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The Thursday Night Grind

The good news: I had a winning night at the $25 NL tables at Interpoker. The bad news: my win rate was a paltry 2 BB/100. My question to you, my loyal readers, is this: what the f*ck am I doing wrong?

Maybe I'm being greedy and trying to do too much too quickly. Reading through the myriad assortment of poker blogs that I read on an almost daily basis, I've noticed that there are still a lot of bloggers out there playing the $25 NL ring games and $5 and $10 SNGs. Although I still haven't played a year of "real money" poker, it's hard to settle into the grind when I read about the tremendous successes of some of the select few out there (e.g. here, here, and here).

I'm not a poker protege and my recent numbers confirm that fact. I guess I was just hoping that my skill level would increase proportionally with my bankroll. But this just isn't the case and the reasons are obvious.

When a friend inquired as to how much of my bankroll came from winnings and how much came from bonuses, I estimated about 50/50. In fact, my winning from ring games probably account for far less than 50% of my total bankroll. I would actually place that number at about 25%.

As I've sat at the $25 NL tables lately, my inexperience has really shown. Folding the best hand on occasion, overplaying the worst hand on many occasions, and putting myself in difficult situations over and over again.

I have found that tightening up my NL play really helps. When you flop top set with your pocket queens, there are no tough decisions. I may have to think of how I can extract the maximum payday from my opponent but that's it.

I've also discovered that I really hate AK (s00ted or otherwise). Like any "good" poker player, I realize that AK is a hand that affords me all sorts of extra EV in a short-handed pot. However, probe bets and continuation bets really start to add up on missed flops.

And when someone pushes all when you do hit top pair, you're faced with a difficult decision as well. Do you call the all-in and hope that the player is just a donkey trying to make a move? Or do you play the role of nut-peddler and fold it? These are all tough decisions that only experience can answer (or maybe one of the books I bought yesterday).

Last night, I was actually doing quite well for a while. Raising pre-flop when I was supposed to, making good bets when I was ahead, folding hands when I was behind - all in all, pretty ok.

Then I lost all my profit and jumped back into the red on a single hand.

A maniac raises from MP to 4xBB. The only thing that worried me is that this guy had not raised once pre-flop since I'd been watching him.

With KK in the SB, I raise it up to $2 to see where we're at and the maniac in MP quickly raises to $5. This was a warning sign that I picked up on, but I can't be worried that someone is holding aces any time I have cowboys. I've seen people make this re-raise with AK or even a medium pocket pair, but never from someone who has a PFR of about 1%.

I call the pre-flop raise and the flop comes down J J 5. We both check the flop. The turn is another blank, so I bet out $4 into the $10 pot. Well, MP re-raises to $8.

At this point, an experienced player can make one of two moves: push or fold. A blonkey has one of two moves: push or call. I chose to blonk-call the raise and then wisely folded on the river when MP bet again.

He showed me the rockets that I suspected he held and I said nothing about the cowboys that I'd just mucked. Sure, I should've made the laydown on the turn and saved myself the extra $4, but that's the price of my education. At least by calling on the turn, I could safely make the laydown on the river knowing for sure that I was behind. Had MP been a more conservative player, I guess I could've bought myself a free showdown by calling the extra $4 on the turn.

I truly think that making the right moves at the right time has everything to do with confidence and conviction and these things cannot be taught. I think reading books can help you take fuller advantage of the information gained through experience, but experience is still the true determinant of poker ability (excluding the certain "je-ne-sais-quoi" that the world's best players have).

Luckily, Interpoker's reload bonus is keeping me afloat during these dark days. And I managed to pull out a win by the end of my session last night by virtue of a last minute full boat on my second-to-last hand.

So I guess the money is out there if you're patient enough to pay your dues, put in the work to learn the game, and confident enough to put it all on the line when most players would run.

Have a good weekend! Enjoy the grind...


drewspop said...

It was a winning session. Build on that. Even though it was a small one, a win is a win as they say.

You will have a night like I did last night soon. One where you flop a bunch of sets and get paid off. Where you get so many high pockets that you make nothing on some, lose lots on some, and still make money overall.

I think if you had my cards last night, you would have done much better than I did. I didn't even mention in my post that I raised up KK and QQ and noone played.

Just keep at it as you say and it will all come together over the long run.

Good luck this weekend. I am sure I will be on at some point. I am playing live tonight and tomorrow though, so the wife won't be thrilled if I am on all night too.

Alan said...

Listen to your instincts. You knew he had aces. You said yourself that he was a rock and hadn't raised all night. You knew he was serious because he kept reraising you. Those two Jacks on board were a warning sign too.

Everytime I don't listen to my instinct I lose (and I do it a lot). I'd like to say I would have layed this hand down but I don't know that I would have. In fact I probably would have pushed on the turn and lost a lot more.

I know I push this too much, but give Poker Academy a shot. I've found that playing tens of thousands of hands against the bots gives me the confidence to make the right decisions at the right time.

Klopzi said...

Have a good one drew. You don't need to go crazy on the poker if it's going to upset your wife. No harm in taking it easy for a bit.

The games at Interpoker will wait. I mean, last night's game was good and the night before that, so there's no need to play on the weekend if you don't have to.

I've never seen a site where many of the hands see 6 to 8 people per flop. It's nuts...

Klopzi said...

I should check out Poker Academy. My only problem is that I don't have that much time to invest in poker. 2 or 3 hours four or five times a week is what I have to invest time wise.

But if Poker Academy would help me improve that much quicker, then it may be worth a shot.

Although I tend to play differently depending on the stakes of the game...

KajaPoker said...

Cowboys vs Rockets seems to happen too often. It's so hard to lay those down, though. And the fact he checked the flop makes things even worse.

Sometimes you just can't get away from a hand, but in this case you managed to save some money, so good job!

I've never played at InterPoker. I thought it was a Party skin and I hate everything about Party Poker.

Klopzi said...

Hey there Kaja - Nope, Interpoker is a Cryptologic skin. I've hard some rough times with Party Poker from time to time. I seem to lose money...I guess in a sea of sharks, I'm a real fish.

I think I did do ok getting away from going broke with the old cowboys. I just wish I'd saved a little more.

When every BB counts, losing 52 BBs on one hand still stings.

huma said...

Last night I raised 6BB preflop with cowboys, and I was called by the SB. Flop came Ace-rag-rag, I bet 3/4 pot and the SB raised allin. I quickly folded and said 'I hate folding kings'.

Someone replied 'You folded kings?! Why?!' and I said 'because the Ace flopped'

Someone else replied 'Wow you're really tight'

I've been thinking about this and while folding kings is hard to do, I'm fairly sure I was beaten. I've lost way too many pots with KK to fall into this trap again, I now play them very conservatively if there's an A on the board.

I know we all remember the bad beats much more than the pots we win, and my pokeroffice stats tell me that KK is actually my most profitable hand... I guess your read on your opponents betting patterns and general aggressiveness, combined with experience, is going to tell you whether you are truly beaten in these situations. For me, KK is a real danger hand and it scares the hell out of me.

Also, I hate AK too, with a passion.

Klopzi said...


KK has been a little better for me than AA as well, but not by much.

I believe the reasons are the same as those you gave. Most importantly, it's easier to get away from KK when an A falls on the flop.

I'll still play it aggressively, but I'll always be wary that my opponent may be holding an ace and that I'm beaten.

As for AK, I had some good luck with it yesterday. I guess it's heard that I don't like it and is trying to make amends. I had it 9 times yesterday in about 500 hands and won all 9 pots (granted, 5 were blind steals).

Still, AA - QQ and AK are a NL player's bread and butter and I'll take any of those hands over any other.