Monday, January 31, 2005

Phase 3: Profit

Thanks to my recent discovery of (and un-ignorable success at) $25NL, I'm ecstatic to report that I've finally managed to claw my way into all-time positive territory, to the tune of 10 cents profit, for now so far. To some I'm sure this seems silly to celebrate, but I also know a lot of people who, like myself, went a ways in the hole before they finally started showing a profit playing poker. "Showing a profit", for me, also means that I'm now sitting on a comfortable bankroll of the better part of $1000. The few unavoidable valleys of variance on the graph aside, it's upwards from here.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Wired Aces

...and a whole lotta freakin cash for a $25NL table.

Yes, that's me with the rockets. Someone should have told me NL was this profitable earlier. In less than a week I went from hundreds down from my year end goal, to a mere $60 to go after tonight's blazing session. I don't even know what to say about this kind of success.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Maybe January Is The Month

After the $25NL success I reported on earlier today, and feeling good about the state of my bankroll for a change, I decided to tally everything up. I went back through my records of online deposits, and counted all the cash and coin in my man purse bank bag I use for poker. I hadn't counted it in months, though I know it has grown. Then I got a multi-table itch, and took 1st in a 2-table $10+1 for a very welcome $80.

Now as previously reported, I was close to breaking even last year before I went on a terrible run, and ever since I've been somewhat lacking in motivation to perform well: it's difficult to do so when the hole you're in is so deep. I've been learning... I've had a great time... I'm 3x the all-around poker player I was before last year... and it's not like I've been losing the mortgage payment. But still when you're hundreds down, then work hard to climb back to almost even, and then make poor choices which put you even further in the hole... there's not much immediate hope to play for. I know I can win long term. I'll eventually prove that.

But it turns out, after adding it all up (and a very positive last week), I'm only $184 down total since I made my first online buy-in last February. The goal for 2005 was simply to finish in all-time positive territory, and with less than $200 to go and 11 months to earn it in, this one's a slam dunk. SNGs are still my bread and butter game and I'll be sticking with the $10 ones until I'm well into the positive territory later this year, but with recent success, I'm going to keep carefully dabbling in $25NL a little here and there... there's some easy money out there.

And so, energized, having added it all up, I've started posting stats again over in the sidebar.

$25 NL 6 Max

Yeah, you heard me right, $25 No Limit... you know, the game I'm supposed to be avoiding. More on that in a bit, but first, a hand history:

Table Table 25413 (6 max) (Real Money) -- Seat 2 is the button
Total number of players : 5
Seat 2: GantosHolla ( $62.4)
Seat 3: ALIEBERMAN ( $27.25)
Seat 4: coolhandvade ( $17.5)
Seat 5: ME ( $58.06)
Seat 6: sling6575 ( $32.5)
ALIEBERMAN posts small blind (0.25)
coolhandvade posts big blind (0.5)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to ME [ 5h, 5s ]

Now this is the kind of hand that I feel very safe playing... I'm looking ideally for a 3rd five on the flop, and if I get it, I'm likely to win. If I don't get it, then there are only a few situations really where it will feel right to continue (like if every flop card is under a 5, giving me an overpair and wheel draws, or maybe if the board pairs and the other players actions feel right). Really though, the benefit of a hand like this, is that you're either going to make a lot of money, or be able to get away from it easily.

ME calls (0.5)
sling6575 folds.
GantosHolla raises (2) to 2
coolhandvade folds.

So I got raised to $2, and if I call, we'll be heads up. At this point, I can honestly say that I have been watching my raiser for a while, and he does a lot of pre-flop raising. I've seen him raise it to higher than $2 with decent pocket pairs, and as far as I can tell with the few hands I've seen his cards, a $2 raise usually means just about any ace, though I distinctly remember AQo and ATs. I know where I'm at, and exactly what I'm looking for here. Let's see the flop.

ME calls (1.5)
** Dealing Flop ** : [ Ad, 5c, Jc ]

I can't even imagine a much better flop than that. I've nailed a very deceptive set of fives, and I'm almost 100% positive that my opponent paired his ace, and maybe even his ace and a jack. The two clubs are a little scary, but at this point, I still feel safe checking to my opponent. If he checks behind me here, that'll give me an idea that maybe he totally missed his hand, has a jack and fears the ace, or is looking for a club or a broadway. If he has the ace, he'll likely bet.

ME checks.
GantosHolla bets (1)

A reasonable bet... he has what I know he has. Now, I can just call, and see what the turn brings, hopefully stringing this guy along for a beat at the end... or with top pair decent kicker (or even two pair), my opponent is probably going to call any reasonable raise here. Plus, on the (what I think is a) minor chance he is betting on a flush or straight draw, I need to push him out.

ME raises (3) to 3
GantosHolla raises (4) to 5

Well now my adrenaline is pumping. The first thing to go through my head (and rightly so) is "Could he have trip aces or trip jacks?". In a few seconds I run through the hand again, remembering his pre-flop raise, and that my instinct was an ace, maybe AJ for two pair, or maybe AK for TPTK. I know I'd probably raise with top two pair. Whatever he has, he raised pre-flop, got check raised on the flop, and STILL re-raised. My instincts are telling me two things: 1) I probably have him beat. and 2) This guy is in love with this hand. That led me to do this:

ME raises (53.06) to 56.06
ME is all-In.

GantosHolla calls (51.06)

Oh the humanity. Why doesn't Party show your cards when 2 people are all in again? I'd really like to know what he has ASAP.

** Dealing Turn ** : [ 5d ]

Nevermind! Whatever he had, it wasn't quads. I still think I had him beat from the start, so that case five is probably just some extra piss in his pudding.

** Dealing River ** : [ 3h ]
Creating Main Pot with $114.87 with ME
** Summary **
Main Pot: $114.87 | | Rake: $2
Board: [ Ad 5c Jc 5d 3h ]
GantosHolla balance $4.34, lost $58.06 [ Ah Kc ] [ two pairs, aces and fives -- Ah,Ad,Kc,5c,5d ]

Sometimes, I feel like I'm starting to understand this game.

ME balance $114.87, bet $58.06, collected $114.87, net +$56.81 [ 5h 5s ] [ four of a kind, fives -- Ad,5h,5s,5c,5d ]


So I've been playing $25NL 6 Max, recently, despite my promise to just stick with the safe SNGs and avoid the high variance. Up until this last week January had been a wild month for me... doing very well in the $10 SNGs, but losing those modest winnings back at both Limit and NL cash games. I also recieved a $50 tell-a-friend bonus, and pretty much lost that as well. But in the last week, I really feel like something has clicked in regards to $25NL, and not just because I've been winning at it. Just for the record, in my last 4 sessions, I profited $75, $85, $15, and $70. That's +$245 in about 5 hours: $49/hour, 98 BB/hour... almost doubling my Empire account in 4 days and taking January into the positive.

I think my current protective strategy for $25NL is the key to this. I tend to limp with anything playable (and a lot of hands are playable 6-handed, right?), occasionally raise pre-flop (to defend a big pocket pair), and play very tight on the flop, which I think is what really seperates the winners from the losers. Almost every table I sit at I can find at least one or two people who will chase just about any draw, and at almost any price.

As usual, the name of the game is patience. You just have to fold and fold and limp and fold until you flop something decent... and if you flop a monster, tend the pot and maximize it any way you can... if you don't have the nuts or near nuts, avoid any serious confrontations and keep pots small. Simple strategy, but very effective I should think.

There are definitely fish in the NL pool. Although I've had a wild ride playing $25NL, I think that experience has been very good, and a lot of the wildness of the ride was due to my wild play earlier this month. Experimenting... raising with draws... maximizing pots when I should have been minimizing or folding altogether... results being more important than performance... lots of mistakes. I'm don't plan on abandoning my SNG roots anytime soon (and with the success I had there this month, doing so would be stupid), but I'll be playing $25NL again soon, for sure, because I can't ignore the success I've had there either.

Any NL strategy posts, links, thoughts, opinions, or tips are more than welcome.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

So Stupid

January was supposed to be the month. The month where I buckled down, played a straight game, and worked the $10 SNGs where I've had success before, and that my bankroll can support. And don't get me wrong, I've done that to an extent, with a reasonable amount of ITM finishes, and a barely positive ROI.

But I've also been hitting the $25 No Limit tables, and to the tune of a net loss. Surely, my somewhat apathetic attitude of late to the SNG grind, and the excitement of $50 pots is largely the reason. I've done decent at $25 NL, but no surprise, the variance can be quite high I've found. I won't bore you and commit the poker blogger sin of elaborating on how two flopped nut straights were run down by two full houses for bad beats in large pots.

So tonight, after dropping an unhealthy sum of money at $25 NL, reducing the online portion of my total bankroll to "holy shit" proportions, and half on a tilt, I did perhaps the stupidest poker thing I've ever done. The worst sin. The big one.

I took the dwindling remnants of my account, and found the highest buy-in SNG I could afford: I went for broke. All (or most of) your eggs in one poker basket = bad.

Now, "broke" for me, ended up not being enough for a $100+9 SNG, so I settled on a $50+5. And for someone who's only ever played $5, $10, and $20's (and had a horrible run at the $20's), $50 land was an intimidating and stupid place to be.

I'll try and spare you most of the gory details of the tournament, because I know how disinteresting that can be to read sometimes.


So I sat down, and realized what I was doing and the error I was making. I was considering standing back up and hitting a $20 table, but unfortunately the table filled, and I was greeted with T1000 in chips. "Here we go, you dumbass" I thought, immediately trying to compose myself. "The damage is done. Try and play smart."

I limped and chased a few promising hands right off the bat, cursing my loose play so early, and found myself the short stack with just over T800 midway through level 1. Then in the BB, I found KT of spades, and called a small pre-flop raise. The flop came QQT, with just one spade, giving me queens and tens, with decent kicker, and a small chance at a backdoor flush. At this point the pre-flop raiser threw out a few hundred chips, any other stragglers folded, and I didn't like it one bit, but made the call. The turn was another spade, and my lone opponent pushed all-in, with exactly the same amount of chips that I had.

Now, perhaps I should have considered the call a little longer, but with such a small pre-flop raise, I wasn't putting this guy on a high pocket pair. The other options were: he could have a Q, he could have AT outkicking me, or he could have crap and be speeding and trying to bully. In hindsight, I should have obviously folded. I called the all-in, spiked the 5th spade on the river, and felt DAMN lucky to have not lost to his pocket Jacks.

The chip leader far and away now with T1940, I made some notes to myself to play slow and smart, never chase unless pot odds were well in favor, and to consider that I had 1/5 of the chips, and not to blow that.

At this point somewhere, a loose fool pushed all-in twice with garbage and managed to double up both times, rivaling me for the chip lead, then losing some of that back to other players, then giving me all the rest when I flopped TPTK with AJo, and Mr. Loose Fool couldn't get away from his pocket Sevens. Up to T3190 now, and beginning to feel pretty confident of making the money, though still fearing what must surely eventually be a tournament ending bad beat.

At the end of level 3, I flopped an open-ended straight draw, in which I only held the bottom card, and did well I think by getting away from it, even though the bets facing me were small. The turn hit the upper end of the straight for me, and I was glad that I was no longer in the hand actually. It didn't make it to showdown, but the chances of me being beat were quite good, and with a clear chip lead at this point, I think it was a smart play to get away from a hand like this.

Then, on the last hand of level 4 (down to just 5 players now), I got VERY lucky with KQo. The flop came Q82 rainbow, and my T150 bet was called slowly by a lone opponent. The turn was another 2, and feeling confident that my opponent didn't have a deuce, I made a strong T250 bet, liking my chances, and hoping to take the pot right here. I was raised another T250, I called, and the river was a beautiful Queen, giving me queens full of twos. I value bet T400 into the T1600 pot, was called and shown my opponent's pocket Eights which had had me beaten all the way until the river. Up to T4400 now, with closest stack at T2000.

Eventually, I moved up and down a bit, but ended up knocking out both the 4th and 3rd place finishers, taking me up to T7200 in level 7.

In the T400 big blind, I get just called, and I check with K9o to see a decent 876 flop. Having the dominating stack, and having outs with two overcards and an open-ended straight draw, I bet T400, get raised to T800, and I cautiously decide to call. The turn card is a King, giving me top pair, and I push all-in and am called. The river comes a blank, and my Kings beat my opponent's Eights for a glorious and stupid $250 win.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Several Short Posts In One

December Stats

Not much to say about December really... I essentially didn't lose or gain anything. Hey, it was an improvement from November though!

Month        ITM        ROI        

There's something logically meaningless, yet cathartic about the start of a new year. I'm hoping to regain that mental ingredient that I obviously had a few months ago, and put it to work. At this point I'm just hoping to string a few positive ROI months together. I feel as if I should set a goal for 2005, as it seemed to motivate me well back in Sept and Oct when I was doing so well. Considering I started this year in a decent-sized hole (meaning that I'm still down since I started playing online last year), I'm just going to stick with the modest goal of climbing out and finishing 2005 in the black. Seems easy enough.

New Years Eve Late Game

I'm happy to report that the New Years Eve gathering that I hosted went off about as well as I could have hoped. As you may know, I've got a decent short-handed group of regulars (5 or 6) that can usually be counted on to play at least 4-5 times a year at my place. (It's been more often than that recently though... let's hope that continues.) I had been hesitant to invite new players into our game for a variety of reasons, but finally broke down and invited some interested guys from work. 3 out of the 4 I asked came, and a regular couldn't come... which gave us a chance to get in two nice 7-player NLHE tourneys between 11:30 and about 4am.

The guys from work played impressively well... while I fared not so good, busting out when an opponent flopped a set to my TPTK in the first game, and getting beaten by the nut flush when I made the king-high. As I've said before, the wife plays solid NLHE, and she won the second tourney.

A Chip And A Chair

You know it happens. I know it happens. People do sometimes come back from being down to their final chips to win tournaments. And it's always fun to watch. Tonight in a SNG I got to witness a guy get crippled down to T15 by the player on his right, who was kinda being an asshole the whole tournament. You know the guy: the one who sucks out on someone and says "THANK YOU THANK YOU"... the one who gloats by typing "LATER" (all caps is cool, right?) everytime he knocks someone out... that was this guy. The poetry of this story is when Mr. T15 somehow manages to end up heads up with Mr. CAPSLOCK, beats him to win the tourney, and says: "LATER". Beautiful.

Not beautiful however was when the blinds were rising up around my ears, and I pushed with 77, only to lose to Mr. T15's pocket jacks. At least he put my chips to good use.

The Poker Table Project

I've been hard at work dreaming and putting together some plans for the custom poker table top which I mentioned in my last entry. After several sketches, a lot of measuring, and some CAD drawings, I think I've finally nailed the overall shape that I'm looking for. I'm looking to make something that fits well over my existing dining room table, can comfortably seat 8 (and accomodate up to 10 without feeling too crowded), and is unique/well-made enough to be impressive. A regular oval idea kind-of bores me, and a round/octagon design won't fit my room too well... so I'm planning more of a swollen rectangle approach. (Just think of a rectangle with each of its sides bulging out... which lengthens each side for a little more elbow room, and provides more subtle corners which someone could sit at if they had to.)

I won't bore you any more with the details, but when I finish getting my shop set up (finally) and get started on this monster, I may have to throw up a few pics and such.