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Plotting a New Course

I'd like to thank Alan, Gnome, Support and SimpleStyle for weighing in on my poker-ineptitude. I think it's fair to say that I lack the experience to adequately handle the variance and the opponents found at the $100 NLHE and $200 NLHE games. Looking back at my recent posts and taking a look at my current frame of mind, I think I may have made the jump to $100 NLHE without being quite ready for the games. But all told, it was a great learning experience and pretty profitable too!

However, it may be time for me to plot a new (and hopefully temporary) course for my poker game.

So the question is: what should I do? I think a solid plan of attack would be to cash out some of my bankroll to lock in my PS3 purchase and to put some more money aside for frivolous purchases. I'm hoping that this might curb my worries about "money" and move me away from a results-oriented style of thinking.

From there, I could move back down to the $50 NLHE limit until I've played a certain number of hands. I'm definitely lacking in experience at the poker tables. All the books I've read have done a good job of starting my poker education but I'm still not an expert in any sense of the word. I'm all book-smarts without any applied skill. My experiences in life have taught me that this can be a really bad thing.

If I could get some input from my more experienced online-poker-playing readers on the following points, I'd really appreciate it. Here's what I'd like to know:

  1. How many hands at the $50 NLHE tables should I play before attempting to hit the $0.50/$1 games again? 10K total? 15K? And what sort of win-rate should I be aiming for? I've heard 16 BB/100 (or 8 PTBB/100) is a solid number but I'd like to know if there's a range that more or less captures a winning record given a smaller sample size of hands.

  2. Other than confidence and a winning record, are there other aspects of my game that I should look for that mark me as a shark or as a donkey? It seems to me that winning online poker players view many things as being quite standard. If I can start to pick up these "standard" patterns, I'd know that I'm going down the right path.

  3. Is there anything else that I've overlooked or forgotten here?

In all honesty, I hate the fact that I'll need to move down in limits. I guess it's an ego thing with me. I've always been pretty good at everything I've ever done. Poker is one of the few thorns in my side. Just when I think I've got it, I get all my money in bad and go on super-duper monkey tilt.

I'm going to try and buckle down. Get back to basics and try to play some winning poker. My session last night was a good start though painfully expensive. At least I lost most of my money on a single hand where most players should go broke.

I've got another 50 VPPs to earn at Stars for SilverStar VIP Status. Once I've finished that off (if for no other reason than I said I would at the start of March), I'll consolidate my money at Titan Poker and Full Tilt Poker. I'll need rakeback to help bring my bankroll back up to the levels necessary for $100 NLHE after I cash out a little play money for myself.

Again, thanks for the comments. With my ego and a some hardcore tilt clouding my vision, it can be hard to step back and see a losing streak for what it is: more likely the result of bad play than bad luck.

Here's hoping that I can change...


Gnome said...

When to move up? That's a good question, and one that doesn't have a specific answer.
I've always subscribed to the belief that you should move up as soon as you meet two criteria:
1) You have the bankroll.
2) You feel comfortable playing the higher limit.
Of course, moving down when you fail to meet either of those two requirements is essential as well.
There's no magic statistic that defines you as a shark or a donkey other than your long-run bottom line.
You're probably familiar with the PokerTracker stats that identify donkeys: those who play more than one-third of their hands and see a showdown more than a third of the time.
(A note on these stats: some pros are able to get away with higher VPIP and WSD, but it's very difficult.)

Klopzi said...

Gnome -

It's funny - I have the bankroll to play $100 NLHE and I was comfortable playing the higher stakes until recently. I guess that's why I'll bump myself back down. My problem right now is that my game just seems to be all over the place.

As for the PT stats, I've seen a couple players at $100 NLHE and a few more at $200 NLHE with VP$IPs around 40%-50% with WSD % up around 40%. They were playing small-ball poker pretty well - getting in cheap and giving up unless they felt likely to win the hand. I envy those types of players: I just don't have the guts to put my post-flop skills to the test.

I guess if bottom line is all that matters, I could always play a bunch of hands and move up as my bankroll crosses the magical 20 buy-in mark yet again.

I think if I can regain a little confidence and clarity, I should be back on track sooner than later.

Thanks very much for your thoughts on the matter.

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

What's your definition of having the roll to play $100NL? I personally like to have 20-25+ buyins for a level. But that's just me. I also do rely on poker income for a lot of day to day stuff so that probably makes me a little diff from a casual/recreational player. However, I would assume Gnome would have similar requirements.

The funny thing is, on rare occasions that I play 1-2NL, it's almost like a joke these days. The plays are so bad, the thought process is so flawed, and yet the masses think it's ok and I just see all sorts of craziness going on. Do you take notes on players? I mean it's one thing to rely on numbers. It's another to have a real observation. And yes, this comes from a guy with a Mac who doesn't have HUD or PT and so no numbers on players. (When PT3 comes with Mac version, you can bet I'll get it).


Seriously, do you know who overplays AJ? Who overplays their top pair 2nd/3rd/no kicker? Who shoves on draws. Who is capable of overbetting for value? Who would call an overbet for value? Do you think about the hand ranges of your opponents? Do you know if a player is tight in certain positions vs others? If you rely on numbers, a guy could show an avg VP$IP but maybe it's diff if you break it down by position. Maybe he's ubertight in EP, fairly loose in LP. I don't know if HUD shows those things or not but if not, you're blinding yourself with numbers.

You said you're not afraid to try new things. Then try opening just one table, play in it without HUD or anything for an hour or two. See how it goes. And during that time, experiment a few things. Also try this. Try raising from UTG with ATC 10 times in a row. I mean it. Every time. And play it like you have a big pair (but not go broke. Crazy board or any resistance and let it go if you don't have anything). But just try it. Literally. 10 straight times from UTG. 23o raise. 74o raise. AKs raise. Just do it and see how that goes. See if your UTG raises are respected or not. Then adjust accordingly later. Keep open raising from the button with ATC. See how that goes over.

I mean just try a bunch of random things. Eventually, things will click and fall into place and you will find your style.

Klopzi said...

Alan -

I like the idea of raising 10x UTG with any two. I wouldn't want to try it at $100 NL or higher but I might give it a try at the lower stakes, just to see...

Ok. Notes - I do take them if I see a player make a play over and over. I'll also make notes if I see a player's hole cards and find something odd or interesting about how they play.

But for the most part, I tend to target players with VP$IPs > 50% and ignore other players as much as possible. I look to play big pots with loose players, as opposed to looking for chinks in the armour of the tighter players.

Bankroll-wise, I agree with both your and Gnome. Right now, I've got the roll to play $100 NL. My only problem is that I've been losing so much lately that I just don't feel comfortable anymore. I could continue a while longer and see what develops?

Still, a few thousand hands at $50 NL might do me some good.

support said...

Since I am part of your classic group of commentators, I'll also give my view on your new state of mind.

I am also a NL100 player, who has played online for about 3 to 4 years now. I've played limit, NL, SnG's, MTT's so I'm quite an allround OK player. I think that having played all of these different forms has helped me loads, experience is key imo.

I've only been playing 6max for about a year however, starting out at NL50 and moving to NL100 after having a proven track record of 40k hands or so at NL50. I've always been a bankroll nit and will continue to be for the rest of my life, I'm afraid. I currently have about 40 buyins for NL200 but I still don't feel extremely confident in my NL100 game to move up. I have a winrate of > 5PTBB/100 for about 35k hands now at NL100, but I try not to overestimate this and think about my plays in a very sceptical way.

So far my brag, no just kidding, I just mentioned that to say that it differs from player to player what he feels in the requirement to move up in stakes. For me, this equals feeling confident at nearly every table I sit down at and being able to outplay most of the other regulars. Next to that, I'm afraid that the swings at the higher stakes could get to me much quicker than they can at NL100. Take that into account aswell, it's a factor that cannot be stressed enough imho. I'm trying to open up my game a bit before moving to NL200, because I'm very aware that I still have many exploitable leaks.

Now my advice for you: play at least 20k hands at NL50 with a decent winrate (4PTBB/100 or more) before moving back up to NL100. Don't look at bankroll, because it can often give false hope.

PS: A winrate of 8PTBB/100 is incredibly difficult for a not very experienced or supertalented player. Trying to achieve this over a decent sample would not be a realistic goal at this point imo.

Klopzi said...

support -

Not sure if I'll be able to get 20K hands in. For what it's worth, I've only played about 40K hands in the past three years with 20K at 6-max NL.

Until I started losing, I was confident at the tables. And I'm sure that my play reflected that. I was sitting down at each table knowing that I'd come away a winner. Until I hit a couple bad breaks earlier this month, I was cruising.

Of course, with losing comes self-doubt. Self-doubt leads to dubious plays, stupid risks, and horrid losses.

I'm going to artificially handicap myself by withdrawing enough from my bankroll to force me to play at lower stakes. I may wait to see how things go this weekend before deciding whether I'll make the move back to $50 NLHE on a permanent basis.

My biggest concern is that I'll lose interest fast if I'm not winning or losing real amounts of money. And that's probably why I'm losing right now. Too busy trying to make things happen rather than waiting for good opportunities.