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2009: A Bad Year for Poker

After finishing up my last session of 2009 last Thursday, I got all of my poker stats exported to Excel from Poker Tracker 3 and Poker Tracker Omaha. Unfortunately, I exported the wrong numbers from Poker Tracker Omaha. And I forgot to export any of my sit n' go or tournament results. But in the end, it doesn't really matter. Bottom line? 2009 was my worst year as an online poker "enthusiast".

All told, I dropped roughly 25% of my bankroll. The bulk of my losses came in no-limit hold'em. I took a couple of good hits to my bankroll in 6-max and heads-up $50 NL. I just couldn't catch my stride in either of these games and dropped close to five buy-ins in each of these games over a combined total of 12K hands.

My other biggest losers last year were 6-max $1/$2 limit hold'em (82 BB lost over 3800 hands) and $1/$2 full-ring Omaha Hi/Lo (150 BB lost over 3000 hands).

I feel that my losses were a direct result of my lack of focus on poker as my primary hobby. To succeed at poker, you need to put in time at and away from the tables. Although I continued to read about poker and watch training videos on a regular basis, my time at the tables was pretty limited. And even when playing, I played a distracted and rushed style of poker, never really paying attention to what I was doing and simply focusing on the volume of hands that I was playing.

My plans for this year are to re-focus on poker and really spend some time playing the game. I plan on making hold'em my primary focus again. Limit hold'em and no-limit hold'em cash games will be my bread-and-butter games this year. I may still play a little Omaha Hi/Lo when the mood strikes but hold'em is where I need to focus. The low stakes games are still beatable using standard ABC strategy.

I laid out my goals for 2010 in my last post but I think I can present a more specific strategy today based on my 2009 results. Here are the (realistic) goals that I'd like to accomplish by the end of 2010:

  1. Play (at least) 50,000 hands of poker.
    I played about 34K hands of poker in 2009 without really trying very hard. If I can put in more time with the game and focus more on the hands I play by limiting myself to no more than two tables at a time, I hope to see better results across the board.

  2. Be a winning player at 6-max $1/$2 limit hold'em (10K hands minimum).
    Limit hold'em can be a real bitch of a game. It's a game of pushing small edges. Get value from your  hands when you're ahead and release your hands when behind.  Sounds simple but it can be pretty tough. Try bet/folding the river a few times and you'll see what I mean.

  3. Be a winning player at 6-max $50 no-limit hold'em (10K hands minimum).
    I used to be a winning player at 6-max $50 NLHE. 2009 proved me wrong. I feel that with a bit more practice at the 6-max $25 NLHE games and a little reading, I should be able to beat the $50 games again.

  4. Be a winning player at heads-up $50 no-limit hold'em (10K hands minimum).
    I loved playing heads-up no-limit hold'em. What I didn't like was getting owned by my opponents. I think that some study, some practice, and select poker training videos should help me regain my confidence in heads-up games.

  5. Order my personalized hockey jersey from the Full Tilt store.
    I don't think that I've ever cashed in any Full Tilt points. I'm sitting at a measly 14,000 points earned over the past four years. I'd like to earn the other 11,000 points this year and finally get my personalized jersey.

  6. Read more poker books.
    I don't think that many online poker players read many books nowadays. While I understand the allure of poker training videos, I think that there's much to be said for sitting back and reading a little poker theory from time to time. I'm also a big fan of reading biographies and poker fiction. I may give my Zune a bit of a rest this year and try to read more. I'd like to read (or re-read as the case may be) at least three books per month in 2010. I'm currently re-reading Phil Gordon's Little Green Book and Little Blue Book to help me get back to basics for beating the 6-max $25 NLHE games.
If I can reach these goals this year, I think I'll be ready to give myself a real shot at future success with online poker. I'll use 2010 to prove to myself that I can be a winning poker player despite my recent apathy towards poker.

Despite a poor showing in 2009, I'm still well-ahead of the game overall. I'd just like to prove to myself that my past success was not a fluke and that I deserve to call myself an online poker player. I hope to turn things around in 2010: snap out of my poker funk, start playing winning poker, and regain some of the passion I once had for the game.

I hope each and everyone one of you all the best in 2010....unless you happen to be sitting across the table from me. In that case, I'd much prefer that you get horribly unlucky and ship your entire bankroll my way...

Good luck!


The Poker Meister said...

Two things:
A. What is your EV for the past year? Where you +EV or -EV? What about over lifetime? From your recent posts, it appears that you are getting your money in behind a lot, but I suspect that is because you're cherry picking the worst hands. If you use HEM, there is a column for EV which will give you the expected value for the session. If you use PT3, you can download Holdem Luck, which will tell the same thing.

B. Why are you trying to diversify so much? If you want to heal your game, which appears to be broken at the moment, focus on one particular game. Don't play 6 max one day, HU the next, and limit the following. Stick with one until you get comfortable and then diversify if you must. I have been playing full ring for a long time now... I'm comfortable with what my opponents are doing and thinking. If I suddenly switch up to 6 max or HU (or higher stakes or lower stakes, etc.), it's a whole new ball game, where I am forced to adjust my thought processes. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but if something is broken and you don't know what it is, don't go changing all the parts around with the expectation that you'll get to the broken piece eventually. That approach will cost you big $$$. Focus on one piece, i.e. one game, and get your head on right. If it's 6 max, so be it. Play out 50k hands of 6 max and get it right. Make sure you're trending upwards. Make sure you're getting your money in ahead. Make sure ... You've been playing long enough to know all of this. Stop screwing around with the other variants and get healed on one. For me, I recommend you start with Full Ring, 25-50NL. Just my opinion, but I would go back to basics. GL at the tables.
-Poker Meister

Klopzi said...

@Meister -

I'm going to give the Hold'em Luck software a try. I've been looking for something like this for quite a while - thank you!

As for diversity in my game selection, I was all over the place last year. In the past, I've switched from game to game based on how badly I was tilting at any one game. This probably cost me last year as I was unable to really get a good read on the games I was playing but it did allow me to stick with poker. If I hadn't tried out different games, I might have given up poker entirely.

I'm not sure if I'll stick with only no-limit or limit hold'em. I'm currently playing more limit hold'em than anything else. I enjoy the game and hope to start winning at some point. I'll have to see how I'm doing from an EV standpoint.

I probably won't play much full-ring no-limit hold'em for a little while. I've still got some Poker Tracker numbers to fix up in my 6-max game before I go back to playing full ring.

Great suggestions Meister - thanks very much for your point of view. Good luck in 2010!

Klopzi said...

@Meister -

Well, it looks like Hold'em Luck only calculates all-in EV. Unfortunately, that doesn't help very much with my EV calculations in my limit games.

I also wish that they had a G-bucks calculator for no-limit hold'em. It'd be nice to see my expected value against an my opponents' range of hands.

Oh well, I guess I'll have to keep working on my game the old-fashioned way.

The Poker Meister said...

Yeah. Holdem Luck only calculates all-in situations, pretty much for NL / PL. At least you'll be able to tell how you run in that area of your game.

The reason I suggest FR as opposed to 6 max is:
A. Back to fundamental poker. Typical NLHE is 9-10 players.
B. Multi tabling is easier. You can have more tables open because the hands are played slower (more people, more time). As a result of having more tables, you are forced to concentrate on the computer better than only 2 tables, what you suggested in your post.
C. Tighten up your game. FR forces you to play a lot tighter poker than you would have in 6max. You become more selective, and are seeing more hands due to the increased tables. This points back to A.
D. I think the players are easier. If you're a noob, are you going to sit down at a "specialty" table (i.e. 6 max or HU)? You're probably going to sit down at the table you're used to in your home game or local casino game: full ring.

Klopzi said...

@Meister -

All valid points, for sure. If I play full ring, I'll likely wait until I'm ready to take on the $200 NL games.

I haven't played full-ring for a long while, save for a short trip to the local casino last year. It is something that I may try again this year. I've got the bankroll - just need to get the confidence back.