Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Glass Bottom Boat

A few days ago I hired an online poker coach to look at my PokerTracker3 stats and perform a "leak-finding" review. The cost of the service was $60 for an hour of live, real-time analysis of my data. The coach goes by the name of Mpethy on the forums. I don't know what his playing screen name is, so I wasn't able to look up his stats directly.. but he had received very good reviews and kudos from other players on the forums who had used his service, so I figured what the hell, I'd give it a shot.

We set the session up about a week ahead of time via another online coach, who works with mpethy. I paid via paypal, and was then instructed to install Skype (so we could communicate during the session) and TeamViewer (so mpethy could see and use my computer remotely). Both Skype and TeamViewer were free to download and install.

Anyway, we started the session with a general review of my stats, including VPIP, PFR, 3Bet%, cold calling, attempt to steal, etc. (It should be noted here that you need at least 100K hands of data to make the service worthwhile). Mpethy also looked at basic numbers like BB/100 hands won, session stats, and so on. He then went on to filter the data in various permutations and combinations. The session lasted one hour, and I took four pages of frantically scribbled notes during the sixty minutes of review. (If I have one complaint, it's that the whole thing felt rushed, with little time for me to fully digest what Mpethy was telling me; going back through my notes afterward just led to a bunch of questions I wish I had had time to ask during the session.)

Anyway, the hour was very interesting and illuminating. I won't go into all the details here, but there were a number of leaks that were uncovered during the review. The biggest items were as follows (listed in no particular order of importance):

1) Starting Hands. Per Mpethy, all of my hands were winning (or losing) at the correct rates, but with Kings I was actually making about 1/2 of the amount of money I should per hand. In other words, KK was holding up the right percentage of time, but I wasn't making as much money with the hand as I should. QQ, JJ, and TT were also a little on the low side (but not too bad), as was AKs. ATs also looked like a leak, but after he poked around a bit, Mpethy felt that I just ran bad with the hand. The Kings, however, were a different story. For some reason, I'm not making as much $ with cowboys as I should.

2) Show Down Numbers. My W$SD at 58% is actually too high, according to Mpethy. Huh? Well, according to Mpethy, my WTSD is a little too low at 22%. He said that I would probably make more money if I went to show down a little bit more frequently (i.e., 24%), which would drop my W$SD to something more like 55%, but my overall win rate would probably go up. Based on my numbers, Mpethy labeled me a bit on the "weak-tight" side of the player spectrum.

3) Stealing. Per Mpethy, my attempt to steal number is "absurdly" high at 50%. He said at $10NL, you need better hands to steal with because the opp is going to call more frequently. At higher limits, you can steal with a wider range, but at the lower stakes I need to tighten up my stealing range. (Side note: this is a bit controversial, as I've done some reading on the forums re: steal % rates. Some pro's advocate stealing down around 35% of the time, while others say up to 85% of the time is appropriate. I'm not sure where my numbers should actually be, but Mpethy is probably right to say that at $10NL, steal raises will probably get called a lot more than at $100NL. Ergo, I probably am on the high side of steal attempts here.)

4) Check-Raise. Per Mpethy, I'm not CR'ing enough, especially from EP with TPTK. My CR% from EP should be 35-40% in these situations to extract maximum value.

5) Position. This was one of the hardest pills for me to swallow, as I've always prided myself on being very positionally aware. Per Mpethy, however, I'm not making nearly as much as I should be in late position (CO and Button). He said I have some kind of big leak here. While he doesn't like to try to fix a problem for you, he did say that I'm probably suffering from (a) stealing too light; and (b) getting in trouble when I get called or RR'd when stealing. In fact, Mpethy said, bluntly, "When your steals get called, you're getting slaughtered."

6) Blind Play. This is one area where my numbers looked good. I'm losing the correct amount in both the small blind and the big blind. If there is one thing I could do, however, to improve the numbers it's that I should think about squeezing more out of the blinds when there are multiple limpers in a hand PF.

7) Bluffing. I'm bluffing at the right frequency, but I should probably be firing a second barrel on the turn more often than I have been. In other words, to make my bluffs more profitable, I have to be more willing to keep betting on later streets than I currently am.

8) Late Position Cold Calls. The good news is I don't cold call very much in LP. The bad news is that when I do cold call in LP I tend to get outplayed post-flop, even with the advantage of position.

9) Call 3Bets PF. When I raise and then get RR'd preflop, I'm calling too frequently. Mpethy said that this is a big leak in my game. Later, when he sent me a summary of our session, he asked if I had learned to play poker at limit tables. He said that limit players have lots of these kinds of leaks that, while profitable in the fixed limit games, are big losers in the NL games. He said it's often very hard for players to transition smoothly from limit poker to NL.

10) Bluffing, Take II. Another area that I'm not exploiting enough is representing aces, kings, or queens from the blinds against a LP raiser. On flops that have an A, K, or Q, I should rep that I hit the flop against LP stealers. Against EP and MP players, however, I shouldn't be doing this. 3Betting in this situation is very profitable, and I'm not taking full advantage of it in my game.

Okay, that's enough self-flagellation for now. There were a dozen or so other, less important things that Mpethy found, but these were the big ones that I need to focus on.

So, was this session worth the $60? Probably, though I suppose it depends on how serious I am about plugging the leaks that were uncovered. Mpethy focuses solely on telling a student where his or her leaks are, but it's up to the player to figure out how to plug them after the fact. I will let you know how it goes...

All-in for now...

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