Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's Only After We've Lost Everything That We're Free To Do Anything

A great man once said that. It sort of applies to this post

I've said it a couple times already, but I'm pretty sure that I mean it this time when I say that I've played poker for the last time this year. At least it ended well.

Before I left for my girlfriend's holiday party, I fired up a little bit of .10-.25 PLO HL. On the very first hand I'm dealt 9cTcAx4x. No one really raises these pots unless you get the crazy maniac who goes all in for $25, or some drunk fucker who pushes every hand. So I get to see the pot for cheap. Flop comes 7cJc6x. I'm drawing to the str8 flush, and I feel frisky so I call the .75 bet when it gets raised to $4. Normally I would fold at this point with no hand and weak draws, but I feel like being a donk and chasing the str8 flush. Besides, I figure this guys got JJ and is trying to take down the pot with just the hi hand, although he could also have a better low draw.

Turn is a blank. He pushes me in and I say fuck it and call.

River is 2c. He has JJAQ with no clubs and I take the High and the Lo.

I cash out and proceed to hit the town with ma'lady.

Overall I've been playing better and I feel confident enough with my game that I'm ready to start working towards that goal of playing a WSOP or two in a couple years. It seems like a donkish goal, but the goal isn't about raising $1000-$1500 so I can spend 5 minutes at a table. It's to build my game strong enough so that I have at least a fighting chance. Here's how I'm going to do it:

1. Starting with a bankroll of $50, I'm going to play $5 SnGs until I get to $330. The exception may be an hour or two each month at the PLO HL table.
2. I won't move to the next level until my bankroll hits 30x the buyin of the next level ($11=$330. $22=$660, and so on). If my bankroll hits 15x the buyin of that level I will drop back down to the lower level
3. One day a month I will play a large NL tournament. The buyin will not exceed 2x my SNG buyin amount
4. Once a month I will try to play in a Blogger tournament
5. The max that I will play is 2x a week, including cash and tourney play
6. Each week review all hand histories

This is basically the plan until the effects of the UIGEA take place. I intend to figure out some way to incorporate live tourneys into my plan, but right now I don't intend to pay for those out of my online bankroll. I have already budgeted a monthly deposit into my personal budget, so if I'm able to maintain a bankroll perhaps I'll use that instead.

With that said, it's been a hell of a year for me poker-wise. The highlight, by far, was my $3500 cash in May, and while it's unfortunate I wasn't able to spend that money wisely, I was able to finally understand just how out of control I had been. A year ago, I was drop over $100 a week on poker; sometimes it would turn out well, sometimes it wouldn't. At the time, my enjoyment of poker hinged on whether I made money or not. I would riducle my opponents for calling a raise preflop with 42d and flopping two pair against my KK instead of realizing that 95 times out of 100 that's not going to happen. I would chase a $33 SnG with a $55 SnG with a $109 SnG, just to try and get that $33 back. And when that didn't work, I'd take my chances with Party Blackjack. When I hit my big score, greed set in and I blew away $500 on blackjack, play $25 a hand (it was more like $800 but I hit a rush and got some back). I remember when the gamble in me set in; I was watching a Pittsburgh playoff game, and in between breaks I would go play blackjack. At one point I risked my entire online bankroll at the time - $165 - one one hand. Luckily the dealer busted, but I never thought that it easily could have been me. Until it finally happened.

But with all mistakes comes the opportunity to learn, and that's what I've done. I've learned that poker is not and should not be the primary source of my entertainment or take up most of my free time. I don't need to be playing $215 SnGs in hopes that I win one and make some money. I've come to terms of where I stand as a poker player, and through that, i've been able to find enjoyment in coming in first in $5 SnGs. I'm lucky enough that I was able to bottom out enough to learn from it, but not so far that I lost everything.

If you've made it this far...Happy Holidays, and I'll see you next year.