Archive for September, 2006|Monthly archive page

i wish i knew how to quit you

Wow, it’s been almost two weeks since I last posted. Well, kiddies, I’ve been in a very dark, scary, lonely place of late. I’d been sloshing around in the bowels of late night online poker. I made it out a few days ago, took a hot shower, and now I got that new car smell again.

By nature, I am probably an unbalanced person. To me, moderation is boring. I don’t have a built-in dimmer switch. I’m either all the way on or all the way off. I tend to live in the extremes. This personality trait doesn’t lend itself to success in poker, especially online poker. I suspect that winning poker is a game of patience, balance, well-considered choices, but I can’t say for sure because I have never experienced any considerable streak of winning.

I spent the past couple of weeks playing way too much poker and doing it in a wild-eyed, frenzied manner that only allowed for infrequent, hastily eaten meals and fitful, abbreviated snatches of sleep. I went from keeping detail records to no record keeping at all. I took a couple of big hits. Poker was no longer fun. I became obsessed with one idea. I gotta get my money back. Now, keep in mind that all of this is relative. We’re talking about a $50 bankroll here.

So, amazingly, I managed not to go broke. I started playing 6-max no limit at UltimateBet. I pretty much cleared my bonus there. Then I went over to Crazy Poker. They have a really easy bonus. I recommend that you sign up through RakeBrain.com. The bonus is better but you have to send an email to Crazy to get it. I had to play 200 raked hands, and I did this on the $.05/$.10 tables. Here’s something funny I just read in an email Crazy sent me.

[Poker Tips are merely a guideline. Crazy Poker cannot be held liable for any losses incurred. Players should adjust their strategy to the specific table they are playing on and adjust according to the players he is playing against.]

Ain’t that the f#$%@* truth? Yep, adjust or go broke. Anyway, as soon as I got my bonus from Crazy I left like a beggar who was just offered a job. I got pissed at their cashout policy. No, not cashing out from your poker account to your bank account or Neteller or something like that. Crazy has a strange policy regarding cashing out winnings from cash games or tournaments. The official line is that it may take up to 24 hours to see your winnings in your account. I spent several minutes on the phone with support making sure that I understood this correctly. I have played several sites and I’ve never come across such a policy.

I initially gave support a call because I had just finished second in a sit-n-go and I didn’t see my cash prize credited to my account. That’s when I learned of their policy. As it turned out, it actually took only about 30 minutes or so to see the money, but any delay was too long as far as I was concerned. I don’t have time for that kind of hassle. Maybe when my roll is a few thousand dollars, it won’t matter as much if I have to wait to get paid. But right now, when every dollar counts and considering the way I like to play back to back AND multi-table, there are too many other sites which don’t have such a crazy policy that I won’t tolerate it.

Currently I’m playing mainly on Pacific Poker. There are some rather soft micro NL games there. I went back specifically because my new poker mentor suggested it. I will go into more detail about that whole thing in my next post, but for more info check out his site.

That’s all I got. I’ve been away from the tables too long already.

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warning! danger, will robinson!

It’s almost one in the morning. My body is full of nervous energy. It’s funny how a day can start out one way and end on a totally different note. I’ve been playing poker for over 12 hours, with a few breaks in between.I was pretty close to going on tilt earlier in the day. No, let me stop lying, I did go on tilt. Thankfully it was mostly within the realm of tournaments, where you can only lose your buy-in, and two of the tourneys I played were freerolls. So even then, not much to worry about. According to my poker diary, I played 14 separate poker sessions today. Seven of those were tourneys, and the rest were cash games.

By the time I got to the freerolls I was on a losing streak. I had won one $5.50 SNG on UB but had lost all my profit in another SNG and cash game session. I was really irritated with myself because I was vaguely aware that I was probably at my stop loss point, which is around $10, or a fifth of my bankroll. This feeling was exacerbated by the fact that I was playing $.05/$.10 NL, which is really higher than what I’m supposed to be doing. I did have enough presence of mind to drop back down to $.01/$.02 NL after I was down $10.

I got upset over the freerolls because my odds of getting to the money, some meaningful money for me, were greatly increased by the nature of the tourneys. Both freerolls were for PokerSavvy members only, so the field was significantly reduced. The first one was a $1000 event on the Mansion site. The winner would get $275 and there were only 270 players total. That sure beats those $50 tourneys where you’re in a field of 3000 or more. I finished in 130th place.

The second event was sweeter still. You won’t believe this. This was a $250 freeroll on Pacific Poker. Only 32 players this time!! Winner gets around $100. I’m already counting my money. Are you with me on this? I end up busting out in 31st place. I raise 4xBB preflop with KK. One other caller. The flop comes Q9x. I bet the pot. He reraises me. I put him squarely on AQ, I don’t know why now. So I reraise. He reraises again and I push. Of course, he has Q9 and I’m outta there faster than I can say, F#@$ me!

So after that, I take a little break, which helps me big time. I discuss the finer points of potty training with my wife and watch my son model his new Spiderman big boy briefs. This helps to put everything into perspective.

Around eight o’clock I get back on UB. I lose another $5.50 SNG. Even though I’m already past my stop loss thingamajing, I tell myself I can spend another five bucks. [Damn, this feeling is strangely reminiscent of when I went on my $3000 spiral.] So I get into a cash game, the $10 table again, and right away I lose my $5 buy-in. Okay, just one more time, I tell myself. By this time I’ve built up a little rapport with some other players. I’m venting about how this day has sucked beyond all other days. How UB is the toughest, tightest site ever. And I’m getting a couple of “amen, brother”s. So I start feeling a little better.

And while I’m playing I start surfing the net for poker strategy. I end up at the Pocket Five’s site. There is something about reading strategy and realizing that there is something I CAN CHANGE about my play that is comforting. I guess it gives me hope and helps me calm down.

So me and my new buddy from the cash game decide to play a $1.10 6 max SNG. I can’t explain it, but it was like I just all of a sudden got better. I started winning at the SNG AND at the same time, I started winning at the cash table, too. By the time I finished the SNG in second place, I was up like $10 in the cash game. Then I played another hour and a half or so, and made another ten bucks.

Thinking about what I did differently, this is what I came up with… I personally think UltimateBet is a different kind of site. The players don’t suck as bad as some of the other mainstream sites. Or, at least, they are not as wild and loose. In fact, the UB micro-limit tables are the tightest I’ve run into. I was used to doubling or tripling up with my premium hands on other sites. I could raise big preflop and get called. On UB, most times I raised four or five times the big blind everybody folded. Eventually I just got frustrated, started playing more hands, still raising big, and someone would just call me with AA or KK. Or I would call a big raise and be dominated.

I realized that I had to switch gears. I went back to playing fairly tight but went into what I call “Gavin Smith” mode. I heard him say in one interview that he likes to play small pot poker and he likes to play after the flop. That’s what I started doing. I started raising only two or three times the BB, and mainly from good position. I got more callers, but they were still scary. I consistently put in a continuation bet on the flop, and I won probably 70% of my hands at that point. I almost totally stopped flat calling. I either raised or folded. My results were amazing. And I went to showdown with really strong hands enough times (two pair or better) to maintain a good table image. I didn’t get crazy, I just played good solid, positionally aware poker.

So, now, I’m up overall, 23 dollars, for a total bankroll of $73. I’m making progress. But I gotta watch those emotional swings, man. Those can be fatal to a bankroll.

supersize me

It’s 8 o’clock in the morning and I’m tired. Last night I was too tired to play any poker after I had made dinner, bathed my young son and put him to bed. I tried but when I signed on to UltimateBet and sat in at a table, sleep came down on me like a sudden downpour in the summertime. There was no refusing. No escape.

Still I was determined to get my playing time. My son woke around 1 a.m. I changed his diaper and got him back to sleep. Then I was able to rouse myself enough to try some cards again. I knew that I was still drowsy so I wanted something that was going to me worth my time and with enough action to get me awake. Even though it was totally outside of my plan to play well within my bankroll, which is around $50 now, I decided to try a couple of $.05/$.10 six-max tables. But instead of buying in for $10, I bought in for $5 at each table. I did okay. I ended up making about eight bucks.

The strategy I used was pretty simple. See I normally get in trouble at short-handed tables because I play more hands and often get caught with my pants down. This time I played more tightly but very aggressive. I played big hands as normal—AA, KK, QQ, AK. These were the hands with which I would raise, reraise, and call big raises. All the other pocket pairs went up in value. I played suited connectors more reluctantly. More often only in late position, and with at least two other callers. I also played Ax, Kx, and Qx suited more, but also with cautious aggression. For example I might open raise with Q8 suited from the button, continuation bet on the flop (about a third or half of the pot), and then just check it down if I got called and I missed making a big hand.

I found myself laying down many borderline hands, like top pair weak kicker and middle pair. I also made some big calls. A couple of times, another player would go all in and I made the call believing my hand was good. And it did indeed turn out to be.

Now, that my game is improving every so slightly, I can see that one of my biggest leaks was that I used to chase way too much. I used to bet big on draws and if I missed the flop completely I would stay in the hand anyway. Now I just get outta there instead of trying to buy the pot. At these micro-limits, I think that it’s highly unlikely that you can raise someone out of the pot. People will call you down with garbage and sometimes suck out on the river. Using the check down technique has saved me big money (in a manner of speaking).

I think I will keep flirting with the $10 NL 6-max game, using the half buy-in gambit. I’ll just see how I do. I don’t want to devastate my bankroll in one session. I just have a big problem being patient playing those $2 tables. I mean, if I play for an hour, only to make a dollar profit… that just pisses me off. Honestly. I feel like I should at least be able to buy a McDonald’s combo with my winnings if I do well at any given poker session. I mean, damn, can a brother get a sandwich with his payout?!

get yo’ geek on

This is gonna be a quick post. I’m shooting for more immediacy in my blog entries, so here goes.


Okay, first things first. I’m using a new browser called Flock, which is based on the Firefox engine. It’s funny because a couple of days ago I downloaded the new Microsoft IE 7 and I was all set to rave about that, but Flock so blows it out of the water. Without getting too much into it, because this blog is principally about poker, I’ll just say that Flock is really good for anybody who blogs (especially) and for those who use and pull information off of and onto the web. But to all my fellow bloggers reading this, do yourself a favor and check out Flock.

Just a couple other tech-related updates… I just moved my poker diary from boring, desktop Excel to The Hendon Mob’s My Poker Diary. I’m hoping that will help me track my poker progress better, and keep me disciplined. The main reason a diary is so important for me right now is that the main site I am playing on, UlimateBet, is not supported by my PokerOffice, which really kinda sucks. I’m hoping that will change some time in the near future.

I also found this really cool website, called Pokerhand.org, where you can post hand histories and then share the url with others. So I’ll be using that in this blog from now on. As you may have picked up on, I am a real techno geek, so if you know of some new, cool technology–especially related to poker–then by all means, share the info with me.

Okay, so I just now got eliminated from the UB 5pm $2000 Guaranteed NL Turbo tournament. I finished 92nd out of 465. I was playing a little too tight for a turbo tourney and I let the blinds sneak up on me. Here are a couple of highlights…

Here I hit a queen high straight with JT suited. That was probably the highpoint of the tourney for me.

And this is where I had basically run out of chips and had to make a move reeking of desperation.

I’ve haven’t really played any cash games today. To be honest I am a little discouraged at the prospect of trying to make something substantial out of $50 by playing the penny tables. My lack of patience betrays me. In the upcoming days and weeks, you will probably read more about me playing SNGs and tourneys than cash games. I’m open to suggestions, though. I will rely on the cash games to keep my bankroll in the black, however. (I just checked my stats on my poker diary and that last tourney buy-in put me at a $0.66 loss. That’s since I started at UB. Time to hit the tables!)

Oh, almost forgot, I finally won a $1 + $0.10 SNG this morning, after four failed attempts. I was beginning to question myself. I think I had to get used to the higher quality of play at UB. There are more than a few pretty good players down at the UB micro-limits. Time to go do battle again.

I’ll keep you posted.

you wanna bet?

There’s so much I want to write about but I don’t have much patience because I’m revved up to go get to the tables. I finally received my cashout from PokerKnights yesterday. I was all set to go get started at UltimateBet. I got my $50 and I’m following the advice of titans01 about how to build a bankroll. So the first thing I did was open a real money account with UB by going through Rakebrain.com. Now I’m set up to get about 28% rakeback when I play UB.

Well, I’m happy to report that on the first day of my “$50 Bankroll Challenge” I made a profit. It took me a minute to get used to the UB interface, you know, the usual things… getting familiar with all the controls, how to check, bet and fold; how to view hand history, etc. One of the things I absolutely love about UB’s software is their mini-view feature. You have the ability to switch from the regular, full-sized view of a card room to a compact, rectangular window. It’s much more functional than just shrinking down the window. I can fit three of these windows on my computer screen nicely. And that fits my playing style and current ability perfectly because three tables at once is about all I can handle.

Taking titans01’s advice, I am playing well within my bankroll. I’m sticking to the $2 NL tables ($.01/$.02). (Also, I think for me, at this level, a stop loss of five buy-ins is good. So this means if I lose $10 during a session I have to stop for the night or take a lengthy break.) I noticed that I was much more relaxed. I didn’t get upset if I lost a big pot or caught a bad beat. So there is something to this “psychology of poker” crap.

After I felt comfortable with the UB interface I opened up three tables and just tried to play patiently. I had also checked out the free poker videos titans01 suggested (jeez, enough about titans01 already!). In the video I watched another online player, iStrong, do his thing on the $25NL tables. The main thing he stressed was to keep your play simple and straightforward. Don’t do anything fancy. Play tight-aggressive, don’t give good pot odds to drawing hands, and get your chips in when you have good cards. It’s really simple actually. I think I had been making it way too complicated.

So I basically tried this straightforward strategy. I noticed that it took me about 15 minutes or so to find a groove each time I started a session. But once I got going, I did nicely. It’s kinda like hitting your rhythm when you’re out running or playing basketball. The other thing I did was I started describing my actions out loud like I was making a video for others. I know it sounds silly but doing this made me really think about what I was doing and why.

My net profit for the day was $6.86. And this includes the $2.20 deducted from playing two sit & gos in which I didn’t cash.

I can see now that this is gonna be a long haul requiring heaping amounts of patience and discipline.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll keep you posted.