Search This Blog

Friday, May 28, 2010

Why do I keep making the same mistake?

I can't seem to escape from this self-destructive pattern when it comes to poker. I inevitably get bored playing NLHE, or an irresistible bonus offer comes along, and I get pulled out of my comfort zone into games that hurt my bankroll. I've been playing Rush PLO for a little while now, experimenting with shortstack play after I got off to a rough start with playing fullstacked, and it hasn't gone well at all. I actually got off to a good start with the shortstacking, but then the variance of PLO started rearing its ugly head and I've been in a bit of a nosedive. I don't think I'm terrible at the game but I have a very hard time dealing with the variance. I start to feel uncomfortable with the game and panic at the hit to my bankroll. Since I started playing Rush PLO, I've eaten through about 13% of my Full Tilt bankroll.

So, I'm cutting my losses and hopefully this time I'll learn my lesson. No more screwing around with non-NLHE cash games until both my psyche and bankroll are at a point where I can handle the variance. I'm going to return to 10NLHE, starting with Rush again, to get back in the swing of things and recoup my PLO losses.

At least things have been going decently over at Stars with the 45 turbos. I don't have any stats to post yet, but I know I've been slightly profitable since I started playing them again. Oh, and I do still have a single Step 1 ticket left so my WSOP dream isn't quite dead yet...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

OMG, Rush PLO!!!

My poker ADHD is acting up again. Just as I had started settling back into playing the $1.10, 45-turbos I discovered that Full Tilt has been offering 6-max Rush PLO, at .05-.10 stakes. PLO has always been one of my favourite games in terms of pure enjoyment but I never had the nads to put up with the variance for a long period of time.

If you've never played PLO, the reason why the variance is so high (probably higher than any other mainstream form of poker) is that starting with 4-cards greatly increases the average value of the postflop hands when compared to Holdem. Hands like sets, flushes, straights, and full houses are far more common when you get to start with four cards rather than just two. This also means that the frequency and size of flopped draws is greatly increased. In Holdem a typical draw is an OESD or FD, with a combo straight+flush draw fairly rare. In Omaha, however, an OESD is basically worthless because 13- and 17-out straight draws are far more common. The end result is that Omaha often involves confrontations between big made hands or combo made hands plus draws and big draws, which means you're often putting money into the pot with small edges over your opposition. People who understand the nature of the game also understand that you should pretty much always be betting pot (to charge drawing hands, and to get full value from hands when you have an equity edge), which, when combined with the fact that people love to see flops in Omaha, results in much larger average pots than in NLHE.

Although the variance is high in PLO, there is big money-making potential at the micro stakes because there is a huge gap between the players who understand the game and know what they're doing, and those who don't. The same is true in NLHE, obviously, but the impact of this gap is emphasized in PLO because of the aforementioned factors. The two major mistakes that micro fish make in PLO are: (1) playing way too many hands; and (2) overvaluing marginal hands postflop (sound familiar?). What this means is that if you understand (1) hand selection strategy; (2) how the hand values differ compared to NLHE; and (3) the value of big draws, you can make money off the people who don't understand these concepts. In micro PLO most of your money will come from players who chase baby flushes and stack off to your nut flush, or get their money in postflop with Holdem hands like a bare AA overpair or straight with no redraws, or slowplay bottom set, or whatever.

So, I'm still going to be playing my 45-turbos but I am going to play around with some Rush PLO for a bit. Might also be a good way to accumulate some FTPs for my next run at the WSOP steps...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Back to tourney poker...for now

I'm still barely alive in the Steps, currently playing my last remaining ticket (Step 2). I should have been back up to Step 3 last night but I suffered a bad beat with 4 left to stay at Step 2. Anyway, while I've been playing my steps one at a time I've also been playing some $1.10, 45-turbos in the background and the combination of the two has rekindled my love for tourney poker. Right now I shudder at the thought of going back to grinding 10NL cash. Unfortunately this is a pattern of mine. I just can't stay interested in any form of poker for an extended period of time, so I tend to bounce back and forth.

So since I'm down to a single ticket and don't plan to buy more in the very near future, I figure I might as well get back into my Grade 3 studies with a focus on tourney play (in particular the 45-turbos). My hope is that eventually I'll be able to move up to the $3.25's, though with my current Stars bankroll at just about $180 it will be a while before I get there.

In any case, the one major thing I have to work on in my MTT game is taking advantages of opportunities to chip-up in the mid stages. I feel I have a pretty comfortable handle on early stage play and late stage/shortstacked play, but where I tend to falter a bit is in my ability to chip-up in the mid stages when I have a stack in the range of 12-20BB. It's about getting over the psychological block of "I have a relatively healthy stack, no need to put it at risk," thinking that prevents me from pulling the trigger on moves during this stage. One move in particular that I'd like to work on is the resteal. In the context of 45-turbos, I can't be afraid to bust out in 15th-20th to put myself in better position to finish deep.

*Edit: And I'm out of the step system. Here's the final hand:

Full Tilt No-Limit Hold'em Tournament, 50/100 Blinds (6 handed) - Full-Tilt Converter Tool from

CO (t1302)
Button (t3480)
Hero (SB) (t1848)
BB (t3145)
UTG (t2230)
MP (t1495)

Hero's M: 12.32

Preflop: Hero is SB with K♠, A♣

UTG bets t300, 3 folds, Hero raises to t1848 (All-In), 1 fold, UTG calls t1548

Flop: (t3796) 7♣, J♣, 3♣ (2 players, 1 all-in)

Turn: (t3796) 4♦ (2 players, 1 all-in)

River: (t3796) 8♥ (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: t3796

Hero had K♠, A♣ (high card, Ace).
UTG had 9♥, 9♣ (one pair, nines).
Outcome: UTG won t3796

In hindsight it was a bit careless. The raiser had been a fairly tight raiser thus far in the SnG and this was the bubble, so getting it in here w/ AK when the blinds are still relatively low and the preflop pot fairly small probably wasn't worth the risk. Probably a sign that I was growing a bit tired of grinding away at the bottom steps, so a break will be a good thing. I'll probably try once more a bit later in the WSOP satty season.