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Friday, June 25, 2004

Back in the Black
I won $73.29 last night in Absolute Poker's $10+1, $3,000 added multi-table NL Hold'em tourney. I finished 16 out of 429 (actually I played on my wife's more-stable computer and accidentally signed on as her, so it's her username in the standings, but I earned the win :). I am particularly happy about this for two reasons:
  1. It was the first multi-table tourney I've played in over a month. I had decided that tourneys aren't really my thing and that I should concentrate most of my attention on improving my limit ring game. I still believe this, but it's nice to think that I can hold my own in a NL tourney anyway.
  2. The $73 win puts me back in the black in terms of overall poker earnings.
"But JD," you ask, "I'm surprised to hear that you were in the red to begin with." Well readers, if you go back to my second-ever post, you'll see that at the time I said I was "up" $354.83, but that $454.10 of that was really bonus money, so technically I was "down" $99.27. I had a really bad run at Paradise the very same week that I started the blog, and I was soon down more than $150.

Let me explain. I assume that most people calculate their online poker winnings pretty straightforwardly:
(money I currently have in the sites) + (money I've taken out of the sites) - (money I put into the sites) = (net winnings)
Sounds simple enough, right? Plugging my numbers into that equation, my net winnings since I started in April 2003 equal $630.81.

I am very happy about this figure. Most hobbies cost money, but online poker pays me an average of $42 a month!

When most people talk about the size of their poker bankroll, I assume they are using this "net winnings" figure. However, the "net winnings" figure includes bonuses. This raises the question, how much I have actually won playing poker? How much have I actually earned the hard way, grinding it out, against other players and the rake? Let's call this new figure "poker earnings." We can calculate it easily enough:
(net winnings) - (bonuses) = (net earnings)
My net earnings are a whopping $1.71, because I have cleared $629.10 in bonuses. The hard truth is that in terms of pure poker play, I'm only breaking even. (Ouch, truth-in-blogging hurts!)

I actually believe that the picture is quite a bit brighter than this. The $1.71 earnings figure is since the very first day I played online. I made some really bonehead plays in the my first couple months, while I was still learning not just how to play the cards well, but also how to manage the highs and lows of the game. There were a couple weekends last summer where I just went on tilt, playing way too much and going through $80+ in a weekend. I also lost about $50 in a failed attempt to master Omaha 8 Hi-Lo. But mostly these disasters were beer-related. Here's what happens when I sit down to play online poker after a night at the bars:
  1. My attention span is nil. Folding is boring. I start playing bad hands.
  2. Aggression goes way up. You're raising me?! I reraise!
  3. Alcohol-induced false confidence. "This .50/$1 is a waste of time. I know I can beat $2/$4" . . .
What would generally happen was that if I cleared a really big bonus, I'd step up to $1/$2 or even $2/$4 and get my ass handed to me, often after I'd had a few beers. By getting large bonuses and losing them, my earnings dipped way into the negative--to the tune of negative $200 at several points, even as my winnings continued to grow. Amazingly, my poker winnings have never been negative, ever, since I started playing online. That is what I meant when I said in my "my poker background" post that "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."

I also stated in that post that "This blog is part of my plan to rededicate myself to improving my game." I've stopped the foolishness. Getting back into the black has been my primary goal for the past couple months, and I am very happy to report success.

A more comforting number is my poker earnings since I started using PokerTracker on May 19: $159.71.

My buddy Odog is arriving at Providence airport in a couple hours, for a mutual friend's wedding tomorrow night, so I won't post or play poker again until Sunday. But I feel that my next post should be on setting some new poker goals for myself. Primarily, I want to move up in limits--the devil is in the details. More next time . . .

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