Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Illin'

I've always read that you shouldn't play poker when you're sick.

So, I won't.

Yesterday was a decent day, though. Any day I make money is a good day.

No today, though. Guess I'm not as much of a degenerate as I thought I was.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

My first big hand won with “The Hammer”!

Playing .10/.20 again, and got 7-2o on the button. I thought for a moment, decided if I were going to play it for grins I should raise. So I did. Four callers.

Oops!

Flop comes 3-3-4, rainbow. I like to bet at rags on occasion because so many people muck them pre-flop that there’s a decent chance they didn’t hit anyone’s hole cards. One fold, three callers.

Oops, oops!

Turn brings a 2. Hmmm…. I keep betting at it, another fold, two callers.

Now, we’re playing Poker!

River brings a semi-perfect card – another 2, giving me the boat.. I was worried about someone that might’ve been slow-playing a 3 and had me dominated. I bet at it again, as though I had a big pair and figuring only a 3 or a bigger pair would call. Both called, but I won!

The Hammer!

On to other matters. I’ve sorta recovered from last night’s disappointment. I’m going to swear off NL tourneys until I have a chance to study the game in specific detail, the way I have with Limit. Maybe Cloutier/McEvoy. We’ll see what Santa brings.

Da’ @#$%& Home Game

Short story: Lost $33.

Best hand all night: Two pair, 10-7. But there was a straight draw on the board. And joeboddy flopped it.

Bust out hands: QQ, beat by trip Ks, the afore-mentioned 10-7, and a pair of Ks with 3 left and playing the short stack. Called by a flush draw that completed.

Nine players, and all different styles represented tonight. We had aggressive players, weak players, tight players, loose players. Joeboddy switched gears impressively, and Buccaneermike played solid.

Started the night by winning $14 playing 2-card guts while waiting for everyone to arrive. Thought it was a good omen. Unfortunately, I gave it back when my Ace-high got beat by 2-2, two hands later. That was the real omen.

Buccaneermike took home the first tourney, and joeboddy took home the second. I was short-stacked in third during the third one, and hammering on the big stacks who did the right thing and stood pat until they got cards. I just played at them most hands, hoping that when we actually played a pot I might have something worth playing. Top pair was good enough, as they had been playing with any pair at all. Bad luck on my part to run into the flush, but I’m not sorry I made the bet.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve lost the heart needed for NL right now. Had middle pairs many times that I folded in the face of aggression that turned out to be bottom pair. No knock on them, they managed to knock out better hands so they played it well. No knock on me, I suppose, since they were only middle pairs. Saw a lot of betting into flushed and straights with bottom pairs last night, frustrating to watch. But, they gambled and I didn’t. End of story.

Now, I’m tired, but I want to figure out when I can get back to a cardroom and play limit and try to replenish my bankroll.

Friday, November 26, 2004

First chance to play with a reader of this blog tonite...

A reader of this blog that took the time to send a kind e-mail a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I rarely check that particular e-mail account because I use it for things like this that might generate spam. So, I didn’t get the message until earlier this week.

Anyway, he was playing a solid game, lots of folding when he looked beat, but he was feeling it. He didn’t seem to get any cards, but he was only down 8 BBs when he wanted to go find a lucky table, leaving me to the wolves. But it was still cool to sit down at a table with someone I communicated with via the blog, even though he had more insight into my game than I had into his. It had crossed my mind that I was opening up my game for analysis, but honestly, I don't get THAT much traffic that I worried about it.

I had just gotten even on the table after being down almost 20 BBs on the session and decided to stick for a little while, but wound up leaving soon after as the table got very short-handed. The next table was full of bluffers, and soon got short-handed as well. I was ready to leave down about 6 BBs again when I picked up KJo in the big blind and raised the betting (short-handed with multiple bluffers made me want to get aggressive). I missed the flop, but I had a backdoor diamond flush to my K and two overcards, so I checked and bet when the action came to me (like I said, they were all bluffers, so I stuck it out). A 3rd diamond came on the turn, giving me 4 to the flush, so I checked. The guy to my left bet out like he hit the flush. I figured, even if he had, he’d have check-raised if he had the Ace, so I called. A J came on the river, giving me top pair with a good kicker, but I was semi-concerned about the possible flush. He bet, and I thought for minute, and decided to call thinking he might’ve been on a semi-bluff (It scares me that I can rationalize an iffy call… dangerous for the bankroll). Turned out he was on a pure bluff, and I picked up $6 for my effort.

Next hand was 2c3c in the small blind, a hand I normally muck, but it was short-handed and like I said, they were bluffers. I flopped an inside straight draw as well as a four-flush and went into check-and-call mode. Picked up the flush on the river, but obviously I was worried about a higher flush. There was only one other better, and when he led out I raised him. Just a feeling, I guess. He called, and I took down the pot.

I picked up 8 BBs for the hour, better than average for me at that limit. But, I was most proud that I tough-ed it out and recovered for a decent win on the session. Need more of those, frankly.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

You never know...

...when it's going to hit.

The rush, I mean.

I was checking out my records this afternoon while hiding from the family for a few minutes. As you know, I float between .10/.20 and .25/.50 depending mostly on bankroll and loose-ness of a a table. Occasionally, I take a shot at .50/1.00.

Anyway, I don't have PokerTracker yet for 2 reasons:

  1. It doesn't interface with Pacific
  2. I don't feel my bankroll justifies the $55 expense

So, I use my spreadsheets, which are really just summary data for each session. So I see that in the last month, I had made over $72 profit at .10/.20!?!?!

I was floored! So, I checked .25/.50. I've made $28 profit there, a respectable 6BB/100. Not as stunning, but nothing to be ashamed of.

So, why doesn't my bankroll reflect this?

.50/1.00: -$42

1.00/2.00: -$22

Yep.

My shots at bigger games cost me over $64. In other words, they cost me over 300% of my starting deposit.

Sick. But eye-opening. Glad I keep records.

I think my problem at these levels is this:

  1. I'm not experienced enough. I only have about 3000 hands in since I've kept records of ring games. Add in SNGs, though, and I'm probably over 5000. But, there seems to be more "fancy-play" syndrome combined with "any-two-cards" attitudes that I've just had a tough time weeding through, because...
  2. My bankroll wasn't large enough to withstand the variance while I 'figgered' it out.

Those of you that believe in the 300BB rule are right.

So, I think I know .10/.20 very well and can hold my own at .25/.50, so I'll just keep working those two levels while I build, focusing alot on game selection. Perhaps, in a few months, I'll have the $300 online bankroll I need to move up.

As for tonight's short play, here's what happened: At .10/.20, not much until the table got short-handed. As a matter of fact, I was stuck about 15 bets in the first 15 minutes. As the table got short, though, I played some hands that were a little more marginal. What I've learned from TOP was to toss the suited connectors and small pairs out when I'm short-handed. You can't get the pot odds to draw to the straights and flushes profitably. Instead, I replace them with A-medium offsuit and K-medium offsuit, strictly trying to flop top pair. This got me back a little above even by the time I got heads-up. So I left for a .25/.50 game with 87% of the 8 players seeing the flop.

That's when it hit. The rush.

I had Q3s (hearts) on my first hand, one I would normally muck except I had to post a blind and nobody raised me. Flopped a straight. It was bet into me and I raised to charge the single A and K of my suit to draw. Four callers. Damn, one of them MUST have the A or K.

The turn paired the board, 9's. Caution, but I'm not slowing down unless someone plays back. I bet out and have 3 callers.

Then, a 2 of my suit hits the river.

DAMN!

That means the A or K that hung around just hit. I bet out. 2 callers.

Callers?

I win. I think one had trip 9's, and the other had a lower heart. Good for 14 big bets to me.

Two hands later, I pick up AKo in the big blind. I raise, the guy to my left re-raises and we get 5 callers before I cap it. Big family pot. Flop brings a Q and J. I check and the guy to my left pushes the action. I stick with my overcards and draw to broadway. River brings a K and I bet out. The guy on my left raises. I put him on either Q's in the hole for trips or AT. But, I wanted to see it. He had re-raised me pre-flop UTG with AQo.

Next hand, I muck 5-2o, as I should. Flop comes 2-Q-5. Spooky. Turn brings a 2, which would have given me the boat. River brings a 5, for an even better boat. I'm totally wierded out.

Guess Pacific was giving me those cards in lieu of a bonus or something.

Next hand, I pick up cowboys on the button and push the action again. I don't remember much of the hand (because I was still spooked out about the rush, especially that mucked hand) except the guy on my left was pushing again, and right after I win, he leaves the table.

My work here is done. I recognize that the table has tightened up when nobody ahead of me in a hand plays pre-flop for several hands in a row.

Twelve minutes at this table nets me 25 big bets. Not my biggest session ever, but my biggest on a /hr and /100 hand basis. Talk about your hit-and-runs, though...?!?

Oh, also, I got a really cool belated birthday present from my mother-in-law: S&M's Hold 'Em Poker for Advanced Players. I had put together a wish list at Amazon and let everyone know, but I was surprised she bought it for me since I'm sure she doesn't approve of it for a number of reasons. At least she seems to be in favor of me studying the game so I can minimize my risk as much as is practical.

Counting my blessings...

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Da' Home Game

I just received an e-mail from BuccaneerMike letting me know he’s shooting for a 10-man freeze-out this Saturday. We typically play $10 buy-ins, winner take all, with 5 or 6 guys. Lately, we’ve bumped up to $20. I’m trying to get them on board for paying places if we have 10 guys, especially if it’s $20 buy-ins. Too much risk for my meager bankroll, even if I’m one of the stronger players.

This game has really progressed over the years. We used to play all the wild card games: Dime-store, Baseball, Follow-the-Bitch. I was a consistent contributor, and everyone else liked it that way. Looking back, I knew literally nothing about the game.

Earlier this year, I told them I wasn’t playing one particular weekend unless we played a Hold ‘Em freeze-out. I guess they all really wanted my money, must’ve been a few days short of pay day or something, because they relented. And they haven’t looked back.

I studied hard for that game. I felt like cutting it down to a single game gave me the opportunity to gain an edge if I focused on it as a specialty. We didn’t know what we were doing, and we had made the buy-in $40 which was what we typically brought to out wild card games. I decimated the table in a little over an hour. It goes quick when guys bet with their testicles instead of their brains. They all reached into their wallets again, though. Wound up winning 2 freeze-outs that night for over $130, all of which I spent at Disney World the next day as payback to Mrs. Big and the Big-ettes.

Yeah, I didn’t know what I was doing and went home and bragged about my big win. I don’t make that mistake now.

So, anyway, back to the game: The game has gotten a lot better as some of us have improved. We didn’t really realize it, though. There is a core group of 3 or 4 regulars, with an extended group of 6-8 that come when they can. Six is about a normal game for us. BuccaneerMike and Joeboddy are about evenly matched with me. I never thought BuccaneerMike studied the game much, but I once tried to get him to give up one of my tells in exchange for one of his. He then admitted he keeps a notebook on everyone he plays.

Oops.

What BuccaneerMike, Joeboddy, and I have found is that when we go to card rooms or different home games where we don’t play each other, we’re typically one of the strongest players at the table. We’ve all had more than our share of big days: I won 84 BBs in 2 ½ hours my first time in a card room, Joeboddy regularly wins 50 BBs a night in casinos when he’s traveling for work, and BuccaneerMike decimated a bunch of financial planners he used to work with last month, then destroyed the home game last week when I was out of town. So I guess our home game can probably be thought of as Spring Training.

Anyway, about once a month we get together and pound the semi-regulars, and then each other. The last few months I’ve found myself in 2nd place about 75% of the time, rarely winning (the reason why I want to start paying to 2nd place!). A tight style in this game is almost guaranteed to get you heads-up. Unfortunately, I’m usually heads-up on the short stack (from not playing any hands) with a big-stack maniac that doesn’t know what he’s doing and is thus unpredictable. To make matters worse, the guys that have been busted out stay at the table and heckle.

Yep, that’s right. Stuff like, “You got no heart!” and “A real man would’ve pushed with J-3 offsuit!”

See, the problem is that they don’t have any way to occupy themselves after they bust out, so they try to apply pressure to the short stack to bust out so a new freeze-out can start. So, now I’m pushing to play limit for the first 3-4 hrs, then cap off the night with a single freeze-out so the losers can leave when they bust. I’m not getting much positive feedback to that, though, so if anyone has any suggestions please let me know.

Anyway, I’m feeling leery about playing winner-take-all freeze-outs against a 10 guys, at least ½ of whom will be maniacs, for amounts of money that could total a significant portion of my bankroll. I feel like maybe I ought to go hit a limit game at Derby Lane or Seminole (where I can pitch my hissy fit over their rules) and see if I can bolster the bankroll a bit.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Bad News, Good News....

I've been playing too much. For me, at least. Tonight, I was feeling clearly the beginnings of burn out: not caring whether I won or lost, extreme boredom, etc.

It started out ok. There was a maniac at the table, and I found the challenge fantastic. Got up a few bucks, too. But, he busted, and the texture of the table changed. Lots of LAG, and I wasn't getting cards. Started playing looser, and looser=loser. I left quickly, keeping the damage minimal. Spent time with the kids before bedtime, and felt better. Decided to try a SNG instead. I played great, much more patient. I attribute it to the longer ring game sessions I've been putting in. Used to be, on the bubble and heads up, I got too aggressive and busted out more than my share. Tonight, on the bubble, I was tied for the chip lead with a short stack trying the usual short-stack strategy of going all in every hand. I got decent cards, but the other chip leader was right behind me, so I went all in to send the message that I could put the short stack out. Dumbass called me. I think he had maybe $50 left when it was over, and went out on the next hand.

Heads up, I was leading $3830 to $170, and my opponent caught river after river. I refused to back down and kept calling his all-ins. I always had an A or a K, and with so little at stake, I felt it was justified. And, I always paired, but he'd hit the straight or boat with rags. Eventually, I had to play him straight up and wound up down 5 to 1 at one point. Previously, I would've thrown in the towel, but blinds were still low due to my double-whupping earlier, so I played it careful and measured my bets in callable amounts. I scratched back to even, got knocked back down, then caught beautiful cards. TT, flopped a T. Slow-played it. He wouldn't bite, kept waiting for me to go all-in. I bet the river 2Xthe pot so it would look like a steal, and he bit. Next hand, I caught AA, flopped an A. Slow-played it, check, check. River brought the 4th Ace! There was a Q, K, and 10 on the board as well, so he had lots of cards he probably figure he could beat a steal with. I pushed, he called. I'll never know what he had.

So, we were back where we were 15 minutes before, with him at about $150. He was all-in in the blind, so I had no choice but to call with my Ace, and he doubled up with rags again.It teetered back and forth like that for a few minutes, but I eventually busted him when he was at $750 or so.

I was real pleased for several reasons: The money, of course, although it was only a $2.50 buy-in (I'm a micro player, damnit!), my patience, I changed gears and kept him off-balance, and the heart I showed making some tough calls I haven't been making in tourneys over the last month. I don't mean to sound cocky, I'm just writing an honest assessment of my play so I can refer back to it next time and remind myself what it takes to win. It felt good to play well, and was a nice break from the ring games. I'm not planning to switch back to SNGs any time soon, but it was nice to know that I can still bear down and perform.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I've become numb to it all...

Another confusing weekend.

Basically, all of my wins from the week have gone away, just like last weekend. And I know I played much better – stuck to my tight aggressive strategy, made some decent lay-downs, moved down in limits as my bankroll got decimated. Basically, I saw that would be ahead at the flop, then get turned or rivered.

I guess people who don’t like getting turned or rivered forget that this is a 7-card game. Too bad you can’t have an option to stop the action at 5. ;-)

Of course, the crazy cards people call with… but, I won’t go there. I know that I will beat them in the long run. It’s the short run that’s killing me! But if I see J2o beat me again… grrrr…

So, anyway, I’m still beating the .10/.20 game for 25 BBs/100 after 1500 hands (I gave it all back at higher levels! ;-( ). Just waiting for the cards to start swinging back my way….. any time now…. Just waiting…. 7-2o…8-3o….8-5o…..4-7o… all on this ORBIT!

I suppose I might’ve gotten froggy by now, but even the rag hands I fold haven’t been making hands, either. So, there is a silver lining. At least my newly burnished discipline is keeping me from pissing it ALL away.

…10-8o…10-9o in the BB, let’s see if it gets raised….yep… let’s see what Joe Raiser has…don’t know, he lost, A4o won it with 2 pr…. KQo 4-handed… I raise in the SB… K-7o wins it with a pair of 7s when there’s a probable straight on the board, betting the whole way with 2 overcards out there as well….

So, that’s just a little bit of what I’m dealing with now….

All of this folding has me longing for the SNGs again… playing there, I can fold my way to the money all day long…

I don’t know which I feel worse about: Last weekend’s debacle, where I brought it on myself by chasing losses, or this weekend where I was totally card dead. At least last week I knew I had some things to work on. This week, I don’t know what to do except play through it. Maybe a couple day’s break would help, too.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

You say it's your birthday....

... well it's my birthday, too-oo!...

Yep, ole' Big Slick Nuts turned 38 today, and is feeling every bit of it. 37 didn't bother me - heck, I barely acknowledged it. But, for some reason, 38 sounds sooooo ooooold...

Anyway, back to poker. Variance is a bitch.

Got hammered last night in my longest session yet. Took the exact opposite tack from last weekend and moved down in limits as my bankroll got popped harder than a nail at a carpenter's convention. When it was all said and done, that's about where I wound up, too. Oddly, I felt good about my play. I recognized that I was ahead on the flop on many of my hands. Seemed the turn always brought trouble.

The downside about moving to a more aggressive betting style is that I pound the pots when I'm ahead, and consequently lose alot of bets when the bad cards come out. That's what happened last night.

Tonight, it was the exact opposite. Didn't get long to play due to family obligations - they actually wanted to have a party for me, cutting into my table time. The nerve!

Anyway, I played for half an hour and nailed 55 big bets! Sheesh! Took one bad hand, too, when I called a pre-flop raise with QJo. There was a J on the flop, and I was betting. A K on the turn scared me and I checked and called. Caught a Q on the river and thought I was in decent shape and raised, then called the re-raise crying to myself, "he had KQs".

Yup.

Nailed his hand a liiiiiiitttttlllle too late. Unfortuantely, the table had been playing so loose that I didn't respect his PF raise and subsequent strength-betting.

Still, I won 55 BBs!

So, I have a little conundrum: I was given $100 from my parents, Mama Big and Papa Big, in lieu of an actual present. I'm thinking about setting up an account at one of the party skins, but I know my parents don't approve of my gambling and I feel it's somehow disrespectful to use the money that way. I know, it's my money now, but still... I suppose I could spend THEIR $100 on necessities and spend my leftover $100 from my allowance (yes, I have an allowance, for budgeting reasons) however I see fit...

... Is that the sort of rationalization junkies use? Should I be thinking I have a problem?

Things that make you go, "Hmmmmm".....

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Oh, the virtues of grinding and tight aggressive play!

So, I decided to go with my strategy of looking for tables with high percentages of players seeing the flop, as long as I had a comfortable bankroll for the game. I also added an additional filter that the average pot size had to be no more than 10BBs, figuring that would indicate a lot of weak play. I know that play is pretty poor at all levels of micros, if you just look hard enough.

At first, the limpers were sucking out on me and I was stuck about 16 BBs after an hour at .25/.50. I also sensed that the texture of the table had changed as there were only 3-5 to the flop rather than the 6-8 I wanted to see, so I switched to a looser table.

I got sucked out slow-playing AA (I should know better by now!) when a limper scored trips, but the next hand was JJ UTG and I came out jamming. It must’ve looked like I was on tilt, because the guy to my immediate left made it 3 to go. There were 2 callers behind him, the button and big blind, then I capped it. Three plus me to the flop, where I caught a scare card, a K with blanks.

Since I had represented a big hand pre-flop anyway, I led out thinking I might drop one or two, and hoping for a raise behind me so I could let my hand go early. Two callers, big blind folds. Another blank on the turn. I led out, still expecting the raise behind me but unwilling to show weakness at the moment. Two callers. I still think there might be a single K out there and maybe medium trips that are scared I have KK, but there was too much money in the pot for anyone with half a brain to slow-play. So I stayed committed to my play and led out on the river (a blank)… and they both just called?!?!

WTF is this?

I have no idea what they had, but my JJ won the pot. Probably big suited cards, maybe AQ or JT or something like that, and they thought I was bluffing. I guess it was a semi-bluff, but if any of them had shown the least aggression I’d have folded.

So, get this – the button goes ballistic, writes a long diatribe in the chat box about how dumb I was to raise with big cards pre-flop, then leaves the table, I assume in a huff! He thought I lost bets because “only” 3 people paid off 4 bets pre-flop. I, of course, said nothing, not wanting to educate him or give myself away as a thoughtful player.

I love these guys! His handle at Pacific is Scand29. Make his life miserable by explaining how getting 12 bets of Other People’s Money (OPM) in the pot with a 1 in 4 chance of winning is better than 10 bets with a 1 in 10 chance of winning, pre-flop.

I had the same thing happen in a live game once also. Two maniacs sitting side by side kept capping the betting on each round with nothing, and winning their share of the suck-outs. When people tried to play back at them, they invariably had big cards. Then, I caught QQ on the button, raised, and one of the maniacs folded and began berating me for losing his bets. I suppose I could have let them cap all the betting, but I saw how often they had sucked out and I wanted to make them pay for the privilege. Anyway, when he showed me that he had folded an A, I was happy I had pushed him out since I didn’t want him pairing up on me. The other guy called my bet, and then folded on the turn. I was happy.

Just like now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The rollercoaster ride continues...

First, I was down.

Then, I was up.

Then, I was down.

Then, I cashed in a SNG for the first time in weeks.

Right now, I am up, but still down on the day.

Confused?

Try being me today.

I had draws hit when I made marginal calls, but big cards got cracked.

I had cold runs and hot runs.

I played way more hours than I usually do, but maintained my focus and discipline very well.

I played weak and won.

I played aggressive and lost.

Up is down.

Black is white.

Dogs are making love to cats.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Patience, patience...

Early today, the cards were ok, but I got sucked out on a couple times. I think I ran into a bunch of Euro-fish that made bad calls and got lucky. But, I kept my composure, reminded myself that people like this pay off eventually, blah, blah, blah...

Got back on this evening, and the cards were ice cold for the first hour. I was basically breakeven, and only played 3-4 hands where I wasn't a big blind. Good for me.

Things turned a bit at the 1 hr mark. Caught KK UTG against an AK in MP with a couple extra callers and kept raising. A K on the flop and we started raising again, but MP didn't go for the re-raise. I later discovered he didn't expect the trips, but was concerned enough about 2 pr that he would lead out but not re-raise my raises. I was pretty obvious about it.

I later discovered he's probably a decent player, as he made a big laydown a few hands later. I caught 10-8 o in the SB and got pissed off at some dude that had been raising every time I was in the blind so I called just to keep him honest figuring it would be an easy hand to let go after the flop. The flop came 10-9-8, with 2 clubs. I was worried about the possiblity of flopped straights, less so about the flush draws, but decided to play it fast and see what happened. About 5 callers made it 3 bets to go. The turn came a 10, giving me the boat. I started ramming and jamming, with one guy folding and the MP from earlier going 3 bets with a flopped straight and then realizing that I play straight-up, he folds. And there was not a flush on the board.

Wow. Not sure I could've done that, unless I was holding the ignorant end of that straight. Guys handle at Pacific was "Rossback", and I'm going to remember he's capable of the big laydown. I complimented him sincerely afterward. I need to be capable of doing the same, even when it's not exactly obvious I should.

So, I had 2 callers cap me on the turn and river. Amazing. Wound up winning 38 BBs in an 80-minute session, most of it in a 15-minute span. I know Sklansky and Brunson and everyone else says to stay in the game when it's juicy, but I've found my performance degrades after 90 minutes or so. Fatigue, lack of focus, you know most of the usual suspects. I just need to work on it in the same way an athlete works at a sport. Build my endurance slowly, but consistently.

It doesn't look like anyone reads this blog, but I'm finding it therapeutic to write it all out so I'm going to keep at it. If anyone's out there, feel free to say hello. I especially want to hear from you folks that played your way up the limits, I find it inspiring to hear your stories.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Ohhhhh, so THAT’S what variance is!

Wow, what a hammering I took today!

I had the afternoon free, just me by myself for several hours. And I took it in the shorts. Started out at .10/.20, couldn’t get a damn card. Real cold. So, I move UP! Couldn’t get a card. Real cold. So, I moved UP again!. Hell, I even tried a few orbits in the rarefied air of $1/$2. Kept getting rivered.

All in all, I managed to drop 2/3 of my meager bankroll. So, I’m back where I started, back at $20. Going back to .10/.20. Now I understand the need for a big bankroll to withstand REAL variance. I see now how one can play solid poker, but when the cards don’t fall, they don’t fall. Starting hand charts don’t do you any good when you only get 5% of your hands being playable, and no support from the flops.

So, another lesson learned the hard way. I suppose this one of those lessons that NEEDS to be learned the hard way. Better I lose $40 now than $4000 a year or two from now.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

What goes up, must come down.

Ugh.

Gave it all back today. But, you already knew I would, didn’t you?

Did ok, early, and had a couple rallies, but wound up where I was 24 hrs ago. A nice run while it lasted.

Mrs. Big floored me today. This woman, who hates the fact that I play poker as a hobby, actually brought to my attention a charity celebrity tournament that is taking place next month! She said I could play as my birthday present. I’m thinking about it. Kinda pricey ($120 buy-in) for someone at my level, especially considering that my tournaments lately have sucked.

So, I’ve dropped back down to .25/.50, but honestly, I am not on top of my game right now. While at .50/1.00, I played the few solid starting hands I caught and drew to good pot odds, but the cards were running very cold. Since dropping back down, I’ve felt on tilt, playing marginal (for me) hands – KXs in EP, unsuited connectors in LP, that sort of thing.

I know, no big crime, but my starting hands standards are generally a little tighter.

I’m leaving on a short vacation to visit Auntie Big, taking Mrs. Big and the children, Lil’ She-Big and Lil’ Her-Big, so at least I’ll have a break and an opportunity to get a grip.

If I don’t, I’ll have to force myself back down to .10/.20 until this passes. I’ve worked too hard for my measly bankroll to see it all piss away.

PS: I ordered Theory of Poker through Inter-Library Loan. Big Slick Nuts' hometown library doesn't have much in the way of poker books, probably a holdover from the old days when this place was a solid, bible-belt kinda small-town (the sorta place where people did their drinking, gambling, and whoring when the pastor wasn't looking). This will be my first Sklansky book, Im hoping it isn't too complex for me.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Whew!

What an absolutely f***ed up day this was!

I start the day playing .25/.50, and just yo-yo up and down, working my ass off for every win. I could not get a freaking hand, just alot of marginal cards. Lots of folding that I didn't feel too bad about because I could see they wouldn't have been winners either. Wound up the day about breakeven.

Very frustrating. Felt very burnt-out, even though I didn't play many hours.

So, I did something very stupid and watched something wonderful happen.

I stepped up to .50/1.00

Watched my first two rag hands that I folded turn out to have been winners. Unbelievably, people were calling longshot draws with very little money at the table. I'm talking 4-6 people at the turn and 3-4 at the river. Almost no aggressiveness to push people off draws, and calls without regard to pot odds. Must've been a REALLY weak table, as I saw much better play at .25/.50. Naturally, I'm very interested to see if this phenomenon holds true in my next few sessions.

Anyway, I play my 4th hand, AdTd, raising in the big blind. Flop comes Kd-7d-X. I lead out, making it look like I have TPTK, perhaps even trip Ks. Turn is a blank. I lead out again. River is a blank. I lead out. Nobody raised along the way, I figured it was 50-50 they were on draws as well, surely a King would have attempted a raise? I was right, they all folded around to me.

I watch the next two rag hands that I fold come up winners again, including a big $20 pot. I told myself that whatever gods or programming gave me such cold cards at .25/.50 must've woekn up and dropped me a few hints. I get pocket 4s UTG and bet even when my tight-aggressive strategy would say fold small pairs in this position. MP raises. 5 callers, including me, playing a little more loose than I am comfortable with. Flop has 2 spades, but there is my little 4, sitting pretty. I decide to lead out rather than slow-play the set to put pressure on the draws, and create an image of an overpair. 4 callers, including the raiser. I put him on overcards, or he'd have raised, right? I'll never know, because it all became academic when a 4 drops on the turn, giving me quads. NOW I slow-play, hoping the flush and straight draws catch up. A big card comes on the river. I lead out and get 3 callers. I don't get to see their cards. Pot was $14+.

Wow. I've got to do more observing of the tables at this level. If I see alot of loose-passive play like this, I'll stay. Unbelievable.


Monday, November 08, 2004

Unfulfilled dreams (and flushes and straights and....)

Ahhhh, what a brutal night.

Played my usual, disciplined game up front with solid starting hands, never once deviating from my strategy.

Nothing would fall for me, though. Gave away too many bets on the turn and river. I felt like I played the flop well, folding when it didn't hit me, even when I was holding incredible overcards or decent pairs. But, even those hands I folded didn't go on to win, so I felt like I was making great lay-downs. However, if I stayed for the flop, that's when I started playing the wishing game. I checked and called, so kept the bleeding under control. No real damage done, still holding more money than I started this level with yesterday.

Just one of those days. I guess I have to recognize that this is going to happen from time to time, and as long as I'm coming away winners more than I'm coming away losers, I'm doing ok. It definitely highlighted a problem area for me. Even the only real winner ( a $13 pot, a "monster" for me) occurred because a perfect Jack fell on the river that gave me a Jacks full of Treys and filled an Ace-high flush and King-high flush for my opponents. Just another example of wishfull thinking, and the fact that it worked out so perfect probably contributed to my chasing.

Lesson learned.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Movin' on up...

Well, the bankroll popped up well past $50 and I had nearly nearly 1000 hands of .10/.20, so I decided to take a shot at .25/.50.

Yeah, I know, I'm supposed to have 300BBs, but like I sad a few days ago, I have no problem admitting if I make a mistake, and dropping back down.

Fortunately, the transition has been successful initially, albeit not without some culture shock. I was told that there is not much appreciable difference in skill level among the various micro levels. What I found today was ALOT more bluffing and semi-bluffing. ALOT. Along with more tight opponents. Whereas there was usually myself and 1 or 2 others playing tight at .10/.20, there were always 5 playing tight. Fortunately, the tightees were playing weak for the most part. The loosees (-ers?) ranged from aggressive to passive. I stuck to my starting hands chart. Didn't get very many good hands though, was only able to raise on 5% of the hands. But, the hands I played, I played well, winning 50% of my showdowns, with a couple won before showdown, good for 12BBs/100.

So, we'll see what this level brings. I plan to spend a lot more time here than the previous levels, perhaps play 2000-3000 hands. I really want to have 200BBs in my account when I hit the $.50/$1.00 tables.

Whaddya gonna do?

Well, the rush has calmed down a bit this weekend, but I’m still playing winning poker. Went on tilt, sort of, at one table after I let someone raise me off top pair and then saw that he had second pair.

@#$%&!!!!!!!!!

Know what I mean? Stupid, stupid….

Anyway, I know looking back that I did the right thing in letting go of the hand, as there were both straight and flush possibilities on the board. But, of course, I went right back at him and started calling down every hand against him.

Stupider, stupider…..

Luckily, I got a grip before I blew my wad and left the table. Took a deep breath, refreshed my non-alcoholic drink, and sat down at a new table. Resolved to get back on top of my game, and did.

I’m re-reading the Limit Hold ‘Em chapter of Super System right now. It makes a lot more sense to me now. If anyone else reads this, my recommendation is to sit down to play Limit with $20. Play until it’s gone (and it will be gone!), just to see the variety of ways it’s possible to get your ass kicked. Then read Jones’ Winning Low Limit Hold ‘Em. Then, play some more and notice how fewer hands you actually play, but also how you play them better. Then, check out Super System. Not so much because it’s better or different from Jones, but it will reinforce the concepts, especially coming from masters like Brunson and Baldwin.

If you try to understand Limit when your only Hold ‘Em context is the short-handed, no limit you see on WPT…

(… and he picks up a monster hand, A-9 offsuit – Wince Van Patten),

…you’ll wind up mighty confused. I recommend Jones first, just because my opinion is that he does a great job of presenting the concept of drawing odds vs. pot odds so clearly.

Yeah, I know, listen to the expert who has never won above .10/.20… ;-)

You mean, you didn’t know that anyone with a Blog is superior to you and you should do what they say?

Bow down to the Blogging Gods, wimps!

;-)

Thursday, November 04, 2004

King Fish!

Ya gotta love variance when it goes your way.

Just got done playing 90 minutes at Pacific. Won over $10 (52BBs!) at the $.10/$.20 tables. I played solid poker AND cards fell right for me today. Very few suck-outs. Honestly, I can't imagine what some of these people were thinking. If I was in the hand on the river, I always showed down the best hand.

I know, I know, they all think "Maybe THIS is the time he's bluffing!?!".

Ok, fine, be that way.

I had one lady (I shouldn't assume, but she had the word 'lady' in her handle) actually write back in the chat client, "It was worth $.50 to know".

?

She only came into the game with less than $5?!?! No way do I blow 10% of my stake looking for info.

Don't get me wrong, I love players like this, they sure do pay off.

That brings me to something - decorum towards bad players. People see these idots on TV berating bad players that got lucky, so they try to do the same thing in cardrooms and online casinos.

Temper, temper....

I laugh when I see a suckout (even when it's against me), and I always compliment the person with a "Nice hand...". I WANT them playing that hand again... and again... and again... Only I have to know that the rest of my sentence is "...dumbass!" I know I'll get it back, with interest, later.

Yeah, I'm feeling cocky after the last 2 days. Let me enjoy it while I can, ok?

I'm the King Fish!

PS: So why'd I leave the table? Well, they figured me out. I raise pre-flop with AQo UTG at a 10-person micro table, and they all folded. No sense sticking around if I'm not going to get any action.

Big Slick Nuts is gettin' a card-on!

Yesterday was a really good day. For some reason, I could never get on Pacific for more than 30 minutes at a time, sometimes as little as 15 minutes. But, I managed to pop over 22 BB/hr, hitting and running. I know, variance can sometimes be a good thing! Lots of calling stations, though. It seemed like there was always someone on a draw, and they always paid off the last bet to see what I had. And no matter how many times I showed down with the best hand, they kept coming. It was like they were thinking, "Ok, surely this time he's on a bluff!"

No way, not at the micros. Bluffs never work.

So, I enjoyed that while it lasted. I need to appreciate these good days because they are few and far between. My comeuppance comes today, I'm sure. Can't wait to see how many inside straights and backdoor flushes draw out on me.

So, another week or two of solid play and I'm hoping to move up a level. What level is that, you say? Well, I'm currently at $.10/$.20 (I TOLD you it was micro!). So, the next level is $.25/.50. When the bankroll is at $50, I'll take a stab at it. If I get plastered for 30BBs ($15) right off, I'll drop back down. It's only 100 BBs, but I want to evaluate the competition at that level. If it's too tough, I have no problem admitting to myself that I'm not ready and dropping back down before blowing my 'roll.

My rule of thumbs for these first two levels was fairly low. I just wanted to play at least 1000 hands profitably and have 100 BBs for the next level. For .25/.50, I think I will need to raise the bar before going to .50/1.00. Maybe 3000 hands, and 200 BBs.

You're probably thinking, "How does he know how many hands he plays?"

Well, it's really a conservative estimate. I would use PokerTracker, which counts it for you, but it won't work with Pacific. Since I prefer schooling with the other fishes right now, I forgo the better tools. So, most experts agree that online players see 50+ hands per hour, so I use 45 as my estimate and just multipy it by time.

I'm thinking about dusting off an old Penitum II PC I put in the closet last year and making it my poker-only PC. I figure the processing in the programs is fairly simple, so I'll give it a shot. After that, I'm thinking about multi-tabling. If that works out, then I'll go ahead to one of the Party-skin sites or PokerStars and spring for PokerTracker and get myself set up right. And, of course, keep swimming with the fishes at unmeasurable-Pacific to keep the variance manageable.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Winning Low Limit Hold 'em

What a great book.

I've read a couple poker books. Helmuth's Play Poker Like the Pro's was fine to learn the basics about tight play. But, honestly, it's just surface stuff, not much meat. Super System is a great book, but it's really more relevant to mid and high level games where there's more strategy, deception, bluffing, etc.

WLLH was great for me for several reasons. First, it presents the mathematical concepts of poker in an efficient format. It's very easy to understand, and most important, it is very relevant to low-limit, no fold 'em hold 'em like you see online at the micro tables. No sense bluffing, just get big cards and bet 'em. Only play drawing cards when you're in position and you're getting good pot odds.

I've found that when I put it on autopilot, I lose very little money, win alot of little pots, and one or two big pots. Everyone runs into a string of bad cards now and then, but I know I stick to my game so I don't worry too much. I play with a bankroll of about 100 BBs, which is turning out fine for the micro tables. I've never had to worry about getting close to the felt because the WLLH strategy is one that's about risk mitigation, and complete understanding of what each bet really means in the long run.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Volume I, Issue I

First, I must put the title of this blog into perspective: I am not a degenerate gambler, I just play one at the poker tables.

So, I thought I'd enter the world of blogging and see how it goes. Past attempts have failed.

I've played in a home game for many years, off and on. I was a good contributor, and the guys called me when they needed some ready cash. We played lots of crazy, wild card games. My favorite was Guts, mostly because it was only 3 cards so even I could tell when I had a decent hand. We played loser-matches-the-pot, so on some hands we had some monster pots (for us). I remember once winning about $60, then giving it back 3 hands later.

When the brother-in-law of one guy lost about $180 on one hand, nearly his whole paycheck as a laborer, we pretty much stopped playing it in that format. Of course, the winner didn't give it back and I don't blame him - ya takes yer chances, you know?

So, nowadays we play NL Hold 'em, mostly just $10 or $20 freezeouts. I'm trying to introduce Limit, but these guys like the action of NL. Hopefully, we can mix it up a bit in the future, learn to play the major games so we become better poker players all-around.

So, now I play online over at Pacific, mostly because I'm a fish and figure I'm safest schooling with the other fishes. I've been playing SNGs and learned to hate 'em. I'm working on my Limit game now, banging away at the Micro tables with decent results. I've committed to not moving up unless I can win a bankroll large enough to make the move. No adding deposits to my account, and definitely no premature acceleration (up the limits - haha, so funny I forgot to laugh).

So, I'll use this forum to document my feelings and impressions. I keep track of my results in a spreadsheet, and no, I won't share the specifics in public. But, I'll chat a bit about my game.

Enjoy!