Monday, December 12, 2005

Poker Doldrums

Not much to update. I am still struggling. I have found some good play at Poker Stars and I am still figuring out all the types of games they offer. They seem to have some interesting Sit N Go formats… from 180 people mini tournaments to 4 person SNG shootouts. I have tried two SNGs there. The first one was a 45 person SNG that I played well in. I thought I was going to money, maybe even win… but I went out 10th. 7 spots payed. Oops.

I also played in the 4 person shootout and took a bad beat exit in the first stage. 0 for 2 in the tournaments there, but not discouraged.

I only loaded $50 on the site and lost just over half of that in my 2 tournament tries. I am sad to admit that I lost the other half on limit hold ‘em. I would prefer to chalk this up to variance as my stats in PokerTracker are the best they have ever been. My VP$IP was around 15 (just under I think) and the other stats (aggression and showdown) looked great also. At one point, my Showdown win % was above 80. It has since come back down, but is still over 50. I was really trying to nut peddle and play position hard. I think the biggest problem I had was not getting the nuts to peddle (I went 73 hands before I had a pocket pair) and I played AK too aggressively. I had it 5 times and only won with it once. I don’t think I was getting too many cards. Down to my last 10, I fired up a NL table and got rid of it. Not my intention, but definitely the result. Should I embrace my inner fish?

To recap on my previous post about questioning myself and my game, I am a net loser for the year. I am a better player, but a losing player. This bothers and perplexes me as it seems paradoxical. Am I good fish? If I have improved, why am I now losing? If I was a loose aggressive luck box before, why am I not a tight aggressive luck box now? You know those times where there is a ridiculously hot seat in a ring game or single table SNG? The seat is playing just about any 2 and winning every race? You get KK and try to push them out the hand. They call and the flop comes with a straight draw possibility. You groan, know you are ahead, and jam hoping that they will fold or risk most of their stack on a gut shot. They call and river the magic bullet. We (blogger community) see it all the time and sometimes even get that seat. Not me, not lately. I am playing the game to the best of my instincts and knowledge, and still coming up short: battling with players that are playing way too many hands, yet are winning more showdowns than they lose. I guess that is what makes this game great; you can win with pure luck.

I have learned to accept this and tell myself, “In the long run, they will lose all of their money playing that way. Stay tight and keep working on your reads”. I have even seen empirical proof of this. Players I have tagged as fish on UB at the higher levels (2/4, 3/6) are invariably logged in playing at the play money tables within a week or two. I feel a small sense of satisfaction that their evil suckout strategy ways have caught up with them, but I am just a losing session or two away from joining them. Who is laughing now?

I have loaded two minimum transactions onto Party Poker and Poker Stars in the last three weeks. As of Thursday, I have nothing to show for them. The Party $55 buy in I dedicated to $10 SNGs. I placed second in one, lost the rest. The Poker Stars $50 buy in I decided to see what I could do in low limit (.50/1) HE and see what SNG’s they had. I liked the taste I had there and think that I may load some more money on there and dedicate it to low buy in SNGs and tourneys. Overall, I am feeling kind of turned off by poker. When I get free time and I am faced with the choice of poker/SOCOM3/going to the gym, lately, SOCOM 3 has been winning. I just feel like I have “more control” in that silly game and I do not have control on the virtual felt (at least not lately). Not self control, but control over my fate in general. I think a high finish in a MTT would be a great shot for the bankroll and the poker state of mind. I think I will be taking some cracks at these games. Jordan, Dnasty, Chipper, DoubleAs... most of the other blogs I read have all had at least one of these wins. GCox, do you have any big MTT finishes? I don't, but I plan to keep on trying.

On second thought, perhaps I would be best served by choosing the gym! We shall see about that…

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Some Geeky Holiday Gift Ideas

Some Geeky Holiday Gift Ideas

I already got the big Christmas gift from my wife (can’t use it yet, but I know what it is), but that does not keep me from perusing the e-stores. Here are some of the more interesting gifts I have seen.

1. A USB Powered Coffee Warmer

From, this little guy plugs into a USB port on your laptop and keeps your drinks warm while you are cracking Aces using the WiFi at your local Starbucks. As if… is a great site for all you other cubicle monkeys out there. Get your USB Dancing Santa or singing Christmas tree on. Get yours here.

2. A Water Powered Clock

This clock seems pretty cool, it generates its own power from water. It needs no batteries, no plugs, just a fluid with electrolytes (coffee, soda, beer) While GCox25 might think this contraption a waste of perfectly good and slightly dented Keystone Lite, I thought it was pretty neat. According to the site, “We've had ours running for weeks so far and the water levels have barely descended and we haven't had to refill it at all”. Cool. Check it out here.

3. A Keychain TV-Off Remote

I can think of some fun to be had with this one: Office meetings using the Videoconference equipment, Sports Bars during a pivotal moment in a Browns game, schools, in-laws during the holidays… the possibilities are limited only by your devious little brain. Let the tomfoolery begin!

4. A Modern Swiss Army Knife

It boggles my mind to think of what McGuyver could have accomplished with this little beauty. A knife, scissors, file… and 1 GB of storage? Don’t get me started. Want one?

5. A Duct Tape Wallet

Not sure why I thought of my brothers when I saw this, but I did. They are big fans and users of duct tape engineering techniques. Imagine the jealousy if only one of them was to pull this out and buy lunch for the other. Jared, get it before Stefan does.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Step Away from the Computer with your Hands in the Air

I have not played much poker lately and therefore have not been posting much any content at all.

I am in a waiting period.

First of all, I am waiting for my $150 of seed money to load back into Neteller. I refuse to give them my 8% or whatever they charge for “Insta-Cash”. I loaded it on payday last week, so it should be up there now.

Secondly, I need to reassess myself and my poker goals. I don’t really know what has been going on with me lately. I think that I want to play at levels beyond my bankroll and I fear that a certain sense of entitlement is plaguing me at the tables. Perhaps because I read about poker a lot (blogs, books, etc.) and I know how much more I know now compared to how much I knew when I started… I think that it should automatically make me a winning player. There is the rub. I know that I am a better player than I used to be, and I am a more knowledgeable and aware player, but it has not translated into a constantly winning player.

There are many reasons for this and I feel that I need to explore them and understand them better so I can get past them.

Here is a perfect example. I decided to dedicate my last $50 on PP to $10 SNGs two weekends ago. I am down to that measly $50 because of my previously posted self destruct on PP BJ. (On a side note, I wish I could uninstall that little icon because I am not sure I can always resist the temptation) Anyway, I was resisting the temptation successfully because I had a goal. I played very well in the first SNG and came in second. I was happy with my play and almost took first. This set the tone for me (I thought). I bubbled on the second SNG with a play that I would make again. Got it all in PF with QQ against a very loose player in the BB. Unfortunately, he had AA and neither hand improved. Oh well, in the long run a +EV play I think.

Then, it started going bad for me. I watch all these players playing so loosely and winning! I don’t know if that caused me to play more speculative hands or if the cards just missed me, but I would put some money in a pot with a good starting hand when I was in position and then have to abandon when the flop missed me completely or I was shown a lot of aggression. The very last SNG I played is a good example of what I think one of my problems consists of. Down to my last $10 SNG buy in, I knew I had to make it count. I folded for three orbits and then saw what I thought was an opportunity to steal. I was in LP (1 seat before the button) and it was folded to me. I had KQs (yes, I know, a temptress of a hand that will fail you in the long run) but I felt I had a few things going for me. I had not played a single pot yet. My image was very tight. I was in position. I decided to raise 4x the BB (25/50 at this point). My $200 bet was called by the BB. Not great because I was looking just to steal the blinds, but not panic yet because he just called. I can eliminate a few hands I think. The flop comes rainbow rags with an 8 high. I bet 2/3 pot quickly. I think that this is a good amount because it is probably what I would bet with AA or KK. It is enough to make a chaser think twice and not so much that it appears to be a bluff or a scared bet trying to protect AK. He calls. I do not like that. Unless I catch runner runner heart or a K and then a Q, I think that I am behind in this pot. Did he make a set? Is he slow playing Aces or a high pocket pair? I guess I will find out. The turn is another blank and not a heart. There is a straight draw out there now, but I don’t think that is what I am up against. I fire another bet and leave myself about $100 in chips. Maybe that is a sign of weakness, but I want to see what he will do. He calls again. I know I am beat, but curious why he did not re-raise me. The river is not a K or a Q and I check, ready to fold to any bet. Strangely, he checks too! He shows AQo and takes down the pot. I don’t respond in the chat, but that really pisses me off!! WTF? This is the guy I want to be playing with that will pay me off with my pocket pair and even my AK. The only outs he had on that board were As and Qs and he called ¾ of his stack. Horrible play by my standards, but he is the one with all my chips…. When I think about this hand critically I know that he could not have had a read on me. I had not played a single hand in the first 30 hands. If anything, my image was super tight. I don’t know how he could not have put me on a monster. In a weird way, I would have been happier if he had flipped AA or KK, or even 78 for a pair on the flop. It is beyond me why he did not fold. I guess I could have pushed all in on the turn or the river, but from my perspective that is –EV since my read is that I have run into a hand that has me beat and the other player was pot committed at that point. $135 more for a 1+K pot… ok.

So, can I avoid this situation? Obvious answer yes. Should I have tried for a steal there? I think yes, I would try it again in the future. I know that KQ is kind of a suckers hand, but in this case I think the conditions warranted playing it as I did. If I flipped positions with this guy, I see myself folding the unimproved AQ on the turn or putting me to the test with it…. But just calling to the river with it, I think that is the worst way to play it.

Looking at that situation, I really expected that other player to fold to my show of strength. Maybe he was too inexperienced? Multi Tabling and did not notice I was playing uber tight? I don’t know but I guess if I can figure it out, I will win more. What is the answer here?

Besides expecting other players to recognize what I am doing/projecting, I think I have an issue of playing games outside of my bankroll. I have never ventured above 5/10, and only dabbled there… but I think now that I need to focus much more on building a bankroll slowly. I know that I can play, and win, at higher levels, but 1 donkey move or crying call can really cripple my bankroll. I need to go back to the limit challenge bankroll and set limits for myself. I need to not worry that I just played poker for 2 hours and all I have to show for it is 5 bucks… I should instead look at it as I played for 2 hours and have +25 BB and I am making 12.5 BB an hour. Maybe that will help.

Lastly, as DoubleAs described it (I think it was him), I need to find my ATM. A game or level, or match up that I can consistently win. I may have found it with the UB HU SNG’s, but there is still too much volatility (and the temptation to play $50 or $100 matches!!) to play many of those at my current bankroll.

This is a rambling post, and I will probably go back to reread this later tonight and maybe reorganize it, but I am very open to all of your thoughts. From reading other blogs, I know that we all go through periods of self doubt, introspection, and bankroll flameouts. I guess it is the ones that try to learn from the cycles that benefit the most. I want to benefit.