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.