Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Folding Two Pair

With few highlights or lowlights tonight I bided my time at 3 .02/.04 tables and came away with a profit from each of them. I am bearing down at a rapid rate on milestone #2, so be prepared to break out the fairy bread and chicken nuggets for the celebration.

I'm still having some difficulty staying with a hand but, then again, anyone who doesn't fold the odd bluff is probably calling too many times. I folded two pair K's & 9's when faced with TKQ 9 and a raise from 1st position after the Turn followed by a call from middle position. I figured the chances were too great that a Jack was out there and I was probably beaten. Turned out it was taken down by a pair of Queens - raiser and caller both held A 7 - ya gotta love playing the micros...

Current Bankroll Position : +55.40%

The Value of Patience

What a weird night last night turned out for me, and also, compared to normal, a long night in which I played 183 hands.

I know I’ve said this before but it’s worth repeating if only to drum it into the centre of my own consciousness : it is vital to remain patient at the poker table.

I had an early loss at the first table I played where I was pretty much card dead for the duration. The result on me personally was that I was beginning to mutter and curse under my breath over the crap cards I was getting, the crap way others were playing and what I would do to them when I finally got a hand. I was literally beginning to steam (although it was a warm day in Sydney) and I started to play some pretty bad hands. I was lucky to pick up a big pot just before I had to leave the table which minimised my losses.

Having given myself a chance to cool down by sitting and watching an episode of The Office I came back more composed and settled. It was a good thing too because I pretty quickly began taking hit after hit and was watching my stack disappear. This time though I was able to remain patient knowing that something would eventually come my way.

When it did, though, it was a virtual donation in a hand that I should never have been allowed to make, let alone get paid off for.

Hole cards : A Ts – 4 of us see the flop and I’m on the button.
Flop : Q T J rainbow – one person bet the minimum so I called with my bottom pair and straight draw, so did the other two.
Turn : K – I’ve hit my straight but the same person bets it. I call and the other two run away.
River is a blank and my friend in early position makes a big bet at me. I figured they must also have an A so I raised it all-in for the hell of it. Well they call and then show 9 9!!! Thank you very much.

Feeling as though I’d just been kicked in the arse with a rainbow I took my winnings and scuttled off to bed.

Current Bankroll Position : +49.89%

Monday, October 29, 2007

Second Freeroll Tourney Payout

I picked up my second Freeroll payout last night making it to 38th and earning me the princely sum of 0.70. I know, I know, it’s a pittance, but on the other hand, the prize money represents around 3 days worth of what I need to earn to reach my short-term goal of $60.00, so in that respect it’s not bad at all. Perspective is a funny thing, no?

I may have progressed deeper if I hadn’t been so conscious of the payout bubble, around which I altered my playing style. Earlier I was prepared to push when I had to and was paid off as a result. I became too careful, releasing winning hands rather than accept the risk v reward ratio. Consequently I left myself short-stacked against the rapidly rising blinds. In this kind of speed tourney you have to continually push when you’ve got half a hand to keep building the chips and remain oblivious to the number of opponents that remain.

Still learning...still learning.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's the Little Things

Well, it's official...I'm starting to see obvious signs of improvement with one of my most pleasing plays so far.

#Game No : 6452606216
***** Hand History for Game 6452606216 *****
$5 USD NL Texas Hold'em - Sunday, October 28, 08:16:47 ET 2007
Table Table 127693 (Real Money)
Seat 5 is the button
Total number of players : 7
Seat 3: Luke_Pokain ( $1.15 USD )
Seat 4: the_caII_ing ( $5 USD )
Seat 5: HoldemJappie ( $5.34 USD )
Seat 6: aragon448 ( $5.19 USD )
Seat 8: LavenderB ( $3.23 USD )
Seat 10: g0ing_s0uth ( $2.67 USD )
Seat 7: pizerule ( $4 USD )
aragon448 posts small blind [$0.02 USD].
pizerule posts big blind [$0.04 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to pizerule [ Kd Th ]
LavenderB folds
g0ing_s0uth has left the table.
Luke_Pokain calls [$0.04 USD]
the_caII_ing folds
HoldemJappie calls [$0.04 USD]
aragon448 calls [$0.02 USD]
pizerule checks
** Dealing Flop ** [ Kc, Ts, Qs ]
aragon448 bets [$0.04 USD]
pizerule raises [$0.12 USD]
Luke_Pokain raises [$0.40 USD]
HoldemJappie calls [$0.40 USD]
aragon448 calls [$0.36 USD]
pizerule folds
** Dealing Turn ** [ 6s ]
aragon448 checks
Luke_Pokain is all-In [$0.71 USD]
HoldemJappie calls [$0.71 USD]
aragon448 folds
** Dealing River ** [ 6d ]
Luke_Pokain shows [ Jc, 9s ]a straight Nine to King.
HoldemJappie shows [ 8s, Kh ]two pairs, Kings and Sixes.
Luke_Pokain wins $2.76 USD from the main pot with a straight, Nine to King.

Now sure, I should have raised pre-flop instead of simply checking from the BB, but that aside, it wasn't all that long ago that, had I have flopped two pair, I would have held onto it 'til the bitter end. But when my raise was reraised followed by a couple of calls, I actually stopped and considered the board and where my hand may have stood. I actually put the raiser on A J or maybe 10 10.

I'm well on my way to getting myself promoted to the .05/.10 tables.

For the 2nd time I reached the money in a Freeroll, this time making it to 38th place. Add to that a couple of healthy wins at the .02/.04 and the day proved to be another profitable one. My goal still looks to be well within reach.

Current Bankroll Position : +47.42%

Friday, October 26, 2007

Milestone #1 Reached

It’s all happening at once.

It’s only taken around 3 days of playing in the nightly free-roll and I’ve scored a payout. Very exciting for this little black duck. 70th place and the added bonus of $0.45 to add to my slowly growing bankroll. (Stop drooling over my massive winnings, it’s quite unseemly).

But today is also party time because it marks the day that I have reached the first of my milestones. When I initially set out my short-term goals I also nominated a set of milestones that would be notable when I achieved them. The $40 mark is the first of those and I reached it today. The best thing about reaching this milestone is that I’ve done so around 3 weeks earlier than planned. I’m so far ahead of schedule it’s not funny.

Anyway, the focus is reset to milestone #2 and a bankroll of $50.

Current Bankroll Position : +36.62%

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Life With the Micros

Interesting night last night with one early sick beat by a typical micro-table chaser. Looking back, I sort of have myself to blame for leaving the door ajar in the first place but that doesn’t make up for the 2 crap calls after the flop.

Details of that hand are as follows:

Table Table 127738 (Real Money)
Seat 4 is the button
Total number of players : 6
Seat 5: pizerule ( $2.61 USD )
Seat 8: Prog3man ( $5.43 USD )
Seat 9: dunk246 ( $5.13 USD )
Seat 10: ove_allstar ( $4.87 USD )
Seat 2: Marbet111 ( $3.67 USD )
Seat 4: dawigga666 ( $5.47 USD )
pizerule posts small blind [$0.02 USD].
Prog3man posts big blind [$0.04 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to pizerule [ Qs Qd ]
dunk246 folds
ove_allstar folds
Marbet111 folds
dawigga666 raises [$0.08 USD]
pizerule calls [$0.06 USD]
Prog3man folds
** Dealing Flop ** [ 9d, 7d, 2d ]
pizerule bets [$0.20 USD]
dawigga666 calls [$0.20 USD]
** Dealing Turn ** [ Ks ]
pizerule bets [$0.20 USD]
dawigga666 calls [$0.20 USD]
** Dealing River ** [ Ts ]
pizerule bets [$0.24 USD]
dawigga666 calls [$0.24 USD]
pizerule shows [ Qs, Qd ]a pair of Queens.
dawigga666 shows [ Td, 2c ]two pairs, Tens and Twos.
dawigga666 wins $1.41 USD from the main pot with two pairs, Tens and Twos.

Just because Doyle Brunson one two WSOP’s with 10 2 doesn’t make it a good starting hand!!!

Lesson – bet out from the start, don’t allow these Any Two Card cowboys a cheap foot in the door.

It was all atoned for later in the night when I flopped quad 8's and was lucky enough to come up against someone who flopped a full-house. It's the kind of hand you hope for and could only have been sweeter if I had more money to pile into the pot.

Anyhow, the night ended with me making another healthy profit and putting another name into the book of people who will chase bottom pair all the way to the river.

Current Bankroll Position : +12.65%

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm Profitable Again!

I’ve made it back into the black with a big night tonight, taking a profit away from every table I sat down at. I was particularly pleased with myself at the last table I played at for the night. One cat was playing a super aggressive style, raising on every hand he played, often significantly over-betting in order to take down a tiny pot.

I bided my time, folding in the face of his raise time and again until I finally picked up J J. The flop gave me a set and he predictably raised all-in. My chance had arrived and I had no hesitation in calling. Needless to say I took down the pot with my set too good for his pair of Jacks. Needless to say his name has been recorded in my daily log for future reference.


As well as the regular .02/.04 ring games I have also decided to get myself some tournament experience by playing in the nightly Freeroll whenever I can. Living in Australia means that the opportunities for freerolls are few and far between, but 1 a night will hopefully prove sufficient. Even though I cautioned myself to tread warily this evening, knowing the craziness that goes on in the first few hands of these things, I still only lasted 14 hands in my first attempt and was out in 293rd place.

Current Bankroll Position : +8.76%

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Head Down, Bum Up

It’s been head down, bum up for the last 3 nights as I have knuckled down to grind my way back towards break even. The news has been mostly good, too, with 3 winning nights in a row being the result of my efforts. From the hole of being over 14% behind, I have dragged my sorry micro-tabling hide back to only 3.63% down.

Along the way I have fought my way back from some low chip stacks to eventually leave tables with a profit, albeit small. My attitude remains that I am going to be happy with small profits because they beat the shit out of a loss every day of the week.

And the learning continues. Knowing when to be aggressive is a powerful tool and it is a part of my game that I’m finding difficult to acquire but is paying handsome dividends when I get it right.

I’m looking forward to putting my bankroll back in the black in the next day or so and then I can begin working on that expected daily profit that I initially announced.

Current Bankroll Position : -3.63%

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reality Bites

Reality hits with swift brutality and, this early into my brave new bid to become profitable, has gravely dented the confidence I need to achieve my goals.

Three times out of 5 tables I went broke for a combined loss of $9.00 which was only offset by $2.64 profit from the other 2 tables. That left me with a $6.36 loss for the day. It’s day 2 and things aren’t looking nearly as rosy as they were 24 hours ago.

Fortunately my mindset has been prepared for this kind of eventuality and, while I’m not thrilled about it, I am able to take one or two things from the experience that I believe will make me a better player.

What Did I Learn?

Too many times I continued with my hand believing that whenever someone raised my bet they were attempting to steal the pot, so I called. It cost me enough pots to learn that people will chase a flush all the way to the river and then jam the pot when they hit. That’s micro-table strategy and my game has to adjust to cater for it.

I also learned that patience is key. Losing an early hand is not devastating, but it can become so if you start playing inferior hands that would normally be folded in a bid to quickly recoup your losses.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Grind Begins

The first night of my new strategy is over and I am pleased to say I finished with a profit of $1.29 – not that the amount is important, merely the fact that I didn’t leak dollars.

Things were looking a bit grim early on when I went broke at the second table after a small profit at the first, but in true grinding style I clawed my way back with 3 profitable forays and 1 further small loss.

Although my fortunes swung, it was a good solid test of my strategy and bankroll plan, not to mention my temperament when things weren’t looking so good. It’s nice to start off with a winning night.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Step One: Write A Goal

I'm a long-distance runner, so I understand the importance of goal-setting when trying to improve your performance. When I lost my original bankroll I decided to do what I should have done in the first place, write down a clearly defined list of goals complete with strategy, milestones and a timeframe in which I want to achieve them.

The goals come in 3 flavours: long-term, medium-term and short-term and they are also made of plasticine. In other words, they can be reshaped should my circumstances change or the hoped for improvement doesn't come.

Now, my goals are very specific for me and will look ridiculously easy to achieve, but I'm starting right on the bottom rung of the ladder, I admit it.

My Starting Point

I'll be playing the .02/.04 cash tables and have given myself a starting bankroll of $30. I'll be sitting down at each table with an opening stake of $3 (a high 10% of my bankroll) and am planning on leaving the table each time I make a profit.

Long-Term Goals

To play profitable no-limit hold ‘em on the $25/$50 tables.

I’m not completely dedicated to the idea of achieving this goal inside a set timeframe, however, I’ve seen the metric of Hands Played used when others have set their goals and this seems to be a reasonable way to work out how long it might take me to achieve the goal. At this point in my life, I can only reasonably aim to play around 100 - 150 hands per day which means around 10,000 hands in 3 months. Before I allow myself to step up to each consecutive level I want to "do my apprenticeship" by playing at least 10,000 at that level. Therefore, my rough estimate is that I can hope to achieve my long-term goal is by July, 2010.

In order to play effectively at each successive limit level, a minimum bankroll will be required. I have calculated that the minimum bankroll I must attain to play $25/$50 is a tad over $35,000.
During the next 2 and three quarter years, I will have to continue to absorb as much knowledge as I can. To that end, I want to have exhaustively studied the books of Brunson, Harrington and Sklansky – not just read them but read, re-read and re-read again.

I also have to study the mathematics involved with playing winning poker and that means being able to calculate the odds. My ability to calculate pot odds and implied odds should become second nature due to the number of hands I will have played to reach this goal.

Medium-Term Goals

This goal is where I would like to be in 1 year’s time (16 October, 2008). Using the baseline of playing 10,000 hands at each level, I can expect to have progressed up to the 5th level on the ladder which is the .50/$1 level.

The only way I can hope to reach this level is to have shown a profit at each of the lower levels. I can expect my game to improve as I rise to each new level. However, I can also expect the competition to be tougher, so I may find it difficult to start with to maintain profitability.

I must include a plan of what I will do should I find that my bankroll is beginning to dwindle. To that end, I will be stepping back a level if I find that my bankroll is suffering. I will be writing a plan for a bad-case scenario and put it in a future post.

Short-Term Goals

Progress to the next level (.05/.10). Before moving up to the next level I must play at least 10,000 hands and show a profit when I have finished. I hope to average around 100 – 150 hands per day which gives me a timeframe of between 9½ - 14 weeks with which I can expect to have met my goal.

An added monetary goal is to have increased my bankroll from $30 to $60, which is a $30 profit. Given the expected timeframe quoted above, this works out to be an average daily profit of between 0.31 & 0.45 which I think is a reasonable expectation.

In this short-term goal I have split each $10 point as a milestone (Bankroll = $40, $50 and $60) and will be having a mini celebration and indulgent pat on the back when I reach each of these points. I've got to acknowledge my progress

Plans / Expectations to Meet the Goals

I hope to keep a log of every session that I play. In this log I'll note my opening bankroll position, the profit or loss made at each table I play, the number of hands that I played at each table and the closing position of the bankroll at the end of the day. I'll also try to also record notes of mistakes I felt I made and what I could have done better. Just as importantly I will note down when I feel I have played really well pointing out what I did right.

Studying others will become important too, taking notes of other players. Something that I've never done before is determine the loose players, the aggressive, the tight and the solid when I sit down at a table.

I am going to have good days, OK days, bad days and terrible days. The most important factor in succeeding will be how I react to the bad and terrible days. Accepting that they are going to happen is the first step in succeeding despite the losses. I will remain calm and will not complain about the bad beats that I’ve suffered. Instead, I should study the hand history and figure out what I could have done better that may have avoided the loss (or at least minimised it).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Lost Without A Plan

I have been playing NL Hold ‘Em on-line for over a year now but, like many rank amateurs who think they know it all, my play has been erratic, my strategy pretty well non-existent and thoughts about bankroll management nil. I had set myself no goals for how I might improve my game, or even how I would recognise that my game had improved.

A few days ago, I lost the last of my original stake. As the last few cents trickled out of my account my thoughts of consolation to myself were along the lines of, “Ah well, put it down to the cost of education.”

But the reality was I had learned very little, if anything at all. My mistakes were basic, but crippling.

  • I played with no strategy.
  • I had not set myself any goals.
  • I rarely studied the play of others at the table (I would read a book when I wasn’t in a hand).
  • I never studied my hand histories.
  • I still hadn’t picked up a poker book.
  • I had no idea how to implement an effective bankroll management strategy.
  • I had no plans on how I might build my bankroll, nor how I would get myself to the next level.

It was time for a wake-up call.

So my education (or re-education) has begun. I have sat down and worked out a plan with written goals for the short-term, medium-term and long-term. I have defined where I want to go and how I’m going to get there and have built in some notable milestones to achieve along the way to stoke my motivational fires.

I have also picked up some books that I have committed to studying (Brunson, Harrington and Sklansky) and I have developed a money-management strategy that will help me protect my bankroll while I’m playing.

Finally, to help me analyse my play and to assist me on my journey I have started a blog. I aim to discuss my progress, post some critical hands for discussion and celebrate the completion of each step.

Before plunging in to the Poker Room, I will give an overview of my goals and the bankroll management strategy that I intend to employ to assist me in becoming a profitable poker player.

And they will be the subjects of the next couple of posts.