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Gamer135's Midnight Ramblings -- Currently Grinding at NL10 on Cake

    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      Greetings from Canada, eh! ;)

      I'm pushing 40 and live in Vancouver with my wife and two sons. I've been playing poker for the last two years, but only started taking it seriously a few months ago. I unfortunately don't have as much time to devote to poker as some of you out there (family and working on weekends has a funny way of doing that), but I plan to make the most of what I do have.

      Right now you can find me mucking about at the micro-stakes tables on Titan and PokerStars.

      Anyway, a little background behind the old name of this blog, "Back From the Brink":

      I got my $50 bonus last month and signed up on Titan. I started off by playing some $2 SnGs and did all right for a little while, then hit a massive downswing and managed to lose all but $10 of my bankroll within a week, despite following BRM to the letter.

      That's when I tilted. Hard. I'll spare you the ugly details, but when the smoke cleared I was down to 94 cents.

      Unfortunately, those articles on tilting in the Strategy section came a little too late for me.

      Needless to say, I was frustrated, angry, and a bit depressed. I took a break from playing. I didn't really have much of a choice, as the minimum buyin on the cash games is $1, and I didn't really want to tackle a tournament again, freeroll or not, for a long while.

      A few days later, I found this email in my inbox from Titan:

      "Today we issued you with a CAD12.90 bonus. The bonus is waiting for you in your account number TTR********."

      They say timing can play a big role in poker. :D

      I got a second chance out of the blue, and I have no plans of letting this one slip away.

      So, I'll be posting my observations, stories, graphs, key hands, bad beats (not too many, I hope!) and funny hands here regularly if real life doesn't get in the way. (I may love poker, but some things are more important. =) )

      I'm looking forward to hearing from you.
  • 35 replies
    • fun101rockets
      Joined: 01.06.2008 Posts: 1,162
      I am from Edmonton Canada.
      Make sure to read the articles before you start playing.
      I made a $6 BR into $800 (in 2 months) by following strategies
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      Thanks for the shout, fun101rockets. Hope the Oilers won't suck as much as the Canucks will this season. :tongue:

      Anyway, on to business. Lately I've playing BSS on the SH tables and getting good results, so I've been sticking with them. Here's my graphs from the last two weeks or so:



      Stats (Stars is on top):

      Oh. Yes. Right. About that last downswing on the Titan graph:

      $0.02/$0.04 No Limit Holdem
      5 players
      Converted at

      UTG ($3.68)
      CO ($6.81)
      BTN ($4.46)
      SB ($3.51)
      Hero ($6.42)

      Pre-flop: ($0.06, 5 players) Hero is BB K:diamond: K:spade:
      1 fold, CO calls $0.04, 2 folds, Hero raises to $0.16, CO calls $0.12

      Flop: 8:diamond: T:club: 4:spade: ($0.38, 2 players)
      Hero bets $0.24, CO raises to $0.48, Hero raises to $1.78, CO goes all-in $6.65, Hero goes all-in $4.48

      Turn: 7:club: ($14.01, 2 players)

      River: A:spade: ($14.01, 2 players)

      Final Pot: $12.61
      CO shows: 4:diamond: 4:heart:
      Hero shows: K:diamond: K:spade:

      CO wins $12.61 ( won +$5.80 )
      Hero lost -$6.42

      - - - - -

      That's poker, I guess. I wonder if I played that flop too aggressively. Should I go? Nah, I'm not going to let one hand scare me away like that. Time to rebuy.

      Not ten minutes later, the cowboys ride again:

      $0.02/$0.04 No Limit Holdem
      6 players
      Converted at

      UTG ($6.19)
      UTG+1 ($2.44)
      CO ($6.23)
      Hero ($6.00)
      SB ($3.71)
      BB ($5.06)

      Pre-flop: ($0.06, 6 players) Hero is BTN K:club: K:diamond:
      1 fold, UTG+1 calls $0.04, 1 fold, Hero raises to $0.20, 1 fold, BB raises to $0.68, UTG+1 folds, Hero raises to $2, BB calls $1.32

      Flop: 6:club: 5:spade: 2:heart: ($4.30, 2 players)
      BB checks, Hero bets $4, BB goes all-in $3.06

      Turn: 2:spade: ($11.36, 2 players)

      River: 7:heart: ($11.36, 2 players)

      Final Pot: $10.62
      BB shows: A:heart: A:club:
      Hero shows: K:club: K:diamond:

      BB wins $9.68 ( won +$4.62 )
      Hero wins $0.94 ( lost -$5.06 )
      UTG+1 lost -$0.04

      Yup. Definitely time to go.

      Bankrolls as of 23-09-2008:
      Titan: $19.26
      PokerStars: $81.14
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      Well, it looks like things have cooled down for me a little on Titan. While it's far from being a complete disaster, it's enough to make me take a breather and take a nice long look at my recent play.

      As I was going through my hand histories for this downswing, one mistake in particular glared at me. During a full ring $.02/$.04 NL game I got Q:heart: T:spade: in the small blind, bet 5BBs when I got two limpers, and called a rather large reraise. That series of errors cost me about $1.25 when all was said and done.

      The first thing that went through my mind when I saw that later was, "WTF was I thinking!?"

      It hit me when I looked further back. In the fifty hands before that one, the best hands I had dealt to me were pocket sixes (which I had been forced to lay down on the flop when I didn't hit a set) and a couple of unsuited ace-rags. I had been pretty much card dead for over the past four and a half orbits.

      The good news was that I had only lost a little more than four sets of blinds during that time. What was frustrating, however, was that I had mucked what would have eventually been the nuts several times. In one particular hand I had J:diamond: 4:heart: in middle position - easy fold, right?

      The board mocked me by coming out 4 4 J 4.

      At the micro-stakes level, I see lots of fish play with almost anything (I'm sure there are fish that will do that at higher levels too, but I'll probably write about that when I get there). Sometimes they win. Occasionally, they can't seem to do any wrong and walk away with four or five buy-ins.

      Now, combine all of these factors. If you go card dead for a long period of time, muck the eventual nuts once in a while, and watch fish constantly get rewarded for bad play, pretty soon that QT you got dealt in the SB might be awfully tempting.

      Tight is right. It's repeated like a mantra by many poker players because it works. As I type out this entry, I also know that. For me, the challenge is to follow it in the heat of the moment.

      Maybe it's time to play SSS for a little while to reinforce that strategy.

      Bankrolls as of 24-09-2008:
      Titan: $17.25
      PokerStars: $94.79
    • Hlynkinn
      Joined: 14.06.2008 Posts: 4,998
      If folding J4 and hitting the nuts tilts you... then you need to get your mind right... Also for that QT move (TBH QT aint to bad) but it sounds like you played it bad postflop...

      Now you've just sat there for couple of orbits and Like you say seeing the fishes get some money... Now thats just an oppertunity to get that dead money :) .

      When playing donks you shouldn't try to bluff or shit like that.. Just have the best hand :)

      Sry can't write more now... Need to go to class lol :)
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      Hitting the nuts with that J4 was more funny than anything else, but it was just one more paper cut on top of an ever-growing pile.

      Being card dead for a really long period of time gets under my skin after a while. Maybe it's because I used to play SnGs a lot when I began playing -- being card dead for a few orbits when you're on the bubble and the blinds are eating away at your stack certainly puts the pressure on.

      I just have to try to keep in mind while at the table that the hands will eventually come again.
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      I haven't had much time to play lately because of work and kid stuff (more on that a little later).

      I'm digging out of a $10 stumble I took on Stars -- AA ran into 2 pair at one table, and a set lost to a runner-runner flush at another. It was bound to happen after that heater I've been on, and it's not enough to knock me down a level, so it's no big deal.

      I did manage to find another hole that may need fixing:

      $0.05/$0.1 No Limit Holdem
      9 players
      Converted at

      UTG ($11.70)
      UTG+1 ($9.30)
      MP1 ($17.00)
      MP2 ($14.25)
      MP3 ($6.05)
      CO ($0.90)
      Hero ($10.65)
      SB ($17.00)
      BB ($7.95)

      Pre-flop: ($0.15, 9 players) Hero is BTN K:spade: A:heart:
      1 fold, UTG+1 raises to $0.30, 4 folds, Hero raises to $0.80, 2 folds, UTG+1 calls $0.50

      Flop: 2:club: 5:diamond: 2:spade: ($1.75, 2 players)
      UTG+1 bets $1.50, Hero calls $1.50

      Turn: K:diamond: ($4.75, 2 players)
      UTG+1 checks, Hero bets $2.50, UTG+1 calls $2.50

      River: J:heart: ($9.75, 2 players)
      UTG+1 checks, Hero checks

      Final Pot: $9.75
      UTG+1 shows: Q:heart: Q:club:
      Hero shows: K:spade: A:heart:

      Hero wins $9.30 ( won +$4.50 )
      UTG+1 lost -$4.80

      IMO, that check on the river was the wrong play. The villain showed weakness with his check/call on the turn and there was no draw on the board. And yet, even though I was ahead of everything except for a set (2x and 55 probably would have folded to my PF reraise) and AA, I couldn't pull the trigger on a value bet.

      Maybe I'm so used to being behind that I don't know what to do when I'm ahead. :P

      Over on Titan, I've discovered their new 6-player double-up tournaments. They seem really easy to make money on -- currently I'm on a 5 game winning streak on the $2 ones. So far I've just been playing tight, waiting for my spots, and letting the fish knock each other out.

      Considering how loose most of the fish I've seen at these tables are, I wonder if one could win these consistently by never playing a hand. ?(

      My 6 year old, unfortunately, has not been very supportive of my career. He had the day off from school on Friday, and we had to run an errand at ten that morning. He settled in to watch a little TV after breakfast, and I decided to kill some time by playing at a single cash table. At 9:30 he came up to me and asked me when we're leaving.

      I waved my mouse pointer over my impressive stack of $4.96 -- I'm 1 BB down at this point. "We're going at ten, or when this goes over five dollars, whichever comes first," I replied.

      He looked at the clock, looked at the monitor, then looked to me and said,

      "Okay! I'll be ready to go at ten!"

      Thanks, kid.

      Bankrolls as of 28-09-2008:
      Titan: $31.34 (got a bonus today! Woohoo!)
      PokerStars: $87.28
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      It's been a week of frustration on Titan. I've been spinning my wheels at the cash game tables, as you can tell by my graph:

      I find that cash game tables are pretty scarce when I log in. To kill some time while waiting for some tables in my range to open up, I tried a couple of their casino games today.

      BIG mistake. Fortunately, I was able to stop myself before too much damage was done.

      The SnGs have been a little better - at least I'm making a little money from them. Lately, I've been playing the $2 6-man turbo double-ups (the winning streak I mentioned last post has unfortunately ended at 5) and the occasional single-table $1 and $2 SnGs.

      This brings me to the hand that I busted out with in my last tournament. Granted, this one ended up being a suckout, but I wonder if I played it wrong considering I was at 11 BBs at the time. Maybe I entered the Push or Fold stage too early...?

      No Limit Holdem Tournament
      "Turbo" $2 NLH Double Up Buy-In: $2+$0.40
      6 players
      Converted at

      UTG (3200)
      UTG+1 (1640)
      Hero (1150)
      BTN (940)
      SB (1000)
      BB (1070)

      Blinds: 50/100

      Pre-flop: (150, 6 players) Hero is CO A:diamond: Q:club:
      1 fold, UTG+1 calls 100, Hero goes all-in 1150, 3 folds, UTG+1 calls 1050

      Flop: J:diamond: 5:club: J:heart: (2450, 2 players)

      Turn: 8:club: (2450, 2 players)

      River: 3:spade: (2450, 2 players)

      Final Pot: 2450
      Hero shows: A:diamond: Q:club:
      UTG+1 shows: 3:club: A:club:

      UTG+1 wins 2450 ( won +1300 )
      Hero lost -1150

      Okay, enough about the bad news.

      I've hit a milestone at Stars, just in time for the end of the month!

      I made a deposit of $20 there back in January, and haven't been able to do much with it since. When I joined PS my bankroll there was sitting at $30.

      Fast-forward two months:

      It may be a modest gain for some, but considering the amount time I have to play and the fact that I haven't played anything higher than $.10 NL, I think it's a big accomplishment. :D

      Seeing as it's a new month, I think it's high time I set some poker-related goals for October.

      - Read two strategy articles/week
      - Watch at least one training video/week

      - Bankroll target: $200
      - Move up to $0.25 NL

      - Bankroll target: $50
      - Move up to the $0.10 NL

      Also, I have a small favor to ask before I go.

      I read Positively Fifth Street ages ago. I recall that there was a point where the author got AA and everyone at the table folded pre-flop. He mentioned something about the urge to eviscerate someone when you get aces, and I think it might make a nice sig. Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of the book, and my Google-fu is weak today. If anyone could find the quote for me, I would appreciate it. Thanks in advance!

      - - - - -
      Bankrolls as of 30-09-2008:
      Titan: $16.99
      PokerStars: $100.88
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      Oh, boy.

      You may have noticed that I've been posting some hands in the Strategy section of these forums lately. Although this is a good idea in general, the main reason for this is that I've hit major downswings on both Titan and Stars.

      I've been on a downswing on Titan since last week, so I've adjusted my playing style to compensate. I've been playing two tables at most instead of my usual four, and I've been playing at the NL4 tables and then at the NL2 tables as my bankroll dwindled. Incidentally, I'm beginning to think that this might not be ideal since the minimum buyin at these tables is $1, which is 25 and 50 BBs respectively. Doesn't the basic SSS say you should only buy in for 20 BBs? ?(

      Anyway, the results? There have been a few minor wins, but the last six times I've stacked off have been brutal. The hand histories don't really matter, so I'll just summarize:

      - A fish with A4o open shoved preflop. I called with KK which put me all in. Ace came on the turn.
      - Four-bet with KK mid position; I got reraised by another fish in SB. I call/shove. He shows A7o. Ace came on the river.
      - Three-bet preflop UTG with AK, got re-raised preflop, I shoved. Villain showed QQ. Q-Q-A on the flop. Okay, that one didn't hurt so bad. At least I got stacked with style.
      - Pocket nines mid-position. I three-bet, one caller. Flop was 9-K-K. Villain raised, I reraised all-in, he called. He had 9K.
      - I hit a set of aces which then got cracked by a runner-runner straight.
      - I got aces again and squared off versus pocket 7s. 7 came up on the turn.

      This isn't counting the other smaller losses I've managed to collect over the last couple of days, either.

      It's been frustrating and demoralizing, but that's poker for you.

      Stars hasn't been any better. I've been getting hammered at the NL10 tables and had to swallow my pride and go back down to NL5.

      If there's one thing I'm learning from this from a psychological point of view, it's that there's no shame in going back down a level when you're on a downswing. The old me would have stayed at the NL10 level at Stars as long as possible on the belief that it's all due to variance and that I'd be able to play my way through and get my bankroll up as quickly as it came down.

      Now I'm taking the time to lick my wounds and rebuild my confidence and bankroll (and both have taken a severe beating lately!) by playing at a level that I was able to beat before. At least any mistakes I make won't be as costly.

      Variance is playing a big part of this downswing, but I realize that my own play probably has a lot to do with it as well. I'm taking the time to analyze my play more -- hence the postings in the Strategy section. I've already discovered a few leaks in my play in general, and I'm sure there's bound to be more.

      I should be able to pull out of this tailspin soon. I hope.

      - - - - -
      Bankrolls as of 08-10-2008:
      Titan: $2.18
      PokerStars: $40.55
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      Not so long ago, I got a subtle reminder that I'm getting old.

      Okay, subtle isn't exactly the right word for it unless a roundhouse kick in your teeth from Chuck Norris, Tito Ortiz, or any other martial artist or UFC/MMA fighter is your definition of it.

      You see, by this time tomorrow, I'll be at my 20th-year high school reunion.

      Reunions are interesting events. You get to catch up with people you haven't seen in years and compare notes about how your life has been, while hopefully not getting too drunk at the cash bar. You get to see how all those hopes and dreams that everyone had back then actually panned out.

      Mine didn't do so well as I'd hoped, unfortunately.

      "Yes," screamed the handful of people who read this blog, "But what does this have to do with poker?"

      I'm getting to that. I'm getting old, remember? I'm allowed to ramble once in a while.

      Remember those downswings I mentioned last entry? I think I've been able to overcome them for now. And I think I know why.

      You've probably heard the saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks".

      I had my Stars account for about a year before I discovered PS. While I was able to not go broke during that time, I picked up on some pretty bad habits. Completing in the SB with marginal hands, overplaying suited connectors, not being fully aware of position, that sort of thing.

      When I hit that downswing, I began to doubt myself. Maybe it wasn't on a conscious level, since I never caught myself actually thinking that, but I think I began to revert back to those bad habits and carried them over to my short stack game, too. Think of it as a long-term, subtle tilt.

      For example, in one of the SSS hands I posted, I think I raised with ATo in early position. In another, I made a reraise PF with AQ. Don't quote me on those, my memory's not what it used to be.

      Had I followed the SHC, both of those would have been folds. However, those were hands that I used to play before. I did now, and I ended up getting stacked on both times.

      So, I went back to re-reading the basic articles. I tightened up i some spots, loosened up in others, and made a few other adjustments here and there.

      After an early stumble (going 270+ hands being card dead is never fun), I'm rather pleased with the results. Now I'll just have to aim for those goals I posted last time. There's still two weeks to go in the month.

      Who knows, maybe I'll be able to go to my 25th high school reunion and tell everyone that I'm living the dream as a professional poker player and that I made final table at the WSOP.

      After all, Doyle Brunson won the main event twice, and I'm quite sure that I'm at least younger than he is. :D

      - - - - -

      Bankrolls as of 17-10-2008:
      Titan: $16.22 (+14.04)
      PokerStars: $72.28 (+31.73)
    • p0kerQT
      Joined: 28.03.2008 Posts: 1,300
      Everyone gets card dead at times, u shouldn't use this as a reason to start playin marginal hands, even if they woulda hit miracle flops sometimes (good reason to forget ur cards after u fold em) Just wait for good cards so u still have plenty of chips for when u do hit a hand :)

      Glad to hear you have overcome your bad run of cards, best of luck to you for the future.
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      The rumors of my success have been greatly exaggerated. - with apologies to Mark Twain

      This was going to be a mini-rant, because I've hit yet another downswing. However, I've decided to channel my energy into something else instead.

      Besides, we've got a whole forum devoted to downswings, so why clutter up this one too?

      If you recall, my goals for October were, among other things, to get my bankroll up to $50 at Titan and $200 at PokerStars.

      Hidden in there was one other goal. I checked my Stars balance and found out that ever since I signed up there I have deposited a grand total of $140. So obviously, breaking even overall would be a great accomplishment, too.

      I almost did it. Last week I managed to get my bankroll up to $128. I had been playing at the NL5 SH tables, where I've had some great success at over the past few weeks, and the $3.40 SnGs (I had been in the money six times out of eight). So I was one SnG win or one buyin away.

      Then, boom. In the span of three days I lost five SnGs in a row and a total of five buyins.


      Now don't get me wrong. I think realistic goal-setting is essential to the mental part of your game. I just don't know if this downswing is somehow related to me getting close to attaining that $150 benchmark. Could I be trying too hard, or was it coincidence?

      I'd like to think it's the latter, but it wouldn't hurt to take another look at a few more hands, just to be sure. :evil:

      Anyway, seeing as it's almost November, it's time to re-evaluate and set my poker-related goals for the month:

      - Bankroll target: $150

      - Bankroll target: $30

      No change in levels for either site. I'm sticking to NL10 SSS, NL5 BSS, and $1.20 SnGs unless something drastic happens.

      Have yourselves a great Hallowe'en, and try not to let your kids (if you have any) get too hyped up on that candy!

      Or you can do what my sister loves to do - stuff as much sugar into your nieces and nephews as possible and then hand them back to their parents. :P

      Bankrolls as of 30-10-2008:
      Titan: $6.10 (-$10.12)
      PokerStars: $69.81 (-$2.47)
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      Wow, what a difference a couple of weeks makes.

      It looks like the Poker Gods have finally stopped playing with the 'Smite' button for awhile. :D

      On PokerStars, I managed to get on a bit of an upswing playing NL5 BSS and got my bankroll back up to $90. From there, I tried going back to playing the $3+$.40 SnGs. The results were... well, I'll let the graph do the talking.

      The bar on the far right is the one that matters. Over 43 1-table SnGs, I'd say that a $50 net profit with an ROI of 45% is pretty good. I was even shooting to make it on the Battle of the Planets low-orbit leaderboard for that limit -- and barely missed it. :evil:

      Along the way, I ran into one fish with an interesting strategy. Basically, he'd limp into every hand or call any pre-flop raise. Then he'd make a half pot-sized c-bet on the flop (and fold a raise, if any), then do the same on the turn and make a smaller bet on the river if it went that far.

      Every hand.

      I didn't notice this pattern for several orbits, since he was across the table from my seat and I was concentrating more on the two seats to either side of me. What finally drew my attention was one hand when he went to showdown and showed a 57o. The board was A-J-T-3-9 rainbow, and he lost to A4.

      By the time this happened, he had built up a stack of about 3000 chips and was in second place, so losing that hand didn't hurt him that much.

      In the next hand he was in a showdown, he had Jc7c and the board was Kh-8h-4h-Ts-Ad. Basically, his whole strategy seemed to revolve around getting other players to fold while he double-barreled with air.

      You would think that his bets would be getting a lot less respect after that. Nope. The fish didn't change his tactics, but neither did the others at the table. He kept betting, and they kept folding. He eventually got the chip lead and tightened up, but he eventually busted on the bubble.

      From this, I'm learning that players at micro-limits don't really seem to play attention to others at the table; they seem to just concentrate on the cards. At a higher limit game, I think it would be likely that this fish would have been challenged a lot more, and would probably get raised a lot by other players in position as they realize what he's trying to do and adapt to his strategy.

      Over on Titan... well, I think I'm going to give it a rest there for awhile. Now that the Summertime bonus is over, I don't really have enough incentive to play there, especially now that I'm still running well on Stars. This unfortunately means that I'll probably lose my Silver status at the end of the month.

      I don't think I've wasted my initial $50 bonus, really. I may have lost it on Titan, but I've put the things I've learned to very good use on Stars so I'm ahead of the game at the moment. If I were to combine the two bankrolls, I think I'm ahead $60 since the time I've joined PS.

      All is not lost, though - my next goal for PokerStars is to get my bankroll up to $200 by the end of the month, so I can cash out $50 and deposit it either back onto Titan, or onto Party if they'll let me track my play money account there.

      Bankrolls as of 13-11-2008:
      Titan: $2.14 (-$3.96)
      PokerStars: $152.69 (+$82.88)

      Hmm, I could get used to this... :D
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      Well, it looks like my little heater is over.

      This time I think I got off pretty lightly. Instead of going on some massive downswing where I'd lose a dozen or so buy-ins all at once, I lost money gradually, maybe $5 per night at most. I got a last-minute surge and managed to place second in two SnGs this morning, giving me a month-end balance of $194.23.

      Sooooo close. :(

      Speaking of balances and such, my wife and I were discussing Christmas shopping this afternoon, and she asked me if I was willing to cash out my bankroll to help with the shopping.

      I told her that I'm still building my bankroll and would be more than happy to when the time is right - when my roll can support me at a place where I can consistently grind out a reasonable profit each month.

      Before anyone starts yelling, "Grinch!" at me, we already have enough money for everyone's presents without my bankroll. :D She did admit that she was just thinking out loud and had no real intention of actually asking me to do it... this year.

      Her question did make me realize that I should set at least one long-term goal, so here it is:

      My current long-term goal is to reach a level where I can make enough playing poker to cash out an average of $500 per month within the next two years.

      Of course, I'll re-evaluate my goal once I get there. I'm a bit tired right now, so I'll worry about the details a little later.

      As for December's goals, I plan to cash out $50 to deposit onto another site to start earning Strategy Points again, and to bring my bankroll up to $300.

      Good luck at the tables, folks!

      PokerStars Bankroll as of 13-11-2008: $194.23 (+$41.54)
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      Belated happy holidays, everyone! I hope everyone enjoyed themselves!

      My ever-loving (but slightly confused) wife decided to give me some poker-related swag for Christmas this year: a copy of Harrington on Hold'Em Vol. I (which I already have; apparently she meant to get Vol. II) and a big jar of cashews. Get it - Nuts? Cashews...?

      Eh, never mind. It's the thought that counts.

      For a lot of people, January is a time to set new goals. We're no different; many of us, including me, are writing these poker blogs at least partly to keep track of our progress so that we stay on track.

      I was talking with a poker-savvy friend of mine a little while ago, and he brought up something that made me rethink my goal setting. Over the last few months, I had been using my bankroll as a way to set my goals. He pointed out that, while the money is a good way to keep score, it's a poor way to track your skill as a player, especially in the short term, because you have no control over one important factor: variance.

      In theory, you can play perfect poker and end up being a losing player after a massive downswing (I know we've all been there). If something like that happens and you are too focused on the money you lost, any improvements you may have made in your play will not be built upon because of the emphasis on your results instead of on your play. It's better to set your goals based on something you have direct control over.

      Based on this, my monthly goals are, in no particular order:
      1. Update this blog at least twice. Whether it gets read or not is up to you.
      2. Play 10,000 cash game hands, mostly 4-tabling at NL10.
      3. Play in 50 SnGs.
      4. Post 10 hands in the strategy boards for discussion.
      5. Play in 10 MTTs.
      6. Plug at least one hole in my play.
      7. Earn 100 StrategyPoints to get back to / maintain Silver status.

      All right, lecture's over. What else has been happening?

      My trial version of PokerTracker 3 had expired a little while ago. Although it's powerful, it's not really to my liking mostly because I found the HUD to be a little buggy. Since then, I downloaded Hold'Em Manager and it was working fine. I figure it will be even better once the promised tournament support gets added.

      That was until a few days ago, when a Vista upgrade got installed. Since then, I've been painfully reminded why I had left my old job in IT. I've had to reinstall PostgreSQL four times (stupidly forgetting the password to the control account each time, forcing me to make a new account). Then there's the seemingly countless reboots and re-starts of the PostgreSQL server. At least it's running again for now.

      On the bright side, I was in a decent upswing through most of the month. It all came to an end today, when this hand came up:

      $0.05/$0.1 No Limit Holdem
      9 players
      Converted at

      UTG ($11.40)
      UTG+1 ($10.35)
      MP1 ($13.05)
      MP2 ($15.50)
      MP3 ($4.65)
      CO ($5.00)
      BTN ($3.60)
      SB ($8.05)
      Hero (BB) ($18.80)

      Pre-flop: ($0.15, 9 players) Hero is BB 7:diamond: 7:spade:
      1 fold, UTG+1 raises to $0.40, 2 folds, MP3 calls $0.40, 1 fold, BTN calls $0.40, 1 fold, Hero calls $0.30

      Flop: A:heart: K:heart: 7:heart: ($1.65, 4 players)
      Hero bets $1, UTG+1 calls $1, 2 folds

      Turn: A:diamond: ($3.65, 2 players)
      Hero checks, UTG+1 checks

      River: 5:spade: ($3.65, 2 players)
      Hero bets $2, UTG+1 raises to $8.95, Hero calls $6.95

      Final Pot: $21.55
      Hero shows: 7:diamond: 7:spade:
      UTG+1 shows: K:diamond: A:spade:

      UTG+1 wins $20.50 ( won +$10.15 )
      MP3 lost -$0.40
      BTN lost -$0.40
      Hero lost -$10.35

      Shortly followed by:

      $0.05/$0.1 No Limit Holdem
      7 players
      Converted at

      UTG ($9.90)
      UTG+1 ($4.80)
      MP ($2.75)
      Hero (CO) ($10.65)
      BTN ($11.50)
      SB ($20.40)
      BB ($13.20)

      Pre-flop: ($0.15, 7 players) Hero is CO Q:diamond: K:diamond:
      3 folds, Hero raises to $0.30, BTN calls $0.30, 2 folds

      Flop: J:diamond: 5:club: 7:diamond: ($0.75, 2 players)
      Hero bets $0.40, BTN calls $0.40

      Turn: K:heart: ($1.55, 2 players)
      Hero bets $0.80, BTN calls $0.80

      River: 8:diamond: ($3.15, 2 players)
      Hero bets $2.50, BTN raises to $6.50, Hero calls $4

      Final Pot: $16.15
      Hero shows: Q:diamond: K:diamond:
      BTN shows: 9:diamond: T:diamond:

      BTN wins $15.35 ( won +$7.35 )
      Hero lost -$8

      Yup, it looks like the Poker Gods have found the 'Smite' button again. Of course, my mistakes didn't help any either... :D

      That's about it for now. Here's hoping that 2009 is better than 2008 was for all of you!

      PokerStars Bankroll as of 14-1-2009: $237.56 (+$43.33)
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      Hey there,

      Well, first things first - I went and deposited on Cake Poker a little while ago. It wasn't much of a deposit, only $50, but it's enough to get me started and to get a feel for the place.

      So far, I've been winning tons of little pots on NL10 (there's a lot of shortstackers who definitely aren't playing proper SSS), but losing most of the big ones.

      The stats for NL10 are skewed because I was playing SSS for about the first thousand hands or so.

      Nice little bell curve, huh? :rolleyes:

      The top losing hands over 50 BBs this month were:

      AKo vs. 99 with AK on the flop. Villain hits a runner-runner flush.
      QQ vs. AA on a paired board.
      KK vs. AA. Five times in two days.
      K9o, hit the straight on the turn but the villain was slowplaying AKo. Well played, sir.
      JTs, flopped top pair and a monster draw, then lost to a full house.

      As for the site itself, the biggest complaint that I have against it is that they don't allow any tracking software, period. PokerTracker, Hold'em Manager and Elephant are prohibited. At the lower levels this may not be much of an issue, but I have a feeling that it might be at the higher levels. I'll have to wait and see when I get there.

      Hand conversion is a pain. There's a link to a converter in the Cake Poker forum here, but it doesn't do the job completely. I'll post a workaround there a little later.

      The software is missing a couple of key things:
      - No button to add time. You've got about 20 seconds to make your play, tops.
      - Tiling tables doesn't work that well on lower resolution screens.

      On the plus side:
      - As I said, there's lots of fish there.
      - Other than my little gripes above, the software seems pretty decent.
      - It seems pretty easy to clear the bonus. The rakeback is pretty sweet too, once I start earning that.
      - One of the avatars looks a lot like my ex-boss, so there's some extra incentive for me to win. :D

      So now, I'm going to refrain from making Portal jokes and go to Stars:

      Seeing a pattern here? X(

      NL's been pretty brutal to me in general this month. There were few big losses, but I've been losing a lot of little pots, mostly from my c-bets being aggressively challenged.

      I tried playing FL a bit for a change of pace, and that's been doing a little better as you can see. Still, I'd be a lot worse off except for a couple of SnG wins over the last few days.

      So now, let's see what goals I've hit from last month:
      [x] Update this blog at least twice. Whether it gets read or not is up to you.
      [?] Play 10,000 cash game hands, mostly 4-tabling at NL10.
      7100 recorded hands, but I had to wipe the DB when I installed Elephant. This one's a wash.
      [x] Play in 50 SnGs.
      Played in 55, according to SharkScope.
      [x] Post 10 hands in the strategy boards for discussion.
      Got 12.
      [-] Play in 10 MTTs.
      Bwahahaha *snort*
      [x] Plug at least one hole in my play.
      I'm betting 4BB preflop more often; it's almost becoming standard for me. Also, I'm following the BSS SHC more closely, and it's helping me a lot, especially with the more marginal starting hands.
      [-] Earn 100 StrategyPoints to get back to / maintain Silver status.
      40 as of right now. Still, I've only been collecting again since signing on with Cake.

      So, it's time to tweak the goals a little. For February:

      1. Update this blog at least twice.
      2. Play 10,000 cash game hands.
      3. Play in 50 SnGs.
      4. Post 10 hands in the strategy boards for discussion.
      5. Read/review at least two strategy articles.
      6. Plug at least one hole in my play.
      7. Earn 100 StrategyPoints to get back to / maintain Silver status.

      Playing consistently in MTTs just isn't working out for me because of my schedule, so they're out.

      Whew, that's enough typing for now so I'll leave it at that.

      Bankrolls as of 1-29-2009:
      Cake: $52.09 (+$2.09)
      PokerStars: $222.99 (-14.57)
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      "Sweetie," my wife said to me a few nights ago, "I thought you said that you could get it up."

      "I know," I replied, keeping my voice level so that my frustration wouldn't show, "but it doesn't look like it's happening. I'm sorry."

      "I was looking forward to all the fun we could have."

      I sighed. "It's not like I wasn't trying."

      "Yeah." She flashed me a sympathetic smile. "So now what?"

      I reached for the mouse and clicked on the 'Submit' button. "We'll have to make do with what I have."

      "Too bad. Oh well, at least it should pay for the hotel." She thought for a moment. "So it would have been more if it wasn't for those... um... 'bad beats'?"

      "You're learning."

      ... And with that, I cashed out my PokerStars account - for the time being, at least. The reason? Next week, my wife and I will be celebrating out tenth wedding anniversary in Las Vegas.

      I really don't know what's scarier - that fact it's been ten years, or the that the trip was her idea in the first place. ;)

      For the past couple of weeks, I played mostly on Stars as I tried to build my bankroll as much as possible. Unfortunately, things didn't really go as well as they could have, although I did manage to finish in the black for the month.

      You might have noticed that I've changed the name of this blog. This is for a few reasons. First, I usually don't get home from work until after midnight. Second, and more importantly, my entries are pretty disorganized and all over the place. They lack focus, like my current play style. On Stars, I might have played BSS NL one day, SnGs the next, then maybe switch to FL or SSS when things got cold. As a result, I don't think I'm learning the game as well as I could be.

      So, now that I only have my account on Cake (I'm keeping my Titan one dormant for now), I am going to concentrate on playing micro-stakes BSS there. We'll see how that goes over the next few months.

      This blog, however, will probably stay as disorganized as ever. :rolleyes:

      Speaking of Cake, I had a pretty good month there seeing as I was only playing there for about two weeks:

      Nothing but NL10 BSS, in case you were wondering. I am playing a bit out of my bankroll, but I figured that the tables are generally soft enough that I could make it work. I will drop down to NL4 if my bankroll falls below $50, and I won't be making the jump to NL20 until my bankroll reaches $400.

      Now, let's recap those goals that I set last month:

      [-] Update this blog at least twice.
      Didn't make this one, obviously.
      [x] Play 10,000 cash game hands.
      9810 (Stars) + 5286 (Cake) = 15,096 hands.
      [-] Play in 50 SnGs.
      Played in 46. Close.
      [x] Post 10 hands in the strategy boards for discussion.
      Posted 13.
      [x] Read/review at least two strategy articles.
      I reread all of the Basic and Bronze SSS articles.
      [-] Plug at least one hole in my play.
      Too unfocused. Bleah.
      [x] Earn 100 StrategyPoints to get back to / maintain Silver status.
      Earned about 120ish. I'm too tired to do the math right now.

      Since I'm cutting out playing in SnGs, my March goals will be the same as last month's except for the 50 SnGs, of course.

      And, that's it for another couple of weeks, at least. Good luck at the tables... and wish me a little too. I think I'm going to need it in Vegas. ;)

      Bankrolls as of 2-28-2009:

      Cake: $139.16 (+$87.07)
      PokerStars: $231.01 (+$8.02)
    • aciddrop
      Joined: 08.10.2006 Posts: 1,519
      Good to see you still updating this blog, I enjoy your style. Thought I'd better let you know that, so that you feel better about continuing to update. You have at least one avid reader.

      Good luck in Vegas, and maybe you can play some poker too?

      Let us now how it goes.

      I mix up my play a little too, but now I seem to have settled on SNG and NL SH cash games, at NL50 at the moment.

      I have been playing for nearly 2.5 years now, so would have expected to have advanced much further than I have. But I seem to have gotten a handle on it a lot better lately, so things are looking positive.

      Looking forward to the Vegas report.
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      Originally posted by aciddrop
      Good to see you still updating this blog, I enjoy your style. Thought I'd better let you know that, so that you feel better about continuing to update. You have at least one avid reader.

      Good luck in Vegas, and maybe you can play some poker too?

      Let us now how it goes.

      Looking forward to the Vegas report.
      lol, Thanks for the kind words!

      I'll have to keep this as short as possible - I'm typing this from an Internet cafe and don't want to get charged too much. More cash for the tables, you know. ;)

      First day here was uneventful. After a two-hour bus ride and a six-hour wait at the airport (the things I do for an insanely low airfare!), we touched down in Vegas at almost midnight, made a beeline for the hotel, and crashed.

      Yesterday, after a several things that I really shouldn't mention here (yes, some things that happen in Vegas should stay in Vegas ;) ), I found myself with some time to kill at the Sahara while waiting for a show. We wandered by the poker room and saw two games in progress - a NL200 (out of my bankroll), and a FL400 ($20 buy-in, definitely worth a shot). I gave my wife $20 for the slots, and sat down.

      Before I continue, I'll let you in on a secret - I had never played live in a casino before. Ever. So here I am, my heart pounding, trying to remember all the tips I learned here while trying to stay calm so that I show as few tells as possible. Needless to say, I wasn't doing a good job at either.

      I'm sitting between a middle aged couple from Texas. Husband's on the left, wife's on my right. Both nice people. More on that in a minute.

      I get dealt in right after the button (No posting? No small blind? weird, but I'm not complaining), and get TT. Two limp, then I raise and get called twice. K-J-blank rainbow flop. One raise, a reraise, and I fold. Textbook play, I think.

      Next hand, I look down and find myself staring at A:heart: A:spade: . Whoa. Three limp in, including the wife, I raise, two folds, she reraises, I 3-bet, she caps, I call.

      The flop comes out... 3:club: 7:spade: ... A:diamond: !

      Okay, steady. Deep breath. Try not to show anything...

      "Sir? Two to call." It was the dealer. I vaguely realize that this is the third time he has tried to get my attention.

      All right, now I've got the table image of a complete noob. Not too far from the truth, but still...

      Anyway. I raise, she calls.

      Turn is 7:club: . Flush draw, paired board. She raises all-in, I call.

      The river...


      If the dealer wasn't a 300-pound balding guy in his fifties, I would've kissed him.

      The lady shows JJ and groans when I turn over the bullets. I'm apologizing profusely (I'm Canadian, it's in my blood!) but she rebuys and says not to worry about it.

      I'd have preferred it if she had 77... a chunk of the $71k bad beat jackpot would have been nice. Oh well.

      The next thing I know, one of the staff comes over and hands me a cap. Apparently, they're compliments of the casino if you hit quads.

      I wondered out loud what the prize is if I had hit a straight flush. With a smile the lady replies, "A propeller to stick on the top of it."

      I ended up walking away with an extra $20 (Dinner was on me). Good times.

      Today we're hitting Fremont Street and the rest of Downtown. Maybe I'll try and play an orbit at Binion's. If there's anything poker-related, I'll let you know.
    • Gamer135
      Joined: 28.07.2008 Posts: 253
      Well, I got to downtown Las Vegas today. The casinos there definitely have none of the modern glitz that most of the ones on the Strip have, but I think they have their own charm.

      After lunch, I made my way to Binion's and got into a $2/$4 FL game. To pass the time, my wife decided to go to one of the local outlet shopping malls.

      No pressure, indeed.

      I was kind of awestruck while sitting in the waiting area of the poker room there, surrounded by photos of some of the biggest names in poker - Ungar, Chan, Moneymaker, Ferguson, and many others. The feeling didn't last long as I was handed my paltry buyin of 40 gray chips and led to my seat.

      The table was one of the tightest I'd ever seen. The entire table was folding to pre-flop raises from UTG regularly while I was waiting for the blinds to reach me. Good thing to file away for later.

      One orbit in, my inexperience showed again. I was dealt KK mid-position. Two limpers, I raised. A couple calls, a few folds.

      The flop came out J:club: 5:heart: 3:diamond: . Check, check, action to me.

      I sat there for a minute, plotting my move. Then, just as I reached for my chips to bet...


      It was the dealer. I was about to protest when I realized that I was drumming my fingers against the felt without thinking, which of course meant that I was checking instead.


      It all worked out, as the kings held.

      AQ loved me that day. I won several hands with it--which was good seeing as I hadn't received anything better all day. The hand of the day went something like this:

      Hero is BB with A:diamond: Q:diamond:

      5 folds, 1 call, 2 folds, Hero raises, villain calls.

      Flop: A:spade: A:club: K:club:

      Hero bets, villain raises, hero calls.

      Turn: 2:club:

      Hero checks, villain checks.

      River: Q:heart:

      Hero bets, villain raises, Hero re-raises, villain calls.

      Villain shows K:spade: Q:club:

      I hit a downswing for a while after that, but eventually walked away with an extra $15. When I met my wife later, she told me that she didn't really find anything at the outlet stores, except for a little something that she bought for... $15.

      Funny how things work out like that sometimes.

      Anyway, that's it for now. Not much time for poker stuff over the next couple of days, but I'll keep you posted.
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