The Live Wire: an Experiment

    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      For the next little while, I plan to concentrate on playing live, so this is going to be my live poker blog. (Another blog, "In for the Long Haul," will concentrate on online play.)

      Live play is really an experiment for me. I haven't played live very much over the course of my poker career, and never when I've had any solid theoretical foundation or knowledge of proper strategy. I'm going to give live play a try for a couple of months and see how it works out for me. If it doesn't, then it's back to online play I go.

      Anyway, I'm starting at the bottom in order to minimize the damage while I get used to playing live. I have a chance to play 1/2 NL in one casino cardroom and 2/5 limit in another. My first thought was to alternate those two cardrooms, but after giving it much thought I've decided not to make any long-term plans. My first trip will be to the limit cardroom because limit has much lower variance, but if things really suck at limit after a couple of trips, I'll try the NL.

      In preparation for my trip, I'm studying the basic limit strategy articles here on PS. I've read through each basic article twice and have downloaded the one-meg summary and am reviewing it bit by bit. By the time I hit the casino, I hope to have it down cold. This is not as easy for me as it would be for a 20-year-old who's already immersed in full-time college study. My poor middle-aged brain is a bit ossified and slow to learn new things. But it's coming along.

      I am, however, disappointed that the PS articles on live play are all devoted to home games and deal with things such as buying enough poker chips and learning to deal the cards. I would like to see some strategy articles on playing live in a public poker room with a professional dealer. It's something that I might suggest to management.

      Anyway, I plan to do my live play on Friday and Saturday evenings. I want the cardroom to be at its busiest. My first session will be between three and six hours. After that, I'll schedule my sessions so that I can maximize profitable playing time while giving myself an early exit if things are going badly.

      The limit cardroom is a bit of a hassle to get to if you don't have a car. You have to take a commuter bus that drops you off in an intermediate city after about an hour, wait about 10 minutes, then ride another milk run bus for 55 minutes. Once you get to the bus station it's a leisurely five-minute stroll to the casino where the poker room is, but from my residence to the poker room is easily two and a half hours one-way. I would almost consider renting a motel room so I can stay in town and come back Saturday, but the total round-trip travel costs and expenses, food included, are only about $45, and a motel room would cost considerably more. So I guess I'll be round-tripping for five hours of travel in order to play for six hours, each day for two straight days.

      One important principle to keep in mind: I have the poker room's phone number and plan to call them from the intermediate city to reserve a seat for when I arrive. If I just showed up cold and got in line, I'd be waiting for two hours. As it is I might still have to wait, but if that happens I'll book a seat from the commuter bus one and a half hours early, and if even that doesn't work, I'll try booking one two hours ahead of time before I even get on the commuter bus.

      My first poker adventures will be this coming Friday and Saturday. In preparation for it, I plan to buy a mini-notebook, maybe 4" by 3", for recording expenses on the go. Even $45 is nine big bets and I have to be serious about costs if I'm going to make a go of this.

      I'll be travelling in the afternoon, playing in the evening, and coming back in late evening. On Saturday morning you can expect a cardroom review and a summary of how things went.

      To everyone who read this, thank you for reading.
  • 20 replies
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      Bad news. I'm experiencing some mild health problems--nothing serious, but enough to prevent me for travelling. My inaugural live poker trip has been postponed indefinitely. It gives me more time to study the basic limit articles and maybe even some bronze articles. And during the hiatus, I intend to play some limit online, just for practice. After all, I can play online from the comfort of my own home, and I want to stay in practice.

      My other blog, "In for the Long Haul," is about my online play. If readers prefer, however, I can discuss my online play in this blog just to keep it fresh and current. That is, if my blog _has_ any readers. I've invited a few people to swing by and have a look at it, but there haven't been any responses so far. If you want to read what I have to say about playing limit online, post here to let me know.
    • graz187
      graz187
      Bronze
      Joined: 26.01.2011 Posts: 195
      Go get em. Get better soon, and keep us informed on how it goes. Im interested myself in some live play so any info would be great.
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      I got better very quickly and managed to start playing on Friday after all. Since then, I have played for four straight days.

      The trip to the cardroom and back is not nearly as taxing as I expected it to be. It's really like a long bus commute that some people do for their jobs if they live in a different city from their workplace. The two buses I take are commuter buses. One costs $19 round trip and the other costs only $16.16 round trip, all taxes included. Meals are another story, because I essentially have to eat lunch while travelling and get dinner at the cardroom. The cardroom is a bit geographically isolated and doesn't let you bring your own food, so you have to buy food at their overpriced restaurant. Today, however, I managed to get a free meal comped, and that saved some money.

      The cardroom has about 20 tables, and most of them are open around the clock. It's all limit holdem, starting at 2/5 and peaking at 20/40 (although they occasionally manage to get a 50/100 table going if there's enough interest). There are also regularly scheduled tournaments with buyins ranging from $150 to $500. The fields for the tournaments are small, around 30 players, but I'm told they are extremely tough.

      I've been playing 2/5. There are two kinds of 2/5 table, no-kill and kill. A kill table works as follows. When the pot for any given hand exceeds $50, the next hand becomes a 5/10 hand. The winner posts a $5 kill and the blinds are 2/5 instead of 1/2. If the same player wins for a second time, the kill game continues. If he doesn't, it reverts to a regular 2/5 game.

      I've tried the kill tables because they are more numerous. There are usually three kill tables open and only one no-kill table. But the action on the kill tables is tougher than on the no-kill table, so I've mostly been playing the no-kill table every chance I get.

      On Friday I arrived around 3 pm and played until about 6:45 pm. I had to phone ahead about 90 minutes to reserve a seat. The waiting list for people showing up cold was close to an hour and a half when I got there. Since I had phoned ahead, I got a seat within three or four minutes. The action was fast and loose, with at least four players seeing every single flop and often five or six. Nearly every hand went to a four-way showdown. Nearly every hand was also a suckout of some kind or other. Two other players in particular made me hate them because they were constantly sucking out with garbage. I ran into one of them on Monday in the smoking area and asked him how he was doing, and he said, "Not good." I wasn't surprised, because, as one other player remarked to me, "Horseshoes don't mean nothin'." Despite having one pair of pocket aces and two pairs of pocket kings cracked by junky two-pairs, I still managed to win $74 in three and a half hours.

      On Saturday it was more of the same. This time, I played from 3 pm until 9 pm. The players were different but the pattern was the same: junk hands sucking out time and time again. I was actually down around 8:30 pm but went on a heater where my good hands kept winning, and finished the day up $73. I would have stayed longer except the last bus was at 9:35 pm and the next one after that at 4:20 am.

      On Sunday there were fewer players because of a huge UFC event in another nearby city. There were more regulars, and the play was more sensible. I played from 2 pm to 9 pm, and it was a mistake to play for that seventh hour because I started to get really tired toward the end of it and tilted away some money out of simple fatigue. I still won $74--again that weird number. When I cashed out for nearly the identical same amount three days in a row, I started to get spooked.

      Monday I played from 3 pm to 9 pm. The Monday crowd was almost all regulars. In my first five minutes at the table, I flopped a straight twice and had it cracked both times by bad rivers, one being a flush and the other quads. I lost nearly $50 in those two hands alone and it put me in a very, very bad mood. I demanded a table change, then went to the smoking room and stayed there until my big blind came for the second time, played my blinds, then went back to the smoking room. In about 20 minutes I had my seat at the no kill table. There, I had better success early on, but the table composition changed and there were suddenly two maniacs, one two seats to my right and one three seats to my left. I finished the day down $82. Because I played a smart game and the other players were more experienced than the Friday and Saturday crowd, aggression from me usually resulted in foldarounds and nearly all of the pots I won were very small.

      When I first started playing on Friday, I was afraid that I would embarrass myself by not knowing the rules, but I did fine. I managed to develop a routine for looking at my hand early so that I didn't hold up play when my turn came. Toward the end of the day Monday I was also starting to get reads on nearly everyone at my table. In the last two hours on Monday, I managed to steal a couple of small pots from late position.

      Sunday was definitely an object lesson in time management. Because of bad bus connections, I didn't get home until nearly midnight and barely had the energy to throw my pants and shirt on a chair before falling into bed totally exhausted. Today, I managed my time better and arrived home still relatively fresh.

      I think I've now interacted with most of the cardroom staff who work the 3 pm to 9 pm shift, and they've gotten to know me. I have not, however, yet been at the same table with any player for more than one day, so I doubt that the regulars have gotten to know me yet.

      Thanks for reading. If anyone has any questions they want to ask, please do, and I'll do my best to answer them.
    • IngridN
      IngridN
      Bronze
      Joined: 02.03.2011 Posts: 12,162
      Get well belayd :f_love: I am really happy you started this blog finally! Looking forward following your progress! :f_grin:
    • Classified181
      Classified181
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.03.2011 Posts: 111
      Great stuff Belayd, good to see you have ventured out in to the real live poker world and congrats on the nice little win to start it off also. What did you finish, around +$140, take you a while to grind that much profit at 2/4c online, if ever at all ;) Keep us posted...
    • staktas
      staktas
      Bronze
      Joined: 28.03.2011 Posts: 1,346
      On Friday I arrived around 3 pm and played until about 6:45 pm. I had to phone ahead about 90 minutes to reserve a seat. The waiting list for people showing up cold was close to an hour and a half when I got there. Since I had phoned ahead, I got a seat within three or four minutes. The action was fast and loose, with at least four players seeing every single flop and often five or six. Nearly every hand went to a four-way showdown. Nearly every hand was also a suckout of some kind or other. Two other players in particular made me hate them because they were constantly sucking out with garbage. I ran into one of them on Monday in the smoking area and asked him how he was doing, and he said, "Not good." I wasn't surprised, because, as one other player remarked to me, "Horseshoes don't mean nothin'." Despite having one pair of pocket aces and two pairs of pocket kings cracked by junky two-pairs, I still managed to win $74 in three and a half hours.


      Hey, nice blog. I have a question for you. How do you play, when you play against full table of such a donks, who see every flop, doesn't matter raised pot, or not raised?
    • Classified181
      Classified181
      Bronze
      Joined: 22.03.2011 Posts: 111
      Originally posted by staktas


      Hey, nice blog. I have a question for you. How do you play, when you play against full table of such a donks, who see every flop, doesn't matter raised pot, or not raised?
      Price them out of everything, the real bad gambling fish will still call a lot and long term, you win!, way more big pots than you ever should of, very +EV!
      Warning- the sessions you run really bad do become costly, you can take them though with good BRM, knowing how much you are +EV against these types overall.
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      Thank you to everyone who has responded and who is following this.

      I went back on Tuesday and there was some kind of snag at the checkin desk. Although I phoned to book a spot an hour and 15 minutes prior to arrival, I don't think the person who answered the phone bothered to put me down. I ended up having to wait a full hour before getting a seat and didn't start to play until 4 pm. The waiting room was full of people waiting for 2/5, clearly enough to open a new table, and most were in a fairly bad mood at having to cool their heels.

      The table was no-kill again and mostly regulars. The good part was winning a hand with a bluff raise on the river. The bad part was my AK and OESD draws never coming in all day. I ended up down $61 by the time I stopped play around 8:30 pm. And here's the ugly part: I got diverted into playing three-card poker for half an hour and dropped another $70 there. I'm not yet sure whether to include that in my losses calculation or list it in my journal as an expense under "stupidity."

      On Wednesday I woke up sick as a dog--sore throat, dry cough, headache and mild fever. The likely cause was handling dirty poker chips for several hours a day for five straight days. Some of the chips were so dirty they stuck together, and when I wisecracked about betting $3 by mistake because two $1 chips were stuck together, the dealer told me openly, in front of the whole table and her boss standing nearby, that I didn't want to know what they were dirty with. ... Anyway, until I recover, further travel to the poker room is out of the question. Since I've decided to play only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, my next session will likely be on the 13th. In the meantime I can study the bronze articles and figure out a way to post some hand histories for comment. I'm not even sure how to create hand histories for live play. If anyone knows how, please let me know.

      Anyway, the most important lessons I've learned are: (1) Play only on the weekend when it's mostly fish rather than regulars, and (2) wash, wash, wash your hands every time you step away from the table. At the table avoid touching your face if you can possibly help it. I have a habit of scratching under my nose with my right index finger whenever a new community card is dealt, regardless of which card it is or how it affects my hand, and that minor idiosyncrasy has probably cost me an entire weekend of play.

      In response to Staktas' question: Well, limit poker is a very chasey game. Perhaps the only game that's more chasey is 7-card stud. Every hand you play with more than two opponents, the chances of getting sucked out on are fairly high. This shouldn't stop you from playing good hands, but you do have to be prepared for higher variance at a fishy table than at a tight table. My estimation is that, if you play at a fishy table, a bankroll of 500 BB is more appropriate than the usual 300 BB. You also, as Kenny Rogers sang, have to know when to fold 'em. If you cap your AK preflop and don't hit on the flop, but there are significant scare cards, don't contibet against a lot of fish. Learn to fold OESDs and flush draws if they don't hit on the turn. Fold the small blind if you have total junk. Fold the big blind if there are reraises of a raise ahead of you and you don't have strong cards. In general, on a fishy table, play tighter than you would on a table of regulars.

      Thank you again for reading, and all further comments are welcome.
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      I'm managing to recover from the bronchitis, slowly but surely. Last night was the first time in 10 days that I was able to sleep for more than two hours without being woken up by a cough. My throat is significantly less sore, I cough far less often during the day and I feel obstruction in my windpipe only when I first get up in the morning.

      Since I want to concentrate on study for the rest of this month, I plan to resume play on Friday, June 2nd. I'll be playing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 3 pm to about 9 pm. My game will still be 2/5 LHE no-kill. My buyins will be $100 per session with a session stop loss of $150 and a stop loss of $400 overall. Face it, if I manage to drop 80 BB then I'm just not good enough for the limit and need to take a break for further study.

      Right now I'm reading the bronze LHE articles here on PS and trying to absorb the information in them. There's a lot to learn, especially with the bronze starting hands chart for preflop play.

      My expenses will be a sky-high $50 to $85 per day, so I don't expect to make much of a profit in the short term. If my BR doubles, however, I'll move up to 5/10.

      Mondays to Thursdays I'll be playing online, and my other blog will deal with my online play.

      Thanks for reading.
    • IngridN
      IngridN
      Bronze
      Joined: 02.03.2011 Posts: 12,162
      Originally posted by belayd
      I'm managing to recover from the bronchitis, slowly but surely. Last night was the first time in 10 days that I was able to sleep for more than two hours without being woken up by a cough. My throat is significantly less sore, I cough far less often during the day and I feel obstruction in my windpipe only when I first get up in the morning.
      Glad to hear that its getting better and better belayd! Slowly but you'll get there =)

      Have a wonderful day!
      Ingrid
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      Good news, boyz 'n' gorillas! I might be well enough to resume my live play as early as May 20th; and if not, by the 27th. I see my doctor on Monday morning and shall see what he has to say then.

      Today I conducted a different kind of experiment. For the first time in 10 days I went to starbucks, ordered a tall half-sweet black iced tea with lemon, and sat on the patio reading a book--and smoking a cigarette. I was _very_ nervous about smoking out of doors after a 20-minute walk in hot, stuffy weather, and I wore a heavy shirt and jeans instead of the T-shirt, shorts and sandals I'd normally wear on a day like this, but when I smoked I didn't cough at all! That's extremely encouraging.

      In terms of poker, I'm still slogging through the Bronze fixed limit hands chart. Being 45 years old and out of school since 1990, I have a very hard time learning now. With the NL BSS basic starting hands chart it wasn't hard because I could consult it quickly while playing and get to know it that way, but the Bronze fixed limit chart is actually SEVEN charts, and it's hard to shuffle that much paper even at an online table. Bringing the charts to a live table would be insane. The players on either side of me would see which subchart I was looking at and guess my hole cards pretty quickly. So I have to figure out some way to learn the seven charts without being able to use them during play. If anyone has a suggestion how to do that, let me know.

      The other question I'm noodling on is my buyin at the live table. Since it's limit, there is no maximum buyin, and the minimum is only $50. It makes no sense to buy in for $50 and then possibly have to rebuy, but it also makes no sense to buy in for $500 white chips and spread out like a Turkish pasha until my chip stacks take over the whole table. The pattern I've found so far is that, when I buy in for $200, of which $160 are in red $5 chips, I tend to win; and when I buy in for $100, of which $80 are in red chips, I tend to lose. Nevertheless, so far I haven't won more than $74 or lost more than about $80 in any one session, and buying in for $200 just means that I end up having to carry three chip racks to the cashier when I'm ready to leave. When playing limit I hate to have a lot of chips in front of me. So any comment on that would be helpful.

      Thanks for reading, and see you around.
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      I've been analyzing my live play, or what I can remember of it, and am noticing a pattern that amounts to a leak.

      It's simple: playing junk hands that hit well but get sucked out on.

      For example, I once called with 87 offsuit and flopped a 69T straight. I bet heavily and a guy with JT kept calling. Of course, the turn and river were both T and he sucked out on me with quads. I lost about $25 in that hand.

      When it happened I was upset because it _seemed_ to be a bad beat, but when I think about it carefully it really isn't. Yes, I flopped a straight, but my two hole cards were junk. If I had folded them the way I was supposed to, I wouldn't have lost money.

      That happens a lot, doesn't it? You play hands you're supposed to fold and end up getting shafted--except that you're not really shafted, you're stupid. Online, I had 26 offsuit in big blind and the flop came A26. My opponent had an ace and I thought I had him over a barrel with two pair. But of course the turn and river came 44 and he ended up with a higher two pair.

      Garbage hole cards seem to get punished even when they hit.

      So, in future, I'm going to be much more careful with garbage hole cards, even when it looks like I have a good hand on the flop.
    • Roachor
      Roachor
      Bronze
      Joined: 03.01.2010 Posts: 357
      Originally posted by belayd
      I'm managing to recover from the bronchitis, slowly but surely. Last night was the first time in 10 days that I was able to sleep for more than two hours without being woken up by a cough. My throat is significantly less sore, I cough far less often during the day and I feel obstruction in my windpipe only when I first get up in the morning.
      i got the same man :( really sucks. the pump i have only widens the windpipe for a few hours than its back to hard breathing.. so waking up every few hours also :(

      Stupid weather..
    • Hahaownedlolz
      Hahaownedlolz
      Bronze
      Joined: 24.04.2009 Posts: 1,755
      You have bronchitis and you keep smoking? Or was it just an experiment?

      Either way i think it's a really stupid thing to do. (Even regardless of having bronchitis)
    • clsrtotilt
      clsrtotilt
      Bronze
      Joined: 14.05.2011 Posts: 40
      Hope you get better soon, belayd!
      And GL with your live poker journey.

      about that junk hands post you talked earlier: i believe that hands like 87o you play to suck out on other overpairs etc., so there is definately lots of situations where you can play connectors. Yeah, it was harsh that he had quads (were you all in on flop, btw ?), but shit happens :) I'm not a holdem specialist or even player, so you can ignore my opinion, hehe.
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      Just a brief update. My throat is too sore for me to go out of town this Friday to play. If it's better on Saturday, Sunday or Monday (since Monday is a stat holiday), I'll go then. Otherwise, I'll have to wait for the 27th.

      In the meantime, feel free to follow my online play blog. The link is in my signature.
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      I finally got out to Brantford on the 27th. I booked for both 2/5 and 5/10 limit and 2/5 came up first. Luckily, it was a no-kill table again.

      This Friday session was different from my previous one. There was lots of table jumping and open seats all day. The limping was extremely fishy, as was the chasing. There were even two family pots that saw the flop.

      I got three good hands and took down good-sized pots, but also got donked six times. Overall, I bought in for $100 and cashed out $110 for a gross profit of $10. Sadly, my expenses were $49, so I had a net loss.

      I had a chance to chat with some regulars on smoke break and they say everything up to 10/20 is very fishy, with only 20/40 being a respectful playing level.

      Leaving for another session in about 20 minutes. Wish me success!
    • belayd
      belayd
      Global
      Joined: 17.03.2011 Posts: 1,021
      I had my worst day at live limit yet. After going up $140 in the first hour thanks to two solid hands (flopped a straight and a boat), I walked out down $188. That's a $324 swing at 2/5 limit, which is 64 big bets. This morning I feel worn down and exhausted from all the travel and am taking the day off, to resme next weekend.
    • purplefizz
      purplefizz
      Bronze
      Joined: 12.03.2008 Posts: 4,508
      just wanted to drop in and say hi. played live game yesterday and i remembered you. i think your dedication is incredibly amazing. i cannot believe the effort you put into the long commute and other things.
      i was even gonna ask you some tips because im really inexperienced with live play. it's just so dramatically different from online.
      anyway, hope you feel better. thanks for taking care of our new members esp during weekends. you rock! :f_love:
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