Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Worst Brag Post Evah

Who cares about things like Lucko & LJ playing at the Borgata or Jordan freerolling to a $500 satellite victory. Those fools have nothing on this:

Hells yeah.

Truthfully, I am pretty excited about this. If you're a loyal reader, then you know, at least for the time being, not to expect much in the way of brag posts from me. I've been basically slaving away at the micro SNGs since Christmas with little bankroll growth to show for it. I've been playing well, but there's only so much I can do once I get AQ vs QJ AIPF, flop TP yet lose to a turned straight by way of 3 outer.

I mentioned in a previous post that these games were my poker crack. Addictive yet offer little substance. Until, today that is. Sadly, this win represents the biggest field I have ever taken down outright; I've waded through larger fields and won bigger cashes before, but I've never outlasted more than 89 people for an actual victory. So yay me for that one.

Furthermore, the $108 score basically quadrupled my little bankroll, significant only to someone who is currently relying on nothing more than unemployment benefits for income right now. With no way to replenish my roll in the event I go busto, this is a nice little cushion to have.

The last time I built my bankroll from scratch, the catalyst was a victory in the aforementioned 10-table SNG for a similar score. I'm playing a confident game right now, so hopefully this extra cash will be the start of another stretch of cashes.

Anyways, that's the most I can write about a $100 victory. In other brag post news, I ran my first half-marathon last Sunday. For more on that, visit my other blog here. At least that's actually brag worthy.

P.S. Go Lucko, GG LJ, and congrats Jordan.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Back to Basics

Anytime I've thought about improving my game, I've equated improvement with skills like pulling off sick bluffs, making huge (and correct) hero calls, and an overall hyper-aggressive style. I certainly hope to consistently make those plays part of my arsenal, but one thing I've realized lately is that improvement also means just minimizing my mistakes as much as possible.

I started re-reading HOH2 again lately, and one thing that I've picked up from that is that when I'm struggling, I'm playing too loose. Right now, since I'm playing only micro stakes, there's less value in floating or being too aggressive. Instead, I've refocused myself to playing much tighter, only playing speculative hands in position and\or in limped pots, and working on better pot control.

The results have been better, although due to a series of sick beats the past couple days, my bankroll doesn't reflect that. There's only been a couple of hands lately where I invested too much with lesser hands. I feel like I'm playing ABC poker right now, and I usually have to throw in a O8 or a mixed game every now and then to break up the monotony, but I'm also playing confident and successful poker as well. I may not be impressing anyone with flashy plays all the time, but I'm also playing generally mistake-free poker right now. I can't say that for my opponents.

I mentioned that I've had some bad beats the past couple days. Really sick stuff, like:

AQ vs TT on Q high flop goes runner-runner straight.
AA vs AJ AIPF gives him trips on river
AA vs A6 AIPF goes runner-runner 8-high straight
AA vs 66 loses to flopped set
KK vs TT loses to turned set

I've only had one situation where I got my money in bad (A9 vs QQ goes runner-runner flush even after QQ flops set), and I've certainly had other occasions where I've gotten my money in good with overpairs or dominating Ax hands and they hold up, but the thing that I've noticed lately is that I'm not tilting. Despite the fact my bankroll is extremely volatile right now, with each buyin representing anywhere from 7-20% of my total roll, I'm shaking these kind of beats off fairly well. Part of it helps that I don't have much money invested, part of it is that even 1st place in these things don't represent life-changing money, but the biggest part of it is that I'm able to live better with just getting my money in good. I'm doing a lot of what I need to in order to build my bankroll right now, and more often than not, I'm going to come out ahead. I definitely feel comfortable with where my game is at right now, and I know I'll have the monetary results to back it up in no time.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Do You Expect Me To Hookup With You?

If you're playing on PokerStars and come across this avatar staring at you:

that's me. Alas, the name "mclarich" might give it away too if you're a loyal reader. But, if you don't know me, one might assume that the above picture is of me (obv it's not: it's a picture of Maura Davis of the band Denali), and likewise, I can understand something thinking I am female (some of my friends apparently make the same mistake when I am in a bad mood). But, without fail, at least a couple times a month, some sleazebag sees this beautiful image, thinks the picture is the player, and tries to spit some game at me:

Mr. Baz said, "why so serious mclarich?"
mclarich said, "?"
Mr. Baz said, "nuice smile with that pretty face would be great"

I understand that some people use chat to shoot the shit with other players, whatever. But trying to flirt with nothing but a picture of a girl at an online poker table? Man, guys are douchebags.

For the most part, I'll ignore it. Every once in a while, I'll tell them it's my girlfriend, but that's usually just another way to ignore it. But going forward, I'm gonna try to have some fun with it, just fuck around with people and see how desperate and retarded these guys are. Who knows, maybe I can use it to my advantage, maybe playing up the part of some lonely girl who doesn't know how to play poker, and bait some people into really bad calls. Always gotta look for that edge, right?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Trying To Put Down The Crack

My eensy weensy bankroll on PokerStars is sliding up and down each day. I've doubled it then nearly dropped to zero only to bring it slight above what I deposited. I've had a decent cash streak in 1-table SNGs, but most of the cashes have been 3rds. What's kept my bankroll from growing even further have been the stupid 180 seat turbos that PS has.

I can't help but be sucked in by the beckon call of these things. $2, lots of action, and first place is 54x the buyin. I finished 2nd in one of these a while back but the started taking shots at higher buyins too soon and lost most of that profit. I keep thinking that I can take one of these down and give myself a nice jolt to my bankroll, but trying to wade your way through this minefield consistently seems nearly impossible. It's insane what hands these people will go to war with. For example:

PokerStars Game #23644300090: Tournament #132234347, $2.00+$0.20 Hold'em No Limit - Level VIII (150/300) - 2009/01/06 19:12:33 ET
Table '132234347 10' 9-max Seat #8 is the button
Seat 1: saluki27 (7710 in chips)
Seat 2: cabnben (4635 in chips)
Seat 3: indelat (1812 in chips)
Seat 4: Zaft1 (2705 in chips)
Seat 5: 007hollyrock (4070 in chips)
Seat 6: mclarich (2735 in chips)
Seat 7: evilelvis13 (5878 in chips)
Seat 8: geeman29 (1335 in chips)
Seat 9: rados2312 (3955 in chips)
saluki27: posts the ante 25
cabnben: posts the ante 25
indelat: posts the ante 25
Zaft1: posts the ante 25
007hollyrock: posts the ante 25
mclarich: posts the ante 25
evilelvis13: posts the ante 25
geeman29: posts the ante 25
rados2312: posts the ante 25
rados2312: posts small blind 150
saluki27: posts big blind 300
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [Jd Ac]
cabnben: calls 300
indelat: folds
Zaft1: folds
007hollyrock: folds
mclarich: raises 2410 to 2710 and is all-in
evilelvis13: folds
geeman29: folds
rados2312: folds
saluki27: folds
cabnben: calls 2410
*** FLOP *** [7h Qs 2d]
*** TURN *** [7h Qs 2d] [6h]
*** RIVER *** [7h Qs 2d 6h] [5d]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
cabnben: shows [Js 8s] (high card Queen)
mclarich: shows [Jd Ac] (high card Ace)
mclarich collected 6095 from pot

Beautiful limp-call here for 60% of their stack. Players fucking LOVE any two sooted cards in these games. Luckily this worked for me here, but this has been far from the norm. An 8 on the river or running spades would have been standard here.

Here's another gem:

PokerStars Game #23641738333: Tournament #132223304, $2.00+$0.20 Hold'em No Limit - Level I (10/20) - 2009/01/06 17:51:55 ET
Table '132223304 8' 9-max Seat #4 is the button
Seat 1: kloens (1500 in chips)
Seat 2: embo1292 (1490 in chips)
Seat 3: EXALBE (1680 in chips)
Seat 4: VURN (1800 in chips)
Seat 5: Socke24 (1550 in chips)
Seat 6: NDH-SF (1180 in chips)
Seat 7: Rickyp1984 (1400 in chips)
Seat 8: mclarich (1500 in chips)
Seat 9: bonkers5 (1300 in chips)
Socke24: posts small blind 10
NDH-SF: posts big blind 20
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to mclarich [8d 4s]
Rickyp1984: folds
mclarich: folds
bonkers5: calls 20
kloens: folds
embo1292: calls 20
EXALBE: folds
VURN: calls 20
Socke24: calls 10
NDH-SF: raises 480 to 500
bonkers5: calls 480
embo1292: raises 990 to 1490 and is all-in
VURN: folds
Socke24: folds
NDH-SF: calls 680 and is all-in
bonkers5: calls 800 and is all-in
Uncalled bet (190) returned to embo1292
*** FLOP *** [7d Kc 8c]
*** TURN *** [7d Kc 8c] [2d]
Rickyp1984 said, "silly poker"
*** RIVER *** [7d Kc 8c 2d] [Qs]
*** SHOW DOWN ***
bonkers5: shows [Jd Qc] (a pair of Queens)
embo1292: shows [Ks Td] (a pair of Kings)
embo1292 collected 240 from side pot
NDH-SF: shows [Kd Qd] (two pair, Kings and Queens)
NDH-SF collected 3580 from main pot

I can understand wanting to play fast in a turbo game, but the action here is incredible. A 25xBB raise with KQd? The nice smooth call TWICE with QJo? The limp-shove with KTo? Am I missing something here?

Playing these things, with so many unpredictable players, doesn't fit well with my style of play right now. On the other hand, with so many bad players, I can't resist playing them anyways, even though I don't have the bankroll to handle the volatility of these things. Recent results show that I'm much more successful playing the 1-table games, but I keep coming back to these things. They're so fucking addicting.


Friday, January 02, 2009

2009 Goals

I guess I better get this up before we're too far into 2009.

It's tough trying to come up with goals for 2009. I'm still jobless at this point, so the amount of poker I can play is limited. I've still a small amount on PokerStars to pass the time, but I'm limited to micro stakes SNGs for the forseeable future. Setting any kind of goal measured by profit or by amount of poker played seems unreasonable right now.

I'm not as concerned with any kind of visibility goals regarding this blog or being a poker blogger either. Eventually, I hope to get back into things like the Mookie or Goat's next Bad Bankroll game, and maybe this will finally be the year I join all you donkeys in Vegas, but otherwise, I'll just let come what may.

Last's year goal of reading all my poker books is still unfulfilled, but it really isn't much of a goal. In fact, setting it as a goal is more symbolic of my own laziness than anything else. However, when I was writing my 2008 recap post, I started thinking about that goal as being part of a bigger goal.

The sad truth is that, despite 2008 being one of my most financially successful years in poker, I'm not really that much of a poker player. Additionally, it seems like any improvement in my game has become stagnant, which really isn't surprising; I can't say I've put any emphasis on improving my game to begin with.

So, for 2009, I've got one and only goal: to be able to say at the end of the year, with confidence, that I am a better poker player than I was at the beginning.

The first part of that, of course, is figuring out where I can improve. I know of a couple things I need to refine (properly applying aggression, playing specific hands OOP, etc), but besides refinement, I think improvement in my case goes far beyond that.

It seems one of my recurring problems has been a lack of focus. There's been too many times to count where I've sabotaged by bluffing in the wrong spots, overplaying a hand too aggressively, or making unnecessary hero calls. I'm beginning to think that these problems aren't due to a lack of focus, but more of a lack of understanding of key principles that I should understand by now. And I think that's where a dedication to really improving my game comes into play. Reading my poker books is just only a small part of that.

Of course, the flip side is trying to improve my game at the stakes I play. At the micro stakes, players are often unpredictable, and I don't mean that as a compliment. Certain plays that may be part of an experienced player's repertoire are less effective against players that are willing to call down with any pair or any draw. Trying to properly identify which plays work against which players, all while playing with a bankroll that I can't easily replace if I go busto, makes playing at these stakes often infuriating. But instead of getting frustrated by the often volatile play, I'm going to focus more on continually playing my best game.

So as it stands, I've got my one and only goal set for 2009. How I measure that or how I obtain that goal is still TBD, not to mention the possible obstacle of not being able to play at certain times during the year, whether it be due to financial constrains or due to the UIGEA finally putting the clamps on online poker. What I do know is this; for the first time in my life, I'm putting an additional focus on improving my play. I've still got dreams of hitting up the WSOP next year, and if I want to have any remote chance of being anything but dead money, it's time to start making some changes.