Life Shouldn't Be A Fuckin' Grind

I will never be a poker pro, but my lifetime poker ledger is positive and I think that's something to be proud of.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A Great Session and Some Other Thoughts

Just got done 3-tabling on PartyPoker for almost 3 hours. In that time I made $91, which is 91 Big Bets or approximately 10 BB per table hour. Ridiculously good session, due partially to horrendous play by the other players at my tables and partially to me catching slightly better cards than usual. After adding it all up, that takes me to about 100 table hours playing $.50/$1 limit on PokerStars and Party and I'm up about 260 BB. Solid, but not great, I'm not really sure where exactly I should be though. The pro for the rest of the summer experiment has not gone particularly well. I simply don't have the bankroll to play high enough stakes at the cash games to withstand the inevitable swings and make enough and somehow my SnG and NL games seem to have gone to hell. Over the past 3 weeks or so I've only lost money at NL and SnG's. Still though, as I sit tonight I've withdrawn $205 from my bankroll since I started playing online in April and I currently have a total bankroll of around $330 or so. That means that I'm well ahead of my $100 initial deposit around 4 months ago. Over $400 at that.

Since I now have a job that I will be starting in a week's time I've decided to re-assess some of my poker goals. I've decided that when I no longer need to use poker money to help me live, which should be in about 3 weeks or so (I may just set a hard date of August 31). I'm going to put $100 into FullTilt to work mainly on my NL tourney and SnG games. I've heard FT has some of the best tourney and SnG formats and while Stars formats are similar I'm currently displeased with that site (more on that in a second). At the same time that I move the money into FullTilt I'm also going to leave myself with at least $100 on Party to restart the cash game grind. I plan to grind my way up the limits, moving up when I have no less than 200 BB and moving back down a level if I drop back down to 100 BB at any particular level. I know that this is outside of the suggested 300 BB bankroll, however I think it's a good compromise to help build up a bankroll in a fairly short time. My goal is to have at least $3000 by the beginning of next summer so that I can support myself playing poker if I need to. As for the tourney bankroll, I don't want to start using it until I've read both Harrington on Hold'em books. I think that $100 should be enough to start out by buying into $5 MTTs and multi-table SnG's. I believe that if I have a good enough understanding of HOH, coupled with my current game and knowledge I can build myself a solid tourney bankroll. I have no dollar amount in mind as to where I want my tourney bankroll to be by the end of the school year, but I basically want to be solidly in the black playing tourneys. If I can reach both of these goals, I can start working on some other games, such as Omaha and Stud during the next school year.

Finally, a couple of thoughts on PokerStars. I deposited $250 there almost 2 weeks ago because I'd heard their SnG's were beatable and well-structured and I'd just fallen into a rut where I couldn't seem to beat the Party SnG's. After losing at SnG's for a day or two, I tried the cash games, where I've made money at $0.50/$1 and lost at $1/$2. However, after cashing out $150 for bills at the end of last week and mostly losing this week, my current Stars bankroll is only $80, meaning that I've lost money playing at Stars. Now, I have a small sample size, but in comparison I seem to be crushing the PartyPoker games. Now, I think the play is probably worse at PartyPoker, but I've also seen some very strange hands on PokerStars. Couple that with the talk on internet message boards that there may be something not right about the Stars random number generator, I've determined that I don't really like the site and don't really want to play there anymore. Unfortunately, I sit tonight with about 1250 player points and 2000 will get me a free book, so I may keep my money on there and bite the bullet and try to earn the rest of the points I need, then jump ship. I'm still deciding on that one for now.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

What a Beat!

Well, I just had my best Freeroll finish ever and it still totally sucked. 1646 players started with only the top 30 places paying out and a top prize of $262. Pretty much hung around for over two hours gettting pretty cold cards. Managed to double up a couple of times, getting my money in with the best and not getting sucked out on. Got way down as the bubble approached, but managed to still a few blinds just to stay alive, then found KK in the SB and doubled up. From there I played great bubble poker. Raised when I had a hand and stole several blinds. Built my stack to around 32K, well below average, but in no danger of being blinded off anytime soon. Then this bullshit happened. The 31th player busted out and I got moved to a new table and looked down to find JJ in UTG+1. With the blinds at 2k-4k and a stack of about 32K I raised to 10K with the intention of calling if raised, hoping that I wasn't up against AA, KK, or QQ. Everybody folded to the BB who raised me all-in. I immediately called and he turned over 66, giving me a great chance to double up to an above averaged stack. The flop and the turn were all blanks, then you guessed it, a fucking 6 on the river and my night is done. 4+ hours of well played poker (I only once had my money in with the worst of it and then only as a 60-40 dog) and $12.50 to show for it. On top of that, I had a tough time at the cash tables while playing the tourney and managed to drop about 25 bucks, meaning that I actually lost money on the deal. What bothers me the most I think though is that had I won that hand, I believe that I would have at least been able to make the final table and maybe place well there. I would have had an above average stack a great chance. Maybe I didn't play the hand perfectly. Maybe I should have folded JJ to a re-raise, but I didn't think he had to have a hand that beat me to make that move. I dunno, I guess I'll never know what could have happened if I'd just folded the hand pre-flop and moved on, but I just think that play is way too tight. I guess the moral is that that's poker and this should probably give me confidence that I can make it deep into an MTT if I play well and win a few key hands. Oh Well, I guess I'll try another tournament again tomorrow.

Books to take me to the next level

In order to take the next step in Poker, books are a tremendous tool. For instance, without Sklanksy's Small Stakes Hold'em, I wouldn't be winning at online low-limit games. I believe that the following books can help me get to the next level in my quest to reach professional status one day.

Harrington on Hold'em Vols. I & II, by Dan Harrington: I need to get these books and study them in order to help myself become successful at NL, multi-table tournaments. From what I've read, harrington's books are a tremendous tool in understanding NL tournament strategy. I started out in poker playing small NL freezeouts and I feel that I've done quite well at them. I think I'm winning player, though I haven't kept records, so I can't confirm that. However, I've yet to beat a large MTT and I think these books can help me get to that next level.

Hold'em for Advanced Players, by David Sklansky: Having already read Sklansky's Small Stakes Hold'em, I know what an invaluable tool his books can be for aiding success at limit hold'em. As I move up in levels and the quality of play improves, the principles in SSHE will become less meaningful, therefore I believe I can only benefit from reading a book on more advanced topics and more advanced games.

Theory of Poker, by David Sklansky: I've looked at this book a couple of times and while I don't know that anything in it will be directly applicable to the games I'm playing or guide me in what hands to play and how to play them, I do think that it can enhance my overall understanding of the game, something that I will definitely benefit from in the long run.

Super System or Super System 2, Doyle Brunson: I will save this for when I start delving a little more into non-hold'em poker games. Something that I plan to wait awhile for. At least until I feel that I've mastered hold'em well enough that I'm ready to branch out more. Ideally I'd like to be very good at just about ever variation of poker, and while I don't think that any game can ever be fully mastered, I want to feel like I have an excellent grasp of limit and NL Hold'em before I move on to other games.

Caro's Book of Poker Tells, Mike Caro: I may buy this book at some point when I start playing a lot of live poker and feel that I'm ready to move from the cards, the math and betting structures, to trying to read the players directly. This is likely a ways off, probably a year or two. Though, I may want to pick it up before my next casino trip.

By writing down this list and writing a reason for why I want each book, I think I can help myself to remember what books I want to get and to solidify a reason for buying them. I think I will probably do this before buying any poker books in the future. If I know why I'm buying it before I get it, I won't just be wasting money on any and every poker book that looks like it may be helpful. I want to read and study this game, but I want to do it with the right books and an economy of time.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Going Pro...Well Sort Of

This week I made a decision that may either be one of the biggest mistakes of my life or the most freeing decision I've ever made. I decided to quit my job and start playing poker full-time. After consistently beating $10 Sit n Go's on PartyPoker I decided that with the win rate and return on investment that I had after over 150 tournaments I was making enough to cover my bills for the rest of the summer. Unfortunately, right after I made this decision (or right around the same time) I hit one of the biggest downswings of my poker life. I'd like to be able to say that there was no bad play involved in this downswing, but I can't. I've taken a lot of bad beats over the past couple of days, but I'm sure that I've also tilted off some of my money. One of the biggest problems though is that the $10 SnG's at PartyPoker seem to have changed. The games seem to have gotten way tighter of the last week or so and all of a sudden, the blinds go up so fast that way more gambling is necessary and I believe that it hurts the good player. So, after going from a bankroll of about $490 when I decided to quit (a very comfortable bankroll for $10 SnG's I thought), all the way down to about $320 (lost most in SnG's, but also played NL cash games to try to get my money back and probably lost another $50 or so there) I decided to try SnG's on another site. I've cashed $250 out of my PartyPoker account and will move it into another site as soon as it shows up in Netteller. Right now I'm leaning towards PokerStars, but I still want to do a little more research.

I also have some good news to report. After cashing the $250 out of PartyPoker I had $70 left, I then proceeded to lose another $10 playing $5+1 SnG's and cashing only once with a 3rd place finish. These games also seem to have gotten tighter, but I can't say I was playing well either. Then, after taking a break I finally broke thru with my first winning session in days. I spent almost 2 hours playing $0.5/$1 limit and won 15 bucks. I realize that that's huge for that long at that limit, so I'm fairly excited even though my account is only at $75 now and my net for the day is still a loss. That being said, I feel like I've got a good chance to make up ground once I start playing SnG's with a better structure on another site, and maybe I can continue playing and winning at limit, something I've never done in my life.

Wish me luck, in the next two weeks I will either support myself playing cards, or crash and burn and dig myself a financial hole that may be hard to get out of. Only time will tell now.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

An Introduction to the Cinci Kid

Since I've decided to become serious about Poker I think that having a blog to write about my experiences will come in handy and allow me to vent sometimes. I may learn a thing or two about my game and who knows, someone may even read some of it someday. I have two major thoughts for this first post, so without further ado, here they are:

The first thing I want to talk about is this blog's purpose and a couple of major goals. First a little about me. I started playing poker about 2 years ago and have really become hooked on Texas Hold'em. So far, I'm a winning No-Limit player, but have yet to master the intricacies of Limit. About 3 months ago, I deposited $100 into PartyPoker and proceeded to lose all but $6 playing Limit Hold'em to clear the $50 bonus. So, with my last $6 and the $50 bonus in hand I decided to stick to what I did best, NL Hold'em freezeouts and I started playing the $5+1 Sit'n'Go tournaments. I parlayed my $56 into about $350 within a couple of months and I'm now playing $10+1 SnG's with almost $500 currently in my roll. That $500 could be a lot more, since my $10+1 winnings total almost $500 in themselves, but I've pissed quite a bit away on Multi-Table Tournaments and $20 SnG tournaments.

Right now, I have a couple major goals and essentially a 2 year plan. I'm starting my second year of law school in the fall, so I have two years to go to school and play poker in my spare time. By the end of the first year of the 2 year plan, I plan to become a winning limit hold'em player, master the multi-table tournament, build a big enough bankroll to support myself next summer and qualify for the 2006 WSOP. By the end of year 2, my third year of law school, I plan to have mastered 7-card stud and Omaha, and be ready to support myself by playing poker if I can't find a job right away. Ultimately of course, I would like to become a full-time pro.

Now that I've described myself and my goals, I want to make this first post meaningful by impart some knowledge. I found out some valuable information this weekend, at the rather high cost of $92. As I mentioned, I've been consistently beating the $5 and $10 SnG's on PartyPoker for very good money. In fact, I currently am beating the $10 games for just over 40% in the money at almost 150 games. This is considered pro-level by and in fact, I'm on a run where I'm well over 50% for my last 50 or so $10 games. So, I decided this weekend to try moving up in levels and play the $20 SnG's. After playing 26 games and losing almost $100 I've decided that these games are simply unbeatable. At least for a long-term profit. The structure and play is such that the blinds start getting too high too soon. When you start with only 800 chips, it's necessary that several players eliminate themselves early so that the blinds don't go up too fast. At the $5 and $10 levels this happens and works, and the good players generally make it down to the money with a decent stack to play with. At the $20 level, the play is either too good, too conservative or a little of both, but by the time it gets down to 5-6 players, the blinds have gotten so high that the correct play is to go all-in whenever you have a good hand. At this point, one of three things happens. Either you have the best hand and it holds up, you have the worst hand and it sucks out (or loses), or you get sucked out on. Over the long term, if you get down late and consistently get your money in with the best hand, you'll probably make a little money or break even. But, these games cannot possibly be beaten at the same rate as the lower money games because of the way they are structured.

So, that's my wisdom for tonight, on PartyPoker, the $10 SnG's are easily the most profitable. At least until you reach a point where they give you more starting chips and it may even be the case then.