The Balancing Act

by kong on Sep.03, 2009, under poker science

Quoted from

The formula below was developed by Bill Chen, winner of 2 WSOP bracelets. He basically developed a mathematical formula to determine if a hand is playable based on giving the cards certain values.

Determine your highest card and score as follows: (only use your lower card for gap and suited analysis)

  • Ace = 10 points
  • King = 8 points
  • Queen = 7 points
  • Jack = 6 points
  • 10 through 2 = half of face value (i.e. 10 = 5, 9 = 4.5)
  • Pairs, multiply score by 2 (i.e. KK = 16), minimum score for a pair is 5 (so pairs of 2 through 4 get a 5 score)
  • Suited cards, add two points to highest card score
  • Connectors add 1 point (i.e. KQ)
  • One gap, subtract 1 point (i.e. T8)
  • Two gap, subtract 2 points (i.e. AJ)
  • Three gap, subtract 4 points (i.e. J7)
  • Four or more gap, subtract 5 points (i.e. A4)

Sample scores
AA = 20 points
98s = 7.5 points
K9s = 6 points

The information below is not strictly from the Chen formula as he believed the system only told you what to play, not when to come in for a raise. There are too many factors in determining when to raise, call or fold. The scores below can be used as a general rule of thumb.

Early Position

  • Raise = Score is 9 or higher
  • Call = Score is 8 or higher
  • Fold = Score is lower than 8

Middle Position

  • Raise = Score is 9 or higher
  • Call = Score is 7 or higher
  • Fold = Score is lower than 7

Late Position

  • Raise = Score is 9 or higher
  • Call = Score is 6 or higher
  • Fold = Score is lower than 6
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Up the Down Staircase pt.2

by kong on Sep.03, 2009, under poker science

I need to slow my game down and get rid of the jam-itch.  Everyone knows the itch.  It makes a RAM JAM shooter out of you and makes you broke too.  Variance is a term that gives balance to your game whether you want it or not.

I’m reading a book that basically says your Win/Loss ratio on bluffs should be break even.  Bill Chen is a math wiz that helped put Matt Harilenko in the winners circle of the WSOP $5000 limit event this year.  He believes that if your ratio of bluffs shows you a winner you should back off bluffing .  The inverse is if you are losing your bluffs you should bluff more until you break even. 

Finding balance in any endeavor is important.  Math geeks call it the MEAN.  I do not propose to understand THE MATHEMATICS OF POKER completly, but I can say if you get around the numbers and see the essence, its a good book that urges the gamble in you and gets you thinking that being a MANIAC (till you break even) sometimes has its rewards.  It also justifies all you tightass players out there to be patient and fleece all of Mr. Chen’s disciples by watching for your opportunities.

Or you can become well rounded(balance your BLUFFS) and do BOTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Down the UP Staircase

by kong on Aug.29, 2009, under Poker

I got killed for 30 dallah last night in a .50-1.00 limit game on Poker Stars.  Worked my way back up to $13.92 this morning.  Rule number one:

 never risk more than 5% of your bankroll and when the cash game pile in front of you represents 10% of yer bankroll quit and do something else.

Rule number two:  Yer crazy if you don’t follow rule number one.  KEEP It SIMPLE, BOZO.


Now on to today’s soup.  Walmart sells turkey sausage for tacos in rolls for a buck.  Crock pot (Is there any OTHER way to cook) celery, onion, red wine ( a three splash),can of Mexican tomatoes, jalapeno pepper (use pablano if eaten by other than X-RATED audiences), a few diced red potatoes, dash of Montreal Steak seasoning, and some roasted garlic.  A good crockpot (the old kind) will brown meat.  If yours won’t, its time for you to retreat to the Goodwill store and get one. 

Brown the meat and potatoes while you fix your hair, do yer nails,  mind the kids, call yer bookie , play Badugi, WHATEVER!  When the brew is soft and juicy, turn the crock pot to LOW, stir well, and add the rest of the stuff plus TWO Cans of tap water. cover and go to work.  Come home and eat!

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This One is for you Weez

by kong on Aug.27, 2009, under poker science

Ok I started playing the really low limits of poker so I could tune my hold’em game up.  The idea was I wanted to practice counting outs and calculating pot odds in LIMIT poker.  I have also been following Bill Chen, Matt Harilenko, and Jerrod Ankeman.  Harilenko plays at Fulltilt on the limit side of hold’em when he can get a game up.  He likes the nosebleed stakes. 

All of these guys have or are working for an options trading firm called Susquahanna Partners.  They teach poker there as a skill needed to do well buying puts and calls.

These boys have racked up some impressive numbers using a formula Bill Chen invented to assess starting hands.  Im impressed with it and have purchased Chen’s book “The mathmatics of Poker” from ye ol Amazon and am now waiting for my used copy to arrive. Tonite I played for a total of three Hours for a total income of $5.08 on both PS and FT which I consider great due to my variance during the games. I will keep ya posted.  I’m also reading another book by another Susquahanna member, King Yao entitled “Weighing the Odds in Poker”.  He is into baseball betting and can be found on 2+2 magazine.

All of these guys are math nerds who play well in the game theroy area.  They are aggressive players whose Mommies, Im quite sure, dont like the games they play.

Comments are welcome here.

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Pitching Concentration

by kong on Apr.29, 2009, under Poker

There is a certain amount of time that we use as a learning curve for anything we do.  After that the objective we want to reach, by learning and practicing, comes to us for a while and we prosper.  Poker works that way, players winnings pitch up and down like a bucking horse at first then even out with time.

Poker is an ongoing learning curve.  The object is to continue winning money in a fashion that allows the player to keep some of it.  Many people attribute success to good play and bank roll management.  Yes that’s a large percemtage of success but how important is constant concentration to the good play effort?  And how importtant is it to bankroll success.

Players hit what is known as the zone.  A period of high concentration and effort where it seems the cards never stop playing themselves.   Players that have enjoyed this comment on the feeling they have as a side effect of this ultra-concentration, calling it euphoric.

Extended concentration enjoys peaks and valleys as the player continues the game.  Finally the time and effort of this concentration bull ride wears the player out and money begins to leave the bankroll sometimes in great quantity.  The player then begins to chase and this is never good.

Stay in the moment. When the euphoria is leaving slow down.  Pacing is smart when the energy to concentrate is dropping.

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The Hand Range Boggle

by kong on Apr.17, 2009, under Poker

Of late I have been preoccupied with the importance of hand ranges in my game.  Everyone hollers about how important they are but I admit my mental laziness is akin to Obama’s bowling prowess.  I didn’t even make it to the Stump Olympics.  I have decided that now is the time for action.  I intend to better this part of my game to the fullest and I want to invite you on the hunt…So you’ve got bottom set on a three-flush board and your opponent just check-raised you all-in. What do you do? Well, you put your opponent on a hand.

Hand reading is simultaneously the most important and the most difficult thing that a poker player does. Some of the best poker players in the world who ignore many (or all!) of those other “rules” in poker, have deadly-accurate hand reading skills, and make mountains of cash for their troubles. Other players are exquisitely good at all the fundamentals but stink at hand reading and therefore struggle to consistently come out on top.

I began reading on the subject and the first wonderful thought came from Eric “Rizen” Lynch.  I like this approach.

“Have you ever wondered what exactly someone could possibly be thinking about when it’s taking him seemingly forever to make a decision during a hand? As much as some of us pros would like you to believe we’re simply “looking into your souls,” what we’re really doing is quite simple and basic, even if it is just a little counterintuitive to how we’re used to thinking away from poker.

Rather than a top-down approach, when you’re dealing with key decisions in a poker hand, it’s very beneficial to think in a back-to-front manner. What I mean by that is that if you are faced with a tough decision, you need to reconstruct the hand and the action in your head from the beginning to the current point, using each street’s action as a chance to narrow down your opponent’s hand range. With a little practice and some thought, it’s quite spooky how good a hand reader you can become if you can simply adopt this way of thinking.

Not only is this thought process important for trying to figure out what your opponent has, but if you’re playing against a thinking opponent, you can often use it on your own hand in determining if a bluff might work.”  Eric Lynch

This point of backwards analyses is used by many pros and makes sense to our brains as we must account for everyones moves.  Ted (Professor Backward) Forrest enjoys its use and credits it with recent positive results in both tournaments and cash game play.

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Playing 6-max

by kong on Apr.16, 2009, under Poker

Been playing .25/.50 6-max again and need to start testing some of my thoughts about the average player.

For example, have noticed an increase in the number of players who will cold call a raise behind and lead the flop, turn and river on low boards. My thought is that the average player will not fire with nothing in his hand into two players on the flop and turn but I think I’ve got this wrong. In looking at hands I’ve folded on the river, villain won much of the time without showing his cards. 

Over the next week, if I’m raised and get a cold-caller and a blind call, I’m going to go to the river regardless and see how it plays out. The math on a few scenarios indicates calling down with hands that are likely to be better than their range is +EV.

For example, you raise post flop and get two callers, the board is low and one opponent leads the flop, both call. Turn is another rag and the bettor leads again, one fold, you call. You miss the river and bettor leads again, you call.

Opponent will hit a pair on the flop 32.38% of the time, he’ll have air 67.62%. If neither of us have improved:

.6762(8.5BB) – .3238(2.5) = +4.94BB

If he checks the turn and then bets the river unimproved, a call is +3.58BB.

If the second opponent will call the turn because he improved, a river call is -0.78 but all you need is an 8% chance he is bluffing the river unimproved to break even.

It’s still read dependent but think I need to try the call down approach for at least a week and track what happens.

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When is it time to quit?

by Buschman on Apr.16, 2009, under Poker

When to stay and play.
Being a winning player isn’t just about playing good cards…it’s really about making good decisions about when to play and when to call it a day…

And there is one important decision you face every time you sit down and play in a cash game:

When do I quit, or should I keep playing?


Many players are playing the short hours when they’re winning, and long sessions when they’re losing. It should be the other way around…

When you are winning, at least a few of the other players must be losing. So when the table has your opponents losing and you winning, they aren’t playing their best.

When you’re winning, other players fear you, and you have a great table image established that needs to be used fully. When you have a strong table image, you can get away with things that you can’t whenever you’re losing.

You can get away bluffing much more often, since you have a strong table image – one that’s to be feared.

Usually a losing player is scared to get involved with a winning player for fear of losing, so it’s much easier for you to pick up pots without the best hand. You have the ability to win without cards.

You can represent more hands than you actually have because your opponents believe you’re picking up strong hands.

The best time to quit is when you become tired, or when you begin to play poorly, or the table dynamics change against you (usually happens when new players arrive after a while).


Many players just can’t seem to call it quits whenever they’re losing. You have to remember the poker game — continues live and online, that next game is just a few clicks away.

If you’ve lost more than 30 big blinds at a given table, it’s usually time to quit. If you’ve gone all-in in NL cash game and lost twice, it’s time to find another table that’s not looking at a losing player. Once you lose a few pots, the other players will be inspired to play against you.

When you’re losing, it’s much more difficult to be on your A game. Instead, you’re more likely to be on tilt (or at least fighting that tilt feeling inside), which has a tendency to cause players to loosen up and start gambling much more… which just worsens a losing streak. You start playing against the odds more.

When you’re satisfied with your winnings is another time to pocket those winnings and take a break while you’re ahead. This is one of the most difficult decisions to make, because it’s tough to leave the table when the situation favors you; however, if you stay long enough, you’ll either get tired or your image will go bad or both.

So, I’m a big believer that when you’ve won more than 4 to 5 times your starting stack size and you’re starting to see the tides turn or grow tired and start to lose focus – just stand up, stretch and stack up your chips and say “nice playing with ya’ll – good luck” and leave the table with their money!

Closing points:

So, in cash game play, the biggest decisions you’ll make are:

1. Recognizing the best table to play (online, look for tables with biggest average pot size, which often indicates a looser table)

2. Recognizing when you’re in a winning vs. losing position versus players at your table

3. Staying as long as possible when you’re winning (and protecting your winnings)

4. Leaving as soon as possible when you’re losing (to minimize the impacts to your bankroll).

5. Leaving when you’re winning after you’re up several times your buy-in and are beginning to tire or see the tides beginning to turn on you.

6. Recognizing when you’re at your best and you’re on your A game and avoiding the tables when you’re not.

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Is my opponent a good or great player?

by Buschman on Apr.15, 2009, under Poker

What does a good player look like?
We see a good number of people that portray an image of being a good player.
Why do we see them as winners? What characteristics set them apart from other poker players?

1. They typically are watching the other players until it’s their turn to act. They are watching to see if the opponent gives off information about the quality of his hand.
2. They don’t make moves (tells) to give away information. Most seem to be stoic in their actions.
3. They have the ability to size up another player’s chip count without asking. When they talk to another player, they are not looking for the exact answer. They want to size up how confident the opponent is in his actions.
4. Their bets, normally, don’t gives away information on the hand strength. They will typically raise based on position, rather than card strength. They are not afraid to raise when an opponent appears weak.
5. They are confident in their game and are more willing to play post-flop than the typical amature player.
6. Most good players don’t put down a weak player. They don’t want the weak player to start paying attention and begin to play better.
7. Typically they will be very aggressive when taking action. They also know to change gears to keep the opponent off balance.
8. They will rarely school opponent to improve during the playing session. Don’t kill the goose that’s laying the gold on the table.

Very good players look for two things when they look at a hand:
(a) First, should I fold because I won’t get paid off (opponent is good player or doesn’t have any chips).
(b) Second, this hand has potential (1) I could make a big hand & (2) if I make something, I can take a big pot.

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Equity Wins

by Buschman on Apr.15, 2009, under Poker

How do you handle a bad beat when playing poker? Most people don’t handle them well. They complain. They call the opponent all kinds of names. They try to educate the opponent on why his play was a bad one. They even say things like “If it wasn’t for luck, I would never lose”. Anyone remember who said that?

Take enough bad beats in one session and most people will compound their losses by tilting away more money.

I used to be one of these kinds of players.

I knew I was playing well, but the outdraws were getting to me mentally as I played each session. I would sit back after the session was over and think, “If that guy didn’t get so lucky in that one hand, I would’ve won $400 instead of $100”. You get the idea. People think this same way, I used to.

I decided to start calculating the “Equity” of all of the hands that I either called an all in, or I put the opponent all in with cards still to come. After all, you can’t get outdrawn if the cards are all out.

I figured that after doing this for a while, I would be able to see if the odds really do work out in the long run (and exactly how long is “long run”). If I could get my money in, as a big favorite the majority of the time, then I would have to win right?

I wanted to be the big favorite as close to 80% of the time as possible. By big favorite, I don’t mean I have vs and we get all in preflop. I’m talking about hands like this: I have . The opponent has . The board shows . I’m a 4-1 favorite here.

After about 70 or so of these hands, my Equity in these hands and my actual results of the hands were close to the same number.

Let me give you another hand example to drive this point home. When you get all in pre-flop for $100 with vs ‘X’ and you win $100 you think “I deserve that $100″. When you lose all in preflop vs ‘X’ and lose you think: I lost $100. ”

But when you win the $100, you don’t actually deserve $100. You deserve about $76. Your Equity is about $76 depending on suits. So you actually won more than you should. You are a 4-1 favorite here, so you are “supposed” to lose 1 out of 5 of those. It really does work out in the end.

When you lose a monster pot like this you always here people say “you want him to call in that spot because you were way ahead”. I used to think to myself “great, but he still took my money and will just lose it to someone else.”

The fact of the matter is when I get all in preflop vs ‘X’ for $100. I win $76 no matter what the outcome of the hand. It won’t show up as $76 in my bankroll right now, but it is $76 none the less. Since I play alot, I will play many, many of these type hands and it WILL work out in the long run that I win $76 on these hands.

I’ve worked this out (done my homework), a sense of confidence and calmness has come over me. I still don’t like seeing the chips in ‘X’s” stack, but it doesn’t bother me as much.

I concentrate on hitting my equity goals and let the poker gods sort the rest out.

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