Thursday, June 24, 2004

Notes on the $25 No-Limit Ring Games

I've played enough of the $25 max-buyin no-limit ($25NL) ring games on PartyPoker, now, to make some preliminary conclusions.

By no means do I have a huge sample size. Only 3500 hands are loaded into PokerTracker thus far at this limit; several days of play is all. But those 3500 hands show some encouraging signs.

I also want to say that my plan is not to play the $25NL's forever, although it seems that if I wanted to, or am forced to, I could. My plan is to move up to playing the $100NL or $200NL levels, and fortunately the gradient from $25NL to $200NL seems to be shallower than the gradient from $3/$6 to $15/$30. (The $5/$10 and $10/$20 are widely held to be tougher games than the $15/$30, ruining the gradient. My limited experience with the three levels bears this out.)

In any case, my $25NL play seems to be settling in the range of 19 to 20 big bets per 100 hands (BB/c). In no-limit, PokerTracker considers a big bet to be twice the big blind. Since a big blind at $25NL is 50¢, then 19.99 BB/c (my current mark) corresponds to $19.99 per 100 hands or 19.99¢ per hand. Over the course of those 3500 hands, my earn fluctuated between 19 and 23 ¢/h, so that 19.99¢/h isn't atypical (thus far).

The reason that I point this out is that my earn at $3/$6 is or was almost exactly 10¢/hand, 1.67 BB/c (over a much bigger sample size). That's down from historic levels but even 11 or 12 ¢/h, where it's been, is less than I've been earning (thus far) at the $25NL tables.

I am today on the $50NL's, despite $50NL being unkind to me yesterday (and thus far today), but most of the reason, especially today, has been suckouts. More than 2/3 of the time I've taken big hits today, I had the better hand and got outdrawn. So, I'm not terribly worried about it; my success at the $25NL has pulled my bankroll out of the danger area, at least for these games, and I can wait for my turn to suck out. Before yesterday's action, over a tiny sample size, I was at around 19 BB/c at the $50NL also, 38¢/h, although yesterday's action dropped that down to just over 4 BB/c, 8¢/h, over a still-tiny sample size. My hope is that the $50NL settles down around 15 BB/c, and while that's a reasonable hope I don't know how likely it is. If it settles below 10 BB/c while the $25NL stays at 20 BB/c, the $25NL would actually be more profitable. I can't judge $100NL or $200NL yet; I've never played $200NL and I've played one session of $100NL (a loser).

In any case, no-limit is my home for the next while, at least. I want to be playing the $200NL regularly within two weeks, but the amount of stuff I don't know about NL might slow that down. I also want to take a shot at the no-limit game in Detroit that I've mentioned, but that seems like it's at least three weeks out. The priority in all of this is to protect my bankroll, so this will in some ways resemble those "100 big-bet challenges" that some bloggers have set themselves. I'm not doing anything so formal, though; not least because I've never heard of anyone finishing one of those successfully. No, I'll just be moving up if I'm successful, and down if I'm not; hopefully that provides the results I want.

I said when I started this that the results I needed were about $500/week. Before I started trying new things, I was averaging something like $400 a week. I want to about double that, to rebuild my bankroll and allow me to do some other things. Some back-of-the-envelope numbers show that this should be easy if I'm at all successful at the $200NL. But I have to get there, and I frankly don't know what the roadblocks are that I'll face.

Wish me luck.


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