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Enjoy the Ride

I played poker this past weekend. I actually put in all 1000 hands that I was looking to play at $50 NLHE. I reviewed my recent sessions which got me looking back at March's train wreck with a more objective eye.

I'm happy to say that I'm "feeling" poker again. I think I'm finally back.

I had a good session on Friday night at PokerStars' $50 NLHE tables. A little too good but it was nice to have the deck hit me hard after being neglected by Lady Luck for so long. Saturday afternoon brought the inevitable crash back down to reality. This latest bad session forced me to take a good look at my NLHE Poker Tracker numbers over the past six months. And just like that, the dark cloud that had been following me around since March dissipated in an instant.

After being kicked down in March, I'd assumed that I was a losing player at all levels of no-limit hold'em. I lost a lot of money and figured that I was not well-suited to poker. While the jury's still out on my abilities as a poker player, I can say that my knee-jerk reaction in giving up poker was very silly. I just hate losing and I went overboard in the emotional sense.

At times, poker is much more than a hobby. Although I'll never live the lifestyles of the Internet's most succcessful online players, I can't help but imagine a better life. A life where I can afford to put my kids through university without crippling my bank account. A life where my wife will want for nothing. A life where I'll be able to spend time enjoying my family instead of slaving away in an office hoping to make ends meet.

I haven't played much poker in my life. I'm probably not even that great a player overall though my ego tells me otherwise. But I still identify myself as a poker player. Video games are a hobby that I love to death; poker is more than that. Poker is a part of who I am now. It's a never-ending game that can never truly be beaten. It's that question waiting to be answered; poking me, pushing me from the recesses of my mind. Though I put poker away for months at a time, I can only sit out from the game, unable to get up and cash out my chips. For better or worse, I fear that I'll always want to play poker. My only hope is that I'll improve in time. I need to improve my game while sitting at the tables. And I need to improve my mental game. I must learn to take the good with the bad; to look down the road and not at my feet shuffling along the same path beaten by countless online poker wannabes.

After last March, I was so convinced that I was a losing poker player that I never bothered to take a long-term look at my results. All I could see was that I'd cut my bankroll in half through a touch of bad luck and a lot of bad play. But on Saturday afternoon, I had Poker Tracker show me how I'd done over the period of December 2007 - March 2008. I'd played more hands in those four months than I had in the previous two years. I was a little surprised by the results:

  • $50 NLHE (6-max): 43 hours played; $428 won; 10 BB/100
  • $100 NLHE (6-max): 43 hours played; $884 won; 10 BB/100
  • $200 NLHE (6-max): 34 hours played; $118 won; 1 BB/100
I'll agree that the $200 NLHE results are a little on the crappy side. However, I was genuinely unaware that I had a (slight) winning record. My knee-jerk reaction to leave poker was based on an emotionally unstable assumption that I'd lost thousands of dollars playing poker. I also made the mistake of equating virtual poker chips and my online bankroll with real-world money. I was unable to get over the feeling of wasting my time and money in a losing campaign. Hopefully I'll learn from this experience and develop a more rational approach to poker, my bankroll, and variance.

Starting tonight, I'll start playing the $100 NLHE games once again. I've got my bankroll back to where it needs to be for these games. I've also decided to play with a 100 BB stack instead of using my short-stack strategy. I need to improve my game and I feel that medium/deep stack poker is the best way to accomplish this task.

To celebrate another fresh start in my poker career, I'm going to pick up a copy of Poker Tracker 3. If I'm going to keep improving, I'll need some updated tools to find and plug up any leaks in my game. I'll also do my best to take the good with the bad by looking at some of my better hands and plays when things are looking bleak.

I'm not sure where I'm headed this time. I'd still like to play the $1000 NLHE games but I'll take my time getting there. For now, I'll just enjoy the ride.


WillWonka said...

Speaking of tools.. you really need to take a look at Holdem Manager.. In addition to their Tracker and HUD, they put out leak plugging articles. They have put out 2 so far.

Right now, they are running an unlimited 15 day trial.

I think you will find it worth it. It was hard for me to switch having been a PT user for so long.

Klopzi said...

Will -

I've looked at both Holdem Manager and PT 3. I think I'm going with PT3 for now based on the reviews and comparisons that I've read. From what I've read, both pieces of software are excellent.

However, I'll admit that much of my decision is based on how well Poker Tracker 2 worked for me. Given how well PT2 worked, I'd be remiss if I didn't give PT3 a shot.

But at $80 for a professional license, Holdem Manager is something I might consider if PT3 doesn't work out.

Thanks for the input. Hopefully some of my readers will give Holdem Manager a try.

Andrew said...

Reading about your poker experiences is great. It only further makes me want to get Internet Gambling legalized. It is a very large market that is not being fully tapped into. The backhanded and undemocratic way that the US Congress passed the UIGEA is enough to overturn the act, not to mention the high demand for internet gambling. I started a campaign where we need 10,000 people to show their support for online gambling. Find out more here: https://www.thepoint.com/campaigns/legalize-online-gambling/headquarters. If this interests you, join, tell your friends and you can make a difference. Thanks