Overall I give the service a 7.5/10.

The Ambiance of the restaurant was incredibly pleasant. Everything from the decor, layout, lighting and presentation of the space to the indoor/outdoor seating areas and individual rooms that gave you a very private dining experience worked wonderfully together. I sat in three completely different areas each time we went and none were even close to the others. They have a large space and use it very well — it’s not just one giant seating area with a bunch of tables. It’s far enough away from the gaming floor that you could convince yourself you’re not even at a Casino, especially if you enter from the Southbank side. I give the Ambiance a 9/10.

The Engine Room at The Atlantic

The Engine Room at The Atlantic

Value for money is always a tricky one. You can usually expect to pay a premium for any restaurant located within or in close proximity to a casino (especially one as prestigious as Crown which prides itself on offering high-end dining). The Atlantic is no exception but it certainly doesn’t use this fact as an excuse to unreasonably inflate their prices either which is refreshing. It’s definitely not a cheap eat, or a “cafe style” lunch but for a bit of a splurge and consistently good food it lives up to expectations. I’ve definitely had worse food for the same or more money and comparing it to the other options available in and around Crown it fares well. Oysters will set you back $3.50 to $4.50 each with a dozen ranging from $38 to $48 depending on the variety. Starters hover around the $25-$30 range and most main courses hit around the $40-$45 mark. Exceptions are the crayfish platter or “today’s catch” which are both sold at market price. All things considered I give The Atlantic an 8/10 for value for money. If the food wasn’t as good as it was this number would definitely drop quite quickly.

Verdict: I give The Atlantic a 33/40. If you’re in or near Crown and you like seafood, this is the place to go. I’ll definitely be returning.

After the Aussie Millions we returned home and Gavin and Olivia came too to spend a few days in sunny rainy Sydney. We made it out to the Hunter Valley one night where we hit up some wineries and had an incredible meal at Muse (more on this later). On the one day of sun we had we took full advantage: an afternoon at Bondi Beach, evening hanging out in our local park by the water and by night we had a feast. I BBQ’d some chicken wings then cooked my infamous rib-eye’s inside. Gavz and Liv made one of the best chocolate cakes in existence and Puneet was on cocktail duty. A pretty much perfect night.

Cake & Cocktail Production

Cake & Cocktail Production

I have much more to say and share but for now I’ll wrap this post up. My plans for the immediate future are more online grinding for a week until I head to India for 8 days for a cousin’s wedding. I haven’t been back for a few years (far too long!) and i’m sure the wedding will be amazing so i’m incredibly excited — i’ll have to remember to take plenty of photos and post some up when I return. Hope everyone is well – Cheers!

My Thoughts On Weighted Contributed vs Dealt Rake Methods at PokerStars

December 22, 2011 7 comments

The poker world (or a small subsection of it pertaining to those who play online at PokerStars) is in arms over speculation that a change in the way rewards will be given at Stars is about to happen. There is a tonne of misinformation and uninformed opinions floating around and I’d like to give my thoughts on the topic; hopefully making this post a reference for people wanting to know more about the situation.

I will be unbiased in my opinions and look at the issue from all angles.

First of all it should be noted that as of this post there has been no official statement indicating that any change will be made. There is a lot of evidence that points towards a change being likely though. The entire discussion was sparked by this post by PokerStars Steve in the Supernova Elite thread on 2p2:

I plan to announce VIP Program changes by December 17th. Any changes to rake and offering planned for early January may be announced then or may be announced later.

There aren’t any new VIP levels planned. The only possible change for .com that would be considered major would involve changing away from the dealt method of assigning VPPs.

No, I have no further information to provide prior to the final announcement of changes.

http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/showpost.php?p=30267568&postcount=8921

Due to whatever reasons over at Stars, the changes were delayed, and have yet to be posted. We can expect them any day now.

The following was then sent in an email to affiliates of Stars:

CHANGES TO THE CALCULATION OF AFFILIATE REVENUE SHARE COMMISSION FOR 2012 

      On January 1, 2012, we will be changing the way we calculate revenue share for affiliates. When calculating revenue for commission purposes, instead of rake being split between all players dealt into the hand, rake will now be calculated based on the players who contribute to the pot. This has been updated in the Terms and Conditions, which you can review at:

https://www.pokerstarspartners.com/public/about/termsAndConditions.html 

This is currently all the information that has been given to us by Stars. It does indicate that they are contemplating making a change from dealt to weighted contributed but nothing is certain yet. We also don’t know if any other changes are planned or what they might be (though once again we can speculate).

First of all let me emphasize that the above email indicates that the change is strictly for affiliate based commission.

Stars is different to FTP and most other sites in that there is no directly proportional relationship between the amount of rake paid and the rewards received by either party. For “rakeback” in all other sites the amount of money is paid to the affiliate and they then give a percentage of that to the player. So if the affiliate gets less, the player gets less. This has never been the case with Stars due to their VIP program. It has ensured that affiliates get paid separately and any rewards to the players are given straight from Stars.

Affiliates have always received a flat percentage of rake back paid by the player under the dealt method. This is now changing to contributed. I won’t go into whether this is good/bad/fair/unfair on the affiliate end of things in this post as I assume most people are more interested in how any possible changes might effect them and the games they play.

Before I go on let me explain the differences between the dealt method and the weighted contributed method. These are not methods of calculating the rake paid into a pot but rather methods of calculating the rewards received based on the rake paid. Under the current dealt system every seated player at a table who is dealt cards receives the same amount of rewards as everyone else at the table for every hand that is played.

For instance at a 2/4 6max PLO table if everyone folds except the blinds who each end up putting their stacks in then the total rake is $3 (the cap). This number is then multiplied by 5.5 to arrive at the total number of VPPs given to the table which is 16.5. Divide that by the number of people dealt in and you get 2.75 VPPs per player for that hand.

Under the weighted contributed system the only people who would receive points would be the people who put money into the pot, and they receive points based on the % of money they put into the pot. In the above scenario assuming each blind put in the same amount they would receive 8.25 VPPs each and everyone else at the table would receive zero.

There is no arguing that a weighted contributed system is more fair than a dealt method. Why should someone who folds most their hands receive the same amount of rewards as someone who plays every hand (and thus pays most of the rake)? The system has been flawed since it’s inception and almost every other poker site has changed to a weighted contributed system and I think Stars is going to do that now.

What does this mean for you as a player? For almost everybody it will result in a decrease in rewards / rakeback. The tighter you are, the more you will lose. Some people are under the impression that since they play a bit looser than most people they will actually benefit from this change, and this is untrue for most people. The exact figures won’t be known until some time after the changes (if made) are made but based on people’s experiences on other sites when similar switches happened you can expect a noticeable decrease.

A question that comes up a lot is “If they’re taking money from the nits and giving it to the fish then that sounds good to me. Why is that bad? How would Stars profit from it?”

They profit from a discrepancy in rewards occurring by giving less VPPs to the tight regulars and more VPPs to the loose fish. For every VPP you get you get a certain number of FPPs depending on your VIP club level. A supernova elite gets 5x as many and a supernova gets 3.5x as many. Gold, silver and bronze star get less.

The weighted contributed system will result in fewer VPPs being awarded to the tighter players and more being rewarded to the looser players. Since the tight players are far more likely to be regulars and have a higher VIP level, each VPP they lose will be worth more than each VPP gained by the looser players who are more likely to be fish and/or casual players with lower FPP multipliers.

The tighter players are also far more likely to spend their FPPs on the rewards that give them the highest return (ie the $4k bonus for 250k points) whereas the fish are more likely to use the points on lower rate cash bonuses and assorted items from the store.

There’ll definitely be a slight boost to their BRs from being able to hit additional stellar rewards bonuses that they wouldn’t have under the dealt system but I think this is fairly negligible in the grand scheme of things.

There isn’t a direct redistribution if the only change was to be to weighted contributed. The discrepancy in funds is pocketed by Stars.

What remains to be seen is what (if anything) will be done with that money. It’s possible that they will make some changes in the VIP program so that the money is redistributed back to the players in some way or form. I am hopeful for this to happen. If this happens it is unlikely to work out to be exactly the same as before and will affect every person differently. My best guess is that the tightest players will notice an overall drop in rewards, the middle of the range TAGs/LAG regulars will end up somewhere around neutral, possibly slightly down, and the fish and looser than average regulars might see a slight increase.

If there is an overall loss in money given back to the players I hope that it isn’t enormous (which it would be if they simply switch to WC and make no other changes). I also hope that some (all?) of that money is at least spent in areas that will be beneficial to the games. Marketing to bring new players to the site and promotions to redistribute the money back into the poker economy are two that come to mind.

Either way we just have to wait and see what happens. There are three likely scenarios in my mind:

  1. Everything stays as it is.
  2. A switch to WC with no other changes.
  3. A switch to WC with tweaks in the VIP program so that players are compensated in a more “fair” manner.

I think #3 is the most likely to happen. It’s a slightly optimistic viewpoint but I have faith.

Some people seem to think that if a direct change to WC is made then the quality of games will improve. I disagree with this. Based on empirical evidence from when this has happened on other sites, games did not improve.

If a 24 tabling player takes a 20% hit in their rewards/profits, will they just give up poker? Unlikely. They will either increase their volume by 20% or play fewer tables and focus their attention on beating the game rather than raking in the RB. Neither scenario results in softer games.

Regardless of what happens there is no need to panic. Like any change in life you take the information given to you and make the best decisions you can. Hope for the best. plan for the worst. Start thinking about what would happen if they make a direct change to WC and make some contingency plans if you had previously planned to grind on stars and make a large amount of your profits from RB.

Someone posted an awesome youtube clip that is somewhat relevant (and it’s just a great clip in general):

A Poker Update, HEM 2, More Wine, ooh a shiny iPad and TED

December 9, 2011 2 comments

December is upon us. For most December is a month of merryment; you get a nice break from the working grind, Father Christmas comes to visit, perhaps there’s a big new years eve party and a chance to make resolutions (that are almost sure to fail) for the year ahead. Depending on what part of the world you hail from there’ll be pudding, eggnog, a seafood feast; a tree with lights, presents, a Menorah, or a pole commemorating a festivus for the rest of us. The air smells of cinnamon and even the grinchiest of grinches can usually find a reason to be chipper. It’s great.

For most SNE grinders however you get none of that. You are faced with a mountain of VPPs to climb. Games get tougher and VPP rates hit the decline. Sleep is eluded and all of a sudden caffeine and energy drinks become a much bigger part of life. Christmas is now a “damn distraction, I’ll have to play an extra 30 minutes every other day to compensate”. New years offers a faint light at the end of the tunnel, that is unless you’ve literally left things to the last minute and are blitzing through the final points as fireworks explode outside your window (this actually happened in at least one instance where a poor soul fell short of the millionth point in a tragedy that rivals that of Romeo and Juliet).

So where do I stand? Closer to the former situation than the latter, thankfully, but this December is still not as painless as one would want it to be. Here’s my VPP count:

VPP Count Dec 9th 2011

Not too bad. Not great, but not bad. Certainly not as bad as a certain JoeIngram1 who entered the month with ~450k points to go. My goal is to finish by the 19th which requires a touch over 10k points a day. I’m falling slightly short of that each day so I can expect to finish around the 21st, still much more reasonable than my 2pm January 1st AEST photo finish of last (this?) year. Once completed I plan to take a solid two week hiatus from the tables ready to come back fresh in the new year.

Here’s my play over the last month or so shown in the new and shiny Holdem Manager 2 (Omaha Manager really, but it’s still widely referred to as HEM):

Graph Dec 9th 2011

Overall things are peachy. There were a few nasty days in there and a couple of bad stretches but nothing out of this world. It’s always nice when your results line and AIEV lines converge at the end of the day.

My thoughts on HEM 2 in general are pretty negative. I like a few features and it does seem faster in terms of import speed and pulling up big reports for hundreds of thousands or millions of hands but overall it still has a buggy, clunky feeling to it. The HUD doesn’t feel right and I wouldn’t advise upgrading just yet. I still use HEM 1 as my main program and only import the hands over to this version every few days. One cool feature I will mention is the Multi Table Report. It essentially breaks down your hands played into the number of tables (from 1 to x in increments of 1) so you can see if there’s a “tipping point” where your play starts to really deteriorate or if you would be better off z tabling to y tabling.

2010 Mike Press Cab Sav

Moving on from poker now a quick review / recommendation on a recent wine purchase. If you’re looking for an inexpensive but fantastic every day red that will drink greatly now and also cellar for several years then you can’t go past the 2010 Mike Press Cabernet Sauvignon. You can pick up a dozen for $150 through WineStar including delivery and freight insurance (in metro areas). Rather than attempting to post my own tasting notes and likely making a mockery of both myself and the wine, I will quote James Halliday:

A wine that underlines the flexibility of the Mike Press vineyard, small though it may be. Bright crimson; has the elegance that has marked the Mike Press wines since day one, and the irresistible price; fragrant blackcurrant fruit is the driver, cedary oak and fine tannins bring up the rear in fine style. From estate vines now 13 years old. 94 points, $14, Screwcap, 14% alc. From Adelaide Hills, SA.bDrink to 2017 with lamb backstrap. James Halliday Top 100 2011

At $12.50 a bottle it’s a steal.

Last but not least for this entry I must thank my wonderful girlfriend for my shiny new toy, the apple iPad, that she got me for our anniversary a couple of days ago. When it first came out I wasn’t too wowed by it and I didn’t make any sort of fuss about wanting to get one or anything. Then my mum got one, and I used it a bit and started playing around with it, and I was hooked. It was (and is) awesome. I’m still getting used to it and am filling it with content and finding out more about it but it’s already blowing my mind. I welcome app recommendations so if anyone has any please let me know! I already have Infinity Blade to fulfill my gaming needs but two other apps I must recommend are TED and Air Video. Air Video simply lets you stream content straight from your PC to your iPad without the need for converting file formats (it converts the files as they are played). It’s fantastic.

If you don’t know what TED is then I highly recommend checking out their website. Quoting their “about” page, this is what TED is:

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

The TED app focuses on TEDTalks:

TEDTalks began as a simple attempt to share what happens at TED with the world. Under the moniker “ideas worth spreading,” talks were released online. They rapidly attracted a global audience in the millions. Indeed, the reaction was so enthusiastic that the entire TED website has been reengineered around TEDTalks, with the goal of giving everyone on-demand access to the world’s most inspiring voices.

I highly recommend checking out their videos. A couple of my favourites:

Starting with a talk on why video games are good for kids / the world!

This is a really cool one on the topic of massive-scale online collaboration:

Lastly, some of you might remember my post on the Khan Academy from a few months back. Well here he is talking on TED:

Best of luck to my fellow SNE grinders. See you on the other side.

Hand Analysis – A river check-raise

November 15, 2011 6 comments

Someone posted a comment on my last entry asking for me to pick out a big or interesting hand and then analyse it, so that’s what this entry is all about. Now a “big and interesting” hand is certainly open to interpretation but I decided that “big” would be anything where each player puts in 100bbs or more in the pot and “interesting” would be something out of the ordinary (like a river check-raise which is not a common occurrence).

Now some people will surely find this hand standard (as I do now) but hopefully it will help others to progress from the stage of thinking about the hand and decision to being able to consider in standard and a second nature decision.

Anyway, here’s the hand in question — my opponent was a standard TAG (tight-aggressive) regular:

Preflop: Folding is not an option pre with a hand as strong as ours. Our options are to call or 3-bet. I elected to call as I prefer to play tighter rather than looser when OOP and the 2 dangler in our hand is less than ideal. I wouldn’t blame someone for 3betting this hand but I believe calling is slightly better.

Flop: We have several options on this flop. We can lead (as we did), check-call, or check-raise. Check-folding is too weak with a hand as strong as ours. So why did I decide to lead? Essentially I felt that it was the lesser of all evils. Our hand isn’t a powerhouse but it isn’t totally weak either — it is strong enough to want to put more money in the pot and both check-calling and check-raising are unappealing options.

Turn: Having led the flop and seeing the SB check the turn we want to continue to put pressure on him by betting the turn. This serves as getting value out of worse hands as well as protecting our hand from the myriad of possible draws out there.

River: This is the most interesting street of all in my opinion. When the SB checks to us we have to make a decision, bet or check. Our hand looks strong both in relative and absolute terms so our inclination is to bet. And betting is correct. We are betting for value with our hand as we hope to be called by a worse hand and we never assume to fold out a better one (ie a bluff). What hands can our opponent call us with? Given he check-called the flop and turn and then checked the river his most likely hand is a draw that missed and thus will fold to a bet. However sometimes his draw will contain a pair that he will decide to hero call with. He might have KKxx with clubs. He might have AQJT with a picked up gutshot on the turn. He might have 2xxx with clubs that made it to the river. He might have slowplayed aces. Regardless, there are a lot of hands he could potentially call us with that we are ahead of. So we bet.

Then we get raised. We didn’t expect to get raised when we bet. Sometimes when we’re playing a lot of tables and make a standard valuebet on the river we think nothing of it and go on to act on another table, and only when we look back at this table we see the check-raise and notice that it was unexpected. It is unexpected because our opponent “should” never have a hand that can check-raise this river. He is either check-raising for value or check-raising as a bluff and it is now up to us to use our 30 second time bank to decide which it is and make the correct decision. To do this we must rely on our hand reading abilities. This is a very easy hand and river decision in my opinion and I will explain why.

Let’s look at every hand that we lose to.  We lose to QQxx, 88xx and 66xx. We tie with Q2xx. We beat all other hands. So let’s now see how likely it is for our opponent to have any of those hands:

QQxx — For our opponent to have QQxx he must have the case two queens (as the board contains one and we have the other) but even more importantly than that he must have check-called our flop bet on a flush draw board with top set with UTG+1 left to act behind him (thus giving him good odds to outdraw him). This isn’t impossible as some players sometimes slowplay big hands (even in situations that they shouldn’t). However he then check-calls the turn, an 8, which puts more draws on the board. This to me seems highly unlikely a move for any player to do. Whether he is an aggressive shark or a passive fish or anything in between, almost every player will at the least check-raise the turn if they had taken such a passive line on the flop. So now that the river falls and he check-raises it is very difficult for him to ever have QQxx in that spot, let alone check-raise with it (he may have elected to lead that hand instead). So we call.

The same logic can be applied to 66xx except if we go back a street to pre-flop we can deduce that it is even less likely for him to hold a hand with two sixes in it as he cold-called a raise out of the small blind and there aren’t many hands containing 66 that would call from that position.

It is even MORE difficult to put our opponent on 88xx than either QQxx or 66xx as we now have to assume that not only did he call a raise from the small blind with a hand that contains two eights but that he also check-called the flop with a hand that has an underpair to the board with one person left to act behind. There are very few hands that can fit this criteria, the only ones coming to mind being those with flush draws and usually high flush draws. And even if he does check-call the flop with a hand that happens to have 88 in it and then he does happen to check the turn, he then has to elect not to put in a raise when we bet again. The rest of the hand uses the logic from the above examples but the basic gist of it is that it is extremely unlikely that our opponent will ever have us beat on this river and because of that we should call — as I did — and it will almost always be correct.

Sometimes you will play against opponents who are flippant in the way they play hands and it is more difficult to put them on hands than your regular, thinking opponent (who will use logic to make most of their decisions) and you must adjust your play according to your opponent but I believe that almost all villains you come up against will at least play some hands in a similar fashion and certain patterns can be learned from watching their play.

Categories: Poker