Building a Balanced Range

03/30/2013

Because game theory is easier to work with when we limit possible decisions. Start by saying you always check and villain stabs. How often do we need to defend? It depends on villains bet size.

If villain bets full pot, we try to defend more than 50%.
If villain bets 1/2 pot, we try to defend more than 67%.

*This is because if we defend less, villain makes an instant profit on his flop bets w ATC.

The more we x/c, the more we want to get above said %'s.

Once we know how much we want to defend, we pick out combinations from our range based mostly equity, but also considering playability and blockers.

So in your example, if we are opening 15%, our range is something like any pair, suited broadways and higher suited connectors, and maybe some suited aces. (1326 x .15 = about 200 combos)

So now we break down our range and try to find 100+ combos that we can play back with. *This is all more of a rough exercise than a true full breakdown of the situation.

On a 763css flop the top of our range is 77, 66, 33 (9 combos), pair+nfd, 89ss (2 combos), 67s (2 or 3 combos), 55 (6 combos), hopefully we open 45s utg (4 combos)

We have 88-AA (42 combos) , over cards+nfd (4 combos)

Then further down the equity ladder we have non-nfd (KQss, KJss, KTss, QJss, JTss, T9ss - 6 combos)

We have our over cards+ bdfd (AK-ATcc, KQ-KJcc, QJ-89cc - 9 combos)

....So far I think we have about 80 combos, which is a good start just to find the hands to play.

Then we also have 2 other combos of 89s, 2 combos of T9s, AsKx (4combos), AsQx (4 combos) and you start to get the picture of the types of hands we need to be adding in depending on the bet size and tendency of villain.

If I were only x/c or x/r I would choose my value range to x/r (first hands I listed and find the cutoff for where I wouldn't feel comfortable getting it in after a raise). Find out how many combos you have in your value range and think of the betsize or bet sizes you are going to use. Pick an appropriate amount of bluff combos you are going to want to put in your bluff range (it could be 50/50 value to bluff, 90/10 or 75/25; you have to use some general poker sense and think of opponents range and spot to not get carried away unless villain is folding to much)

Then once you have your value range (say top 35 combos, 77, 66, 33, 89ss, A3ss, 67s, 55, AA, 45s, AK-ATss) you decide on this flop you will bluff twice as many combos as you have value combos (since villain is likely to stab a wide range; this may be too many or too little bluffs, it's more for an example. I think against different villains your play should differ a bit).

Your x/c range should be your hands not good enough to get in, but strong enough (enough equity and at the top of remaining range) to call a bet. *Be ready to defend your flop call on the turn and river though, or you are burning money like calling preflop raises and folding to cbets too much.

Your x/r bluffs will consists of hands with blockers, and the combos next on the list until you reach the amount of combos you are looking for.

And after we have thought about this exercise we can take what we learned and apply it to the actual situation. We know we want to defend enough of the time that villain can't auto cbet and profit when we check, but also get value and protect with our hands with equity, as well as win the pot other times when we have enough hand equity or fold equity to make a profitable bet.

This means, we most likely want to have bet/fold, bet/call, bet/3bet, x/call, x/fold, x/r all in our range.

I would build my range taking the same things into consideration as when i could only x/r, x/c or x/f. I'm going to lead out with the top of my range as well as the amount of bluffing combos I want (which would include a certain % of planned 3b flop bluffing hands)

I will have a x/c range of mostly medium strength hands, but also a few slow plays, and some overcard hands that help me defend against run outs (think Ace high hands w bdfds as best hands in this category). This range would only call a fraction of the turn and even smaller amount of rivers (hopefully enough to prevent villain from barreling too many runouts profitably.

My c/r range would be filled with blocker bluffs, some nutty value hands, and occasionally with pure air (over cards).

c/f is obv weakest hands

This is obviously a not so easy situation to deal with, and although I didn't give you an answer, I hope it helps with your process. And if there is a line of thinking I have off, I would love to hear some feedback.

Turning down an offer to do videos

02/17/2013

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Hey everyone, sorry for neglecting the blog.  I've been spending lots of time grinding, and in my off time I was spending a decent amount of energy (both physical and mental) thinking about if I wanted to make strategy videos for main poker instructional site and then putting together my sample video.  My sample video came out pretty well, but ultimately couldn't work out a contract that both parties were interested in.  It did reignite the idea of making a e-book for poker that would also have videos mixed in (both of me playing, doing calculations and using different software, and also me talking).

Most of the content would come from my personal poker notes, just in more detail.  I would also look to have a ground up series on playing, understanding and beating nl 6 max cash games.  This is something that will only supplement my poker playing and I plan on spending a majority of the time on the project when I am within the US borders and can't play on Pokerstars.

I also have another student I will be starting with very soon. I am excited because he seems to be really devoted to the game and improving.  He also understands the value in getting 1 on 1 coaching, which is hard for most people to pull the trigger on.

I'm gonna hold off on posting any screenshots til the end of the month to help save me some time and to keep some lag between posting my results and when they are happening (keep regs from knowing when I am upswinging or downswinging).

week 3, gaining steam

01/22/2013

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So i've passed 60,000 vpps which has me still on pace for SNE.  More importantly, I am crushing kids. I talked about my downswing in the past and I'm very happy and proud to say that I pulled completely out of a 65 buy in downswing at 2/5 zoom. Here is the graph of my 200k hands at 2/5 zoom from the past few months.
It took a lot of hard work and I am very thankful to have had enough time and money to work it out.  Losing so many buyins can really put a lot of stress on you and your confidence.  I have no doubt that without my poker friends (Peter Jetten and Dani Stern) and Jared Tendler's book, then I would still be struggling to get break-even.

One major difference is realizing the time I spend away from the tables as the most profitable times I'm working. When I first got back into grinding I thought playing tons of hours and watching a training video a day would be enough. Now I realized that there is so much more I can be doing to elevate both the best and worst parts of my game.

I'll be looking to make a vlog the next time the tables aren't good and I have a few minutes going over some of the specific things I've done.

01/14/2013

SNE Update: On pace, barely

I decided to take Monday the 7th off. On Tuesday, my brain, despite getting plenty of rest (and excercising), was in slow motion.  It was really great that I got some fortunate hands, because I know I wouldn't of been able to handle many tough decisions, or losing many hands.

As the week went by, I started to gain a little momentum both in the the amount of hands I was able to play (my goal was 6k hands per day), and my results (ship it holla!).

As you can see the 12th was a bit rough, but all thru my upswing I have been focusing on the concept of stable confidence and this set me up to handle this downswing better than any other downswing I've encountered before.  I'm only about halfway to my latest peak, but I'm feeling good about my game.

I even battled, and got the better of, Nanonoko today.  I obviously had the better of the cards today, which is always a help. Nano used to give me oodles of trouble, so much so that he was nearing superuser level against me.  I think this is a testament to the 3/4/5/6 bet work I've done and also the time I've spent improving my postflop play.
and here's a screenshot of me getting the ol' triple phwapJacks.  I folded top right, ripped bottom right, and 3b bottom left.

And on the 7th Day, I study

01/07/2013

I couldn't be more happy with how the year has started.  On the first 6 days of the year, I managed to reach my goal of 5k hands a day.  This would allow me to achieve SNE and hopefully pile up tons of profit to go along with the bonus money.

I mentioned in an earlier blog post how I had started working on my mental game of poker after reading Jared Tendler's book and one piece of advice he gives is taking 1 day off a week, and 5 days off a month.  This goes against my instincts of wanting to get in tons of hands everyday, especially when I'm playing well and making money.  After some deep thought though, I decided there is enough merit in this advice, so I will be giving it a try.

Even though I won't be playing any poker, I will be spending 4x the time studying.  Usually I aim for around 2 hours of study/day and today I will hopefully put in a "full" 8 hour day of work away from the table.  This includes game theory vids, poker training vids, reading, reviewing hands, thinking about hands and strategies away from the table, running math calculations, and thinking about optimal ranges.

I think in the future I will look to use my days off also as coaching days, where I will work with my students and also look to get coaching myself.

...and because I know you guys love your graphs, here is my year so far
and just because I like to be honest, below is my graph for the last 3 months of 2012.  I ended up going on a 25k downswing at 2/5 zoom which represents 100% of the losing in the graph.  It was a combination of running bad, playing bad, tilting, getting owned.  The game is can play very tough, and since there is no seat selection (which is an extension of game selection that I was very very good at), I was forced to play pots vs some tricky opponents.

This forced me to spend a decent amount of time studying and examining both my game and the games of my opponents. Having come off a 1.5 year break, it was easy to make incorrect assumptions on ranges and strategies.  Now I have a good sample size on some opponents and much better idea of what level the competition is playing at. I've been constantly improving my A game, while also plugging leaks left and right. I'm very optimistic that there is nearly no one out there improving faster than me at the moment.

Getting off to a good start

01/04/2013

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Day 1 - Long run, 2800 hands
Day 2 - Upper body, 7400 hands
Day 3 - Short run, 4300 hands
Today, Day 4 - 3500 hands so far

I'm getting in a decent amount of vpps's so far.  I'm just past 10k vpps, which means that I'm close to on pace for SNE.  Even though I plan on achieving SNE before December, I'm not trying to start out ahead of pace.  I need to make sure I'm playing well, improving and plugging all my leaks.  The more time  I spend improving my game/win rate, the more money I will make grinding.  Study more, make more, play more.

I'm hoping to get in another 1500-3,000 hands today before going to bed, but I need to take a break because I'm not thinking too clearly at the moment.

The past few days I've been doing lots of work analyzing 3/4/5bet battles, watching a game theory course online by Yale (http://oyc.yale.edu/economics/econ-159#sessions), and also paying lots of attention to my mental game.

I feel like my A game is improving in leaps and bounds right now, which is great positive reinforcement to putting in hours away from the table.  I can see why and how I'm making money in more spots, avoiding bad spots, and just generally feeling more comfortable and confident in my game.

On my run yesterday I was thinking about how I need to treat poker more like a job or as a professional athlete and less as something I'm entitled to do well at or like I'm playing sports in a non competitive adult league. I'm realizing that each and every minute I spend off the table, and even on the tables for that matter, I'm closing in on every better player than me and leaving behind every player behind me.  I guess you could say that I'm starting to see poker more as a ladder system.  The higher up the ladder you can get, the more money you can/will make.

I no longer accept that better players will always be better and worse players will always be worse.  Hard work pays off.

Time for a break - Randomish thoughts

01/01/2013

So I haven't officially come out and say it yet, but I'm sort of going for supernova elite on pstars.  Because of this, today I as I felt more comfortable I began to add tables, and eventually I needed a smoke break. I think I should of took this as my sign to take a run, a break, do some reading.  But I smoked and kept on playing, played thru tough decisions, bad beats and ultimately found myself sweating my results way too much (because I can tell I'm losing).
On one hand this is good. You don't want to punt off a bunch of money and not worry about it.  But it's not good for your game. At least I am getting better at recognizing it and understanding that it's actually a form of tilt.

While I'm on the topic of tilt, I've also been noticing I became less patient with those moving about the apartment when I'm tilted.  I find I get very easily irritated when I'm even just slightly tilting.  This may be my number 1 sign to look out for at the moment.  What can be especially frustrating about this is realizing how irrational you are being when you are getting irritated, which then add some form of 2nd guess tilt from not knowing how clearly you were thinking.

I'm taking the break I need.  I'm going to go for a run (hopefully I can make this a habit), come back do some reading, then hopefully with a clear mind, review my play.

Then depending on how I am feeling I will put in some more hands at either 1/2 or 2/5 zoom. A big part of me knows I should be game selecting on regular tables, but it's way too hard for me to manage on my laptop.  Back home I have dual 30 inch monitors which leaves plenty of real estate on your screen to do everything you need to be finding and playing on good tables.

I guess I need look at getting a 2nd monitor for my remaining 2.5 months in Toronto.

Current Poker Mantra:  Focus on playing well, not the results.

1st Session of 2013

01/01/2013

I just booked my first session of the year and I felt like I played very well.  I only put in around 600 hands, but was 1 and 2 tabling to make sure to get off to a solid start (good decisions not necessarily winning money).  I must say that I'm very happy with how it went.  I played completely sober (no smoking), and could feel that I was playing a solid game.

I could still tell mentally I was too worried about booking a winning session, but it was very mild.  I can honestly say that I didn't deal with any other tilt during this session that forced me to play any differently than what I would consider "Kevin optimal"

I came into a few spots that I was unsure of the right move, so I saved some screenshots to go over with some poker friends. All of these spots seem to have multiple decisions with around the same EV.
In this hand I get flatted in the CO and the btn squeezes.  The btn seemed fishy and I didn't think he had a wide semi bluff sq range and thought it would mostly be value hands.  He made his raise pretty small which left me with very solid pot odds.  I would def call if I closed the action, and even though I don't expect to get back raised by TeamLeader, I will still have the worst absolute and relative position post flop;  so I decided to fold.
Here's a pretty small spot that I consider kinda close, especially after watching Sauce's latest video on Leggo where he talked about defending your blinds looser.  I ended up folding, but if I had better reads on the players, I suppose I could call here.
I've been trying to tighten up my sb vs bb range, but T6s seemed to pretty to fold.  On the flop I expect him to be bluff raising, semi bluffing and raising for value, but still decided to cbet since I had Ten high (no showdown value) and an open ended (equity).  Once he raised, I was very upset with the spot I was in.  I know his range is loose, but I'm afraid of getting it in vs a better draw so I just mucked it.
Here's another spot I was unsure of.  Folding seemed a bit week, calling seemed okay, and raising seems fine.  I decided to raise pf and took it down...I'm still not sure if a call is better tho.  I will have to spend some more time going over my bb game plan vs different opening ranges and opponents.
This is the 2nd time I've been cold 4bet in this exact spot. The first time I had QQ and the BB (who is a very aggro and good thinking regular) had 66.  This player seemed less capable of bluffing, but I knew he still would have some random hands to go along with his value 4b range.  I thought about shipping pre flop, but ultimately decided on calling since his 4b was so small.  I was getting 4 to 1 immediate odds and seemed like I could set mine/play post flop. He ended up having Q3ss and checked down on a KJxccXTx board and I won.
Here's 1 more BB hand where I'm getting good odds with a decent hand.  I'm getting 5 to 1 preflop and I'm pretty sure this hand will always have enough equity against any range here, but I'm unsure if I will be able to realize that equity post flop, so I folded.  With better reads on the players I can def call here, and without reads I think it's very close.

Dealing with my mental game of poker

12/29/2012

After nearly 2 months of playing online poker full time again, I've had nowhere near the results I was looking for.  I am down money and frustrated.  I've realized that taking nearly a year and a half off from poker has left my game lacking in many areas; and when things don't go well, that evil bastard tilt will start creeping into your game faster and faster.

This has all led me to read Jared Tendler's, "The Mental Game of Poker", and begin to get a grip on my thinking.  I've done my quick read thru of the book and I think it's just what I need (one of many things).  Some things I already knew, somethings I needed to hear again, but there are many new ideas that are put so simply and effectively, that I can easily recommend the book to ANY poker player.

In the appendix of the book, there is a client questionnaire that I decided I would go ahead and throw up on this blog.  I think by doing this, it will force me to be more honest and critical of myself, and possibly encourage some of you reading this to take the time and explore your own mental game for areas you can improve.

1. Share a bit about yourself:  I am 25 years old.  I played full time from 16 to 24, and spent the past year exploring the real world (bought and sold a Farmers Insurance Agency).  I enjoy video games, snowboarding, eating nice meals, playing poker, watching movies, watching certain TV shows, and hanging out with friends and family.  I only have a few college credits, as I dropped out during my first semester.  My family is very supportive and awesome.

2. Briefly describe your poker history. How would you characterize your progress? Games/Limits?  I started out playing home game cash games and tournaments and was easily the best player in the game.  I was instantly hooked and bought and read many poker books my first year of playing.  At age 16 I first started playing online.  I had mixed results and dealt with desperation tilt.

I wasn't allowed to play during my 1st semester of 12th grade, so I spent that time playing home games, reading books, reading 2+2, and planning out how I would bonus whore limit poker whenever I was allowed to play again. Christmas break came and I got the go ahead. I used a \$750 to bonus whore and made \$2,000 in 2 weeks.  Shortly after this I moved to \$10+1 10 man sngs on party poker where I immediately crushed.  I worked my way up to the 109, 215, and 530 sngs and made \$10,000+/month for over 25 months straight.  Then UIGEA happened.

After that I mostly played mtts and had very good results at first.  I also started playing cash games where I have had good stretches, bad stretches and breakeven stretches.  I worked my way past 5/10 and was regularly playing 10/25 until I had my first ever losing month.  This was started by losing \$70,000 in 1 night to 1 opponent.  This session came after a vacation to Mexico for a week; I had got really sick and began to question many things in life.

Ever since then I have had lots of swings in poker.  I have had 2 6 figure upswings, multiple 100k losing hand stretches.  I also began playing in big buyin live mtts.  I got down 110k before binking for 300k and now im in my 2nd deal and down nearly 150k.

3. What are your goals in poker?  Short- be able to grind at SNE pace, improve my 6max cash game and work my way up from 100nl to 200nl.  Long term- crush 2/5 zoom and higher while being SNE.  Volume and consistency like Nano. Be in a position to play live tourney circuit.  Be able to take shots in big cash games.

4. What personal goals does poker support?  Poker supports my goal to never HAVE to work a job that I don't want to.  It also supports the ability to stay at home with family and dog while still earning income to support said family and enjoy life (travel, eat well, retire early if I want).

5. List and describe the problems in your mental game:
• Hate making mistakes
• Accumulation Tilt
• Fear of failure
• Feel dumb for making mistakes
• Desperation Tilt- wanting to get even, book winning sessions
• Not knowing what to do tilt
• Not thinking enough about decisions, ranges
• Entitlement tilt
• No warm up
• No cool down
• Not tracking mental progress in writing
• Overconfidence when winning
• No confidence after losing
• Unstable confidence
• Revenge tilt
• Focusing on the wrong things
• Believing I can win every hand

...okay I need to take a break after thinking about all my mental weaknesses.  I will be coming back to update and expand on this list as well as address the rest of the questions in the player questionnaire.

09/18/2012