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%.