let's admit it, the second go-around ain't much better
09 January 2007
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