Leggo Poker Every Tool You Need To Win


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[Kind of got off track in terms of blogging and poker in general since I got back from AC. But thought I would post this and clear out my TextEdit even though it's no longer relevant]

I'm sitting in a limo to get from Atlantic City to Philly as I write this. I had called for a town car and they sent this, but it's pretty sweet given that it's basically the same price.

So I spent a week in AC, made about 3k in cash games and 3k from finishing 10th/112 in the 2k WSOP Circuit event. The money I made was definitely lower than the hourly I make online since there were so many 10+ hour days of poker, but it was a good learning experience given that I'm still somewhat green with live poker. And I entered the tournament because I plan on playing a few WSOP events this year and wanted to get in some practice in multiple day events since I had never done one before.

Day 1.

There were two empty seats for the first hour or two at my table, one would eventually be filled by Michael Binger, and the other by this crazy Russian named Boris. Boris seemed to enjoy muttering constantly about his tablemates and berating the dealers as much as playing cards. At times he was singing to himself, at times he was loudly cracking jokes, at times he was yelling in Russian across the table, at times he was jumping up from his chair and back into his chair, but he was always doing something to call attention to himself and disrupt the table. Eventually someone called the floor because he kept on getting up and leaving the table while he was still in a hand. So while Boris argued with floor, Michael Binger jumped in to say that Boris has been disruptive and berating players and dealers. So when the floor left the wrath of Boris was turned squarely on Binger, and they went back and forth something along the lines of:

Boris: What are you, you think you're a big dog. Go back to reading your magazine, [unintelligible Russian mutterings]
Binger: No one likes you. I was at dinner last night and everyone was talking about what an asshole you are. You are a miserable fucking guy.
Boris: Floor! Do I have to put up with this cursing?

So things calm down, Boris is singing to himself "no one likes me, I have no friends" and play is back to somewhat normal when Boris jumps up and leaves the table during a hand again. The same guy that called the floor the first time does it again, and again we have Boris bickering with the floor and Binger letting them know that Boris is continuing to causing trouble, etc. So when the floor leaves, Binger puts his headphones back on and looks down at his magazine, and Boris gets up and mutters "don't call the floor on me again" and whacks Binger's chair with his foot as he leaves. When Boris returns like 20 minutes later now it's all out warfare between the two of them, and they are yelling at each other in a way that looks like it can only end in fisticuffs. The floor comes over and tells them that they need to stop talking to each other or they will both incur penalties, etc etc. Finally the table breaks and we all breathe a sigh of relief that we can get away from that madness and be able to focus on poker again.

My day of poker started with me bluffing off half of my chip stack within the first half hour. Keep in mind that we start with 25k and the blinds are 25/50, so it takes some real effort to bluff off that many chips in one hand. There was a crazy Italian that was really active and aggressive, and he 3b me, I 4b him with AK, he flats. Flop comes Qxx, and I fire 3 streets thinking he can only call down with KK+. But he has KK. This sucked, and obviously there was no reason to 4b AK this early, and having made that mistake even less reason to get out of line postflop but I got sucked into the bluff vortex once I fired the turn. So I go into lockdown mode because I'm down to like 11k, and more than anything I need to regain my image if I'm going to start chipping up again. I played tight enough and my image improved enough that this hand went down: raise AQs ep, 2 callers in the blinds, the Italian player that I now know is just a straight up fish, and an old but actually fairly competent and aggressive Russian guy. Flop comes 778 and it checks around, turn is a 9, Italian bets 1k, old guy calls 1k, and I instantly make it 4k. Italian instafolds and then old guy grouses for a minute about how unlucky he is and folds, and I show.

So at my new table I get a few big hands and double up twice, I am up to like 50k and probably just a little below average. The next table I'm able to chip up a bit, and then get into a coinflip that would take me down to 20k if I lose, but I win. I'm up to 80kish to end the day leaving me a little above average but way below the chip leaders who probably have 200-300k.

Run good: Won an important flip, got a few big hands when I was getting shortstacked
Run bad: table position, after the first table I always got seated directly to the right of the most aggressive player

Day 2.

I start the day without anything remotely playable for the first few orbits. Finally I open J3o in MP to take advantage of the image that I've surely earned by now, young internet type looks and me and I can see he thinks that I'm a nit, so he 3b me, and I think for 10 seconds and 4b him, he folds and I show. It was one of those spots that I love where your image has basically gained you variance-free chips because you know so clearly what someone thinks of you. In retrospect, I shouldn't be showing as many bluffs as I did, but when table conditions are dictating you play tight I think it's OK to put some doubt in their minds as to what you are up to.

So this day was relatively uneventful. I went from 36 down to 10 with basically the same chip stack of 80-90k. I bluffed away 30k on two separate occasions, but also was able to win enough small/medium sized pots to stay alive. And getting AK > AQ on the bubble and doubling from 50 to 100k didn't hurt. Unfortunately AK < TT knocked me out on the final table bubble.

Run good: almost every continuation bet and double barrel worked
Run bad: horribly card dead, and once again always seemed to draw the worst seat at the table
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Are any Leggoers going to be in AC this week or next for the WSOP circuit events being held there? Here is a list of the events: Link

Think I am leaving tomorrow and will play the 2k on Friday. I want to get in some small events before playing the main event and some other WSOP events this year. I know after 3 days I'll hate live poker again, but right now I'm excited to head over there!
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How are we different from professional athletes and what can we learn from them?

  • We are both playing a game for a living
  • We are both pitted against an opponent who wants to hurt us as bad as we want to hurt them
  • We both have coaches and go into "training" modes
  • We both contribute very little to the betterment of society and probably make too much for what we do
  • We are both lucky enough to have a career that is a true meritocracy. Fortunately poker players can become great purely through work ethic, whereas athletes have much more of a built in cap to their potential.

  • We don't give ourselves an offseason! I think there are a ton of us who play virtually every day year round. Though it does seem like the MSNL crowd do enjoy their trips to Mexico and the like.
  • We don't take preparation as seriously! Too many of us just blindly fire up tables without making sure we are in the right mental frame of mind, without reviewing hands, without setting specific goals for our play. It's kind of like waking up, having coffee, and just stumbling out the door and into a football stadium at 1pm on Sunday as the quarterback of an NFL team. It doesn't make any sense.
  • We don't review our play enough! How can we improve if we blindly march forward repeating the same mistakes again and again. The unexamined life..
  • We don't scout our opponents enough! This thread on 2p2 is what got me thinking about this whole comparison. Boywonder spends an hour before he plays every day just going through hand histories from his opponents and picking apart tendences. He'll spend a week on one reg before moving on to another. I did this today and it's really helpful, it's amazing how much sharper and more specific your reads can be during review vs actual play.

Oh and of course the obvious difference:

Your typical athlete:

Your typical poker player:
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Live poker mostly sucks, but one thing about it that I think is beneficial for an online player's game is the amount of time you have to reflect on your hands, on your table image, and on your game in general. One thing it has allowed me to notice about my own game is that I tend to take a sniper's mentality toward poker. I want to hide in the bushes, and get in very low risk very +EV shots when no one is expecting it, and then go hide in a different bush. So I am sacrificing EV in the name of lowering variance, but why?

What I've realized is that even though I'm a very competitive person, I'm also fundamentally non confrontational. As an example, I was recently playing 5/5 at Turning Stone and there was an old nit there who sometimes bet 1/3 pot as an obvious probing bet, folding to a raise 100% of the time. Online, once I see this bet sizing tell I am raising his bet every time until he adjusts. But at this table, after I'd already raised him a few times, I kind of felt like a prick continuing to do it. It was a friendly table with a lot of small talk going on and some part of me didn't want to call attention to myself by continuing to pick on this guy. I also had this feeling of “well I've won enough off this old crawdad, I can back off now.”

The good news is that in tournaments I care a lot less about rocking the boat, essentially because I have no choice. I'm there to win all the chips, so “winning enough” isn't really an option. The last tournament I played in was like a $350 or so deep stacked turbo (lol) at TS, so filled with a lot of bad players. I found myself a few levels in getting away with raising a ton of hands, I would guess 40% or so. This was creating a stir at the table, but I was getting away with it. So a part of me started to feel cocky almost by necessity, because I had to kind of justify to myself and to the table a reason why I was raising so many hands. I started to feel real disdain for my opponents, and it felt good!

There was another cocky player at the table, kind of your typical low stakes live guido grinder type guy. And he started grousing about my opening too much, and he was basically trying to talk the players on his side of the table into playing back at me. He was even bitching about me to his friends that were railing him.

At one point as it was folding to me he actually said “my big blind better not get raised this time”. I thought this was kind of hilarious because really how many walks does this guy expect to get? If I'm not going to raise, someone else probably is since I was half way across the table from him. But I looked down at the very sweet KTo and just couldn't resist raising. In the non cocky / non confrontational mode that I usually play in, this would have been an auto muck, but I knew I had to play it. I was in the mindset of wanting to cause people anguish, and I knew that this would piss him off. So it predictably folds to him and he looks at his cards and sits there along time before folding with a look of utter disgust on his face.

I think one of my problems is that I tend to think of competition as more of a battle with myself than a chance to prove my mettle versus an opponent. So if I am playing well I tend to kind of internalize it as “you are reacting to situations well, good job!” And if I am not I tend to think “well you aren't playing your best, let's figure out why and make some adjustments”. But what I'm not thinking is “fuck you dude, I'm better than you and I'm not going to let you outplay me”. Or “fuck you dude, you suck and I'm not going to let up until I have busted your roll.” I need to remember how much fun it was to give that guido a kick in the gut just by raising his blinds one time when he literally told me not to. And I do believe that is the type of attitude needed (at least one some level) to be truly successful at this game.

So the moral of this (longer than intended) story is man up, get cocky, and go out there and destroy some souls. It's fun, you will get away with it more than you think, and you will give yourself an opportunity to be a great player rather than merely a profitable one.

In summary:

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My main in leak in poker is that I can be a pretty big calling station. It's something I work on, but it's also something that I often find myself just kind of accepting. I was just making coffee and thinking back on a session I just played where I gave full ring a try for the first time in like 2 years. And full ring might be the worst possible form of poker for a calling station because as ranges get tighter we obviously have to make good folds more consistently.

But it got me thinking about the craziness and irrationality of making calls that you know are bad. And I was thinking that there are 3 primary reasons we make bad calls.

We are curious.

What does he have that he would play that way? I've never seen him check raise the river before, fuck it it's probably a bad call but I really need to know what he would do this with.

We are undisciplined.

I partied my ass off last night, but here I am hungover and playing poker. Oh, you think I'm going to fold an overpair to the nittiest player at the table for 100bb? WTF, I snap call you obv. Some day I'll overset you and get that money back.

We are paranoid.

This mofo thinks he can out play me? HE THINKS HE CAN OUTPLAY ME!??!

I will get myself on rolls where I go a few weeks where I am consistently making good folds, which usually leads to some of my biggest months. But what I think the problem is is that my B and C game have plenty of stationy qualities, so I need to get my B and C game to incorporate a few more folds.
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A little playful chat bullshitting to lighten up a crappy day of 6max pokerz

MELLI69: hi golfpro, where are you teaching ?
MELLI69: i am a pro myself
GOLFPRO_420: in my basement
MELLI69: where is that
GOLFPRO_420: downstairs from my upstairs
MELLI69: so you are not teaching active
GOLFPRO_420: i have a craigslist ad where i lure people into my basement
GOLFPRO_420: for golf coaching
MELLI69: you teach in america?
GOLFPRO_420: yeah you interested?
GOLFPRO_420: it's only available to blondes under 25
GOLFPRO_420: if ur old you need a really big rack
MELLI69: no i am teaching in germany in a old fashion club in frankfu
GOLFPRO_420: ah ok
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Think my sizings here suck, a little too big preflop and on the flop. But this guy 3bets 50% of the time over a very big sample, and I just never thought he would block bet with a big hand on the river. I also thought he could definitely get to the river with Ahxh, or like 56, 67, 78, 57, 66, 88, this way and fold those despite his good price since my image is good with him and we've played a bunch.

I guess my image is so good that he typed out:

9s full?
10s full?

Before he timed down and called.

[x] Got a good price on a bluff vs a dude with a range as wide as the sun
[?] It looks gross but I think I still like this bluff vs this guy
[x] Had the guy quit me on the second table which sent me into "sit back or don't sit with me again fish" type tilt
[x] That chat was about the most -ev thing possible

Absolute/UB Cereus Hold'em, $10.00 BB (2 handed) - Absolute/UB Cereus Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com

Hero (SB) ($1939.25)
BB ($2197.75)

Preflop: Hero is SB with J, K
Hero bets $20, BB raises to $60, Hero raises to $190, BB calls $130

Flop: ($380) 5, 9, 9 (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $220, BB calls $220

Turn: ($820) 10 (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $440, BB calls $440

River: ($1700) 7 (2 players)
BB bets $220, Hero raises to $1089.25 (All-In), BB calls $869.25

Total pot: $3878.50 | Rake: $0.75

Hero had J, K (one pair, nines).
BB had 9, 8 (three of a kind, nines).
Outcome: BB won $7755.50
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I saw klink's post about his setup, and thought I would share mine as well. I think my setup is a little more cluttered than most, but it serves my needs. I make electronic music, so there are periods of the day where I will open up HU tables and then work on music until someone sits. There have also been more than a few occasions where a session ends badly for me, and I just close out all my tables and use making music as a tilt reliever... I have made some angry music as a result!

I also have a macbook pro that I just bought that sits on my coach for when I feel like chilling and playing some low stakes PLO or something.

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Ok, so I had a few interesting 4bet pot hands in the last few days that I thought I would share.

A good opponent to 4bet light right off the bat?

I've noticed something in HU matches that is useful. We all know that if an opponent is decent, his first 3bet is light the vast majority of the time in a HU match. In fact I would say that the vast majority of reasonable opponents are 3betting you within the first 5 or 10 hands that you open. So against an unknown, should we be 4betting their first 3bet 100% of the time? Unfortunately, no. It's such an obvious spot to 4bet that we should expect to get played back at lighter than usual.

But I've realized that the guys that are perfect to 4bet right off the bat are the guys that make snap decisions. For example, if a guy is snap folding to a cbet, snap folding to a cr, snap folding to a 3bet, you can make a quick judgement that the player is probably somewhat nitty, is probably playing to the strength of his hands, and is not thinking too hard about alternate lines or even too worried about what you are up to. In other words the type of guy that reacts to a 4bet by thinking "oh shit this guy is a card rack, I fold".

Cbetting 100% of the time in 4bet pots (vs reasonable opponents)

xpertleagues: i think i'm going back to not playing at 2am when i'm tired and don't give a shit
friend: meh, if it's against a fish you'll be +EV even if you're drunk/ haven't slept in days
xpertleagues: yeah but i think there's something to be said for not having those "i played my C game" regrets the next morning :-)
kind of like waking up with a ugly chick or something

I was discussing this hand with him:

Poker Stars $3/$6 No Limit Hold'em - 2 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By DeucesCracked.com

Hero (BTN/SB): $773.25
BB: $1145.65

Pre Flop: ($9.00) Hero is BTN/SB with Q A
Hero raises to $12, BB raises to $48, Hero raises to $132, BB calls $84

Flop: ($264.00) T 7 9 (2 players)
BB checks, Hero checks

Turn: ($264.00) K (2 players)
BB bets $150, Hero raises to $641.25 all in

So my reasoning for my turn jam was that I can rep AK pretty well here, it's also very feasible that I jam AK for protection on this board with the amount already in the pot given how crazy the board is and knowing he can call with worse. Having said that, I think this was a tired 2am overaggro "I don't give a shit" move where I didn't consider strongly enough the fact that the reason it's OK to jam AK there is the very reason is bad to bluff there, you are getting called by alot of pair + draws.

But it got me to thinking about cbetting in 4bet pots. I actually think I should have cbet something like 130 on this board, and then jammed alot of turns. The reason I didn't cbet was that I thought I still had the best hand alot, and I thought I would get c/jammed on with alot of draws. But I think betting this board, and frankly nearly 100% of boards in 4bet pots has alot of merits:

a) Your range is crushing that of your opponent's.
b) You are getting an great price on your bluff
c) You will have a ton of good turn cards to jambo
d) When you jam the turn you are telling a consistent story and giving your opponent multiple chances to fold
d) It makes the hand ridic easy to play

This isn't rocket science, but I think I'm putting it out there mostly as a reminder to myself to stop checking flops in 4bet pots.

Cold 4betting a non polarized range when deep?

Wow, this hand really surprised me.

Absolute/UB Cereus No-Limit Hold'em, $4.00 BB (5 handed) - Absolute/UB Cereus Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com

Hero (Button) ($797.50)
SB ($990.30)
BB ($532.50)
UTG ($422.28)
MP ($784.16)

Preflop: Hero is Button with J, Q
UTG bets $8, 1 fold, Hero raises to $28, SB raises to $68, 2 folds, Hero calls $40

Flop: ($148) 8, 4, 8 (2 players)
SB bets $99, Hero calls $99

Turn: ($346) Q (2 players)
SB bets $175, Hero calls $175

River: ($696) 9 (2 players)
SB raises to $648.30 (All-In), Hero calls $455.50 (All-In)

Total pot: $1607 | Rake: $3

Hero mucked J, Q (two pair, Queens and eights).
SB had K, Q (two pair, Queens and eights).
Outcome: SB won $3208

This river is a fold, but I'm a (recovering) station and that will still talk myself into a call in some bad places. My thought process in this hand was that preflop his range was very polarized, given that I'm not a crazy 3bettor only 3betting about 6% of the time. I think in this hand that might have been mitigated by the small open, and then the small 3bet. But I would have expected any medium strength hands to basically flat my 3bet to go 3way with a fish. So by the river I thought he had 8x, AA, and KK, and bluffs exclusively and would put my range at basically middling pairs like 77/88/JJ that could never call a river bet. Or course like any addict recovering stations will talk themselves into all kinds of bullshit to justify their behavior.

BUT my point is that I found his 4bet interesting (despite some bad sizing imo), and think there is alot of merit to depolarizing cold 4bets since people generally play so straight forward in 4bet pots.
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I just played at 1500 hand session of 6max at 2/4 after getting about 3 hours of sleep last night. At first I was one tabling HU while playing 4 6max tables, and I quickly was down 6 buyins at 6max while being up $500 or so HU. I eventually grinded most of it back at the 6max tables, but I had to stop playing HU so that I could focus better.

A few observations:

1. When a fish pots the river after the turn goes c/c, just accept that it's top pair or better and fold.

2. One of the best reasons for 3betting a guy alot is that you learn so much about their game so quickly. There is a (weird) reg who will vary his raise size on the button and co, anywhere from 3x to 5x. Finally I was like, ok it's time to start investigating what his ranges are with these bet sizes. Result: he's even weirder than I thought.

3. In 200bb games, there is no such thing as "this guy has been 3betting me a ton, but I can't 4bet him light because by now he'd be expecting it". In 100bb games, I'd much rather react to a frequent 3better by widening my 4bet/call value range than 4bet/folding. For a while I was 4betting light too often in those games and just getting jamboed on a ton. But in 200bb games since guys are alot more keen to protect their stack, if they decide to play back at your 4bet it will usually be by flatting.

So here's what you gain by 4betting light vs someone who is targeting you with 3bets while deep:

a) You diffuse the situation. Whether it works or not, you will almost never still be getting 3bet at the same frequencies as you were before.

b) You let the rest of the table know that you won't be their piñata. If you let one reg 3bet you mercilessly, all of a sudden that 17/13 guy says "wow, easy money" and suddenly you have a guy who normally 3bets 4% of the time all up in your grill.

c) But most importantly, you have the betting lead in a situation where your range is stronger than your opponent's... and you have a ton of ammunition to fire barrels. Enough said.

Alot of this may be obvious, but I'm still working out my 4betting frequencies since transitioning to playing mostly in deep games.

And in the future I'll post hands when I review my sessions, but frankly I don't have a handle yet on how interesting the hands that I play are especially given that there are plenty of guys who have blogs that are much bigger sickos than me. I owned guys in a few hands today, but could have very possibly been owned in more. So is it hypocritical to only post the hands that make yourself look good? If I post the hands that were successful, do I have an obligation to post the hands I butchered as well?
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