Friday, December 29, 2006

Catching up

Poker balance since October; click to enlarge It's been a couple of weeks since my last post, mainly, I guess, because my poker confidence has been pretty low, and I haven't had much to crow about. Back in late October, when I moved from PartyPoker to PokerStars, the word online was that the fishiest players from Party were moving to PokerStars and FullTilt. I signed up at PokerStars to catch the fish (or maybe I was one of the school of fish leaving Party?), and did well for a few weeks. Then FullTilt offered a 100% matching bonus, so I moved my funds there in early November, continuing to win until about Thanksgiving. But since then, it's been a downward trend.

Maybe all the fish got fished out. The percentage of players seeing the flop in the 50¢/$1 games was almost always around 30-33%, sometimes as low as 25-27%. As a point of reference, a table with 35-40% begins to get juicy enough that its waiting list will begin to grow rapidly. However, unlike the other poker rooms, FullTilt only has 9 players per table instead of 10, which means these numbers are an even greater indication of the tightness of the tables.

Should I have played looser, knowing that the tables were so tight? Maybe, but that's not my style, and not something I've had a lot of practice at.

On Boxing Day, after losing another $12 at FullTilt, I pulled my money out, and went in search of easier pickings. In the end, even though FullTilt had paid me $45 in bonuses, I ended up down about $21 from my initial FullTilt buyin.

I'd dug through PokerTracker's hand history, found mistakes (overplaying overcards), and worked to fix them. I'd re-tightened my starting hand requirements. No luck. I was being beat like a wet noodle. (That's not a good thing, if you're the noodle.)

I dug through my quasi-spam emailbox at Yahoo, looking for any poker offers from casinos I hadn't tried yet, and found an offer for $20 free from Bodog Casino. Casino games only, and $500 playthru restriction.

Sure. Why not.

I turned the $20 into a real $16, withdrew it, and sat down at the cheap no-limit poker tables at Bodog... and lost a quarter of it the first day, trying to push pocket 8s through a flop with a K showing. Not smart.

So last night, feeling that I needed to get some real perspective on my game, I went to Happy Days to play in their midnight tournament.* (Well, first I went to Palace with a match play coupon I found in the News Tribune a few weeks ago. It was kind of strange to walk up to the cage, exchange the coupon for a match play ticket, bet $10 on the blackjack table, hit a 20 against the dealers 17, then walk back to the cage and cash out for $30. A quick three minutes work.)

(Oh, and I hit blackjack on my first two hands at Happy Days, too, on match play; nice start to a good evening. Remind me to write up something about tonight, the night I took insurance by mistake.)

When the tournament started, the alternate list was 16 players deep. I played good, tight, aggressive poker, helped by the fact that the two players to my left would telegraph when they planned to fold, and made it as deep as 12th place. Maybe I shouldn't have pushed all in with AQs and 77 on consecutive hands (lost both), but if either of those would have hit, I'd have been in a great spot to go deep into the money instead of just getting my buyin back.

I felt like I was playing some of the best poker I've played in a long time, in spite of getting few good hands. KJo in early position, close to the bubble but with a good sized stack? Folded it. No sense in taking a risk there... but I think I would have pushed with it online.

Maybe that's the difference. I need to push myself to realize that the online chips are just as real as the clay chips in the casino. Perhaps I've forgotten that.

At lunch today, I played a $4+$0.40 tourney at Bodog. Finished in first place. Is my funk cured? Or will I go back to chasing with suited face overcards?

* As of December 1, Happy Days has midnight tournaments on M-T-W-Th only, but noon and 7 pm tournaments every day.

Edit: Added graph

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