Saturday, January 06, 2007

Well, 2006 has come and gone like a thief in the night. I'm a year older, with a little more money in the bank, and I live in house rather than an apartment, but other than that, things aren't much different from a year ago.

With my mediocre results the past few months of the 2006, I've been afraid to look at the bottom line on the ol' spreadsheet. Just looking now, though, and I see that I had another very good year, one much better than I could have had at any "real" job.

I did not do as well as I did in 2005, however. I got real close! Temporarily, at least. The first week of October, I got within 2% of my 2005 total, but then that's when it all went to shit, and I finished with a year that was 20% less profitable. On the other hand, I put in about 2/3s of the hours I did in 2005, mostly due to my extended breaks this year, and so I actually had an overall hourly rate in 2006 that was about 20% higher.

I think the biggest change of course was my lack of live play.

Year / Live Hours / Online Hours
2005 / 580.9 / 600.5
2006 / 181.0 / 609.5

I wish I could say I did something productive with those 400 saved hours of live play, but no. The funniest (and perhaps somewhat depressing) thing is that I spent 181 hours playing live and walked way with a grand total of....$207. Yes, I made $1.14/hour in my live game play this year. Of course, that includes tournament play, and I did drop quite a bit in live tournaments. My live cash game results are about 90% of my table hours and some X thousand percent of my total live profits.

Last year I made it a goal to play in more tournaments. I did play in more, but I failed in what was my quest to actually go to these exotic places to play, like Aruba. And by fail I mean I didn't even try. So I'm not even going to hazard a guess as to what I'm going to try to do this year. There are scenarios that have me winning millions (1st in the WSOP ME of course, why not?) and scenarios that have me winning $0 (Tibetan monk). So who knows. If I had to guess right now, I'd say the likeliest scenarios are much closer to that $0 figure, as I'm about ready to put poker on the back burner. All I need is something else to go on the front burner...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I feel like I take more breaks than I play sometimes, but I'm going back on break. And this isn't a week- or two-week-long break, but more like the break I took earlier this year where I was off for two months. It's more like a sabbatical.

I have no clue how long I'll be away from poker, but it's clear I just need to get far, far away once again. Maybe I'm just developing a routine where I play for six months then take two months off then repeat. Or maybe I'm winding down the poker-playing phase of my life. I don't know.

What I do know is that I can no longer concentrate, can no longer make good decisions (or am afraid to act on what I think is a right decision) and I no longer have the proper respect for my bankroll. And all the while, I have lots of personal problems and issues popping up that are just distracting me more (not to mention they're much more important).

And unlike my last break (100/200 PLO, anyone?) I mean it this time. I'm in the process of cashing out my online bankroll, what little is left at least--even during my two-month break earlier this year I kept my online roll in tact. I'm going to distance myself from poker as much as possible for what might turn out to be only one month, or for what might a lot longer.

And unlike my last extended break, I hope to do more than just sit around not playing poker. This will hopefully be a much more active break; cliched as it may be, I'm hoping to do a lot of soul-searching and traveling. I don't think I'm going to run off to Tibet and become a monk, but really, I can't promise that I won't.

So there will be very little poker on here in the coming months, and really might not be much of anything. I'll certainly update if anything interesting or exciting happens. But $18k pots in NL and bluff-capping the river in limit are put on hold indefinitely.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

I hate to sound like a broken record these last two months or so, but my bad run continues. I'm not vacillating wildly or anything like that, I'm just slowly, but surely, losing. PLO, NLHE, whatever. I'm certainly running bad, but I think I might just have to face the fact that I'm playing badly, too. I've lost focus and motivation. And, most importantly, confidence.

Maybe post-Party, the online games are tough enough that I should pursue other options. Like playing live a lot more often. Or even *gasp* moving on from poker into other things. Poker never was a life-long goal of mine, just another step in the road.

I've never been one to be able to sit still because if I do I get bored real quick. So maybe it is just time for the next phase in my life. We'll see, we'll see.

I hate being so melancholy (again), but that's just where I am right now.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A scant week and a half after my brief but profitable shot at 100/200 PLO, I took another shot at a big game, 25/50 NL. Not quite as big, perhaps, but I managed to actually play for a few hours, in the meantime playing the biggest pot of my life.

My friend and I showed up at the Bellagio looking for some live poker action to break the monotony of online play. It was a slow night. The 10/20 had already broken (the first time I'd ever seen that happen) and the 5/10 was going on one table but was the only game that had a waiting list. There appeared to be seats at 15/30 and 30/60 limit,'s limit.

Well, our only other option was 25/50 NL. My friend was hesitant. I was a little worried, myself. Neither of us had played that high before.

"Look, I don't want to play crappy limit where I won't care but could still lose a lot and we can't get into the 5/10 game so I either want to take a shot at the 25/50 or just totally donk around at the 8/16," I told him.

"I'm not playing 8/16."

"Then 25/50 it is, c'mon."

We each bought in for $4k in a game where the typical stack was closer to $15k. We continued to show our noobness by each posting only one green chip to come in. "This is going to be fun," I remember thinking.

I didn't make much of a splash for the first couple rounds, until one particular hand. UTG limps. A bunch of other people limp. I check my BB with 5h3h. The flop comes 4c 6h 7h. SB checks. I check. BB leads for pot, about $300. Folds around to the SB who calls. I check-raise to $1000. UTG moves all-in. SB folds. Well, if he limped 74 UTG, more power to him...I call. He rolls over AhKh. I have visions of going home after only 20 minutes of playing. However, my hand holds up and I double up to about $8k.

Hmm...maybe I should go home anyways?

Hell no! I'm here to play. So feeling a bit more confident, I go through a few more rounds as my stack gets whittled down a bit with a couple check-folds on the flop in multi-way, raised pots. Then with $5650 in front of me and the table covering, I run into the biggest hand of my poker career so far.

A few limpers and a good player who's been playing it really loose and aggressive in position raises to $300. I'm in the SB and look down to see AsKs. I reraise to $900 fully expecting to take down the pot right there. But UTG calls, MP calls, and LP shakes his head and throws in his $600 call.

Flop ($3650): Ah 7s 4d. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough reads on the players to try to get tricky. The last thing I wanted was for it to check around and then be stuck OOP in a big pot with one pair on a potentially scary board. I had to bet. But how much? I wanted to bet close to pot, but I only had $4750 left. A pot-sized bet is already 3/4 of my stack. I could do a half-pot bet, but screw it! All-in! I open push.

At this point I figured my hand was face-up, and would only be called if one of my opponents hit their set. UTG immediately counted out $4750 and then started looking at the stacks of the two players to act behind him. Uh-oh. He thought a bit, what seemed to me to be him deciding whether to just call or raise. He must have 77 or 44, I thought. Ultimately, he decided to only call.

MP was next to act and immediately groaned (as I would find out, he was also quite a terrible player, or at least he played terribly that night). He took time to think for a bit. Given that my hand was essentially face up and UTG called I had to put him on quite a hand, too. Did he flop two pair? A7s or A4s? Does he have 44 and afraid enough of UTG's antics that he thinks his bottom set is no good? Finally he called, too, while LP turbo-mucked. The dealer raked it all into the pot. I started deciding whether after the hand I should donate my last few blue chips to the dealer or cash them out. Then I figure, well, one of them could have a straight draw and the other AJ or something...

Turn ($17,900): (Ah 7s 4d) Jc. I groaned a little more inside. But then something baffling happened. Check, check. Wha? Now I know one of them has 65. The dealer prepares to deal the river. No 8, no 3, no 8, no 3, no 8, no 3...

River ($17,900): (Ah 7s 4d Jc) 9d. Check, check. MP was already shaking his head.

Still expecting to lose I flipped my cards over, and kind of shrugged as if to say, "as advertised." MP mucked and later said he had 65. UTG, who I fully expected to roll over at least two pair or something, sat there and looked at the board, looked at me, looked back at the board, looked at his cards, looked out into space a bit, then back at the board and finally released his hand.

I didn't believe it until the dealer pulled his cards into muck and $17,900 was shipped my way, in multiple shoves. I started shaking. And smiling. And stacking and stacking.

I wish I could say I walked out of there $14k richer, but you win some and you lose some, and I was done with winning some for that day. I completely air-balled a few raised pots, made a terrible play when I paid off a super-tight guy's full house on the river when I had a flush. I flopped an OESD+FD against a guy's TPTK and we got it all in (I had him well covered) only to watch his hand hold up. My stack whittled, whittled, whittled down and finally around 8am I left, still up, but nowhere near as up as I had been.

As a coda, despite having to practically cajole my friend into playing, he went on to play in that game each of the next few days, doing very well, and then went on to LA where he sat at 50/100. I, meanwhile, have played one short session of live 10/20 since.

Friday, December 01, 2006

August and September were back to back "best month ever"'s but then Party went under for US players some time around Oct 12/13 or so. Poker has been very hit-or-miss for me since then. The two weeks before they cut off all us US players was a break-even grind.

Then afterwards I decided that not only would I play different sites, I'd play different games! Limit hold'em, MTTs of all varieties, SnGs, limit O8, PLO8, PLO, as long as it wasn't NLHE it was all fair game. I even played some small stakes online mix games.

Playing new games along with playing very intermittently left me with the least-busy month of the year (outside my extended break in April/May) but also a break-even month (technically very slightly losing). I found out things I already knew, or at least should have known:

*I no longer have the right mindset to be a successful LHE player, at least at the online stakes of 30/60 or higher. Even 20/40 might be iffy at this point.

* I don't have the patience or experience to legitimately contend in most MTTs. Specifically, bubble play and final table play kill me.

* I am a break-even SnG player, at least at the level that would potentially make me any sort of decent money, that is the 109s or higher.

* I hate, hate, hate limit O8, and hate PLO8.

* PLO, on the other hand, intrigues me.

* Mix games are a fun diversion, but it would take me a very, very long time before I can play them at a level higher than, say, 3/6ish online or 10/20ish live. And I'm not sure I'd want to anyways--the attraction of "big bet" poker is simply too much.

So towards the end of October I started focusing more on PLO. Then into November I played mostly PLO, with one last desperate attempt at limit thrown in. I was on vacation from Nov 15-25 and played nothing, but came right back to...PLO. And despite my brief foray into 100/200 PLO, I've been staying primarily at the online 2/4 level, with some 3/6 and a very occasional 5/10 thrown in.

People have always told me that PLO plays bigger than NLHE and now I see that's definitely true. 2/4 PLO feels very much like 3/6 NLHE, which is to say it's possibly to do very well at seemingly small stakes.

At the very end of November I returned to NL, trying 3/6 at the various sites. I've gotten slightly rusty and it shows--missing value bets, folding to bluffs, calling when beat. But I've run decently and have pulled a small net win out of my NL play.

But still November ended as another slightly losing month--I think the first time I've ever had two losing months in a row (although, given the stakes I play, they're essentially break-even). I did pretty well at PLO, did ok at NL...but my 30/60 LHE play absolutely killed me.

And I lost this month despite taking a shot at 25/50 NL at the Bellagio! Trip report to come by Monday.