I haven’t written about playing poker online in a while. Maybe I’ve grown sheepish because my play has been so awful.
My original buy-in (August 2003 – $250) multiplied, until I managed to squander most of it!
Actually, a little remedial math is in order. Though I bought in for $250, someone I knew wanted to play online and didn’t want to send money to Costa Rica. I moved $75 from my account to his and he gave me $75 in cash. So, my cash basis is actually $175.
It really didn’t matter. A few weeks ago I was down to $20.
I play all the time. If I had blown the whole $175 over two and a half years – big deal.
It’s not that simple.
To give up my original stake would be a moral defeat. The money is not the point. All things considered, it’s cost pennies an hour for my fun… maybe less. It’s the concept of losing that pains me.
The remaining twenty dollars didn’t give me much cushion. I couldn’t afford to be unlucky. And, obviously, I had to figure out what turned me from winner to loser so I could stop it.
The answer was pretty simple and two fold.
First, a truth about no-limit poker (which is what I play online). You can win 90% of the hands you play, but lose once all-in and you’re gone!
I decided my play had gotten too lose. I was chasing too many hands. Often, seeing a small bet with low connectors (7-8 for instance) will bring you a playable but beatable hand. A cheap bet early costs you a lot more later.
I also realized many of my biggest losses were hands where a player with a better hand let me be the aggressor. He let me lay my own trap! I have turned my aggression down.
You still have to bet, in order to force marginal hands to fold, but I’m not betting as much nor going all-in anywhere near as often.
I said it was a two fold strategy before. Maybe it’s three fold, because there is one other change I’ve made. This probably doesn’t count as strategy, but I’m only playing very low stakes tournaments. In fact, I have stuck with $5+ 50¢ and $3 + 40¢ ‘sit and go’ tournaments almost exclusively.
There is a difference in the quality of play at these low stakes games, and all it takes is one or two poor players to tilt the odds. Sadly, I can make more money at low stakes than high stakes!
My strategy has paid off. The $20 is back up to around $100. I’m down $75.25 over 873 days. Playing Texas Hold’em has cost me 8.6¢ per day.
I wasn’t going to retire on this money, still it’s good to know I can analyze my game when I need to.
I got complacent and sloppy. Knowing how to play properly is not the same as making yourself play properly. Discipline, something I’ve never been known for, must be cultivated to be successful.
I’m trying – really.