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Monday, January 31, 2005

I closed my poker-playing month on an up note, taking a break from the NL qualifier rebuys on PokerStars and returning to limit play. I loved these rebuys, but I burned out on them after quite a number of poor showings in a row—variety is the spice of life though, so I will return to them after a while.

To the limit tables I went, and I took with me F-Train’s advice (I need to add him and some others to the links) on (not) betting the river in limit:

Review time! There are two, and only two, reasons to bet the river in hold’em:
1. You think you can get all better hands to fold.
2. You think you can get a worse hand to call or raise.

This advice saved me a few bets, when I was beat on the river.

Anyway, I played well and caught some good hands, including a 26-BB hand at the 5/10 tables on Pacific. (Where else can you get the pot capped 3-way on the turn with 2 K’s on the board, when you hold the other two K’s? Amazing.) The Party tables treated me well too, much better than they did when I was chasing bonus hands there (and at Empire) earlier this month.

So, my lessons learned in January:

1. I’m done with playing unreasonable numbers of these bonus hands—I’ll take small bonuses instead, where I can make the hand requirement by playing only the number of hands I would want to play in a week. Forcing myself to play more than I feel like has been very negative EV in January.

2. I need to follow my heart and switch from limit ring games to NL tourneys based on my experience week-to-week. It keeps my play fresh, and it’s more fun.

3. I’m going to keep playing Pacific—I have to say, the tables there are super-juicy. Just pick your tables, wait for hands, and play them. No need to do anything remotely fancy. Just hold on to your made hands in the presence of raises, which often mean little there.

4. Limit my attempts to steal blinds on the button. More often than I’d like, I get played back at, and if I’m running well, what’s the point of throwing a wrench in the works fighting over little pots? I know that’s not a very aggressive approach, but maybe that’s my personal style coming through.

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Monday, January 24, 2005

Late-month report:
By my records, which I have been keeping carefully according to my resolutions, in January so far I’ve played in ten of the PokerStars 10+1 rebuys for tournament dollars; including rebuys, it’s cost me $190 tournament dollars. Of these tourneys, I’ve placed only in one, earning $225 tourney dollars, making for a slight profit, but not much of one. The nice thing, however, is that these tourneys pay for themselves, and they force me to be selectively aggressive in my play, and willing to gamble, which are key traits I need to work on in my NL tourney play. I use the T$ to play in other Stars tourneys as well, including a 50+5 NL tourney in which I played pretty well, surviving to 85th of 531 (54 paid) with truly awful cards, although I doubled up in the third hand by making a good slow play, and kept even a bit up by stealing exclusively, never making a hand or catching better than second pair. I finally pushed with A6 off before my stack (4 BBs) got so small that people would call my bet just for kicks, and did get called and knocked out by the BB with A8 off.

My strategy in these games is changing: early on, I try to see flops on the cheap, do less raising (though this has backfired on me—I need to some more raising with premium hands), and let hyper-aggressive players bet into me. In the rebuys, if I bust out, I’m usually done. I’m also trying to force myself to sit and pay attention to these games, not play another table; I play much better this way, and have more fun. Assuming I can make another PPM IV qualifier, I’m going to try the NL version.

As far as ring game play, I have fared better. I’m down overall, mainly due to a few sessions where I was three-tabling (that is, breaking one of my resolutions) trying for the 2/4 BBJ on Party, and just caught a few really bad beats, and got involved in a few hands too heavily. Notes from these sessions include:

“Uggh, ran into AA twice in first two hands, beating two pair and top pair; slow down to a turn raise/rereaise”

and

“Playing for BBJ (750K); Fair cards, but took several huge beats on the river, including one two-outer for a $80 pot; however, even on this hand, I should not have 3-bet the river, knowing that the opponent's raise meant that he might have made his higher trips (as he indeed did; I had made my trips on the flop); also got involved with AK vs AA with an aggressive player, flopped the A, and he slow-played--foolishly, I capped the turn, but gave only one bet on the river.”

So I’m taking a break from limit—I’ll come back to it, but I need a break. I’ll reread Lee Jones and Super-System, then try again.

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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Happy New Year, all. A few things of interest to get us started.

First, PokerStars is collecting donations to the Red Cross for tsunami relief, and they’re matching all donations 100%. It felt damned good to see how many poker players had made donations (93 grand as of last night), so I joined in as well, entering the $50 tsunami “tournament.”

Second, I want to thank Iggy and Pauly for commenting on my last blog. It’s amazing to me that anyone checked out my blog over the holiday, and every comment I get inspires me to write the next time. Thank you, boys.

I qualified on Sunday for this weekend’s PPM IV qualifier, so I’ll give that game a shot and try to get my boarding pass. Congrats to Otis on his entry!

This year, aside from my poker resolutions from the last post, I’m also going to keep meticulous track of my sessions, both ring game and tourneys, to try to get a good idea of my strengths and weaknesses. Last year, I simply kept track of my final numbers, without regard for what brought in (or disposed of) the money.

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