Friday, September 24, 2004

¡No Más!

It's been several days since my last update. The reasons are many, but paramount to what you,my faithful readers, are interested in is that I've been doing much thinking and next to no playing of poker in the last week. Any poker I have attempted to play has had the recently very predictable result of a loss of bankroll.

A mere couple of weeks ago I had great aspirations for my poker play. The idea was to work my way slowly, as I always have been able to, though the 50/1 level to an appropriate level for 1/2, and just carefully sort of grind my way up from there. To beat the boredom of the grind, I was thinking of playing a multi-table tourney a week (starting a the $5 ones). -EV, to be sure, but it's good experience and it mixes things up a little bit. I was hoping to be able to comfortably sit the $3/$6 limit games by the time the weather was warm again, but so long as I was making progress towards my goal, I would be happy.

Well, after about 3 weeks of almost straight losses, I'm completely baffled by what is going wrong. I think I'm making the same plays I've made a hundred different times in the situations I see, but they all invariably result in me losing. I've tried to break down the numbers, to look for holes, but there's just nothing that is jumping out and saying "here's the problem, bonehead". My basic stats from the previous few months compared to this one look essentially the same! It's not like I've suddenly become a maniac or a calling station so far as I can tell, but again, the frustration and the disappointment is likely clouding my judgement. All I know at this point is that when I get a hand that connects and I bet into it, I expect to lose.

I'm just very disappointed in myself. I've been playing poker for almost a year now, and by this time I should be crushing the 50/1 game and I should definately have game for the 1/2 tables, yet that's not what's happening. I am only marginally successful at 50/1 and any attempts to play the 1/2 tables result in steady, sometimes crushing losses. The short handed 1/2 games were likely big winners for me due to varience and finding tables with God aweful players on them. It seems that the truely bad 1/2 shorthanded players have either busted out or grown a brain. I can't find anyone these days on the 1/2 tables voluntarily putting money in the pot 80% of the time. These guys were like taking candy from a corpse. Just wait until you have a hand and pound them to dust. Any idiot could win against these guys.

So, I only have to assume that I'm not improving at all. Likely because I'm playing at the lowest level with the worst players, and the only way to win against the random array of hands that bottom level players play is to play straight A-B-C poker. There is no reward for betting for results. If you have a hand, you bet/raise. If you don't you check/fold. This is where I've been for a year. If I were any sort of a programmer, I could have written a bot long ago to play this level and just let it rip. God knows I could have used the time to sit and read a few poker books and maybe learned a little something.

So, this long and bizarre journey has come full circle for me. I have taken a majority of my bankroll out. There were several things I wanted to do with my poker money, but when I was making steady gains it was easy to say "I'll just wait". If I were making money at the rate I'm losing it, I'd be bankrolled for the 1/2 game by this time next week. As it is, I just couldn't stand to lose the opportunity to do this as the possibility existed that I would lose to the point that I no longer had the opportunity, so out it went.

The bankroll stands at a tick over $50.

I have, in effect, started over. Maybe. I'm not even motivated at this point to continue in the way I have been going. Poker has ceased being fun, and the reason is as I stated before. I'm on automatic. I can't afford a coach, especially if I'm constantly losing, and anything I learn would be wasted on a majority of the bottom limit cretins. I feel like an ass asking for someone to mentor me. There's gotta be better things for better players then me to do then spend valuable time breaking my of bad habits, and if I were to get into a mentor situation, I would want to actually have "sessions" where we can talk and go over things. I can't ask anyone to do that and not repay them somehow.

So where does this go from here? To be quite honest, I don't know. As this is a poker blog I'd be remiss if I were to begin deviating into other subjects. I could come on here and start taking about poker stuff, but without me actually playing, I can't imagine there being enough content to be worth visiting here anymore. I don't want to stop playing poker, but I don't want to continue to pound out the hours if I'm not improving. I mean, at this point, I don't even know if I suck or not. I don't know a goddamn thing, really, except that I feel like I'm sitting at the bottom of a well and there's no ladder. I've spent enough time trying to climb out to know that, unless a ladder is thrown, there is no point in continuing to dig at the muddy walls.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Same As It EVER Was...

Well, the slide has turned into a plateau. Or I've hit bottom. Either way, I'm not necessarily losing money anymore, though I most decidedly am not making any either.

Well.. Not entirely true. I did lose about $3 today. But I won about $3 yesterday. Yesterday sucked. I played 2 tables of 50/1 and one 1/2 table. I kicked serious amounts of ass on the 50/1 tables, ending up doubled through on one and up $5 or so on the other. The 1/2 table was another story. After raking an early monster I treaded water until the last 10 minutes, where I lost 3 premium hands in a row. That turned a $35 at least win into a break even day.

Being stuck in the mud like this is infinately frustrating, and playing for hours and not getting anywhere has me antsy to move on to something else for a while. I poked around in a $25 no limit table for a little bit, but only came away a buck or so up. I actually rather enjoyed playing at the no limit table. It was refreashing to actually see people respect bets and raises, but by and large the play was still bad enough where I could exploit people's mistakes for profit.

But perhaps the most important aspect, I was actually enjoying myself. For the first time in a long time I was having fun playing! It wasn't so much of a grind, and it wasn't as frustrating to have a pair of Queens, see a King hit the board, and have to assume I'm beat.

I toyed with heading back to the $1/$2 short handed tables too, since history shows me as a consistant winner at those tables, but with only around $415 in the bankroll, I'm still a little thin to make that move.

None the less, I think for the sake of sanity I need to move off the grind for a little bit. I still haven't decided whether I'm going to play more no limit or poke my head back into the short handed tables. Any input and opinion is always welcomed!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Same As It Ever Was

Apologies for no updates in a bunch of days. Short answer is, nothing much has been going on. I'm still bleeding chips, though today was a small winner. So far this month, I'm about 75BB down, which while by no means a tragic slide is certainly the longest streak of losing hours I've put up in my short poker career. So far, my average is -2.3BB/hr. Since I'm at work I'm not sure how many table hours I have in, but I do know I'm closing in on around 1700 hands.

I've seen stories of big, monsterous slides lasting for weeks but never really believed things like this were possible. I always assumed something changed that caused such a hideous downturn to an otherwise successful player. Sometimes this is true, and it is what prompted me to do some research on why I'm in such a dive. Granted, I didn't do a real in-depth analysis in terms of breaking down individual plays, but rather looking at my stats. One thing that stuck out above all others was that my aggression factor is higher.

Now, before my post flop aggression was around 1.6, which is kinda-sorta aggressive. This month it's up to 2.0, so I've turned up the heat a little bit when I'm in a hand. The trouble is, the pre-flop numbers. The aggression is about the same, but it looks like I'm really not getting my "fair share" of starting hands. As mentioned earlier, I'm also not winning my "fair share" of hands I'm in and when coupled with the stepped up aggression it all adds up to losing more money then I should be losing given this situation.

I firmly believe that the upped aggression is a result of covering my stack, thus having the "guts" if you will to put in those last bets on the river when I THINK I'm good, but I'm not POSITIVE I'm good. Unfortunately, when playing the 50/1 level, where no one folds for any amount, this ends up costing me extra bets when someone connects with bizarre cards and I bet into them.

I imagine that I'll be at least marginally more successful when I get to a level where I can at least read some of the players. At 50/1, you have absolutely no frikkin clue where these guys are coming from. I can't tell you how many times I'm sitting there with AK with a K and rags all over the board, no flush possibility, no straight possibility and some bozo pops a raise at me on the river only to show me his 53s and pulling down the pot with some effed up 2 pair he caught on the river. That's enough to want to put my fist through the monitor, covered up stacks or not.

I've also busted out of tables much more often then I used to. I think before I was covering up my stacks I busted off a table twice. I've been all-in at least a half dozen times, and have busted out twice this month alone, and it's only half over.

So, what to do... I guess in the short term, it's time to tighten way the hell back up and just wait it out. My best bet to get out of this 50/1 hell and move on with my poker life is to just ride this out and stick to absolute ABC machine-like play. In 50/1 you have to assume that the opposition could have anything. The last two weeks has made it painfully clear that this is indeed the case.

The good news is, I had a winning session today. It's one session, but it's not a losing one. One step at a time and eventually I'll get out of this crappy bottom limit hole.

Also, I want to thank my readers for taking the time and contributing through the comments. It's good to know you're out there and taking this crazy journey with me.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Smoke On The Horizon

Been a rough week. It wasn't supposed to be this way, but hey, what's life without a little strife? I've already blogged about the Labor Day Weekend debacle so I won't go there, and those that are paying a little bit of attention will know that I've been on a pretty brutal slide the last few days. Today was no different. I knew I was in trouble when I started getting good hands cracked mercilously. Two pair? No good. Flush? Not in the two times I hit them. Top Pair top kicker was a recipe for disaster. I've started to get that bad feeling any time I get a hand. You know that feeling; you get a good hand and you just KNOW it's not going to win. I really REALLY don't want to start thinking that way because that leads right back into Weak/Tight. I know in my mind that this can't last forever, but at the rate I've been losing money, it doesn't HAVE to last forever.

Really the most frustrating part of sliding is I'm ready to move up in limits. I know I've got game to get out of the 50/1 Hell I'm in, but I just don't want to play beyond my bankroll. So, I wait until I hit $600. I don't know where I am right now. Yesterday I was down to $440 or so. At the beginning of the Labor Day weekend I was around $510. After today's debacle I have no idea how much damage was done, and I don't really WANT to know. Not yet, anyway.

So, the plan is as it always was... Keep plugging away. I certainly know I'm a winning player, and the hands I've been losing are +EV hands. If anything I need to be more aggressive when I have a hand. These guys at 50/1 won't fold for any amount so the only thing I can do is depend on probability and statistics to win. One think for certain, I've lost some pretty monsterous pots today, including one where I turn the nut flush only for someone to river the case 7 for four of a kind and a 32BB pot. 5 people in for a capped turn and a three bet river. That one hurt.

In other news, I picked up Doom3 the other day. In a word, excellent. I haven't had a game actually give me chills in a good long time. The presentation is downright creepy. Good stuff. A great way to vent the frustration of getting my ass handed to me at the poker tables too.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Statistical Anomaly

So for the last couple of days I've gotten the impression that I can't get anything going, and any time I think I might I get brutally beaten down.

Turns out I was right. Took a peek at my stats and in the last two days I've dropped about 60BB in roughly 4 table hours of poker.

Today alone saw a 40BB or so slide. I effectively busted out of a table again (down to my last $0.13) and lost about $5 to $10 on the other 3 tables. Over 300 hands and I won 2 percent of the hands. Craptastic.

I've been getting the bug to just say "what the fuck" and make my move to the $1/$2 tables, but I know that would be foolharty at this point. I gotta stay the course and ride this out to the requisite 300BBs for that level. It's just frustrating to see so many decent hands either completely shank (most of what happened today) or get beat on the river (happened enough today, but not unusually often). It's just the Hell that is 50/1 getting its revenge on me, but it'll turn around.

Tomorrow's another day.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Parts Is Parts

A friend of mine who has been trying to get up here for some time was finally able to get here on Saturday on his Honda Goldwing. The plan was to head out on Sunday for a good, long ride on what promised to be a beautiful riding day. My wife got him a hotel room at the hotel she works at and on Sunday morning we head over there to meet up with him.

That's when the trouble started... He goes to push his bike backward out of the parking space and it won't budge. A little working back and forth and it broke free, and after a mile or two down the road it seemed to be working okay, so we rode on to breakfast, where the rear got stiff again, but not as bad... So we went on a little ride and halfway through the brakes started to get mushy, then later completely crapped out. Luckily the Goldwing has an "assist brake" on the front wheel, so he didn't go careening into anything, but now we had a problem. So we get the thing back to my place and take a look. Turns out the rear brake had worn almost to the caliper piston and the caliper piston overextended and jammed against the rotor, effectively destroying the rotor and, for all intents and purposes, the caliper.

Anyone who knows anything about the Goldwing knows how much fun it is to do work on the rear wheel. The Goldwing is a full dress touring bike. It also weighs about as much as a VW Beetle. Anyway to replace the rotor we needed to remove the rear wheel of the bike. Sounds easy, right?

Took us 3 days. Maintenence on this bike is not easy when you have a crappy shop manual, no bike lift and you have to stop every 45 minutes to go get a tool at the store.

Oh, but it gets better. We are now on a parts crawl. We need a caliper, brake pads and a rotor. Oh, yeah. By the way. It's Labor Day weekend. So we can't even BEGIN to look for parts until Tuesday.

Tuesday comes around and, sure enough, finding parts proves difficult, for lack of a better word. No one has a rotor. Further, no one will turn the rotor we have (which wouldn't have worked anyway... This rotor was cashed). Add to that, we still don't have the rear wheel off the bike. We did manage to get a caliper from a local bone yard, but it's quality was questionable. After about 3 hours of searching we find a place that says they can get a rotor for us tomorow...

...In Kenosha. 2+ hours away from here. Whatever, we found a part, and it was cheaper then everyone else. We figure we can head out around 9:00 or so to get there by 11:00, when UPS shows up with the part. So we get the wheel the rest of the way off and throw it all in the trunk and start putting miles behind us for Kenosha about 9:30 or so. Halfway there the shop calls and says our part is there and we're thrilled.

We arrive at the shop and have them mount and balance a new tire, but to make sure it's all balanced, we ask that they put the rotor on the wheel. So our wheel disappears behind the wall along with the rotor in the box and the guy who I had been dealing with and who ordered the part, Lou, goes off to pick up lunch for the guys. About 15 minutes later one of the shop guys pops his head around the corner and asks who I assume is the shop owner to come in back with him... Mike and I think nothing of it, and a few minutes later the shop owner comes back and goes back to work on whatever he was working on. Few minutes later Lou returns and the shop owner asks him "where did you get that part number for the rotor?"

Mike about loses it. I'm ready to head over the counter myself but it looks like Lou is already shitting himself as he realizes just how badly he fucked up. Finally after a minute he turns around, looks at mike and mutters "I fucked up" and disappears around the back, supposedly to see how badly he fucked up. I go to work trying to keep Mike from just grabbing the next heavy thing he can find and destroying things and after a few minutes Lou comes back and says that he can order the part and have it drop shipped to us. We let him know that Mike here is stranded in Appleton and he turns even more sheets of white. Finally it gets worked out where we find the right part at the warehouse and we can go pick it up... In Janesville, WI. Another hour and a half away and not any closer at all to Appleton. We're now driving the bottom part of a triangle. We go, get the part and 7 and a half hours of driving and 10 hours after we left, we return to Appleton with the parts in hand. The actual reassembly of the bike actually went very well, and we had the bike on the road by around 1:00am.

So, instead of a nice enjoyable couple of days visiting with my buddy, we spent the whole damn holiday weekend elbow deep in 25 years of accumulated dirt and oil.

Oh yeah. I also topped it off by getting my ass handed to me in a short session of poker.


Saturday, September 04, 2004

The Final Insult...

I'm sure the French have a word for this...

For now, I'll have to refer to the English translation:

Party Poker 0.50/1 Hold'em (8 handed)

Preflop: The_ICP is MP2 with Ac, As. UTG posts a blind of $0.50.
UTG (poster) checks, UTG+1 calls, 1 fold, The_ICP raises, CO calls, 1 fold, SB calls, BB calls, UTG folds, UTG+1 calls.

Flop: (11 SB) Kh, 7h, 7d (5 players)
SB checks, BB checks, UTG+1 checks, The_ICP bets, CO calls, SB raises, BB calls, UTG+1 folds, The_ICP calls, CO calls.

Turn: (9.50 BB) 9s (4 players)
SB checks, BB checks, The_ICP bets, CO calls, SB calls, BB calls.

River: (13.50 BB) 6c (4 players)
SB checks, BB bets, The_ICP calls, CO raises, SB folds, BB folds, The_ICP calls.

Final Pot: 18.50 BB
Main Pot: 18.50 BB, between The_ICP and CO. >

The_ICP shows Ac As (two pair, aces and sevens).
CO shows 7s 2c (three of a kind, sevens).
Outcome: CO wins 18.50 BB.

Translation: You got fucked, buddy boy.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Ups And Downs

The last few days of poker have been an exercise in frustration. Since I don't actually know how I'm doing over all due to the hidden stacks, I can only guess at where I'm at in terms of win/loss... Which, of course, is the point.

I have, however, discovered another natural human reaction. When left with an absence of information, we tend to "fill in the blanks".

Yesterday I was sitting in on 3 tables of 50/1. I waffle back and forth between 3 and 4 tables, depending on the challenge and my mental capacity at the time. Anyway, on one of the tables I'm getting brutalized. I mean, really taken to town. AA cracked twice in 10 hands, with the second one going down to a guy playing the HAMMER against a capped pre-flop and getting the miracle two pair flop that, of course, turns the boat at the river. The coup de grâce was KK getting owned by Q8o. It was the first time in a good long time I had actually busted out of a 50/1 limit game, and it was not a good feeling.

So, naturally, I'm thinking I'm getting stuck this session for copious amounts of my bankroll. After closing the busted out table and buying into a new table, I'm doing mental calculations in my head and come up with a figure of about -$45 by this time.

Of course, what I FAILED to realize was, when I first sat down on a different table, I went on a hellatious rush to more then double up. It quickly settled down to a standard grind so I had conveniently forgotten about my great run, instead focusing on the immensely more frustrating losses on the other table.

So at the end of it, I was chatting with a buddy of mine and bitching about how much I must have lost, doing my usual "I should just withdraw all of it and put the money to something useful" pissing and moaning I always do when I have an immensely bad day at the table, when he asks what I currently have in the bankroll. I hem and haw a little and do some mental calculations given the amount I remember having 3 days ago when I last looked, minus the last couple of "rough days" I was having and came up with, effectively, a completely off the cuff guess. I couldn't stand it any more, mentally geared up to withstand the bloodbath and took a peek.

I was up $14 for the day.

I was completely stunned. I figured I was in dire straits, but in reality I made off with a GAIN! The net 3 day total wasn't that impressive, but it wasn't negative either. The day before I had lost a fair amount of cash, but had actually come within a few bucks of catching back up.

So, this was a very interesting lesson to me. It proved to me that I could completely bust off a table and still come out ahead. This was something I just would never be able to wrap my head around, because the idea of leaving a table with nothing was so traumatic to me. If I get to playing no limit cash games, I'll really need to be able to recover after a rebuy.

So I'm making reasonable progress. August was a pretty lackluster month, thanks to a bad mid-month slide in the $1/$2 tables. I don't know why I can't come to terms with those tables, but I'd better figure it out and fast, or I'll never be able to progress past them. I think with my new policy of hiding my stack I may find it easier to stick to my game, but we'll see. I'm still about $120 away from having the appropriate 300BB roll for $1/$2, so it'll be at least a couple of weeks, unless I have a legendary run.

Anyway, August was a complete train wreck until the last four days, when I went on an amazing run on the 50/1 tables to end up in the green for the month. Overall I had a win rate of about 0.87BB/hr, with the worst damage being done at the full ring $1/$2 tables. Before getting back into that game, I'll need to sit down and really compare how (or if) my play differs between 50/1 and 1/2.

In the mean time, I'll keep on keeping on with the bankroll building. I'm still hoping to make it to at least 2/4 by the end of the year... Not a ton of time left!