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.

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