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SNGs are good: August 2005

Bankroll: $422

Man, I've posted a lot in a little amount of time...I just want to get everyone (I keep using that term even though I have no readers...actually, I think I had two hits yesterday...) caught up to my present day poker play. I've also noticed that my memory of some events, especially surrounding the exact figures of my bankroll, are slightly off at times (+/- $20). Two more months of this catching up stuff, then I can bore everyone with my day to day play. I'll probably start including hand details when I get to that point.

And with that great intro, let's hit it...

Well, if you read my last entry, you'll see that July was not a good ring game month for me. Although I was up after collecting bonuses, I was an overall losing player. I think one reason for that is that Ed Miller really pushes being aggressive at the right times and not folding when pots grow large. The problem is that if you don't have enough experience at the tables, knowing when to push or fold can be a little vague. I mean, you make two or three bad calls an hour and you're almost guaranteed to lose money unless the cards are really hitting you.

First, let's talk about my ring game play. August was even worse than July, to be honest. I was playing horribly and even when I was doing ok, the cards were missing me completely. I played a total 20 sessions of about 1 hour each and lost $38 in the process. $25 of that $38 was lost at Absolute Poker...seriously, you'd think I'd learned my lesson. I just remember thinking that maybe I could multi-table (2 tables) in order to clear my bonuses quicker. I still had a bunch of bonus left over from my first deposit and had even more after putting money back into the site. Well, I got smoked...I made $10 in bonus, but quickly cashed out after that.

I also played at Noble Poker, but ended up losing about $8 in the process. But I finally managed to clear $10 of my bonus. I cashed out soon thereafter since there was no way that I was clearing any more of that bonus playing low limit ring games.

I played a bit at Party Poker as well. Deposited $100 and cleared a $20 bonus in about 5 hours of play. I lost about $3 playing 0.50/1.00, but was up $17 after getting the bonus.

I also made a big step in my poker career and thought I'd give $1/$2 a try at Interpoker. At the time, I wasn't sure how much I'd like Interpoker. They offer a lot of incentives to players to remain loyal to their site: monthly reload bonuses, lots of cool promotions, free stuff, prop player invites (you get paid to play), and some really terrible players. The only downside to the site is that easy games are hard to find after 8 PM EST. Still, I really like Interpoker.

Anyway, so I gave the $1/$2 a try and was basically scared away pretty quickly. I lost $26.50 in 30 minutes. It's not like I was playing too badly. The main difference between $1/$2 and 0.50/1.00 seemed to be in the preflop aggression of most players. Unlike at 0.50/1.00, almost every pot was raised pre-flop. I started to lower my playing standards assuming that people had to be playing garbage cards. Well, I was wrong and paid the price.

That was about it for my ring game play for August. So, for those keeping track, I was -$38 from my ring game play, but up $40 from bonuses (yay!). By the way, I did make back most of my $1/$2 losses by playing 0.50/1.00 at Interpoker.

Well, after losing so badly at ring games, I did two things. First, I picked up a copy of Poker Tracker. All I can say is that this tool is invaluable if you're serious about playing poker. It helped me analyze my game and figure out where I was going wrong. I still analyze my play constantly in order to squeeze as many BB out of each game I play while plugging up any major leaks that come up from time to time. I also picked up PokerAce HUD which is a tool that adds a heads-up display on top of your poker window when used in conjunction with PokerTracker. The heads up display just displays certain key statistics for each player at your table, such as VP$IP (voluntarily put money in pot), PFR (pre-flop raise %), and TA (total aggression). How you come to use this information depends on who you are, how much you've read, and experience. Does this give you an edge? Over weak players, yes. Does this software guarantee that you'll be a winning player? No. You'll still need to work hard at your game, both on and off the tables.

What was I saying? So, my ring game play sucked and I picked up PokerTracker. However, for the rest of the month, I concentrated on SNGs. I reasoned that if my ring game play was terrible, my tournament play should improve to make up for it. So, I read Harrington on Holdem Volume II and started playing tournaments. For easy reference, I'll post my results per site:

Absolute Poker:

I played four freeroll tournaments at Absolute Poker. These tournaments were sponsored by PokerSource Online and had a great payout structure. Generally, the tournaments had an average of 200 players per tournament, with the top 25 spots paying. Coming in 50th paid $12.50, so these were great tournaments that offered a lot free money. These tournaments were hold once on each of the four Sundays in August - here's how I did:

August 7: 26th out of 203 ($30)
I also played a $6 + $1 9-person SNG immediately following the tournament and placed 2nd for $16.20. A profit of $39.20 is pretty good for 3 hours work isn't too bad.

August 14: 109th out of 197
I just stunk this one up. Everyone folded to me pre-flop when I picked up QQ and went all-in (I was seriously short-stacked). The very next hand, I pick up AK and go all-in again. This time I'm called by a guy holding AA and I'm out. I hate how tournaments always need you to get lucky in order to do well. Well, not always, but when you play the way I do, luck is always a good thing to have.

August 21: 18th out of 185 ($31.50)
Did a little better this time through. I was getting much better at knowing when to push and when to fold. I also knocked out a lot of people by picking up good hands at key times. I must have knocked out 5 people simply by picking up some good pocket pairs and calling some desperation all-ins. I definitely got lucky on one hand - I just don't remember how or when...

August 28: 9th out of 192 ($45)
Played the same game that I did on the previous week. I snuck into the final table being really short stacked after going card dead for about 45 minutes. Luckily I had enough chips to help me last it out. I made some all-ins moves to steal the blinds for quite a while, but I went out on the first hand at the final table by going all-in with AJ UTG and getting called by QQ. Top spot only paid $50 and I know that they played for at least another hour and a half. Not worth it in my opinion. My advice: when you get to the final table, decide right away whether you want to win it or creep up the ladder. If you want to win it, try to double up and start pushing everyone around - it's the only way to do it. Get the chip lead and make everyone fear you. I tried to do it, but it didn't work out.

PokerStars:
I kept hearing so much about PokerStars that I'd thought I'd give them a try. I played in 12 $5 + 0.50 SNGs and did ok: came in 1st twice, 3rd once, and pooched the rest. I ended up being down $3 once all was said and done. The players here seemed a bit better than they do at other places, although it could be that I was just playing like a donkey. I do know that PokerStars has great customer support. I'd just picked up a lap top at the start of August for a new job and invariably started using it to play poker from my living room (and it lets me spend time with my wife while I play rather than sitting alone in my office). Anyway, PokerStars did a good job in helping me figure out that my wireless router was garbage.

PokerRoom:
I mentioned last month that I really liked the look of this site. My friend MrVercetti assured me that the SNG play at Hollywood Poker (and, by virtue of the same player base, PokerRoom) was pretty easy. I played 16 $5 + 0.50 SNGs with the following results:

3 x 1st Place = $75
3 x 2nd Place = $45
2 x 3rd Place = $20

So I spent $88 on buy-ins and got $140 in return for a profit of $52. Not too shabby. My return on investment for the month tournament-wise was 97% (freerolls helped with this stat). I was in-the-money 39% of the time.

So August was pretty good for tourneys, but my play definitely slipped off towards the end. My goal for September was to improve my ring game play. I bought my own copy of Ed Miller's SSH (along with Alan Schoonmaker's Psychology of Poker) and read and re-read it.


Grand Totals for August:

Ring Games: -$38.09 (two bad months in a row...ouch)
Bonuses: $40
Tourneys: $160
Total: $160
Bankroll: $588

So, I hit the $500 bankroll milestone in August. My goal for September was simple: I wanted to get myself to +300 BB for my 0.50/1.00 limit play. By August 31, I was at $73. So, I'd have to win 227 BB to beat my goal. I was averaging about 1.25 BB/100 at that point which was perfectly average. However, I was hoping that it wouldn't take me over 18000 hands to do it. I mean, I'd only played a few thousand hands total.

So, the goal was set. $227 from 0.50/1.00 plus associated bonuses. Pipe dream or possibility? We'll see...

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