Sunday, June 18, 2006


^what an acronym. "World Blogger Championship of Online Poker" as hosted by PokerStars.

One of these days I'm going to crush one of these freerolls.

The result: 90th of 2247. 54 received prizes. 3.5 hours of play that I can be happy with I suppose... gave no bad beats, and for the last hour or two played great short stack poker... just on this side of tight, but plenty pushy in the right spots. Lost with 33 in the SB, two limps to me, and I pushed. Got one caller with QJs, who flopped a Q on the all club flop... I had the only club for the flush draw, but couldn't draw out.

Also got plopped down two seats to the right of Stan of local PA poker fame for a bit. I even got to steal his BB from the button (w Q5o) when it was folded around to me, and witnessed his Aces getting cracked by a three-club flop and a flush draw that hit and helped propel some tard to an ipod nano. Ugly.

I really should make it a point to hit a few of these big multi's every month for a chance at a nice score... I always seem to finish what would be usually in the money... something like top 8-10% of the field.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dime/Quarter: 3 Months In

I keep saying it, just to bring anyone up to speed who stumbles in here: I've been working since last July to crack the shorthanded NLHE tables on PokerStars. I started with a pathetic $50 and .01/.02 (partly as a learning experience/challenge).

So after swinging wildly around dime/quarter (aka 25NL) for the last three months, my bankroll finally broke $750... halfway to the $1k mark and quarter/half. Some observations:

I previously clung tightly to the notion that moving up through these micro limits... the play just wasn't that different or better as you go. It's the same game, right? After observation and a good deal of thought on the subject, I have to say that there is certainly some truth to this, but not as much as perhaps you'd like to believe.

Here's the thing... overall, it seems to me that the player base is still quite capable of making donkey plays and small errors. I can't tell you how many times I've watched a player play solid tight/aggressive poker for two hours without any noticeable missteps or questionable plays, then blow half a stack or more on a surprisingly awful play. The key here is that it took him two hours to do it. At lesser limits/levels, more players definitely make more mistakes more often. ...yet another of those concepts that sound so blatantly obvious, but you don't really internalize and learn until you discover it for yourself.

So what this has meant for me, is a lot of growth as a player... really starting to hone in on small leaks, that previously didn't matter so much at lesser levels, because my opponents had even bigger leaks and more of them. At nickel/dime I could spend a lot of chips seeing flops with any reasonable hand (way down to "cute" hands like 45o), or chasing technically bad draws relying on implied odds: more often than not you could get paid off big, even when it was obvious that you hit. At dime/quarter... sure you can still get paid off, and stack a donk now and again who's just playing terrible, but overall, the play of opponents is markedly better. The leaks that previously were overshadowed by bleeding opponents, now represent a significant chunk out of my earn rate.

The more I learn, the more I realize that winning poker is simply a matter of making fewer errors than your opponents, and when they're making less errors, you really need to start finding and fixing yours.

So I play better cards, from better positions. I don't call preflop raises without a fighting chance of having the best hand. I really don't give free cards anymore. I still hammer the hell out of weak limps with decent holdings, and follow through with half-pot continuation bets (a play that is way more effective at dime/quarter). I really think I make less "bad" bluffs, especially those "second barrel" turn bluffs that can be so costly.

Recently (realizing my earn rate at dime/quarter was hovering around my earn at nickel/dime), I started to really focus on getting the hourly rate up. I realized that those few dollars here and there pissed away was what was killing me... not the bad beats (although I did have a horrible couple of weeks here and there). So I tend to play shorter, more intensely focused sessions... even if that means taking half hour breaks. I find myself sitting down and saying "ok, one hour... let the cards come... wait for it." and quite often in these short sessions it's remarkably easy to net $10 or more without a single "big" hand or pot, which does wonders for the earn rate.