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Thursday, July 22, 2004

Something Clicked
There's been a major change to my online play over the past 2-3 weeks that I haven't yet blogged about: I have been successfully playing two tables at once.

I realize that this is the way a lot of online players play, and that some players even do 3, 4, or more tables at once. I've also had fellow bloggers tell me that it helps them play better, or at least tighter. But I prior to 3 weeks ago I was never able to get the hang of it.

The first couple times I tried two-tabling--way back in May 2003--I was a real moron about it. My monitor is 17" and I keep the resolution at 800x600 --so the poker window takes up the whole screen and makes 2-tabling really confusing, with one window constantly popping up over the other when it was my turn to act. Needless to say I lost. Like I said, i was a moron. Then I had I had the big revelation that I could reconfigure the monitor to 1024x768 and --ta da!! -- see both tables at once.

But I still lost whenever I tried it (which was not that often), and I honestly don't really know why. I would win pretty consistently, but never had an overall winning session where I 2-tabled.

Then about 3 weeks ago, something clicked. I made a renewed commitment to playing tight preflop, especially from early position. (To be honest, I make this commitment with some frequency -- it's like my game gradually tends toward loosening and I need to take a wrench to it every few weeks). When I then gave 2-tabling yet another shot, I had a double-winning session. Boy is that a nice feeling! It was a little hectic, as always, but it was also very engrossing. There was no time for boredom, no temptation to open up IE and surf around. Just twice the poker, twice the decisions, twice the fun.

My play on Paradise over the last 3 weeks has been almost all 2-tabling, and I'm very much up at the .50/$1 tables. After a while I started playing one Hold'Em table and one 7-Stud table. I would focus on the Stud table, and play on autopilot at Hold'Em, and win at both.

This made me realize that I really, really need to move up in limits.

Not like I didn't know that already. Not like I haven't been talking about moving up in limits since I started this blog. Not like I haven't played at $1/$2 and $2/$4 before (although very infrequently). Not like I haven't built up the bankoll (currently around $500 in 4 different sites).

To be painfully honest, my first few forays into higher limits have not gone well. No incredibly bad sessions, no truly major damage to the bankroll, just a general lack of winning. Specifically, I had -$9.50 and -$75 sessions at 1/2 Paradise on July 9 and July 11. Also a -$53 session at Absolute 2/4 on the 18th, and -$33 session at Absolute this past Sunday. In between I had a few (less than $10) winning sessions. Sunday the cards were hitting me incredibly badly--Aces cracked, Kings cracked, AK top 2 pair loses to 55 that makes a flush, you name it. Then last night I posted a +$40 session at Absolute 2/4, which pulled me out of my funk at least enough to blog about my efforts.

Some of my problem has been I am a cheap, cheap man, and am being too easily bullied preflop. It took me a couple sessions to get used to the idea that dropping $20 at $2/$4 is no big deal and is to be expected. I think it's a funny kind of mental association: At 50/$1, dollars and big bets are the same thing. $5 is 5 big bets, and I know being down 5 big bets is no big deal. But being down $20 at 2/4 was freaking me out. For a couple sessions I just had to chant "divide by 4, divide by 4" to myself :)

I think I've gotten over my initial anxiety about flinging the chips out there. Instead, I think my main problem is that more of the players at the higher limits are genuinely more aggressive. (Remember, I play the .50/$1 tables at Paradise, some of the most passive games around.)

Here's what I think has happened with my game recently. To quote Bob Ciaffone from Middle Limit Holdem: "The way you beat a low-limit game is to only play good hands and let nature takes its course." Honestly, I think the reason I learned how to successfully 2-table is that I learned how to play very well preflop and just OK post-flop. At .50/$1 I think the competition plays much worse than me preflop and slightly worse than me post-flop (some better, some much worse), and that has been enough to make me a consistent winner. At 1/2 and 2/4 players are both tighter and not as dumb post-flop. Most importantly, they are not all as passive as I'm used to. A significant proprtion are downright aggressive. In short, my disciplined preflop game isn't enough to carry me at 1/2 and 2/4.

What's Up with $1/$2?

So I'm working on my post-flop game, but that's a big subject I'll tackle in another post. For now let me address one more point. Astute readers may be asking, "JD, you were winning at .50/$1 and have decided to move up in limits. But why jump to $2/$4? Why not stick to $1/$2?"

Good question. In answer let me give you some stats:

Thursday night, 7pm.My point is not that $1/$2 is really tight and hard to beat. I really don't think it's either of those things. But for some reason it's not nearly as popular as either $2/$4 or .50/$1. So I asks myself, why?Regardless of my little theories about what types of players play 1/2, the fact is that few players play 1/2 than 2/4, and this struck me as a bad thing. Could it be that 2/4 is easier to beat (on some sites) than 1/2?

And regardless of whether 1/2 or 2/4 is easier to beat, I must still learn to handle aggressive players. I think I'm learning how to do that, but again, that's for another post. Gonna go play some poker now and see if I can gain some insight.

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