Thursday, May 20, 2010

Money or the Bag?

After treading water for quite some time I finally hit a lucrative upswing running 1 - 1 - 1 - 2 - 6 - 6 - 1, I'm now in the following situation:

Games Played - 163 
ROI - 9.93%
Winnings - $196 USD

And I'm now faced with another tough decision - the money or the bag?

I could choose the money, cash some or all of my profit out and buy something nice. This is a good way to keep focussed and remind you of why you play; or I could go for the bag - reinvest my money at a higher buy-in with the hope of being able to produce a bigger return.

I choose the bag. From now on I'm going to be playing the $20+$2 9 man Sit and Go tournaments until such time as I need to drop back down to the $10+$1 level to rebuild my bankroll or I've built up enough profit to move up another rung in the ladder.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Boring Bits

Unlike it's heavily edited and largely fake television counterpart - picture players paid by organisers and sponsers to turn up, play a 'poker tournament' in where you compete for airtime in order to get more sponsers and 'tournament' invitations - real poker can be mind numbing at times. Especially at the low buy-ins where the way to beat the loose players that are found there is to play tight.

This sometimes means playing a table for an hour and not playing a single hand. Something I've questioned lately whether or not this can impact my ROI negatively - and how to counter it if it does.

I know I've been affected by boredom before, I end up playing marginal hands and chasing action that I know I shouldn't, this kind of play only serves to make your downswings more severe. I think it could also be a factor in my last 5 games in which I've gone 7 - 6 - 7 - 7 - 7, continually busting out this early is a sign i'm not being patient enough. Two ways I could remedy this imaptience is to move up to a larger buy-in or play more tables at once.

At the moment I can't move up a level as I'm currently sitting on:

Games Played - 152  
ROI - 3.74%
Winnings - $81 USD

Down from being up $140 only 7 games ago. I refuse to move up to the $20 buy-in sit and go tournaments until I've made $200 profit at this level and I'm due to get a nice upswing soon which should take me to this target if I can keep my impatience in check. 

So should I play more tables? Even if it was just two tables instead of one I would be able to increase my profit faster and therefore reach the next buy-in level in a shorter amount of time. The more I think about it the more I think I'm capable of doing it - I've seen what this $10 level has to throw at me and I'm not to concerned by it. Mastering this level is more about mastering your own game than the games of your opponents which are often terribly weak. The only drawback to playing multiple tables that I can see is that my ROI will take a small hit - I think I can absorb a small reduction while still keeping a positive return so I'm going to try playing two tables at once.

Although I have been getting bored, boredom wasn't the reason for this loss - Sometimes there is just nothing you can do.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Downswing

The largely random nature of poker induces what are known as upswings and downswings. Downswings occur when you repeatedly lose regardless of the quality of your play. It can be incredibly brutal to endure and typically how a player handles his downswings will make the difference between being a winning player or a losing player over time. You're on tilt once you start questioning your instincts and your mindset changes from 'how can I maximise my profit' to 'how can I lose this hand'; you'll burn through your bankroll before you know it on tilt - learning to avoid it is key to making a profit playing poker over the long run.

Downswings are made up of consistent bad beats (ADiamonds9Hearts losing to
AClubs3Hearts, KSpadesKDiamonds losing to JSpadesJDiamonds), long runs of cold cards and repeated unavoidable situations (KSpadesKDiamonds running in to ASpadesAHearts). A downswing can crush your ROI, destroying the previous weeks worth of rock solid play without you even making a single error in judgement; the skills required to deal with this are patience and persistence.

The key to dealing with bad beats is simply to enjoy them. It might sound strange, but if you are receiving bad beats you are actually playing correctly. Think about it. To take a bad beat you have to get your money in with a better probability of winning the hand than your enemy - this is pretty much the idea of poker. So receiving a bad beat is like a pat on the back, it lets you know you are playing well and that if you continue to play well you can be sure that your fortunes will pick up.

Situations like  KSpadesKDiamonds running in to ASpadesAHearts on the bubble are inevitable, there are certainly times when you could lay this hand down but the majority of the time you're going to be happy to get your chips in with KSpadesKDiamonds as you are far more likely to run in to a weaker hand than a stronger hand - particularly at the $10+$1 level.

On my recent downswing I took a week off in an attempt avoid tilt, during this time I decided to write this blog to keep me focused. Since playing again after making this blog I've had two third places, a bad beat on the bubble, one loss and back to back victories - one of which is broken down and examined here.

Games Played - 138
ROI - 5.28%
Winnings - $97 USD