Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sometimes You Are The Pigeon, and Sometimes You Are The Statue

Sheesh, what a week. I finally finished the 1400 raked hands on Party Poker, with markedly different results to the last time.

Unlike the unmitigated success of my last bonus frenzy, I LOST $307 this time, and before you ask, that was net of bonus. So I actually lost $507 at cards and recovered $200 on the bonus.

The crazy thing is, I didn't play any differently to last time. I checked and rechecked my Poker Tracker stats. They rarely deviated from my longer term average:

VPIP about 16%.
PFR about 6%.

If anything that's a little on the tight side, and it certainly doesn't reek of throwing money away in a haphazard fashion. I was also very conscious of position, super tight early, looser later, as you would expect. Every big hand was raised or reraised pre flop. Nobody saw a cheap flop against my AA to TT, AK, or high suited aces. I kept track of the tables I was playing, and on the few occasions where the player mix went from fishy calling stations to rocks and moneybags, I moved on.

So what happened?

Well, there was the usual Party insanity of, for example, guys cold calling raises with the likes of T2s, 53o (!!) and hitting hands like trip 2s on the river, gutshot straights, etc. I managed to lose EIGHT IN A ROW with QQ to this sort of nonsense.

That's to be expected though, and maybe 50% of my big starting hands did hold up. So I probably made money on my big cards overall.

Where it did go horribly wrong was drawing to either the nuts, or close to the nuts, hands. As I said previously, I lost count of the number of times I limped with hands like A9s, or suited connectors, and flopped four flushes, or open ended straights, or both!

These should come in roughly a third of the time - more than 50% of the time where I've got the dual draw.

Over 1400 raked hands I honestly cannot remember a single occasion where I made the nut flush. I made maybe 2 or 3 straights.

This makes a huge difference because, in each of these hands, I am drawing to win a big pot. Usually around $35 to $50 each time. So even hitting a few of these would drag the figures back towards respectability.

I also lost quite a few times betting TPTK into people with overpairs who hadn't raised pre flop, as described in a previous post.

Oddly enough, one of the most sickening hands was one I actually won, well...split.

I'd just taken note of a player who limped from EP, then reraised a big multiway pot pre flop. I'd assumed he had Aces but when it got to showdown he had 94s. I was gobsmacked.

Next hand I get KK. He is to my right and limps. I raise. There are several callers, and the flop is ace free. He bets the flop, and I raise which gets one other caller plus the EP bettor.

He checks the turn, I bet, other bloke calls and he calls.

He checks the river, I bet, other bloke folds and he calls.

I then gleefully turn over KK, fully expecting to take down a juicy pot, and he turns over.....KK!! Unbelievable.

So, where to from here? Well, I'm pretty sure my pre flop play was sound, and I'm equally sure the pot was laying me good odds when I chased those big draws, but I'm wondering how much I can do to improve my post flop play in more marginal situations.

I suspect I may be laying down too many hands of the middle pair top kicker type, to bets or raises.

For example there are people on Party who will two or three bet the flop with a four flush, then fold for a single bet on the river if they miss. I've got a tendency to put these guys on small sets or two pair, rather than a draw, when they start going crazy on the flop.

Because I was on such a bad run, I was consciously trying to fight any tilt type urges, and was habitually laying down my hand in these circumstances where I reckoned someone - not necessarily the raiser - was ahead of me with top pair. It may be, for the bigger pots, I would have been better calling to see another card at least. I think that with MPTK, the odds are something like 4/1 of improving to either trips or two pair by the river, and that could be enough to justify staying in some of these pots.

I'm going to get myself a copy of Poker Tracker Guide to see if that can assist, and it's also time for another read of some chapters from Small Stakes Hold 'Em.

Whilst doing that, I'll be taking a few days off from the limit tables to play a few No Limit SnG, and maybe even an MTT or two. I was getting pretty sick of the banal nature of some of the limit play by the time I was into the 1000+ raked hands region.

When I started working as a computer programmer, one of the things we were taught was to 'break state' when we were struggling with an issue. This meant if you'd been sitting staring at a problem on screen for an hour and got nowhere, you should go grab a coffee, chat to your pals about the weekend football, or whatever. Another way of saying it is, a change is as good as a rest.

Either way, I need to refresh my brain cells and return to the limit tables with some new ideas.

On another subject, last month I joked that with the poker boom madness continuing, Sky might be making me an offer to televise my home game soon. Well, it seems I wasn't far from the truth. As the UK now has The Poker Channel - advertised as world's first TV channel dedicated to poker.

I've been pretty wrapped up with other matters, but I did catch a short section of Barny's Home Games in which Barny Boatman from The Hendon Mob attends people's home games, plays some cards, critiques their game and offers tips. It's early days but the camera work was diabolical. Hindered no doubt by the fact they really did seem to be filming in someone's front room. Still, it could be interesting. A lot will depend on the people each week I'd imagine.

Other TV news in the UK this week is the return of Dr Who. There's been a lot of hype, and I have to say it was justified.

As a kid I always enjoyed Dr Who, so as an adult it was good to see Christopher Eccleston giving the part a humourously manic, but knowing, edge. They also nailed the dialogue. One of the strengths of classics like The Simpsons is kids and adults can watch it on two totally different levels, with some of the jokes whizzing straight over most kids heads. There were a few of those type jokes in Dr Who which made Mrs Div and I laugh out loud.

Throw in cute in a chipmunkish sorta way Billie Piper, and it kicked off Saturday evening nicely. A pleasant intermission from the Party war zone.

Mrs Div is now approaching the 6 months pregnant milestone and we may finally have made some progress in the name negotiations. Party Poker Bonus Code DIV1970 is now off the agenda, but the particularly problematic boys name negotiations have progressed. Nothing is settled yet, but there's a definite possibility Div Jnr may have a Star Wars connection if it's a boy. For now, I'll say no more.

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