Improving at poker

Discussion in 'Betting and Gambling' started by fatpiranha, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. fatpiranha

    fatpiranha dismember

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    I thought i'd start a thread where we can share tips about improving our poker. This isn't a thread for bad beat stories (that already exists) but one for the serious students of the game.

    I'll readily admit i'm not a good player. In fact when I first started playing regular poker tournaments about 18 months ago i'd classify my standard as 'terrible'. 'Terrible' is, of course, a relative term. I did reasonably well playing with friends and other casual players but only because they were also terrible. The truth is though that I knew very little about the game. This became evident when I first started playing against regular players once a week at a local £50 tournament in North London.

    There are no good players in these tournaments. Good players don't waste their time playing £50 live tournaments. The vast majority of the players I play against either lose money or break even playing online. A few make a small profit but not enough to give up the day job. These are the regular faces at the final table.

    The standard tournament structure is NL Hold'em with a starting stack of 13k and blinds starting at 25/50 and unlimited rebuys for the first hour and a half. The blinds increase every 20 minutes.There are normally 50 players and the tournament is usually finished in 5 hours.

    The first 2 months I played I only made it to the final table once but didn't cash. The next 2 months I made the final table 4 times and had a couple of small (£200) cashes. I started to watch some videos on YouTube and researched the best books to buy.

    This didn't immediately improve my game. I'd say I have no natural aptitude for poker (unlike for example backgammon, where I won my first British Championship just over a year after learning the game). I knew more stuff but was still having trouble applying it at the table. Then after i'd been playing 6 months I was on the verge of stopping playing but then there was a big added money tournament that I ended up splitting 1st and 2nd prize for a very nice £1800 cash.

    After this I became more comfortable at the tables. I didn't play more poker but I did more studying and started becoming a regular at the final table. I also started to become familiar with the players I was playing against and learning their playing styles and even picking up a few tells.

    In the last 2 months I have made the final table 6 out of 8 times with no rebuys. I've cashed 5 times with 2 of those being outright wins. I'm still bad at poker but I no longer consider myself a total fish. Here's my recommendations for improving:

    1/ It's really important not to learn stuff that is just wrong :cautious:. Poker has changed a lot in the last 5 years. Most older poker books are just awful and a lot of the online videos are made by poor players. If you get this crap in your head you will have a hard time getting it out again.

    2/ If you try to learn by just playing you will make slow progress and it will cost you a lot of money. I regularly play against players who've been playing the game badly for the last 40 years and will continue to do so until they die because they are just relying on their own experience. Study at least as many hours as you play.

    Good online resources include anything by Jonathan Little. If you play cash games check out James "SplitSuit" Sweeney.

    Good books include Jonathan Little's Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker Vols 1-3. For the very advanced player Chris Moorman's Moorman's Book of Poker is excellent (but definitely not for novices). Gus Hansen's Every Hand Revealed is a good and easy read even if a little dated. Also good but slightly outdated is the Harrington on Hold'em series 1-3 as a lot of players still play that style at the decent but not great level.

    I'm about to buy a HUD and have a crack at online poker. As I understand it the best sites are ones like 888 and Bet365 which have a lot of sports bettors and casino gamblers on. Any advice for online play would be much appreciated as would any general advice on books or online resources. (y)
     
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  2. fatpiranha

    fatpiranha dismember

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    Went to my regular Friday night tournament last night after missing the previous week due to the winter vomiting virus :sick:. Good turnout, all 5 tables are full. I get a horrible seat draw. My table is full of maniacs and calling stations. I'm going to have to get some good starting hands or get lucky. To make matters worse the 2 best players on the table are sat immediately to my left and as i'm sat in seat 10 my view of them is obstructed by the dealer.

    My first decision is whether or not to cash in my white chip. We start with 13k but 6k of that is a white chip we can cash in anytime before the deal but which we can't lose until we cash it. If i'm at a tight table I normally cash it straight away to get full value from my good hands and be able to bully a bit. This is not one of those times and I definitely want two bites at this cherry.

    2 hands in I call a 4BB raise from the UTG in position with a suited KQ. There is one other caller before me. The flop comes 10,9,4 with 2 of my suit. The opener puts in a pot size raise and the other caller folds. I think I am most likely up against an overpair or A,10. It shouldn't really be A,10 as that has a -ve EV from UTG but these aren't good players. I have a massive draw with the flush, a gutshot and 2 overcards to the board so I push all in with the semi-bluff. My opponent shows down JJ which makes me a 56/44% favourite but the next 2 cards blank and I have to cash in my white chip.

    4 hands later i'm all in preflop with QQ against AK off. Again i'm a 56/44% favourite but he hits a K on the turn and i'm the 2nd person out of the tournament :(.

    I don't rebuy immediately as I sure as hell don't want my seat back. I go for a 5 minute walk and rebuy when my previous seat is taken. My next seat is much better. A lot of tight passive players and the young Indian guy who always lets you know when he has a good hand by putting a chip on his cards to protect them when he intends to play. The best player on the table is the Polish guy who came runner up the week I was away sick. He is sat to my immediate left. There is one massive stack on the table; an English guy in his 30s who is a reg but never seems to make the final table due to his propensity to overvalue top pair top kicker and overpairs. This is a great draw, the smell of fish is overwhelming :).

    I'm card dead for a long time but call a 3BB raise from the hi-jack and a call from the cut off on the button with Q,10 suited. I hit top pair weak kicker on the flop but when there is no further action I make a thin value bet on the river and get called by a pair of 9s. I'm pleased about this as missing value bets is a big hole in my game and i've finally won my first hand of the night.

    The last hand before the rebuy period ends i'm in the big blind with 4,5 suited. I'm basically folding to any bet but to my surprise there are 4 limpers before me and I get to see the flop for free. The flop comes 2,3,J rainbow. There is a half pot raise from the UTG limper (who is also the massive stack) and everyone calls. I figure ther must be a few pairs out there but I'm getting great pot odds to make my straight so I call too. The next card is a 6 giving me the nuts. UTG bets again and a short stack goes all in. I reraise all in and the UTG calls and turns over A,A. The other all in has J,K and they are both drawing dead. This is why you don't limp with bullets! :rolleyes:

    The rebuy period ends and I have 3X my starting stack.

    After the break the blinds are now 300/600 and well worth stealing so I switch up my play using my big stack to bully. In one hand I flop a full house but screw it up by betting too big :banghead:. It's obvious i'm at it but nobody seems willing to stand up to me. The strong Polish player on my left gets taken out and is replaced by a maniac Liverpool fan who always rebuys 3 or 4 times and never makes the final table. He must have hit a few lucky flops as he has quite a decent stack. This makes me calm down a bit but he soon bluffs off half his stack to me with absolute air and with him no longer a threat I start bullying again.

    People are regularly going bust on our table which means I don't get moved which i'm very pleased about. By the time we get down to the final table i've got about 110k out of about 750k total and am the 2nd chip leader. There is one guy at the final table I am worried about, a LAG Chelsea fan in his 30s who's a decent player but usually plays cash. Luckily he's on a short stack so I know he's going to push all in anytime play folds to him. I slowplay Q,Q just calling on the button and he pushes all in in the BB and I snap call only to be shown 9,3 offsuit. Adios amigo ;).

    I raise into the old white guy on my left after the flop with the nut flush draw and he pushes all in against me. I'm angry I didn't push all in myself, a clear mistake. With no fold equity I don't quite have the right pot odds to call. Old white guys rarely bluff so I make the laydown and he shows me total air. Nice move (y). Bad idea showing it to me though :devil:.

    I get lucky when my A,Q beats a short stack with A,K and then I face another all in and I call with a straight flush draw. He turns over Q,Q. The turn is another Q and he celebrates until I point out that it gave me the flush :ROFLMAO:. The board doesn't pair and we're on the bubble.

    The short stacks are desperate to do a bubble deal £40 off 1st and £20 of 2nd place to give £60 to the next player out. I'm the big stack but i'm fine with the deal. No point being an arse when you play with the same guys most weeks.

    When the bubble bursts everyone wants to do another deal. I'm not having it even though they make a more than generous offer to me as big stack. I only play poker once a week and I want to get better which will never happen if I don't get any experience on the final table. I keep bullying and get more than my fair share of good cards. When we get down to the final 2 I have a 3 to 1 chip lead. The other guy just keeps folding with the occasional all in. You just can't play like that :rolleyes:. He doubles up once when his A,J beats my 8,8 but he's blinded off so much he's still got much less than he started the head to head with. It's only a matter of time before I win and take down the £945 1st prize.

    Anyway here's a series of videos by Annie Duke which I think is very useful.

     
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  3. widmerpool

    widmerpool Well-Known Member

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    This thread is useful. Not that it is comprehensible, but because if Fat Piranha ever suggests a friendly game of cards, online, medium stakes, we will all know to make our excuses.

    Probably safest not to risk betting on a game of backgammon with him, either.
     
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  4. Col_M

    Col_M Pointing out the Obvious

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    I hate playing novices who have no clue what they are betting on. Like trying to tame a 2yrvold toddler.
     
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  5. @Bobby__Lucky

    @Bobby__Lucky Well-Known Member

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    I would guess just playing lots would improve you. I've only been playing about a year, maybe 2.

    Use poker stars which I like the functionality of the site, however I'm sure the algorithms are set. Plus there are so many chancers it's unreal. Was playing someone yesterday I had 2 pair (AK) and possible back door straight, they went all in with 3/5. I called which is sometimes to my detriment as there are some good players on there. But too many play like its a training ground. The tournaments more so than cash games. But some just play the same in both when really they should be 2 different games.

    The algorithms I believe are set so you can't play tight. Or the site doesn't like tight players. There are so many loose players on there it's ridiculous and it jars me out endless. I'm still playing .10b.20bb tables and I think it's the low money that makes people play so loose. All very frustrating.

    Seems the chancers can't even bet like they have a story...all pissing me off to be honest.
     
  6. fatpiranha

    fatpiranha dismember

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    You are right about tournaments and cash being 2 different games. I don't play cash as the games at my local club are dominated by maniacs with deep pockets.

    I don't know much about online play as I haven't that much experience of it but I doubt the algorithms discriminate against tight players but rather that the tight style that was so popular for many years simply isn't a winning style. When I started playing live games that was the style I adopted and I had very little success with it. Instead I play a small ball LAG as popularised by players like Daniel Negreanu. It works well in tournaments especially against weaker players.

    It's hard to get much of an edge preflop but after the flop you can outplay people. Online play is much more of a preflop game than live and it's much harder to get tells and reads on players. In addition some sites such as Stars are heavily packed with multi-tabling professionals grinding out a living at small stakes against the recreational players.

    Poker at the top level has evolved massively in the last 5 years and the new style is slowly dripping down the levels. Live tournaments still have decent equity but the key to winning them is to understand what works at the level you are playing at. What works at one level may not at the level below or the level above.

    What seems evident to me even with the little experience I have is that a lot of live players are just dead money. The worst style is loose passive closely followed by tight passive. These guys are just about never on the final table and certainly don't win tournaments. Then come the maniacs. At least they have a chance to get lucky but usually bust out early or get a huge stack which they'll eventually throw away with their crazy plays.

    Then there are the rocks (aka 'nits') who only play premium hands. They are easy to deal with in tournaments. Just don't give them action with hands that don't flop well. Chuck away your A,Q off when they raise but play your 6,7 suited if you are in position and it is relatively cheap to do so. They aren't playing enough hands to win the tournament and the blinds will eventually eat them up.

    Next there's the TAGs (tight aggressive) who play the style that dominated the poker world until the last decade or so. They still win quite often but nowhere near as much as the LAGs (loose aggressive) that dominate the current scene. I'm sure you know all this anyway.

    My standard policy is to play a TAG style until the rebuy period finishes and the blinds become worth stealing and then go full LAG. It seems to work well at the level I am playing at (which isn't particularly high). My experience from backgammon is that people tend to focus on their bad luck when in fact the problem is their bad play. Poker is a similar game of luck management. Simply put, the better you play the less luck you need in order to win.

    You simply can't play tight and have any chance of winning in short stacked or turbo tournaments. If you try to do so you are just dead money. I would suggest you either need to change your style or only play in deep stacked tournaments with a slow blind structure.
     
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  7. fatpiranha

    fatpiranha dismember

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    I went to the monthly Sunday tournament at my local club a couple of days ago. It's a pretty similar structure to my usual Friday night game except we don't have the white chip so everyone starts with 12K stacks, 25/50 blinds and rebuys for the 1st 4 levels. It's slightly more expensive to enter (£60) but tends to have about 10 fewer entrants. I've only played in it once before, 2 months ago, when I split 1st and 2nd place and took home about £750.

    I'm happy with my draw. No final table regs. There's the old Greek guy who i'm friendly with, sitting to my immediate left. I've knocked him out of the tournament the last 3 times we've played together so I know he's not happy being sat next to me and he thinks I play a lot tighter than I actually do. There's baseball cap who's a decent TAG, friendly English guy who isn't very strong, middle aged Indian guy who just wants to gamble and bluffs off his stack a lot, and the guy with the world's most annoying voice (somewhere between a whine and a drone) who if you were on a rapidly descending balloon with alongside Hitler, Fred West, Louie Spence and a decaying corpse, would be the first thrown over the side :devil:. It's just the voice though. He seems nice enough but I have never told him that i'm a fellow Spurs fan for fear of having to have a conversation with him :D.

    The others I don't recognise or have only seen once or twice so I assume they aren't very good occasional players.

    I get nothing playable for the first 2 rounds. I even fold heads up in the small blind against the old Greek guy holding K,8 off. I want him to continue to think i'm a tight player as i'll be stealing his big blind a lot later. Then I find myself on the button with 7,5 suited after 4 people limp in. I raise to 3BBs and all the limpers call. The flop comes A,Q,4 rainbow; no good for my hand but excellent for the range I am representing. Everyone checks to me and I put in a standard continuation bet and get one caller. The next card is an 8 which changes nothing and the remaining player donks into me with a tiny feeler bet. This is a horrible play I see quite often. He's basically turned his hand face up (he's either got a bad A or a Q) and is trying to see where he's at. I give him the bad news and raise. He instafolds and I pick up a nice pot with my air and try to look disappointed :whistle:. If he had called i'd have followed up with a large river bluff.

    One round later and i'm on the button again with A,Q off. The friendly English guy raises from middle position and there is one caller in the cut-off. I reraise with my AQ and only the initial raiser calls. He's got about 8k in his starting stack and i've got 16k. There's about 1.5k in the pot. The only way his call makes sense is if he has suited connectors like J,10. The stacks aren't deep enough for him to setmine with low or medium pairs. The odds of hitting a set are about 7.5-1 and the pot to effective stack ratio is less than 5-1. In position I would look for odds of 10-1 to make the call worthwhile. Out of position it's going to be hard to get all the money in the pot and get paid off if you hit so you really need more like 20-1 pot to stack odds to make it worthwhile calling.

    Calling with a weak A is even worse. What are you hoping to hit? If you hit your A and your opponent bets you have no idea where you are as your opponent is very likely to have a better A. If you hit your 8 you are out of position against an opponent who is very likely to have an overpair. You can only really be happy if you make 2 pair or better and the odds on that are slim.

    The flop comes A,8,4 rainbow. He donks into me and I just call. What am I scared of? If he had A,A or A,K he would have pushed all in after my raise. Pairs or bad aces should have either gone all in or folded. He's a bad player so I can't discount he made a fishy call with something like A,8 suited or a pair of 8s but if he did he's going to stack me and there's nothing I can do about it.

    The next card is another A which makes it less likely he is holding one. He isn't slowing down and bets into me again. The most likely scenario is that he made a bad call with something like A,J or A,10 or he's bluffing with air intending to rebuy if it doesn't work. He's pot committed now so I go all in and he calls instantly and shows A,8 offsuit for a turned nut boat. Terrible play but it looks like it's paid off until I river the Q for a higher full house :LOL:. Thank you Satan :notworthy:.

    I'm getting terrible cards and spend the next 3 rounds folding hands like J,2 and 6,3 when eventually I pick up my best hand of the night so far with a pair of 8s in the cutoff. Before I can get too excited there's a raise from UTG, an all-in from the short stack in seat 2 and a cold call ahead of me. My 8s are obviously garbage at this point and they hit the muck. There are 3 all ins preflop. UTG has K,K, short stack Q,Q and the cold caller has made a horrible call with J,J and deservedly lost his stack when the Ks hold up.

    Just before the buy in period ends i'm in the small blind with 8,2 off. The action is folded to the button who raises with a flourish and immediately stares aggressively at the Greek guy in the BB :ROFLMAO:. I reraise and there are 2 instafolds.

    After the break the blinds are 600/300 and i've got about 26k or 45BB. I'm in Harrington's green zone but have to watch out for all ins from the short stacks so if I enter a pot it will only be for a min raise. I chat to the Greek guy on my left and confide in him that with my stack I can afford to be patient and only play strong starting hands :angelic:.

    The guy on my right who folded to my resteal just before the break quickly goes out when he goes all in preflop against baseball cap's K,K with total air and is replaced by an older woman with a face made of leather and nicotine. I don't know much about her because she normally plays cash (which I don't) where she has a rep for being a total rock. I get a nice looking Q,J suited in the cut-off but she opens the betting with a 12BB raise o_O. WTF is that? There is no situation where this is the right play. You are basically pot committed as 12BBs is more than half her stack so she might as well go all in. You are only going to get called by really good hands you are in bad shape against and the rest of the time you'll just win the blinds. This sort of move is usually made by weak players who are afraid of playing post flop. It's probably a hangover from the cash games round here where people love to call preflop raises with almost anything hoping to get a lucky flop with an unreadable hand and stack the raiser.

    The big downside to this play is that I now know anytime she enters the pot for a normal size raise I can reraise and take it off her with any 2 cards :cool:.

    Baseball cap is becoming a nuisance. He's got about half my stack and steals my BB 2 rounds running with an all in move. I feel a bit like he is targeting me knowing i'm good enough to fold. Next time i'm in the big blind he does his all in move again. I've had enough of this :mad:. I've got A,9 suited which isn't great but I have to make a stand, but before I can call one of the short stacks calls. I'm definitely not calling 2 all ins with such a marginal hand. The short stack shows 9,9 and base ball cap turns over K,K. Phew! I dodged that bullet :cautious:. Of course an A comes on the flop and I would have won :banghead:.

    Annoying voice goes all in with his short stack and I call in the small blind with A,Q. He turns over A,10 and pairs the 10 on the turn. FML :(.

    I'm still card dead but I next time i'm on the button I reraise leatherface's small raise with air and everyone folds. Then when i'm in the big blind baseball cap now has too many chips to do his all in move. Leatherface just calls and I reraise with 8,4 suited. To my surprise she calls. I miss the flop which comes K, 9, 3 all hearts. I have 2 clubs but when she checks to me I bet again and she folds.

    The very next hand i've got Q,7 suited in the small blind and just complete against the Greek in the big blind who checks. The flop comes Q,8,4 rainbow. Nice :). I bet my top pair and he calls. The next card is a 2. I bet again and he reraises. Uh-oh what's he got? He's a conservative player who plays pretty straightforwardly until he gets short stacked. He's not short stacked so I can assume whatever he has beats me. I'm pretty certain he would have reraised with a big pair (probably any pair :unsure:) and also with A,Q or K,Q. He could have flopped 2 pair but I think it more likely he has a better Q. As I mentioned before the last 3 times we've played i've knocked him out when he's called my all-in bet so I give a Hollywood sigh and slowly push all my chips in looking miserable. He tanks for a bit so I order a sandwich off the waitress. He's experienced enough to know that means I think I won't be eating it on the way out of the door. He folds his QJ face up and says "Do you ever miss a flop?". "I try not to" I reply, and put on my disappointed face as I rake in the chips.

    Annoying voice goes all in off a small stack with Q,J suited and I reraise to isolate with my A,K off. A J comes on the river to double him up. Bollocks :(.

    Leatherface limps in on the button so obviously I go all in with my A,7 suited. Greek guy puts in the last of his chips with A,5 and a 6 comes on the river so my 7 is good and we are down to the final table.

    I've got about 70k which is above average. The seats are redrawn for the final table and I hate my draw. Leatherface is on my immediate left with a short stack but the next seat has a guy in who I respect a lot as a player and he has a massive stack. Soon he'll be in the big blind when I am in the small. Not good :sick:.

    I call an all in from a short stack with a pair of 6s and lose the good side of the flip to 2 overcards. Then I drop another 20k when annoying voice goes all in with Q,10 and beats my K,J.

    I'm down to about 8BBs and with the blinds now 6k/3k my options are pretty much reduced to all in or fold. When baseball cap is in the big blind I decide to get my own back a bit and push all in with A,5 off. I've got a blocker and it's the first time i've done this so I should get some respect and sure enough it gets through. Next hand i've got A,7 and push again with no takers. Next hand I push again with a pair of 7s and also get it through. That's 27k i've made in 3 hands and i've got a playable stack again.

    Baseball cap goes all in on somebody else's big blind and shows down K,K for the 4th time tonight but loses when J,J hits a set on the flop and goes out. I've still no idea if he was picking on my big blind or just coincidentally getting great cards.

    We are down to the last 6 bubble and agree £70 for the next player out. Annoying voice shoves and I call with A,J in the big blind. He turns over K,4 suited and flops a K to put me on life support. I'm ready to push with any 2 cards in an unraised pot but never get the chance. I've got about 3 BBs left and have to put a third of that in on my next big blind. It's folded to the small blind who hasn't played a single hand on the final table. He pushes all in and looks very happy. I look down at 9,8 off. Normally i'd just call with any 2 cards but he's obviously got a hand. I can't get off the feeling that i'm up against an overpair. I fold and he kindly shows me a pair of 9s which is the worst possible match up for my hand.

    Next hand i'm facing leatherface with 2,3 suited in the small blind. It's just about the worst hand possible but she is the only player left who just might make the mistake of folding to my shove instead of correctly calling with any 2 cards. I push all in but she wakes up with a hand, K,Q suited and both of my suit :cry:. There are 2 Qs on the flop and i'm drawing dead. The next 2 cards are both 3s giving me a lower full house but i've already got my coat on.

    I collect £70 for a massive £10 profit on the night :rolleyes:. I'm quite happy with how I played though.

    Here's a link to Jonathan Little's YouTube channel who I consider just about the best poker teacher out there for players at my level. https://www.youtube.com/user/FloatTheTurn
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2016
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  8. Spurger King

    Spurger King can't smile without glue

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    Interested in knowing what category I'd come in.

    I'm not a professional player in any way, but I do find it interesting and learnt a lot off a friend who makes a living from it (and general betting schemes). Intriguing to read about the different eras of styles in the game. Seems like bringing a 442 to a 3241 fight in the Prem. Tried and tested is not always the way.

    I'm a naturally chaotic player, which I guess actually makes me quite predictable. I like to play predictably and cautiously most of the time, but every now and then mix things up by going off piste. I generally play bold with what I think are the right cards 30% of the time, ultra conservative another 65%, then the other 5% I just convince myself I'll win anyway.

    Usually spontaneous, but if I'm really in the mood I'll pre-plan all of it. Probably way too focused on myself rather than surveying the scene. I'm not a gambler, but poker is entertaining and sociable. Just to reiterate, I don't play life changing stakes, so this is more recreational level, but still interested in your take.
     
  9. talkshowhost86

    talkshowhost86 Mod-Moose Staff

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    I was listening to an old Radiolab podcast which had a bit about Poker in it the other day and it featured Annie Duke.

    She basically said that at her level, tells are irrelevant and it's simply about the odds.

    Makes it all sound fairly dull. Much more exciting at the level where people are a bit crap methinks.
     
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  10. fatpiranha

    fatpiranha dismember

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    You are mostly right. At Annie Duke's level tells are pretty irrelevant simply because you won't get to that level if you have any. On the other hand if you play in tournaments you are going to see a lot of non-professionals who do exhibit tells. I've even spotted the occasional tell by world class players on television.

    At the level i'm playing at tells are quite important. You need to know what the common ones are. The most important tells of course are your own. You also need to know if your opponent knows what tells are as some players give off false ones to trap you.

    I don't have the mental energy to concentrate 100% of the time looking for tells on every player on the table. If I did i'd soon tire myself out and make mistakes. It's important to know your own limitations. My general policy is to concentrate on one player at my table at a time. I will choose whoever I think the best regular player is as if I pick anything up I can use it to my advantage in future tournaments.

    A few tournaments ago I was concentrating on one of the better regs. He didn't have any tells I could pick up on when he played against the weaker players but one time I saw him in a pot up against one of the other good regs. He made a bet and then exhibited a very well known tell for weakness. Whether the other guy picked up on it i've no idea but he did call and the first guy showed the nuts. My assessment is that the first guy thought the second was a strong enough player to know what the tell was supposed to mean.

    A couple of tournaments later I found myself in the small blind with the player who gave off the false tell immediately to my right on the button. The action was checked to him and he put in a standard button raise. I've looked at my cards and know I have pocket rockets. The standard play here would be to either reraise a normal amount or slowplay and just call hoping to pick off his continuation bet. I've no idea whether he has a strong hand or is just making a standard button steal. If he is stealing he will fold to any bet. If he is strong then he will call. He's unlikely to have A,K as I have 2 aces so his most likely holding is a pair below mine. If an A or other overcard to his pair comes on the flop he's going to be able to get away from his hand.

    So what I do is push all in and quickly make the very same tell for weakness he did (only rather more subtly). If he is stealing it doesn't make any difference. I really don't like slow playing the aces because if he gets a free look at the flop he might hit trips or 2 pair with his garbage and win all my chips when I think my aces are good. I know he knows this tell because he had faked it on another decent player previously. The fact that he didn't try it on me could be simply because he knew I hadn't been playing long and probably thought I wasn't experienced enough to know the tell.

    He snap called with a pair of Qs and I doubled up.

    A couple of rounds later he raised from the button again. Now my stack was much bigger than his but this time I had a garbage hand. I made exactly the same move pushing all in and doing the same weak tell. He looked disgusted and folded a pair of 10s face up. I made some remark about him being psychic and pulled in the pot.

    We haven't locked horns since but we will at some point and I now know he has a false read on me that I should be able to continue to exploit.
     
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  11. fatpiranha

    fatpiranha dismember

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    My first reaction was to repeat what I said earlier about me not being all that good a player as i've only been playing tournaments for about 18 months and suggest you'd be a lot better off asking your professional friend what type of player you are. However if you play against your "friend" for money it might not be in his interest to tell you the truth ;). So for what it's worth, and as I don't know you from Adam, i'll give it my honest best shot.

    First of all (and there's no nice way to say this :shifty:) I know what general category you come in; you're a fish. Don't be insulted. 95% of casual players are fish (and that is a very conservative estimate :cautious:). I know this because you asked the question. If you don't know what category of player you are you are a fish. I don't consider myself much above fish level either :(.

    I also know you must be a fish because of what you have neglected to tell me. You haven't mentioned what type of game you play in. Whether it is cash, tournament, full ring or 6-max. Your haven't mentioned your VPIP (voluntary put $ in pot) or your PFR (pre-flop raise) percentages.

    The question is "What type of fish are you?". There are A-fish and P-fish, maniacs and calling stations. From the figures you've given your VPIP is 35% which is far too high at a full ring and probably too high at 6-max. That's assuming your figures are accurate :unsure:. I don't think I could accurately assess my own VPIP but for the fact that i've played a little online and the stats are available. Without knowing your PFR or seeing you play it is impossible to know which category of fish you come into.

    This video by James 'SplitSuit' Sweeney will help you understand.

     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
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  12. fatpiranha

    fatpiranha dismember

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    I thought i'd introduce the topic of table image. If you play a lot with the same opponents you should have a pretty good idea of what type of player they are (and if they are any good they should also know what you are and are not capable of).

    But what if you've never played against a player before? In this case you have to use some general stereotypes. For example, middle-aged white guys like myself are normally fairly tight. The 20 year old kid wearing headphones and playing poker on his i-pad is probably a decent LAG. The loudmouth in the silver lame "BADA$$" t-shirt and chunky gold chain is probably a maniac. It's not very PC but in poker there is usually a reason for the stereotype.

    You want to project the image that is the opposite of how you actually play. I rarely bluff at the beginning of a tournament because I look like a typical tight player and I don't want to get caught bluffing and ruin that image. I'm going to be hyper-aggressive later in the tournament when the blinds go up and I don't want people calling my bluffs.

    You can't win a tournament in the first hour or so but you can sure as hell lose it so for the first few levels i'll play super tight and only play my premium hands. Sure i'll set mine with small pairs or play suited connectors in position if I can get in cheap but if I don't hit the flop hard i'm not going to turn them into bluffs as I will later in the tournament.

    I won't talk much as I don't want to draw attention to myself. I'll be friendly and ultra polite. If I do bluff someone I certainly won't show the bluff but if someone makes a good fold against me and I had a premium starting hand I will show my cards and compliment my opponent on their great read. I certainly don't want to make any enemies who are going to call my bluffs simply because i've pissed them off.

    The opposite approach is also valid. If you are naturally a conservative player who rarely bluffs then don't be afraid to make an early advertising bluff with a horrible hand like 7,2 offsuit. If you get caught that's fine. You've lost a few chips but you'll get them back in spades when people stack off against you when you are holding the nuts. If you get your opponent to fold then show the bluff and gloat. Make a lot of noise at the table and people will think you are playing a lot more hands than you actually are.

    Here's the follow up video to the one I posted above:

     
  13. fatpiranha

    fatpiranha dismember

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    One of the unique features about poker is that it is probably the only mind sport where it is possible to win money almost irrespective of how bad you are. If you play chess you pretty much have to be at a grandmaster level before you can make money from the game. I was a world class backgammon player (by that I mean I was definitely one of the best 100 players in the world and probably quite a bit higher) but I struggled to make a living at it because I didn't hustle weaker players and only had a slight edge over the level of competition I played against.

    Poker is different. Whatever level you are at (except total novice) you can always find a game where you have positive equity. I have a friend who works a minimum wage job and supplements his income by about £20-30 a week playing online at stakes so low even the professional multi-table grinders can't be bothered to play at. He's a total fish. 'Fish' though is a broad term and covers the vast majority of people who play the game. There are different levels of fish though. He's probably about halfway up the range whereas I am towards the top. It's possible that in the last month or two, thanks to the studying i've done, i've moved beyond the fish level and become a not very good LAG. At least i've improved enough to be sure that I now have positive equity at the level I play at.

    Having a reasonably accurate idea of your own standard of play is in my opinion the most important thing to know in poker. If you know how bad you are then you can choose a level of competition that you can beat. Most people massively overestimate their own abilities. When they lose they blame bad luck or claim the game is fixed. If you are in denial about how bad your game is then you will never do anything to fix it. You will be a losing player forever.
     
  14. sparx100

    sparx100 Well-Known Member

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    So @fatpiranha ,
    I am really struggling in a mates game. I think we played 15 games this year and I won 1. Has been the same for a couple of years now not really getting anywhere but prior to that i won the yearly award we have 3 times for most wins and most points.

    I dont really know where i am going wrong

    1. My style not working. I am solid conservative as a player. I suspect that although my knowledge is good, people know how to win hands off of me as i am tight.

    2. Frustration. There are a couple of decent players in the group but the rest are people who just play loose and any 2 cards and shove stupid bets in to win very little. Cheap to buy in and blinds low they play anything. I have got so frustrated that i am doing the same.

    My online gaming for some reason is more aggressive. I seem to play more hands and do continuation bets which seems to win hands. Recently been playing three handed on Pokerstar's and getting a bit of joy out of it.

    I suspect as you say the game has moved on and my abc poker is too easy to read. Live however its hard at a 9 handed table to establish dominance.
     
  15. fatpiranha

    fatpiranha dismember

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    I need a little more information before I can give any advice.

    What is the blind structure of your game? What's the buy in? How long can you rebuy for? What stakes do you play on Stars? What poker books have you read or training videos watched?

    Let me know and i'll get back to you (y).
     
  16. sparx100

    sparx100 Well-Known Member

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    So game is 1000 chips.
    Blinds go up every 45 mins
    5-10 45 mins
    10-25 45 mins
    25-50 45 mins
    50-100 30 mins
    100-200 30 mins
    200-400 30 mins

    Etc...usually about a 4hr game. Really enjoy it but dont feel i get anywhere. Only 5 pound buy in and it cuts off at the end of 50-100. Due to my style i dont tend to buy in after initial but dont really build up a stack.

    I have built up about 250 dollars in stars, a lot of it from low stakes of 2c/5c 5c/10c but i have been doing the $3 3 way which i have seen prizes of between $6 and $24. I tend to do fairly well on them, and they are turbos.

    Books i have read range from Harrington to a few daniel negreanu to doyles books to gus hansen. I feel i have the right thought process but live i tend to freeze a little, dont continue bet and get bet out of hands. I tend to trust people for making hands as well. Feel like i am in a bit of a rut.
     
  17. fatpiranha

    fatpiranha dismember

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    Ok. Good. I may have to ask a few more specific questions later but you've supplied plenty of information to get started. In fact there is far too much to comment on in a single post so i'll break it up into several as and when I have the time.

    Firstly you've already made the most difficult step. You realise your current game isn't working and haven't attributed this fact to bad luck. It's amazing how many people live in a state of denial and never reach this stage. Your game sucks. Of course it does; you're playing in £5 buy in tourneys and losing money. There's no shame in this, in fact it's the most important thing to realise if you want to get better. I play in £50 and £60 buy in tourneys and am getting a return on my investment of over 400%. My game also sucks. If it didn't i'd be playing much higher stakes but if I started entering $500 buy in tournaments i'd get destroyed. The good news is that you don't actually have to be good at poker in order to win money; you just have to be better than most of the people you are playing with.

    You've also identified what is probably your biggest problem. You say that online playing very small stakes you make money. Congratulations. 95%+ of online poker players lose money so at least at the level you are playing at you are doing very well. Online and live poker are two very different games however so i'm not going to try to improve your online game. There is one interesting question that needs to be answered though which is "why do make money online but lose live?".

    I think you already know the answer to this. By your own admission you are much more aggressive online. Continuation bets are massively profitable. People miss the flop most of the time and if you make a half pot continuation bet you only need to win one time in three to break even. That doesn't mean you should continuation bet every time, just when the flop either hits your hand or the cards you are representing. Your story has to make sense. Against weak players who don't even understand what range of cards you are supposed to be representing you don't even have to bet half the pot. You can bet a third of the pot and if they raise or call just give up. They will mostly play fit or fold poker so a smaller bet will win almost as often as a larger one and doesn't have to win as often to make a profit. They will also often interpret a small bet as stronger than a large one thinking you are trying to suck them in.

    Aggression is the key to winning at poker. That doesn't mean playing crazily, making huge bluff raises or playing lots of hands. It just means playing the hands you do play aggressively. You've stated that you have a tight style of play. There's nothing wrong with that especially at the level you are playing at. If that's the style you are naturally comfortable with I won't try to change it. I'm probably considerably looser than you but still at the tight end of the spectrum. I suspect however that you play a lot of hands I would throw in the muck and wouldn't consider playing half the hands I think are fine to play. You can survive a long time in tournaments playing tight but you need to be able to shift gears in order to win.

    Poker is surprisingly complex. You need to take in to account your opponents style of play, your position at the table, your cards, your image, your stack size and your opponents stack sizes. There isn't a clearly 'right' way to play but there are a lot of patently wrong ways. If you fix the leaks in your game players at your level will simply give you their chips.

    To be continued ...
     
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  18. sparx100

    sparx100 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah i play fairly tight hands. Ut like to throw in suited connectors even gapped from time to time but dont tend to find them very profitable.

    We had a couple of online tournaments with the people from SC a few years back and i won at least one, so online i seem to have more confidence than in live where i feel i get called by everyone and i am weak.
     
  19. sparx100

    sparx100 Well-Known Member

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    Also my way of playing pocket pairs is not great. If i have 3s or 4s and someone raises in front of me i may even fold so i have become incredibly tight live. I just give people the credit that they have a better hand when in reality they probably just have decent cards.

    The hands that arre played at the live game and in tournaments grind my gears though. They may call a raise with q/3 juat in the hope it turns good....
     
  20. fatpiranha

    fatpiranha dismember

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    @sparx100

    The first thing to look at is the structure of the game you are playing. You are starting with 100 big blinds. This is fairly deep stacked poker. You can play any style of poker at this stack depth but it should favour someone with your tight style. The blinds are barely worth stealing so i'd keep the bluffs to a minimum. Your game also has a slow level of increasing blinds so i'd stick to your tight style at least until the rebuy period is finished. You can't win a poker tournament in the first few levels but you can certainly lose it. Ideally, unless you flop a monster you want to be playing small pots in position and slowly improving your stack.

    You've stated that you don't tend to rebuy. Why is this? Is it because you can't afford it or because you don't think it's good value? If the former then you have a problem because scared money is dead money. You can still play because you enjoy it but be prepared for a few early nights. Hanging on with a scared stack is a recipe for failure. Remember the money you have entered with is no longer yours. Your only choice is how you choose to play the chips you bought with it. If you play passively that money is 100% dead. Very rarely are you going to get so many great hands dealt to you and so much luck that you are going to win. Play aggressively and you have a chance even if you can only afford one entry.

    If you are not rebuying because you don't think you have good value then you are simply wrong. Even if you rebuy at the 50-100 level you will have 10 big blinds. You can't play much poker with 10BB because you only really have one move. Lucky for you it's the most powerful move in poker - the all-in shove. Your cards aren't really that important. What is important is that nobody has entered the pot before you and the stack size of the players still to act. Avoid the big stacks (especially if they are in the blinds) because to them you are just a bug to be crushed and losing won't hurt them. Also avoid the short stacks because they are as desperate as you are. Also avoid the calling stations (although by this stage of the tournament most of them will have already gone bust). Target the medium stacks who have 20-30BBs. Losing 10BBs to you at this stage would really hurt them. Say you are them sitting in the blinds with 25BBs and a decent suited connector, an A,9 or a pair of 4s and you, a known tight player, shoves for 10BBs. How often are you going to call? Not very often at all I bet. I would open shove from early position with any pair, any A, any decent suited connector and any 2 broadway cards. From middle position i'd also shove with any K, and from the cut-off, button or small blind with any 2 cards in an unopened pot provided there was a medium size stack in the Big Blind.

    Each time you do this you'll increase your stack and your shoves will become harder to call. Even if you do get called you probably aren't as big an underdog as you think and may well double up. For example you shove from the button with 8,6 offsuit and get called in the BB by A,K. You are still winning over 37% of the time :wideyed:. Add this to the approximately 70% of the time everybody folds and you can see how profitable this move is at this stack depth.

    My point is, is that provided you've got the stones and can afford to lose the extra money rebuying is at least as good a deal as your initial buy in.

    In my next post we'll discuss your image and the playing styles of your opponents. Can you let me know how many players are on average in the tournament, how many rebuys and what the prize pool structure is? Also if the winner is usually fairly spread around or if the same 2 or 3 people almost always win.

    To be continued ...
     

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