"The mission of "The Digest" is to inform and entertain our readers"
Mikes007, BumbleBee99, WhyDoWe_Fall,PapaPyrite, A_Schupick, Bona
Thanks for reading "The Digest" The publication of the September issue is being shared with the Micros Limit Hold'em forum. This is a test of the digest editors ability to produce a digest that will interest not only the beginners forum but also a forum dedicated to limit Hold'em strategy.
Our Poster of The Month is Duncelanas. "Dunce" as he calls himself is a frequent and valued BQ poster. Join us in learning a bit more about him as we honor his contributions. Dunce, in case you don't know the below POTM avvy is sized correctly for a 2+2 avatar. We invite and encourage you to wear this as your avvy during the month of September.
Last month The Digest challenged McNeese72, a long time player and poster who has specialized in Limit Hold'em, to a No Limit Hold'em marathon. Doc accepted and won the challenge as we report in this issue.
The Digest staff welcomes A_Schupick. From our perspective "Schu" is a welcome addition for several reasons. He represents a group the has been underserved in The Digest, limit players. By covering issues relevant to limit games The Digest will expand both its usefullness to current readers and its circulation to new readers. With Schu joining us we plan to now share The Digest in the LHE Micros forum.
Please enjoy this issue and favor us with your comments, questions, arguments, and discussion of digest subjects in this thread.
Hi everyone. Dunce here, and for some reason I've been selected as BQ poster of the month which means in order to read the rest of the digest you have to trek through a few poorly-written paragraphs about yours truly (or just scroll past, presumably). I have no idea what to write, so I'll just give a bit about myself and try to keep it relatively brief.
I've been playing poker for about 3 years now, starting off largely grinding $1.75 and $3.40 18-man turbo sngs on pokerstars (having always been a massive cashgame fish). At that time I thought I was far better than I was, largely focusing on increasing tablecount (could 20+ table back in the day) as opposed to doing much study and making profitable decisions at the table. Needless to say, between being a beginner fish and having some tilt problems which I've grappled with throughout my poker career, I was breakeven at best throughout this period. I then started to dabble a bit more in mtts, never being a particularly high-volume player but binking a few big (4 figure) scores in some huge-field micro tourneys. While ultimately I would wind up tilting the money off, having some padding in my roll allowed me to experiment with some more games, and this lead me to husngs.
Since well before Black Friday, husngs have been my primary game, and they still are today (primarily hypers). While the learning curve was steep as a fish (which I admittedly still am) and they're a minefield for players with tilt problems, the sheer variety of situations a player is placed in as well as the extremely prevalent metagame aspect has drawn me to the gametype and has kept me there, effectively revitalizing my love for the game which I lost in my time as a masstabling robot. In fact, last month I had my best month ever, and I intend to keep working at my game and improving, hopefully one day being able to be a winner at highstakes. My favorite forums (naturally) are the husng forum (as it's my main game, and the forum is filled with some pretty exceptional posters) and BQ, where I feel I can contribute and hopefully help bring people along the path I've walked and hopefully teach them something about being successful poker players. While I've never been particularly “in” with the reg crowd here (presumably due to my lack of presence in the LC thread??), the cast of characters here regularly offering advice to new players serves as an inspiration to me, and as someone who loves teaching (and maybe eventually once I'm solid enough intend to coach) I love the feeling of leading a beginner to some piece of poker wisdom that really expands their thinking about the game. That's only offered in BQ, really.
A bit about me lifewise – I'm currently a student at University of Maryland, College Park. I'm also quite young (though no longer underage, thankfully! Maybe that's an ill-advised admission...), and have for the past couple summers used (or attempted to use
) poker as a means to escape the minwage grind that I'd be stuck with otherwise. When not grinding/talking poker/surfing 2p2 I enjoy playing tennis, reading, and playing chess casually (am ~1450 rating, probably could improve if I actually worked at it). Also a bit of a gamer, if any of you guys play CS (and/or are planning to play GO when it launches in a couple days!) feel free to hit me up and we can game sometime! Erm...know this has been somewhat boring, thanks for reading! For any questions, comments (concerns?) feel free to shoot me a pm or post in the thread I suppose. Anything from more life questions to strat talk to berating me for sucking at poker!
It's an honor to have my posting recognized by the digest crew, I really appreciate it and hope my posts (this past month and always!) have caused some of you guys to gain new insights into the game and look forward to seeing everyone around BQ in the future!
Dunceslanas 1K post
In August the digest challenged McNeese72, a long time LHE player, to play NLHE. The terms of the challenge were that "Doc" would choose any number of hands higher than 2000 and report his results. To win the challenge Doc had to win at least one bb total and finish better than a secret stalking horse who was playing the same challenge.
Doc chose to play 3000 hands. The Digest chose BQ and LHE micros moderator Ozibattler to set the pace for Doc.
We thank Ozibattler for participating and helping us with this challenge. We congratulate Doc for winning it going away. Doc's graph and Ozi's graph are posted below.
Our friends Archie and Jughead from OuijaPoker.com generously provided a T-Shirt in Doc's school colors with the school logo under their slogan. We don't know whether Doc used a math based approach to the challenge or was listening to voices from another dimension but in either case Doc won this challenge and it wasn't even close.
"Doc" McNeese72's take on the challenge:
"First a little about me because I've posted more in the past in the Microlimit forum than the BQ forum. I'm a charter member of M.O.F.A (of which Bona is the president). M.O.F.A. being the Microlimits Old Fart Association which means I'm as old as dirt but not as old as Bona.
I was first taught poker as a kid by an uncle playing 5 card draw for matchsticks. When I was in dental school in New Orleans, I played in a home game which was dealer choice playing all sorts of wild games. That was continued by a group of us that moved back home after dental school for a couple of years. I didn't play much after that until 2005, when while playing chess on Yahoo Games, I noticed the limit Hold'em play money tables. From there someone told me about Pokerstars and I started playing on their play money tables and observing the real money tables.
On April 1, 2005 I made the big jump by depositing $250 on Pokerstars. I jumped right away on a $1/2 limit table because I was killing the play money tables and those guys looked like they folded too much anyway. Well after a couple of hours, I was down to $140 and probably made a few buddy lists. I realized then that I might not be doing this right and quit playing. Then, I did what I always did back then when I wanted to learn more about something and went to the bookstore. I got lucky because the two books I chose were Lee Jones' "Winning Low Limit Hold'em" and Ed Miller's "Small Stakes Hold'em".
I read both books, discovered the 2+2 forums through Ed Miller's book, and started lurking on the 2+2 microlimit forum. I didn't play much until after I digested both books. When I started playing again, poker was good. I was playing both P.S. and PartyPoker using Neteller to move money between the two sites to chase bonuses. I was even withdrawing money to use on football road trips. I later started playing some on Full Tilt. It was then I kept running into this guy named Bonafidefish at my tables. I started interacting with him on the microlimit forum and we became online friends.
Because of the UIGEA legislation, Black Friday, and the move to US friendly poker sites, limit poker has gotten a lot harder for me because of the lower fish/regular ration and the effects of rake on the limits I play now. Because of this, I have been branching out learning a little about other games. Mainly all the games in HORSE and PLO.
It was in the beginning of July that Bona came to me with his idea of the BQ Digest NL challenge and wanted to know if I would do it. Of course, I couldn't resist and said yes, even though my previous experiences in NL holdem was mainly a little tournament and SNG play and getting 3 bet preflop by Mike playing when we would play NL holdem in Shenanigans.
But since I didn't want to embarass myself by playing it cold, I found my unread copy of Ed Miller's No Limit Hold'em book (actually two copies since I had gotten one using PS FPP's years ago, put away, and forgotten about it). Between reading about NL concepts in that and watching some old Deuces Cracked videos, I learned a little about NL poker such as increased implied odds, playing with and against different stack sizes, why you can play different starting hands in NL in certain situations than you would in limit holdem, etc. I also played about 800 hands of 4NL holdem on Merge in July before the challenge.
I selected 3000 hands at 4NL for the challenge. I realize now that I probably should have picked more hands because I couldn't one table without getting very bored. I started out running very hot in the first 800 or so hands. I then leveled off and finished the challenge in a little decline.
Some of my observations of 4NL poker is that most of the players play pretty straight forward without that much bluffing. I lost a buyin or two before I read the Balugi Theorem and started applying it. You can make some money playing implied odds type hands because if you hit against someone playing a big pocket pair, they just can't seem to lay them down. You also have to watch out playing against those short stack guys because if they reraise shove on you, they don't have any money behind to give you the implied odds to make any draws you might have. Also, since most of these guys are pretty straight forward and with the proper board texture, you can do more successful bluffing than you can in limit holdem.
This was a fun challenge for me because it got me out of the limit holdem rut and forced to learn a little more about a different variation of holdem. I don't for a second think that I know everything I need to know about NL holdem because I had a little success playing a very small sample size of 4NL. I have already started reading the Ed Miller book again and, after playing those 3000 4NL hands, things are making a little more sense to me than the first time I read it."[/QUOTE]
Doc's stats during the challenge
Doc's challenge graph
Part of Doc's challenge was to profit more than a super secret stalking horse of our choosing. We didn't want to make it easy for Doc so we asked a long time player and poster and friend of the digest Ozibattler if he would pace Doc during the challenge. Ozi gracefully accepted th assignment and here are his results.
Originally Posted by OziBattler
I really do suck at rungood during challenges .. but at least my monthly EV line looks good
here's my monthly so far for ****s and giggles.
we must all officially lol at doc whinging about running bad. trolol
Congratulations Doc. Great job. If any "young gun" readers want a shot at dethroning Doc, he is often found in the SHENANIGANS
games on Sunday and Thursday evenings.
In Auguest we received a letter from a reader. The letter suggested AF and AFq stats, as used, are so deeply flawed as to be nearly useless. We disagreed with his assertion and invited him to share his opinion in depth in the form of a guest article in the digest. At The Digest we are convinced the best person to write about an issue is someone who is passionate about it. We found this reader reluctant to write an article, citing the fact that his anonymity is legitimately important to him in real life.
After a few PM's back and forth our understanding of his comments is improved and his understanding of ours seems to have improved. Our understanding of his actual position is that while knowing the tendencies of villains aggression is useful, neither AF or AFq provides that information in optimal form.
We asked the forum if someone would please provide a succinct explanation of how the stat is created. Lego05 kindly did, so here: Lego05 response
The digest editors decided that publishing the PM exchange in full would produce a wall of text that would not resolve the issue nor do we believe it would hold our readers interest. Instead we are publishing the questions:
"How do you use AF and AFQ stats? What do you believe is the optimal way to display a villains aggression tendencies?"
We hope the readers take this question up, responding in this thread and also posting a screen shot of your HUD display. As always, you are invited to comment on this or any aspect of this issue Let's see if we can all learn from the exchange.
Hello, my name is Andrew and I have been brought on by the BQ Digest staff to help teach limit games, primarily limit hold’em. For my first article I am going to write a brief introduction of myself and then answer what I feel are a few misconceptions about the limit hold’em game. I think there are a lot of thoughts that are really untrue about the game that cause people to shy away from it. Keep in mind, I am very opinionated, but I will answer anything you question me on and provide evidence for what I feel. So feel free to ask anything, but also question everything. That is a very important skill to have in any form of poker.
First, the introduction. I have been playing LHE (Limit Hold’em) for about 2 years now, and played anywhere from .02/.04 to 5/10. I’m currently settled at the upper small stakes and low mid-stakes where I play under someone’s stake. The stake is mostly because I don’t want to put a lot of money online because of Black Friday, but also I don’t have a lot of liquid cash being a senior in College. Yes, you read that correctly, I am under 45 and playing this game. Before LHE I played a lot of SNGs and NL cash, but found that neither really was as fun as I wanted it to be. I was a mildly successful SNG player, so it’s not like I didn’t find it profitable, just not fun. So I went on a search for a game that could keep my interest, provide a lot of interesting spots, and work well with my more aggressive style I liked using while playing the other games.
I found that spot in LHE, but I approached it in a way that was not good for anyone involved. I assumed I could run over everyone and that I had more brain power in one finger than the people at .25/.50 had in their entire being. I was very wrong, and it didn’t take long to prove that through and through. After about 20k hands of losing, I decided to start reading the forum and trying to get more knowledge. You can read my first post in the Micro Limit forum by searching though my created posts, but it’s pretty clear from reading that I had no clue what I was really doing. After receiving a gentle, but stern, undressing from the players in the forum I dropped down and dove head first into studying the game. I slowly started moving up, and grinding like crazy. At my peak I was playing 14-16 tables of .25/.50-1/2 FR LHE.
After I hit my peak, I went on a huge downswing. I am still not sure how I ran so well for nearly 200k hands, but it was clear to me that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was, and perhaps my game needed a lot more help. For you see, when I started to win MMTing I got lazy and stopped caring as much about my game and making the changes I needed to. When I started losing I wasn’t sure why and just chalked it up to running bad. It was fairly clear though after 2 months of grinding that I needed to completely change how I looked and played the game. That started me on the path I am now of playing 2-4 tables of 6-max. Since Black Friday I have been taking a lot of time to study and slowly build what I have and slowly go through the ranks. It’s been a lot of hard work, and a lot of making mistakes but I am very happy with it. One of the things I started doing was compiling a word document of interesting hands and running numerous equities on them. I call this the “Poker Bible” and it currently sits at ~70 pages, but it is constantly getting better. This allows me to track what hands I have done and come back to them later for study and reminding, thus making work easier.
Now that I have introduced myself and my skill set/mindset, I think it’s important to dispel a few rumors that are out there about LHE, and just some conceptions of where the game is currently.
Isn’t Limit Hold’em really boring?
Not at all. There are more decision points than in NLHE, because you are in more hands and you have a decision on basically every street. Rarely are people on in, so you are constantly reevaluating what is happening every time after a bet happens, whereas in NLHE once you are all in, you are done. Further, you play more hands, so you even have more hands to make choices on, and stealing the blinds and thus, defending them becomes even more important. Boring is the last word I would use to describe it, to be honest.
Another thing people bring up is that you can’t win or lose big hands in LHE, because the betting is capped, but this is only true on a per hand basis. Things is, since you only have to have 250-300 big bets (2x big blind) to play a stake, you play at a much higher stake than you would for NLHE. Ex. With 2k you can play 3/6 easily and make a good run at 5/10 by just winning a bit more. If you were playing NLHE and using aggressive BRM of 25 BI’s you be playing around 50NL, so while per hand basis it is smaller, it can add up quick, especially with playing more hands.
I thought only nits played LHE?
This isn’t true at all. Even are nits in FR still have to play 13/10 to make enough to make RB worth it. Consider that the MMTing nits in NLHE can play something like 9/7 and get away with it, that’s a pretty significant jump. To play well and when you no longer have training wheels on you can play 22/18 FR and 36/30 for 6max without being considered insane. Some people even run higher numbers than that and they are very good players. So when you think of what I nit would most like to play, it’s not going to be LHE, because you just have to get involved in more hands, because even getting paid off with your big hands isn’t going to be as profitable compared to NL.
I heard the games aren’t beatable, is that true?
If you are on Pokerstars, then they are beatable for sure, actually for a very good clip. You also accrue VPP’s at a decent rate so you get the benefit of that. I can think of a few players who played ½ and got to Supernova level, and if you play higher it is easier. On other sites its a little closer, but I am in the camp that they are beatable. With Merge getting ready to announce a new rake structure this might become even truer. Currently, you get 35% rakeback so that’s basically added profit right there. Of course most of this discussion is at the mid-stakes.
As for them microstakes where you will end up when starting LHE, those are beatable just based on the sheer amount of people who are really terrible at the game. Anything up through .25/.50 on Merge is for sure beatable because of the bad players, and practicing eat selection at the higher stakes might make those games beatable pre-rb past that. Really, the game are beatable, it’s just a matter of making sure you get into good games in good spots, but most of that won’t be a worry for people until they have put in significant volume.
Okay, so if I were interested in actually learning this game, what is my first step?
I would suggest starting to creep around the microstakes limit forum. Make posts asking questions in there. Most of the people are pretty decent and won’t be mean to anyone new. I also try to do a lot of working answering questions from new posters. I think that helping new people learn is really the key to keep the game growing.
If you want a more in depth look I will include a link to a milestone post I wrote about how to start learning the game. I think that this post actually can be helpful to anyone of any game, just because it really sets down how to study and in what way. It’s going to be most helpful to those learning LHE, but anyone should take a look at it.
How to Begin the Learning LHE
Will this help my other games?
Yes, it will actually. You will learn how to hand read better, because you are making so many decisions on each street. You will learn how to value bet really thin, because 2nd and 3rd pair actually seem good to you now. You will learn more about odds, percentages, and overall game theory because of how many more times you will be applying it per session. This is perhaps one of the fastest ways to learn about hand ranges, because you will be assessing them on a regular basis.
I hope that this helps some and gets everyone excited to maybe try to play a bit of LHE. Next month’s article is going to be on stats that are useful in LHE, and how to use them correctly.
Link to Shu's well
In NL Hold'em, there are many times when we can play wider ranges than we usually do. In these spots, we will be adding some marginal hands to our range. In this article, I will take a look at some of the categories of marginal hands which we might consider playing sometimes. The different types of hands we will be looking at are: pocket pairs, suited connectors, suited 2-gappers, suited aces, unsuited aces, and unsuited connectors. For each category of hands, I've chosen two representative hands from the category, ran them in Flopzilla to see how often they flop different types of hands, and presented the results.
I have chosen to focus strictly on hands which could be fairly described as “marginal.” Thus, I will not say anything at all about hands like QQ, Kqs, or Ajs, despite the fact that they technically belong to the categories of hands which I have listed above. Another thing to bear in mind when reading this article is that I have refrained from discussing how to use these hands as a 3bet bluff. Many of the hands which I describe as almost unplayable when facing action can surely be 3bet as a bluff in the right circumstances as part of a balanced or exploitative 3betting strategy. But discussing this aspect of play would require too much space and is somewhat tangential, therefore I have chosen not to do so.
In the spoiler below are some technical notes about the procedures I used in Flopzilla to arrive at these results:
Will flop a:
- Monster: 12%
- TP/Overpair: 15%
- Weak Pair: 65.8%
- Combo-Draw: 7.3%
- Big Draw: 0%
- Gutshot: 0%
- Total: 100%
Will flop a:
- Monster: 12%
- TP/Overpair: 0%
- Weak Pair: 83.6%
- Combo-Draw: 4.5%
- Big Draw: 0%
- Gutshot: 0%
- Total: 100%
Pocket pairs tend to make monsters when they hit. The difference between the different pocket pairs is that the bigger pocket pairs are often still playable postflop when they miss, whereas the lower pocket pairs have almost no value postflop if they miss. When facing preflop action from your opponent, you would like to play the lower pocket pairs only when you think there is a good chance you will get paid if you hit a set. What this means is that your opponent should have a tight range, or be unwilling to let go of marginal hands postflop in order for you to play the smaller pocket pairs. With the larger pocket pairs like 88 or 99, you have more room to maneuver, and can play them for set value and also you can try to get to showdown with them when you miss. The weakness of the pocket pairs is that they do not flop draws very often at all, so they are not ideal hands for you to use as a postflop semibluff. Therefore, if your opponent is the type to not pay you off when you hit a set, it is perhaps better to fold the smallest pocket pairs facing action, as you will not make much money when you hit a set, neither will you have good opportunities to semibluff postflop.
Will flop a:
- Monster: 5.6%
- TP/Overpair: 9.6%
- Weak Pair: 13.6%
- Combo-Draw: 8.9%
- Big Draw: 13.1%
- Gutshot: 11.7%
- Total: 62.5%
Will flop a:
- Monster: 5.6%
- TP/Overpair: 0.4%
- Weak Pair: 22.8%
- Combo-Draw: 8.9%
- Big Draw: 13.1%
- Gutshot: 11.7%
- Total: 62.5%
Suited connectors make monster hands much more infrequently than pocket pairs do. The strength of suited connectors lies in the ability to flop good draws. As you can see from the numbers above, these hands will make some type of draw around a third of the time. And they will make a pair or better a further 29% of the time. The big difference between the higher and lower suited connectors is that the higher ones will make better pairs and more straight draws with overcards, whereas the lower one make weak pairs and straight draws without overcards. In a heads-up pot, you will surely need to make some semi-bluffs in order for these hands to be profitable. Thus, you would prefer to play these hands when your opponent has a weak range. Since he will miss the flop often, you will be able to bluff him off his hands and still have equity when called. Further, when you flop a pair, it will sometimes be enough for you to win at showdown. Since the higher suited connectors will tend to flop bigger pairs and also have higher equity when bluffing due to the presence of possible pair outs, they are much better than the lower ones. In my estimation, the lowest suited connectors should only be played in position in multiway pots. The higher ones are also best multiway in position, yet can be played against a single opponent, and sometimes can be played out of position, but you should exercise caution and only play them in specific spots against specific opponents.
Will flop a:
- Monster: 5%
- TP/Overpair: 7.6%
- Weak Pair: 17.4%
- Combo-Draw: 6.3%
- Big Draw: 10.7%
- Gutshot: 10.3%
- Total: 57.1%
Will flop a:
- Monster: 5%
- TP/Overpair: 1.5%
- Weak Pair: 23.6%
- Combo-Draw: 6.2%
- Big Draw: 10.6%
- Gutshot: 9.7%
- Total: 56.3%
Much of what is true about suited connectors is also true about suited two-gappers. But you must be even more cautious about playing them. They flop well less often than suited connectors, largely because they make fewer straights and straight draws due to the gaps. This means that you will make fewer draws with which you can bluff and float postflop. You will have to be very careful if you are considering cold-calling with these hands. In my opinion, they will not be profitable to call heads-up, except in very specific situations in which you have a read on your opponent. They are more valuable in multiway pots, and should almost always be played in position.
Will flop a:
- Monster: 4.3%
- TP/Overpair: 19.1%
- Weak Pair: 8.2%
- Combo-Draw: 2.6%
- Big Draw: 9.4%
- Gutshot: 4.4%
- Total: 48%
Will flop a:
- Monster: 4.6%
- TP/Overpair: 12.9%
- Weak Pair: 12.9%
- Combo-Draw: 4.4%
- Big Draw: 7.8%
- Gutshot: 8.4%
- Total: 51.1%
The suited aces can be quite versatile hands. They sometimes flop monsters, sometimes make a pair of aces which cannot lose to overcards, sometimes make a lower pair with top kicker, sometimes make good draws, and sometimes win with A-high. But the top pairs that they make often have kicker problems, they do not flop draws as often as the suited connectors and gappers do, and the weak pairs and A-high that they make often must be folded before showdown. If an opponent enters the pot, you will want to have some good reads on him before you try to play these hands. You are almost totally dominated by any tight range and will just get yourself into trouble if you play these hands over-enthusiastically. Look to cold-call the suited aces only if your opponent has a wide range. The higher suited aces can win kicker wars sometimes against an opponent with a wide range if he has trouble folding his marginal hands. The lower suited aces, A2s-A5s, make more draws which will benefit you against an opponent who can fold his marginal hands to pressure from you. If you do flop one pair with any of these hands, you should proceed with caution except against the fishiest of calling stations. Especially important when playing these hands is your ability to make good river decisions when you hold one pair. Folding too often, calling too often, and betting too often are all expensive mistakes which can be made when you have one pair with a bad kicker on the river.
will flop a:
- Monster: 3.5%
- TP/Overpair: 19.8%
- Weak Pair: 8.5%
- Combo-Draw: 0.8%
- Big Draw: 1.3%
- Gutshot: 5.1%
- Total: 38.9%
Will flop a:
- Monster: 3.8%
- TP/Overpair: 13.5%
- Weak Pair: 13.5%
- Combo-Draw: 2.3%
- Big Draw: 0%
- Gutshot: 9.5%
- Total: 42.6%
The unsuited aces are much worse than their suited counterparts. They only rarely flop draws, and thus can only really make top pair with a bad kicker or worse pairs with a good kicker. It will be difficult to extract value if you make the best hand, and you will frequently find yourself second-best at showdown. I believe that these hands are best played to steal the blinds and should almost never be cold-called preflop.
Will flop a:
- Monster: 4.8%
- TP/Overpair: 9.9%
- Weak Pair: 14.1%
- Combo-Draw: 5.6%
- Big Draw: 8%
- Gutshot: 13.5%
- Total: 55.8%
Will flop a:
- Monster: 4.8%
- TP/Overpair: 0.4%
- Weak Pair: 23.7%
- Combo-Draw: 5.5%
- Big Draw: 8%
- Gutshot: 13.5%
- Total: 55.8%
At first, unsuited connectors don't seem too bad; they hit the flop about 56% of the time, which is more often than the suited and unsuited aces. But it is important to remember that the aces have some high card strength and might already be the best hand unimproved. Neither of these apply to the unsuited connectors, which often make weak made hands or weak gutshots when they hit. In my opinion, these hands can almost never be cold-called profitably, and are only good for blind steals. Even in a blind-steal situation, you will want to fold the lowest of these hands if either of your opponents is too loose and showdown-bound.
As you can see, some marginal hands are more marginal than others. All of these hands have a time and place to be played. It is important to understand how often these hands will hit the flop, and what kinds of draws or made hands they are likely to make. A failure to understand these topics will result in “marginal” becoming “unprofitable”.
Ice_w0lf's Ultimate Guide to Playing Online Poker in the United States
By Ice_w0lf with contributions from Mikes007 and wafflehouse1
In today's poker landscape, being a newer player to online poker in the US is becoming increasingly difficult. That's not to say you should not play a game that you enjoy, and perhaps are profitable at, but that does mean you need to be more aware than ever. My hope is that I will offer you a road map that gets you down the path of playing poker successfully.
First we'll discuss where you can play. In the US, almost every site is part of a bigger network, so I will offer up the network name, the bigger sites where you can play, and some additional information about each network. If possible, I will also include the link to each sites 2+2 sub-forum or Official Thread:
: RPM Poker, Carbon Poker, Black Chip Poker, Hero Poker, Overbet Poker
This network is battling with Revolution Gaming Network for the top spot for places that offer games to Americans. They offer a wide range of games from NLHE to PLO, mixed games, and tournaments and sngs running around the clock. NLHE cash games are considered some of the toughest games around, and the other games aren't much easier. Bring your A game if you are planning on playing here.
: PokerTracker 3 and 4, Holdem Manager 1 and 2, and Holdem Indicator. Also, Carbon has it's own tracking software built into it's site.
: You can choose between the VIP programs each site offers or 35% rakeback which is generally paid daily.
Revolution Gaming Network
: Lock Poker, Cake Poker, Intertops Poker, Overbet Poker
Formerly the Cake Poker Network, it became Revolution Gaming when Lock Poker bought the network after leaving the Merge Network in June. The site is currently the largest network offering games to American players, and its offering is very similar to that of the Merge Network. Games aren't quite as tough as they are on Merge, but you still won't find pools of fish swimming everywhere.
: Poker Tracker 3 and 4, Holdem Manager 1 and 2, Holdem Indicator
: 36%, payment depends on the site
Winning Poker Network
: America's Card Room, True Poker
A much smaller room, but has something to offer for beginning players as the games are softer than you will find on Merge or Revolution. However, the traffic is much smaller. At the cash games, you can generally get a few tables of plo or nlhe going, but at the nlhe tables you need to watch for the short stack tables and the bbj tables. Sng's very rarely run and most of the mtts are either traditional rebuys or they are reentry, which is similar to a rebuy but you pay rake again.
: PokerTracker 3 and 4, Holdem Manager 1 and 2
: 27% or VIP style rewards
In order to remain unbiased in this article, I have invited wafflehouse1 to do the write up for the Bodog Poker Network, and that will be followed up by mikes007 doing the review for Poker Pros Network
Bodog Poker Network
Bovada.lv is the only site available to US players on the network
Bovada is a long established poker site that was spun off from the Bodog brand. As for reliability in this market, I would have to say they are top notch. They have fought through all the adversity, and continued to offer decent traffic and efficient payouts. The very big upside to playing here is that it has a lot of crossover traffic from the sportsbook and casino which means, you guessed it, FISH. Hands down the softest site around in the current climate. The downside is there is no available rakeback anymore, there is a four table limit for cash games and sngs, and the software is anonymous, and mediocre. They did recently increase table limits to 20 for mtt play, which is a step in the right direction. Also, in fairness, they are implementing small changes to the software frequently that are improving stability and playability. If not your main site, it is recommended to have it for some side action at the very least.
: No direct rewards program. They offer points to tournament tickets, and they also offer frequently offer bonuses that can be collected by earning points.
Poker Pros Network
A small, independent poker room. The traffic is minimal and you are lucky to find more than 1 or 2 games running at any given time. Almost all the action is at microstakes. But you can usually get action if you sit at an empty table. There are some freerolls which offer decent value and there are leaderboards for both cash games and tournaments. The quality of play is variable, but generally soft. The poker client is quite bad, but it is frequently updated with new features and bug fixes.
: PPN is not compatible with any popular software
: There is 35% lifetime rakeback for players who deposit $500 or more, and a 150% bonus of up to $2,500 which clears at a 20% RB-equivalent rate. Furthermore the frequent freerolls, leaderboards, and other promotions have significant value
Okay, now we've learned about what sites are out there and available to us.. it's time to sign up right? RIGHT?!?!! NO! First thing we want to do is look around popular websites to find the best affiliate deal. If you are looking to be a rakeback player (which most of us are), you'll want to look around at the rakeback websites to see if you are able to get more than just rakeback.. sometimes you can also score free gear, free money, or free poker tracking programs. Don't just settle with a site, look around and compare deals.
Ok.. we've got the site, we've got the rakeback.. now are we ready? Sure..but.. nah. You want to look into your deposit and withdrawal options. These days, many sites are offering Western Union (WU) as a withdrawal option.. but only after you've deposited via Western Union several times. Despite the fees associated with WU, this is generally the preferred method of withdrawing for most players as it is very quick and your money is practically guaranteed. So before you sign up for a site, check to see if these types of options could become available to you.
Alright.. we've got the site, we've got the rakeback, we've researched deposit options.. can I just play some damn poker now?!?! Almost! A few more things to think about after you've signed up:
Every site these days has verification documents. I recommend that you fill these out right away so that you don't have to worry about them any more. These are the types of things that hold up things like player to player transfers and withdrawals.
Open up a few play money tables and play around the software. Poker Stars and Full Tilt these softwares aren't. They are adequate, and for the most part run smoothly.. but for those that played pre-Black Friday, they can definitely take some getting used to. If you decide on the Merge Network, many of the sites can be customized a bit through a program called MergeMods
Make sure you play around with all of the filters and settings available to you so that you make sure everything is to your liking.
Finally.. a few more things to consider:
Some banks really don't like online poker. And while it rarely happens, some people have had their bank accounts closed due to the account being connected to online poker. If you feel like you will be moving poker related money around a lot, consider a second bank account.
Keep in mind that sites are not guaranteed to stay open forever. Because of this, you want to make sure you limit your risk. Only deposit and keep on the site as much as you really feel is necessary and as much as you are ok with losing or being held for a long period of time. In relation to my point above, I keep a second bank account open, separate from my main bank account, that I keep most of my bankroll in. I'm lucky in that my debit card for that site works at all poker sites I play at, so I keep only the bare minimum that I need to play the games that I play and I keep the rest offline and reload as necessary
Stay up on poker legislation. The more involved more players are, the more things turn in our favor.
Be sure to have some kind of tracking software. There are hem vs pt debates all over 2+2, look for them. Both offer free trials.. try both out and pick the one that you feel is best. Either way, it is imperative that you have some way to review your play.
Follow your gut. If something is making you feel uneasy, move elsewhere.
Finally, some important links:
Black Chip Poker
America's Card Room
Bodog Poker Network
Unofficial Bovada Thread
Poker Pros Network
Also a thread to always keep your eye on is the Where Can US players play?
thread that is stickied in the Internet Poker Forum: It is updated often and has a lot of additional information, such as which states are prohibited from playing at different sites.
The Library-awesome repository of poker lore from the Micros
Micros Forum Guidelines
Guide to PokerStove Lanyi Milestone post
Discussion of AQo from UTG
Overpair vs turn raise shove
Live MTT PF decision
Runner runner trips, are we ahead yet?
Bet this river or check it through?
Question, answers, discussion of the definition and nature of variance
-Pretty good recent conversation on semi-bluffing and what to consider when thinking of doing it.
- Look at a spot in the BB. This can be a very tough position to play from, so learning do so will help greatly.
- Once you start playing LHE, think about posting your stats in here so some people will see them. There are many qualified people to comment on them.
- Pretty standard hand, but gives you an idea of a turn spot that might be a little harder to grasp coming from an NL background. Good odds don’t mean everything, and thinking about ranges critically means a lot.
- Something for my live friends.
- Thread that start out easy enough but really turned interesting when the 2nd hand was posted.
- Really good thread that goes through a lot of concepts about implied odds, current odds, and just what to be thinking about when you are in a hand facing a lot of action.
- A discussion about rake.
- More blind play from a lower stakes game. Good learning tool.[/QUOTE]
TRIP REPORTS, SPECIAL EVENTS, MILESTONES, FUN STUFF:
Suzukishosan 1k Milestone
BQ Olympics 2012
Links to previous digests:
BQ Digest August 2012
BQ Digest July, 2012
BQ Digest May and June 2012
Originally Posted by whydowe_fall
When people first become interested in playing poker ‘professionally’, they tend to get tunnel vision; poker is all that they can think about. While grinding for hours at a time, they are thinking about each of their actions. While reading poker books or watching training videos they are thinking of ways to improve their game. While in class, at work, eating dinner or out on the couch watching television they are replaying their biggest hands in their head, or fantasizing about what could have been if that river card had not come. Some people even let the game follow them into their dreams.
It is a natural thing to become heavily involved in something that you are interested in. Athletes will train for hours upon hours a day, and even when they are not on the field their days are structured around the fact that they will be again soon. Scientists can spend days, months, or even years looking at one complex problem, and the answer could come to them while they think about it in the shower. People who participate in eSports will play match after match after match using the same techniques, working on their reactions to different events and on building their APM.
Poker players fall into the same category. Even when you are not actively involved in a hand or on a table, you can constantly be thinking of something new and exciting about the game. A player can think about their bet sizing or work out optimal lines while miles from their computer or casino. It is easy to have an ‘aha!’ moment concerning the game doing something as mundane as driving a car or doing laundry.
But there is a difference between thinking about poker constantly, and living for poker.
Everyone needs a break sometimes, or they will burn out. Although there are some robotic poker players out there that can multi-table for twelve hours straight, most players will hit a wall after a while where their actions become less optimal and they begin making bad decisions. When this happens, do not think that you instantly need to study or dissect hands, just because you were not ‘pokering’ for as long as you wanted. Maybe your brain is just telling you to think about something else for a bit?
This leads to another problem that people come across when they begin playing poker; they forget about everything else that they enjoy (or that they’re simply obligated to do). If you are suddenly devoting much more time to poker, you are going to lose the time that you used to spend doing other things. Time spend studying for school might now be spent running hands through Poker Stove. Friday night at the bar with friends might now be put off, because that is one of the best times to grind. Exercise could fall to the wayside because your dissection of a session with a friend went longer than expected.
It is important to find a balance between your new love, poker, and the rest of the activities in your life. Becoming so focused on the game that you neglect your relationships, work, or mental and physical well-being can be immensely detrimental, and letting these things slide in favor of poker could eventually even begin impacting how well you can play the game.
Make sure to maintain relationships with friends and family, even if they do not play poker; some day you may need a day away from the game when you have had a particularly rough session and the last thing you want to talk about is the EV of certain lines. Do not forget to get out of the house and move your body once and a while, lest a day comes when it becomes difficult to do so due to being out of shape. Make yourself healthy meals to keep your mind and body clear and ready for anything. Do not drop out of school or neglect your job just because you would rather be at the tables; what if one day the tables no longer exist and you now have nothing to fall back on?
Yes, poker is an exciting activity, and the thought of being able to make money off of it is extremely appealing. However, it should not be what you live and breathe for.
Just recently, I was forced to do some major housekeeping on my poker database due to an upgrade of the Poker Tracker software. This process unfortunately resulted in some unintended consequences, which anyone who has ever done a major tracker database migration or upgrade will surely relate! In my case, however, the technical aspects went fairly smoothly, and the unintended consequences were not system or database related whatsoever - the issues were in my data which I was brutally confronted with and obligated to acknowledge. This year I have completely and utterly sucked at poker!
Now, poker is not my livelihood so there was no need to hide sharp objects, or to start thinking of severe fiscal belt tightening. But it does represent a serious problem that I have ignored all year apparently, and since poker is a major quality of life component for me, it does have an effect on my state of mind. I felt just like my tracker software had tattooed the word "LOSER" square in the middle of my forehead.
Of course, being a fairly well adjusted and self confident person, I blamed the software! Denial is always the first step in dealing with problems or grief that overwhelm, and I had to fully explore any and all possible external blame. Tragically, nothing I did with my database rectified the horror, and I was left with no scapegoat. I tried various filters, reporting options, and ridiculous parameters searching for some combination that would absolve me of the guilt - but it only served to further sear in the brand new tattoo on my forehead. I couldn't even find a winning graph by looking at only nano stakes played this year.
Finally, I did discover some small amount of redemption, a single game variant that wasn't a disaster. A mere 15k hands out of more than 100k played this year. But still, I realized that I needed to re-evaluate my game, and seek some help from poker players I trust and respect in order to recover. The two main things I hear, from people I trust, are to set some meaningful weekly goals (and make a plan everyday to work on those goals) along with committing much more time to study/review.
So, I would like to hear from others on the forum and hopefully start a discussion - or at least get other players thinking. What sort of goals could a recreational player set that might be meaningful? How much time relative to hours playing poker should be set for study/review - particularly for a player like myself who has read nearly every poker book over the past 10 years along with a membership in a video training site? What other things can a player do to re-evaluate his game, and keep growing as a player given today's poker environment? Is 9 months and over 100k hands even a significant enough sample size? I would love to hear your thoughts, feel free to post ITT and I will answer any questions.
I plan to include brief updates, and revisit this in coming month's Digests, along with sharing some of the better suggestions I receive. For general background, I have been playing the following cash games this year, all of which I have had success playing in the past: PLO, NLHE, LHE, PLO/8, LO/8 and small numbers of NLHE and HORSE MTT's under $11 buyin. The only graph I will post for this year is the one game that I play strictly for social reasons, to keep in practice, since many of my friends play this variant both live and online. Maybe there is a lesson somewhere in that, but I have not figured it out as yet. Suffice to say the other 90k cash hands and several hundred tourneys this year are not fit to publish.
August saw the Olympics come and go in London, with the final day also holding the 1st BQ Olympics Poker Pentathlon
, which, to cries of ‘lolrigged’, was won by Team Gee Bee
Although the final 4 runners in the last game were all still in the race for 1st place, some calculated luckboxing won it for me.
Had no plans to play much for the remainder of the month, following a lazy July, but a couple of BQ regs were thinking about going to the forthcoming Poker Stars London VIP Event
at the end of September. Tickets were 10,000FPP’s for Bronze Stars, and 1,500 for Silvers, so as a low volume Bronze player that has probably never had a 10k year, the quest for Silver Star commenced.
This was pretty much all achieved at $2/$4 Badugi in a couple thousand hands or so, but unfortunately without profit. Still, ticket acquired and looking forward to meeting up with SpaceBat
again, and meeting a couple of other BQers for the first time.
One Saturday night in the hunt for FPPs saw no Dugi tables running, so decided to join a Zoom PLO table for the first time for a quick degen fix. I never play PLO as I just don’t like it, and I never really played Rush much on the old Full Tilt, so the only reason I ended up at these tables was due to inebriation of course!
Needless to say, the combination of alcohol, 4 cards, super-fast action with a tonne of flops is a winning combination, and I was instantly hooked and thoroughly enjoyed dropping nearly 4 buy-ins at the $10 level
So, the plan for September was to play 10,000 hands of Zoom PLO and deliver a write-up for the next Digest, but at the time of writing I am almost a 3rd of the way there. Other than reading a quick guide to starting hands, and discussing a few things with other BQers more knowledgeable at the game I don’t intend to read much strat until the 10k mark.
It’s already proving swingy, with some ridiculous beats and my own terribad play. But it’s proving fun. As long as I survive the BQ meet-up in London at the end of the month, I’ll deliver a report on whether PLO Zoom is still fun in the next edition of the Digest
"Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing for something."
"I used to be a heavy gambler. But now I just make mental bets. That's how I lost my mind."
— Steve Allen
"The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling."
— Ambrose Bierce
"The urge to gamble is so universal and its practice so pleasurable that I assume it must be evil."
— Heywood Hale Broun
"Gambling promises the poor what property performs for the rich—something for nothing. "
— George Bernard Shaw
"Someone once asked me why women don't gamble as much as men do and I gave the commonsensical reply that we don't have as much money. That was a true but incomplete answer. In fact, women's total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage."
— Gloria Steinem
"In Louisiana, we don't bet on football games, we bet on whether a politician is going to be indicted or not."
— Mark Duffy
"Last year people won more than one billion dollars playing poker. And casinos made twenty-seven billion just by being around those people."
— Samantha Bee
"I don't gamble, because winning a hundred dollars doesn't give me great pleasure. But losing a hundred dollars pisses me off."
— Alex Trebek
"Casinos and prostitutes have the same thing in common; they are both trying to screw you out of your money and send you home with a smile on you face."
— VP Pappy
"Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math."
"No wife can endure a gambling husband—unless he is a steady winner."
— Thomas Robert Dewar
"A Gentleman is a man who will pay his gambling debts even when he knows he has been cheated."
— Leo Tolstoy
"If you ain't just a little scared when you enter a casino, you are either very rich or you haven't studied the games enough."
— VP Pappy
Worth Repeating? Link to puzzle on line version
Thanks for reading "The Digest"
. If you were informed in some way or entertained or both, we have accomplished our mission. Play in SHENANIGANS
on Thursday and Sunday. Play in SHANOOBIGANS
on Saturday. Please post your comments, criticisms, or suggestions in The Digest thread. We improve when you tell us what you want.