Thursday, April 07, 2005

If It Weren't For Bad Luck, I'd Win Every One Of These

That's the way I've been feeling lately so I took the plunge and finally got around to purchasing the PokerTracker Guide a few days ago. After reading through it I've been inspired to perform a 1st quarter of 2005 evaluation of my play. Now this could be a rather broad topic since I've played Hold'em, Omaha, and Tournaments (both single and multi). Not only have I played different games but different levels so in order to really narrow things down I'm going to take a look at only my limit hold'em play, and only at the 2/4 and 3/6 levels. These are the levels I'm playing right now so they will be the most relevant. The data is somewhat incomplete as well since I also have play at Full Tilt, Bodog, and Golden Palace. Since PokerTracker does not support these sites the hands played there will not be used. I'm also only going to look at the 2005 statistics to date. No past performance stuff to get in the way, only current play. There will not be any bonus money used in the discussions of bankroll either. I actually have never considered bonus money when talking about whether I was winning or losing. Just actual table play results. I also want to preface this whole little analysis thing by telling you that as I do it, I'll write it. I haven't gone through anything yet so we'll be discovering my bad play together as we go on this journey.

Lets start off by auto-rating. For the year to date I have 11,315 hands combined for the two levels that PokerTracker supports. Up until this point I've been using Bison's auto-rate rules that I snagged off of the 2+2 forums. They have shown that for most of 2005 I had been a SL-A, or Slightly Loose Aggressive player. This changed a few weeks ago and I dropped to an SL-P, or a Slightly Loose Passive player. After loading the guides rules, I am shown as a Tight Neutral. If I had run these rate rules a few weeks ago I would have fit into the Good Player (Tight Aggressive Solid) category.

Why the change? As previously reported the months of January and February were particularly brutal for me. I dropped a lot of BB's during that time. As a result of the constant losing I became a bit weaker post flop to try and curb the losing. This resulted in the lowering of my post flop aggression factor to a 1.32. I haven't fallen too far off course and if we make the assumption that according to these rules you want to be rated as a "Good Player" statistically, then I should be a winning player for the year to date.

Unfortunately I am not. Well that's not entirely true. I am an overall winning player in 2005, just not at the levels we are looking at for this analysis. My tourney cashes and no limit play have given me enough to be even more profitable than all of last year combined at the present time. Were not looking at that though so why am I losing. For the year to date I am down $1,032.34 at these two levels. It works out to a -2.04BB/100 loss which is the exact opposite of what it should be. Statistically I should be profitable so lets go searching for some holes.

We'll skip over the individual session review, although I do do this on my own, and go straight to "Finding mistakes in your play". I don't want to give away everything that's in the book so I'm going to cover the points without going into detail about how I retrieved the information.

Trouble Hands
A9o - This is a hand that I used to play from any position. I was way overvaluing it based on the fact that so many players you go up against will play any A. I won with it a few times having the best kicker against these type of players. This led to being lulled into a false sense of security. I have already made adjustments to my game for this hand and now I will fold it just about every time unless I have position against known players. (There will undoubtedly be hands that I became aware of a month ago when I did my own analysis so I'll point out whether or not the hand is new to me. Sadly if it's still showing up even now so you know just how bad I played it previously.)
A6o - This is surprising to me. I fold this hand a huge majority of the time. After checking it out I have seen this hand 113 times. That makes it one of the most seen hands this year. Throw in the blind situations and the few times I've played it from late position and it accounts for the loses. I really don't see where I'm playing this one badly it's just a combination of not hitting when I do, and the frequency with which I see it.
I run into the same thing with A5o and A3o. For some reason these are among my most seen hands. In my style of play if it's folded around to me and I sit in the cutoff or button with an A, i'll go for the blind steal. Since I've seen each of these hands over 100 times that is where the money is going. It's obviously not working often enough to be a profitable play so I'm going to have to be more subjective about this in the future.
A4s - This is the only suited A that shows up. I've seen the hand 35 times and taken it to a flop 33 of those times. I've either had to abandon it on the flop or I'll catch enough of the flush to hang around and end up not hitting it. I'm only profitable with this hand from the small blind and that also happens to be the position that I've rec. It the most in with 8. I've also caught it 6 times in the BB so I feel this is more of an anomaly than a trouble hand.
JTo - Now we look at my biggest losing hand. I've always had trouble letting this hand go preflop. I just see so much potential in it. That potential rarely materializes but when it does its often for a big score. So I keep playing it, waiting for the next big one. Looking at it in more detail I see that other than the blinds I'm only losing with this hand from the later positions. One, Two, and Three off the button. These are also the positions that I've seen the hand the most in. My top four losses were to 3 flushes and a full house. Each of those times I had either the straight, a flush, or two pair. I was second best on each of these hands and one player even caught runner, runner, on me. If I eliminate the cold calling raises in late position with this hand I think I'll be OK judging by the data so far.
KJo - Another hand I've had problems with in the past. The good Dr. Pauly pointed this hand out as one of his trouble hands about a year ago and that's when I first took a look at it. When I made an adjustment to my play for this hand I was again lulled into a false sense of security. I found I could be effective raising from early position with it. It paid off at first and when it no longer did, I didn't change my MO. This hand has had a history of being my worst but I made further adjustments to how I play it recently and now it's only my 3rd biggest loser. I'm no longer playing this hand from early position at all. I've had to cut myself off completely at these positions to keep from getting in trouble with it. The button is actually my worst position this year. I'm holding it for to long postflop but it's hard to let top pair or that straight draw go sometimes.
QJo - Another of the offsuit face cards. With this particular holding It looks like I'm just not hitting with it as often as I should. These cards should be about a marginal winner. I'm just not getting that margin right now. I'm only calling raises from late position with it. I'm going to cut that out and see if I can save myself some BB's.
98s - The numbers put this as a borderline trouble hand. It looks like I'm playing it alright, just not catching when I should be. I don't consider this a trouble hand but since it was borderline for the criteria I'm listing it.

Leak Finding
Looks like I need to quit cold calling with KTo from the button. I thought position was giving me the right to make the call but it looks like when I even make my hand, I'm losing to a bigger hand.
Aside from the above mentioned KJo, and the QJo, it looks like I'm playing ATo to the river too often. I'm chasing that pair of tens to far. I've lost to a bigger pair numerous times. Upon further review I believe I have found the cause. I have a tendency to raise this hand preflop if I'm first in. I'll then lead at it if I hit my 10. Players behind me with bigger pocket pair are content to let me have the lead till the river, where I feel obligated to call that extra bet. I think if I quit raising with this from anywhere but the button it will help eliminate this. These players will likely tip off their holding before I get involved so I'll have more information.

Position Statistics
I was amazed when I looked at this data. Now we are getting some where. I've filtered the data for full tables (I don't play 6 handed tables) and had 10,973 hands left over. The positional plays looks exactly like it should as far a VP$IP goes. On the button I'm at 28.24 and it decreases at every position until I reach 15.3 7th off the button. I am also profitable at every position up to the blinds except for 7th off the button. Here I have a $30 net loss or 0.02BB/hand.
The blinds are where I'm losing my money. Now I need to find out if it's because I'm playing them wrong, or I'm just on a bad run. Using the criteria in the guide my BB loss rate should not exceed 0.20. My loss rate is 0.28. In the small blind my loss rate is 0.21. Neither of these are good. If we look at "Diff w/ the Blind" I'm even losing money from the small blind. It looks like I'm running bad in the small blind. My biggest losers are AKo and 87o. Even when I've caught AA I've only won with it 60% of the time. My overall win % with that hand is 72.5%
In the big blind it looks like A9o is kicking my ass. You'll remember that it was listed as a top trouble hand. Half of my money losses with this hand are in the big blind. It is followed by JTo and KTo. Seems the trouble hands are really trouble in the big blind.

Based on the above data I would say it is a combination of just running bad and sum sub par blind play. I'm relieved and yet disturbed by this finding. I was really hoping to be able to have an "AH HA" moment to instantly turn things around. It looks like I'll be able to concentrate on my blind play and make in roads there, but overall I'm just going to have to ride out the storm. Well at least I'm learning, and after all, what more can you ask for.

Well, maybe a million dollar tournament win, TV time, endorsement deal, fan club .....