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Big loser at 1/2 and 1/3 - Evaluate my preflop play (Warning: long post)

pexw Posts: 18Subscriber
I've been playing live 1/2 and 1/3 games in NYC since the beginning of this year. Before this I've only played in casinos a few times and a couple of home tournaments, plus a few thousand hands online which I didn't take too seriously but broke even. I'm 27 years old and earn about $57,000 per year as an architect, it's not a lot of money in NYC.

I'm looking for some advice here. In 266 hours of live play this year, here are my stats:
-$6,164.00
-23.16 $/hr
-$110.07 $/Session
Cashed out in the black 19/56 (33%)
-9.28 BB/hr
50.36 BB/hr std dev
$119.20 $/hr std dev
In June I lost $1987 at -$46/hr
I have not had consecutive winning sessions since mid April.

Is it possible to be running this bad, or am I actually awful?

I spend a lot of time studying the game through podcasts, videos, and books. I take it pretty seriously. I know I will get laughed at for saying this but I'll go ahead and say it - I have an Ivy League Master's degree. That doesn't mean I think it makes me a good poker player, but I know that when I put my mind to something I usually achieve at least mild success. I've always been good with games and numbers, and I know that I have a solid grasp of odds. I'm really just unsure of whether my play is this awful or if I'm on some kind of ridiculous cold streak.

So I started recording all of my preflop hands and some postflop action in my phone for the last 7 sessions. The common word of advice here is that these stakes are all about discipline, preflop hand selection, and position, so I've tried to take that to heart and play a really tight, almost nitty game, and play very aggressively postflop. My strategy has been to buy in for 100bb and just try to get it in good preflop or otf. With 100bb there's not much wiggle room for bet/folding. Recording my hands has helped me tighten up further and reduce some spew.

I've attached all 436 hands that I recorded in a text document here (it wouldn't let me post it in the thread because it was too long). I tried to record as much as I could but inevitably I miss some here and there. I know its hard to evaluate without knowing how the table is playing, but you can assume that these are typical weak tight low stakes games with maybe one or two solid winning TAGs at the table.

436 hands is a miniscule sample size, but here are some stats:
VPIP 20% (includes completing from the SB and limping from the BTN which I do a lot to see cheap flops)
PFR 10%
3bet/4bet 2%

Thanks a lot if you read any of this and especially if you took the time to look over my hands in the attached file. What should I do moving forward? Should I quit? Should I just continue playing this kind of nitty strategy? When I first started I played a very loose aggressive game over the first ~50 hours or so, and I was winning, but I think I was running pretty hot. The stats I posted here are from the last 7 sessions, but it's indicative of the last ~100 hours of play. Actually, these 7 sessions aren't even as bad as the first half of this month.

Any advice is sincerely appreciated.
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Comments

  • dpbuckdpbuck Posts: 2,003Subscriber
    First off, welcome to the forums. Hopefully we can help you achieve your goals.

    I'm in a similar situation as you - good job, but certainly want to be a "serious, successful amateur". I find that studying the videos and podcasts are great, but you certainly need to participate in the forums. Instead of throwing a big hand history file up here, post two or three hands where you really had some tough decisions. When people on here reply, it's not simply going to be "Here's what to do." It's instead more along the lines of "Here's what you should be thinking about in this spot. Based on these factors, here's what we should have done." More than anything, I find that it is learning that whole thought process that has helped turn me into a winning player, rather than play preflop this way, play draws like this, etc.

    I did peruse through your hand history. I had a couple thoughts:
    1) You're wasting too much time/energy making notes on hands that don't matter. Great, you folded Q4o in MP. No need to note it. Instead focus more of that energy on watching/studying the table. You can still review your preflop tendencies, even with less detail. I'm a big proponent of taking notes at the table. Attached is my file (unedited) from a session I played last night. Note I really only have details on hands I actually had serious decisions to make.

    2) Too passive preflop. I see too many hands where (at least it appears) you're open-limping in positions you should be raising or folding. Honestly, in a 100 BB cap game, you should be folding in those marginal spots, as stacks aren't deep enough to profitably call.

    3) The notes don't include a ton of postflop action/analysis. Preflop leaks are easy (at least EASIER) to fix. Postflop leaks, though, tend to be much more expensive. Perhaps try looking at both preflop and postflop.

    Overall, here are my pieces of advice:
    1) Post hands in the forum.
    2) Tighten up preflop.
    3) Don't get frustrated. Keep at it.

    Good luck!
  • beauregard Posts: 1,592Subscriber
    dpbuck always offers good advice - this ^^^ is no different

    glancing at your doc - I feel like you're a little too shove-happy and overplay your pocket pairs and AK. It feels as if you get lost in the hand and figure... wtf, I'm all in and let V make the decision. Not an ideal situation.

    I know when I first started, I'd get frustrated with big pp because I'd patiently wait - then raise with QQ or KK and inevitably, the flop comes A-high. Then, my opponent is betting or raising me as if he's got the A! (He did.) Fuck! That's just not fair! But that's the game.
    Today, I remind myself that it's just one pair. And if I'm playing tight, and players are playing back at me... they're probably not bluffing. I highly recommend reading Jared Tendler's book - the blue one - about The Mental Game of Poker. It should help you take most of the emotions out of your decision-making.

    I think being "very aggressive" post flop is ideal for online - but in live game may cause you to lose too much value. For example - on the button with AK - you 3-bet to 80 and get everyone to fold. Many will say that picking up the dead money is cool. But on the button with AK - depending on UTG bettor and caller - flatting might get you more value if either or both are calling with hands you dominate. Or 3-betting smaller.
    In another hand, you raised with QJ and bet the JJ2 flop. Why? (I think you were up against a laggy girl) You've got the board crushed. I'd check and let my V catch up to a worse second best.

    Like dpbuck said - I think you should only log hands played. And work on your opponent descriptions. I find some to be well-thought out. But others to be generic.
    I was just listening to an old podcast with Bart and Limon where Limon talks about how he spends his free-time (after folding) devising a plan on how to stack every opponent on the table. I like that notion. If you're properly studying your opponents, then you should know more about their tendencies, ranges and fold-thresholds.

    Essentially - I think you're on the right track. You're keeping $$ records. You're recording hands. And you've signed up for CLP, which is one of the best places to learn how to better play in low stakes. From other guys I've talked to - I think the 33% win rate is bad. Most good players I know are at 60% or above. Hammah can probably talk the variance thang - but I think 266 hours is a good sample (266hrs X 35 hands/hr=9,310 hands played). And based on how you shoved your hands - it offers insight on how you're playing. It feels to me that you're "forcing" your hands to win. So you're either taking down small-ish pots or losing your whole stack. What my poker coach once told me is that playing poker isn't about winning pots... it's about making good decisions and forcing your opponents to make bad ones. If you play optimally, the money will come (eventually). So shoving should be part of your arsenal - but not something you should use all the time. Sometimes a shove is the perfect bet. Other times it's $5. YOU need to differentiate between betting for value and betting to get folds. If you've truly got the best hand - you never want a V to fold. If Vs are tank folding - you're closing your doors on your customers' noses when they were in the mood to put their money in bad. (That said, you also need to learn how to fold when they catch up.)

    another thing I noticed on your doc is how you're sometime short stack or you re-buy in short. I used to do that when I didn't trust my instincts and made mistakes by calling shoves. But now, I prefer to be as deep as possible and I top-off constantly. You need to decide if you're more comfortable playing deep-ish or short. And do this consistently. Also remember - if your game is 1/2 with a mandatory $5 straddle - then you're really playing 2/5. And your 200 stack is way too low to "play" poker.

    this is probably somewhat generic feedback. But I hope it points you in the right direction. As dp mentioned - posting hands AND participating in these forums is a very good way to learn more. with this being your first - "welcome." and as I mentioned, I think you're on the right track. Keep plugging away.
    GL
  • ANason21ANason21 Posts: 166Subscriber
    ^^Echo everything above.

    Also, what are the buy-in limits for these games? With a mandatory $5 straddle rock I'd want to buy in for at least $500, and I think in some of the NYC underground games, that's the norm. It's also a very, very high rake. With the structure, the game may not always be beatable if there are too many good players at the table. That said, if they were really that good, they likely wouldn't be sitting in an underground $1/2 game in NYC. Even so, if I lived in NYC I'd be trying to get to AC/Philly/Foxwoods as often as possible. Not that the rake is that much better in their low-stakes games, but at least it is capped (usually at 10% up to $5 plus a $1 jackpot drop), which I'm not sure is the case in the NYC underground games. They obviously aren't regulated and they're taking a huge risk, so they are somewhat justified in charging whatever they want. But it could just be eating you alive.
  • FreeLunch Posts: 1,308Pro
    I have not looked at your file so I am going off what you and others said.

    Firstly - as a matter of pure math, its very possible to run very bad over many hundreds of hours. But based on what others said about your game you may also be playing bad.

    I dont buy the concept that taking notes on every hand is a good idea. Its much better to just observe as much as possible and if you want to take notes do so over your breaks. You want to get to the point where you have no problem recalling hands well enough to takes notes later or after the session. If you are not paying attention to all the small details on the table then you are missing a lot of the edge in live poker.

    The rake really could be killing you.

  • DavidChan Posts: 1,208Pro
    FreeLunch said:
    I have not looked at your file so I am going off what you and others said.

    Firstly - as a matter of pure math, its very possible to run very bad over many hundreds of hours. But based on what others said about your game you may also be playing bad.

    I dont buy the concept that taking notes on every hand is a good idea. Its much better to just observe as much as possible and if you want to take notes do so over your breaks. You want to get to the point where you have no problem recalling hands well enough to takes notes later or after the session. If you are not paying attention to all the small details on the table then you are missing a lot of the edge in live poker.

    The rake really could be killing you.

    +1 to this excellent advice regarding taking notes ONLY on breaks/at home. You are going to miss a lot of important information if you aren't paying 100% attention to the action every hand.

  • bobswaggetbobswagget Posts: 37Subscriber
    Go back and listen to CLP, and deuce plays premium podcasts where Bart talks about hand reading and bet sizing. I think one is called "Why so much?" That was really insightful, it dealt with establishing a direct range of hands your opponent has, and how to extract maximum value.
  • Bandgeek Posts: 140Subscriber
    pexw said:
    Istrategy has been to buy in for 100bb and just try to get it in good preflop or otf. With 100bb there's not much wiggle room for bet/folding. Recording my hands has helped me tighten up further and reduce some spew.
    .
    I'm far from an expert but I think there may be a flaw in this line of thinking.

    100bb seems plenty deep enough to me to bet/fold. If you're getting it all in on the flop with overpair or top pair type of hands with 100bb, I don't think you're going to be ahead often enough to be worth it.

    Personally, if I get my whole stack in behind top pair or an overpair it's because I've gotten three streets of value and villain has just called down. Getting 90+ BB in on the flop or all in pre with JJ or AK is probably -ev IMHO.

  • Arenzano Posts: 1,392Subscriber
    for starters don't waste your time noting hands you fold pre flop unless there is some sort of dynamic that appears to be unusual for you. For example, you're on the button, a laggy villain opens from MP, a nitty player flats, and you have KQ suited and you're wondering if you should call, raise or fold.

    Try to think I'm terms of ranges, value, and equity, and the reasons for your actions.

    Don't focus on whether your win percentage is 33% or 76%, instead focus on your overall decisions. The win % will handle itself

    If you're playing in a game where opens are 10x the bb, I would really consider whether or not that game is profitable given what you think your abilities are and what your bank roll is.
  • HavaxHavax Posts: 65Subscriber
    Instead of focusing your energy on quantity of recording hands - save your energy and analyze the shit out of single interesting hands that you felt you were lost in or that you felt you may have made a wrong play in. Then post a single hand here, street by street, and we will help you analyze every aspect of it. It'll be a lot less stressful that way. When I was a losing player I would begin each week focusing on one single part of my game. I remember one week early on was "I'm putting 100% of my mental energy towards playing the correct starting hands in the correct positions" - the next week was bet sizing, the next was hand reading, and so on. Keep circling back, keep posting single interesting hands from your sessions and stop exhausting yourself with excruciating boring details of hands that don't matter. I respect the work ethic though. GL
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