Monday, May 03, 2004

Live Game Success

This week online hasn't been so great. I'm winning, but I'm winning only a little bit. Saturday was the first day I made more than $100, and even with the tables looser than I've seen in a long time I only managed +$118 in about six hours.

I don't think I'm playing differently, or my opponents are tougher, just that my variance is a bit (just a bit) to the downside. My winnings per hand is down to 10¢, from 12¢ last time I checked.

But my live play has picked up. Okay, I'm playing low-limit, but I got into a couple of good games over the weekend that added to my bankroll.

Friday, Gil and I went up to Soaring Eagle in Mt. Pleasant, where we joined the $3/$6 and $6/$12 lists. $3/$6 was ready first, which was okay. The $6/$12 games looked a bit tough. (The $10/$20 looked like a good game, but my live-game bankroll is a bit short lately, so I didn't sit. I could have bought in for a rack of red, but if that went away, I'd have been in a hurt.

The $3/$6 game was fairly soft, with a couple of people who just seemed to be enjoying themselves without worrying too much about winning and losing. There were usually one or two people who were clueless, which is always a plus. But their instincts generally weren't bad, so while they went broke, they weren't the type to throw off chips willy-nilly.

Gil did pretty well, going up more than $300 in a hurry (coloring up twice, for two black chips on the $3/$6 table), before hitting a two-hour patch of no cards and bleeding his way down to a $120 or so win.

I, on the other hand, seemed to alternate between showing a best hand, and showing a second-best hand, and so by the time we left I had managed a meager $22 win, barely paying for the gas to get to the casino. Disappointing.

And so, Saturday, I decided against going to the casino at all, preferring to grind out a healthy win online. Against the worst competition I've faced online in weeks, I manage again to eke out only $118, and although it's a win I'm still disappointed.

And so Sunday I wanted to go to the casino again, this time to get it right. Since Gil had to drop his daughter off in Allendale, which is on the way to the lake, we headed up the lake to Manistee and the Little River Casino.

It's hard to describe how much I miss the place. It's a small room, with only five tables. This means that it only takes a couple of visits to get to know the staff, and the regular players. I've called it the toughest $4/$8 game you'll find, which is usually true; they rarely deal anything higher (although they will), so the regulars play $4/$8, and some of them are very good.

But since Soaring Eagle reopened their room, people from the east and northeast part of the lower peninsula have someplace closer to play. And many—most—of them do. And just lately, one of the casinos in Traverse City opened a poker room. (I'm told the casino is "Shawbeetown," but I can't find any references online to such a casino.) In any case, now players from the north have somewhere closer to go. The Great Lakes are, well, great, but they limit travel. (Meaning, we don't see players from Wisconsin.) And so, on a Sunday that's a bit brisk but otherwise a nice day, there is only a single table of Holdem open the whole day, and they never get any other games going at all.

Nonetheless, today this is a good game. My best guess is that by only dealing one table, the room is less intimidating to new players, because we see several at the table. We also see the room's biggest fish, who we haven't seen in a while. Actually, the fish even goes on a heater, and from $150 down is actually well up at one point. This player (a nice guy, truly) is the dictionary definition of loose-passive, playing every hand but failing to raise with his bigger hands. He usually blows through $300 to $500 in a session. Very often at the river he'll show his hand full of nothing to his neighbor before folding in disgust, and very often at the river he'll show down his hand and be astonished that his Q-high is no good. In other words, this is a player who we love to see at the table. I only hope he never catches on to how much we drool when he comes into the room.

Again, Gil does better than I, pulling over $300 out of the game, but today I do respectably, and catch $155 myself.

Making Adjustments

I may be blunting my skills at adjusting to different types of games and players by playing so much straightforward, ABC poker online. My straightforward game works at very low-limit games, like most places' $3/$6 games. But I don't think I'm playing creatively enough, thinking deeply enough, for anything above that. I am, and I know I am, a very predictable player. If I raise preflop from early to middle position, then I have one of about eight hands. If I limp preflop, I'm almost always looking for two pair or better from the flop. It would be pretty simple to write a computer program who plays the way I do.

And I think this costs me. I notice in most games of $6/$12 and higher, and occasionally even $5/$10, that my big hands take down small pots, because I play predictably enough that I'm easy to put on a hand. I say again, I need to reread Ciaffone; taking advice meant for middle-limit players should add the dash of creativity to my game that will make me more money.

April Summary

I filtered PokerTracker to show me just April, and found some interesting things. (I know for a fact that I'm missing hands; for one reason or another not every hand I've played has made it into PT. The summary makes more sense, though, if I assume that these are all the hands I played in April.)

Aside from the obscene amount of rake I pay (an argument for moving up limits), two things jump out at me. First, my W$@SD% seems awfully low. It seems to me that the appropriate percentage is about 75, that is, that if I go to showdown I want to win three out of four times. It would seem that the way to accomplish this is to improve my card-reading skills, that is, to know when I'm beat and to get the hell out of the pot. So, I can turn to the books for something else.

The other thing is that my worst hands seem to be high suited connectors. Most of the rest of the top ten (or bottom ten), my VP$IP% on the hand is very low (it's zero in the case of T7s), and so I don't worry much about my losses. But the high suited connectors being –EV hands for me makes me think I'm playing them too liberally. So, from now on, every suited connector is 45s in my mind; if I can see a flop cheaply and there are a bunch of people in, I'll play; otherwise, in the muck.