December 29, 2008

Taking a Shot at 50nl

So having kept to my rule of 20k hands and 25 buy ins for next level, I have moved up to 50nl on Fulltilt where I am currently 7 or 8 tabling.

So far I have not noticed a huge difference between the 2 levels. There still seems the usual sprinkling of terrible players, probably just gambling or passing a few hours with a few dollars, a few multi-tabling regs and 2 or 3 short stackers. In terms of 3 betting, I have only seen 1 or 2 instances of squeeze play, or 3 bet positional bluffs which are more rare at 25nl.

The one big difference I have noticed is more “floating”, where a tricky player calls your pre-flop raise in position, with the intention of stealing the pot on later streets on a bluffy board. There is usually one of these types hanging around. The whole point about moving up in levels, aside from the money, is to learn from these more complex situations, so although frustrating when you get outplayed initially, its great learning. However there is, at most one player at any given table who will do this.

In terms of my win rate, I haven’t completed enough hands yet to go on about it. Also this time of year, where more people are relaxing and playing more leisurely may have an effect on your win-rate. I have seen a lot of blogs where the writers only seem to post their stats when they are winning, or have a winning month. So I will wait until I have at least 20k hands.

December 26, 2008

My current poker set up, where I play and for what stakes

I am now playing 50nl on Fulltilt, where I deposited $510 at the end of October 2008, having just moved up from 25nl, and 8 weeks later, with a bankroll of $1400. All of this money comes from an initial freeroll win from Pitbull of $15 (see post below) so lets see how far that goes….

I use a 22inch wide-screen monitor, windows XP SP3 (just so much faster than Vista, which I have on a separate partition within a dual boot environment), Poker Office running as my tracking and HUD assistant. I multi-table usually around the 8 table mark, putting in usually 800 hands over a 2 hour session, which I try to do daily, giving me the 20k target of hands per month. 20k of hands is the minimum amount of hands I believe you need for a feel for your real ptbb/100 win rate beyond variance (where ptbb/100 is the “standard” measure of win rate, being poker tracker big bets won per 100 hands). You only really know how good you are over 100k of hands I think, but who wants to spend 100k of hands at 10nl if they are winning consistently?

I have money on Pokerstars , but at present am trying to work off the deposit bonus before end of February on Fulltilt. I also have a rakeback deal where I get 27% back. Pokerstars do not run rakeback, but the idea is to get to 100nl then move back there and aim for Supernova, which is part of a reward points scheme unique to Pokerstars and where a good range of bonuses lie. Pokerstars is also the best software to play on by a mile. Regarding how weak / strong the opposition is, I don’t subscribe to the idea that the quality of opposition varies that much between the various sites. Not beyond 25nl anyway. Choice of tables and software are where the primary win rate benefits are in my own view.

I prefer to play as deep stacked as possible, and Fulltilt has 200bb deep tables which is great. Pokerstars at present does not have this above 5nl. I am one of those who loathes the small stacker minimum buy in player. At 600nl I can understand it a bit more, but at micro and small stakes, these type of morons will never ever learn how to play post flop poker and will never develop at poker. I cannot understand what they are thinking. PLO is a different matter, which I may discuss later, but for hold’em, if you don’t have the bankroll, PLAY TOURNIES. Otherwise you’ll be a loser forever.

If I am travelling, I use a Sony G11 laptop (again dual boot with both Vista and XP) with a 12 inch screen (portability is the most important). This limits me to 4-6 multi-tabling.

December 19, 2008

getting started in microstakes NLHE

Writing from my own experience this is the route I advise….

Watch some TV poker shows, and read a book, assuming you don't know NLHE (no limit Hold'em).

Start up an account with an online site. DO NOT DEPOSIT ANY MONEY.

Play their play money sitngos. Although this is never the same as playing for money, there is still an element of skill and you will learn the game. Don't bother with their ring (or cash) games however, these are a total waste of time.

Once you are confident you have a feel for the game and you still like it, time to invest some money on the site.

Minimum Maximum bankroll $100 (anything less cannot take variance and initial failure, anything more becomes a waste, if you realise its not for you. Re-depositing is a sobering procedure which helps you to re-evaluate if you are ready to continue gambling)
Avoid cash games, they can destroy you in one session if you are inexperienced.
Play $5.50 sitngos (where 0.50 is paid in rake). Why sitngos?

You see up to 120 hands per sitngo
You only lose a set amount
They are somewhat formulaic
They have a 30% payout structure

Read the forums about simple strategy for this type of poker (its everywhere so no repeat here) and be prepared to lose as well as win. Choose a site where the blind structure is not a luckfest. (Titan Poker, PartyPoker, Pitbull are awful for example, with low skill/high luck). Initially therefore I recommend:

Fulltilt (2nd best blind structure, 2nd best software, 2nd best traffice)
Ultimate bet (best blind structure, 3rd best software, 3rd best traffic)
Pokerstars (3rd best blind structure, best software, best traffic)

In that order.

Play 4-500 games. If you are a winning player after that time, you have what it takes in tournament poker. Then re-evaluate, as you are ready to move into cash poker, where the next level of skill resides.

Please note I advocate no cash game play without around 30k hands of sitngo experience, if you want to be successful at cash poker.

Next post I try to talk about my own route and style as described above.

December 18, 2008

my route to poker

I first started playing poker live, playing 5 or 6 handed usually and for stakes of around £10-20 buy-in NLHE in a home game with friends and friends of friends I had the advantage of playing against good, experienced players. I was extremely loose aggressive and ended up losing more than winning. This was very bad for my ego and I stopped playing for a while, but I loved the game, just loved it. Instead I started reading, and I went read crazy. I bought book after book, and 3 months after stopping, I went back to the home game with a new approach and started to win.

As a teenager I became addicted to arcade games, (Scramble, Space Invaders, Asteroids) and then computer games (Command Conquer, Doom etc). I was thus very reluctant to start playing online as I believed I could easily become addicted and lose control.

Fortunately I discovered a free money site called Poker Underworld which just blew me away. This was a strictly play money site, where some of the players were bots, and some were real. It was a wee community and for a while I played there. After the inevitable boredom of play money, I signed up to Europoker where I played their play money online Sitngos, which had a little more skill to them, especially as you reached the final places.

Finally I searched out freerolls, and came to Pitbull, where after 6 or 7 attempts, I won $15 in a 200 person MTT. This was then used in their micro cash games (10NL) and at $60 bankroll I started entering their Sitngos. By October 2007, after around 4 months playing online, I had the bankroll up to $160 without having deposited a penny. I won a $30 MTT for $500 and that was my start. I had no software (PT, HUD etc) and had played no other poker sites.

With my new found confidence of controlling any addictive nature, I finally signed up for a Neteller account, and deposited $100 on Pokerstars by November 2007. there I grinded the $5 sitngos………and that’s how I got started!

December 15, 2008

aims of this poker blogger

Decided to start this off to help myself, and keep a record of my progress, mainly in the beautiful but brutal arena of online poker. I hope some of my thoughts will be of interest to others. I will try to avoid long posts of specific hands unless they are relevant to a particular subject I am discussing.

I would welcome any comments, and will reply if and when I can.

Next post I tell you all about my poker development.