The Soapbox

Location: Dublin, Ireland

Part-time Poker Player, full time Poker Student. Still learning the game and grinding away at making a profit. Pragmatist, philosophical alpha male just struggling to get through the jungle of life.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Poker the last 12 months

So here it is, an honest and forthright tale of my last 12 months playing Poker. Some background information first…

I first played draw poker in my early teens, playing for 10p/20p pot limit. Jacks or better to open, split deck 7’s and up and 4 players maximum. I tended to win more than I lost, but then blow it all on sweets, football stickers and soft drinks. Bankroll management was not a term I was familiar with J

I started playing Texas Hold ‘EM about 2 years ago with a foray into the Fitzwilliam Club in Dublin for their regular Thursday Freeroll Game. It was a Free entry game with unlimited €10 rebuys up until the end of the 4th level. Prizes were tickets to the big end of month game which had a €250 buyin.

Back in those days there were normally only about 2-3 tables of players in this and it was fairly relaxed, there always seemed to be at least 3-4 tickets as well, but this was heavily subsidised by the Fitzwilliam Club to generate business I guess. Anyway I moved from the Freeroll to the Wednesday Night €20 game, this allowed 2 rebuys and a topup, I had quite a lot of success in this finishing in the money in 4 of the first 5 I played in and turning a nice profit. Of course I didn’t really realise how lucky I was at the time, hitting runner runner flushes and gutshot straights seemed a part of the game. Pot/Implied Odds was not a term I was familiar with J

Interestingly, nobody ever complained at the table, or made any smart comments about how big a fish I was, they just tapped the table and said nice hand…how times have changed.

What I didn’t like about those games was the time they went on until, if you did well you would be there until 2-3am, with work the next day it was too much and I stopped going to the club. Around the same time a group of friends of mine set up a home game and I used to play in that every week with interesting results. As it was more about the beer and the craic there was some really strange play and it was hard to be consistent when you’ve just had half a tray of Rolling Rock beer J but it was good fun and it stoked my interest in the game.

Soon after that I started playing online at Victor Chandler Poker, just in the .10c STT’s and .01/.02c cash games. To be honest I never knew what I was doing, if I liked the look of the cards I’d play the hand, any hand with an A was a godsend and if I had two picture cards I felt I was in heaven!!

Single Table Tournaments:
Over the course of the first 12 months I moved up from .10c to $5 STTs, but moved away from cash games completely. I couldn’t make money at them, I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to be doing and STTs where fairly easy money. I found out about a local game that was played every Friday and played in that, after I’d won 2 in a row there in March of last year I decided to start taking the game seriously and track my play and results. People tend not to want to share these results, and with good reason, but I’m going to give an overview of my last 12 months, without going into any real specifics…or not too specific at any rate. It’s an exercise for myself as much as anything else.

I started off with playing 200 $5 STTs, I could afford to play higher than that, but I felt more comfortable starting at that level. My ROI over those 200 games was 27%, I’d turned a relatively healthy profit, but more to the point I felt that I could beat the game at that level and I was willing to take it up to the next level. While I was still predominantly playing $5 STTs I also dabbled in the $10 and $15 games at the same time. Over the course of my next 200 games I had an ROI of 22% and an overall ROI of 24%. I’d noticed that the quality in the $15 games, wasn’t really any different to the $5 games. So with the help of a very good player who gave me some insights and tips around STTs, I moved up to $25 as my mainstay game.

My first 100 games at this level I completely smashed the game coming in with an ROI of 47%, WOW what have I been wasting my time with the lower games for!! Over the course of the next 500 games my ROI stabilised at around the 15% mark, respectable if not earth shattering. Then I had my first “Bad” 200 games, ROI of
-14% over 200 games, I hadn’t changed the way I was playing, what was going on??

Over my last 600 games I’ve had an average ROI of 6%, nowhere near good enough, and although there have been bad beats and outdraws there are some serious leaks in my game that need to be addressed.

So over 1800 STT’s in 12 months I’ve an average ROI of 11.5%, I’ve wagered just over $40K in 12 months. This area needs to dramatically improve over the next 12 months if this Poker thing is to be worthwhile for me.

Cash Games:

I said that I moved away from cash games, and I did. Up until around September of last year the most I’d wagered in cash games in a month was $140…last of the big spenders J

Around September I started to play on different sites and avail of first deposit bonuses, this generally meant having to play cash games in order to generate rake, in order to clear bonuses. So I jumped in at .25/.50 and .50/$1 on FT and Tribeca and started to educate myself about cash game play. Now I’m the first to admit that I’m a bad cash game player, I have huge leaks in my game and I’m struggling to figure out how to close them, e.g. two of the 5 hands that have cost me the most $ over 30K hands are QQ and JJ, and that’s in every position, not just an overall figure!! Granted I’ve lost a huge chunk of money twice with QQ against KK on a K Q x board but even at that, there are problems that need to be addressed.

So over my 30K hands I’ve an average ROI of 4%, shocking low, and some of the biggest problems I have ironed out in STTs keep haunting me in cash games.
Not being able to drop an overpair
Paying too much for drawing hands
Failing to drop a set on a bad board

Areas that every day I say I’m going to stop doing this and everyday I fall into the same problems. I also seem to always start behind, i.e. I’ll lose 25% of my buyin early on a table and then spend the best part of a session clawing it back. I’m still on a huge learning curve when it comes to cash games, and I’ll be spending the next 3-4 weeks going back over a lot of my hands and noting down what I should have done differently.

Multi Table Tournaments
So this whole tracking thing kicked off in March last year, after I’d won two local games for a total profit of €1.8K. While these were total crapshoots, they made me realise that I need to track what I do if I want to be successful at this game in the long term.

Unfortunately MTTs are not an area where I’m very strong. I make a money finish in around 1 in 6 MTTs that I play, but these finishes tend to be towards the bottom end of the money, and as I’ve only played 500 MTTs my sample size is way to small to be considered indicative. What I have noticed is that over the last few months I have had far greater success in MTTs and gone a lot further in them that I had done previously. I’ve read both of Harrington’s books and I really feel that they are helping develop my game and feel confident that I will get a major win or two this year in MTTs. I’m playing a lot more recently and as I said, I’m playing better.

I still believe that there is a huge amount of variance and luck required to win one of these, and more so online where players will call you down with almost anything. On the plus side I rarely go out when I have the worst of it when the money goes in, over time that will have to count for something won’t it??


Overall I ended the year in profit, four figure profit, and I believe that for at least the first quarter of the year I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I know I don’t know what I’m doing but neither do the majority of online players :D

So I’m confident that I can push on over the next year and make more money.

However, when I look at the time that I’ve put in to make that profit I sometimes find it hard to justify. Sure it’s a nice secondary income, it would be nicer and far more worthwhile if I could double my current average monthly profit, but to do that I think I need to either move up a level in terms of STT’s or start playing far better in cash games. At least these are things that are within my control.

Some stats for those interested
Average Number of STTs per month 157
ITM % for STTs 41.69%
· 1st Place 36%
· 2nd Place 34%
· 3rd Place 30%

Average Hours played per month 69, in order to make this worthwhile I need to make at least 5 figures profit from poker over the next 12 months. Here’s hoping I can do it.

The 5 most important lessons I’ve learned over the last 12 months, in no particular order

Bankroll Management is absolutely Key if you’re to make a go of this in the long term

Judge hands not only on how you would play them in that position but also on consistency of betting patterns and previous action you’ve seen from that player.

Even the worst players get big hands

Patience is the key to success, be patient and wait for the hands to play, don’t feel you have to get involved because you haven’t played a hand in 20 minutes

AA is just a pair, a good pair, but just a pair. Don’t be afraid to let big hands go (still learning this one)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

I remember why I hate MTTs

$15k Guaranteed 403 starters, out in 59th when AQ fails to hold up against KQ

$2k Guaranteed 327 starters, out in 18th when AJs falls to T9o

$3.5k Guaranteed 85 starters out in 43rd when AKs is beaten by AQo and A8s

$1K Guaranteed 278 starters out in 125th when AA falls to 88

back to STTs and cash games I think

Monday, March 27, 2006

A flurry of activity

I better be careful or I'll run the risk of wearing out my keyboard with all these posts!

Got a visit from the stupid fairy yesterday in the $1K Guaranteed game on Tribeca (I'm solely playing Tribeca atm as Full Tilt have still not restored access to my account or explained what the problem is with it!!) anyway, 71 starters and I got off to a perfect start.

Generally speaking I like to try and subscribe to the "go deep, or go home" theory when it comes to MTTs. So when first hand in I was dealt AcKc on the BB I was feeling pretty good. MP1 raised to 200, folded to SB who made it 520. Fcuk it, I'm all-in. MP1 folds and SB calls with k5o??? My hand held up and away we go. Next hand I'm dealt A8o in the SB, 3 limpers and I complete, BB checks. Flop comes down A 8 8, I check, BB checks. The same guy that raised the first hand bets 400, folded to me and I flat call, BB folds.

Turn is a 7, I check and the other guy goes all-in, happy to oblige I call. He turns over A9o, what did he think I was playing exactly?? and I'm up over 6K two hands into it. I think to myself, unlike the muppets that normally get chips early I'm going to make sure I hold onto these.

There's another loose player at the table, more of a calling station than anything else, one of these players that never consider what the other player might have before betting, perfect. I'm dealt AJo in the CO, and for some reason I decide to limp in. From the BB Mr. Calling station raises to 300. Now when it's folded to me I consider pushing and decide against it, maybe he has picked up a real hand here. I flat call and see a flop of A 9 6. He bets 500 leaving 1700 behind. So push or fold. His bet could mean anything, I've seen him do something similar with QJ on a A T 3 flop earlier. In saying that he may well have hit two pair or a pair of A's with a better kicker. Either way I should push and test him or fold and wait for a better shot, with the preference being push. So I flat call (no I don't know why either, in fairness I think I was distracted by getting KK and AA on the two cash game tables I was playing, but that's no excuse)

anyway, turn is an offsuit 2 and he pushes for the rest of his stack, so now I should fold, but no I call him down and he turns over A2o. No miracle pairing on the river and I've just lost 1/3 of my stack on a muppet play. I lose another 2K a couple of hands later when QQ fails to hold up against AJs all-in preflop. So I'm back where I started, but by the time the blinds got up to 50/100 I was down to 1100 and felt my tournament was close to over unless I could get a couple of double ups. I'm dealt TT and push, the muppet from earlier calls with Q6s and I get my first double up. Next hand I'm dealt 55 and I call a 200 raise along with two others, including aforementioned muppet.

Flop comes down 9 9 3. Muppet bets 1000, folded to me. Now I know he doesn't have a 9, I don't think he has a pair, but I could be wrong. I push for 1100 more and he calls with KTo, no help on the turn or river and I'm back up to just over 5K. At this stage we were down to 30 players and with 9 getting paid I knew I had to be around the 15K mark to make the final table. I picked up blinds here and there and finally busted the muppet when I raised to 800 with blinds at 100/200 and he pushed for 3k, sitting on the rockets I called and he turned over KhQh. Two hearts on the flop caused me palpatations but the rockets held up and I was up to 11K.

Down to 18 now and play had already tightened up. I picked up some strong hands and took a few blinds and preflop callers with flop bets, slowly building up my stack to 16K as the players dropped off. Down to 13 players and I pick up QQ and raise to 1800 (blinds at 300/600) shorstack pushes for 5k and I call. He turns over AJs and the ladies hold up, I'm up to over 21K and looking good. Next hand a shortstack on my left pushes for 6.5K and holding AhKh I push to isolate. Everyone folds and he turns over QhJh, a flop of A K 5 sees me home and we're down to 11.

I make the final table without incident and with a couple of shortstacks on the table it isn't long before the numbers start to drop. I take out two in quick succession with KK v TT and QQ v JJ. Another falls by the wayside when AK fails to improve against 77 and we're down to 6. With blinds at 400/800 I raise to 2.4K with AKo, an aggressive player to my left raises to 8K and the SB pushes for 11K. I figure I could be ahead of one, but I doubt I'm ahead of both and fold. Aggressive player calls and turns over QQ, SB turns over KK. A Q on the flop knocks the SB out and we're down to 5.

I'm second last in chips, but a double up will bring me right into contention, CL is miles ahead of everyone else. He's sitting right to my left, so I've been stealing some of his blinds, but he seems a very strong player, he's got cards at the right time but definitely a danger. I pick up 99 and raise to 3k, CL calls as does the only stack that's shorter than mine. Flop comes down A 9 5, and I bet 6K, CL folds and the other shortstack pushes. I call and he turns over AT and with no help on turn or river he's out and I'm up to 40K and in second position.

Stacks are now

CL 65K
Me 41K
Player 3 22K
Aggressive player 12K

Prizes are approx.
1st $540
2nd $350
3rd $204
4th $170

With blinds at 600/1200 I can almost just drift into 2nd but I want to win it, nonetheless no need for stupid moves. CL has begun to raise preflop almost every hand, making it 4.8K to go. He's picking up blinds but that's fine, I can live with that.

On my BB he raises to 4.8K again, folded to me and I have QcQh, no idea what he's holding. This is maybe the 8th hand in 10 he's made this raise with preflop. I should probably raise to 15K, he's dropping hands that are behind to this and if he re-raises I can get away with enough chips to play.

but no, I get a visit from the stupid fairy and push all-in, he calls instantly and flips over KcKs, 4 clubs on the board complete my misery by giving me a Q high flush to his K high flush and I go out in 4th when the very worst I should have achieved is 2nd. There's nothing worse than self-imploding at the end of a tournament, I had played well (generally) throughout and then threw it away right at the last hurdle.

Report Card: Must Try Harder

Thursday, March 23, 2006

85s is the new AA

Double Indemnity 4914674-119488 Holdem No Limit $0.50/$1[Mar 22 23:20:06] :
Hand Start.[Mar 22 23:20:06] :
Seat 1 : rlubbinge has $100[Mar 22 23:20:06] :
Seat 2 : SteGenius has $144.75[Mar 22 23:20:06] :
Seat 3 : hellga has $147.50[Mar 22 23:20:06] :
Seat 4 : dontjump has $96.25[Mar 22 23:20:06] :
Seat 5 : Prough has $119.50[Mar 22 23:20:06] :
Seat 6 :HERO has $152[Mar 22 23:20:06] :
Seat 7 : gutshotvic has $167.25[Mar 22 23:20:06] :
Seat 8 : rundtm has $55[Mar 22 23:20:06] :
Seat 9 : VILLIAN has $198.50[Mar 22 23:20:06] :
rundtm is the dealer.[Mar 22 23:20:08] :
VILLIAN posted small blind.[Mar 22 23:20:17] :
SteGenius posted big blind.[Mar 22 23:20:30] :
Game [119488] started with 7 players.
[Mar 22 23:20:30] : Dealing Hole Cards.[Mar 22 23:20:30] :
Seat 6 : HERO has 5s 8s[Mar 22 23:20:32] :

dontjump folded.[Mar 22 23:20:43] :
Prough folded.[Mar 22 23:20:48] :
HERO called $1[Mar 22 23:20:48] :
gutshotvic folded.[Mar 22 23:20:50] :
rundtm folded.[Mar 22 23:20:54] :
VILLIAN called $0.50[Mar 22 23:21:04] :
SteGenius checked.[Mar 22 23:21:05] :

Dealing flop.[Mar 22 23:21:05] : Board cards [Ts Qh 4s]
[Mar 22 23:21:13] : VILLIAN bet $10
[Mar 22 23:21:20] : SteGenius folded.
[Mar 22 23:21:23] : HERO called $10

[Mar 22 23:21:23] : Dealing turn.[Mar 22 23:21:23] : Board cards [Ts Qh 4s 5h]
[Mar 22 23:21:32] : VILLIAN bet $10
[Mar 22 23:21:34] : HERO called $10[Mar 22 23:21:35] :

Dealing river.[Mar 22 23:21:35] : Board cards [Ts Qh 4s 5h As]
[Mar 22 23:21:47] : VILLIAN bet $50
[Mar 22 23:21:50] : HERO called $50[Mar 22 23:21:51] :

Showdown![Mar 22 23:21:51] :
Seat 6 : HERO has 5s 8s[Mar 22 23:21:52] :
Seat 9 : VILLIAN has 2s 6d[Mar 22 23:21:52] : VILLIAN has High Card : Ace[Mar 22 23:21:52] : Seat 6 : HERO has 5s 8s[Mar 22 23:21:52] : HERO has Flush AT854[Mar 22 23:21:52] : HERO wins $140 with Flush AT854[Mar 22 23:22:00] : Hand is over.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Missed Calling

I think I would be a great poet, full of angst and frustration, sick of the world and society in general and willing to put it all down on paper. Unfortunately punctutation, grammar and general sentence formation escapes me completely. It's like the tale of the daddy long legs...

..when God made the world, a daddy long legs came to him and said "Hey God, this is great and all, but do you not think you've given us a bit of a raw deal here? I mean, we're tiny and fragile, and everywhere we go someone stands on us or hits us and splashes us all over the place" "How are we supposed to defend ourselves??"

God thought about this and realised that it was probably true, so he decided on a solution "How about this, I'll give you the most potent venom in the world, if you're attacked you can use your fangs to defend yourself" "That would be great, thanks big man" So God made it so, but it wasn't long before he heard reports about the daddy long legs biting people and animals with no provocation, and needless to say he was very angry. He summoned the daddy long legs to him and asked him to explain what his brethern were doing. "Well, we just thought we could get some payback for the crimes committed against us in the past" So God asked would they promise not to continue this, and put an end to it immediately, to which the daddy long legs replied, "well maybe not straight away, but we will eventually" unhappy with the answer God decided to teach them a lesson and he shrunk their fangs so small that although they had the most potent venom in the world, the only animals skin they could pierce was their own.

So what's this got to do with me and my sentence structuring you might ask? well frankly I don't know, I just like the story.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Warning Non Poker content ahead

Not a poker post, another observation on life. It's been a while since I posted one of these and I feel I'm losing the intellectual/philosophical/emotional and lets face it moan chasing reader from my blog, time to recapture their imagination.

Firstly let me state that I hate airports, I hate everything about them. From the fake smile you get at check-in from a clerk who would rather be anywhere else than dealing with you right now, to the anxious feeling you get when you arrive at your destination and go through the Green Channel hoping that you don't get stopped. You know you haven't done anything but there's always that nagging fear in the back of your mind.

Of course being stuck in the longest check-in line in history this morning followed by having my flight delayed a couple of hours when I should have been in the midst of a lie-in on St. Patricks day didn't help matters. Even though I'll get a day in lieu as a result, it doesn't quite make up for it.

Interestingly though I finished 40th of 92 starters in the PPP Irish Open Qualifier, without playing a hand as I was stuck in Madrid. That's better than I'd of done if I had actively played in the game, perhaps a new strategy is required. Anyway that's it for the poker comments.

Today's bugbear is sacrifice. As we move through life we sacrifice certain things, we do this from childhood on, of course during childhood that sacrifice is more of an ordered existence. We don't conciously choose to sacrifice anything, we're just told the way it is and we have to follow. As we move into our teenage years we start to make semi-concious sacrifices. If we have younger siblings we give our time and attention to them, generally prompted by our parents. Perhaps we sacrifice a night out with friends so that our parents can go out and enjoy themselves. We don't really want to do this, and probably don't conciously choose to do it, but we realise the futility of saying no or choosing a non-sacrificial stance...quid pro quo if you will.

Then when we start to develop relationships of our own we start to make sacrifices, these are concious sacrifices, maybe we get a DVD instead of going out. We watch "Gone with the Wind" instead of "The Life of Brian" or we watch "The life of Brian" instead of "Gone with the Wind" We conciously choose to spend time with our partner instead of our friends or our friends instead of our partner. but regardless of which path we choose, it inevitably leads to frustration and stress.

If you back down and sacrifice for someone else then you feel a burden of stress as a result. If you don't back down then you feel a burden of guilt, and either way there is a sense of frustration at the fact that you have to adapt what you want, or feel guilty about not adapting to someone elses desire. Ironically enough the person who you are sacrificing for generally doesn't even realise that a sacrifice has been made, humans are after all very self-serving creatures. Self-absorption comes with the territory, which of course dear readers can only mean one thing, we force sacrifices on others at the same time we're getting stressed about having to make sacrifices ourselves. Ahh the ironing is delicious don't you think...

Be that as it may, the frustration is not reduced as a result of this knowledge, (which just emphasises my self-absorption comment) and I'm sick of having to sacrifice my time and adapt what I want for the purpose of others. So this weekend I'm mostly feeling very stressed and very pissed that regardless of what I want to do I have to bend my will, time and effort to make other people happy.

Does this make me a bad person? Possibly and probably but that doesn't change my point of view, or make it any less valid. I don't think I'm the only one that feels this way so this is a call out my fellow rebels, lets rise up and overthrow this societal need to conform and change what we want to make others happy! Let us reclaim the streets and reclaim our lives

Who's with me???


...ok then, I'll just toddle off back to my room then shall I...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Another close run

Having logged on tonight for an hour and winning two $25 STTs in a row I was feeling pretty happy with myself. So when I saw a qualifier on VC for the Rivercard festival GF with only 16 entrants, I figured I'd have a go. 17 of us sat down to a $25 rebuy with the first prize a $540 entry to the Rivercard festival final on Sunday night. 3 all-ins on the first hand and AA held up against Ak and 99 to triple up one lucky player.

I double bought at the start and literally saw no cards until there were 11 players left. At which point I was dealt TT on the button. One limper in front of me and my BB connection falls over, by the time I've got back in the action has passed me and I've missed two hands.

I ran my chips down below 2K with some loose preflop calls so that I could rebuy before the end of the break. Having rebought I found myself in the last 9 but shortstacked on 4K with the blinds at 100/200. A raise from the CO with AJo was quickly folded when the BB re-raised all-in. Showed KK so glad I folded.

At the end of the rebuy period I topped up leaving me with 6K and blinds at 150/300, pretty much every hand was being raised preflop and I was seeing absolute garbage. No pairs, no A with a kicker better than 4, no suited A, no decent Kx nothing...two players went out in big hands, ill-advised I thought.

I managed to nick a few blinds and then when dealt AJo twice and Ako raised and was uncontested. Down to 4 players and with the prizes being a $540 entry for 1st and $360 cash for 2nd, I was determined to finish in one of the two. Unfortunately I was also shortstacked and badly so. I had about 7K, nearest opponent had 13K, then 22K and 34K.

On the BB with blinds at 200/400,I'm dealt J3o and the 22K stack flat called. flop comes down Qh 3h 6s, I check and opponent bets 1200 into the pot. I figure he doesn't have a Q and push for my remaining 4.6K, he take the full allotment of time and calls turning over 9h 7h. No help on turn or river and I double up.

Now I have a chance of at least 2nd and with a bit of luck 1st. A couple of hands later I'm dealt AQo, I raise to 4k and the CL pushes's 4 handed, I'm behind 3 hands and his range is far wider than that, I call and he turns over KK. 3 diamonds by the turn give me hope, and the river is a red 4, but with the 4d already out I know that's the end of my tournament.

So close again, and yet so far. So after 3 hours play I made a grand total of $33 profit, $11 an hour...still it's a bad day when no profit's made.