Sunday, November 27, 2005

27th November

Ladbrokes: 196 dollars.
Pacific Poker: 82 dollars.

Running total: 278 dollars.

As can be seen above I have continued to move forward on Laddies but struggled on Pacific. The brother reports the same pattern.

I've had some nice hands on Laddies this week though, my favourite being K 10 off in late position which hit a flop of K 10 7 rainbow. I bet and got raised on the button and we got two callers for that. The turn gave us another K and they went with me and capped it out. The turn was irrelevant and the same happened with two players dropping out. The full house took down 8 dollars plus, with my opponant on the button having K7, poor sod!

I think that I will use the Pacific holding to experiment with very micro No Limit. I'll see if I can work out how to develop a winning style. Butroz and Juice are both trying out No Limit at the moment, with some success. However, like me, they are wary of this form of the game and are far from convinced that they have cracked it.

Came across a copy of Sklansky's famous book today in Waterstones - looks very good.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

20th November

Ladborkes: 187 dollars

Pacific Poker: 98 dollars

Running total: 285 dollars

I can't give the stats any more as the Laddies stats just don't work for me since their recent upgrade. Hopefully the facility will return soon, as I found it useful. For some reason they seem to be putting up .10/.20 ring game tables again - only one and only occasionally. I'm not sure what the reasoning is there.

The Laddies stats are inflated by the arrival of my bonus for signing up the brother. Things are looking very healthy.

I haven't played a lot on it, but when I have I've been unable so far to make a lot of progress on Pacific Poker. I really dislike the software too. I don't think I'll be stopping too long.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


"So long, and thanks for all the fish!"

Douglas Adams. (who must have been a poker player).

The story so far...

I thought that it might be interesting to run a blog on my poker experiences after reading the one produced by “maujz” one of the players along with “J” that I have been chatting with on the Ladbrokes poker site.

I am not short of an interest in games (Chess and "Diplomcacy", but I haven’t played poker since I was in my teens. Having read and enjoyed Tony Holden’s book “Big Deal”, I thought I would have a look at playing poker on the internet. I read up on the basics of the game on various websites (just typing “hold ‘em poker guide” into Google and you’ll get masses of them). I then tried playing for fun money on various sites such as Yahoo Games. This gives you a feel for the mechanics though the play is extremely “loose”. If you can’t beat folk on these sites, you don’t want to be playing for real that’s for sure. Just playing with sensible hole cards and only “betting” when you have “hit” something on the flop will suffice.

Now obviously my wife took an interest when I said I was starting to play poker on line for money, so I came to an agreement. I would start off with £25 and if I lost it, that was it. If I won sufficiently well, I would buy her a “canteen of cutlery” (don’t ask).

So, I invested my £25 (part of my winnings from Kicking King’s victory in the Gold Cup (yes I do the occasional horse as well) in dollar chips on the Ladbrokes site, which seemed to have the best graphics.

With £25 you are obviously not playing “Big Deal” poker. I started on the micro-limit tables for “limit hold ‘em” with 10/20 cent blinds. A really good win on one hand at this level would be 4 dollars (about £2). So financially serious it isn’t, but if you are going to learn how to play a game you have to start somewhere.

Off I went, trying to play “tight / aggressive”, just like all the advice tells you. To do this properly you would normally see about 25% of flops (ie only the really good starting hands), then drop out of any hand where you didn’t have a serious hit on the flop (most of them) but bet like hell the minute you have anything really strong post flop and anything likely to be winning after it (there’s more to it, but that’s the essence of it).

Well I soon strayed from this primrose path and started playing more “loosely” than that. It was more fun and blow me, but it turned out to be more profitable!

I started to make steady progress. When I had made 50 dollars worth of profit I took that out and then I was “playing with other people’s money”. Still I advanced – not winning every session but certainly in 2 out of 3, until I was 100 dollars up or so.

At this point my statistics were the following…

Games won – 8% of those played.
Showdowns won – 60%
Flops seen – 34%
Win % of flops seen – 23%

Things were going so well I thought, let’s up the ante. I started playing for higher stakes (25/50) and I also dabbled in “no limit” poker.

Reality hit big time! I took serious losses in both areas, particularly the “no limit”. This is a seriously different game from limit hold ‘em. You can lose your “stack” on one bad call…and I did…successively. In the higher level limit, I started playing a lot tighter (see the definition of “tight / aggressive” above) thinking that that was what would be required but still made no progress.

Ok – back to what I know, I thought. So back I went to 10/20 limit to rebuild my confidence. A good theory…but it didn’t work. I was slowly sinking there too. What was going wrong? I thought about it and started to play tighter, right down to 22% of flops seen. What could go wrong – I’m only playing premium hands against the weakest players about? Still I sank, until I was down to my last 30 dollars.

I thought about it long and hard. What was I doing, when I was winning earlier on, that I wasn’t doing now? I was playing looser! Ok. Last throw. I’ll take a good look at my opponents. If there is very little raising before the flop then I’ll play looser pre flop and only carry on when I’ve hit the flop with top pair or better or a good flush or straight draw. When I do hit, I bet it hard to protect my position. If I am let in cheaply, I’ll play low suited connectors and hands like A6 off suit which I had been disdaining for some time.


In the ten days since I came to that conclusion I’ve shot back up to 70 dollars up.

My current stats (September 21st) are…

Games won 12%
Showdowns won 65%
Flops seen 48%
Win % of flops seen 25%

(September 28th): The stats are...

88 dollars up.

Games won 11%
Showdowns won 64%
Flops seen 48%
Win% of flops seen 24%

Met a really wild player called "John_69". He was continually raising aggressively before and after the flop and representing cards he didn't have. I took him down twice after hitting top pair on the flop. Eventually he went "on tilt" completely and crashed out with 69 off suit having hit nothing. Presumably he thought 69 were his "lucky cards"!

79 dollars up.

(October 2nd): The stats are...

Games won 10%
Showdowns won 60%
Flops seen 50%
Win% of flops seen 21%

Not a good week. I haven't played a lot (too busy with work) but when I have I have allowed myself to be sucked into too many drawing hands, where there is a lot of betting, with things like 4 to an open ended straight and 4 to a flush. I've had the "pot odds" for these bets, but if they don't come off they end up costing - particularly if you get two or three in a session as happened to me. Of course the odds tell me that if I keep betting these I will eventually make a profit, but it's no fun waiting for that moment. Worst one was when I flopped the top straight and got into a bidding war with a guy who had hit trips. Fine, except the board paired on the river, leaving him with a full house :-( Oh, well you get these runs of misfortune I suppose.

I have little doubt that I have overdone it and am seeing far too many flops now. I'm going to rein myself in and aim for around 35% and see how that shapes up.

Still the poor week at the poker has been compensated for with a nice win by Hurricane Run in the Arc. A tenner at 5/2 leaves my horse account at £55. I took out most of my winnings from Kicking King leaving £40. My horse philosophy is very simple but has been going well for a while. I only bet on big "stakes" races preferably with 10 or fewer runners. I never bet handicaps or odds on. I only back a horse that has won over the distance previously and preferrably over similar going. All these provisos mean I only very occasionally bet - about once every six weeks or so. Still I have been making a modest profit which has to be good news!

(October 9th): The stats are...

Games won 8%
Showdowns won 61%
Flops seen 40%
Win % of flops seen 21%

91 dollars up.

Major change of fortune in the course of the week. After posting this last week I had a very poor outing and dropped to 70 dollars. However my change of pre-flop strategy brought its rewards steadily through the week on both the 10/20 and 15/30 tables and I am sure I am now playing a lot more accurately.

I've had a couple of very interesting emails from "J" (many thanks) on pre-flop strategy which I'm going to try to incorporate into my play. The key point he makes for me is to take a lot more notice of "position" pre-flop. My play has definitely been weak on this and I will see if I can improve and, more important, if it makes any difference

My targets currently are to improve my preflop play taking note of J's advice. To hit 100 dollars and then explore the heady realms of the .25/.50 tables!

(October 16th): 95 dollars up.

Games won 8%
Showdowns won 54%
Flops seen 37%
Win% of flops seen 22%

Up and down sort of week. Started poorly and then I picked up at the weekend and was 102 at one point but a poor Saturday night saw me go down to 95. Tightening up as per J's pre flop advice is good I think but I need to work harder at it. I still have a weakness for taking chances on weak hands on occasion. I need to particularly watch out for flopping top pair with a weak kicker with hands like A5 suited. You are primarily going for the flush or straight possibilities with these hands and if can be very unrewarding to get sucked into calling down someone with AK off say. Still at least I have been playing hands like AK quite effectively myself.

It is interesting to note the demise of the .10/.20 tables on Ladbrokes. I had more or less moved onto .15/.30 anyway, so I'm not bothered.

The other big news is the arrival of "the brother" (shades of Flann O'Brian) on the poker scene - good luck mate!

October 23rd: 78 dollars up.

Games won 6%
Showdowns won 56%
Flops seen 34%
Win% of flops seen 17%

As you can see, a really bad week. It would have been even worse if I hadn't had a couple of good sessions on Saturday to get me back to there! :-( It's difficult to know what I've been doing wrong or whether it's just a bad run, as sometimes happens of course. The low point was a hand where I raised preflop with a pair of Jacks (interesting debate on whether you should with Jacks - there are so many cards which can cause you grief on the flop). I had 3 callers and got the pleasant flop of Jd;7s;3h. I bet this and everyone stays with it bar one. The turn is Kh. Someone bets and we bat it back and forth until it caps out. I figure my main opposition has two pair with Kings. The river is 6h. Everyone raises until it caps and I am beaten by a flush when my calling opponant shows 9h;2h.

Gutted? Just a bit! He had nothing to start with and nothing on the flop! The odds on him getting that flush must be horrible. It seemed to sum up the week somehow...

October 30th: 88 dollars up.

Games won 10%
Showdowns won 58%
Flops seen 42%
Win% of flops seen 23%

Big week. I've had to make a complete reappraisal of my play. I started the week continuing to play pretty tight as per what I've mentioned above. However I continued to sink, until I was below 70 dollars. Now this was pretty depressing, so I thought I would go back to playing as I had been earlier (again, see above). As you can see, this had duely worked (again). So, the question is, why does it work? Theoretically, playing tight with premium hands in the right positions should work very effectively but for me anyway, it self evidently doesn't. Why not?

I thought about this and realised that I was being caught too many times by guys hitting gutshot straights and flushes. Yes these are the "calling stations" that give you their money in percentage terms a lot of the time when you are betting "top pair with a good kicker" etc but if there are too many of them out there doing it, it hurts! I have been proving (to my own satisfaction if nobody elses) that playing a looser game against these players is more effective. I am now playing "suited connectors" and Ax suited in more or less any position unless someone has bet into me. For me the important thing is now the post flop situation. If I don't have top pair or better or 4 to a flush or straight I am out in most situations. I will continue to monitor things, but for the moment it seems to be working.

November 6th: 129 dollars up.

Games won 9%
Showdowns won 72%
Flops seen 41%
Win% of flops seen 23%

As you can see, things continue to go really well - plus 40 dollars on last week. The thing which really pleases me is the "showdowns won" stat which shows that I am now winning nearly 3 times out of 4, when I take a hand to a showdown. I have become even more ruthless on "getting out" if I don't think I have enough of the flop. The adage, "if you weren't going to bet it, why call it?" is uppermost in my mind. It has been very effective in helping plug the leaks in my bankroll. The other key move has been table selection. If there are any maniacs at the table (raising ridiculously frequently before and after the flop) then I get out quick. It is not worth taking these guys on. If they hit, it hurts too much. If I get to 150 up, I will start to investigate the 25/50 tables.

November 13th: 146 dollars up.

Games won 10%
Showdowns won 65%
Flops seen 40%
Win % of flops seen 24%

I can't be too sure of these statistics at the moment as Laddie's software seems to have gone a bit skew wiff since the recent upgrade. My "showdowns won" stat is certainly wrong on it for sure so the above is a "guesstimate". It keeps subtracting me even when I haven't played a hand?? The continued profit looks good, but actually I had a couple of poor nights and deteriorated from being well into the 150's earlier. I worked it out - the old problem of seeing to many hands after the flop with 2nd best hand. Back on track now.

The big news is that I now have a 2nd bankroll to post. The brother ("RobbieGib" on Laddies) and I have swapped "introductions", to Pacific Poker and Laddies respectively, for the bonuses. Having started with 100 dollars a couple of days ago on PP, I now have 106. It's reputed to be a very "fishy" site, so I live in hope. The software isn't as good as on Laddies but there are many, many more players and it is easy to get into a ring game. I'm also playing 25/50, which is a step up for me.