Finally sleeping normal again. Managed to be in bed by one and up by eight-thirty.
My sleeping hours would have been rather less normal, however, had I made any deep runs in poker tournaments!
I did infact play a little poker last night, a $5.50 Turbo NLHE MTT, a $5.50 Mixed Pot Limit event (Hold'em and Omaha) and a $2.20 turbo quintiple 4-max shootout. Didn't make it far in any on them. Didn't even make it past the first round of the shootout! I never have, either!
But why the low buy ins? Did I not, a few days ago, play a $33 Freezeout and a $8 Rebuy?
The answer is: yes.
But you know, sometimes you just don't feel like gambling. And to be honest, the only good tournament starting at that time in the evening is the Daily Eighty Grand ($55) or the $3 Rebuy. I didn't feel like playing a Rebuy (for the first hour is just... not poker) and I wasn't in enough of a gambling mood to play for $55.
I have since withdrawn my stars money as I'm not likely to play much more for the moment.
I did, however, deposit $30 on Party recently, where I played a $6 Freezeout and a $2 Rebuy. Again, I didn't cash in either of them.
It was strange playing on Party Poker - seeing how much it has changed since I first started playing there o so long ago. Any UK player might have realised that the distinctive, fairly simple Party interface is now a little more like the flashy, sleek one of Ladbrokes Poker, which itself has changed over the years. Yae, over the many years I have indeed played on many sites. But Party was where I first played online.
Which leaves me where I left off. May 2006
It was actually before I turned eighteen that I installed PartyPoker. Back on the school mornings we would have to register at 8.20am. I usually arrived at about 8.00am, which meant leaving the house at 7.30am to ensure a good bus connection. I often played at some point between 7.00am and leaving, usually signing in to play a play money cash game. Usually NLHE, but sometimes Pot Limit. I usually listened to some rational music, like Handel, while playing. Not out of a deliberate effort to 'play relaxed' but simply because I like that sort of music.
(on an unrelated note BLOODY HELL. How did they convince us all to get up so early each day and come to school five hours a week without fail all year round? We, or they, must have been mad!)
Over the summer holidays I started teaching some of my Non-Ryle-study friends the mechanics of hold'em. Nothing too strategic, just "these are the hand rankings, these are the betting procedues. You want to make the best five card playing combination out of your hole cards and the community cards". Once I played a heads up match against my good old friend Dan Feld. We started up with 40 chips each and with blinds at 1-2. After playing for around half an hour our stacks were even again. So we reduced the stacks to 20 (effectively the same as doubling the blinds). After another twenty or minutes or so, we were once again even. So we reduced the stacks to ten! Eventually, we called it a draw.
Infact, we played the game on the very desk on which I am currently typing.
In August I started playing more Sit and Go's and a few Multi Table Tournaments. Still play money, of course. This didn't stop me taking prolix notes and spreadsheets about my fluctuations. I've always had a nasty habit of keeping records about things. Nasty, because such a habit often puts the things you are recording out of perspective, even though perspective is the very thing long term record-keeping sets to achieve.
Basically, I had a long list of all the play money sit and goes I'd played, what position I'd come in them, and what my Return On Investment was.
And the numbers told me exactly what I hoped they would. I was winning, by quite a margain.
I remember in late August I sat with my father in a restaurant in Hove. Over some fish pie and cranberry juice, I told him about my poker playing habits. I explained that, "if these were real pounds" I'd be sitting pretty, as the saying goes.
Oh, if only they were real pounds.
Yes, I had fallen into the trap. I had been lured in and snared by my own unrealistic sense of expectation. I even had my line of reasons at the ready as to why I was correct. I have no trouble beating these play-money players, and I'm pretty sure most of the $6 STT players will be no better. It's the lowest stake, so the players will be pretty bad, and I'm sure most of them won't care a jot about the money they're playing. And hey, if I lose the first tournament, it'll probably cash in the second. Or the third. Basically there's no real way of me losing.
I hadn't played for money online yet myself, you see. I couldn't. Even though I had recently set up a bank account I had no way of putting money onto a poker site. You needed a debit or credit card for that, or some sort of PayPal or NetTeller. And for them... you also needed to have a card to register with.
Suddenly in September, my last month as a free man before entrusting myself to the warm bask of University life, a number of things happened.
On the seventh, I got my new laptop. It was a sleek and efficient Toshiba, although I did find the offer of 'choosing freedom', as presented by the default background picture, rather an ironic and instrusive instruction on their part.
On the morning of the eleventh, I recieved a letter in the post. It was from my bank, and contained everything I needed for a financial life away from home; chequebook, paying in book, details for online banking and, most importantly of all, a debit card.
It was my debit card.
It was my account it could access.
It was my money I could spend with it.
Within an hour, as you may have guessed, I was on PartyPoker, thinking about how much I should deposit.
$51 seemed fine, just one dollar over the minimum deposit. It was only around £27 back in those days anyway, and I figured it would give me quite a bit of ammunition for playing $6 and $11 STTs.
And there it was in the left hand corner of my PartyPoker lobby - $51.03.
Like a child hiding something, I peeped to my left, then to my right, and logged into a $0.05/$0.10 table. I bought in for the maximum: $10.
My heart was pumping like a man new to love.
I only played about six hands, losing about 65 cents in the process. I did manage to win a pot as well, and I felt elation at doing so, even if it was only a few big blinds.
I hadn't been planning to play very long that morning, as I had the intention of going out.
When evening came, however, I was in my room once more. Flexing my fingers, I logged into Party again.
My online poker virginity now broken, I felt rather less physically agitated when I registered for a $6 6 person STT. The play money STTs I had played were almost exclusively ten-seaters but I figured, and this is completly and shamefully true, that there was a higher chance of cashing (2 in 6) in the six person tournaments than in the ten person tournaments, which only paid the top three places.
Yes, I was that desperate in my poker thinking.
I don't remember too much about the STT. Only that I bubbled, coming third (algebra) after having a pair of aces against a slowplayed straight.
Surprsingly, I took it in my stride. After all, there was no need to panic. I still had $44 left in my account.
So I played another one. Unexpectedly, I came fifth. I was furious! How did this happen? I had gone into the match with a sort of expectation. "I came third last time, therefore I probably have a good chance of coming second or first next time." Rather poor thinking for an A-Level mathmetician, but gambling does the strangest things to the normally rational mind.
My account balalnce was now $38. What the FUCK was going on. This isn't how things were meant to be going.
I decided to change my tactics and play a $11 Heads Up match. I never really knew what was going on during the game. I had no idea what sort of hands I should be playing or how I should play them. Then, somehow, I mananged to get Jacks all in against Threes, putting me all in. I was quite happy when he showed threes, because I was a cautious enough player to realise that Jacks won't always be the best hand in an all in situation, and so I was happy to see a lower pair. Well, a three came, first card out, and that was that. I wasn't angry, because I still wasn't sure whether I'd made the right play and had no idea Jacks was meant to be a substantial favourite over threes.
But still. GROOOOOOAN. My roll was now $27. Twenty seven dollllllars. Whhyyyyyyyy. I should've been on eighty by now and on a hundred tomrrow. Or something. I didn't play any more that night anyway. But when I resumed my playing I decided that the best use for my meagre bankroll, now that I could essentially no longer afford to lose any STTs, was to play cash games. So I became a regular, one-tabler of the $0.02/$0.05 games on Party.
They were ridiculously loose and fairly passive. I say this in hindsight - at the time I was playing more or less the same way as my opponents and so could not detect a difference, let alone postulate on it. But somehow I managed to win more often than I lost. Within about two weeks, I had recovered to my original $51 deposit. I was pretty pleased, but not an euphoric way. I wasn't naive enough to think justice had been served, [clamour of drums], o yea, it's all uphill from here! But at the same time I felt that I had been vindicated, that I had been unlucky early on and I had pushed the enemy back to the frontier. It was status quo ante bellum, and I was ready to defend my border.
Nevertheless, I was still of that poorly disciplined breed of poker player who only tell people when they're winning, and in so doing make it seem like a regular occurence. Once day I was walking down Churchill Square with Feld, telling him how I'd "won $10" that day. This was true, but obviously not particularly representative of the wider picture.
As a result of my brags, I got a reputation of being something of a good player. This was confirmed on the 20th September when I won a £1 Freezeout versus Feld and Sammi (a fellow Ryle player). It was the first thing I'd organised (even though Feld hosted it) which began to look like a real tournament. We had a predecided stack size of 66 (I had 200 chips to share about), a blind structure which went 1-2, 2-4, 3-6... and so on, with the levels going up every ten minutes by my phone's reckoning. Obviously it was a bit of a crapshoot but it did have a feel of a disciplined, serious game, compared to the rather lax and carefree play of the Ryle study days. Not that any of us would have been disappointed by the loss of a pound. But as there were three of us, I won two pounds. And it felt so good.
Where next, then, with my poker playing life. You may observe that I have not even got so far as university yet! Well, ten days later I would, and that would start a whole new era in my development, and a massive increase in the amount of poker played. Oh, yea, just thinking of it gives me a strange sort of comfort. Can it be nostalgia? Oh, I fear it is more than that. For it's not just the poker I think of, when I look back fondly, but the entire way of life that tied in with it, and how the two intertwined so beautifully.