Archive for the ‘what not to do’ Category

don’t try this at home

I had an interesting, overall profitable night yesterday. Here are a few notable hands…

This is the hand that sent me on tilt. I had been catching some great cards most of the evening. I checked my stats and I hit around 12 sets in a 90 min period. I couldn’t get paid off on the majority of them, though.

In all of my previous hands against this guy, he had always folded to my continuation bets. In this hand, the villain is in the big blind and I’m in the cut-off with QQ. It’s folded to me and I make a standard raise of four times the BB (.40). Everyone folds except the villain.

The flops looks harmless enough to me, although there are two clubs. The villain bets, I reraise the minimum, not wanting to scare him away. I’m surprised when he reraises me. I’m thinking that maybe he has a set so I just call. He bets again on the turn, I call. Then a King of clubs comes on the river and I have a bad feeling. He bets again, about two-thirds the pot and I call. He shows T6 of clubs and I am steamed that I gave him so much respect and let him draw out on me.

After that I am just determined that I am going to “get him.”

A few hands later I try a stone cold bluff. I even uncheck the box “Muck winning hands” so I can show him my cards when he folds.

And I lose my entire stack.

I’m really sick now because before the QQ hand I had been doing great (up $14 or 70 BB). Now I was down $10 at that table. I finally realized it was time to leave. I played a few more lackluster hands and finished the $0.05-$0.10 NL session after 664 hands with $7.57 won and 5.7 BB/100.

By this time it was getting late and the prudent thing to do would have been to call it a night but I was $15 shy of $300 total bankroll and, at one point in the evening, I had been over $300. I got it into my mind that I wanted to make up that money before I went to bed. Don’t worry, the story ends well.

Again, I did something I don’t recommend. I moved up to the $50 tables (and although I normally play two tables simultaneously, this time I played only one out of a sense of caution). After 45 minutes I had made $61 and 115 BB/100. I made most of that when I flopped a straight, improved to a flush and doubled up on a guy with AA.

My short-term results aren’t really that important. I want to focus on the behavior. Sometimes you can do the wrong thing and get favorable results. Like call a bet for your whole stack on a gut shot draw and win. But over time making bad decisions will most likely cost you. Recently, I’ve been pretty much playing within my bankroll, and I noticed that I was much more relaxed and I enjoyed the games more. I wasn’t stressed about every little hand that I won or lost. I was better able to look at the big picture.

The only time I really got upset was when I let ego slip in. When I let the game get personal. Usually one of two things happened to set me off. Either another player made some comment about me being a bad player or I became intent on beating a specific player or table.

In the past the biggest downswings I suffered were usually accompanied by me playing outside my bankroll, whether in cash games or tourneys. So, even though things turned out okay this time, I want to break the bad habit of trying to make up losses by moving up in stakes. This practice speaks to my lack of patience. It’s something I need to work on.

Just a little bit of honest self-appraisal, I hope.

P.S. Currently my bankroll is at $350. When I reach $400 I can prudently move up to $20NL.


maybe i do want to be a french fry!

Yesterday I suffered my biggest loss since I started keeping this blog. $21.39. That is actually good news and bad news. Knowing that I’ll be sharing my performance with you gentle readers helps to keep me somewhat in check. The truth is, I went on micro-tilt.

By the time I sat down to play I was tired and, at the same time, over-eager to play. I had been out of the house most of the day and when I did finally get home, I took some time to make dinner for the family. The thing that really put me in a poor frame of mind was that I reviewed the upcoming household bills. As a result, that night’s session took on a new seriousness. My game had to improve and it had to improve now. If titans01 could make $125 a day, damnit, so could I.

I decided that I would review an article (Preflop, Postflop Part I, Postflop Part II) by Renton from the Flop Turn River forum while I played. He claims to have made $12,000 playing small stakes NLHE over a period of four months. In a series of articles he shares his winning strategy. So I made a hard copy of the piece, pulled out pencil and highlighter, and steeled myself for the influx of profound poker knowledge I was about to receive.

With all of the above swarming in my mind, I fired up Pacific Poker. Back to the $10 NL tables. I had just over $30 in my account. Okay, this is do or die, I thought. I would read a sentence from the article and then try to put it into practice while I played.

This approach didn’t work well. After just a quick scan of the techniques suggested by Renton, I got the impression that the biggest change in my game would be playing with greater positional awareness. Fundamentally I would be playing more hands based on seat position and table dynamics. That sounds reasonable. The problem with what I was doing was that I was splitting my attention between the article and the table. I hadn’t even gotten through the first page of the strategy and I was missing most of the action on the table. So I was actually playing with less awareness rather than more.

So let’s think about this… More hands, more aggression, less awareness equals…? Hmmm…. anyone, anyone? That’s right, increasingly shorter stack. But I gotta get this bill money! One hundred twenty-five dollars in the next 30 minutes! Damn, beat again! Let me reload. What? That guy who has only played 22% of the hands is raising from under the gun, I’m in middle position, let me reraise him with KT suited. Awww, f@#%, he has a pair of queens!!

And it went on like that for a couple of hours.

I began to think, who am I kidding? What do you mean you want to be a serious poker player? Get over yourself. You are a joke. You better go back to the play money tables where you actually had a chance. Then I reminded myself that there is a right way to approach a goal, any goal, and there is a wrong way. And with the right guidance, the right attitude, the right approach, I can find success.

So, today, for starters, I’m going to finish reading that article. The entire article. Away from the poker table. And I’m gonna take some notes and try to digest it.

And, yeah, maybe I do want to be a serious poker player!

please observe the fasten seatbelt sign

Yesterday was one of those mildly frustrating days. One of those days when I’m just irritated with myself and my inability to avoid wild, negative swings in my bankroll.

I started off the day losing my last $10 over at I had originally signed up over there to get the 100% signup bonus plus savvy points at I got enough points for an iPod Shuffle at PokerSavvy (which is a really sweet deal) and I’m working on more points for the Nano now. However, I didn’t earn any bonus money at Mansion. I probably will have to see many more hands to get even close, considering the small stakes I play. By the way, Mansion has a pretty nice site; homegrown software, clean interface, user friendly. With a few improvements (currently there is no way to see the mucked hands of opponents who go to showdown and getting to the hand history page at all is rather painful) and more player traffic, this new site will move up on my list of favorites.

Next, I signed on at Party. I had $50 in my account over there. I promised myself right away that I would play conservatively and smart. Avoid big pots was my mantra. I signed up for a sit & go one table tournament ($11 buy-in). After a few rounds of play I realized that it was Limit Hold’em. At first I was pissed at my mistake but I got over it after I won the tourney. So that was a $39 profit. And I was feeling pretty good by now.

I tried another SNG, this time a two table tourney. I busted out early in 16th place. My hand selection was decent but I lost a lot chips early when I got over involved in a pot with pocket 77s and had to fold to an all in bet and a board heavy with overcards. Later I shoved preflop with a pair of jacks and lost to a flush.

Okay… From there I decided to try my hand at ring games. I usually look for a game with a high percentage of players seeing the flop but, unless I’m missing this vital information somewhere, PartyPoker doesn’t list that data in the lobby. So I settle for tables with larger average pot sizes. With my current bankroll, I play the lowest limit games. I found a decent $.10/$.25 No Limit game. After two hours I was up 28 bucks. Not bad, considering the stakes. After all, I had more than doubled my buy-in. In my poker diary, which is just a table I have set up in Excel tracking my results, in the notes section for this session I wrote: “Played with patience, fairly tight, didn’t try to buy pots.” For the next session during which I lost $50 later that night, I wrote: “Did the opposite of above.”

By this time I was pissed off and tired (I hadn’t slept well the night before). I should have just called it a night. Although I knew better, I felt driven to win some of my money back. I did, however, make something of a compromise with myself. I chose to play another $11 SNG, thereby limiting the money I might lose. Sleep overpowered me about 15 minutes into the tourney. Hitting my ace on the flop, I went all in with top pair, I think I had A8. I remember thinking, “F*** it.” That usually isn’t a sign of a good decision. Another player called me and he showed AJ.

I busted out and took my behind to bed.

asleep at the mouse

Last night I shouldn’t have even been playing. It was late, I was tired—I had literally been on the computer all day trying to get this blog set up to my liking, checking out countless other web logs for design and content. When I finally did sign on to Pacific Poker, I found myself nodding between hands, this close to bouncing my head off the keyboard.

In the 25 minutes I’d been at the table I’d played three hands: a pair of tens (which I ended up folding on the turn to a strong raise and a probable flush on the board), a pair of kings, and KJ off suit from the small blind. I was playing $.25/$.50 No Limit ($50 max) and I was down $13. In the last hand of the night for me, I picked up pocket sixes. I ended up getting into a preflop raising war with the big stack at the table. I thought he was trying to make a play at me, since he was on the button. So I pushed all in. Bad move. He called. Neither of us got help from the board. But he didn’t need help. He showed pocket kings.

I guess I need work on my reads.

When he reraised me the second time preflop, I should’ve known I was beat. But I suffered from the offspring of fatigue and frustration—poor judgment. I remember watching a David Sklansky video and one of the few reasons he gave for leaving a cash game was becoming too tired. He said that he didn’t believe in bad cards or the concept of quitting while you were ahead. But he did say if it became obvious that you were at a disadvantage, whether it was that you were being outplayed, emotionally upset, distracted, or just tired, then it was time for you to get up and leave.

The truth for me is that I should have never sat down last night.