Every time she emails me, my friend Wendie tells me how much she enjoys reading the blog – except when I write about poker! Wendie, go elsewhere today.
In real life, when I talk about my obsession for online poker (yes, I’ll admit it’s an obsession), the person on the other end of the conversation always brings up luck. There’s no doubt about it, poker is affected by luck – but only in the short term.
This is really important. Luck would be important if poker were just a card game. As played online and in casinos, it’s really more of a betting game – a very important distinction.
If you can quantify the odds of drawing a hand which will win, you can make educated decisions about when to hold ’em or fold ’em. Poker players talk about odds the pot is laying, an obtuse way of asking whether another bet is a good or bad idea.
I think that’s the part of my game which has improved the most. I understand the value of my bets and the value attached to the bets of others. It’s an imperfect system, because you really don’t know what cards your opponent is holding, but you can often tell by how he reacts to certain situations.
If you were to play against me, you’d see me be less aggressive when you’re a passive, though persistent opponents. Often times, passive play is a ploy to suck out bets from an inferior hand. Too often I’d bust out of a tournament by my own aggressive bet made against a superior hand held by someone playing possum.
Big talk for a guy who is not quite even after 2½ years of online play!
Actually, I was down to my last $20 a month or so ago. It upset me that I was going to bust out. I mustered whatever discipline I had and tightened my game.
All of a sudden, the swing began.
When I was down to my last $20, I was playing for very small stakes. I couldn’t afford to lose much at one sitting. I entered $3 + 40¢ ‘turbo’ tournaments or $5 + 50¢ ‘regular’ tournaments. The downside was small.. as was the upside.
As I began to play tonight, there was $165 in my bank. That leaves me $10 behind my starting point in August 2003¹! Considering the tens of thousands of hands I’ve played (no exaggeration), and that the casino is pulling a small commission every time I sit down to play, I’m doing quite well.
I decided to play something a little higher risk tonight – a satellite tournament. For $5 + 50¢, you enter a tournament to win a $530 entry in a much larger tournament (actually the main tournament will pay at least $1,000,000, shared among those ‘in the money’).
The $5 + 50¢ amount is a little misleading, because you can rebuy for another $5 and then add-on for $5 more. I’m in for $15 + 50¢, which bought me $5,000 tournament chips. Those paying the minimum got $1,500.
We started at midnight with 431 players. There were 824 re-buys and 217 add-ons. The $7,360 in the kitty means 13 players will cash out for $530. A 14th ‘only’ gets $470.
I played in a much cheaper version of this tournament last Saturday and missed the money by two positions. Ouch. One stupid bet at the end was the difference between something and nothing.
I’d like to do better tonight… obviously.
Nearly three hours in, there are 67 left. I’m in 4th. Obviously, that’s a good place to be, but not even close to a guarantee I’ll cash out.
If I’m not too depressed, I’ll let you know how I did later on.
Addendum – While I edited this entry, the game played on. Now only 50 are left. I’m in 7th place. No guarantees, but this is a good place to be.
Addendum II –
PokerStars Tournament #19966358, No Limit Hold’em
Total Prize Pool: $7360.00
Target Tournament #19571119 Buy-In: $530.00
13 tickets to the target tournament
Tournament started – 2006/02/22 – 23:59:00 (ET)
You finished the tournament in 1st place.
You qualified to play in Tournament #19571119 and are automatically registered for it.
See Tournament #19571119 Lobby for further details.
If you choose to unregister from this tournament your account will be credited
with $530.00 Tournament dollars. Tournament dollars can be used to buy into
Visit our web site at http://www.pokerstars.com/tournaments.html for more details.
Thank you for participating.
I guess I’m up now!
¹ – I originally bought in for $250. Along the way, a friend asked if I’d put $75 in his account, since it’s a pain in the butt to get the money to Costa Rica. That leaves a net of $175.