Friday, November 21, 2008

Two Winning Micro Table Poker Strategies

Well I had a first last night while playing at the Party Poker $10 NLHE cash game tables. I was dealt pocket AA in 3 consecutive hands. I was astounded when I caught the hand for a second time, so you can imagine my disbelief when they came up for the third time. Each time I played them for a raise, although nothing too aggressive but the 2nd and 3rd times, the table folded to my raise which was a bit of a bummer.

* * * * * *

I have been neglecting this blog somewhat, but have continued on grinding away at the micro stakes tables with just as much enthusiasm as always. I have developed a couple of new strategies lately that I have found have accelerated my profits. I thought I’d talk about them here.

Small Stakes Poker Strategy – Starting Short Stacked

Many will strongly disagree with this tactic on numerous levels, but when dealing with the psychological profile of many micro stakes poker players it works very well. As a matter of fact, I would suggest that this sort of strategy will only work at the online micro-stakes poker tables.

I am presently playing on the $10 NLHE cash ring tables, which as the name suggests, allows you to start with a maximum stake of $10. There is also a minimum stake at these tables of $2 and this is what I sit down with, deliberately short stacking myself. To some players at the table this seems to send an automatic message of weakness, to others when involved in a hand, their confidence to call and bet seems to grow disproportionately to their hands.

To elaborate on this thought, what I’ve noticed is that there is more of a tendency for people to call a 3 x BB raise with a marginal hand if they see that they’ve got the original raiser well and truly covered. If I have only $1.70 left and bet 0.30, a player with the full $10 stack is invariably going to call me with a hand that they probably shouldn’t be playing. After all, if I push, the most they can lose (heads up) is a further $1.40. It seems to be a common weakness among a greater majority of small-stakes players and I’ve been exploiting it time and again over the last month. By the way, I have a tendency to only play premium hands and play them pretty aggressively. While they’re kicking the short stack, they usually have to kick him with a strong starting hand.

Multi-Tabling To Ensure Patience

When I play single table poker I find that the pace is slow enough to make me impatient while I’m waiting for a strong starting hand. My tendency is to loosen up way too much and I start playing hands that I should be folding. By multi-tabling a second table, I have found that it keeps me adequately occupied and I have no trouble overcoming the temptation to call what I should fold.

It has been all about discipline and understanding the nature of my opponents but in the past month I have taken my bankroll well over the $300 mark. I feel as though I am on track to move up to the next micro-stakes level sometime in the second quarter of next year.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Poker Strategy Is Almost A Year Old

I’ve just realised that in a few days this blog will be 1 year old. That means that it is almost a year since I began my determination to turn my poker play around. My starting bankroll was $30 and tonight, it has just topped the $280 mark for the first time.

Admittedly, my blogging effort has been nothing short of deplorable, but I have been playing quite a bit of poker (as well as maintaining all my other online presences) and felt that there would be nothing more sickening for people to have to read than me spouting off about another winning night. But that’s the way it’s gone for the last 2 and a half weeks.

I think I’ve finally gotten a handle on how to play the $10 NLHE cash games at Party Poker. For the first 3 or 4 months I’ve been up and down, mixing good play with some pretty bad play. But just lately I have chosen my moments extraordinarily well and come away with some nice wins.

A good smattering of Gus Hansen wannabes has certainly helped no end with the any two cards system not working quite as well as it does for the great Dane. Funny that.

Anyway, with around a week before the year is up, my poker play has improved out of sight. I’m actually starting to believe that I will be able to move up to the $25 tables within the next year, particularly if my bankroll continues to increase as it has.

I've found that by multi-tabling 2 tables, my game has improved because I'm not tempted to play as many low percentage hands. Not only that, I also find that I'm less likely to chase the draws that I may have done in the past and this has saved my bacon on more than one occasion.

My next target milestone is the $300 mark.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Still Plugging Along

Not a lot to talk about at the moment with the bankroll swinging up and down with the net result finding it remarkably similar to about a month ago. Just closed down the Party Poker tables after a nicely profitable session with a run of nice pocket pairs that held up which is very rare. Thankfully, I was sitting at a table of flush/straight chasers who were happy to throw their money at me until the river before folding.

The WSOP Main Event has just begun airing here in Australia with the second lot of Day 1 starters about to be shown tomorrow (Tuesday) night. It's always must-watch TV with the best of the best and the worst of the worst mixing it up. Watched the humdinger of a hand at Ray Romano's table where an all-in showdown revealed a Royal Flush beating a quad Aces to put one poor guy out on day 1. Now there's a bad beat story to tell your friends about!

Hope everyone else is enjoying the poker, both playing and watching.

Friday, August 8, 2008

When Weak Is Strong

It has been around 2 weeks now since common sense overtook dumb poker and in that time I have won back all of the money I lost during May, June and half of July. There are two main factors that have contributed to my recent success, nothing surprising about them, really.

The first key to winning over the last 2 weeks has been the same important attribute that I have mentioned time and time again. Patience at the table has markedly stacked the odds in my favour. The second key is actually a flow-on effect that has directly stemmed from my patient game – and it’s something that I was unprepared for, to tell you the honest truth.

It’s the second factor that I find more interesting and certainly something that can be exploited at the micro table level.

As a result of being patient while waiting for the right hand, I have managed to project a weak image to the rest of the table. What I was viewing in myself as discipline when folding on the turn or when someone played back at me, others obviously took to be a sign of weakness. As my stay at a table lengthened, so did the number of times I was raised after betting. Initially the constant playing back of my bets was irritating. Short side note here: actually, what is most irritating is when you bet and someone immediately doubles the bet. At least put some thought into it, for crying out loud.

Nowadays, though I welcome it. Over the past two weeks I have sat quietly, looked weak, taken a few pots, done the disciplined thing and folded when I thought I was beaten, honoured the raise after the flop. That sort of thing.

Inevitably the cards have come. Last night my pocket J J connected on the flop to make a set and I was fortunate enough that my opponent, who had chased me out of pots earlier, held A J and aggressively allowed me to double up. A little later my pocket A’s connected again on the flop, another set and I was eventually All-In again (after checking the flop).

The bankroll is looking healthy again, but more importantly, my frame of mind is much more positive and I’m enjoying the sessions at Party Poker once again.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Poker in August - Good Times Are Rolling

The poker has been fast and furious at the Party Poker NLHE $10 cash games and ever since I replaced the pumpkin that was sitting on my shoulders with my head again my bankroll has been in steady recovery mode. Things have been going so well in fact that I have almost reached the point where I was at the start of May. The new plan of building my stake at the table has been working with some nice profitable sessions coming my way.

Naturally enough the odd loss has been sprinkled among the wins but I’ve managed to keep those to a minimum and the poker gods have been looking down favourably on me.

I’ve also been blessed to make my way onto some tables with a few players who simply had to play every hand that was dealt to them. The opponent who puts money into the pot 80% of the time and never raises can sometimes catch you out but in the long run they’re going to lose and I’ve benefited on quite a few occasions.

This particular post is really just a note to myself to remind me of my progress over the last 2 weeks of poker play. Effectively I’m marking the fact that I have reached another short-term milestone by passing $230.00 (again).

At the risk of sounding like a broken record I am going to once again reiterate how important it is to stay patient. It has been my willingness to fold and keep on folding until I’ve actually got a hand that has put me on my latest run. That and the fact that your average micro stakes poker player who plays virtually every hand doesn’t recognise that the guy who has been regularly folding has suddenly raised before the flop.

Current bankroll - $231.05

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Poker Strategy Change - When To Leave A Table

I’m constantly trying to improve my approach to playing poker online and have been fortunate enough to have received some instructive and insightful comments here on a few of my posts. One of my strategies that I’ve mentioned in the past is leaving the table whenever I make a profit. I’m aware of the downside of doing this but it came down to a money management decision to arrest a long losing streak.

A recent comment by Epoh began a process of questioning this tactic and then I came across another piece on the subject using an example that has struck home with great force.

Essentially, the example asks you to imagine that you are multi-tabling 2 tables. At 1 table you are playing against complete poker novices and at the other one you are playing at the best poker players in the world. Now, using my strategy, I am more likely to play against the novices for a short time while I would be resigned to playing against the professionals for considerably longer (as long as it takes for me to lose my money, I’d suggest). The obvious question follows, why on earth would I choose to play against people I am more likely to win against for only a short time and against people I am more likely to lose against for a long time?

When I read this it made such perfect sense. Of course I would rather play my poker against the weaker players. The smart thing to do is remain at a table until the dynamics of the table changes.

Add this to Epoh’s advice where he cautions against leaving potential goldmines behind and building the small stack into a large stack and I am more determined than ever to turn those short, modest sessions into larger, more lucrative sessions that take advantage of the weaker poker players at the table.

And so this brings me to another related aspect to all of this. I have to identify and acknowledge the stronger poker players at a given table. Being able to recognise those players who are playing good poker should be easy to do, but often I let pride and frustration cloud my opinion of the play of others. Being able to recognise the really good players – and then trying to avoid them – will greatly enhance my chances of being profitable.

Adopting a strategy of chasing the big winning session leads me to muse over what point I decide to take my winnings and leave the table. It comes down to 2 factors: time and quality of opponents.

Time: These days I have less time available to devote to playing poker online with my average nightly session (on those nights I CAN play) only around an hour or so. So the first factor that will rule when I take my profit is giving myself a cut-off time and when the time is reached, I close down my session for the day.

Opponent: If I have identified a particularly weak player or a particularly soft table I need to remain at the table as long as they are still playing. If a table is playing soft I will remain at the table until the dynamic changes as others stand up and sit down.

I wouldn’t mind hearing how others decide that it’s time to move from a table. Do you set yourself a profit target? A time limit? A feel for the quality of your opponents? Something else?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Patient Poker = Winning Poker

Okay, like a reformed smoker or a recently converted Christian I'm going to sound a bit like a broken record by repeating the importance of patience when playing at the Micro Stakes cash poker tables. I’ve just completed my 5th straight winning day and it was the kind of grind that I was prepared to put in 6 months ago. Back then I won, a month ago I was impatient and lost – not a lot of math required there.

The only disclosure I should make here is that I had the Tour de France on in the background to watch how Cadel Evans went in defending his yellow on stage 15 up to Prato Nevoso.

It took me over 130 hands before I ground my way into a profitable position after coming close to losing the lot when my pocket aces were cracked. But rather than talk about me, I want to make an observation about another guy who was playing a couple of seats to my left.

I was at the $10 NLHE table and when I sat down this guy was sitting on around $16 so he had a winning night going. It didn’t take too many hands to work out that this guy liked to play a lot of hands and when he hit anything from bottom pair on up he would play it aggressively or call all bets. It seemed to be going sweetly for him as he proceeded to push others off their hands and moved smoothly up to around $18.

But as the game wore on, the inevitable happened and his stack was whittled away. It took over 100 hands and a roller coaster of a ride, but he eventually went broke as the same players who folded earlier in the session began calling and playing back to him. His problem, apart from his playing style which was the classic short-term winner, long-term loser style, was that he sat at the same table for way too long. Everyone at the table had him figured out after only a few rotations.

One of my strategies in playing at the micro-stakes poker tables is to change tables fairly frequently. Sometimes the playing style of others doesn’t suit my style, sometimes I just don’t feel comfortable at a particular table or, most importantly, I may feel that the other players are reading me too easily. I’m a fairly tight player and if I’ve been sitting at a table and folding often, the moment I call or raise may send my opponents running. I’m not a big bluffer on-line so I prefer to just get up and move to another table. Why not? There are plenty to choose from.

When I’m new to a table I’m an unknown quantity and I find that my opponents will be a little more wary in the first 10-15 hands I play. A new table often means a quick win and I can move on again.

My bankroll is up to $207.91.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Playing Poker with Patience

It 's a new beginning and I'm feeling like a new player at the Party Poker $10 NLHE tables with the attitude that I had when I began with only $30. Last post I explained that I was going back to basics and had set myself a short-term goal of building my bankroll back up to $200. Well, it turned out to be a far, far shorter-term goal than I expected with a couple of very profitable tables catapaulting me straight over the $200 mark.

This has made the 4th session in a row in which I have been profitable and the secret's not really a secret at all. I haven't done anything more than remained completely patient, which may also be equated to playing passive poker. I was careful to fold all but the strongest hands and then play them reasonably aggressively. Micro stakes poker tables are filled with over-aggressive players who believe middle or bottom pair is a strong enough hand to push other players off their hands.

By waiting until I hit sets, straights or even just TPTK I was able to put together a very profitable few days. A couple of good folds increased the confidence level - JJ & AK aren't the easiest hands to lay down, but I did so last night and was right to do so.

So it's more of the same for me in the foreseeable future as I try to keep my head together and not let the winning days go to my head.

I've reached my latest short-term goal so I will set myself a new short-term goal of reaching $210 in the next week.

Bankroll - $206.85

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Starting Over - Pulling My Head In

After a bad run in May and June, not to mention a petulant rant here about it all, I have taken a couple of weeks to take a deep breath, reassess my play and generally decided to pull my head in. I'm going back to basics, in other words, back to a winning style of poker.

As was so rightly pointed out in the comments of my last post, I was letting my emotions affect the way I was playing and consequently was losing the plot as well as my money. In football parlance, I was playing the man and not the ball and this can be fatal.

So, what have I done to repair the damage. Well firstly I've taken a break. I needed to reassess what I was doing and go over how I won for so long before my losing streak. Once I had reconciled myself to the way I ought to be playing I have rejoined the Party Poker NLHE cash ring games, re-entering the $10 tables.

My bankroll had dipped to $192.90 so I was keen to turn things around and get myself back above $200 as soon as possible.

Since restarting I have played for 3 nights and have resolved to once again leave the table as soon as I have made a profit. So far so good, 3 nights of playing for 3 winning nights and I have built the bankroll up to $196.60. I am determined to do this slow and steady because it may seem as though the profits are small, they build up a damn sight more quickly than if you string together a bunch of losing sessions.

So in order to force some accountability upon myself I will be stating my progress once again (something else I was doing when I went on a winning run).

Short term goal is to reach $200.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Solid Poker v Loose Aggressive Donk

It has been a few weeks since I’ve added a post here and there are a couple of reasons for it. The first is that I didn’t want to be one of those bad beat whiners who fill their blogs with endless complaining about the rotten patch of bad luck they’ve been going through. At first I decided I would suffer in silence, take my hits and fight back. But the beats just kept coming so I decided my plan B would involve taking a brief break from poker and come back more refreshed and full of focus.

It was going to be back to basics, take my winnings and move on. Last night I played for the first time in over a week on the $10 NLHE tables at Party Poker. I wiped out courtesy of a guy who far, far outstripped any reasonable stretch of good fortune.

I closed down Party Poker in absolute disgust at the way this guy kept winning with the absolute worst of hands. However, in the cold light of day I realise that this guy could be the best thing to happen to me this year. He played virtually every hand, went completely cavalier with small pairs on multiple occasions and got away with it. This guy was flouting the odds time and again and still managed to win.

At some point the odds are going to rebalance themselves and I need to make sure I’m there when it happens.

So this month I’m going to make SmokingNow my special project. I’m going to hunt this guy down and make sure I play at whatever table he sits at. He took my money and he didn’t deserve it so I’m going to take it back, plus a commission for damages.

I’ll let you know if solid poker beats loose-aggressive donk.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Poker In May Is Proving Tough at Party

I have sort of lost my flow at the Micro Stakes No-Limit poker tables lately. I’ve taken my share of bad beats but then, who hasn’t? What I have noticed though is – and I thought this would be damn near impossible – the standard of the poker being played is actually falling.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for crap poker players coming and splashing their money around with their loose-aggressive style (for want of a better word). But it begins to wear you down when you’re on the end of some pretty horrendous hits.

The way things are going this month I’m going to record only my second losing month since I began my winning strategy that has so far taken my bankroll from $30 to over $200. The month started poorly, I clawed my way back to almost break even before I took another couple of nights’ worth of savaging. Now I’m once again slowly pulling it back but the complete noobs who chase flushes (and are hitting) are seriously starting to piss me off.

Monday, May 12, 2008

All-In All-In All-In

We had a funny situation take place last night at the Party Poker $5 nlhe cash game. Funny interesting really. I was in the process of deciding whether to take my seat at a particular table that had around 7 or 8 players. I noticed that there was one guy with a stack of over $8 and the rest were under the maximum buy-in of $5.

So I watched the first hand and the pre-flop betting when something like: limp, fold, limp, to the big stack who pushed all-in which then prompted everyone to fold. Big stack takes the pot. Okay, fair enough, I thought, the big stack had a hand and pushed everyone out. Next hand same thing: fold, fold, limp, ALL-IN, fold, fold… Hmm, very strange, 2 all-ins in a row from the big stack.

And so it went hand after hand. It turned out this dude was simply playing All-In poker every hand. It was a bit surreal and it was definitely messing with the heads of the other players. Seeing as I wasn’t actually playing it was a very interesting psychological exercise to see how people reacted.

It took around 5 straight all-ins before the disgruntled commenting started (in French so I couldn’t understand it). 2 people simply upped and left. One guy raised before the all-inner but couldn’t bring himself to call, even when it was obvious he was going in with anything.

Finally one bloke decided enough was enough and had the courage to call, trimming him down to size. After that he was quickly dispatched and within 8 or 9 hands the experiment was over, the money was gone and so was the mysterious All-In merchant who simply stood up and left without a word of explanation.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Party Poker - Qualify For Manila

The latest Party Poker promotion involves the inaugural Asian Poker Tour even at Manila, in the Philippinnes. Four hundred people will be competing for $1 million and Party Poker are going to send 11 people to join in the fun.

According to Party Poker you can get there for as little as a $1 buy-in.

So what does the road ahead look like for those trying to qualify?

Your $1 buy-in will get you into a sub-qualifying speed tournament with rebuys. For every $35 that goes into the prize pool an entry into the next level qualifier will be awarded. Alternatively, you can enter in the $4 speed sub-qualifier (also with rebuys) where an entry into the next level will be created for every 10 players who enter.

The second level is a $35 satellite qualifier event that is held daily. For every 10 players that enter this event an entry is awarded into the weekly $320 Satellite event. This satellite will be held twice weekly and for every 20 players entering a package to Manila will be awarded.

The prize is worth $6,000 and includes a room in the Dusit Thani Manila Hotel, $2,500 buy-in to the main event and $3,500 spending money.

The qualifiers started a week ago and they're still running now. Perhaps you might like to jump into Party Poker and try your luck. But you'd better bring a lot of it.

Party Poker | April Cash Game Results

Playing poker can take you up and drag you down. Playing poker at the micro level can speed up the process. And playing poker at Party Poker at the micro level can make the journey a maddening ride of wildly swinging fortunes with no real way to stop it.

April began smoothly enough with the Party Poker micro stakes faithful behaving themselves and predictably handing over their cash. Then I hit a black patch for about a week there and slipped into the red for the first time since January. Five days of suffering had me readjusting my poker strategy as I was going over old hands to find out where I could have improved.

As it turned out my poker play has been pretty solid. Apart from a couple of times where I called when I was 95% sure I was beat, I had played pretty good poker. It was just that there were an inordinately high number of poor calls by opponents who then got very lucky. I just happened to run into a lot of people who would be short term winners, long term losers right at the very moment that they were short term my expense. You get this fairly frequently at the micro stakes level, after all, the place is littered with rank beginners who have no idea what they’re doing. It’s just unusual that I came up against suck-out after suck-out.

So the Party Poker $5 NLHE cash game tables have once again been kind to me with a double digit profit rewarding my persistence. Now that the bankroll is beginning to grow to a reasonable size, double digit profit for 1 month's work is proving to be a worthwhile return.

I've scaled back significantly on the number of hands I play each night. With time available to play poker very much restricted these days, I can really only afford an hour or two at the most. As an hourly rate, I guess, my return is looking even more impressive given the stakes games I'm playing.

Raw numbers for the month have ended up looking fairly solid thanks to a much improved last week and a half. The turnaround has been due to a couple of important factors. Patience, I seem to say this every post, as I’ve been diligent in waiting for a good starting hand and then I’ve played it aggressively when I’ve hit the flop. During my little bad beat period it occurred to me how many times people were calling and betting with 2nd or 3rd pair and I’ve exploited that fact to great advantage. The odds of playing quality hands swung in my favour (as they statistically should) and I’ve made hay.

So, anyway, my return for the month of April turned out to be a smidge over 14% and I played just under 1,500 hands which isn’t terribly many. My Poker Tracker stats reveal that I made 18 BB per 100 hands and it seems that I am slowly becoming more aggressive, raising pre-flop 9% of the time which is higher than previous months.

My plan going forward is to continue what has been successful for the last 6 months. Hit the Party Poker micro stakes cash games. Take the profits when they present themselves, practice sensible bankroll management and aim for another double digit month.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Playing Poker | Back on Track

Well it doesn't take long to have the feelings of self doubt washed away to be replaced by the contentment that regular winning sessions provides.

It was only a week ago that April was looking as if it was going to be a rare losing month for me with a series of bad beats threatening to completely devastate the bankroll. But since my last post, I have managed to string together 5 winning sessions. And it's not so much the fact that I've closed Party Poker down on the plus side, but the size of my winning sessions that have been significant.

I can put the turnaround, almost 100%, to the reflections I posted in my previous post. While I was highlighting the manner in which I was getting beaten, it occurred to me that the people who were taking my money were flouting the odds in a big way. Chasing inside straight draws and calling my bets while only holding second pair, etc. I knew that if my patience could hold, my fortune would change.

Sure enough, the callers kept calling, but the suck-outs dried up. We're fast approaching the end of April and my bankroll is heading up again. All very nice.

I've also put together a lengthy list of Party Poker regulars who play waaay too many hands and rarely raise pre-flop. This list, in my opinion, is almost as valuable as my bankroll.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Playing Poker | Stepping Back

An extended run of losing sessions starts off as an annoying anomaly that builds into a more worrying loss of confidence. It seems that the spectre of bad beats is following you from table to table and you can’t remember how to win let alone enjoy an extended winning streak.

If you’re a regular reader of poker blogs across the length and breadth of the web and if you’ve played for any decent period of time, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It happens to everyone at some point or another.

Hardly surprisingly, I’m discussing this phenomenon because I’m presently on the border between Annoying Anomaly and Loss of Confidence. For the last 4 days I have been running up against an amazing series of opponents who have been willing to make calls with bugger all in their hands only to hit on the turn or the river or, in a frightening number of cases, the turn AND the river.

It’s time to take a step back and examine what I’ve done that may have resulted in my going from consistent winner to completely losing time after time. And the answer, as is so often the case, is a matter of only the most minor of adjustments to my attitude.

That’s the crazy thing. My poker play has been good. The problem has lain in my patience.

The key to winning poker at micro level NLHE cash games is to remain patient at all times. So many times I have sat in a hole of card dead funk, but through patience and a steadfast belief that “the cards will come” I’ve come out the other side with a handy profit to stash away in my bankroll. Over the last 4 nights, this hasn’t been the case.

Reckless twits come and go at the Party Poker micro stakes tables, they can be the objects of tremendous opportunities when played correctly, you just need to bide your time, wait for the cards and then pick up your pots. It sounds pretty simplistic but I’ve been using this basic framework for an extended period to great success. Right up until a week ago!

I loosened my starting hands and decided I would “teach some fish a lesson”. Turns out I was the fish, or at least, I played like one. It cost me and I deserved it.

So like I said, it’s back to basics for me. Identify the people who play too many hands and who play those hands passively…and cash in on them.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Playing Poker | Rogues Gallery and Choosing a Table

I’ve left posting go for a few days while I’ve been hard at work on Party Poker recovering the money I lost at the end of last month. I really can’t afford the luxury of too many brain explosions like the poker session I last talked about because, given my playing style, it takes so darn long to claw it all back.

Nevertheless, I’m nearly there now notwithstanding last night’s marathon session in which I was down over half my buy-in before I finally shut up shop well after midnight having fought back to finish up with the tiniest of profits to show for my hard work. Beats a loss!

What I have seen over the last week is some very ordinary poker being played on just about every table I’ve opened at Party Poker. It could be that we’ve just had another flurry of newcomers lured to NL Texas Hold ‘Em. After all, new players are going to start out on the .02/.04 tables, aren’t they. Watching some of my opponents I would swear that they have had their Fold key disabled until after the River card is dealt

Rogues Gallery

The way things have been going recently, I’ve half a mind to publish a rogues gallery post of Party Poker players from my PokerTracker software who have a “Voluntarily Put Money In the Pot” percentage higher than 85% over a significant number of hands. The list wouldn’t be a short one, believe you me.

Ethical or not, these kinds of poker players are obviously looking for a lot of action and I figure I might be able to send them all the action they can handle. Maybe I’ll save it up for the end of the month – stay tuned.

Choosing Which Micro Stakes Table to Sit At

Here’s an interesting little question that I wouldn’t mind some interaction with. It will certainly affect how much money you win and how quickly you win it. How do you select which table you sit at?

When you open the Party Poker $5 NLHE cash tables you’re confronted with a long list of tables to choose from. Assuming you don’t have PokerTracker or similar software to identify the fish and calling stations and you have no player notes, what are the criteria by which you decide to sit down?

Personally, I tend to gravitate to the tables in which only 5 of the 10 seats are taken. I prefer a table that doesn’t have someone sitting on a really big stack (more than 2 x buy in) and preferably that plays over 100 hands per hour.

My reasoning is: my strategy is to sit down at a table, make a quick, small profit and move on. A short-handed table reduces the number of possible players in the pot (remember, micro stakes poker typically features a high proportion of multi-way pots) if I can pick up a good early hand I can avoid the hands with 4 or 5 callers who sometimes catch lightning. The presence of someone with a very large stake could mean 1 of 2 things. Either they’re a very canny poker player or, they have been wildly aggressive and have gotten lucky. Neither player suits my strategy terribly well. I’ll avoid rather than engage.

By the way, I generally only go for the random option when none of the players I’ve flagged as likely to leak money come up in my Player Search.

Does anyone out there have a specific method of choosing which table to sit down at? What about which seat you prefer to sit at once you get to the table – do you have a “lucky chair” or do you identify the obvious weak player and sit on their left?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

End-March Bad Beat Madness

It’s probably inevitable when constantly playing poker against people who have no idea what they’re doing that even though the odds are stacked overwhelmingly in your favour it can count for nothing. This was the case for me about a week ago.

After congratulating myself for finding a nice loose table at Party Poker’s $5 NLHE cash games, I settled down as usual to wait for the callers to hand over their money. But this night was not destined to run to plan. My first major hit came when my AQo was rolled by someone with J 6. It turns out my 4 x BB pre-flop raise and continuation bet when I hit my Q wasn’t enough to get the guy to fold because he hit his 6 on the flop. As we all know, a pair of 6s with Jack kicker is an absolute monster – particularly when you hang on to hit your J on the turn.

That hand set the trend for the night and I made the mistake of deluding myself into believing that at some point getting my money in as an 80% favourite was going to begin paying off. I rebought twice during the session, fell into the trap of playing a little more loosely than I usually do and, by the time I had closed down my Party Poker session, had severely eaten away at my hard-won March profits.

Fortunately I’ve clawed back a few dollars to finish March with a bankroll profit of 7.74%.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Happy Easter Micro Story

I don't go in for gloating about wins at the poker table very much but there was one hand last night that was particularly satisfying.

It came towards the end of a very long session that I shared with another player who deserves to be outed. If you're planning on playing the micros at Party Poker, keep an eye out for this LAG for some easy money.

First of all some stats about him fom last night's play:
Played 79 hands
VP$IP - 62%
Pre-Flop Raise - 35.44%

This guy's MO was to raise big before the flop - as you can see he raised a massive 35% of the time. I've only come across 1 or 2 people who've raised more often over similar number of hands. He would then follow up with consistent betting at the pot. Basically you knew you were going to get action.

***** Hand History for Game 6895414830 *****
$5 USD NL Texas Hold'em - Friday, March 21, 08:59:30 ET 2008
Table Table 125805 (Real Money)
Seat 3 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 9: pizerule ( $4.66 USD )
Seat 3: Doctor789 ( $1.52 USD )
Seat 2: only4me111 ( $5.86 USD )
Seat 7: vollschiff ( $2.64 USD )
Seat 10: pux13 ( $4.70 USD )
Seat 5: AsXBlood ( $4.72 USD )
Seat 8: SchanzMaN ( $1.96 USD )
Seat 1: DustyDonk ( $6.99 USD )
Seat 4: jodenz ( $4.10 USD )
Seat 6: JamesBlond88 ( $4.96 USD )
jodenz posts small blind [$0.02 USD].
AsXBlood posts big blind [$0.04 USD].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to pizerule [ Qs Qh ]
JamesBlond88 folds.
SchanzMaN folds.
vollschiff has left the table.
pizerule raises [$0.16 USD]
pux13 folds.
DustyDonk folds.
only4me111 calls [$0.16 USD]
Doctor789 folds.
jodenz folds.
AsXBlood folds.
** Dealing Flop ** [ 5h, Qc, Qd ]
pizerule checks.
only4me111 bets [$0.32 USD]
joske987 has joined the table.
pizerule calls [$0.32 USD]**
Dealing Turn ** [ 9s ]
pizerule checks.
only4me111 bets [$0.40 USD]
pizerule calls [$0.40 USD]
** Dealing River ** [ 7d ]
pizerule bets [$0.12 USD]
only4me111 calls [$0.12 USD]
pizerule shows [ Qs, Qh ]four of a kind, Queens.
only4me111 doesn't show [ 8s, 8c ]
two pairs, Queens and Eights.
pizerule wins $1.96 USD from the main pot with four of a kind, Queens.
#Game No : 6895417682

My only regret is that I didn't push for more after the river.

A couple of hands later I ran my A Qo into K K and hit trips on the Turn, whereupon I shoved All-in and had the guy call for a very profitable end to my night.

An interesting little note about the players in my PokerTracker stats is that, of the people with Pre Flop Raises of over 34% only 1 of them are net winners. And they all have a Voluntary Put Money in the Pot of over 66%. Now there's your definition of the Loose Aggressive poker player.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Party Poker | Watch Your Opponents

Always make sure you’re paying attention to what’s going on at the poker table. The micro stakes cash ring games are an absolute treasure trove of money making opportunities if you’re alert and know what to look for.

I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about by using a hand that took place last night while I was playing on a $5 NLHE cash ring table at Party Poker.

I had already folded out of this hand, by the way.

Pre-flop betting had seen 2 limpers enter the pot before the button min. raised and everyone called including the small blind. At this table we’re talking microscopic stakes - .04 to limp, .08 constitutes a minimum raise.

Anyway, there are 4 in the pot and the flop lands A A K.

SB immediately plonks down .24 which is enough to chase the 2 limpers away. The button then doubles the bet to .48 and the SB folds. So far, so boring. Then the button shows the table his cards – pocket A A.

My interest was immediately piqued. The guy on the button had just made the dumbest raise in poker, won himself the minimum pot possible and then was stupid enough to show us what he’d done.

Watching him further I noticed he was entering a lot of pots, so I checked my PokerTracker stats and sure enough, he’d Voluntarily Put Money in the Pot (VP$IP) over 80% of the time, but raised pre-flop (PFR) only 5%.

Regular as clockwork this guy would limp into a hand and then bet big after the flop or turn, invariably chasing off his opponents. He was taking a lot of small pots and there was some serious daylight robbery going on. It was bound to end badly for him and it did when he ran into someone who flopped an Ace-high flush. This particular person was a little more savvy and simply called every one of our friend's extravagant bets before raising after the river. With any luck he didn’t learn from it and he’ll be back tonight. (They usually don’t learn).

The point I’m labouring to make is this. Watch what’s going on even when you’re not in a hand. At the micro cash tables there are a huge number of inexperienced players who play far too many hands and are going to set themselves up as easy targets in the long term. PokerTracker is very useful for highlighting these people but if you don’t have any poker software, keep a notebook open in front of you and make note of the number of hands people are playing.

I’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating, there are endless opportunities for making money at the micro stakes poker table. You just have to know what to look for, exercise some patience and then strike.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Playing Poker | Beating Mr Poker

There’s no doubt about it, there’s always something to learn at this often times frustrating, sometimes rewarding game of No Limit Hold Em. I’m pleased to report that after my recent run of coming second to a bunch of Party Poker Micro Table fish that I have made a slight adjustment to my game and am back on the winners trail again.

Actually that’s probably not fair on the try-hards who are collectively boosting my bankroll at the .02/.04 level. In fact, what I’ve done for two nights in a row is carefully fold any suspiciously constructed raise which just about always signals someone has hit their two-outer.

Beating Mr Poker

Last night I was given a gift from the poker gods at a short-handed micro table. There was a guy who was cutting everyone up with aggressive pre- and post flop raises, basically dominating the table, catching asome lucky cards when he had to (he hit runner-runner 3’s to show down quads at one stage). Anyway, this guy obviously thought he was Mr Poker, taking down blinds with successive blind steals, pulling down tiny pots with continuation bets, you name it. His problem was, he was playing every single hand and it was obvious there was no way he was making the hands he was representing.

So I bided my time and waited for a hand. Finally, I picked up K K in the small blind and took a chance by only calling the limpers before me, indicating to Mr Poker that, once again, I was weak. He, of course, would be compelled to demonstrate what a Playah he is if he played the hand true to form. Sure enough, the uncoordinated flop had him betting post-flop and turn and then, he jammed All-in on the river. I’d seen him do this hand after hand, so his recent betting history had me very confident with my call and I was very pleased to see him turn over 9 9.

So, after acting the Big Man On Campus (to use a Brady Bunch quote) and winning lots of small pots, the guy lost it all on one over-aggressive play too many.

The big point to remember out of this is that it’s not the number of pots you win that’s important, it’s the size of the pot that matters.

Deviating From the Strategy

Don’t mind me, this is simply a reminder to myself that there’s a damn good reason why I devised a set of poker rules to follow…and when I follow them, I become a profitable poker player.

It seems that every time I stray from my carefully laid strategy I am reminded why I put the rules in place to start with. I think we humans are naturally prone to self-destruct even when we are aware of the consequences for breaking the rules. It’s all too easy to tell yourself, this time it’s different.

I’m in the middle of a 3 day losing stretch at the moment and I’m hoping it doesn’t stretch to four. The disappointing part of this is that 2 of those losing days would have been winning days if I had have adhered to the rule that underpins my entire profit stratgey – leave the table as soon as a profit is made.

I played only 3 hands at one $5 NLHE cash game, starting with an opening stake of $2 (as is my norm) and had just taken down a pot to take my stake at the table to $2.88. A handy little micro-table profit that I should have stashed away into my bankroll. My mistake – I allowed myself to be dealt into the next hand which happened to be J J. Well, I’m not folding those and naturally, by the time the hand was over, I was behind and chasing that profit for the session.

Within half an hour I had whittled my way down to broke and was more annoyed with myself than I was with the god-awful calls that were being made by fish who kept hitting on the river.

Lesson to self: When you have devised a winning strategy, stay with it to the letter. It’s called a “winning” strategy because it bloody WINS.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Should You Calculate Odds At Micro Stakes Level?

When you read all the poker books written by poker legends, professionals and mathematicians, you will inevitably come to a chapter or two devoted to calculating odds. Pot odds, implied odds, inferred odds, do I have the right odds to call, have I raised high enough to make calling on a draw the wrong play? It’s a very important part of playing poker – live poker or high stakes poker.

When you’re playing poker at the online micro stakes level, calculating odds and basing your game on those calculations is virtually pointless. *Gasp* Heresy in a poker blog. I did say “virtually” so keep reading and I’ll tell you why.

At the higher stakes levels of poker everyone’s pretty well playing by the same rules and those rules are dictated by the odds. If you’re sitting on a draw and the bet is half the pot, you work out the cost of calling and the amount you’d win if you hit and compare that with your chances of hitting. You make your play accordingly. Your opponent knows this and will be betting to try to make that decision difficult or easy depending on whether they think they’re in front or behind in a hand.

At the online micro stakes poker tables, there’s barely enough time to decide on an amount to bet, let alone figure out what the odds for the other guy might be. (And with the newly introduced Speed tables at Party Poker, there’s even less time). Now, I might be completely naive here, but micro limit poker players don’t calculate odds. At least judging by the betting/calling patterns they don’t. If they do it’s on a far greater plane of mathematics than I’ve ever visited. The majority of micro stakes genii play any two cards and if they hit a pair on the flop, they bet, if they’re on a draw, they call (no matter what the price some of them) and if they miss they check and fold.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should leave yourself languishing at the level of the majority of micro stakes poker players – and that’s why I stuck that “virtually” in there earlier. You want an edge when you play poker and the micro stakes level is no different.

Your edge will be gained by committing the basic odds you might come across to memory. It’s handy to know, for example, that the chances of hitting your flush draw is 19% and the chances of hitting your gut-shot straight draw is around 9%. Many micro stakes players chase their draws on a regular basis. Knowing that they’re an 80% dog when they do this should make you a more confident tiny stakes poker player – just don’t bother trying to calculate the odds to try to push them off their draw.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Loosen My Starting Hand At the Micro Stakes Level

I’m typically a very tight player, particularly for a member of the Party Poker micro stakes tables. But I’ve been schooling myself to open up a little bit and widen my starting hand range in order to maximise my opportunities of taking down a big pot.

My usual starting hands consist largely of AK – AJ, KQs, pocket pairs down to 66 and that’s about it. Not very adventurous and the action that comes my way is few and far between at times, but it has worked so far in moving my bankroll from $30 to over $200 in 5 months. I’m looking to loosen up a little so that I can make my game a little more unpredictable.

My new range of starting hands will include A anything suited, as well as any suited connector down to 8-7 and all pocket pairs. I figure I can get more creative with my play as well as the unpredictable aspect it will cause. The way I would be looking to play these hands would be to call small (3xBB) raises or, if no-one has raised yet, make the raise myself. A continuation bet will more often than not be the post-flop play but this will depend on any action before me.

When you play the same stakes limit cash games ($5 NLHE) at the same online venue (Party Poker) every night, you run the risk of becoming known to your opponents. Hell, with the help of Poker Tracker I know my opponents and the type of game they’re likely to play so there’s no reason to think that others don’t have the same read on me.

So I want to change things up, loosen my game and see how it works out. With any luck I won’t be woefully reporting that my bankroll has fallen below $200 the next time I update my progress.

Plus A Word of Advice

I have a small piece of advice that some of you may find useful, particularly new poker players who are trying to build up a bankroll. Playing winning poker is difficult enough with all sorts of pressure placed on you by other players at the table so the last thing you want to do is put added pressure on yourself .

Worrying about your bankroll while you’re playing is a big mistake. It’s distracting, will influence the decisions you make whilst in a hand – usually adversely – and generally make it harder to reach the goals you’ve set yourself. Play each hand on its merits and take your profits when they come and your bankroll should look after itself.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Full Tilt Bonus

I made the realisation last night that I only had 3 days remaining to claim my Full Tilt first deposit bonus and I still had outstanding bonus credits to pick up. Bugger! I was so busy grinding away at the Party Poker tiny stakes tables that I completely let the Full Tilt bonus slip.

So it was off to Full Tilt to get involved in some of the action on the $10 NLHE cash games and build those all important Full Tilt points. As it turned out, I happened to pick one of the tightest, most un-micro, micro no limit table I have ever come across. When you’re trying to rack up the Full Tilt points you need at least a couple of loose aggressives around to force the pot sizes up. The LAG’s obviously had better things to do and after we had gone two complete orbits 9-handed without a flop being seen I was starting to wonder whether I was completely wasting my time. Fifteen minutes had passed, my stack was slightly depleted and I was still no closer to picking off another cash bonus.

Fortunately the table began to loosen up a bit and the pots began to build. (You ever notice that it only takes one guy to start trying to push people around to get things jumping?) On top of that I managed to pick up a few good hands and soon found myself with a little profit for my effort. The prospect of my main goal – more free money – was slowly drawing within reach. Gawd if ever there was a definition of low limit grinding then trying to pick up enough Full Tilt points to trigger a bonus payout would have to be it.

And then came the icing on the cake for my efforts. I was dealt KJo in the BB and was met with a small raise from the SB so I called as did the button who had earlier limped. Hit my K on the flop and bet, button folded and the SB called. I reckon I’ve at least go the guy beat here, so when a blank lands on the Turn and SB chucks ‘em All-in I was more than willing to make the call. He flips over QQ and I’m golden when he fails to pick up a set on the River.

So my little run at picking up some bonus cash has so far managed to earn me a tidy profit to bolster my Full Tilt bankroll.

So back on January 10 I reported a starting bankroll of 10 pitiful dollars and a self-imposed challenge that I would build it up. After considerable neglect and sporadic play, I have increased this bankroll to a still tiny (but at least a little bit bigger) $19.86. Go me!

Party Poker may have to take a back seat for the next 3 days.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Adjusting My Poker Goal

Reality has settled in to my ambitious plans and I simply don’t have time to spend 4 hours aevery night grinding away at the Party Poker micro tables. I’ve got other projects demanding my time and, as much as I’d like to neglect them all to concentrate on poker, it can’t happen. As a result I have made a few necessary adjustments to my goals beginning with my short term goal which will then flow on to my longer term goals.

Firstly, I am still allowing myself the luxury of playing every day, I’m not going stark raving mad over the whole “haven’t got time” thing. I’m no longer focussing on making a pre-determined profit every day, instead I’m prepared to quit playing for the day once “a profit” is reached. This has the effect of removing a further pressure which I had placed upon myself that was proving to be rather inhibitive. I was trying to commit to playing at least 100 hands per day. I felt that too often after I had made a profit that I was happy with for the day I was beginning to play a lot of junk hands just to reach the daily quota. It was doing nothing for my game and I was actually resenting the extra hands rather than maintaining a necessary focus and concentration.

I’ve found that unshackling myself from self imposed constraints has given my poker play a new sense of freedom and I am coming away with more winning sessions as a result. It’s all about compromise and whatever strategy most suits your state of mind. For the time being, my state of mind craves the short sessions with smaller profits.

Incidentally, my bankroll has grown too. My starting measly $30 bankroll is now looking a tad more impressive, sitting at $214.90. A paltry sum, to be sure, but when you consider that I’ve mainly been playing the $5 NLHE tables at Party Poker, it represents a helluva lot of patience, quite a few bad beats and a great number of seemingly insignificant profits. Remember, a $0.50 profit is a much better outcome than losing your $5.00 starting stack any day.

I’m still deriving most pleasure from standing up from a table with a profit rather than worrying about the size of the profit itself.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Developing a Successful Micro Table Strategy

The good news is that it’s possible to develop a strategy for playing online poker at the micro stakes level. In fact, I’ve been doing it night after night at Party Poker, consistently finishing the night profitably and have been relentlessly increasing my bankroll.

Now for the news that won’t thrill you so much. We’re not talking outlandishly huge profits, in fact, they’re quite small on a daily basis. Progress is extremely slow and a lot of patience is required if you’re going to be a long-term winner. I concentrate on the smallest of the micro stakes games which are the $5 NLHE cash games at Party Poker. At these tables the blinds are .02/.04 so you can see that you’re not going to win huge chunks of cash no matter how well you play or how lucky you get.

At the micro stakes tables you come across a wide range of poker ability and yes, there are a few players out there who are quite good at detecting and exploiting the weaknesses of the inexperienced players. Naturally though, the number of these inexperienced players far outweigh the better players, that’s exactly why they’re playing on the micro stakes tables in the first place. Consequently there’s plenty of money available for the taking.

Money Management

Firstly a word on money management because the poker player who is savvy when it comes to protecting his bankroll is going to be more likely to come out ahead. Different strategies work for different people so I’m going to tell you the strategy that works for me.

Although the maximum buy-in is $5 I rarely, if ever, start with this amount. Instead I will buy-in with only $2. Now some people will be screaming at me here saying that I’m limiting my upside potential with such a small stack and that’s true. But I’m also achieving two goals by implementing a small buy-in strategy. First, I am limiting losses to only $2 – and when you’ve encountered some of the wild micro stakes play that I have you’ll appreciate my motives here – and second, I am sending a message to other players that I am a little on the passive side and may be prone to being pushed around. That’s exactly what I want them to think.

Table Presence

I rarely simply open up a table and immediately sit down and play the next hand dealt. Before starting to play I like to watch at least a couple of orbits to get an idea of the playing styles of my opponents. With products such as PokerTracker this process can be sped up by checking out your opponents past play but it’s unlikely that you’ve played against everyone at the table before so it’s still best to sit and watch. Pick out the guy who likes to push other players around and the guy who regularly calls his way to the river only to fold when his draw didn’t materialise. This knowledge could prove invaluable as you aim to make your profit from the table.

Now, what I’m about to say may seem a little counter-productive, but again there is some method to my madness. Within the first few hands I’m dealt I like to enter a pot with a small bet (limp or min raise). I’ll play the hand passively and, assuming I’m not sitting on the nuts, if I’m raised I will fold my hand. Gnerally, I’m trying to send the message that I can be pushed around by someone prepared to raise aggressively. This will serve me well later when I call or raise a bet.

What Works For Me

Every time I take an online seat at a micro stakes table my aim is to leave the table with a profit – I don’t care what the size of that profit is as long asI’m in positive territory. Consequently I have devised my own personal rule that the moment my stack climbs into profit, I leave the table. It doesn’t matter if it takes 2 hands or 200, or if the size of the profit is 0.10 or $2, I still consider it a profitable night. With enough time left I can always move on to another table and start the process over again. My aim is to keep the bankroll trending north and I’ve found that this is the most effective strategy, at least for me, to make that happen on the micro tables.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Australian Freeroll At Party Poker

Every day at Party Poker there are 2 freerolls available to Australian poker players. Actually, to be completely honest, the freerolls are open to Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans, but the majority of competitors tend to come from Australia. The freerolls are given the name Trey Nations if you’re looking for them on Party Poker.

The first Trey Nations Freeroll for the day kicks off at 8:05pm (Sydney, Melbourne time) and usually has around 800 entrants. The format of the tournament is as a speed tournament which Party Poker seems to be particularly enamored with. With a speed tournament the blinds go up every 4 minutes so it’s crucial to take down an early pot to put you ahead of the game. It will also allow you to play a little more tightly until you get your next big hand.

However, one of the big problems with the speed structure in a freeroll is the vast number of people who register early and then don’t take their seats until after the tournament starts. By the time you’ve sat through 5 or 6 people all timing out because they’re not there yet, the blinds have already been raised once and in some situations twice.

The payout structure is pretty good too – not that you’ll win a whole hell of a lot for the time spent playing, this is a grind remember. The top 100 finishers get paid starting with 0.30 for placings 81 – 100 up to $35.60 for taking out 1st place.

The second Tret Nations Freeroll for the night at Party Poker takes place at 11:05pm Sydney time. This freeroll generally has fewer entrants (around 300 – 400) and this is so for a couple of reasons. The obvious reason is that this freeroll starts late into the night for a good proportion of the population who are eligible to take part. But the more compelling reason is that the prize structure is nowhere near as enticing as the first freeroll – not that the first freeroll is by any means lucrative.

In the later Trey Nations freeroll you can play for entry into a weekly 50 Seat Frenzy Tournament that has a buy-in worth $15 and is held on the following Sunday morning. Payouts go to the top 10 finishers of the freeroll.

Because the prize structure is less of a drawcard you tend to get a lot more of the freeroll All-ins that are so familiar at the start of the tournament. The speed structure of the blinds forces you to push a lot harder than you possibly would otherwise too.

Realistically though, you don’t enter a Trey Nations freeroll – or any other freeroll for that matter – with the expectation of making money out of it. Rather, you should use the experience to gain valuable tournament experience without risking your hard earned. Once you’ve gotten lucky a couple of times and the field has been whittled down, the competition begins to get very serious. Competitors are playing hard to ensure that the last hour or so they’ve invested hasn’t been for nought.

If you’ve got the patience and are willing to grind out hard for little or no return then you may just have the satisfaction of starting a bankroll from $0. Good luck to you if you choose to give it a go – if you’re ever a chance t manage it then Party Poker is as good a place as any to try.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Party Poker Micro Tabling the Quiet Way

What with any number of work pressures on my plate, the Party Poker visits have been relatively few and far between, but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my profitability goals. Oh no! I’m still looking to be well ahead after a year of micro tabling at Party Poker.

My step up from the $5 NLHE tables to the $10 NLHE tables coincided with the new year, which also coincided with a bit of a holiday. But back to work meant less free time to sit and take apart the Party Poker novices.

When I actually did hit the tables I found that I wasn’t enjoying myself quite as much as at the smallest of micro stakes and experienced a few consecutive losing nights. So what I’ve done to reinvigorate myself is step it back a notch and revisit Party Poker’s $5 NLHE cash ring tables again. Almost instantly that winning feeling came back again.

The important point to playing on-line micro stakes poker is to enjoy the game because on thing is for sure, you’re going to have to grind your heart out if you’re going to see any money in terms of profit. The good news is that, with enough patience and perseverance you can show a profit even if the quality of poker may not be considered top class.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A New Party Poker Reload For February

Party Poker have sent out the latest reload bonus that will be available for the next 7 days - until 21 February. This one appears to be a short sharp one with the bonus consisting of 15% up to the value of $100, picking up the bonus by accumulating PartyPoints.

But you're going to have to play some long hours at the Party Poker tables, particularly if you're playing the micro limits, because you've only got 14 days from the date you make your deposit to earn your bonus. Probably a good offer if you were going to deposit anyway.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Difference with Micro Stakes Poker

On the one hand you have heard all the the theory in the world about the correct way to play No Limit Texas Hold Em. You need to calculate your pot odds, you work out your implied odds, you decide how much to raise to make calling very difficult for your opponent. Then on the other hand you have micro stakes poker table and all that fancy-schmancy tomfoolery mentioned above gets thrown straight out the window.

At the micro stakes NLHE tables you've got the occasional tight aggressive player who will only play his quality hands, usually pretty well with a solid pre-flop raise and a nice continuation bet. But he's the exception, vastly outnumbered by a motley assortment of wildly loose gamblers who compulsively play every hand with a limp or a call. Sometimes you'll get the raise at all costs aggressive bastard whose favourite move is to play back All-In at you whenever you raise. It's a wild ride of unexpected plays, atrocious bad beats and the most frustrating of senseless trips to the river only to drown on a 1-outer.

If you're planning on playing micro-stakes poker, don't expect that a pre-flop raise will thin the number of opponents down to 1 or 2. Oh no, my friend, at the micro tables you will regularly be playing 5 or more handed. And if the flop lands with a possible flush draw or a possible gutshot straight dra to your TPTK, well you ain't shaking anyone off easily. Y'see the odds against hitting that gutshot means nothing to the micro-fish.

The great news if you're planning a more traditional approach is that the micro table player is very easy to peg. They'll be flipping over all sorts of shit after calling with A-rag or they'll be folding after the river, obviously chasing a draw that didn't hit. As long as you're prepared to note the plays and keep your head when the inevitable bad beats come your way, you're going to come out ahead. It just may more of a grind than you're used to.

Oh, and one last thing. When a micro stakes dweller pushes All-in after the river, you can guarantee he's hit whatever he was chasing. Subtlety is NOT part of the micro stakes player's repertoire.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Freerolling At Full Tilt

I’ve been easing back from Party Poker’s cash tables over the last few days for a variety of reasons, one of which was that I wasn’t particularly happy with my style of play and felt it could do with a brush up. So rather than take a break from poker altogether I’ve been sitting down at the nightly Freerolls in a bid to nurture a more aggressive game and to try it out under ‘match conditions’.

My preference is to play in the Full Tilt Freeroll even though the payout at Party extends all the way down to 80th and the field is a lot smaller. At Full Tilt there are regularly over 1500 starters in the Australian Freeroll and they only pay down to 27th place, however the blind structure is a lot slower giving you a realistic chance to recover from a beat without being blinded out.

Last night was the first time I made to the money in a Full Tilt Freeroll and, not only that, I went deep finishing in 5th place.

The most satisfying part of the tournament was a comeback from dead last place when there were 57 remaining. I was in a comfortable position with around 55,000 chips until I basically threw away all but 4,500 of them. With the blinds at 3,000 / 1,500 and the ante at 100, I wasn’t going to last very long and it certainly didn’t look as though I was going to cash. So, when I was UTG I chucked my last 4,000 chips in with J 8c and resigned myself to closing up shop. Three callers were all over me, but when I flopped trip 8s I was pretty sure I was saved.

I picked up QQ the very next hand, threw it all-in again and my tournament was alive and kicking once again. But then, I not only get back in the game, I proceeded to race through the field until I was chip leader heading towards the final table.

So what did I win for over 5 hours of hard work, good play and good luck? $6!!!

Read it an weep suckers

A Second Grinding Challenge

So, I have managed to add a lucrative $6 in freeroll earnings to the sick and sorry Full Tilt account to bring it up to the grand total of…um…$10.

I’ve been bleeding cash badly at Full Tilt and the situation’s dire. The main problem is that I haven’t been preserving my profits when I’ve been ahead at a table. It’s the same story as before, I’d be sitting on a handy profit for a session only to eventually bust out due to bad play or bad beat.

As with what I’ve been doing at Party Poker for the past 2 and a half months, I propose to devote some time at Full Tilt to build up my bankroll using a similar bankroll strategy. I’ll be playing the $10 NLHE tables and will leave a table AS SOON AS I make a profit, regardless of the size of the profit. I’ll then move over to another table and (hopefully) repeat the process.

Starting bankroll is $10.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Is the Air A Bit Thinner?

I haven't exactly been choking but I've definitely noticed a difference.

It's been around a week since I moved from the $5 NLHE tables at Party Poker to the $10 NLHE tables and have had mixed results with a couple of winning nights and a couple of losing nights. I've got no problem with experiencing losses...I accept them as part of the ups and downs of playing poker. But it's the way that I've been losing that has been a concern.

I've noticed one important difference between the two levels I've now played and if I am going to succeed at this and higher levels, I'm going to have to make a mental adjustment PDQ. The level of aggressive play is higher at the $10 tables. I'm sure it only gets more and more aggressive as the stakes rise, too. Too many times I am finding myself folding my hand to a raise when I should have stayed with it.

I know that some part of this is due to the perception that the bet sizes are larger so it feels as though I am risking a great deal more. In dollar terms, this is true but in percentage terms it is around the same or even less risk.

I've been up and I've been down and I've had a few days rest to reassess my playing strategy and my progress in $$$ is virtually nil. Hopefully, though, my education has benefitted and I will be a stronger player when I next hit the tables. I just have to put it into practice.