Barack and Roll!

Again, click here for a link to my old poker blog posts (hosted by Cardrunners).

Edit: I’ve discovered some leaks in my blog-writing:

  • overuse of bullets
  • overuse of parentheses (I attribute this to my non-diagnosed ADD and constant asides/side-notes)

Cash Games:

I didn’t play too much poker this month. I’ve been just taking it easy. I played 8k hands of LHE cash (6max and HU). It started horribly with a $900 downswing but I ended up just about breaking even for the month (making a profit in cash games if you count rakeback). Below is a graph of the month (green is the bankroll line, blue is bankroll + rakeback):

Even though the month was breakeven dollar-wise, I made 0.7 BB/100. So, as state above, I started playing some HU LHE last month and I really like it. Some things that I really love about it are:

  • you get to play almost every hand (something like top 85-90%).
  • playing so many hands forces me to pay attention
  • the game is very game-theoretical in nature and requires a lot of balanced play

Any time I’m on FTP and I see Matt “Hoss_TBF” Hawrilenko, KPR16, Quiet Lion, and most other high stakes HU LHE games, I datamine/watch them. I’m trying to model my preflop strategy from Hoss’ (seeing as he’s the winningest online HU LHE player in the world and often regarded as the best).

I’ve been thinking about EV/utility/balance and have messaged and emailed KPR16 and TheBryce about some concepts. Specifically, how to play bottom pair type hands OOP on the flop after defending in the BB.

I’ve also played a few hundred hands against Polaris (our UofA CPRG bot that we played in the 2008 Man vs. Machine competition in Vegas this summer) on Poker Academy Online. Obviously, I’m getting crushed (although, I’m admittedly running bad).

I can’t wait to get much better at 6max LHE so that I can move up and not pay so much of my winrate to rake. At the lower stakes (up to $5/10 or so), FTP rakes about 2.3 to 3.2 BB/100!!! My winrate for the last month is 0.7 BB/100 and it’s 0.78 BB/100 for the year. Note that I get 27% rakeback, so it’s really like a winrate of ~1.5 BB/100. However, without rake this would correspond to a WR of ~3 to 4 BB/100. I’ve been recently playing LAGgier than 30/20 (often 35/25) and while I think this is near optimal in a game without rake, I think playing a more straight-forward TAG style is likely more profitable at the lower limits due to rake. One thing I can’t understand is how I kill $2/4. This year, I’m running at over 3 BB/100 (not even counting rake) and higher if you count HU. One reason may be the sample size (20k hands) but I think it’s just that the players are very exploitable and fold too often. I think a lot of the grinding regulars play $3/6 and $5/10.

Here is a graph on my stats for last month:

My 6max stats (in the form VPIP/PFR/AF/WTSD/W$SD) are:

  • $5/$10: 32/21/1.5/43/47
  • $3/$6: 34/24/1.6/47/47
  • $2/$4: 38/26/1.9/40/58

Some things to note about these stats (even though a very small sample size):

  • I ran poorly at 5/10 and 3/6 at showdown (W$SD is usually >= 50%) although I was a complete showdown monkey at 3/6.
  • I ran super hot at 2/4 and showed down much less than I normally do (40%).
  • the lower the stakes, the LAGgier I played (both preflop and postflop).


I didn’t really play tournaments this month. I entered 10 MTTs total and didn’t cash in any of them. I like not having the binding schedule of MTTs every night that I choose to play. With cash games, I can come and go as I please.

When I go back to playing more tournaments, I think I want to play a bunch of 45- and 90-man SNGs (and maybe 180-mans on Stars). However, I might try to satellite into some of the upcoming FTOPS events. There is always a ton of dead money in satellite tourneys.


FTPoints: 170,938 (almost enough for two 24″ monitors)
Iron Man Medals: 1422

Stars $42.67
FTP $11,940.31
Staking1 $1,545.90
Staking2 $50.00
Rakeback $685.59
Total $14,264.47

So, October has basically been a break-even month (down ~$60) which isn’t too bad considering I didn’t play too much and my 6max game is a little rusty and I haven’t played much HU before.

Miscellaneous (poker):
So, I finally got around to unsubscribing to This is most likely the worst poker training site on the internet! I originally signed up only because Chad “lilholdem” Batista had a few videos. As it turned out, he isn’t a very good instructor (although a very very sick MTTer) and the overall quality/environment of the site didn’t suit my liking. Obviously I had to add a new site though. I’m now signed up with a DeucesCracked subscription and I love what I’ve watched so far. The site has a very good reputation and contains coaches/instructors almost exclusively from twoplustwo.

I’m currently beta-testing an offline poker tracking program called Poker Academy Prospector 2 (the company is based here in Edmonton). By offline, I mean it doesn’t have a HUD and is meant for post-analysis. I absolutely love this programs filtering. It is so quick and easy to add a filter for pretty much anything you can think of. Another beautiful thing the program has is “Action Sequence” filtering — this lets you look at actions that you make on different streets and see how profitable they are. For instance, one line I’ve been wondering about lately is when I defend my BB (playing HU LHE), flop bottom pair, and check the flop to the raiser. I would like to know how profitable (if at all) it is to check/call or to check/raise. My standard line in this situation is to check/call. Here is a screenshot showing some of its filtering capabilities:

Notice several Filters on the left. It shows that before filtering I have 133k hands of cash games (NL/PL/LHE). Then I created a filtering funnel that narrows the number of hands down further and further as I seek more specific hands. I applied the following filters:

– #Players = 2 (HU)
– Sessions = Not Table Play Chip 623 (don’t include play money games)
– Game Type = Fixed-Limit (LHE)
– Position = Big Blind
– Action Sequence = Preflop: only c (i.e. defend against a raise)
– Hand Type @ Flop = 3rd pair (bottom pair)

In the end, it narrowed down from 133k to 123 hands. This obviously isn’t a big enough sample size (because I haven’t played enough HU) but it can give you some insight as to how [un/]profitable lines are in certain situations.

So, our new apartment building has $20 freeze-out tournaments once a month. Some friends and I decided to try it out (they gave us free pizza and pop!) and I was completely dumbfounded by the level of play. Some of these people are literally at the level I was the week I was introduced to the game. We witnessed one amazing hand where a bunch of people limped, the small blind completed and the big blind checked. The flop came AKTr, the SB checks, the BB bets a fairly large amount (close to pot-sized I believe), the woman right behind him (UTG) calls, everyone else folds around to the SB who thinks for a bit and calls. The turn is a complete blank (say a three), now the SB donks out really quickly, the big blind calls and both the BB and UTG call fairly quickly. The river is a Q putting a four-straight on the AKT3Q board. Again, the SB bets out fairly quickly and AGAIN both the BB and UTG call. Can you guess their hands? Just take a second and make some reasonable guesses about their ranges…. Now STOP! It isn’t worth it. The hands were:

SB: J2
BB: K4
UTG: 55

Anyway, I ended up busting by shoving a hand like 76o on the button right after the break as a short stack and the BB woke up with AA. I at least made him sweat a bit on the turn as I picked up something like an open-ended straight draw + flush draw. Although it’s fun to play against such exploitable players, it’s also somewhat frustrating as it means I can’t LAG it up as much as the players are fairly call-stationy. Also, Johnny was on my left and could abuse me if I opened up too much.

Another cool thing that is only related to poker because of the person is: Bryce “TheBryce” Paradis (an instructor at Stoxpoker and one of the best HU LHE players in the world, winning about $3M last year) came to my apartment on a Friday night and drank beer and played video games with us. We didn’t up the ante on our standard $5 video game prop bets though. Dave ended up ~$50 as he does on every such night (by pwning us all at Bomberman ’93, Mario Kart Wii, and anything else we decide to play).

I don’t think I’ve acquired any new poker books but I did get an introductory book on stocks and another book called “Fooled by Randomness”. I’ve only flipped through these books at the bookstore (that Melissa works at, she got a discount obviously) and haven’t started reading them yet. However, I would like to start learning about the stock market (and eventually invest).

RL (non-poker):

In my previous blog post, I mentioned a weight loss goal. A friend from PEI actually took me up on a $50 weight loss bet. I have to lose 15 lbs. from the start of last month’s weight by December 20th. I’m currently almost halfway there (I’ve lost about 7 lbs and have 8 more to go). Actually, I have a second weight loss bet: if I lose those 15 lbs by Dec. 20, Melissa will get me a nice shaver (I only shave like every two weeks because it’s such a pain and I don’t have a good shaver). The things I’m doing to try to lose a little weight are:

  • continuing to play squash two times a week (Tues/Thurs)
  • walking to the University and back every weekday (it’s a 15 min. walk and I used to take the bus)
  • trying not to snack late at night as often
  • taking multivitamins and drinking lots of water
  • occasionally playing DDR on the Wii

However, I think I still need to be doing more. I would like to start using the exercise room (mini-gym) in my apartment complex fairly regularly. Anyway, wish me luck!

I’ve rekindled my love for boardgames recently and Melissa and I have decided to alternate purchasing a boardgame every month. This seems like a fairly good rate to acquire new games and be able to play them a bit.

I’m uber-happy Barack Obama has been elected President of the USA. I’ve never really been interested in politics but for some reason I became very interested in the recent US Presidential election and have watched most of the “Most Watched – Daily” youtube clips involving the election. I’ve never really had a hero before but I discovered a couple weeks ago that Obama is that hero! I love his speech-delivery, his demeanour, his eloquence, his calmness, his care for the every man, and especially his confidence. However, his confidence isn’t cocky, snobby, arrogant or condescending — it is humble, modest, and selfless. I’m sure he’s going to be great and can’t wait to see what the USA/World will be like in 4-8 years.


It’s probably not a bad idea to put goals at the end of each blog post (to quickly remind me later):

  • Obviously lose those 15 lbs by December 20
  • play over 25k hands this month
  • review all 400ish “marked hands” in HEM (YIKES!)

Take care, thanks for reading, and good luck at the tables!
– Nick

3 comments Add yours
  1. Why exactly are you surprised at the level of play in that apartment poker tournament? I was going to be surprised if there were really strong players there!

    Board games are awesome. We’re building quite a group of “geeky-gamers” who play board games every week. It’s been a lot of fun.

    Also, Bryce is awesome.

  2. A few points:

    – enjoy your blog quite a bit. looking forward to meeting up to discuss poker as you analyze the number more than i do.
    – deuces cracked is probably my favorite training site, glad to see you joined up as well.
    – some of the casino players are probably just above the level of the players you mentioned in your building.

    keep up the good work.

  3. Oh, sorry guys, I just realized you guys left comments. Thanks!

    Morgan, I guess I figured in 2008, most people have played some poker and just couldn’t understand how these people reach their decisions at the table. Not too surprised for an apartment poker tourney though 🙂

    Awesome, any good board games you can suggest?

    Also, I agree, Bryce is awesome.

    Aaron, thanks a lot. We should definitely meet up. DeucesCracked IS pretty frickin’ awesome! Wow, people at that level are playing 1/2 and 2/5? I’ve gotta get myself a live BR.

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