Saturday, 13 March 2010

Hand History - Part 5

Well, here we are again!

I spoke at the end of Part 4 about how the first few months had been something of a Golden Age in my poker playing 'career'. Indeed it had been. Not only had I enjoyed it, but I was probably around £150 in profit by the end of term. This didn't represent a huge boost to my financnes - nor would losing it have been a particularly significant burden. But it was a lot considering the average buy in we played was somewhere between 3 and 5 pounds.

However, the term Golden Age is neccessarily comparative, and decline soon followed. Quite how long this decline lasted, you shall see.

The 5 week Easter holiday was fairly boring. I was tired, uninspired and lazy. Despite, or perhaps, because of my winning, I was over-cautious in my poker. Rather than doing what I had been doing for the last three months (playing casually, enjoying myself, winning) I started employing artificial bankroll strategies and projects. For instance, one project called "$100 Guaranteed" (a reference to prizepools) involved playing ten five-seater $2 STTs on Ladbrokes. There was no real point to this project at all, I just caved in to my life of arbitrary schedules and plans.

It wasn't only Ladbrokes I was playing on. I also deposited on PKR. At one point I had all of $50 over two the two sites, and as I had developed a bankroll-fetish I theorised as to what sort of games I should be playing. Again, no real point to this as I had plenty of money to redeposit if I wished to.

Despite my cautious approach, during this holiday I had one of the most depressing poker experiences of my life. I was playing a $1 6-person STT on PKR. I had already reverted to a top-down view, the 3D gameplay of PKR being fairly offputting once the novelty had worn off. As we were down to the final 3 the chip leader started talking to some observer. They seemed to know eachother. The observer said he'd played with Tony G recently. The chip leader started talking about some $100 tournament he had played yesterday.

Out of the blue they started insulting me. I think it's because I'd chosen a deliberately stupid charecter profile - thick glasses and a huge affro. When I asked this 'pro' why he was playing a $1 STT, he said "for fun". They suggested I "wait for my carer to come back". I had never been insulted at a poker game before and was pretty frustrated. I ended up coming second to the rude guy. For the record, I was a substantial favourite when the chips went in, yet he thought it a sort of victory when he sucked out. I was so agitated I had to take a walk in the park. Of course, the joke was very much on me. Why should I get emotional about being insulted at a $1 STT? Whatever childishness there was on their side, there was plenty on my side too.

I did manage to finish up £9 though!

Slim consolation. It was a generally frustrating start of term too. As far as my poker was concerned, I starting playing looser, adopting the 'any two cards' philosophy that it doesn't matter what your hand is - play your opponent's hand. The chances are they haven't hit either!
Obviously such a method only really works if done at the right place and right time. However, I was doing it for its own sake and gave up on the things which had made my game profitable in the first place: tight-aggressive play. Rather than choosing my spots carefully, I regularly raised Q4o on the button because it's above average in this situation.

I was doing poorly in DKSOP. Now I am aware of variance. I was then, too. I may have been running above-average in Term 2, and below-average or average in the first few weeks of Term 3. But just because you're running worse, doesn't mean you're not playing worse too.

The results from Season 3 were as follows.

SERIES THE THIRD (Apr-May '07, 4 weeks)
Da Nuts: The Dragon
Da Bluff: The Conjurer
Da Outdraw: The Lion

1st 2nd and 3rd respectively. Note that none of these three players are me.

DKSOP then adjourned for exam season.

I didn't play an awful lot of poker in May despite not having an awful lot of exams. I continued to indulge in artificial 'bankrolling'. Sometimes I would buy in for $13 on a Ladbrokes $0.10/$0.20 table, because $13 represented approximately 5% of my profit since January. I didn't to too well at these $20NL games and, in hindsight, was playing beyond my abilitiy.

If the story up till now depresses you don't worry - June offered a little gasp of progress.

I made up my mind that I should make a serious effort to get good at poker, even if this meant lowering my stake.

I had played on Stars before, albeit only for play money stakes. It was the only site with regular play money 5 card draw games, after all!

But in early June I deposited exactly $200. I had also recently bought a copy of Poker Tracker 2, though I had not installed a HUD.

My plan was to play $10NL. I hadn't decided how many hands I was going to play, nor for how long - only that I was going to play on one table at a time. I had never really multitabled in the past, and was not ready to start.

I did very well, and over around 2,000 hands (which took... a few weeks) I was up to around $300.

I also managed to get to the Final Table of an MTT. It was the 10.00am (or 15.00ET) $2 tourney. This tournament still exists at the same time and format (1500 chips, 15 minute blinds) as it did then. From a 629 player field I managed to get into 8th place. The guy (witchypoo) who had sucked out on my earlier in the tournament ended up coming 7th. My prize was twenty-something dollars. Not an awful lot obviously, and immediately after the tournament ended I realised that I had been playing too cautiously in the endgame phases. As Mike had warned me earlier on in the tournament, "in order to live... you must be willing to die."

It was a nice way to start on Stars, and ever since then it has been my main site. Though the circumstances in which I started this bankroll project were rather grim: bored, unshaven life-apathy, I still look back on this as the model for success: play at a stake you are comfortable with, stay focused, don't rush or over-complicate things and... win!

After exams we squeezed in another DKSOP series. The games were almost exclusively higher stakes than the ones earlier in the year, a reflection of the fact that it was the end of the university year and everyone wanted to splash out. We had our biggest tourney yet: a £10 buy in with an optional rebuy and add on - total spend £30. I didn't do too well in this tournament, but it was very fun, and by the time we finished heads up (Housey versus Alex) the blinds were 2000-4000, with a total chip count of around 160,000.

SERIES THE FOURTH (Jun' 07, 1 week!)
River: The Dragon
Turn: The Conjurer
Flop: Royal Fish

On the topic of big numbers, it was over June that we saw some of the biggest and sickest games. I didn't play in all of them, but here's a brief of some of the bigger action.

Alex vs Felix
Played a £40 Heads up match against Felix (a German friend working in Leamington) on the evening following the £10 1R1A. Alex lost, but he was confident that he could beat Felix is they played again. Which they did... for £80. Alex won that one. One wonders whether they would have played a third time had he lost.

Alex vs Ryan
Played a high stakes cash game with their blackjack profits. I do not believe either of them were sitting on any more than £150, but at one point the blinds were raised to £5-£10. At one point Alex made a huge bluff, covering his face in his shirt for the agonising few minutes while Ryan pondered the decision. He folded.

DKSOP 10p-20p cash game.
Not ridiculously high stakes. Alex bought in for £400 though. Well, I managed to double up a few times and rolled my initial £10 buy in up to £105. It was my biggest winning session to date, and was shortly followed by another winning session where I made another £70 or so. I remember walking back home at 5am once (by myself, the others had elected to sleep over but I had to be on campus the next morning). By the dawn's early light and under the humid balm of the Midlands summer, I remember thinking to myself that I may as well just go professional. I didn't, of course. Nor did I inted to.

I had not been keeping strict records during this Term and do not really feel well placed to estimate whether I finished up or down. By June I had returned to my tight, aggressive, lucky ways. I now expected to win whenever I sat down at the table.

Soon this would give way to callow and careless cockiness, but it was a good way to end the poker playing year.

I talked about my name 'Royal Fish' earlier, and how it evolved from Straighting Flush Meadows.

The reason is thus: one I got a Royal Flush in February I temporarily changed my name to Royal Straighting Flush Meadows. I simply abbreviated this to Royal Fish.

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