Poker Bloggers Unite and Playing Blind

“The pain of losing is diverting. So is the thrill of winning. Winning, however, is lonelier, because those you’ve taken money from are not apt to commiserate with you. Winning takes some getting used to.”
–David Mamet, “The Things Poker Teaches”
Affiliate signups
Ok, some monetary issues to address off the bat. Let’s start out with the issue of affiliate signups and the poker bloggers “getting their due”. LondonFroggy, Grubby, and Ignatius have all addressed the issue of affiliate signups, and I thought I’d jump in the discussion.
I’m not really sure how many players us Bloggers are bringing into the Party/Empire world, but I’m sure that they are making some money off of us. On the other hand, considering how many players they have, the few players we bring in are just drops in the bucket ‘o fish. How can we get noticed by the corporate monsters? Well, it may not be possible, but maybe if we band together, we might make a little splash in that big ol’ bucket. If we could show empire 100 signups, they might be willing to offer some kind of cash sponsorship. Any suggestions?
The streak continues
I haven’t been playing as much as I’d like to be, but the results have been good… $83 last night on 2 tables for a win rate of 9.88 BB/100. And just about all of this came on this hand:
Oops, I forgot that I’ve banned myself from posting hand histories. In reading David Ross’ posts, I’ve found going through 4 rounds of betting somewhat exhausting, and it doesn’t make for good reading. So here is the summarized hand history:
Big Slick of the hearts variety, and two hearts flop (one of them a ten). I ram and jam the entire way, and am called down by JT and T6, no hearts. PartyPoker/Empire rules. $75 profit on this hand.
Relatively uneventful besides that. I think I’m getting better at knowing when I’m beat– I played my last hammer (hopefully), and caught the flop with KK7. Does somebody have a king? I check, early position bets out, and tight player in late position just flat calls. No flush on board, so I have to decide whether my 7 is good. But why would a tight player call here? I fold, and tight player has KK, while early position has 66. Before I would have overplayed that hand and gotten killed by the cowboys.
10 winning sessions in a row, with a win rate of 18.6 BB/100 during the streak. Thanks, Poker Gods.
Play in the blinds
After reading Stick and Move’s gutsy revelation of his 3 biggest weaknesses, I was inspired to do a little leak-finding using the mighty PokerTracker data. After looking at my play from the blinds, I had the suspicion that I was playing too loose– over 15K hands, I’ve folded 70% of my SB hands to a steal, but only 40% of my BB hands to a steal. I usually like to see the flop for 1 more small bet: I think my postflop play is pretty good, and I often think I can outplay the stealer after the flop. So I’ll take a card off with marginal hands.
But overall, the blinds are the only positions where I’m consistently losing money– -.09 Big Bets from the SB, and -.2 Big Bets from the BB. Which I suppose isn’t too bad, but over the winning streak the numbers look like this:
85% folded SB to steal (for an average win of +.36 BB), 27% folded BB to steal (for an average win of +.27 BB).
So loose play in the BB has actually paid off during this streak, but I’ve been hitting flops pretty hard. I consulted a wise online veteran about my blind play, and he suggested that I was playing a little too loose.
So I went to the ultimate authority on preflop play.
“The rankings of hands when defending the big blind versus a raise is quite a bit different than the rankings for opening. You are getting over 3:1 odds to flop something good, or at least a pair. Proper big blind defense strategy varies dramatically depending on the raiser’s minimums. Against typical raises, call liberally with hands that have straight or flush potential, as well as pairs. Get away from big offsuit hands that are likely dominated. 65s is usually on par with KQ here. If flopping a pair won’t do you any good, because the raiser is so tight that he is likely to have a big pair, then fold liberally, especially offsuit hands.”
Hmmm, my big blind play seems more or less in line with Abdul’s advice, but defending 60% against steal raises just has to be too high. I guess I just need to be more aware of who is doing the stealing. Ironically, my biggest loser in the BB is AKs, although I’ve only had it 5 times. I don’t have any epiphanies as to what adjustments need to be made, but I think I’m going to try to tighten up from the BB.
The stages of learning
On my recent run I’ve felt very confident about reading other players. It’s more difficult to do online, but as I get more comfortable with the rest of my game, I think I’m able to focus more on guessing what the other players are holding. I’m going to run Mamet into the ground, but I can’t resist:
“When you are proud of having made the correct decision… you are inclined to look forward to the results of that decsion with some degree of impassivity. When you are so resolved, you become less fearful and more calm. You are less interested in yourself and more naturally interested in the other players: now they begin to reveal themselves. Is their nervousness feigned? Is their hand made already? Are they bluffing? These elections are impossible to make when you are afraid, but they become easier the more content you are with your own actions.”
Perfectly said Mr. Mamet. When you spend less time thinking about which hands you should play preflop, and less time calculating pot odds, you’re free to live in the moment. You can hear the message that the check-raise on the turn is communicating.
Off the top of my head, here is a simplified summary of the stages I’ve gone through in improving my game:
1. Starting hand selection
2. How to play draws (odds of making your hand)
3. Basic hand reading– what preflop raises and checkraises on the turn mean
4. Understanding implied odds and when to ram and jam
5. Tells (in B&M play)
6. Intermediate hand reading– relationships between the board cards and opponent’s raises
7. Profitable bluffs and semi-bluffs
8. Shorthanded play
I left a lot of things out, but I think those are the basic steps. Hopefully I can make the next step soon, whatever it may be. Tighter play in the blinds maybe.
Good luck, and put the time in to evaluate your play– you’ll be a much better player for it.

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