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Review of Negreanu's 3/12 Micro Stakes Session

Comments: 4
Last night I spotted a tweet from Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) stating he was going to hit the $0.25/$0.50 NLHE tables on PokerStars for his $10 to $100k bankroll challenge. (At the time this post was authored, his last session was #89.)

I copied the hand histories from his session. The rest of this post has some of my usual rambling as well as my detailed analysis of some of the key hands from this session.

Side Note: I (@MicroRoller) sent out a tweet that I was going to go enjoy watching him play then went on to do so.

While I was watching, a bunch of emails started coming in letting me know I was getting new followers on Twitter and some new comments on my normally quiet blog. I couldn't figure out why, so I took a quick peek at Google Analytics and saw a pretty big surge of traffic. In a couple of hours I had over 400 new visitors. For a site as small and new as mine that's quite a lot. Turns out Daniel Negreanu retweeted my comment about watching him play. This my traffic report  was up over 800 new visitors. (Surprisingly none of them clicked on the Kegerator banner. Who woulda guessed KidPoker fans don't like draught beer?)

Fairly new blog and new twitter account so getting that much exposure from a big poker pro is a real honor for me. Pretty good week for me on twitter. On top of Negreanu's retweet, Mitchell Cogert (@Mitchell1969), author of a number of good poker books started following me as well.

Even though I previously predicted Negreanu might have a tough time with variance at the stakes he's playing now, I want to see him overcome the odds. Maybe there's something to his bankroll management strategy I'm missing and can learn from to apply in my own cash game bankroll challenge.

For some reason I had a strong feeling that tonight would be a really good night for him at the low-limit NLHE tables. There was a period where it looked like my hunch was right, but in the end it wasn't. He played for roughly 2 1/2 hours, 179 hands, across 5 different tables (not simultaneously) and wound up dropping $50.30 bringing his challenge bankroll down to $127.48. The chart to the right will shows his bankroll progress.

I feel a bit bummed out about it for some reason. The guy's won millions so this is like play money to him but for all the people that line up to get a seat at his table and watch him play at stakes they play, it's a big thrill and it would suck for it to end. He's not busto so there's still hope.

With his current bankroll and bankroll rules, his next buy-in is going to be $25.50. The minimum buy-in for $0.25/$0.50 NLHE is $25. One more losing session and and he's going to have to drop back down to $0.10/$0.25 NLHE. Made a mistake, minimum buy-in for .25/.50 NL is $10 not $25. $25 is the minimum for the 50BB min tables.

Personally I think he should suck it up and drop down now. One of his strengths is playing deep stack poker. That's also where the small ball approach seems to do best. Playing with a short stack usually means you're pot committed by the turn and when you're playing loose you're going to be in a lot of marginal situations. Five buy-ins is really pushing it.

Analysis of Tonight's Play

Time for some Monday night quarterbacking. Err.. more like Saturday morning nit picking from someone that isn't qualified to carry Negreanu's chips let alone evaluate his play but it's my blog so I get to do what I want :) Plus this is one of the ways I try and improve my own game, analyzing better player's hands.

I copied most of the hands from tonight's session into my Holdem Manager and PokerOffice databases so I can easily select hands to post. Figured I'd post some of his stats while I had the info handy. Not enough hands to make any concrete statements about his play in general but enough for a decent analysis of this session.

Some basic stats: VP$IP: 36.1 PFR: 18.3 3Bet: 1.6 CC: 28.6 AggF: 2.18

Very loose, especially for full ring and a bit aggressive. I think I play full ring pretty loose and at my current stakes my numbers for the same stats are 24/14/4/14/2.

Most of his money was lost in early position and in the big blind. Negreanu is a player that knows how to play very well in position. I'll review some of those hands in the next section.

If he had played more conservatively from early position he could have had a winning night. Up around $50 instead of down that much.

VP$IP/PFR from EP were 30/28 compared to 37/16 on the button. Even higher in the blinds. For comparison, I'm around 17/13 from EP and 30/18 from the button. My BB/100 is positive in both spots but obviously much higher on the button.

Out of the three sessions I watched where he lost a big pot, I'm pretty sure he was always out of position. There are some pretty decent players at $0.25/$0.50 NL that all have a pretty good idea of how he plays, while he has no clue how most of them play. You just don't see too many 0.25/0.50 grinders on TV or on the bookshelves. You get a good bit of fish, but you also have some solid ABC poker players, some good LAGs and the occasional uber-nit thrown in.

Key Hands From Tonight's Session

Daniel Negreanu started the night off sitting with $35.55 at a $0.25/$0.50 NLHE table. The max buy-in is $50 but his bankroll management strategy is to never buy-in for more than 20% of his bankroll.

First Hand of The Night

The first hand didn't set a great tone for the night but it wasn't a huge loss.

This is a tough spot. He just sit down at the table, has no reads on anyone and picks up a pretty decent hand in the BB facing a button raise that could easily be a steal. It's not a horrible call preflop but it's the type of hand that can get you into trouble which is why a lot of good players have a very tight callling range in the blinds.

The flop is pretty good for his hand. He picked up middle pair/good kicker (which might be the best hand), a gut shot straight draw and a backdoor second nut flush draw. Villain leads out with a big cbet (over 75% of pot). We don't know this at the time but later on we see that villain was pretty TAG (18/18). He's not making a bet this big with air so we have to assume KT is behind and needs to improve. KTo can improve to trips, a straight, or two pair. Nine possible outs is 4.2:1 odds to improve on the turn but the pot odds are only 2.3:1 here. The math says fold and if we had watched the player for a few orbits our read would scream fold too.

Turn brings no help and odds to improve are the same. Villain fires a 60% pot sized turn bet. Odds to call are still no good. River brings an offsuit Ace which is an overcard and completes a possible straight draw. Both players check and villain wins a 36.5 big blind pot with KQo (top pair/good kicker).

First Buy-In Down

In between the first hand and this one there were some small wins but even more small losses and Negreanu's stack is now down to 36 big blinds.

In the early stages of this challenge, Negreanu made the following comment about small stakes player on his forum. I was reminded of it after watching this hand.
They aren't sophisticated enough to trap me for maximum value, no matter how they approach the hand.

At this point we should have a read on villain as tight aggressive. He's not opening UTG light and 3-betting him with TT with only $18.20 in chips means all the chips are going in on most flops if he calls. His stats from EP for the session were 12/12 but there weren't many hands to trust it completely. That he's playing fewer hands from EP and always for a raise should be an indication that he's not playing total crap though.

So we have what we're pretty sure is a TAG player calling a 3Bet out of position, let's try to put him on a range. The raise from EP says AJs+, AQo+, 77+. Against that range, TT is a slight favorite but basically a coinflip.

Calling the 3Bet would narrow it down to maybe AQs+, AKo, 99+. We can probably also exclude AA and KK since he didn't 4bet out of position. Against that range, TT does slightly better but basically still a coin flip.

Flop comes Jh 2c 6c and TT isn't looking horrible. Villain is out of position and checks. Checking here doesn't mean he missed the flop. OOP in a 3Bet pot you check to the 3bettor and let them fire a cbet and then check/raise them all-in if you think you have a better hand.

Based on the range we put him on, there are 9 combinations of cards that have TT crushed. (3 JJ and 4 QQ).   There are 11 combinations of hands TT has crushed. AQs+ with no flush draw, AKo, and 99. Finally 3 combinations of hands that are basically tied for equity, AcQc, AcKc and TT. Using that range in PokerStove  against TT on that flop, TT has about 58% equity compared to 42% for villains range. Not a horrible spot.

After villain checks, Negreanu fires a 1/2 pot cbet leaving him with only $8.70 behind. Villain raises putting Negreanu all in.

At this point we can probably narrow the range down to JJ-QQ, AcQc, AcKc. Against this range TT is an almost a 9:1 dog and the pot is only laying 3.2:1 odds. The math says fold but my guess is Negreanu decided he was willing to go all the way with this hand before the flop.

I can't say the call was horrible. $8.70 on a $0.25/$0.50 table isn't much and his bankroll rules don't allow him to top off his stack. He's either winning the hand or busting out and joining a different table. Unfortunately villain had top set with the Jc and Negreanu was drawing to runner/runner quads.

There are a few different ways this hand could have played out so lets take a look at them.

Fold pre-flop. Too nitty, not an option.

Reraise all-in preflop. Too stupid, not an option.

Flat call preflop, if villain checks, fire out a $2 (~1/2 pot) cbet, fold to a check/raise. Still left with $14.70 in chips to wait for a better spot. Problem here is that villain and Negreanu were both in EP and there were still 6 players left to act. The way the table was playing it was likely that one or two other players would join the hand which would diminish the equity of TT. Someone could have even 3bet in later position leaving Negreanu in a tough spot.

Isolating the UTG raiser was probably the best move and it was just an unfortunate situation. These things happen but Negreanu's bankroll management strategy doesn't leave much room for beats like this.

First Big Hand of Table 2

After losing a buy-in at the first table, Negreanu bought in for $28.45 at a new table, 20% of his BR. He lost a couple of small pots when this hand came up.


In this hand Negreanu opens the pot from the CO for his usual minraise which invites the button and both blinds to call. Not enough hands to be certain but BTN seems to be a bit of a LAG (33/13/6), and both blinds look like tight/passive calling stations (13/7/0 and 13/7/0.5).

Negreanu flops top pair/good kicker with an open ended straight draw on a rainbow board. He has position on everyone except the button LAG. Both blinds check and he fires out a 1/2 pot cbet. BTN and SB fold and BB calls. Turn is a blank and BB check/calls a 3/4 pot size bet.

River likely doesn't change anything. BB checks, Negreanu shoves his last $10.70 into the $20 pot. BB calls with top pair/no draw/no kicker and loses.

It's a bit of a scary board, especially when you don't complete your straight but you have to bet for value when you think you have the best hand. The way the hand played out there was a good chance he did. BB wasn't so passive he wouldn't reraise if he flopped a straight. It's possible he might have hit 2 pair and was afraid of the straight but the way he was playing it was also likely he was calling down with a weaker hand.

Another Double-Up Two Hands Later

Two hands later and Negreanu is in another pot with the same opponent he doubled through last time and doubles up again.

Negreanu opens for his usual min raise, gets 3Bet by the button and calls. Flops top pair/top kicker and checks the flop. Villain bets a little more than 1/2 pot and Negreanu puts in a healthy check/raise to $11. Not the wussy raise that got him into trouble last time when his aces were cracked by JTo.

Villain calls the raise. At this point you have to start wondering. The guy hadn't been very aggressive in the past and now he's 3betting, leading the flop and calling raises. He's probably not 3betting AT, A9 so it's doubtful he flopped two pair. He might have TT or AA with a flopped set but he would have more than likely come over the top with a set in that spot. There are two spades on board with the Ace of spades so he can't have top pair with the flush draw and he's probably not 3betting KQs. He could have AK for a tie or possibly a weaker Ace.

This looks like one of those way ahead/way behind situations. Turn brings the 4 of diamonds and now there are 2 possible flush draws on the board. Negreanu fires 1/2 pot and villain raises all-in. Negreanu only has $8.40 behind and it's an easy call.

One of two things is happening here, either villain has a set and has TP/TK crushed or we obviously made the wrong assessment of the player pegging him as tight/passive and a calling station.

Heads up in a 3bet pot, top pair/top kicker seems to hold up the majority of the time and if you thought your hand was good on the flop, the turn doesn't change anything unless he had AK/AQ of diamonds and now has the flush draw.

Villain had AQo and Negreanu wins a nice big pot.

According to his bankroll management strategy, at this point he has to leave the table before the blinds get to him again. He didn't pick up any more hands until that happened.

He won the buy-in he lost at the first table plus $11.55 more and his challenge bankroll was up to $189.33 but Negreanu wasn't done playing and he hit another table.

Only One Hand Played At Third Table

Negreanu sits at his third table of the night with $37.85 in chips and plays only one hand.

Opens for a min raise on the button with J7o because he seems to always raise the button when folded to. Flops top two pair, gets action, goes all in on the turn and finds out the bad news that he was up against a set. A set of 7's no less which makes it a very unlikely catch for villain.

Tough spot, no reads, 2 pair is usually good in these situations but getting check raised on the flop is pretty strong and might have been a signal to slow down instead of reraise.

He started the table up $11.55 for the night, now down $26.30. Never give up, never surrender! Time for the next table.

A Few Hands Into Table 4

After losing his last buy-in, he had to buy-in to the next table with only $30.30. On his 7th hand of the table he loses about half his stack. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you're bored of reading) there's not much I can comment on.

Double Up A Few Hands Later

OK, so here's another spot where he min raises, gets 3 callers and finds some guy that's going to pay him off with top pair worse kicker no draw.

You know, for someone that preaches small ball poker I'm noticing he likes to build big pots and go all-in a lot. We aren't talking huge stakes here but the level of play isn't all that horrible most of the time you're not going to get too many people to call with worse hands in this spot. Expecting this type of result I think is why he's been experiencing greater variance as he's moved up in stakes.

Another Double-Up

Another min raise and a call by two loose players and a fairly tight big blind and he's lucky enough to have a player that flopped two pair let him catch up to win a nice fat pot.

Negreanu cbets the flop with air and one of the players makes a mistake of flat calling with two pair.  A raise on the flop would have probably won it for him.

Instead Negreanu gets a cheap turn card which gives him a straight flush draw. Negreanu leads for 1/2 pot and villain finally decides to raise. It's a little too late for that. At this point though Negreanu is getting 2.8:1 odds to improve and the raise is laying him 4.1:1 pot odds. Easy call here.

The river completes his flush, he pushes all in (about 2/3rds pot) and villain calls with two pair.

The 9c on the river completes the flush, it completes a flopped straight draw, I'm really surprised he managed to get paid off here. It's nice to run into guys like this at the tables.

Getting Ready To Leave The Table And Then...

At this point Negreanu's bankroll management strategy tells him to leave the table when the blinds hit him. Had he not played any more hands and left he would have been up $10.15 for the night. Not bad considering the roller coaster ride he had.

Unfortunately he picked up a pretty good hand right after winning the last pot.

I have some issues with the way this hand was played.

First, your bankroll management tells you to leave the table when the blinds hit you. It should also tell you to tighten up and play very conservative until then so this doesn't happen. The way this played out was not conservative at all.

Some may consider this a cooler having an overpair to the board and running into a bigger pair but I disagree. Here's why.

Villain had been playing fairly tight and solid and there were enough hands at this point to get at least some indication of that. After 22 hands I think this was only the third time he put money in the pot.

The first time he 3 bet Negreanu's steal attempt and took it down preflop. The second there was an EP limp, Negreanu completed the SB and villain raised to take it down preflop. Those were the only hands he played.

Now Negreanu raises from UTG+1 and villain 3bets 4x Negreanu's raise. The player in the hijack seat also calls. He's the loose player that Negreanu doubled through in the hand above so not too much to worry about but he has to consider that he's going to be out of position up against 2 players, one of whom is pretty TAG, the other who could have any two cards, for an already big pot at a point where he was getting ready to bank his profits and leave the table.

There are two good options here in my opinion. Give the TAG credit for a big hand, forfeit your minraise and still leave with over $35 in profit at that table, which is pretty good considering he was down $15 early on. Or take the flop, try and flop a set and if you don't, get out of the hand, still leaving the table up over $32.

This may seem too nitty but you don't want to piss away your winnings when you're trying to build a bankroll with such an aggressive strategy.

When a tight player 3Bets you preflop, then keeps firing money into the pot on the flop and turn when the board is 9 high and you're both deep, there's a very good chance he has an overpair and TT is no good. This is a situation where you should set it or forget it. Period.

You need to be able to get away from hands like this at these stakes, especially after you've reached a point where your bankroll management strategy dictates you leave the table. It's not easy and I've gotten stuck in this exact situation before. I suffer some loses, rebuild my stack plus a nice profit and then have QQ or KK run into AA or a set. It's a horrible feeling to lose, come back and then lose again. The reason I spent so many words on this hand is to help drill it into my own head to keep myself out of these situations.

Last Hand At Table 4

A few more hands and Negreanu won a few bucks then the following hand ended his run at this table.

If you thought I was being too nitty in my discussion of the last hand you might be surprised that I think there was not too much wrong with this hand. Poker is situational.

UTG limps, UTG+1 raises, Negreanu and CO flat call and UTG puts in the additional $1. It's a pretty nice sized pot with a hand that has a lot of potential. Notice that CO was involved in a hand posted above.

Negreanu flops top pair, fires out a bet that leaves him heads up with a player that has shown a willingness to call down big bets with weak hands. You want to get in lots of pots with players like this.

You can't always wait for the nuts or they're likely to hand their chips off to someone else. Top pair/decent kicker is likely good in this spot and it was on the flop. Unfortunately villain was dominated but wound up improving on the turn.

You're going to get unlucky like this from time to time. Sometimes you'll get unlucky multiple times in a session. You can't just camp out and hope to get AA while some other nit gets KK.

Last Table of The Night

Daniel Negreanu decided to try one more table last night before ending his session. He sat down with $24.20 and played 91 hands. This was the longest table of the session. After about an hour and a half he left up $6.30.

His play was completely different at this table. I'll post some hands bellow but I'm not going to comment much on them.

Most of the pots he was involved in were pretty small. I don't think he went all-in once at this table. This looked like textbook small ball poker as I understand it and he explained in an article about beating these small stakes. Raise small and try to take it down preflop in position. Try and take it down on the flop with a 1/2 pot cbet on the flop. Because of the small preflop raise, the pot is small and so is the cbet. If you get called try and keep the pot small with out a big hand or a big draw. Once you get your big hand or big draw try and make it a big pot.

Unfortunately he didn't hit many big hands, or if he did nobody had anything worth paying him off with, but I think if he had played this way all night his results would have been very different.

This first hand really illustrates the difference in his play compared to the other two times he showed down pocket tens. Too bad villain mucked his hand.

I'm pretty sure if this next hand was dealt earlier in the night he would have tried to get all his chips in the pot. He had no problem going all-in with the 5th nuts but the 3rd nuts here he didn't.

Ace rag is a pretty bad hand to defend your blind with since it's easily dominated but I think villain was stealing a lot from the button and Negreanu managed to keep the pot small.

This is a nice example of Neagreanu trying to use position to pick up the pot when a scare card comes on the turn. Strange call by villain but he was pretty loose. Lucky for Negreanu he had the best hand but I still think this was played well.

Hand didn't go to show down but this looks like a steal attempt and a nice positional play post flop. It's hard to tell the strength of his hand since he always raises in this spot but based on his turn bet I'm thinking he at least had a weak ace or the flush draw. Since all his raises are min raises he could also have top set which is why it makes it hard to keep calling without a very strong hand.

This was one of the last hands he played last night. It was the largest pot he lost at this table and it was still pretty small. Unfortunately we don't get to see what he mucked.

So what do you think about his play last night or my analysis of it?

4 Response to "Review of Negreanu's 3/12 Micro Stakes Session"

Christopher Says....

Very interesting play by Daniel and very good analysys by you.Especially the analysis you made in that hand where Daniel had 10 10 was well dissected.I've always had trouble in figuring out my equity correctly in pots,since i'm playing 25NL myself and I only see nits 3-betting with AA,KK,AK and QQ,so I don't have to put that much thought into their range,I usually go by what hands I've seen them play and play my hand accordingly.Of course if I don't have information about my opponent I usually give them credit for a real hand and fold or set mine with a pair if I think the implied odds are good.Still I really would like to learn to calculate my equity more accurately so I can get more precise reads in the hands I play.So could you help me out a little?Still,nice analysis from you and keep it up:D

Anonymous Says....


Thanks for the comments.

I'm still working on calculating equity. Part of the reason I did this analysis was to practice. I do the same for my own sessions as well.

I'm planning on a post that gives more details but here's some info on what I do. You can follow my blog or subscribe to my feed to receive updates.

Using PokerStove helps a lot. You just enter your hole cards, villain's range and then as community cards come you update them and narrow down villain's range based on the new information you get from the betting action.

The more you analyze your hands the better you get at putting people on ranges. As you figured out, some players are much easier to put on a range than others.

Anonymous Says....

i dont see this hands somehow, anyone else got same problem...

Daniel Bengtsson Says....

Been playing sit 'n goes and tournaments for 7-8 years, and I usually do ok - I'd say I finish top 5 in about every 3-4 games, and in the money for about the remaining half.

I withdrew all my money to move on to a new poker site, but realized I had some points left to spend so I echanged them for $10 and decided to play cashgames.

started at 0,01/0,02 and moved up to 0,02/0,04 when I hit $50 - at 70,41 and I must say that I found this post most inspiring. I remember seeing his video about it, and was googling for details about it when I found this.

Although my approach is much more conservtive, I'm going to try and take on this challenge for myself.

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