Archive for September, 2009

I Wanna Run Like Yevgeniy

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

About a year and a half ago, I won a package to the Irish Open. After busting out of the Main Event in Dublin, I joined a group of weary bustos in a €1,500 buy-in second chance event. A few levels into the tournament, I shoved ~12 big blinds or so with Ace-Seven. A young player in the small blind looked me up for about half of his stack with Ace-Jack. When I flopped a Seven, I felt pretty bad about it. I looked over at the young man and was surprised to see that he wasn’t even watching the flop! He was too busy talking to a friend that had just come up to the table. After the board bricked out and the pot was shipped my way, I offered some consolation to him, “ugh… sorry about that man,” as I shrugged my shoulders. He didn’t respond nor did he even seem to care.

“Who is this guy?!” I thought.

“That guy,” or to put it more appropriately, “that kid,” was Yevgeniy Timoshenko, who I later learned was the defending champion of that particular event.

Fast forward a year later, and it’s clear to me why Yevgeniy wasn’t sweating that Seven: he’s got mad skills. There is no one in tournament poker having a hotter 2009 than Yevgeniy. He is currently ranked #1 on the Card Player POY standings with a comfortable 800 point lead over Eric Baldwin.

How did he get there? Ohhh… just by winning the $25k buy-in WPT Championship in April ($2.15 million), and the $5k buy-in World Championships of Online Poker Main Event this month ($1.7 million) under the screenname “Jovial Gent”.

When Yevgeniy won the WCOOP Main Event, he had to hold off on the celebration for a while: he was one of the chip-leaders with 14 players remaining in a $1k buy-in event (that started with 277 players) at another site. A few hours later… yup… won that too for another $75k. **Yawn**

This week, the poker world’s fears that Yevgeniy might gobble up all of the money in the game began to mount as he was one of the chipleaders with 45 players remaining at the WSOP Europe Main Event. It was almost comforting to see him bust out in 25th place. I mean, no one can run that hot, right?!

For now, the 21 year old with already more than $6 million in lifetime winnings will have to wait another day to claim his first WSOP bracelet.

Stereotypes Can Be a Money Maker

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

I’ve been playing more and more low stakes live poker lately and have been doing fairly well. I played maybe eight times this month of $1/$2 NL for only maybe two hours at a time and am up about $1000 or so. I can attribute a good portion of it to categorizing my opponents. The way to do this is to play tight the first couple of orbits so you can figure out the few different types of opponents. Usually you don’t even have to wait the first couple of orbits because their playing style is written all over them. Allow me to explain below. Keep in mind this advice will only work on $1-$2 tables and possibly $2-$5. It may work beyond that, but I have little experience at those stakes.

The first type of opponent you may notice is the regular. The regular is easy to spot because (s)he knows the other regulars and also the dealer by name and addresses them as such. These are the players that are probably going to be pretty competent and probably won’t make any glaring mistakes, however it still doesn’t mean they will be all that great. They also generally play pretty lag especially in position with limpers. The best way to deal with them is to stay out of their way with mediocre hands until you are more confident with how they are playing. Also, if you have a monster, make it look like you don’t know what you are doing, by under betting and calling their raises, then hammer the river. This only will work once, but will give you an opportunity to bluff them later on.

Keep in mind, not all regulars are laggy – the older the player, the tighter they tend to play. It’s not too uncommon to see an old man only play a hand every two or three orbits. When he raises, don’t get too involved unless you beat his over pair or TPTK.

Probably the most obvious to spot player is the Asian guy. Asian guys all play crazy and love to gamble. It’s not uncommon for them to go all in preflop on their first hand at the table even with no limpers. The skinnier the Asian, the crazier they will play. Also if they wear glasses, and the thicker the plastic in the frames, the crazier they will play. To deal with these players, simply trap them. If you are UTG and a 6 foot 120 lb Asian with really big plastic glasses just sat down at the table at your table and you look down and see pocket aces, limp in because this guy is pushing all his chips in regardless of what he has as long as the pot wasn’t raised. By limping, you may even get a caller besides the Asian, if other people are familiar with this stereotype.

Related to the Asian guy is the Asian lady. They tend to be older women who always chase flushes. To play against them, all you have to do is over bet the pot on your top pair – make them pay for their draw. If the third suit comes out on the board and she bets, even if it’s small, you better fold because she hit her flush.

You will no doubt see about half of the table doing tricks with their chips. The most common one is shuffling the chips. This doesn’t indicate how well a player plays, however it does show they have table experience and probably won’t give off the most obvious of tells. Your best bet with these people playing with their chips is to just lump them into one of the previous stereotypes. One thing you may be able to extract from their chip playing is by paying attention when they play with their chips. I recall playing against someone who would only shuffle his chips when he was going to bet. Some players may do the opposite, and some may have no pattern, so this is just something to watch for.

The next type of player is the guy with the headphones who isn’t paying much attention. Often times their head phones will be accompanied by an over-sized hoodie. These players are often quite bored because they are used to playing 16 tables simultaneously online. Most poker rooms won’t allow you to play more than one table at a time, if they did, these players would no doubt find a way to do so. Anyway, they will probably be familiar with proper betting sizes and all of those types of fundamentals. Your best bet for beating them is to catch them off guard. To catch them off guard, you have to do the typical things live players do that online players fail to adjust to. Play the 93o in a raised pot and check call until the river on a 245AK board and hammer the river, you will stack their big slick every time.

Finally, the best type of player to have at your table is new guy who hasn’t played much before. The new guy will appear a bit nervous, probably make a few etiquette mistakes like maybe accidentally betting out of turn. This is probably the easiest to play against. They will just about never try to bluff because they are worried about looking foolish. They will call multiple streets with middle pair, so take them to value town. If they raise, they’ve got something good. If they wait until the river to bet and act a bit extra nervous, like maybe being a bit louder when they announce a raise and they are shaking like a Polaroid picture, you better believe they have the stone cold nuts and you could safely fold your Aces on an AsKs2AQs because they have JsTs. Okay, don’t really fold quads! But you should never have to stack off to one of these opponents unless they outdraw you after the money is in.

I know I’m forgetting some of the other common opponents, but for now, these will help you make wise decisions on whether to value bet or fold your trips on a three suited board and other such situations. One final piece of advice unrelated to these stereotypes, (with the possible exception of the headphone guy) live players will rarely bluff a large river bet. Save your money on a mediocre hand and fold to that river bet.

Six-Handed Pot-Limit Omaha Strategy

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

I’ve been playing a fair amount of $1/$2 short-handed pot-limit Omaha recently. After a few weeks of grinding these stakes and talking with other respected players, I’ve come to believe that there’s more money to be made grinding PLO than NLHE. The reason for this is NLHE has become too damn efficient. Open up a six-handed NLHE table and you can be sure five of the players are regular grinders. There’s just not as much money up for grabs at the NLHE tables as their used to be, especially at stakes of $1/$2 and higher. I’m not saying you can’t make money grinding NLHE, I’m just saying I think you can make more grinding PLO.

By my observation, the average player at a six-handed $1/$2 PLO table is pretty bad. In several dozen sessions of two-tabling these stakes, there have only been two instances that I left a table on account of deciding it was too tough. For the most part, there’s always some good spots at the table.

I’ve been winning 1/3rd of the pots at a table with six players. That tells me one thing: people are playing too tight. Omaha starting hands are not nearly as important as Texas hold’em starting hands. In Texas hold’em, the difference between the value of a great starting hand and a mediocre starting hand is huge. In Omaha, it’s not a big difference. For that reason, I open a lot of pots with raises. This has a two-fold benefit of a.) helping me win a lot of small pots and b.) build a really aggressive image to get paid off better when I make a big hand.

Another thing that has made my sessions at these tables profitable is from benefiting from opponents who don’t understand how to value-bet. There have been countless instances where I will check to my opponent on the river thinking, “hmm, I’d probably call a half-pot sized bet with this hand,” only to see my opponent check-behind and turn over like the 5th nuts with a ten-high flush or something. Are they really that afraid of being river check-raised?!?

I save a lot of money thanks to opponents who let me off the hook holding strong two pairs or small flushes because they’re worried I’m going to call or raise with a better hand. In a full-ring Omaha table, this level of paranoia can be good, but in a six-handed game where relative hand strength goes up, they’re just pissing away value by not putting in bets on the river.

One final spot that I’d like to touch on is when a tight player re-raises for the size of the pot before the flop. In my experience, this is almost always some type of Ace-Ace-x-x hand. It seems that a lot of Omaha players have “hold’emitis” and get too attached to Ace-Ace-x-x hands. When I make a raise to $6 and my opponent re-pots it to $21, I will happily call with any hand I was willing to open to $6 in the first place hoping to hit the flop hard and get them to commit their chips drawing very thin with just an overpair of Aces. Even if I miss the flop, it’s usually pretty easy to buy the pot when a scary flop like Eight-Seven-Six two-suited comes.

If you’re finding the edges in NLHE harder and harder to come by, give PLO a try. When it comes to grinding cash games online, PLO is the new NLHE!

Believe It or Not… +EV Lottery

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

No one has won the Texas Lotto since May 13. Because the jackpot builds until someone wins it (reminiscent of the old Party Poker Bad Beat Jackpot), the current jackpot is now $59 million. Normally, the jackpot is paid out over 26 years, but the winner has the option to take a $38 million lump sum prize.

The odds of winning the jackpot are about 1:25.8 million, so the lottery is pretty +EV right now.

Given the long odds of winning, it doesn’t really matter unless you bought all of the lotto tickets and guaranteed yourself the winner. Of course, you’d screw yourself over if someone else won at the same time and had to split the pot.

I estimate the lottery sells about 3.2 million tickets for each drawing, based on how much the jackpot builds and the number of small winners. The Texas Lotto claimed there were a total of 45,282 winning tickets (the vast majority of  these ‘winning’ tickets are people hitting 3 out of 6 numbers for a whopping $3 prize). The overall odds of winning anything are 1:71, so that would bring a guesstimate of 3.2 million tickets.

So, there’s about a 1/8 chance of someone else winning the lottery right now. This means if you bought every ticket, there’s a 7/8 chance of taking home 38 million (worth an EV of $33 million) and about a 1/8 chance of getting $19 million (worth an EV of $2.4 million). Total EV is $35.4 million and you spend $25.8 million on the tickets, so you’re up almost ten million.

This doesn’t even factor into the fact that if you bought every ticket, there would be an extra $25 million added to the prize pool that was more than expected, so the actual jackpot would be even higher. Also, you’d hit a lot of little winners (hitting 3 of 6, 4 of 6, and 5 of 6), so you’d make a lot of money that way too.

Anyone got $25.8 million to put up, a crew of ticket bubblers, and the cojones to try this out?

Is Monogamy +EV?

Monday, September 21st, 2009

While most gamblers are known to be superstitious, we poker players pride ourselves on only focusing only on expected value. Sure, there are some poker players that will move to the ‘hot’ seat at the table and carry a lucky rabbit’s foot, but they are generally the donators at the table.

I’m generally incredibly rational myself and don’t delve into any superstitions. However, over the past few years, there has been one odd correlation that I can’t seem to explain. I’ve ran regression analysis and found the correlation to be technically statistically significant, but there doesn’t seem to be any causation to result in the correlation.

You see, it all started back in early 2008. I had one of the most amazing gambling runs of all time. Anything I touched turned into gold. Whether it was poker, dice, or sports betting, everything went well for me.

Now, before  I go any further, I want to clarify to all the nits out there about betting on dice. While it is -EV like all casino games, the house edge for dice in American casinos if you play pass line/max odds is about .02%-.3% depending on the rules. When you factor in comps, the comps make up for the EV you bet., so it’s fairly EV neutral, but with high variance. A more detailed description can be found at Wizard of Odds.

During my gambling heater, I was near the end of my relationship with Girlfriend #1. While Girlfriend #1 was a nice girl, I was tired of just jamming her. Eventually, around April, we broke up, and I began dating around again. My gambling started to suffer from more bad beats. Things began to spiral downwards and more downwards, especially once I began dating more girls.

In early December, I picked up Girlfriend #2. Soon after we became exclusive, we went to Vegas and I booked a nice 5 figure win. Things began to turn my way.

We took our second Vegas trip right around New Years. Gambling started off well again. On New Years Eve, we decided to ring in 2009 with a three-way with a random girl. The next day, I got owned at gambling. We had another three-way in Vegas a couple days after, and again, gambling did not go so well.

Upon returning home, we kept the ménage à trois thing going as a once a month thing. My gambling cold streak also kept going. If I had kings, he had aces. If he had kings and I had aces, he hit his king. Any team I bet on was destined to lose. Dice was no longer a game with a .1% house edge. The gambling gods somehow made it a 30% house edge when I was playing.

Girlfriend #2 and I broke up in early May. I returned to dating around and the gambling losses continued. I started to think that perhaps the gambling gods just had it out for me for some reason. Why were they so good to me in early 2008 and so vicious now? While variance is annoying, these swings seemed to be beyond several standard deviations from what I would expect.

In comes in Girlfriend #3. We started dating mid-August. She’s not into the three-way thing, so I ‘m stuck with hitting the same hole all the time. At first, I lamented this situation.  However, I’ve noticed that I seem to be able to win again. No longer is every bet destined to lose. I’m starting to….win again. What does this mean?

Quite frankly, it appears the monogamy gods and the gambling gods seem to be colluding in regards to me. What sort of devilish pact do they have? They seem to want to exercise some sort of vicious control over the vice in my life.

The true test came a few weeks ago at the strip club. My girlfriend and I were hanging out, and one of the strippers came over. Sure enough, it became increasingly clear that the stripper wanted to hook up with my girlfriend, and would let me join in too as a sort of ‘tax’ she’d pay for the privelege of fooling around with her. My girlfriend made it clear to me that it wasn’t going to happen.
While all I could do was feel sorry for myself at the time, I just won $1k playing Omaha while writing this entry. I guess monogamy really is +EV. Damn colluding gambling/monogamy gods.

Between polygamy and money though, the choice is clear. Money.

Pretty Good Turn Card

Monday, September 21st, 2009

I played in the $5200 buy-in World Championships of Online Poker (WCOOP) Main Event yesterday at PokerStars. My starting table was pretty brutal. The lineup was:

Joe “jcada99″ Cada
Jason “jcarver” Somerville (Taknopotin)
Geoff “GeoffRas22″ Rasmussen
Bryan “devo” Devonshire (badbeatninja)
Jason “TheMasterJ33″ Dewitt
Two other good online regulars and…
Former tennis star Boris Becker

Very early in the tournament when our stacks were 400 big blinds deep, I witnessed the following hand:

PokerStars Game #33081236533: Tournament #200909045, $5000+$200 USD Hold’em No Limit – Level I (25/50) – 2009/09/20 16:26:53 CT [2009/09/20 17:26:53 ET]
Table ’200909045 164′ 9-max Seat #5 is the button
Seat 1: D.K.5 (18150 in chips)
Seat 2: KidPokerJD (22375 in chips)
Seat 3: TheMasterJ33 (19075 in chips)
Seat 4: Taknapotin (20825 in chips)
Seat 5: badbeatninja (19450 in chips)
Seat 6: jcada99 (20500 in chips)
Seat 7: Ozone23 (22300 in chips)
Seat 8: Boris Becker (10500 in chips)
Seat 9: GeoffRas22 (26825 in chips)
jcada99: posts small blind 25
Ozone23: posts big blind 50
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to Ozone23 [4h 6c]
Boris Becker: calls 50
GeoffRas22: folds
D.K.5: folds
KidPokerJD: folds
TheMasterJ33: calls 50
Taknapotin: folds
badbeatninja: raises 200 to 250
jcada99: folds
Ozone23: folds
Boris Becker: calls 200
TheMasterJ33: calls 200
*** FLOP *** [7d 8h 4d]
Boris Becker: checks
TheMasterJ33: checks
badbeatninja: bets 500
Boris Becker: calls 500
TheMasterJ33: raises 1450 to 1950
badbeatninja: raises 3470 to 5420
Boris Becker: folds
TheMasterJ33: raises 13405 to 18825 and is all-in
badbeatninja: calls 13405
*** TURN *** [7d 8h 4d] [6d]
*** RIVER *** [7d 8h 4d 6d] [Ac]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
TheMasterJ33: shows [Kd 3d] (a flush, King high)
badbeatninja: shows [8d 8s] (three of a kind, Eights)
badbeatninja said, “sigh”
TheMasterJ33 collected 38975 from pot

And who is the chipleader heading into day two of this event? You guessed it! TheMasterJ33!

It was pretty ridiculous watching him get 400 big blinds all-in with a non-nut flush draw and no pair only to bink his draw against devo’s top set. But hey… more power to him. Gotta get lucky in these big tournaments.

As for me, I got Boris Becker all-in with pocket Queens against his pocket Tens. He hit a Ten on the flop to win a 100 big blind pot. The amount of chips I would have had if I had won that pot was more than I ever wound up accumulating. Despite that, I still went deep enough to think a cash might be possible. However, with 570 players left (306 paid), I got 17 big blinds all-in with pocket Jacks against Ace-King and yea… not my year.

But maybe it is TheMasterJ33′s year. It certainly seemed like it to me watching the way he was running yesterday. The 178 remaining players resume action in 30 minutes…

5 Card Draw Strategy

Monday, September 21st, 2009

5 Card draw is probably the first form of poker you learned as it appears to be the simplest, yet there are still a lot of strategies involved.

Predraw Play

On a 6 handed table a standard opening range would usually be :

UTG : AA and any hands better

UTG+1 : Add KK to previous range

CO : Add QQ and JJ to previous range

BTN : Add TT and 99 to previous range

SB : Any pair 55 or above

BB : Defend with anything that is at least the bottom of what you think the opener range is

Note that this range is fairly tight, and the later your position is, the more creative you can get. There isnt many situation where opening with less than AA UTG would be +ev, but opening any pair in SB vs a tight passive BB is usually a good idea.

Also your kickers (the cards other than your pair) are important. A hand like 77AKQ is much more playable on the button than 88234, the fact that you have an ace, king and queen makes much less likely than one of the blinds holds QQ / KK / AA.

When someone already raised before the action gets to you you should almost never call, fold or 3bet. After all you, 5 card draw is a game where the best hand is a huge favorite (almost every common confrontation 75:25 or better for the best hand ) and you usually don’t have very good implied odds, so if you think your hand is good enough to call then its good enough to raise.

Draw are almost never playable solely for their value, you are a 4:1 dog to hit a flush or open ended straight draw and you hardly ever get odds got enough to justify playing them. However they can be very good semi bluffing hand. You will be drawing 1 card, just like you would with 2 pairs and most trips, so you may play your draw just like you would play those hands and bet them post draw even if you miss.

All the other hands should be folded.

In pot limit games, while the 3bet or fold is still true, the are a few spots where you can flat call a raise. This is because you have better implied odds if you hit and because your opponents may fold his worst hands and so you wont win more if you happen to have the best hand anyway (as opposed to limit where he is always going to call because he knows that even though he doesn’t have the best hand he has the pot odds to try and improve). So when you think its marginal then you can consider flat calling, the ratio 3bet:call should still be at at least 2:1 though.

The Draw

This is usually very straight forward yet I see many people going fancy here.

Always discard 3 to one pair, keeping a kicker is useless, it decreases your chances of making trips and does NOT increases your chances of making 2 pairs.

Do not stand pat on anything worse than a straight, this should go without saying but I see many people standing pat on 2 pairs, unless you have reason to believe that your opponent will call you lighter if you stand pat rather that if you draw 1, always draw 1 to 2 pairs.

Trips are more complex, keeping a kicker divides by 2 your chances of making quads but doesnt help you to make a full house. Nevertheless, I draw 1 card 90% of the time, this is mainly to balance my range with my semi bluff (flush draw for example) and so my opponents cant tell if I have trips or 2 pairs.

Postdraw Play

The post draw play is the more interesting and tricky.

A couple of facts:

Jacks up will beat 50% of the 2 pairs and trips

9TJQK will beat 50% of pat hands

Taking notes is crucial in that game especially for the post draw part as the decision of value betting 2 small pair (Say JJ up and lower) will be based on whether you think your opponent will call with one pair (hoping to catch a bluff) or not.

Lets take a couple of examples:

1. UTG opens and you 3bet in UTG+1 with QQ99x everybody else folds and he calls, draw goes 3:1.

If he checks that is not a very good spot to value bet as your hand already looks very strong and your opponent almost always has AA / KK here so if he improves at all he will beat your hand.

2. You open button with 3322x only bb calls and it goes 3:1.

That is a very good spot to value bet since you opponent will put you on a semi bluff fairly often and will be tempted to call with hands like TTxxx hoping to catch a busted draw

3. CO opens you 3bet KK55x in the bb and vilain just calls, draw goes 1:1.

This one is a lot more tricky, if you think that the CO is aggressive and will cap any trips then you need to value bet. Of course you will sometimes run into aces up and end up value betting his hand but most of the time you will be ahead. Although at small stakes, the typical player is very passive and may not even cap hands like 888xx here, if you know you are up against that kind of player then a check may be better as he will have a lot of hands that beats you even if he didn’t cap.

In pot limit games, you should generally value bet less as the bet will be a bigger fraction of the pot and so your opponent will fold more, in the other hand you should bluff more for the same reasons. For example in the above examples, only #2 may deserve a value bet depending on your table image (if you have been caught semi bluffing with draw before, if villain has called in that spot before etc …)

Welcome to the PokerTips Blog!

Friday, September 4th, 2009

We here at PokerTips decided that if everyone else has a blog, why can’t we? I mean, most teenage girls have a blog where they write about glitter and pencils and whatever else. Surely we’re more interesting than them, right? Right?!

Okay, don’t answer that.

In our effort to prove that we are indeed more interesting bloggers than your average teenage girl, we will strive to maintain mediocre or slightly better than mediocre commentary on the poker world on this part of the internet, including poker strategy advice from a varying group of top players.

Additionally, keep an eye open for special online poker offers that we are able to share with our readers through this blog.

Alright, now that we have those formalities out of the way, did anyone hear about the guy who won the ladies-only event at the Borgata in Atlantic City? Apparently casinos are disallowed from prohibiting entry into an event based on gender. For years, most “Ladies Only” events at casinos operate under a gentleman’s understanding that only women should play in the event.

Abraham Korotki chose to turn a blind eye to this arrangement and entered the $300 ladies-only event last weekend. Out of a field of 260, Korotki made it all the way to a heads-up battle… against a woman that was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and was hoping that top prize would pay for her living expenses while she recuperates from an upcoming mastectomy. Ouch.

**Editor’s Note: If she’s really that concerned about her living expenses, what’s she doing playing in a $300 buy-in poker tournament?**

Apparently the guilt must have set in a little on Korotki, because after he defeated Nicole Rowe, he said he will donate all of his winnings to three charities, one of which is dedicated to breast cancer research. He explained that his motives for playing the tournament were purely innocent and that he just wanted to play some poker and thought it would be alright since he saw 5-10 other men playing too.

Alright, Korotki, alright. We’re putting our flaming torches down for now. Just don’t let it happen again!