Saturday, September 25, 2021

Holdem, Get Some Money without Losing Yours Part 3


More talent than I have

First, a humor break with my new tongue in cheek joke: ...don't be afraid of the Monster Under the Bed. You do not want to wake the Monster in the Closet.

Player Mistakes, theirs and ours.

So, what about your game? I can tell you a few things going on in your game. When I look at the Players, I know without a doubt each Player can beat you. I also know without a doubt, you can beat each Player. Everything gets more complicated when it is the table playing against you. This pulls our thoughts all out of context and into the alternative poker zone.

Probably not as transparent or easy to see is this: If you are not winning more than you are losing over sessions, you are playing incorrectly for your game. Start playing correctly by observing Players individually. In the movie, "Rounders", Mike McDermott say's, "Listen, here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker." Don't be the Sucker.

That thought is pretty harsh, probably said in the movie for effect, but it is also so, so true. No one at Low Limits plays consistently well, even you and I. If they did, they would not be playing Low Limit Holdem. Each Moron, idiot, brain dead husk, or zombie Player at the table with you is smart enough to make enough money to meet their basic needs and play poker. They also will take our money if we let them. I think that puts them in the top 50% of the Human brain pool. Play cautious and be respectful. When you make the final table at the WSOP, you can call them Idiots and Morons.

What each Player in your game has, is flaw(s) you can take advantage of. How many of these Players fold post flop to a smallish bet after checking? Dead Money that could belong to you. How may Players over protect their hands when they should have folded? Dead Money for you. Which Players are playing more passive/aggressive than they should be? Snap 'em off. Over defend their blinds <- really dumb play. Take their Chips.

The list of Player error income sources is long, from fancy play syndrome to over betting or over protecting hands, to silly tells and sillier false tells. One thing is for sure, everyone at a Low Limit Table is making mistakes as they play. Even you and I. WE have to make less mistakes than they do.

As example, is hand odds. Hand odds tell you, what the odds are of making your hand by the River. Take a flush draw for instance, where you are about 4.5:1 to making a Flush by the River.

Because the pot size in a looser games can easily give you 5:1 or better odds, it seems a good idea to take advantage of getting in on the cheap. Let's call the flop too, it's cheap. On the Turn, you have a Four Flush, but someone raised the flop knocking the heck out the hand to pot odds. Instead of there being dead money in the pot over the hand odds, now calling the Turn is even money at best. When the Turn misses us. Well, we know how that goes and how it feels. Straights and Flushes are Greyhound Buses, yeh, but we have an ID10T error.

So that is probably one of the most overused example I know of. More likely is someone hammers the turn with a half pot raise and you have a four card nut flush draw with top pair. That seems more of a real life problem. You could make the flush, trips, or top two pair. Pretty enticing to call a raise on, its a strong hand. Also a pretty smooth way to get broke. Be strong, not stupid. Know your Players.

What kind of Player made the raise? Generally at low limits, a Player who is hit hard by the flop, panics and raises big on the Turn to, "Protect their Hand". Protect their hand from what?? Then again maybe it is a bluff raise. Three players in the hand all fold before you. Follow their lead. If you haven't been paying attention, they have. It's a real raise from a made hand. Next hand.

Well, that's a lot of blah, blah for something you already know. I know it too, but it is so hard to lay down such a pretty hand to some pea brain moron who bets too much. It all comes down to watching and learning Players play. How many Players like to raise, and how many like to fold. Which of those Players do you want to tangle with? Which Players do you know have lower hand standards than yours? Which Players should you stay away from if you like your chips?

All rolled up into a stinky ball of #*&^$% , it all comes down to the Same Issue. Holdem is both complex and boring! It is easier to get distracted and daydream. When I see a player looking tired with three or more buy-ins in front of him or her, I am inspired. I can find myself drifting away after the first round. Look fold, look fold, gets old.

After the first round of watching, I still have no real clue if the other players behavior is card inspired, or that is how they play. Watch another round, more is better. Better Holdem Play is the fix for winning. I am sure we are not yet ready for the WSOP. That level play is massive work and experience in action.

The more work we do now, the less work there may be later. Start putting in the work and paying more attention. You may find you have extra money to spend when it is time to go out and play away from the table. As on the title of Annie Duke's book says, "Decide to Play Great Poker". I know we all can play poor poker, it's easy, just watch the final WSOP table, piece of cake, yeh, you betcha.

Week after week after week, Slot Machine Players, go All In. They are used to it. They generally go home broke. Remember, there is no Poker rule that you must go All In, even if you have over half your buy-in in this one pot. a Second Best hand is second best, all in or not. Fifteen seconds after you lose the hand and leave the table, no one at the table will care, but you will be busy beating yourself up on your play. Be a thinking player and not a reacting player to quit beating up on yourself. Other players will do that for you, some for little or no charge.

Those Monsters are are under the bed and in the closet because of lack of information. Not paying attention, not working the hand through. Did this Player just come alive, or are they generally active. Pay attention, know your Players, fold more and you will forget about the Monsters.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Holdem, Get Some Money Without Losing Yours Part 2

Three Red Stacks

Three Red Stacks

I think this is a good time to talk about session money, e.g., your future chips. Let's pretend a game we will play has a maximum buy-in of $300.00. As you have not yet converted your three-hundred dollars to red chips yet, think about the cash in your hand as you stand in line at the cage. Where did that $300.00 come from? How long did it take to make or save up that $300.00? Is that money important to you? If that $300.00 is not that important to you, maybe its time to think about playing higher stakes?

The reason for the buy-in questions is: Casino's and Card Rooms have a secret weapon to help you lose your money faster and it is no secret. They gladly convert your $1, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills to red chips. Once you have chips, the burden of thinking about money is gone. You did not work for those chips, you did not save for them. You did not work a second job for them. All you have in front of you now, is three stacks of Red Chips! We do not mind throwing around some red chips because we have three stacks. We have lot's of chips to throw around. They are almost free after all. They are not really money until we cash out.

Every other session, if not more often, this same scenario plays out. One player, has lost either through poor luck, poor play or both until they have about $40.00 - $60.00 in front of them. This player's buy-in is reduced to around half of a stack of red chips.

Now if the player was thinking correctly, they would pick up and call it a day. The problem is they are not thinking correctly or clearly, if at all. The session has taken its toll them and they are not thinking about the next session. We all know what happens next.

The Player, frustrated and suddenly 'bored' with playing (losing), declares an, "All In". This is rarely a real, "All In". It means, this player is willing to throw away the last of their chips on an average or worse hand, rather than walk to the Cashier Cage and color up. The Flop is barely on the board and they are standing up to leave. The joy of converting cash to chips strikes again.

When thinking about an, "All In" bet, this thought comes to mind. Mindlessly seeing flops for the minimum bet with (I Have a Dream) Martin Luther King garbage hands. In an average Low Limit game, four or more players will pay to see the flop for a min bet or close to a min bet. Of those four players, at least two hold hands they would be embarrassed to show the table. I know, I used to be one of those players.

I used to get swept up in the, "If I hit the flop" delusion. Over seventy percent of the time, the flop misses our hand. Repeat, 70% of Flops will miss us. If you need a visual, find a free online Roulette Game (wizard of odds maybe). Set the stakes at a dollar for simplicity. Put one chip each on any 10 betting spots. Play ten rounds of placing one chip on each of any ten spots each round. Do this five times, starting a new game each time. It should only take about fifteen minutes.

How did you come out? If you are ahead, you got paid at 35:1. A lot more than MLK hands will pay you in the long run. The odds you faced at Roulette are not as poor as the odds of playing MLK hand. If you are going to miss the flop 70% of the time and still lose some hands when the Flop hit you, how is this profitable play?

I used to think preflop, well its only one bet. Rinse and repeat. Quicker than I expected, there goes one of my three stacks, the second stack is shrinking fast. My hands are improving but my buy-in is crippled. I have to play tight now because I threw away half my buy-in on, "If I hit the flop" bets, that didn't happen. Now I lose hands I should have played. But, I am saving my remaining chips for stronger hands, which I should have been doing since I sat down. I am starting to think I will need a MLK All In, or something like it hand to survive.

Preflop, we also learn, we should raise our strong hands. I think this leads to problems for us at low limits. Right now as you read about, 'Strong Hands', I suspect you and I are a bit apart thinking about what constitutes a strong hand?

I do not mind calling a raise with a strong hand Preflop, but I rarely raise with a strong hand Preflop. To my thinking, raising a strong hand in early Preflop position, causes Dead Money Players to fold before they can put their chips in the pot. Raising Preflop also makes post flop play more difficult. In a $1- $2 game, you generally raise a strong hand to about $12 - $15 early. Maybe re-raise if you are in late position. Instead of five Players calling the Flop, in which two or three Players have absolute garbage, you now only have three Players plus yourself seeing the Flop. At least one of those Players has garbage, but you don't know which one. At least one Player has a real hand, but you don't know which one. This situation makes post flop decisions difficult when one of them bets out or raises you.

When the Flop comes, all we know is whether the Flop helped our hand or not. We feel compelled to C-Bet here (because that's what we do), and that opens the door to bigger problems. We are raised. How good is the Raiser's hand? Are they raising with air, or did they Flop the Nuts? Wow, I really wasn't paying attention to this raisers play, and I'm suddenly lost in the hand. I have to guess, and guessing costs Chips ($). Rinse and repeat for the Turn and River.

We can see the Flop cheap. If we do not raise Preflop, we have more options on the Flop. Post flop we know if we have the Flopped the Nuts. We know we can throw our hand away to a large bet and maybe a raise. I believe Ed Miller is the latest Poker Author to say, that '...a hand has no value until the River. Before the River showdown, any hand is just two cards'. If you really must bet big preflop, why not raise with blanks. Let your your big hands make money for you when calling stations call preflop and later. That is what big hands are made for. Big hands protect themselves.

When your big hands hit the Flop, make smaller bets, and string along the MLK Players. If you have the Nuts or close to the Nuts, you will win more money if you let many Players each put in a smaller amount, than one good Player matching your big flop bet and folding on the turn. You should be playing to win the most money, not playing to make the biggest bets. This is a hard concept to wrap your head around because it's not flashy, nor is it fun. It's also not popular.

"You can shear a sheep many times; you can skin it only once." -- Amarillo Slim (Dec 1920 - April 2012)

I don't know if this was first said on Two Plus Two back in the day, or written in a Small Stakes limit book, but it needs repeating: "A chip saved is a chip earned". If you do not save your chips until they are needed, you have little chance of earning more.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Holdem, Get Some Money Without Losing Yours Part 1

 As you know, Holdem Poker is a very complex game. You need to balance your hands, see what the other players do between preflop and the river, follow betting, and play by position. You need to quickly identify who at the table you can beat and who you want to stay away from. You need to protect your buy-in. All in all, there is a multitude of information in what from a high level looks like a boring game to non players. Slots look a lot more exciting to non players.

Unless you have read several quality books, played a large number of hands, and have a solid base to start from, you have three main frustrations. Bet big and the game turns into a bloodbath. Bet small, and the whole table calls, and you get lost in the hand. Get lost in the hand, and too often you lose your buy-in, and wonder how it happened.

There is a big disconnect between good quality Holdem Books and what is going on in your game. A few Authors claim all your competition is stupid, and they probably are with their playing experience. Other Authors attempt to give you a playbook. Books seem to provide hand play by position, or preferred styles of controlled aggression depending on position.

I am of the opinion, you can give one of your favorite books to a very good player, and they can easily fill in the blanks with detail about what the Author is suggesting. For the average Joe Poker, book advice is whatever Joe perceives it to be. I have found my perception at least is pretty skewed.

Passivity and Aggression have several levels. Holdem Book Authors overall are not really suggesting you change your playing style from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde and you will be successful. Is the Author really suggesting you bet 1/3 of your stack if you are first to act after the flop, or do they paint a picture of when this may be the correct play?

To make your game worse, each Holdem game is unique and with each change to the game, the best skill set changes. At Low Limits, a big flop raise generally means something different than watching a three bet flop in a higher level game.

My limited Pandemic experience is showing me, beating the higher rake, and double drop is equal to winning half my buy-in before actually adding to my buy-in. Where I play, six dollars leave the table every hand. This means a tight table for the times I have played lately.

Reading a few of my poker books (again) and modifying different playing styles is showing different results. In the following posts, I will go into more detail about what I have found and what works for me right now. In the mean time, if you are reading Holdem books to improve your game, stop every few pages and really think about what the Author is really saying and not what you think you read.

I will put in a disclaimer here. I play Live Low Limit No Limit Holdem. I do not play any higher and do not suggest you take my suggestions to a bigger game as it may not be a good line to follow. Also, as you know, Holdem is a very dynamic game and writing down my thoughts and you reading them, leaves a very wide gap for key ideas to get lost in.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Captain of Your Ship


Ship Captain's have enormous responsibility. From a high level, they are responsible for the well being of the Ship, Crew, Passengers or Cargo, sometimes all at once. Ship Captains need to focus on their plan, make the best decisions they are able to, follow through, and manage small problems (life's speed bumps) along the way.

We are "Captains" of our own ships. From the time we are born we can think of ourselves of leaving the safety of the harbor and moving out to sea to an unknown destination.

We learn the skills we need to learn to get through our early to teen years. We want to be a Fireman, Policeman, Doctor, Lawyer, Mom or Dad. We want to go to college, be in a band, and live on Mars.

However, our choices and our decisions sometimes get in the way of what we want. For example, joining a circus and being a sports star. These both may be achievable, but each will take tremendous energy and planning to be successful. Most likely one of our dreams will need to defer to the other.

If we want to be in a circus, you may have to reduce your baseball stardom dreams to playing baseball during the off season for a local league, or on a day off with other circus members who enjoy playing baseball too.

On a bigger scale, changing what we think we want from week to week leads us to confusion and frustration. The universe cannot immediately change everything every time we change our mind and direction. When we are young and in school, this is not a problem. Being young and in school is the time of our life when we are supposed to be trying new things and exploring new dreams.

When we hit our late teens to twenties, things become a little more difficult. Our dreams should start converging on our chosen life path. Our dreams usually start to converge. This way we are most successful. Going to college is a good example of converging dreams.

When you enter college, you are required to take almost two years of basic classes whether you have an interest in those subjects or not. The reason for this is two fold. First, you are exposed to different areas of what really are areas of life. Psychology, Biology, Math, English and Foreign Language are all parts of life.

You may not have had any idea you enjoy culture or music or fine art until you are forced to take a class in one of these subjects. You may find you are a natural at Biology, Math, Physics or Chemistry. These are all areas of life you never really noticed until you took a class in them.

Let's pretend you have all your basic classes out of the way and you start working on what you want to major in and graduate with a degree in. Pretend for a moment, you love history and pick history as your major. You take your first classes in history, it is Europe in the middle ages and modern world history. You get through the classes and you take another history class. This class is on Japan and the far east from the 1700's to present. Wow, you really like the culture and thinking of some Asian countries you are studying and want to know more.

You find your college has foreign language classes for Japanese. The Japanese language class encompasses Japanese culture too. While in the class you fall in love with Japanese pottery or woodworking. You decide that is what you really want to do.

Now there is no class on Japanese pottery, but there are classes on pottery. So you take a class. In the class, you find you love a certain pottery style and glazing technique that is common among a people from South America.

I think you get the idea. Life tends to work the same way. You have been going with the flow, no real direction, doing whatever life offers you. You wake up one day, and decide you want to be a Nurse or a Jockey. You are sure you really want to do this.

Suddenly the Universe has to change itself to meet your new wants. Instead of presenting you with a variety of random events, the Universe now has to reconfigure itself to your new dreams, becoming a Nurse or Jockey. If your dream of becoming a Nurse is strong enough, the Universe will mold and congeal itself to make your Nursing dream happen as well as it can.

If a year from starting, you decide you want to be a comedian, your Universe slowly grinds to a halt, and sets up for your new life direction for being a Comedian. Change your mind again, and the Universe once again slowly grinds to a halt and starts to match your new ambition. Get married, have Kids, move around the world, and it is all rinse and repeat for your Universe.

Change is good. Change keeps the world fresh and exciting. Think about a more drastic life choice and how the Universe works with it. You quit high school to join a Gang. You are a successful thug and quickly move up the ranks in your Gang Life world.

One day you wake up to an epiphany in the form of a dream. You realize you are hurting people, and now you want to help people. You want to become some type of Social Worker or Counselor. Yep, that's what your going to do.

Your whole life is wrapped up in gang life, but you press on with pride, decide to drop out of the Gang and start your new life together as a normal citizen.

Your Universe shudders and slows. Much of what it has been doing to make your Gang Life successful is no longer usable for you. You have about twenty percent of your Gang Life that can help you in your new life direction change and about sixty percent of your Gang Life that is no longer healthy for your new life direction.

You are going to go through some very serious, life speed bumps, and there is a high probability you may not survive to the other end alive. But your Universe starts making the changes you need to make your new dream happen.

When it comes to your life dreams, there are a couple truths. The longer you hold onto your current dream or float along, the more your world changes to keep that dream real. You can not expect your world to stop and change course every time you change your mind. What has been done has to run its course.

No, you are not locked into your life and you can change your life up at any time. What you have to expect is as your world starts to change to make your new life, what was created for your old life will run its course.

Depending on how focused you were on what you were doing, life changes can take some time, and force you to make hard decisions. Follow your dreams, and follow your goals and you will get there. For some people, it may take longer than others, but you can get there.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Christians and the Mask

Jesus said this about Christians who refuse to wear masks:

Mark 12:17  "Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him."

It is well within the State's power to demand people wear masks. Just as you wear pants in public, you are told to wear a mask. If it is okay with Jesus to follow the law, why do you have a problem with it? Shouldn't you do what Jesus says to do, or are you above what Jesus instructs?

If you are a Christian who refuses to mask up in public, and give each other the sign or blessing of peace during your time of worship. Does that Peace end with the service, or is that a all day every day pledge and command? How do you justify, giving and receiving the sign of peace within the walls of your church, and forget about it the second you are out the door, not caring about your neighbor?

The Bible and the sayings of Jesus demand the wearing of a face mask in public. If you are Christian, how are you going to explain yourself when asked why you could not bother to mask up?

Holdem, Get Some Money without Losing Yours Part 6

Poker Friends, Poker Foes, Collusion, Lending and Borrowing No matter where you play Poker, there are going to be people who know each other...