Sunday, March 6, 2011

Figures Don't Lie; Liars Figure

Having listened to PokerMeister's advice I bought a copy of Hold Em Manager, henceforth HEM. I installed it, pointed it to the right directory, and promptly forgot about it - it was an ocean of unintelligible acronyms, obscure data points, graphs and charts which my feeble simian brain just can't grasp.  Speaking of which, and a propos of nothing, I'd like a banana.

Anyway, today I remembered that I'd dropped 80 bones on a piece of software I wasn't using and ran it today.  It imported some four months' worth of data and even though I'm just scratching the surface of the data available to me, what I have been able to figure out is a staggering wealth of information that can only serve to plug some of the many holes in my game.

The report that has thus far provided me the most immediate benefit for my game is an analysis of win percentage and dollars won per starting hand. The very first piece of information I clapped my eyes on shocked me: despite the popularity of pissing and moaning about how pocket aces don't hold up, the simple fact is they do, at least for me.  Of the 17 documented instances of The Crafty One getting pocket rockets, I won with them 88.2 percent of the time, with (of course) a 100% VPIP, and "winnings" of $11,000 (tournament chips, not bux) I did notice that I PFR'd only 53% of the time; that smells like I'm being too cute with them, but I'll have to think about that later. So take that, you nattering nabobs of negativity! Aces rock!

Of course, the greater teachiing opportunities arise from adversity, and towards that end, would anyone care to guess the hand on which I've lost the most, or the most times? I'll give you my bottom four.

Honorable mention for Hands What Cost Me The Most Schiarole goes to...pocket 7's.  Despite winning with them at a 66% clip (16/24), I've lost more than $3700 T$ with them.  Tread lightly with 7's, lad.

Bronze medal is proudly worn by...A2 s00ted, with which I've lost twice for every time I've won (4/12) and lost big - T$5300.  Ace rag, man, it'll just friggin kill you every time - or 2 times out of 3.

The Silver medalist in the Hands of Ignominy competition goes to...QJo, which despite a 50% winning clip (23/45) had lost me T$5455. Like A2, when I win, I win small, and when I lose I lose big.   Not the winning formula.

And the Gold medal, the Bruce Jenner of the Bad Hand, with great honor, pomp and circumstance, goes to... KJo.  That's right - the Seabrook Nuts! That hand has lost me more than any other hand I have; $T5578 has gone right down the shitter because of KJo.

These four hands share the same commonalities:

  • A VPiP of over 75% (well, QJ was 74.4, but you get it)
  • I PFR'd at an over 50% clip
  • If I clean up my game to the tune of those four hands, my game would transition from slightly under break-even to slightly over it. 
FOUR HANDS turn me from a winner to a loser.  But at least now I know.

Until next time, please remember that knowledge is power, which is good because gas is $3.50 a goddamn gallon.


  1. Awesome! I'm so excited that you're delving into your leaks / holes! Great news. It sounds like you're on track in so far as to investigating the meaning of the stats, how to approach them, etc. Keep in mind that filtering by pocket cards *COULD* be misleading; i.e. just because KJ is a loser for you, it could be that you got your money in good but got sucked out on, etc. Note the EV (expected value) of each hand as well. The idea is that once the money is all in, there's nothing you can do about it regardless. How much equity did you have? So forth & so on...

    Also, where's the link love?

  2. Joel - the investigation continues. Expect me to pepper you with questions from time to time. Also, link love and follower love has been administered. Thanks again my brother!

  3. My initial guesses were A-rag (I gave you credit with a 6 instead of a 2, :P).. and something like TJ/QJ.. They both suffer from the same problem. Top pair - Shit kicker. I bet a lot of the KJ loses were against AK/KQ type hands where you were just beat by a pip.

    Anyways sounds like your games getting better and it will only improve with time and study.

  4. You're in a good position if A2, QJ and KJ are your biggest leaks per HEM. You could literally just stop playing those three hands entirely -- as in, never think, never consider, just see any of those hands and fold it straight out -- and make a nich bump up in your game.

    The much more troublesome stats I run into with people from time to time is when they are losing the most with hands like KK, JJ and AK, hands that you're basically going to have to play every time.

    FWIW, I probably play A2, QJ and KJ a total of maybe 10% of the time I see any of them, if that helps. There's almost no reason to ever put in a lot of money there, at least not in the early and middle parts of a tournament.

    Best of luck with HEM, would love to hear any new insights as you glean them.

  5. @waffles, thanks bro - we'll see if any of this sticks.

  6. @Hoy, that's an interesting approach. If there's one immutable truth to NLHE it's that there's no one hand you should always or never play, but I wonder, at least in the immediate short term, if ignoring those hands completely isn't the best approach. Maybe that rule was put into common practice before the benefit of detailed statistical analysis.

    OK you've convinced me. Until further notice I'm folding those three hands irrespective of position or circumstance, and may the Flying Spaghetti Monster have mercy on my wicked soul.

    Thanks for commenting BTW. Link love ensues.

  7. Quick question: what position are you playing these hands from? KJ, QJ, etc. could be powerful from late position, but throw aways from EP. These "trouble hands" are difficult to play from out of position, but much easier to play / steal from in position.

  8. @Joel, I didn't put a nickel into any of those hands EP in a theretofore-unraised pot. In late position, and especially in SB, I donk 'em in.

    I had already known this but I'm a sucker for calling an unraised BB from SB. I know it's a hole in my game but I can't help myself. It's like a cross between a chocolate shake and kind bud.

  9. I think it is a growing process.. so like when you first start out maybe never playing A2 is a good idea.. and then when you get better at (of all things) letting hands go and folding... you work some A2's back into the mix and see if you can make them profitable again.. that is a big reason most poker books have starting hand charts. If you do "that" all the time the hands will play themselves.. and then later on as you improve your range widens so better players can not always tell what you have. It is all a learning, growing, process.

  10. @Waffles, aside from the odd steal, or maybe calling an unraised BB as SB, I think that A2 is going to stay off my chart. Likewise QJ and KJ.

    As an exception, if I have fewer than, say, 8-10 BB's and it's shove time, I would consider KJo/A2o worthy shove hands. You're not going to win with those hands without luck anyway, so you might as well.

    And hey: Happy Birthday. And to quote Joel: Where's the link love?

  11. See above Waffles comment. Precisely describes the growing process as a player. If you want an interesting set of reads, check out Ed Miller's blog, Noted Poker Authority.

    FWIW, the single, most influential book that I've read to date in terms of poker strategy is Ed Miller, Sunny Mehta & Matt Flynn's . IMO, this is an absolute MUST READ.

  12. Poker Authority also has a nice blog where he discusses various situations.

  13. @waffles, you got a url for me?