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Poker Results

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The Meal
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Re: Poker Results

Post by The Meal »

Isgrimnur wrote: Wed Mar 04, 2020 10:33 pm I honestly don't have a memory trained to remember hands, or hell, even pay attention to position half the time.
I worry that my lack of strong hand memory affects my ability for improvement (you hear of professionals with hand-recall for events against specific opponents years earlier). However, with additional experience comes somewhat stronger recall abilities. I do better in "staging" each hand in my mind before it is in play (especially important in no-limit events to know likely opponents and chips situations). Taking a conscious moment to consider your position relative to players at extreme ends of skill levels (folks you want to play with and folks you want to avoid) can help you avoid pitfalls and avoid missing out on opportunities for good things to happen.
The highlight that sticks with me is a hand I wasn't in. A married couple were at the table. Husband had wandered off, and she went to a showdown with a new arrival wearing a FC Barcelona shirt. She hit her diamond flush draw, Ace on the board, Queen in her hand.

He had the King. She was not a happy camper and took a walk for a bit before returning.
Getting up from the table when things unexpectedly don't go your way is a sign of a player who knows how to mitigate tilt. Getting tilted with a second-best flush is not the sign of a super-experienced player. Still, fun to see stuff like this happen at your table, as it can open up opportunities for you down the road. Thanks for sharing.
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Re: Poker Results

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So our live games have come to a rapid halt (I've got a -$5 night from earlier this month and that's it). However, MHS and I have been (as she calls it) Online Poker in the Time of Cholera. We're coordinating things on Discord, so if anyone is interested in a server invite, hit me up.

The opposition would be fairly poker savvy, but very challenged by online technology. Tournaments seem to be starting around 6pm Mountain Time (during the week) with an anticipated tournament start time of 4pm this Saturday. There's also other shenanigans going on during the day, but nothing nearly as coordinated as our tournaments.

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Re: Poker Results

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This is really accurate.
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Re: Poker Results

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The Meal wrote: Mon Mar 16, 2020 3:16 pmSo our live games have come to a rapid halt (I've got a -$5 night from earlier this month and that's it). However, MHS and I have been (as she calls it) Online Poker in the Time of Cholera. We're coordinating things on Discord, so if anyone is interested in a server invite, hit me up.

The opposition would be fairly poker savvy, but very challenged by online technology. Tournaments seem to be starting around 6pm Mountain Time (during the week) with an anticipated tournament start time of 4pm this Saturday. There's also other shenanigans going on during the day, but nothing nearly as coordinated as our tournaments.
We're now into our sixth month of only playing online tournaments with friends. The majority of tournaments we've set up are free games, but a couple of nights a week there's a smaller group of us who've been playing for-money games and squaring up with each other. Between the games we've coordinated and a slightly different friend group who's run something similar (in which we've only participated), I've played in 45 for-money tournaments (and have attended 85-90% of all events). Since we're playing so much more frequently, stakes have been reduced ($20 tournaments for the games we coordinate, $10 tournaments for the other group), and for the most part folks are finding things palatable.

Since online games are run by computers and the computer can handle the mechanical structure so much more quickly and error-free compared to playing these things live, we've branched out significantly into the types of games we've played. The meaningful break down of types of poker tournaments we've played in fall into four categories: Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, HORSE, and Everything Else:

Code: Select all

45 Tournament Game Type Breakdown:
16 Hold'em
11 Omaha H/L
08 H.O.R.S.E. mixed game
04 Omaha/Hold'em mixed game
02 H.O.S.E. mixed game
02 8-Game mix
01 Big O 5-card Omaha
01 Omaha mixed betting
A few of those tournament types are identified as "mixed games" which means after a certain interval (which is generally 10 or 15 minutes for our online games) the game type changes. For instance in a H.O.R.S.E. mixed game, the games rotate between Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, 7-card Stud, and 7-card Stud Hi/Lo. (H.O.S.E. is the same thing, but without the Razz, as some players really don't enjoy that game.) The computer is much more efficient of keeping track of games, keeping track of ensuring the proper winners in game types we don't play as frequently, doing rote things such as breaking up pots for winners in the split-pot games and we're playing many nights of the week, so it's really good to break up the monotony that we have alternatives to Hold'em available to us. "Our group" of players has about two-dozen active participants, and the side group we're involved in has about a dozen.

After starting out slowly (punting on each of my first 4 $20 tournaments, and then my first $10 entry), I've made a bit of a come-back, results-wise:
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The vast majority of results see me losing the buy-in of the tournament, but overall I've averaged +$6.72 over these 45 events. I've averaged better results in some game types (+$13.44 per Hold'em; +$8.86 per Omaha H/L, +$4.38 per HORSE) while I average losing results in other types (-$20.00 per mixed Hold'em/Omaha event, -$10.00 per HOSE, -$2.50 per 8-game mix) which admittedly are of a smaller sample size. I'm far from the big winner in our games, but between MHS and myself we've absolutely cleaned up in the games which are being organized by our friend.

It's pretty wild to see how playing online affects the results for individual players in our group. Some players who are consistent donators in the live environment play a lot more boldly (and, IMO, correctly) when playing online. Others are absolutely "just clicking buttons" online (which has a negative connotation, implying that they're not taking appropriate strategic considerations before taking an action) while they do very well in the live environment. It's also absolutely wild how the "common bet customs" change between the two environments. Playing in a live tournament we probably see about 1/3rd as many hands in a given amount of time (or even less!) compared to running things online, and that has the effect of making online betting (at least for the more savvy players) smaller as you can be both a bit more risk averse (which is a major tournament consideration) and push edges better when you're seeing so many more hands.

As far as the mechanics of playing together for money, but from our separate homes, there is a lot of trust involved. MHS and I both video stream our games from separate rooms in the house (we coordinate on Discord for our games, in a mandatory Zoom conference call in the other games), but that wouldn't necessarily prevent us from texting each other our hole cards or doing other shenanigans that'd violate the spirit of the game. That's another reason why we've settled on a smaller buy-in/pay-out scale for the whole endeavor, and also has a lot to do with how we've controlled the participant list for our for-money games (we all know each other and are a friendly bunch).

It's also fun to see how and which players are reacting to having their wins and losses more "in your face" in the online environment. I don't want to get into the details of how the winnings and buy-ins are being handled, but its fair to say that there's a different sort of reckoning than just showing up at someone's house once a month and pulling a few $20s out of your purse. Some players who've been pretty blase about live performance are clearly using safer-at-home free time to work on the strategic elements of their poker games, which makes for a terrific dynamic. If we ever do proceed past the end-of-times and get back to playing in a live environment, it'll be fascinating to see how things change from what they were before COVID-19.
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Re: Poker Results

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I've been playing online Hold-Em with a group of 20ish friends for the last couple of months.
Other than the initial buy-in of $25, I've been playing with house money the whole time.
We usually do $20-30 buy-ins, with a $100 every other week.
My winnings have been as high as $1200. Of course that has dwindled down due to using it to buy-in for games.
Right now my balance sits at $300. I've gone cold. It's amazing to me how many times I've folded a shit hand pre-flop only to see it turn into gold. Is it due to online shenanigans? Unlikely. Due to some sort of collusion? Again, unlikely. But it is interesting to see the difference in play between live and online.
I started out playing my normal, relatively conservative way. My nickname is Snake, because I'm known to hide in the bushes and strike when least expected. but I've had to adapt as that was not working online. I don't, and =never will buy into the train of thought that you can read other players. You can truly never know what a player has or is going to do. So I've worried about just playing my style. But online, I agree you must be more aggressive.
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Re: Poker Results

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stimpy wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:36 pmI've been playing online Hold-Em with a group of 20ish friends for the last couple of months.
Legit, our poker group is probably the best thing keeping MHS and I sane right now.
stimpy wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:36 pmOther than the initial buy-in of $25, I've been playing with house money the whole time.
We usually do $20-30 buy-ins, with a $100 every other week.
My winnings have been as high as $1200. Of course that has dwindled down due to using it to buy-in for games.
Quite the run! Lots of fun while it's happening.
stimpy wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:36 pmRight now my balance sits at $300. I've gone cold. It's amazing to me how many times I've folded a shit hand pre-flop only to see it turn into gold. Is it due to online shenanigans? Unlikely. Due to some sort of collusion? Again, unlikely. But it is interesting to see the difference in play between live and online.
We've lost a couple of players ostensibly because they can't handle the outcome of the online random number generator. You do see a lot more weird stuff online, but that's because you see a lot more stuff online. You also see a lot more mundane stuff, but it's really easy to forget about that. Seeing at least three times as many hands per hour played (and playing that many more hours, as is the case in our group), you're going to run into low probability stuff that much more often.

As far as online collusion, as you say, it is possible, but at the stakes we're playing and with the group we're playing with, it's exceedingly unlikely. It doesn't prevent at least one of our players from accusing (from the side of his mouth) one of the successful online players who doesn't have many good results in the live game, but that says more about the accuser than the accusee, IMO.
stimpy wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:36 pmI started out playing my normal, relatively conservative way. My nickname is Snake, because I'm known to hide in the bushes and strike when least expected. but I've had to adapt as that was not working online.
You can catch some people out like this online, but I'd agree that it's not something to build a general strategy around. However, in my recent hot run, I've been up against hyper aggressive "button-pushers" that ran well against me for a few orbits at a time, right up until I played a hand like a weak bird only to catch them out with the nuts on the river. We're playing on PokerStars and there's a feature that graphs one's chips from hand to hand, and these events tend to look rather fantastic.

At ~2hr mark I trapped a player (his graph isn't shown) who'd been making my life miserable, only to have him outdraw me (my red line plunged). However, I turned the tables down the stretch and ended up with an even chop of the guy with the green chart once we got down to heads up:
Image

Last night I put the whamboozle on another too-aggressive player, which catapulted my ascent to an outright win:
Image
stimpy wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:36 pmI don't, and =never will buy into the train of thought that you can read other players. You can truly never know what a player has or is going to do. So I've worried about just playing my style.
There's a lot to reading other players, but as you say it's never a 100% certain event. However, my live reads have a lot to do with why my results are much better on that medium. Sometimes they lead you astray, but meaningfully more often than that, they let me make adjustments to my game that provide much better results. Posture tells, verbal tells, comfort level tells, chip handling tells, bet size tells, eye tells — these things happen nearly every time I sit at a table with people, and my observational skills lead me to better results than if I just ignored that stuff. Online there're only timing tells, and they tend to be fairly unreliable (you don't know if someone just got up to go get another beer) with the exception of folks taking an action so quickly that they didn't need to think about what they were going to do.
stimpy wrote: Sat Aug 08, 2020 3:36 pmBut online, I agree you must be more aggressive.
I think my post-flop (or the later street equivalent in the stud games) online game is less aggressive than my live game. Live I feel the need (backed by my ability to pick up discomfort tells) to make big bluffs every now and then to try to get ahead. Online it's super rare that I make absolutely naked bluffs, mostly because no good reason for doing so has presented itself to me. However preflop (and on the early streets in stud), I think I have been a bit more stabby at the pot. Mostly that is because I'm using smaller preflop raise sizes, which seem to afford me a few more chances to try and make things happen (as there's less for me to lose when they don't work out).
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Re: Poker Results

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We play our games on PokerStars.net which has the beneficial features of being easy to create private games and having a good mix of various poker types that our group (mostly) enjoys. I've stated before that a lot of our crew is a bit technologically challenged, but getting up and running on PokerStars is not much of an obstacle (getting everyone up and running with video chat on Discord took a few more of my and MHS's hours—but definitely well worth it!). One of the downsides for the free-to-play games on PokerStars is that you just have to trust that the software awards pots to the winning hand, as "opening" hands (i.e., showing the hands in play) at showdown only occurs for a very brief instant (about a second for tournaments, surprisingly somehow even less when playing in ring games) and there is no hand history feature allowing one to look back in time to see what had been played. This isn't as big of a deal for a game like hold'em (which doesn't have an overwhelming amount of new information shown when hands are opened), but creates significant challenges in high-low games with many personal cards (such as 7-card stud hi/lo). The lack of a longer showdown feature actively prevents us from inviting certain players who we know would struggle with that aspect of the game.

I played from March into August and just "dealt with it." I tried to make the most of what I was seeing, but if I couldn't figure out exactly what happened, well the next hand was already in progress and let's just play some f'in cards, right? But I wasn't happy about that. From our Felt Club website:
I wrote:The Appeal
Hold 'Em poker appeals to different people for different reasons. I like it because it's a brain-teaser (like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, video games, golf, etc.) with constantly-shifting parameters to be figured out. Other people will like it because it gives them a chance to show up their friends and take a little bit of their money to boot, or because it's a low-impact social activity and easy way to kill a few hours with friends a few times a month. Very specifically to Hold 'Em, it's a great mix of simple rules allowing for complex strategies. Tournament Hold 'Em (of the variety we play, at least) has the right mix of rewarding skill and allowing folks to get lucky to keep excitement levels high.
What good is a brain-teaser when you aren't given enough of a chance to ever really try to figure things out?

So, in early August, I started recording my screen for about every third tournament or so (especially those tournaments with more complicated showdowns). I did this for a couple of reasons. Primarily it was because I was toying with the idea of periodically posting video recaps of our tournaments on YouTube (documenting some of our games, especially some of the non-typical variants we play), but going through the hand histories (seeking out good hands to use in my clips) I realized that this was a super effective way to start to drill down on mistakes I was making. And while I was focusing on my hands, I did pick up a thing or two that I saw some of my competitors doing, but realistically 90% of my focus was actually on my own game, especially in conjunction with an equity solver (hat tip: http://www.propokertools.com/simulations ) to evaluate whether or not I was really doing things correctly.

Turns out I found a lot of leaks.

And I made some adjustments.

August ended up being a good month for me. Not live-games-in-January-or-February good, but still, the best of my online performance so far this year.
Image

Here's the run-chart for my net in each of our online games (we're up to 57 tournaments), broken out by game type. You can see the big jump in the running total corresponding to a particularly juicy week in mid-August.
Image

The run chart is getting to be a bit too compressed to comfortably include all the dates, so I thought maybe it'd be fun every month to focus on one of the game types:
HORSE (If you're not familiar, I talked a little bit about what this game is in my 08/08/2020 post)
11 Events, averaging 13.2 participants, with my average finish position of 6.4th place. Buy ins total $170, and my cash out totals $265, for an net average of +$8.64 per tournament.

It was a HORSE event in early August that was the recording I combed through for the potential video (which I haven't made or uploaded) that kicked off my self-reflection that's improved my results. Hilariously I finished in 9th place of 9 participants in that tournament (still managing to log 95 hands over the span of 75 minutes, sufficient to find significant opportunities in my strategy). I also recorded the hold'em tournament which we played later that night, that I ended up winning outright, but I haven't even opened that particular video.

One not-so-apparent particularity in HORSE, is the implementation in PokerStars (matching what's generally occurring in the casino poker) is that all the mixed games are played with a fixed limit betting structure. That means there's no all-ins, and "bullying" your opponents is severely lessened. FL poker (of any game) is more of a mathematical exercise. And since the majority of our players have very little experience with the three stud games in the HORSE rotation, there's a lot of chips to be won by someone who's spent some time understanding just how good they are on any particular street (the stud games also "feature" more open information about your opponents' hands compared to the two flop games). In essence, a little bit of study goes a long way towards improving one's HORSE fortunes in our group (as the yellow up-ticks at the right-end of the Running Total chart can attest).

All tournament types to date: 57 events, averaging 13.6 participants, my average finish in 6.9th place, returning a net average of +$8.03 per tournament (+50% return on investment).

I'm not certain that I will end up actually making those YouTube videos (I have lots of complicated thoughts on that topic), but if I do end up producing something, I'll be sure to link them in this thread.
Last edited by The Meal on Thu Sep 03, 2020 2:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: clarity in a few places
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Re: Poker Results

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September's results were a bit lackluster, but I did manage to finish the month $32 ahead of where I started (mostly because of one good night, in which MHS and I came in first-and-second in two tournaments, while the same guy came in third both times). For clarity, I did decide to break my runcharts into 4-month spans, so here's April-July, and August+September:
Enlarge Image Enlarge Image
(Note that I changed the scale of the green "net" number that is in the background, so now its read on the right-hand axis.)

Last month I highlighted my results in the mixed game format of HORSE, which is the third-most-frequent game type in our rotation so far. This month I'll focus on Omaha Hi/Lo, which is my second most frequent tournament type, having played 18 times (out of the 68 total events shown here).

Omaha Hi/Lo is also known as Omaha 8-or better (or just "O8") and it's fundamentally different from Texas Hold'em in two major ways. First up is the "Omaha" part of the game, which means that each player is dealt four hole cards (instead of two) and that at showdown you have to use exactly two of your personal cards and exactly three of the community cards to make your best 5-card poker hand. Because you have a lot more personal cards, the average winning hand is much higher on the poker food chart compared to Hold'em showdown hands (4-of-a-kind and straight flushes aren't complete rarities), so if you're playing with folks who've got a lot more Hold'em experience, it's difficult for them to have an inherent feeling for how good of a hand will win.

A less obvious difference is related to players receiving a bigger percent of all the cards in the deck, which means that preflop equities tend to run a lot closer to each other compared to hands in Hold'em. In Hold'em, it is possible for a player to be an 80% favorite over one opponent (heck, it's possible to be a 93% favorite in extreme cases), but that isn't how Omaha games work at all. And since one hand can't be way out in front, dominating another hand, that has a lot of implications for the strategy of betting. In Hold'Em, there's a lot of raises and re-raises preflop because someone can (actually be | pretend that they are) way out in front of their opponents, meaning folks with good-but-not-great hands can fold without seeing the flop. Omaha hands run much closer together, so it's almost always wrong to put chips in preflop and then fold without seeing the three flop cards. After the flop comes out, there are a lot more "lead changes" in Omaha compared to Hold'em, as players can continue with monster draws (with a drawing hand being a statistical favorite, at times), leading to lots of interesting post-flop situations.

The other feature of O8 which is different from Hold'em, is that it is a high-low game, meaning that it's possible for there to be two winners in each hand. At showdown, the best poker hand is always good for the high-side of the pot, but if there is a qualifying low hand (playing 5 unique ranks 8 or lower), then the lowest low hand also gets half the pot. And since you don't have to use the same two cards from your hand for high and for low, one person can theoretically win both sides, known as "scooping" the pot. Not every hand has a qualifying low (the board needs three distinct ranks 8 or lower for this to happen, which occurs about 60% of the time), so there is a lot of dancing around trying to figure out which side of the pot your opponent is after, whether they already "have it" or are drawing to it, and whether or not they're pretending to have the winner or just bluffing. Since Hold'em has 1326 different possible starting hands (52 × 51 / 2), it is possible to formulate a distinct strategy for each two-card combination. In O8, there are 270,725 combos { (52 × 51 × 50 × 49) / (4×3×2×1) } and nobody's memorized what to do with each of those hands. So there's a lot more dancing around and room for creativity.

But because there's such a big aspect of having a made hand versus drawing to a big draw, O8 can be frustrating if you run into folks always hitting their card on the end and ruining your hand-that-was-ahead or if you brick out all your flopped low draws. It can be frustrating because while there's more strategy at work to give yourself the best possible outcome, there's a lot more randomness involved in determining which hand actually wins in the end. A few bad nights of O8 in a row can really make a player bitter.

I've played in 18 O8 tournaments, and am a net positive player, having cashed in 6 of those tournaments with an average return of +0.59 buy-ins per event ($270 worth of buy ins returning $364.50 in winnings, or +$5.25/tournament, with a return-on-investment of 35%). In the Aug/Sep chart, one can count the red bars and see we've recently played 8 events and I've cashed in 3 of those (well... 8 events: 2 positive results, 5 negative results and one break-even result). I do think I'm adding strategic elements every time we play (more so than just figuring out how my opponents are playing). If you come in with a Hold'em mindset, it's really easy to play too many starting hands, which is disasterous in any form of poker.

Anyway, tonight is event #50 for the game we're hosting, which should be fun. Wish me luck!
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