Monday, 29 March 2010

Hand History - Part 7

"Ring in the new year with double player points."

This was the wording of Full Tilt's rather depressing advert at the time, displayed on the top panel of the Full Tilt poker client.

"The thing is I have to go to Cardiff to get any good games."

A depressing man in his late twenties talking to another at Gloucester station, somewhen in January.

The most depressing thing about that man is that he looked a little how I might look in ten years... if I wasn't careful. He was heavy, scruffy and had clearly lost his spirit somewhere along the way.

I vowed never to become that man. I decided that my relationship with poker would be a healthy one and it should not interfere too much with the rest of my life. It certainly shouldn't dictate it.

Nevertheless, I did play quite a lot during the Christmas holidays and for a good chunk of the term. At the very end of the previous term (Christmas) I had decided to see what I could do with a $600 bankroll. This was a little less arbitrary than previous attempts and designed with longterm profit and game improvement in mind. I put $150 on four sites - Party Poker, Ladbrokes, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker.

To start with things didn't go very well, and I was down to $500 fairly quickly. Ladbrokes subtly increased their cashgame rake to 6.25% (there was no announcement, I had to spot and quantify the change myself) and there weren't enough STTs or good MTTs for my liking, so I withdrew from there fairly early on in the project.

During this period I generally played 25NL, $5.50 or $6.50 sit and goes and MTTs of buyins up to $5.50. It was fairly strict bankrolling but I didn't mind - I really was playing with the long run in mind. I did, however, manage to play my first $26 MTT on Full Tilt after winning a ticket in a player points freeroll. I believe it was a Bounty MTT. And I did win a bounty, but failed to cash, coming 60th whereas only 45 were paid.

One Bounty MTT I did cash in was at PokerSoc, my third ever cash there. Two weeks later I made my first ever win. That was a good moment, and it was made all the sweeter by the fact that I beat 8 Years, that being his name on account of the fact that, through his Undergraduate, Graduate and PHD studies he had now been at the university for that amount of time. I didn't have anything personal against the man, but he epitomised a number of aspects of poker playing I didn't like: greed, misplaced testostrone, and an over reliance on 'maths'. He was shoving all over the place. So when I got KK on the small blind, I knew I had won the match. I limped. He instashoved. I called - his K9 was in pretty poor shape against me and the £110 prize was mine. It wasn't just a personal victory though - Mike (who had already won PokerSoc back in October) came third. 8 Years had got pretty frustrated with me for apparently softplaying against in - Mike was on the big blind with two more big blinds in his stack. I folded my 45o from the small blind. 8 Years asserted that I should shove 'any two' in that spot to try to take Mike out of the tournament.

Over the course of this term I resumed my relationship with her, and things were simply brilliant. But soon she and poker would collide. She had never liked my hobby for the same reasons most women wouldn't - it was gambling and seemnigly a waste of time. If it was just my time I was wasting however, she would probably not have minded. But it soon got directly in the way of our relationship.

To cut (what seemed like a very) long story (at the time) short, I was at a poker tournament one night when I really should have been with her. I'm not particularly proud of what happened next, but I think it was the best option at the time: I basically opted to stop playing as it it were proof that poker basically meant nothing to me. The same day I withdrew my remaining online money.

Truth be told, I came to regret this decision a little. Given the choice betwen her and poker I chose her, but I regret having allowed it to degrade into such a dichotomy. In truth, I still played some poker. I didn't go to PokerSoc and I didn't play online much, but I continued to play against my friends (nothing would have prevented me from that). I just toned down public appearances. At the time I was too cowardly to be completely honest with her.

However, one thing I did would have happened either way. On April 1st I banned myself on PokerStars and FullTilt, for two and three months respectively. The reason for this was my need to buckle down and do some work, as I had a degree to salvage. I did this fairly well, considering the mess I had made of things in Term 1, and managed to pullthrough with a mediocre but stable 2-1 for the year.

DKSOP continued as normal, and when Ryan came to live with us on a more permanent basis we had five resident poker players. Results of the serieses were as follows.

Alex 91, Housey 88, Mike 20, Johnny 20, Seby 10, Ryan 10
after ten games

Housey 70, Mike 60, Alex 53, Seby 15
after eight games

Mike 80, Alex 40, Ryan 40, Housey 30, Seby 20
after eight games

MAY 2008
Seby 140, Alex 105, Mike 55, Ryan 43, Johnny 30, Housey 20
after nine games

That's right - I won a series. Finally! During my birthday month too! We had had four different winners for four seasons, so the June series was, supposedely, going to be something of a climax!

It wasn't though - we hardly played at all (credit exams and people going home early) and so there wasn't really a series at all.

In the next part of Hand History I will talk about the eventful playing of the Summer.

But I can't help but look back at this installment (Part 7) without an air of sadness and lameness. My relationship with poker had gone from one end to another. No one forced me to tone down my playing. I didn't have to.

judge for yourselves

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