February was a great month of learning!

The highlight of the month was receiving some first-class coaching from Gareth. Talk about scary good! He knows his poker AND he knows how to teach. He has been opening my eyes and helping me improve. I also did a lot of session reviews in HEM and continued to utilize all the PSO resources. 

Firstly, in an attempt to get de-nittified, I’ve expanded my opening range on Zoom. This was an easy fix as I am comfortable playing a much wider range on regular tables. It was just a matter of applying that range to Zoom where I tend to be rather snug, especially when multitabling. I am still at the tighter end of the TAG scale, but my VPIP has gone up about 6 points which at least pushes it above 20%. This is a good example of one benefit of coaching. If I were to experiment with widening my opening range on my own, it would have taken quite a while to get to where I am now. Getting direction from a coach who I trust allowed me to make a fairly large change decisively, confidently and immediately. 

Secondly, we have been looking at 3-betting, both my 3b ranges and postflop play in these hands. Having a 3b% of under 5% won’t cut it at higher levels. This corresponds too closely to a value only 3b range which is easy for good players to exploit. I’ve increased my 3b% to about 8%. This has worked nicely and wins quite a few pots preflop. Although, having a wider 3b range creates plenty of interesting postflop spots where you actually have to play poker. I’m learning to pay attention to the details. It is not just a matter of saying, “3b with KJo in the small blind”. There are tons of factors that can be considered. First you need to notice these details, then you still need to make a good decision based on them. For me this is reminiscent of chess. Recognizing candidate moves, then choosing the best one. It is not easy, but I am gettng better.

Increasing my preflop aggression has had other consequences as well. The average potsize for the hands I am involved in has increased considerably as a result of all the 3-betting. Also, when I first made this change, I went a rampage carrying the newfound aggression too far into my postflop game transforming myself into a tagromaniac! I made more double and triple barrel bluffs, floats, check-raises and river jams in a few short sessions than I made all 2013 combined! This was a blast and sure got the adrenaline pumping, but it also cost me more buyins than I care to admit to here LOL! After reviewing my notes from The Mental Game of Poker, I was able to localize the problem. (Short answer, this is poker, not hockey.) I got that under control after a few days thankfully and returned to profitable sessions. Aggression is good, but misguided aggression is just expensive.

By the end of the month I noticed a second, but familiar, mental problem creeping into my game. I’ve now reached a point where I am quite confident at 25NL. Unfortunately, this confidence sometimes turns into arrogance, which in turn leads toward instances of fancy play syndrome. I have experienced the same thing at every lower level. When I start losing a healthy modicum of respect for my opponents, I start making unnecessary mistakes. This type of tilt is also discussed in The Mental Game of Poker. The best way for me to combat this leak is to adhere to my warm-up routine ensuring that I stay focused at the tables. My A-game beats 25NL, but my C-game doesn’t! This change in my mindset is something I recognize quickly and am able to correct mid-session. It impacted a number of hands, but didn’t have a significant impact on my overall results. It is an issue that I need to be vigilant about since it is rather sneaky. On a more encouraging note, this change in my mindset is a good indication for me that I am mentally ready for 50NL.

I played 20K hands at 25NL Zoom and 3K hands of 50NL which were split between regular tables and Zoom tables. Aside from a few days of crazy play, I am quite happy with where my game is and happily making a profit too. Timewize, I spent  about 40% of my time playing 50NL and 60% at 25NL.

 

If you recall from January, I wanted to avoid opening too many tables and stick to good bankroll management. Well, I never had too many tables up in February, but…

I did submit to temptation playing a short session of 100NL 6-Max Zoom. The very first hand was memorable. I sat down at the table and was immediately facing a MP $2.25 raise from none other than Pokerstars Pro Frosty himself! It was surprising to see him on a 6-Max table , but I needed to focus on the hand (Frosty talks about 6-Max in his blog btw). I had AK in the BB and fired a $7 3-bet. I knew I shouldn’t be playing 100NL because the thought foremost in my mind was that this pot was already getting expensive and we were still preflop! He called my 3b. I missed the flop, but lead out with a half pot c-bet that won the hand. Playing against a big gun is always fun, but I was playing with scared money. I left after about 250 hands with a $30 profit. Regardless, this was a dangerous mistake which I will try not to repeat in March.

Tourneys were profitable in February, but no noteworthy scores. I got almost deep ending 35th in a $4 MTT with 3K entrants. I also played live in Oslo which I talked about in my last post. That was a great experience. I played several Sunday Million 8th Ann. satties, but no love there either.

In March, I will increase to two 50NL Zoom tables which should allow me get in a better volume. Hopefully, the majority of my playing time will be at 50NL, as long as my shot taking buyins continue to survive that is. The MicroMillions tourneys look great. I’ll play whenever I have enough time. I am most looking forward to more coaching with Gareth. I am on the right track, but “miles to go before I sleep”.

GL and have fun at the tables!

Roland GTX