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Saturday, April 03, 2004

My poker background
Highlights of my poker background:

--Always loved nickel-dime games with the guys in college and afterwards. Lots of crazy wild card stuff, lots of beer.

--Watched Rounders in 1998, then went out and bought Ken Warren's Winner's Guide To Texas Hold'em Poker. Lost my B&M virginity at the Flamingo in Las Vegas and won $20 at $4/$8. Lost $100 at Mandalay Bay's $4/$8 game that same weekend. A few weeks later I dropped another $100 at the Viejas Casino in San Diego, then decided to stick to the nickel-dime home games.

--Fast-forward to spring 2003. I stumble upon my first World Poker Tour episode. The Aruba one, sponsored by Ultimate Bet. I tried to download the UB software that night but the site was frozen from all the traffic. A couple weeks later I had read Lee Jones's Winning Low-Limit Hold'Em, opened a Neteller account, and bought into Paradise Poker.

--For the next few months I ground away. Initially I went up $200 from bonus whoring, but only broke even on poker. Made heavy use of the Party Poker/Empire Poker bonus cycle--buy into one, clear bonus, cash out, buy into the other, clear bonus, cash out, repeat. Then I started reading RGP and the Two Plus Two forums, taking notes on everyone's advice on how to deal with the very loose games at Party/Empire. I hit my stride and went up about $150 in pure poker profit, plus all the money from bonuses.

--During this time I headed down to Foxwoods for their Saturday morning Limit Texas Hold'Em tournament (which they discontinued a month or so ago). 200 players, $60 buy-in. I finished 27th the second time and got my buy-in back. Just out of the money the other 3 times. It was a great way to get B&M experience but I definitely did not have a good handle on tournament strategy.

--Cashed out all my online winnings in October 2003 in preparation for a week-long trip to Las Vegas, where I got married. By this time B, my then-fiance/now-wife, had also caught the poker bug. We had custom-made poker chips as favors at the wedding. Sweet. Amidst all the pre- and post-nuptial fun, I managed to play poker twice. A very late-night $3/$6 game at the Flamingo, and a $2-$6 spread game at the Excalibur. Won $10 both times. B showed me up by winning $20 at the Excalibur $1-$3 game.

--Got back to our home in Rhode Island, and tried the $4/$8 game at Foxwoods. Lost $100. Ouch. (The details of that game may make another post.) This was also the beginning of a big losing streak online. Lost almost all my poker profit (though still way up in bonus money) between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2003. I know I didn't play well, but I also think that that's the time of year when casual players (aka fish) are least likely to keep money tied up in online poker. Once I heard about the WPT airing on ABC before the Super Bowl, I vowed to abstain from online play until then, figuring that the WPT on a major network would bring in tons of new players.

--Ended my abstinence after the Super Bowl and quickly went up $50 at Paradise Poker. Then made the huge mistake of buying into Ultimate Bet for a bonus. First, the UB bonus is much more difficult than most to clear at low limits. Second, the players on UB are more aggressive than elsewhere. Even on Party, I can usually find a somewhat passive game. Long story short, I went on tilt worse than ever before and lost my $130 buy-in. Took another month of self-imposed abstinence, until the recent WPT episode with Paul Phillips, Gus Hansen, and Dewey Tomko sparring at the end brought me back. (That was a really great episode!)

And here I am. Currently I'm down $99.27 after almost exactly one year of playing online (home and B&M play not included in this figure). I've also cleared $454.10 in bonuses, for a net of $354.83.

Those bonuses are great, but they are contributing to the major weakness in my game, which is that I often don't take online play seriously enough. Don't get me wrong--I want my poker to be fun--but too often I've played while drinking or shrugged off losing sessions, thinking, hey, it's just bonus money. And of course not taking the game seriously is also one of the dangers of playing such low limits (mostly .50/$1). But I don't want to move up in limits until I've proven to myself that I can beat the cheapest games. So this blog is part of my plan to rededicate myself to improving my game.

OK, enough background. In my next post I'll actually log some online play.

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