Sunday, January 30, 2005

A Full Weekend of Poker

I mentioned last time that I had entered the Little River Casino's biggest tournament to date, 90 people at (essentially) $150 each plus juice. It ended up being a full weekend of poker.

To many people, the most interesting thing in this whole part of this post may be that I found Super/System 2 at Barnes & Noble on the way up; apparently it's in stores now. I'm about 250 pages in; the first 200 pages seem mostly to be filler, but then it gets into the individual games. Jennifer Harman's chapter on limit holdem seems pretty good from the once-over I gave it; I haven't got further into the book.

There was a reception Friday night for the poker players, but I intended to come in fashionably late. I succeeded, arriving just as everyone was filtering out. It didn't seem that I missed much; there was crackers and cheese and some pastries, and a cash bar, and apparently a speech or two on how the tourney would actually work. I bought in, got on the list for a cash game (which understandably took a while; they invited up twice as many poker players as they had seats in their room). Finally I got a seat in $100max $1/$2 NL holdem.

My experience in this game was pretty much the same as it was when I sat it last Monday; by looking at the chips as just chips I managed to book a $210 win. It was a wild game when I left, with a couple of players doing some odd things, which put at least one other player on royal screaming tilt, but I left anyway. I write this now and it seems foolish that I left, especially since I had trouble sleeping anyway, but I left. Oh, well, it's past now.

I was in the first half of the day-one crowd, so I took my seat Saturday morning in the tournament. Decent cards, plus some well-timed bluffs, ran me up to probably the chip leader of the morning session. The biggest hand was when I flopped a set of Queens, and came over the top all-in to what turned out to be a set of Fives. He called, I doubled up, he rebought. (The $150 buyin was $100 plus one $50 rebuy/addon for T$3500 total.) I considered slow-playing the Queens, but a third player in the hand said that he had flopped an open-ended straight (presumably with Jack-Ten), and if I didn't raise he'd have called and caught. I was more worried about the two-flush on the board than the straight, but my all-in raise was the right move.

I'm not sure I lost a showdown the first session; I ran pretty well. While I never definitely heard of a stack larger than mine, one person said "he heard" that there was a T$16,000 stack, so I may only have been in second place. In any case, after the second session, I was indeed in second; they posted the top ten stacks on Sunday morning.

After Saturday's portion of the tournament, I went to have lunch (with my new SS2 under my arm), then took my book out to the lobby area where there are a number of comfortable chairs. Once the pages started blurring together before my eyes, I stood up and returned to the poker table to find out how soon I could get into a cash game. It was probably another hour.

I sat first on a $4/$8 limit game, and won a couple of pots in the half-hour or so I was there. One of those, I ran down Aces; his failure to protect his hand (probably "I always lose with Aces") enabled me to catch a third Nine on the river to indeed beat his Aces. I misread him for a Nine with a weaker kicker, though, so if I hadn't got the third Nine on the river I'd still be cursing a blue streak, no doubt.

When they called me for no-limit, I moved instantly, but the texture of the no-limit game was odd to me. The only preflop raise that seemed to work right was $15. If you raised to $10, you'd get called in five places, and if you raised to $20, you'd just take the blinds. But $15 would get one, maybe two callers. Most of my night, particularly early on, was getting decent starting hands but failing to hit flops, coupled with an inability to take pots nobody seemed to want: If I bet the pot in late position after the flop, I'd get called in three places. That happened four or five times during the night.

I did hit a huge pot on the river, which got me almost even, but then I continued my bleed slowly until I reached the point that I called an all-in bet when I probably didn't have the best hand (and I didn't), and decided not to rebuy. With the $210 on Friday I won, and the $80 in the $4/$8 game, the $300 I lost at the no-limit game on Saturday gave me a net loss for the weekend of $10 in the cash games.

Sunday I found myself at the table which is traditionally the first to be broken during their tournaments. With so many short stacks in the tournament, we were trying to guess how many hands our table would last before we were broken up. I guessed eleven, and it was actually ten. I'm glad, because the table we started on was a Stud table, which doesn't seat the ten people we started with very comfortably at all.

Before we broke, I attempted a late-position steal with T8, which worked, before trying one with K4♣. I was called by both blinds, and they checked to me after the flop (which missed me). When they both called my reasonable bet again, I was done with the hand, but I had spent about half my stack on the steal attempt. Bleah.

On the new table, I didn't enter any pots until I was in late position again, and went for the steal with A♠4♣. The small blind raised me all-in, which I called, and I lost. (I was behind from the beginning, but he flopped a flush.)

Thinking about this in the car, I realized that the same situation happened twice: I was faced with an all-in raise with a hand that I should have known was inferior, but I called anyway. Thinking further, I remembered situations where I'd done the same thing in no-limit tournaments in the past, so maybe a big leak in my no-limit game was brought to my attention this weekend. It cost me some money, but if I've learned the lesson then the money it cost was cheap.

Pulling a Johnny Chan

I started the trip back pretty much in despair, not from my play over the weekend, or even really my results: I was even in cash games and busted out of a tournament. No biggie. But between buying into the tournament, and paying for hotel rooms, I'm down something like $250 for the weekend, which is about a third of my entire bankroll. And in this case, when I say "bankroll," I'm really saying "life savings." I'm a whisker away from broke.

I knew when the hotel let me go that I'd be riding the rims for a while, and when you're riding the rims you usually crash. To continue the analogy, I haven't actually crashed yet, but the car is headed right for a telephone pole. I spent two hours in the car on the way back trying to figure out what the hell to do.

The easy answer is to get another job, but that's not so easy. Partially, it's simply logistically difficult; getting a new job isn't easy in the best of times. But mostly it's me: I can't conceive of me getting another job that I hate, I'm unsuited for, I don't fit in, and I get fired in three months. That's been my employment history for twenty years, and in all that time I haven't figured out a way to adapt to the nine-to-five treadmill. If I could, I'd have a house, a wife, two kids, two cars, and a dog. But I don't seem to be able to adapt to what the rest of society calls a "normal" lifestyle.

The best answer I came up with in the car was to take the advice of more than one person from about six months ago when I was in about the same position, take my last $500 and my travellin' bag, and head to Vegas. Johnny Chan, I am reminded, washed dishes for two years while he worked on his game, and now he takes millions from tourists like ... well, like me. For some reason, that doesn't sound so bad.

I was asked why a shit job in Vegas is any different than a shit job here. I have to answer that mainly, it's a change; it's in Vegas, so it's not exactly the same as the last fifteen years of my life. One of the reasons the hotel job wasn't so bad is that the odd schedule gave me a lot of time to play poker. My sessions might be shorter, but that'd be true out in Vegas, clearly. I'd have a shit job, but my time off would be the important thing. I think maybe I could handle that. For a while.

I have some logistical issues to work out, but I've 75% made up my mind that I'm going to do it, probably this week. I'll have another post before I leave, if I do go, but posts might be a bit sporadic after that for a while, while I get my shit together out there.

Well, that'd be different: I'm not so sure I have my shit together here.


I don't want to sound really negative but I really mean what I say. Good luck! You'll need it, and a lot of it if you hope to somehow manage to make a living from poker. You constantly play out of your bankroll range and you constantly make mistakes that you know are mistakes but continue to do them. You need to learn how to manage your bankroll and adapt to the game. It doesn't seem like you're doing that and that's why you lose a large chunk of your bankroll in a single weekend. Good luck with whatever you choose to do.
Dude, you do NOT have what it takes to play poker for a living. Everyone who reads this blog knows that. Why can't you admit it to yourself?

Cash out, then get a job or join the military before you get blinded out from living expenses.
Lord Geznikor... If you really and truly want to be a poker player I would suggest you start reading your poker books 24/7. Then go back to online poker and become a low limit bonus chasing grinder till you build your $500 up into $10,000.

If you can't accomplish this task I would say its time to find a new profession.

For the love of a God man you need to protect whats left of your bankroll. You now need to play either $25NL or $1/$2 LHE maybe even limits below this.

Also decide which game you play better and work on perfecting just that one type of poker. From the results you have posted I would say you need to focus on your Limit Holdem game and stop hopping back and forth between No Limit & Limit.

Give yourself a fighting chance man before the website goes down for good.

Good Luck,

That comports with my own thinking, assuming I -don't- go for broke. It doesn't account for how I eat in the meantime, but on a purely poker-playing level that's sound advice.

I think you're right that I'm more of a limit player than a no-limit player, but the no-limit I've played has certainly intrigued me. In terms of poker as income, I think you're right, Limit is the way to go.

And while I don't have the bankroll to bonus-whore right now, here's hoping I do again soon.
"And while I don't have the bankroll to bonus-whore right now, here's hoping I do again soon."

Dude Online Bonus Whoring is your last best hope... $50 is enough to start with. The $250 you lost this weekend would have been a healty online Whoring stake. Next time you are in B&N study a chapter in one of the 2+2 books on Bankroll management. Don't buy the book you need to save every penny!

Good luck in Vegas.
To hell with all the naysayers, what do they know about whats going on in your life? I've found moving somewhere far away on a whim has always been good to me and cured whatever funk I had found myself in.

Move to Vegas.
The best thing you can do is offer blumpkins outside of the poker room in exchange for staking into tournaments and/or gas money. This will make you play better cause you will be too tired to talk to others at the table. Plus it makes all the games you play freerolls. You also will be able to focus on the important aspects of tournament play, you may even be able to read Doyle's new book between hands. That way they will know you a shark and they will be less likely to fuck with you. Table image is crucial in games as tough as the ones you frequent.

Think about it. Blumpkins are +EV.

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