Monday, July 12, 2004

Notes on Disparate Things, Part I: Breaking the Silence

I mentioned earlier that I had found some really loose $5/$10 games online, and I was keeping them my secret for a while. I'll break that silence now.

PartyPoker opened some tables a few weeks ago with a Bad Beat Jackpot, where anyone who loses a hand whilst holding four tens, or better, wins a nice jackpot. (Not as nice as most live casinos' jackpots, but it gets hit more often. And, presumably, online it doesn't take two hours to get paid.) I checked these out when they first opened, lost a few big $2/$4 pots, said "Meh, OK, whatever," and didn't return to the BBJ tables.

But for some reason, a week or two ago, I looked at the BBJ tables again. I noticed that now, they're dealing BBJ tables up to $5/$10. I opened one, to see if I could tell what the jackpot contribution was from the $5/$10 table, that is, how much the rake went up. But as soon as I opened the table, I saw seven people see a flop for one bet. If I remember correctly, my thought was, "Holy fuck, get me the hell onto this table!"

Now, here's the odd thing: These are great games, although as I said before there often aren't many of them. But out of the fourteen times I've sat at a BBJ table, I've only won money in five. PokerTracker has 1086 hands recorded at this game, and they show a total loss of $898, or –8.27 BB/c.

In short: These games are kicking my ass. And I don't know why. It's been suggested to me that the players hunt in packs at the $5/$10 level, that is, that collusion is rampant. It's possible, and this would be a convenient explanation of my difficulties. Mostly, I'm curious to hear other people's results at this game. 1000 hands isn't truly that much, I know; a run of bad cards could go on that long. But the trend is long enough and severe enough that I'm looking for another explanation.

Some of the explanation is that I had to readjust to super-loose games again; this is probably responsible for much of my early losses. But I think I made that adjustment, and I still lost.

Lat's test the hypothesis of bad cards. For the sake of argument, let's assume 1086 hands is an adequate sample (which of course it isn't). Of the big-ace hands, only AA, AQo, and AJs won their appropriate amount (almost exactly). The rest either lost or won a lot less than they should have. This is consistent with a super-loose game. Of the other pocket pairs, QQ is a loser and KK has won below expectation, although TT is above expectation (1 for 1). 88, 55, 44, 33, and 22 are all losers. The other pairs are about at expectation. In a super-loose game, big pairs are worth less than normal (they don't hold up as often), while little pairs are worth more than normal (sets drag bigger pots). This is not what I saw, and here bad cards can indeed be blamed. Out of pairs JJ and below, I flopped a set twice, out of 33 flops seen. This is about half of what I'd have got if the cards had broken exactly even. When we turn to suited connectors, we find that I have flopped two pair or better, four to the flush, or four to the open-ended straight, on hands JTs through 54s, five times out of thirteen flops seen. This is in fact far above expectation, so no bad cards blamed here. Finally, the suited one-gappers, 35s thru QTs, flopped the same type of hand, one time out of the six flops I saw. This is pretty much exactly expectation.

I end up concluding that overall, it's not bad cards. So what is it?

Notes on Disparate Things, Part II: Back in the Casino

My recent bankroll troubles meant that it had been a couple of weeks since I'd played casino poker. But as I was winding down my online day yesterday (Sunday morning), Gil decided he wanted to journey to Manistee and Little River casino. Truly, I shouldn't have gone; nearly all of my money is on PartyPoker at the moment, so I didn't have the $200 I usually buy into their $4/$8 game with (a rack of yellow). Gil offered basically to stake me, with the stipulation that I pay him back out of my PP account if I lose. Well, between that, and the fact that the trip was to my favorite "local" room, wore down my defenses, and we went.

I've probably said before that the new room at Leelenau sands ("7" on my map) has taken a big chunk of business from Little River ("2" on my map), so when we got there around 12:30 we had just made enough to open a second $4/$8 holdem game. The lineup didn't look good; I recognized Duane (a tight player who sometimes gets a little too creative) and the fellow I call "Quiet Bob" (I'd call him a "rock," but actual stone usually has more give than he does), and two fellows who I don't remember their names, but they are also tough opponents. Fortunately, most of the rest of the table filled in with people I didn't recognize, who turned out to be weak players.

I started out getting great cards, and then they went into the crapper, but I got my head back above water and left +$103. Both Bob and Duane were chattier than usual, although for some reason I spent a lot of time talking about my trip to Vegas that was six months ago. One of the weakies straddled a couple of times, both times on my small blind, and they both developed into huge pots. Both times, I found drawing hands when I looked down, and both times, they failed to materialize into anything as the hands played, and both times, they cost me a lot of money. (Gil won one of those pots; the straddler won neither.)

The hand I'm most proud of, ordinarily wouldn't be anything special. A decent player limped in, in early position, and we might have had one more caller plus the blinds. I raised with AJo. The board came AAx. He checked, I bet, he called, everyone else folded. The turn was another blank. He checked, I bet, and he suddenly raised. Why I'm proud of this hand is that I was so accurate at putting him on a hand. I couldn't see him limping in with any Ace-little that would give him a boat; I couldn't see him playing that at all, in early position. I also couldn't see him limping in with AQ or AK, which would out-kick me. A baby pair (for the boat) was possible, but I thought unlikely. I figured most likely was actually AT, so I three-bet. Ordinarily that's difficult for me to do postflop without the near-nuts. He called, and checked to me when a Jack fell on the river (giving me a full house and the stony nuts). He checked, I bet, he said "I think you've got me" and called. I didn't need the Jack, as it happened, because I was dead-on in my read; he had limped in with AT. Advantage: Me.

The other big hand I won, I feel like I should be a little bit ashamed of, because I sucked out. I was on the button with AK♠. After some limpers ahead of me, I raised. The small blind folded, and the big blind three-bet. This was the straddler from earlier, a medium-weak player. I don't remember if I capped or not; thinking about it now, I hope I did. The flop came AAQ. I'm sure that the straddler checked, and I'm pretty sure it checked to me on the button. I bet, and I believe the straddler just called. The turn was a blank. It checked to me, I bet, and the straddler raised. If anyone else was hanging on, that got rid of them. I called, here, but thinking about the situation, a fold might make more sense. Either he had QQ, or he had the case Ace, probably AK for a split; AQ was a slight possibility. I was pretty tired at this point, so I'll use that excuse to justify not thinking about this at the time. In any case, the river spiked a King, so I had Aces full of Kings, and when he raised my bet I had no problem three-betting; I had the nuts. He called, I showed my aces full, and he mucked. Someone said he was mumbling about getting his Queens full sucked out on, although I didn't hear it. He left two hands later, so that beat must have really got to him. At the time, I couldn't figure that I'd done anything wrong; now I'm not so sure. See? Writing things in this blog does help.


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