Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Double Live Win! What Are The Odds?

Wow, been pretty lazy with the blogging lately, dunno why but from looking at it seems that this happens in Feb. At least one a month! Should do more really... blogging is pretty therapeutic!

My friend really loves live poker compared to online poker, so he's been dragging me along to play at the Milton Keynes Casino. It is a pretty good place for poker actually, there is a dedicated room for poker at the back. I personally don't really like live that much, when your playing 18 tables at the same time, you kinda become a bit of an action junkie, and then dropping down to just one... with 1/4 speed of dealing too (prob even slower then that) then it become more unappealing.

Since he's gotten a few Tuesdays off, we would play snooker in the day and then head off to play the £20 1xRebuy Tournament which started at 7pm. Interestingly enough, it has a 2 hour late registration, and also a 1k Chip Add on if you register on time. You start with 8000 chips and blinds are 20 mins long and starts at 25/50. So that is quite deep stacked games! However, the traffic is not that high, so both weeks we got only 26 buy ins and had like 3 tables lol. What makes this more bearable is that its very likely that my friend would move to my table and we can banter a bit.

There's nothing more satisfying then knocking out your friend in Poker. That happened last night as he shoved 22 from early position, another guy called with 55 and I shipped the pot with 88. I did my best Tony G impersonation to the shock of the rest of the table on how rude I was at berating my friend!



There are quite a few notable differences between live and online poker. Apart from the obvious ones like one is sitting in front of a computer, and the other being sitting in a room with other people in a casino durrr. I'm talking about tendencies really... which makes it quite interesting.
  1. Chip Counting/Management - From a practical side of things, having the number on the screen is quite useful when trying to work out how many chips everyone has. But in live poker, this can be quite difficult to know. If you ask them their stack size, they are not obliged to tell you, but must let you be able to see it. The dealer is not allowed to count it for you, unless he is all in (rules may vary in different casinos). This can become problematic when there are short stacks around the table usually not making their chip stacks very visible. You don't want to raise to steal the blinds and then suddenly end up having to call off because of the odds. However, you do have a looooot of time on your hands in comparison to online poker, so you should be aware of these things.
  2. Limping Doesn't Necessarily Mean Weak Early Tournament - This is one of the biggest things I've noticed. In online poker, the fish will limp, but will almost always be weak. But in live poker, I've seen it so many times that newbies will limp in with "hand that they wanna play" and then if shoved on they will call with their 88+ AJ+ kinda range. So you have to be careful with your shoving over limps. I remember once in Manchester I was playing a tournament and a newbie limped JJ UTG and I shoved 88 (was last 2 tables), he tanked for ages and folded face up. Wow. Yes, this kinda goes against what I just said, but just highlighting the fact that he limped JJ. Just makes me think... what kinda hand do they need before they raise??
  3. Pocket Pairs are Totally Overvalued - Fish love pocket pairs and just cant let them go. And I'm talking when we are playing post flop... with like 4 overs on the board. The logic is that when you continuation bet after you've hit, do you get value? What can you opponent have that calls your bets? Well in the case of live poker, from what I've seen, pocket pairs just seem to pay off those kinda bets!
  4. And Calling BVB is Too Tight - In online poker the randoms seemed to have improved on working out the ranges for knowing what to call blind vs blind. On top of that, the stacks are literally there in writing. But in live, especially in the later stages of the tournament, players tighten up and just don't realise how much the antes add to the pot. I've shoved a many a times, and have a fishy player just think for ages and fold showing his Ax. 
  5. Old Skoolers Love Limping, Hate All Ins and Love to Show - And typically hate online poker as well. They wanna see flops and play based on "skill". However, we all know that shoving is an important part of survival, and so its an easy way of exploiting this fact. If you stay chatty and friendly with the old skoolers, they will love to show! Don't forget to compliment them on their showing and how well they played the hand!

To be honest its pretty weird because most of the time I will play live is because one of my friends want to play it instead. My live results have not been bad at all, I've definitely shipped quite a few (prob 20+?) from Casinos and Cardrooms in my lifetime. Maybe its good value after all for me?? =D


I never really expected to ship both tournaments. I was actually just hoping to get itm (in the money) which was 3rd place, so once I achieved that I was pretty happy. What is great about live though is the personal experience you go through when playing. Its like a journey. Which is why I think there are so many "purists" who like that idea and reject playing online, as online loses its personalability. 

Most of the hands that are played are pretty normal 50/50 flips pocket pair vs 2 overs kinda thing. Also a bunch of AA/KK/QQ big pots holding up. Its great for me because no one knows me or my skill level, and I can play on that image by being a chatty [pretty seemingly stupid] guy, but throughout the time I'm paying attention to everything and exploiting everyone as best as I can. 

An interesting hand came up yesterday at the final table. I'm bad with memory but it goes something like this.

Blinds 800/1600/200 ante or something like that.
8 Players remain.
Myself, UTG, and UTG+2 are big stacks.

UTG open limps.
UTG+2 calls.
Middle Position short stack calls as well.
CO guy calls.
SB folds (??????? lol)
I check with J9o.

Flop is J95ss

At this point it was pretty awesome for me, as not only had I checked in the dark (checked before flop came out) but I had also been actively chatting.

UTG open shoves. [YES]
UTG + 2 goes all in [ERM]
MP short stack goes all in also. [HMMM}
CO folds.
Now me lol. 

Obviously if I call here I'm pretty much gonna win the final table right there almost as I'd have 1/2 chips in play. However, since the big stacks had both gone all in, my 2 pair does not look very strong anymore. I'm putting the big stacks on 55, 99 (even though I have a 9), QTs or T8s, its possible that one of them has Jx or QQ KK AA if they decided to trap. So I fold face up (prob a mistake to show) and they reveal their cards.

UTG had KK
UTG +2 had KJ
MP also had J9

Overall I don't really mind my fold there, I'm pretty sure that it was the correct decision to make. I hadn't even invested that much into the pot, I had only lost my big blind to it so far. When 2 big stacks get it in like that they are usually going to be very strong because of the fact that their stack sizes add to the amount of risk that they're willing to take over losing it.


So I thought it would be fun to see what the math* was on calculating my chances of winning, if no skill was involved at all in poker. It helps to actually put in perspective how much skill there actually is! For example, if we played a 9 man table, with no skill everyone has 11% chance of winning, and therefore you will make the money 33% of the time if it is top 3.

Both weeks there was 26 runners (I'll include the rebuyers as a new person). With no skill, 100%/26 = 3.85% chance of winning. And with this being 2 tournaments in a row, it would be 3.85% x 3.85% (hopefully the math is correct) = 0.1% (0.148225 to be exact).

With no skill, I had achieved a 1 in 1000 chance of winning 2 MTTs in a row! :)

Now does anyone want to try and work out something else?

Not only did I win 2 MTTs in a row. but the final 3 were the same people as last week, and they also finished in the same order too! If anyone out there is willing to have a go and work out the odds of that happening using the "with no skill" probabilities I've love to see your workings and find the answer!!

*I am British born, but I am happy to adopt some American terms if I believe it to make sense. I like saying Math instead of Maths coz it sounds better and it is correct (sorry guys)