[ return ◄┘ ]

So today is the day. The triumphant return of moniquer to the tables (well okay, I'll admit, I'm not 100% sure it will be triumphant yet, and I'm not really returning to the same tables, as I've opted to shy away from FTP for a while and head over to PokerStars for a while, but still, I'm back). After much analyzing and some painful recreation of hands that were better left dead and buried, I have identified several areas of my game that have been significant leaks and plan to fix them first and foremost. Making said adjustments will obviously pull me out of this rut and ultimately lead to me winning mass amounts of buyins and launching my bankroll into the stratosphere. Wishful thinking, but hey, it could happen.

In other news, I think the housemates and I are gonna hit up a movie tonight (speaking of housemates, be sure to check out malfaire's latest post about his whacked out dream; this post explains who he is to a T and certainly illustrates the blatant issues that this kid has). The choices are Smokin' Aces (Tarentino/Rodriguez/Richie wannabe flick about hitmen and a strung out snitch), Pan's Labyrinth (Spanish foreign craziness a-la Alice in Wonderland), and Alpha Dog (Justin Timberlake hits the big screen in a quasi-true story about young drug dealers, complete with kidnapping and murders). While El Laberinto del Fauno is hands down going to be the best cinematic experience, I might tend to be leaning towards Smokin' Aces, since it's a Friday night, it alludes to poker (and I fully intend to smash faces later tonight at the tables), and I have a thing for Alicia Keys. I'll update later with what we decide, and might even give everyone a little review. How 'bout them apples?

Moniquer out. And if you know what's best for you, you will stay away from me at the tables this weekend -- I'm out to make my 14 buyins back with a quickness.

i amM0NIKER at 3:16 PM 3 comments  

i will survive.

Before I get into anything poker related, let me first say that 24 is quite possibly the single craziest show ever to grace the airwaves, or cable lines, or whatever means the high-definition glory comes pouring into our 50" beasty of a television. I don't want to risk ruining it for anyone, but this past episode was zomg wow teh crazy (*insert other random internet slang that means "this was off the hizzy" here*). All I have to say is that if this is any indication of the craziness that lies ahead this season, we're in for one hell of a wild ride (and no, Mr. Toad is not invited).

Anyway, on to poker. If you have read any of my previous posts (God help you if you did), you know that I decided to start the year off with $1000 and try to boost that up 40 buyins at the 25NL level before stepping up to 50NL. Well, I have no idea what I did to the poker gods to piss them off so much, but my game has gone into an all out tailspin, plummeting me towards the ground faster than that airplane that Superman decided to rip the wings off of and send through the air like a Patriot missile. In about 18k hands since the new year, I have dropped an astonishing 14 buyins. You heard me, 14 buyins. If someone finds my confidence, please let me know. I already took out a missing persons ad, and you might see its face start popping up on milk cartons because that baby is long gone.

I know that this isn't standard variance, although I'd like to think that some of the loss can be attributed to that. I have been playing absolutely terrible post-flop poker, and have been choosing situations where I go to the felt in an almost haphazard manner. We're talking absolutely ridiculous hands like TPTK, 2pr on a straight + flush board, high PP to an A or K high board, etc. There is no excuse for it other than lack of focus, and a complete breakdown in my ability to accurately place my opponents on a range of hands and act accordingly. I'm also letting villains complete their sets, straights, and flushes way to cheaply, or even for free. Why am I doing this? The easy answer is "I have no freakin' clue." The real answer is "Because my big hands haven't been getting paid off when I bet at them, and I want to make more money." Wow, do I deserve to get smacked in the face for that line of thinking -- and I have. Believe me, I have. And the worst part about it is that I am paying people off handsomely when the obvious scare card comes.

Enough whining, and on to what I'm going to do about it:

1. I'm going to take off the rest of the week and spend a significant amount of time reviewing my PokerTracker stats of overall, of late, and while I was winning. In addition, I plan on reviewing where I'm losing good chunks of money, and determining why I was getting my chips in in those particular situations. I need to plug that leak first and foremost. "Big pots are for big hands." I need to plaster that shit on my wall or something.

2. During my time off, I will also be getting into the habit of hitting the forums hard. This is a resource that I have yet to even scratch the surface of, and I need to start getting out there and getting advice. Sure, 4/5 responses will probably be useless, but if I gather any insight from any posts, it will be well worth it. I also need to go back and watch some more of the CardRunners uNL videos. I've really been neglecting this asset of CR of late, and need to get reenergized about playing poker. Plus, listening to fruitypro's silly British accent might cheer me up.

3. I've decided to set up a new goal for myself; one that I will probably me more determined to succeed at. Using my original starting BR of $1000, I intend to bank $15,000 by the end of 2007. Unfortunately, this downswing has put me into a fairly decent sized hole, but, as Beyonce Knowles so eloquently says, "I'm a survivor. I'm not gonna give up (what?)." This still leaves me at 30 buyins for 25NL, which I think is plenty to fuel my recovery. I also plan on reassessing my situation once I hit $1500, and might decide to start blending in some 50NL since that will be the 30 buyin point for that level. Either way, I've set a goal in stone, and I plan to track my progress along the way. I'll update once I have my actual stats sitting in front of me.

4. Continue posting regularly, including problem hands and periodic stat snapshots. So what if you guys aren't commenting yet and I've gotten about 0 feedback or insight on anything that I have posted so far. It doesn't hurt my feelings. But eventually, someone will post something useful. And it will help me. And I will benefit from it. And then I will be grateful. But until then, at least it gets me to write things down and think about them -- so go on, be all selfish and stuff and keep your comments to yourself. (edit: Not really. Please post. No comments makes baby moniquer sad.)

Alright, enough is enough, I'll post more on this topic later if something else comes to mind. I also plan on pulling a bunch of stats during my week long hiatus/analysis. I'll post any that I think are relevant and might help you guys analyze my play. If anyone out there on the interweb is willing to take the time to help, I'm more than willing to pull any data you need, just ask. Thanks in advance, I hope this garners some sort of response.

i amM0NIKER at 11:47 AM 2 comments  

a reading from the book of revelations

So this past Friday I decided that I wanted to completely self-implode and have the worst day of my poker career by dropping 6.5 buyins in what can only be described as complete life tilt. Just looking at these stats make me want to hurl.

Yeah, I know... real bad. Anyway, if I thought that I was disgusted at myself during the session (which, I assure you, I was), the post-session analysis of my big hands made me feel even worse. While there were a few hands where I don't question my play (which, undoubtedly set off the tilt fest), there were plenty where I literally walked up to some obvious donks and said "Hey, you look like a nice guy, how would you like a free buyin?" From 11pm to 12am on Friday, it was charity hour on moniquer's tables. Hope you got in on the melee while you could.

I was so pissed at myself for playing like an idiot that I decided not to play for the rest of the weekend and devote the time that I would normally be at the tables to figuring out what the hell was wrong with my play (and to playing Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas for the xbox360, which, if you don't have it, is a must purchase). After diving head first into CardRunners and twoplustwo micro stakes forums, and watching numerous videos, I have decided that I am trying to incorporate too many 'advanced' tactics in my play. At the 25NL level, most advanced LAG techniques just simply will not work. The VPIP at this level is so ridiculous that even narrowing down a villain's holdings to a certain range becomes laughable. The play is simply atrocious, and I find that I am losing too much money continuation betting with marginal hands (only to be called down by top pair, 3 kicker) and playing big pots when I don't have a stranglehold on the hand. I've decided that I really need to sure up my play and get back to ABC poker, only playing big pots with big hands and getting away from marginal hands when I sense that I'm beat.

After gathering my confidence back from the weekend long analysis (and terrorist hunt -- thank you, Tom Clancy), I hit the tables on Monday evening before the 2hour television fun-fest that is known as 24 (Jack Bauer, you are my hero). I managed to have a winning session, winning back 2 buyins over 1000 hands. While this isn't anything spectacular, it has helped to bolster my confidence and I look forward to playing another session tonight. It's amazing what a little win can do when you're in the midst of a Trent Reznor-esque downward spiral.

Anyway, my VPIP and PFR percentages are obviously down, since I have committed myself to getting involved only when I can make a big hand. My attempts to steal the blind, however, are way down -- down to 14% even. This concerns me a bit, since I feel as though I might be missing out on some good value here. I'm wondering, though, if this particular stat might be an important barometer at this level, indicating how the table is perceiving my image. It seems as though the more I attack the blinds and limpers when I have position (and even with marginal hands, which is typical of LAG play), the more resistance I get from everyone else at the table. Normally I wouldn't mind resistance from 1 person per hand, as it is obviously easier to manage head's up pots, but I am regularly getting into situations where 2, 3, even 4 people are calling my 6BB raise in position with 2 limpers. If I don't absolutely nail the flop, I can't be continuation betting into this pot even if it is checked around to me (which I *have* been doing on occasion, and I *have* identified as a significant leak). I'd like to hear some opinions on this topic, especially from those who are still playing at the 25NL level. I think it is a completely different animal than even 50NL, where at least some players have some concept of the game. For now, though, I think I'm going to stick to a more borderline TAG style, while opening up my range in the cutoff and button enough to still portray a loose image. And now, for your viewing pleasure (and hopefully some commenting), some hands from the two sessions:

Hand 1:
Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.10/$0.25
5 players
Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is UTG with J♥ K♥
Hero raises to $1, CO calls, 3 folds.
Flop: K♦ K♣ 4♣ ($2.35, 2 players)
Hero bets $1.5, CO raises to $5.5, Hero raises all-in $31.15, CO calls all-in $9.95.
Uncalled bets: $15.7 returned to Hero.
Turn: 6♦ ($33.25, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $33.25)
River: 2♣ ($33.25, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $33.25)
Final pot: $33.25
CO showed 7c 6c
Hero showed Jh Kh

Don't exactly hate my line on this hand. I pretty much knew what I was up against and it just sucks that it hit. Only really showing this to highlight what sparked my mega tilt. Be that as it may, does anyone else take a different line on this hand?

Hand 2:
Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.10/$0.25
6 players
Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is BB with Q♣ Q♥
UTG raises to $0.5, UTG+1 calls, 3 folds, Hero raises to $3.25, UTG calls, UTG+1 calls.
Flop: 5♠ 4♠ 4♣ ($9.85, 3 players)
Hero bets $7, UTG raises all-in $11.2, UTG+1 folds, Hero calls.
Turn: 8♦ ($32.25, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $32.25)
River: 5♣ ($32.25, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $32.25)
Final pot: $32.25
Hero showed Qc Qh
UTG showed 8s 8h

Nothing like a 2-outter to fuel the rage...

Hand 3:
Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.10/$0.25
6 players
Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is BB with 8♣ Q♦
UTG folds, UTG+1 calls, 2 folds, SB calls, Hero checks.
Flop: 6♦ 8♠ J♠ ($0.75, 3 players)
SB checks, Hero checks, UTG+1 checks.
Turn: 8♥ ($0.75, 3 players)
SB bets $0.75, Hero raises to $3, UTG+1 folds, SB raises to $10.5, Hero raises all-in $38.6, SB calls all-in $15.
Uncalled bets: $13.1 returned to Hero.
River: 3♦ ($51.75, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $51.75)
Final pot: $51.75
SB showed Ac 8d
Hero showed 8c Qd

... which causes some spectacular overplaying of an unraised pot. I have no idea what I was thinking. Probably "I'm pissed and I want my money back" (read: "I'm pissed and want to donate more money to the nice folks who play Ax).

Hand 4:
Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.10/$0.25
6 players
Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is UTG+1 with K♥ K♠
UTG folds, Hero raises to $0.85, 2 folds, SB calls, BB calls.
Flop: 7♠ K♦ 9♠ ($2.55, 3 players)
SB checks, BB checks, Hero bets $1.75, SB folds, BB calls.
Turn: J♦ ($6.05, 2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $4.5, BB calls.
River: 4♦ ($15.05, 2 players)
BB checks, Hero is all-in $17.8, BB calls all-in $15.6.
Uncalled bets: $2.2 returned to Hero.
Final pot: $46.25
BB showed 6d 7d
Hero showed Kh Ks

I don't really know how I can think, at any point in this hand, that I am behind. If you disagree, however, please let me know. I'd like to know if there's any way I could have saved my stack on this one. I don't think that a bigger bet on the turn would have been a good idea, since there's no way I put the villain on a flush draw after calling the flop bet with the Kd out there. Anyway, that hand spun me into a tilt like no other, since these hands literally all happened within 10 minutes of each other.

Hand 5-10:
** Insert various "I'm going to 4bet all in with AK like an idiot" and "I'm going to play TT all in with a A high or K high board" hands here while I tilt away a ton of chips (and suck out a few times too) **

Hand 11:
Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.10/$0.25
2 players
Pre-flop: (2 players) Hero is BB with 7♥ K♥
SB calls, Hero checks.
Flop: J♥ 7♦ 6♥ ($0.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $0.5, SB raises to $1, Hero calls.
Turn: 5♥ ($2.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $2, SB calls.
River: T♣ ($6.5, 2 players)
Hero bets $4.5, SB calls.
Final pot: $15.5
Hero showed 7h Kh
SB showed 5c Js

With a hand like this in the BB, I'm wondering if there is a different line that I could have taken to increase the size of the pot. I think I did a decent job of maximizing what I could get from the villain on such a draw heavy board, but would like some input.

i amM0NIKER at 3:03 PM 0 comments  

random thoughts and some hands.

So my post the other day shocked and amazed the crap out of me for two reasons -- the first being that after sitting down and reminiscing, I sure have spent a lot of time playing poker, so much, in fact, that I am appalled at my lack of focus at the tables and high frequency of donking off my stack as of late. The second thing that blew my mind was how easy it was for me to get carried away and bust out a 72 page novel that I should have titled 'The Chronicles of Moniquer' (coming soon to a theater near you). I remember how brutally painful writing anything school-related was, and was shocked at the relative ease at which I cranked out that monstrosity. I'm not going to promise that I'll keep the posts short, because I probably won't. Once I get rolling, I'm unstoppable... much like Wesley Snipes (remember kids, always bet on black). Anyway, I'm probably going to interject a lot of randomness into this blog, whether it be life related, my views on current events, some cool new gadgetry that I've recently heard about (read: iPhone -- how friggin' sweet is this bad boy?), or other fun things that I want to post about. It's my damn party, and you'll just have to deal with it, okay? For those of you who are just interested in the poker stuff though, I'll commit right now to always posting the important stuff after my ramblings. Feel free to skip to that if you couldn't care less about my silly movie references and links to cool shit. However, as before, if you fall into this category I hope you choked on your Christmas ham and run poorly in your next session. (Not really, but I kinda do...)

Anyway, a friend recently pointed me towards the the writing of Chuck Klosterman. While I haven't actually read any of his stuff yet, I was shown an excerpt from his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto entitled "23 Questions I Ask Everybody I Meet in Order to Decide if I Can Really Love Them." Absolute hilarity, in my opinion. While I don't want to ruin everyone's inevitable Google search of this topic, I will, however, leave you all with one of the questions for you to ponder and answer. I might post some more later, you never know. You'll have to wait and find out... (oooooh, the suspense must be agonizing):

Your best friend is taking a nap on the floor of your living room. Suddenly, you are faced with a bizarre existential problem: This friend is going to die unless you kick them (as hard as you can) in the rib cage. If you don’t kick them while they slumber, they will never wake up. However, you can never explain this to your friend; if you later inform them that you did this to save their life, they will also die from that. So you have to kick a sleeping friend in the ribs, and you can’t tell them why.

Since you cannot tell your friend the truth, what excuse will you fabricate to explain this (seemingly inexplicable) attack?

----- Poker Stuff ------

If you read my behemoth post the other day, and actually got through it all, you may have noticed that I decided to start the year playing strictly $25NL with a bankroll of $1000. Since making this executive decision, I've hit the tables fairly hard, playing three days so far this week with sessions of about 1000 hands each. This is a fairly normal session for me, since I work 9-5 (at least) and am currently only 6 tabling at FullTilt. As I get more comfortable, I might increase the number of tables I play, since I don't plan on jumping stakes until I hit my goal of +40 buyins at the level (at present, my setup is dual monitor, a 24" widescreen lcd and a 17" lcd, so 10 tables on FullTilt or PokerStars is definitely possible with some overlap).

I think that for the most part, I've been playing pretty solid poker, running at around a VPIP of 18, PFR 15, and Agg 5. While I think my VPIP might be a little low, it seems as though at these stakes on FT that the more often I'm coming in for raises preflop, the more animosity I generate towards myself. While this is certainly a great thing when I'm hitting hands, I also tend to be losing a good deal of medium sized pots due to continuation bets running into tons of resistance. I'd be interested in hearing everyone's thoughts on c-betting with bottom pair, mid pair, and more importantly, air, in isolated pots in position and out of position at this level. In any case, I was up around 2.5 buyins until last night's session, where i dropped 2 back on a mixture of bad situations and suspect play on my own part. I'll post a few of the hands I'd like some input on, with a little bit of background on each. I really value any and all input, so don't be shy!

Hand 1:
Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.10/$0.25
5 players
Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is SB with 9♣ T♣
UTG folds, CO calls, Button calls, Hero calls, BB checks.
Flop: 8♣ 5♣ 7♦ ($1, 4 players)
Hero bets $0.75, BB raises to $1.5, CO calls, Button folds, Hero raises to $7.75, BB raises all-in $23.45, CO folds, Hero calls.
Turn: Q♦ ($49.4, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $49.4)
River: 2♣ ($49.4, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $49.4)
Final pot: $49.4
Hero showed 9c Tc
BB showed 9s 6h

Villain in this hand is 46/23/3, so I wasn't really sure what he was on. What do you think about the aggressive nature of the play at these limits against such a LAG player? I figured to be ahead of almost anything on the flop and didn't mind getting it all in right then and there. He actually had typed into the chat box before he shoved that he had flopped the nuts, but since I was 6 tabling I didn't see it until after the hand. Unfortunate for him... not like that would have stopped me at that point.

Hand 2:
Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.10/$0.25
5 players
Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is Button with T♠ A♠
UTG folds, CO raises to $0.85, Hero raises to $2.9, 2 folds, CO calls.
Flop: K♠ Q♠ A♣ ($6.15, 2 players)
CO checks, Hero checks.
Turn: J♥ ($6.15, 2 players)
CO bets $3.75, Hero calls.
River: 5♦ ($13.65, 2 players)
CO bets $8.25, Hero raises all-in $24.8, CO folds.
Uncalled bets: $16.55 returned to Hero.
Final pot: $30.15

Villain is 15/10/inf over a relatively small subset of hands, although I hadn't been getting involved with him at all. I don't know if checking the flop was a smart move, but I figured that he hit it pretty hard since he was so aggressive in the past but checked this flop for me. Obviously the turn was a huge card for me, and I still had a great chance of improving to a flush on the river. I called behind on the turn in hopes that he would lead out on the river, and I could get him all in. I'd like to hear thoughts on how you would go about maximizing the amount you think I could extract from the villain on this particular hand. I don't really see any other line on the river, but a raise on the turn might be warranted. Thoughts? Oh, and any comments on 3betting the ATs preflop in position would be nice as well. I like to mix it up and would probably only be doing this 15-20% of the time, with a higher probability if I was out of position and feeling frisky.

Hand 3:
Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.10/$0.25
5 players
Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is Button with 9♥ Q♠
UTG calls, CO folds, Hero raises to $1.1, SB folds, BB calls, UTG folds.
Flop: K♣ J♥ T♣ ($2.55, 2 players)
BB bets $1.25, Hero raises to $5, BB calls.
Turn: 8♠ ($12.55, 2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $8.5, BB folds.
Uncalled bets: $8.5 returned to Hero.
Final pot: $12.55

Villain is 28/11/5. Basically, what I'm looking for here is advice on the optimal line to take for maximizing EV when you flop quite a strong hand on a scary board. I think the reraise on the flop might have been slightly low, but does the turn bet look reasonable? I was contemplating a check-raise to fool an aggressive player into thinking I missed the flush draw, but hadn't played enough hands with him to know if he would take the free card a majority of the time.

Hand 4:
Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.10/$0.25
5 players
Pre-flop: (5 players) Hero is Button with A♣ A♦
2 folds, Hero raises to $0.85, SB calls, BB calls.
Flop: K♥ 8♠ 4♦ ($2.55, 3 players)
SB checks, BB checks, Hero bets $2, SB calls, BB folds.
Turn: 9♠ ($6.55, 2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $5.75, SB raises all-in $16.35, Hero calls.
River: 2♠ ($39.25, 1 player + 1 all-in - Main pot: $39.25)
Final pot: $39.25
Hero showed Ac Ad
SB showed 9c 8d

Villain is 72/2.5/0.8 over a decent subset of hand. I don't think that I can get away from this hand here, seeing as though I'm getting almost 3:1 on my money, but I'm interested to see any thoughts and/or additional lines that you all may have taken. I'm really quite interested in this hand, because I feel as though playing big hands against these super loose passive players at this limit is quite difficult for me. I tend to have too much confidence in my overpairs and TPTK than I should against them, which I would classify as a major leak in my game right now.

Hand 5:
Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.10/$0.25
6 players
Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is SB with K♦ K♠
UTG raises to $0.85, 2 folds, Button raises to $2, Hero raises to $6.5, 2 folds, Button calls.
Flop: 5♦ A♠ 9♥ ($14.1, 2 players)
Hero bets $8.5, Button raises all-in $19.6, Hero calls all-in $10.1.
Uncalled bets: $1 returned to Button.
Turn: T♥ ($51.3, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $51.3)
River: 2♠ ($51.3, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $51.3)
Final pot: $51.3
Button showed Ac Qh
Hero showed Kd Ks

Villain is 17/10/4 over quite a few hands. Basically, this is a classic overplaying of KK when the A hits in my mind, but I'm just wondering how often you guys are leading out into this flop after aggressively raising preflop, and when you do, how much. Since I'm getting almost 4:1 after he shoves with the line I took, I think I almost have to call on the river, but I really did put myself into a bad spot.

Hand 6:
Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.10/$0.25
6 players
Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is CO with K♥ J♣
2 folds, Hero raises to $0.85, 2 folds, BB calls.
Flop: K♣ 2♥ Q♦ ($1.8, 2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $1.5, BB calls.
Turn: J♠ ($4.8, 2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $3, BB calls.
River: 8♥ ($10.8, 2 players)
BB bets $7, Hero folds.
Uncalled bets: $7 returned to BB.
Final pot: $10.8

Villain is 13/9/1.1 and seemed be playing a pretty solid, yet solid, game. The two check / calls, followed by a big bet into the relatively blank river screamed KQ or set to me, but I was wondering how often you all are laying down two pair here. It seemed like a pretty nit move at the time, and I really kinda struggled to let the hand go, but upon further review I really think it was probably the correct play.

i amM0NIKER at 5:20 PM 2 comments  

let's admit it, the second go-around ain't much better

Note: This turned out to be quite long. Longer than expected. Deal with it and read it; or don’t. I don’t really care (but if you don't read it, I hope you die in a fire). It’s all pretty irrelevant until the last paragraph.

As promised, I’m back with round two of this introductory blogging (dictionary.com tells me that ‘blogging’ is not a word, but I’ll use it anyway). The attempt of this particular post will be to give you all a background of who I am and my journey thus far through the realm of internet poker, all the while trying not to bore you to the point of self-inflicted pain. I promise that this will be the last time that you hear about me playing poorly, tilting like crazy, sucking out and winning, playing ridiculously out of my league, and quitting poker. That last sentence, of course, is a blatant fabrication of the truth and in no way an accurate introduction as to what to expect from this blog. Absolutely expect a lot of poor play and tilting; when I suck out, I will celebrate it and showcase it to the world; jumping up levels only to crash and burn is my middle name; and I will, undoubtedly, quit poker at some point this year even though I set a goal to be playing $400NL by Jan2008. There, I said it. The truth is out, and now you really know what is in store if you decide to hitch a ride with me (no, not Sean Bean, better known as Boromir, pretending to be some badass with a knife, but the tale of a kid who tries valiantly to become a winning poker player and ultimately fails. Yeah, I’m a pessimist. Get used to it.)

Enough with the fluff, on to the real stuff. It all started about 2 years ago in early 2005 when some of my friends decided to deposit a few bucks into PartyPoker or UltimateBet for some fun. Prior to that, I had very little exposure to the game, learning NLHE by playing casually with these same friends for $20 max. Since I was one of the winning players in the group (believe me, that is *not* saying much), I told myself “what the heck?” and deposited $100 on UB because I liked their interface better… and because Annie Duke plays there, because we all know that she’s a fox – rawr, zomg, barf. (As a side note, no, I really don’t talk like this, but I hear it’s the new, hip, cool jargon that fuels the popularity of your blog.) Anyway, $100 seemed like plenty of money for me to jump right into some $10 and $20 10-person SNG’s, so I got right down to business. Mild success warranted me about a month-long survival with that bankroll, and then I inevitably went busto. No fear… I had taken that semester off to do a 6month coop with Johnson & Johnson, and redepositting was oh-so-easy. $100 more flies electronically from my bank to UB, and I hit the tables again. Again, wild ambition meets cold hard facts and I slam a brick wall. “Third time’s a charm” I tell myself and deposit a third $100 with the intent to play a little more cautiously, play only $5 and $10 SNG’s, and build up.

It’s at about this time that I started reading some poker books, including Sklansky and Harrington, and talking theory on a semi-consistent basis with aforementioned poker cohort, malfaire. This go-around went significantly better, with me increasing my ‘bankroll’ (come on people, that $100 was not a bankroll, it was me taking a crisp Benjamin and shoveling some dirt, planting it, and hoping something sprouted) to somewhere around $300. Three hundred bucks seemed like plenty of money to start advancing to some multi-table tournaments… “that’s where the real money is at.” I started mixing some guaranteed prize pool MTT’s on UB for $10, $20, $30 a pop into my play, along with the $10 and $20 SNG’s, and somehow managed to stay afloat with some decent cashes and solid, tight play. I didn’t really mix it up a lot, but at least I wasn’t losing money. Poker was turning slightly profitable and was definitely fun times, so I kept at it… unfortunately, I did very little to improve my game other than to play bunches of tournament hands. Sux0rs for me. Sad.

For some reason, during the middle of 2005, I decided that I wanted to start trying to satellite into bigger buyin MTT’s, because, like I said, I wanted the cash moneys, and I wanted it now. Several satellites into the $100+9 nightly UB tourney didn’t work out so well, but finally in April I hit it big. Lady Luck was with me and the cards were dropping like it was hot. Real hot. I was smashing faces like it was my job. (See, sometimes I can talk about how awesome I am… read ‘awesome’ as ‘lucky as shit.’) Anyway, I stacked 7 out of 10 players at the table, and then managed to blow a 4:1 stack lead to place second for just over $5k. While this win was really quite good for my confidence, it completely destroyed any sense of bankroll ‘responsibility’ that I had, and I consequently started playing way too many $20 and $30 MTT’s hoping to make a big payday again. (Granted, I did place 1st and 3rd and won around $3k more, but it still wasn’t smart. I probably dropped a third of that back into how many tourneys I was playing. It was absurd.)

Seeing as though I now had a fairly large bankroll of around $7k, I decided to move some of it over to Bodog and hit up some of the soft cash play that I had heard was over there. Bear in mind that up until this point, I had probably played no more than 500 hands of cash online. So what stakes did I play, you ask? $100NL and $200NL. That’s right, jump right in to the mid-stakes, who cares about skill. I had just won some big tourneys people, I had the skillz to pay the bills. I don’t even want to know what my stats would have looked like, but I was playing full ring games and making all sorts of asinine plays. To this day, I have no idea how I made it out of that month long stint up $800, but I did. The “holy hell, I should not be playing this” epiphany moment came when I dropped $600 in a span of 30 minutes. It was emotionally crushing, and I think it effectively broke my spirit and started my loss of passion for the game. Within a month of that experience (somewhere around October) I had withdrawn what was left of my bankroll, bought some fun toys for myself, and was focused on thesis writing, job interviews, and drinking my face off before graduation. Fun times.

December 2005 offered up a ton of free time, seeing as though I had just graduated from Penn State, accepted a job offer with a large pharmaceutical company, and was basically wasting time until going on a week-long booze fest to Miami for New Years Eve and the Orange Bowl (by the way Kevin Kelly, if you didn’t make that field goal in triple overtime to propel PSU over FSU at 1am I was going to personally run down to the field and kick one myself. I would have had a better shot, but I digress...) Anyway, I had deposited some money back onto Bodog over break and was just messing around with some SNGs during my free time, and noticed a guaranteed MTT with a very large overlay that I just “had” to play. I figured, “what the hell, I’ve won these before.” Well, ended up playing very well, made the final table as the clear #2 in chips, and was feeling the itch come back. About 4 hands into final table I raise the button with Kc9c and get called by big stack out of the blinds. I flop Kd2c9d, and am feeling pretty good about myself. He bets into it, and I come over top only to get smooth called. Turn comes 4c, so I’m feeling even better now… I’m just hoping he doesn’t have a set. He checks the turn and I shove the rest of my chips in with top 2, second nut flush draw. He insta-calls with Kh4d. River comes 4h, and I am rewarded for 3 hours of solid play with a two outer that nets me peanuts compared to the $10k first prize. I’m going to say that that was probably the final straw for me, as literally wanted to stab something. Accounts got emptied, poker software got uninstalled, and I stopped playing for a good amount of time (read: several months).

Enter 2006: a job, a new apartment, a new city (okay, Princeton isn’t really a city, it’s a town. And I had lived there before the year prior. And technically, I had worked for company for 6 months the previous year on a co-op. But still... new beginnings. Shut your face). Trying to quit poker is like trying to kick black tar heroin. It just doesn’t happen. There’s always that guy on the corner who’s got a fix for you, just go to Neteller and wire him some funds. He doesn’t judge you, he just feeds the need. So back off old man, I’ll do what I want with my money and there’s nothing you can do about it… except maybe tack on some silly words to the end of a Port Security Act and scare some of the biggest online gambling sites to refuse my business even though you have no jurisdiction. I mean, I guess you could do that. But don’t, that’s just mean. Anyway, I played a little bit here and there, didn’t win anything large, didn’t drop anything significant. However, I did start playing live on a regular basis with some guys at work. Granted, they use an ante structure instead of blinds, and it’s dealer’s choice, but playing on a regular basis definitely fueled my thirst for knowledge and rekindled my interest in the game.

Throughout the beginning half of 2006, I believe that my friend malfaire probably bought and read every poker book known to man. He was also still playing a good amount of SNGs and MTTs online, and would periodically convince me to reenter the foray and join his ranks on Ultimate Bet and Paradise Poker. Okay, I’ll admit it, there was very little convincing that needed to be done. Instant messages like “Let’s play the 6pm guaranteed on UB” would usually work. But that’s besides the point. He was like that guy that always had a pack of cigarettes, even though he saw you chewing furiously on your Nicorette. Either way, I was off and on like this through the summer of this year. It was about this time that I decided that I should take one of two roads: 1. Quit internet poker for good. 2. Get serious about internet poker, set a bankroll, play within my means, and learn as much as I could. Obviously, I chose the latter, and proceeded to sign up for CardRunners poker training site that day in order to commit myself to the learning process. I also deposited $500 as my starting bankroll and told myself "This is it. If you go bust again playing within your limit, you aren't a winning player and this shit is not for you."

And so, for any of you that are still reading, my legit poker journey began on the 3rd day of October, 2006. It was only at this point that I had a clearly defined bankroll ($500), set limits (3 tables of $25NL to start), and a plan in mind for how I would progress through the ranks and ultimately reach my goal as Poker God of the Interweb (tm). I progressed to six tabling rather quickly, and before the end of the month I was sitting on a little over than $1000 (up ~20 buyins). November was a fairly good month as well, and it saw me testing the waters of $50NL as my bankroll grew to nearly $1800. December, however, smashed me in the face somethinlg fierce. It seemed like I completely forgot how to play and I was donking off my stack left and right. I would like to blame it all on bad luck, but it truly was undisciplined play on my behalf for the most part. Needless to say, I dropped back $650 between both limits over 17,000 hands. Needless to say, I was not playing winning poker. To finish the month off right, I was dealt this blow with AA, which would have broken a lesser moniquer and sent me tilting into oblivion. Instead, it convinced me to set a new goal for the beginning of 2007. I decided to withdraw all of my funds down to $1000 and play nothing but $25NL until I win 40 buyins (bankroll of $2000). At this point, I should have had time to fix the problems with my game, and get to a point where I believe that I can consistently beat the $25NL game. From there, I will probably set the same goal of winning 40 buyins at that level. Let's hope I get there.

I'm tired of writing, so I'm out. Sorry again for the length of this post, I don't know what got into me. I'll start posting some stats,hand histories, session notes, and other random goodness tomorrow.

i amM0NIKER at 10:05 PM 3 comments  

everyone remember's their first. it's never that good.

Well, my good friend and poker cohort, Mark (AKA malfaire, kuni, and "dj wannabe"), has decided to grace the internets with his presence, and seeing as though I am not one to be outdone, I have decided to pull up a chair and join the fun. While I'd like to say that this blog is some sort of charitable act whose #1 goal is to better the poker community, I guarantee you that I am nowhere near a legitimate source of poker knowledge, nor do I pretend to be.

So why am I making this site, you might ask? What do I hope to accomplish? Well, I certainly don't want to turn this into a "Look at me I lost a buyin. Hey look, I lost some more buyins. Check out this graph, as you can see it clearly depicts me losing buyins and tilting away my roll." Let's admit it though, there certainly will be a good deal of that, particularly in the beginning. And in the same token I don't want this to become a "Check out my mad skillz at the pokers. I am ruling the interweb. I am going to jump 20 levels and win a bajillion dollars by the end of 2007" -type thing where I sit on a pedestal and tell everyone how great and grand I am and how everyone else sucks at life. Wait, no, I probably would do that if I were that good. Too bad I'm not, and won't be. For shame.

Anyway, the real answer is that I just enjoy talking about poker, and am looking to reach out to the community and get some insight into poker, and other things... like girls, cars, and rims. Big, shiny, spinning rims. With LED's on them. CASH MONEYS! Alright, I'm out for now but I'll be back with more later. I know you kiddies can't wait to see my background and stats. Holla!

i amM0NIKER at 4:08 PM 0 comments