Monday, October 31, 2005

State of the Poker

Like George W., I think I should periodically make a post that sums up the status of my endeavours, in this case, poker. Hopefully it will help me get out some of the many concepts floating around in my head to make room for something more useful (like FHL stats).

I'm going to start with tournaments first because, well, I've been doing better in them lately :)

Last week alone I came out over $500 ahead in tournaments -- pretty amazing considering I still feel like I'm not very good at tournament play. Basically, I consider myself still a bit too tight, especially near the money. At Darren's place Friday night (surrounded by LOTS of art) I really shut it down once we neared the bubble and let Rob O. control the table. The result was a solid money finish (chopping 2nd/3rd with Larry) but honestly I had the chiplead (or close to it) when we were 5-handed and by letting Rob O. go at it I let him have first place. This is pretty common in my tournament play and I need to decide:

  1. How much EV I give up.
  2. How to get more aggressive without making 'donkey' moves.
Looking back over the past month or two, I'm getting to the money pretty well (or to the bubble) but I have no first place finishes. That's usually a sign of tightening up too much, but how much should I loosen up?

Ring Games:
Hidden by my tournament success over the last week has been a pretty big slide in ring games. In fact, until yesterday, I had lost about $100 in ring games on the week, including a $60 loss at $25 NLHE and $15 donated to the Stanford players in kings and littles (I love it, I hate it, I love it, I hate it).

Eurobet has been generally kicking my ass and making it difficult to come out in the positive. Yes, the competition is quite good, and I've really been noticing holes in my 6-max NL game. Worse than that, I classically play worse near the end of a bonus, which is what I'm coming up on now (about 7 hours left by my count). I did move up to $50 6-max NL for a slightly better bonus clear rate, and won about a buy-in yesterday. Mainly, I need to keep identifying my leaks and plugging them, and this competition is a good way to do it. Honestly though, I could probably make a better hourly rate at Party or Stars without any bonuses...

Bankroll: ~$1,050
My bankroll is the healthiest it ever has been thanks to tournament wins last week -- in fact, I'm pretty secure in the fact that I've made my first grand at poker (since the figure I've designated as my bankroll does not include giving the $150 seed money back to my family and $200 of the Stars 3rd place money).

Near Goals (the next week or two):
  • Finish out whoring on Eurobet
  • Start polishing my limit game again on UB (taking advantage of bonuses and mini-view)
  • Acquire another reload bonus at Party or Euro
Medium Goals (the next month or two):
  • Get my bankroll solidly above $1,000 ($1,200 would be good, $1,500 would be great)
  • Focus on my LHE game a bit
  • Play my first tourney in a casino (need BR of $1,200 to feel comfortable dropping the $100)
Far Goals (over the next year):
Geesh. I haven't thought this far ahead, and I think this will be a topic of a future entry. What do I want to accomplish in poker? Be famous? Cool, but not really. Earn money to support my family? We are definitely seeing our savings decline, but I'm not sure this is realistic for me. Become a better poker player? Definitely. But how?

I've got to be honest, I feel really fortunate to be doing so well this past few months. Six months ago I had $150 in the bankroll and was dropping 1/5th of it every week at Brian's game. It was right around early June when I won a $20 tourney at Brian's and shifted from SnGs to NL ring games and since then I've had a number of hot streaks (and a few bad sessions). Furthermore, every single time I've had a horrible session I can trace it back to my play, not the cards. The moral is that success at low-stakes poker is determined more by your play than your luck.

But, I feel like I'm starting to plateau a bit in ring games. Once I get out of the soft $25 Party and Stars games, I'm finding that the other players make many fewer mistakes, and without that added profit my mistakes make the difference between profit and loss. I am starting to get a handle on it, but I've still been making some idiotic plays to donk away my profits.

Tournaments, on the other hand, still feel pretty soft to me. And I've been making fewer bonehead plays (but, losing a little aggression too) which is helping my results lately (along with loads of luck).

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