Sunday, 24 March 2013

Losing My Shirt?

Some gamblers regularly risk losing their shirt. In my case recently the opposite was true when I risked nothing to win a new shirt. I won a Tottenham Hotspur replica football shirt in a recent Betfred freeroll.
250 players entered for the ten shirts available, first prize being signed by the current squad. Despite some internet connection trouble I was pretty much one of chip leaders throughout but around the bubble was under pressure when down to 12th of 14. Some poor play from my opponents meant I was able to make the top ten comfortably, eventually finishing seventh and securing a shirt. Occasionally I will play this type of freeroll and win a prize as opposed to cash. A few years ago I won an Ipod Nano on Beftred so they can be worthwhile.
Whilst I am not a Spurs fan, I am a football fan with an appreciation of the current Tottenham team and Gareth Bale in particular. So I will happily wear my new shirt this spring and summer kicking around on the park with my five year old son Jake. He is a promising young footballer himself, recently scoring all seven goals in a seven-four soccer tots win. At the moment this is a great start for every weekend for me watching him enjoy himself playing football and usually scoring lots of goals. 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Poker Blueprint Breakthrough

As part of my poker plan I signed up for Nick Wealthalls winning poker blueprint program which has helped me refocus on my game in quite a few different ways. For example I have a warm up routine now before I play and a mental process for dealing with key hand decisions.
The main thing I have been working on though is changing my mindset from winning being more important than playing well. Last weekend I played a few sessions that demonstrated I have made something of a breakthrough in this area. On Friday night I played seven games ($42 staked) and won $95 (three wins and two thirds). I played well but had a lot of luck when needed most during the final phase of these games. So yes I was elated with such a good winning session but I was also mindful that I had run good and this was not sustainable. An inconsequential break even session followed on Saturday.
On the Sunday night I played six games ($36) and won only $10 but it was in this session that the main breakthrough was made. As I was playing I was focused on making good decisions and as things gradually unravelled in an unfortunate manner I was content with my play which seemed important in a new way. I followed the session with a quick analysis of my play in the key hands of each game, perhaps reviewing ten hands in total. The outcome made me feel very satisfied in that in all six games I made no significant errors. All key hands apart from one came later in games when blinds had become significant and confrontation was inevitable. In these I was able to use ICM/Nash calculator tools to assess my play. All my shoves and calls were mathematically correct. All my play was logical and thought out. The other game saw my aces cracked early on by ace-king in a pre-flop battle which saw two kings hit the flop With average luck I would have had a profitable session. So importantly I was more satisfied than normal with a losing session. Sure I was happier on Friday night when I was luckier and won but it definitely felt like a breakthrough.

I am not saying I played perfect poker but in key hands I made no mistakes. That's all I can do. The bottom line is that I am becoming much more focused on what I can control. Making good poker decisions, being relaxed about luck and being more realistic about my overall win rate is the way forward. On the Monday night I had no negative emotions relating to the previous session which really helps with avoiding tilt or a potential down swing. As a result in March this new improved thinking is impacting positively on my results.

Play well.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Tricky Spots And Overall Win Rate

Most decisions in the Maui Jackpot sit n go games are easy, clear and pretty automatic. As you get closer to the bubble and getting paid certain situations can be tricky, are genuinely borderline and require a bit more thought. One regular dilemma occurs when you are faced with aggression from a dominant chip leader and making a judgement for all your chips. Generally, I would try to avoid an all in confrontation in these circumstances without a very strong hand.

A good example of this tricky spot came the other day. With five players left the stack sizes were as follows: the dominant chip leader had 5036, I had 1369 and the other three including two solid regulars had 925, 1630 and 1040. With blinds at the 50-100 level I am in a good position but still have some work to do. In the key hand I was dealt pocket nines on the button with the chip leader in the big blind. I raised to 300 hoping to take the blinds. The chip leader quickly shoved all-in putting me on a decision for all my chips. Up to this stage he had played well, had been lucky at times but was not playing recklessly. I was sure he had a good hand. But how good? In these key spots I am currently trying to put players on a range rather than an exact holding. In this situation, I felt he would have re-raised (not gone all in) with aces or kings. His most likely holdings are pairs from say sevens through to queens, good aces and at the very worst a hand like king jack. He very rarely has nothing in this spot. Ace King was my first instinct because of the speed of the all-in. No time to think was needed - in went his chips. Given my thinking is this a call or a fold? A lot of the time we are flipping and I have pot odds for this but is it worth the risk?  In short I have concluded that I fold if my aim is to cash and call if my aim is to win. Previously when my focus was on maximising my returns I think I would have folded, cowardly hoping to have better opportunities to double up or simply sneak a cash. I am currently focusing more on the number of games won, maximising my win rate to give me more of a shot at five wins in a row. I made the call and I am pretty happy with my decision. I am also trying to focus much more on making the right decisions as opposed to worrying about the luck based outcome of them.
Ironically this game was around the end of my first one thousand Maui games since I have been focusing on my poker plan and improving my win rate. Following years of play with a win rate of around 13% I can now report, following some solid effort, strategy adjustments, study and re-focus I still have a win rate of 13%! Undeterred I will press on into my next thousand games looking for that holy grail of Maui sit n go poker, a 14% win rate. I know its out there, I can almost feel it.
For those that care and are perhaps looking for a happy ending to this post I can report the chip leader had queens and sent me packing in fifth place. Content with my choice and the rational behind it I shall continue in my quest for increased numbers of  wins via good decisions.

Cheers and good luck.