mama in the sky with diamonds

It’s been almost a month since I posted. Wow. Well, a lot has been going on in my life. I got another regular job, which is a big factor on my time and energy, but it’s good because it forces me to get out of the house and away from the computer.

The other major thing is that my mom passed away last month from resulting complications after suffering a stroke. She was a great lady, a good mother, and although she never really had any interest in poker, she played the cards life dealt her the best way she could. I learned a lot from my mom and I miss her so much. I pray that she has peace and comfort now. For anyone who cares, you can check out a clip of the video memorial I made for her here.

I took a little bit of a break from online poker after my mother’s death while preparing for her memorial service for about a week. Finally, I gradually eased back into playing. I’ve been doing pretty good recently, mainly playing on UltimateBet and the Prima network (I used to play on the Pacific Poker site but after its parent company, 888.com, decided to stop accepting U.S. players, I switched to Grand Bay Poker, and today I just moved my money over to Golden Riviera to get a $40 bonus, see details here. After I finish bonus whoring Prima, I will probably play at BetOnBet to get rakeback).

Just last week I made my first deposit at World Poker Exchange (WorldPX.com), the only rake-free online poker room. And folks, I’m here to say that it is the real deal. I got my first 100% rakeback payment yesterday (the rake is taken as normal and paid back into your poker account once a week). The traffic is still rather light but I am usually able to find one or two tables for the game I like to play, which is $10 to $50 6-max No Limit. And the games are fairly soft. I think the higher limit tables may have a bit more traffic, and you can always find a full ring game as well.

I’ve been getting a little bored with my game. I kinda feel like I’ve hit a plateau. I’m a slightly profitable player (over the past three months or so) and I probably would be even more so if I had more discipline to play according to the limited poker knowledge I already possess. But sometimes I do silly things, like get bored with tables that are playing tightly and end up losing a big chunk of chips due to poor, loose aggressive play. I still go on tilt. A lot. But even with all this I still manage to stay profitable.

I’ve decided to take my game to the next level. Most of the stuff that I know about poker is basic strategy and techniques. I know stuff like starting hands rankings, what hands to raise or call with. I know how to reraise with certain hands and how much to reraise. I know how to identify certain types of players… tight aggressive, loose passive, solid, weak, fish, etc. I know how to check-fold certain flops, and how to make continuation bets, I know how to count outs and calculate pot odds, stuff like that. I don’t think I have much of a grasp of the theory behind all that. And I don’t feel confident in how to extract the most money from players when I have the nuts or how to play a decent hand on a dangerous board.

When I first started playing I wanted to know just enough to survive a game and be able to play hands. Now I want to know how to crush games and why it is that I crush them. I want to evolve as a player and become a true student, maybe even a scholar, of the game.

So I made another trip to the bookstore. Previously, I had gone to the library and checked out Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth but it was hard to get into because the authors state in the introduction that the book is written with a focus on medium stakes Limit Hold’em. So, at the bookstore, I looked at Small Stakes Hold’em; Winning Big with Expert Play by Ed Miller, David Sklansky, and Mason Malmuth, but in its introduction it referred me to two other books if I was not familiar with certain, fundamental poker concepts. One was The Theory of Poker; the other was Getting Started in Hold’em by Ed Miller. Mr. Miller’s book seemed a bit more approachable after thumbing through it. So that’s the one I left with. When I finish it I will post a short review. All the books I just mentioned are published by Two Plus Two, which seems like the source when it comes to books on poker and gambling.

I have also started to make a list of goals for my poker life. Here’s a rough draft of what I have so far…

…I am a professional poker player

…I earn $2500 a month playing poker

…I earn $30000 a year playing poker

…My best game is 6-max No Limit

…I have a good understanding of poker theory

…I am a student of the game

…I am well read in the area of poker

…I study under a poker mentor, training and/or forum site

…I maintain balance between my poker play and other areas of my life

…I have mastered my emotions while playing poker

…I practice good bankroll management

One more noteworthy item. I recently played at a private poker club in my area. I had read about such clubs in Poker Nation: A High-Stakes, Low-Life Adventure into the Heart of a Gambling Country by Andy Bellin. Mr. Bellin wrote humorous tales of the underground clubs in New York City and the various characters that frequented them. So I had some idea of what to expect when I finally got inside one myself. Getting inside was the hard part, however. As in New York, playing poker for money in Georgia is technically illegal. So this particular club advertises itself as a “poker school” and hosts “freeroll” tournaments. I have passed this place often, driving by going to and from home.

The first time I walked in, I was abruptly ushered out. A guy informed me that on that particular night it was members only. After repeated calls, I was finally told to come on a Monday night, for the “freeroll.” So I went last Monday. The guy in charge, a large Black man, who I will call “Jack,” asked me who told me about the club. I told him that I just noticed it because I lived in the neighborhood. He sized me up for a few seconds and I guess finally decided that I was cool. “Okay, go talk to Willie, he’ll get you signed up for the tournament.” Willie told me that in order to play in the tournament I had to buy into the cash game that would start afterwards. It was a $1/$2 No Limit game. I was fine with that since the cash game was the real reason I was there anyway.

I ended up having a good time. I got there about 8:45 at night and didn’t leave until around two in the morning. After buying in with $100, I made a profit of about $50. I probably played ten hands the entire night. Many, but not all, of the players were incredibly bad. Extremely loose and aggressive. Countless all-ins and big pots. I felt like I was sitting at a craps table. There were a lot of players that clearly liked to gamble and play speculative hands. They made fun of me when I asked questions like, “How much is in the pot?” and “Who is still in the hand?” It seemed that they gave no consideration to concepts like pot odds, position, and good starting hands. With the right bankroll I could probably clean up.

The main thing that was discouraging was the 10% rake, which I guess is standard. Then on top of that, you are expected to tip the dealer. I probably left 20% of my winnings on the table. That’s a big difference from playing online. Also it’s more difficult to stay focused. I grew impatient with the slow play and only being able to see a fraction of the hands I would if online. If I play two tables on the internet, I’m gonna see between 120 to 200 hands an hour (that’s shorthanded). Playing live, with eight other players, I was lucky to see 15 – 20 hands an hour.

But I enjoyed the poker table banter and “Jack” turned out to be a crazy, funny brother. I liked the aspect of trying to read people and pick up on their body language. That is a facet which is non-existent online. So I will definitely go again, and next time I’ll take more cash.

poker fu, baby

 

Originally, to practice kung fu did not just mean to practice Chinese martial arts. Instead, it referred to the process of one’s training – the strengthening of the body and the mind, the learning and the perfection of one’s skills – rather than to what was being trained. It refers to excellence achieved through long practice in any endeavor. — From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Okay, let me say more than a few words here about Performance Poker and its creator, Anthony Okrongly (aok). This is how I found out about his strategy: Back in August I had a very small bankroll ($50) and I felt like I really needed to use it wisely because I probably wouldn’t be able to redeposit any time soon. I was trying to become a better, profitable ONLINE player. I felt that there was a difference between playing poker online and playing live games although I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I did realize that online games, especially the micro-limits at which I was playing, were much more loose and irrational than live play. So I wanted to find someone who was successful at ONLINE poker and who was willing to pretty much hold me by the hand and teach me. Especially since I was looking at my one last shot, at least for awhile.

So I posted on the Flop Turn River forum that I was looking for a “badass poker mentor.” It was aok who responded. He sent me an email. What he said really got me excited.

What times are you available to play or to watch me play? I normally [play] Wed and Thursday during the day and weekend nights plus some weeknights after 9.

I am a serious poker trainer. I have a system you need to read and a method I follow – so even if you aren’t watching me play I can still help you by reviewing all you hand histories. Not only do I train you, I guarantee your results as long as you follow my system.

“Guarantee my results”?! Well, hell, let’s do this! He had a little questionnaire he wanted me to answer that would give him a better idea of my poker background and experience. Then I went to his site and read the extensive introduction and explanation of the Performance Poker strategies. As I read a lot of bells started going off.

The main, striking difference in his approach to teaching poker than anything else I’ve come across is this: aok understands that the losing poker player, especially the losing ONLINE poker player is, above all other things, undisciplined. There are some written exercises aok asks you to do if you are serious about changing your play and your poker habits. On the surface they seem silly, but I understood the psychology of them and, in the end, found them to be instrumental to me developing a new approach.

At the time, I used to think that I played poker because I liked to win and because I wanted to win. But the reality was that I played poker because I liked the thrill, that pure adrenaline rush. I loved the way my heart jumped in my chest in the time between me clicking the ALL IN button and the deal of the river card. It wasn’t about winning. If it was about winning I would have quit a long time ago. I just told myself I wanted to win. As I learned from aok, winning poker can, at times, be pretty boring.

He told me to get Skype, which I did, and we set a time to get together so he could show me what he does. He called me up on Skype and I watched him play for about 45 minutes. On every hand he explained what he was doing and why. After watching him play live, combined with absorbing the information on his site and in the nifty Quick Start Sheet, I was ready to go.

Very simply, his system worked. It is designed to minimize losses (and bad beats) and maximize profits. It is in it’s essence a tight aggressive style. I call it Poker Fu because on many occasions, in a round of play, you end up using your opponent’s aggression against him. Or, when the other player throws bets at you like punches, you just step out of the way. It’s the way of least resistance in that you don’t try to make people fold. In fact, an important part of the strategy is keeping other players in the hand and extending the betting when you have the best of it.

The biggest struggle I had was sticking to the system. Often when I got away from strictly following the program, I lost money. But when I followed directions, I always ended my poker session with a profit. I still use this system when I play full ring games although I prefer 6 Max NL Hold’em (that’s the adrenaline junkie in me!). aok has written a piece on how to beat that game, too. This may sound obvious but I don’t think it really is… The single most important thing I learned from aok is how to fold my hand. And it is that idea that helps me stay profitable no matter what variation of poker I play.

The bottom-line is this: Since l started using the Performance Poker principles about a month and a half ago, I’ve made withdrawals from my poker accounts for a total of around $140. That’s almost three times my starting bankroll. I’m still going and I haven’t had to make anymore out-of-pocket deposits.

in your face, senator frist!

By now most of you online players should have heard something about the new illegal online gambling law. According to CardPlayer.com, “On the last Friday in September, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist worked into the night to get the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) attached” to a port security bill. And you may or may not know that it was signed into law by President Bush on Friday. (Read more here.) PocketFives.com had a great podcast on October 5th discussing the act and its ramifications. And if you are really interested you can read a detailed analysis of the act by Nelson Rose, a law professor, here.

If you don’t know what the UIGEA is or does, here is the most succinct yet thorough explanation I’ve found from CardPlayer.com [full article]:

H.R. 4411
After almost four hours of debate, the bill passed by a vote of 317-93. In a nutshell, here’s the meat of the statute and the predictable problems associated with each section of the bill.

Online gaming sites are prohibited from accepting payment from a U.S. financial institution.
Since all online sites are outside of the U.S., our government has no jurisdiction to enforce this part of the law. Simply stated, the U.S. cannot make laws or enforce laws regarding business outside the U.S.

Financial institutions are forbidden from delivering funds to online gaming sites. However, most banks and credit card companies already refuse to send money to offshore sites. Therefore, offshore third-party companies have already been set in motion to handle U.S. financial transactions.

The amended 1961 Wire Act modernizes its language by including the Internet and prohibiting games “predominantly subject to chance.” This will be the start of expensive and time-consuming litigation regarding whether poker is predominantly a game of skill or chance.

A burden is placed upon Internet service providers and other technology providers to block access to online gambling sites when requested to do so by a law enforcement agency. This will prove to be an unenforceable nightmare for all involved.

The bill directs the Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to issue regulations outlining policies and procedures that could be used by financial institutions to identify and block gambling-related transactions that are transmitted through their payment systems. If the bill ever becomes law, these entities have 270 days to write such procedures. The implementation is mind-boggling.

The bill contains carve-outs for such things as lotteries, horse racing, and the stock market. Every opponent of the bill criticizes it because while it attempts to legislate morality, it prohibits only certain forms of gambling while allowing others.

As a matter of fact, although the proponents of the bill say that online gaming is destroying the moral fiber of society, the bill allows a state to house an online gaming site for its citizens.

Before this bill actually passed in the House of Representatives, I wasn’t that concerned. I had read a few things about it online and most informed opinions were that it was highly unlikely that such a bill would make it through both bodies of Congress. So I did nothing.

I just kept on clicking bet, raise or fold.

Now the unexpected has happened. Although considerably weaker than its original form, an unlawful internet gambling bill has passed. And we still don’t know the total fallout of this new piece of legislation. So while some of you guys keep talking about odds to call and bad beats, it’s possible that eventually we may all suffer that baddest beat of all: finding most, if not all, online poker sites closed to U.S. players. This thing is not over. In fact, Harrah’s recently announced that it will no longer accept registrations from online sites for its World Series of Poker. What, now I can’t satellite my way into the WSOP?

Party Poker, Titan Poker, and Pacific Poker are three major rooms that have recently closed shop to U.S. players. Also, Firepay issued a statement last week saying “…US account holders can no longer use FirePay for online gambling payments…”

While I do think there is much cause for alarm, there are still many places for U.S. players to play online. FlopTurnRiver.com has a fairly extensive list.

 

When the Nazis came for the communists,

I remained silent;

I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,

I remained silent;

I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,

I did not speak out;

I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for me,

there was no one left to speak out.

Martin Niemöller

But here’s what I’m getting at… In all honesty, before today, I didn’t even know the names of my Congressional representatives. I’m not as involved and informed in civic matters as I should be. But I know who speaks for me in Congress now. And today I sent the appropriate members of the House of Representatives and Senate emails asking them to amend the UIGEA. It took me about five minutes. And if you want to keep your right to play poker online I encourage you to do the same. The Poker Players Alliance makes it easy to drop a line from their site. I have also been staying up on the lastest related news by checking the National Right for Online Gaming web page.

So it’s on us to get up, get involved and do something. Together we can say, “In your face, Senator Frist!”

i think we should see other people

There are a few things going on in my life currently, that are forcing me to put poker in perspective. Family concerns and responsibilities, financial issues, relationship demands, personal aspirations, etc. And I guess, in the final analysis, I am reminded that poker is a game, a diversion, an amusement. And online poker is almost less than that.

If I was to imagine a visitor from another planet watching me while I played poker on my computer, what exactly would he witness? He would see a person sitting in front of an electronic device, looking at a glowing screen with colored pixels, blips and shapes. He would see a person punching keys and manipulating some sort of pointing tool. And if he was watching me, he would probably see me shake my fist at the screen and make loud, angry utterances with notable frequency.

What I’m saying is that online poker, really online or digital anything, lacks a certain realness… that it isn’t real. By definition, when you work with computers, you are working within a manmade construct, a synthetic reality. That in itself isn’t bad. I just have to remember that computers and the internet and online poker should be seen and used as tools. And a tool is something I use to accomplish something. It is something I control. It is not something to which I should become enslaved. It is not something which should control me. And, most importantly, it is not something which should cloud my perception of reality.

I know that I normally write about what site I played last or how much money I won or lost, but other ideas are on my mind right now. I think for a while, I was really dazzled by online poker, specifically. By all the information, the opportunities to play, the various ways to win (or lose), the software one could find to improve his play, the strategies, and on and on and on. On any given day, I often would be multi-tabling, browsing a poker website, listening to a poker podcast, and checking the live statistics on my poker analysis software, all at the same time. Now, please, don’t misunderstand me, information is power and many of these things I just mentioned are useful, and I have found them personally useful. However, more than anything, one must have balance. At the end of the day, at least for me and considering the level at which I was playing, a hand of poker and its outcome just wasn’t that important. Whether I lost 50 bucks or won $1000, the manner in which I pursued poker just wasn’t worth the cost.

Today I have the beginning glimmers of balance. I’m not speaking strictly of time management. I’m talking about an attitude; I’m talking about a position and a perspective. So now, the time that I do play, I am more focused. I enjoy myself more, and I don’t feel guilty or feel like I am neglecting some other aspect of my life. And I don’t feel a compulsion to play. This may sound weird, but there were days when I would fall asleep after losing a battle to stay awake in front of the computer only to rush right back to my laptop the next morning before I had even wiped the crust out of my eyes.

Today I have enough discipline to at least splash some water on my face before I start splashing the digital pot.

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.

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.

you unlucky bodog, you!

My account balance is anything but golden.

 

Where I come from, there’s a saying, “Can’t win for losing.” That was me all day today. I think this is my first official bad beat post. Here are the “highlights” from various freeroll tournaments I played today. Read on and enjoy…

Pacific Poker $50 Freeroll

I got low on chips rather early, down to 650 with blinds at 50/100, but tripled up when i hit a set of tens.

With the blinds at 75/150, everyone folded around to me in the small blind. Pushing my remaining 1760 chips all in, I tried to steal the blinds with 96, the big blind called me with KJ, but I sucked out, hitting runner runner to make a queen high straight and doubled up (3520).

But karma came back to do me in. With blinds at 150/300, I picked up AJ in the cut off position. Again, everyone folded around to me. I raised three times the big blind to 900. The button and small blind folded. The big blind called. The flop came 8 of diamonds, ace of clubs, 6 of diamonds, giving me top pair with a very nice kicker and I had position. The big blind bet 600. I pushed all in with 1630. BB had me covered with 3858 remaining in his stack and he made the call. He showed 98 suited spades, and I was thinking, I’m good to go. The turn was the queen of spades. Still good. But the river was the 9 of clubs, giving Mr. Big Blind two pair. And I was outta there. I finished 611th out of 2466

CelebPoker $250 Qualifier

I was pretty much card dead the entire way. I played two hands. I limped with a pair of sevens around the third level but ran into a flop of overcards followed by a raise and a call before me. So I had to fold. When I had about 3 big blinds left I tried my luck with A7. I wasn’t very hopeful though when three other players called my all in bet. I busted out on that hand and finished 79th out of 160.

I busted out of a Cake Poker freeroll on the first hand I played, QQ, when I called a big stack’s all in bet, and was followed by about three other callers. I was good all the way until the river. Then an ace fell and that give the big stack a pair of aces with a queen kicker.

bodog $1000 Guaranteed

While waiting for a freeroll at bodog.com, I lost the last few dollars I had in my account over there. I was playing the $10 NL tables. I had about $2.60 left. I went all in with pocket kings, a guy called me with A4, I thought I might actually have a chance to double up. But, my run of bad luck continued with him catching an ace on the turn.

I also played in the bodog $1000 Guaranteed tourney, which is a freeroll with rebuys and addons. I made it to the 5th level, got crippled when I went all in with AK and missed. I busted out a couple hands later when my pocket jacks got cracked by a guy who called with A9 and made a set of nines with the board.

But in the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all… tomorrow is another day.”