30 March 2006

Changing back to Fixed Limit


Time to move back to my roots of fixed limit. I have been losing money at NL25 these past two or three weeks, and even on days when I am making money, it isn’t anywhere near what I can make at fixed limit on an average day. I still have bouts of poor sessions and hideous beats, but I know fixed limit much better. I will still play NL a few times a week [predominantly on UB], to remain fresh with this style and improve gradually.

A few of the reasons why I am abandoning NL ring as my primary game:

  • I cannot make as much, right now, playing at NL25 as I can at $1/$2 and $2/$4 FL. At NL50 or higher, I think the money would be commensurate, but I have nowhere near the skillset to play at those levels.
  • It took me a long time to ramp up my aggressiveness at fixed limit, and I still am not where I want to be. My aggression at NL is severely lacking.
  • I find myself making Fixed Limit moves at a NL table. Perfect case in point was me catching myself calling a potsized bet with the nutflush draw and one card to come. In FL, this is usually a no-brainer call or raise situation because you almost always have the odds to do so. In NL, that pot-sized bet just busted your immediate pot odds. And I wasn’t applying implied odds well enough. I’d end up losing too much freely calling.
  • I wasn’t ready for the swings!

A few reasons why I will continue to learn this game:

  • NL can be very profitable to a player who can play it with a certain controlled aggression. As stated earlier, I am not that person. It will take me awhile to get to the level of aggression that makes it profitable, and in the interim I need to maximize my profits in FL.
  • A lot of small sites have ample NL tables but few fullring fixed limit tables. This makes it hard to bonus chase on some of these sites, because it requires a near 100% commitment to that site in order to acquire the requisite number of hands for their initial and reload bonuses. Another addition will be shorthanded for the same reason.

Fixed Limit

I like fixed limit better…overall. The real difference is that it is a bit harder to get the bad players off hands in FL. However, in the NL25 games I was playing, it was equally hard to get these lower level NL players off their hands. In the end, I was amazed at how many people were calling off all of their chips with a gutshot straight, flushdraw or open-end straight draw. It became problematic when they kept nailing them, and I was losing buy-ins when I was a heavy favorite. I know this is short-term thinking, but I have been watching my bankroll decline steadily, these past two weeks and decided switching back to FL was timely, if for no other reason than to shake things up.

Fixed limit has a lot going for it. Odds and Pot Odds are more defined, and less reliant on implied odds than NL. When making calls with draws in NL, one of the things I kept missing was how much my opponent had to back up his play.

“If I hit my hand would he have enough chips left to make it worth the call?” In other words, if he bet $4 into a $4 pot, giving me 1:1 odds, and I have 12 outs [roughly 3:1], does he have $8 left if I manage to hit one of my outs, and thereby give me the implied odds?

More times than not, he’d make a $5 bet into a $5 pot, with me on a 4:1 flushdraw, and he’d only have $5 left, and I would need to fold as I wouldn’t stand to win enough from him to validate a call.

In fixed limit, odds and the fixed limit of bets, plus a cap on how much can be wagered [which, of course isn’t the case at the Cryptologic sites], make the play of a hand less open to manipulation than NL, and more standardized. There is still room for maneuver, but your opponent’s counterplays and moves are also restricted. You cannot be pushed off of a decent draw by someone putting you all-in, or making a potsized bet and busting your pot odds, like you can in NL.

I think in the end, you can achieve a certain mastery in both NL and FL, but NL requires a higher mastery than FL.

26 March 2006

An Ugly Week

NL isn't treating me well lately. I don't know if it me relaxing some of my playing standards or if I am just continually running into better hands and bad beats. I do know this: I had a lot of KK and QQ go up against AA. Also, it appears that a lot of dominated hands were beating me.


  • Pokerroom. I reloaded for $100 bonus here, and did a litlle NL25 spot play. Lost $38.85.
  • Holdem Poker. Reloaded for another $100 bonus. I lost $131 here finishing off my original $100 sign-up bonus. I now have $175 in bonuses stacked here. I'll give them a rest this week.
  • I will be loading Ultimate Bet again this week. They rolled yet another 100% up to $500 reload bonus. I managed to clear a little more than $28, while running horribly and losing $82.
  • I have TotalBet, my last Cryptologic monthly, to clear this week. It should take a few days of two or three tabling to accomplish. I need to make sure it is done by noon on Friday.

Did I mention I was running poorly? I saved a screen shot [which I won't post because it would be unfair to my table opponents], where I have 85 offsuit on all three tables.

I have managed to do pretty well in Sit and Go's [SnGs] lately, raising my ROI from 18% to 40%. For those who don't know, ROI stands for return on investment. It gives an indication of how well you are playing multi-table tournaments[MTTs] and SnGs. I track each in separate spreadsheets. You find your ROI by using the following formula:

(Money won - cost to enter) divided by cost to enter. So, for example, if you bought in for $5.50 in an SnG, placed 3rd and made $10, your ROI would be 81.82%. Obviously, single wins, while important, don't mean much to your ROI. It is over the longhaul that your ROI is relevant because it tells you whether you are a longterm winner. Last year my SnG ROI was -18%. I'm working on improve that this year. By contrast, I had a 1.21% ROI in MTTs. I need to work on improving this also.

Finally, I think I will be travelling back to limit holdem for a while. I need to keep it fresh. I think I will stick to NL at UB, but these other bonuses I have stacked up at various sites need to be tackled in fixed limit. They work off much faster there.

19 March 2006

What a week

Where to start? I've had such an up and down week. Only made about $83 this week, and that was only accomplished because I made $192.66 in bonuses. Yuck.

Party Poker started offering a reload on Sunday. Or at least that was when I found out about it. The bonus reload was made account specific. Some, like myself, were offered 15% up to $75. Others were 20% up to $100 and 25% up to $100. I moved $500 out of PokerStars, which I had just reloaded for a $100 bonus, and moved it into Party via FirePay to take advantage of the full $75 bonus. But this bonus had a twist, and as you are about to see, was more confusing and ultimately more frustrating than any bonus offer I have ever pursued:

  • The bonus was 10x, meaning I had to clear 10 raked hands for every bonus dollar earned, and I had only three days to do so. I settled down to play some $.50/$1 limit holdem, but for whatever reason, I lost, and only made about $33 total after clearing it.

  • Here's the twist: Once you clear the $75 bonus at 10x, they give you a further $75 bonus at 15x. Likewise you get 3 days to do so. Not caring for the results of clearing the bonus at the $.50.$1 fixed limit table, I decided to switch to NL$25 and try clearing the 1125 hands that way. Holy cow, this was long and tedious. Added to this was the confusion that Party not only didn't list this bonus upon my bonus page [in fact no one had it listed on their bonus page], but you had to keep track of raked hands yourself. Luckily, I could set up filters on my PokerTracker to keep track of my raked hands. When I got to 1131 raked hands, I stopped playing. No bonus. I read their T&Cs and found in the small print, that the pot had to basically be raked at $.10 and not as low as $.05 to count, because everyone's share needs to be $.01 or higher. resetting the PokerTracker filter, I needed about another 250 hands. I didn't want to give up on this when I had made all this progress. Friday [second day of this bonus], I played off as many as I could before quitting for the day. I still needed around 130, and figured I would finish it on Saturday. I logged on Saturday at noon, and to my surprise, the bonus was in my account. I don't know how, and I don't know if Party really knows what they are doing.

  • Next twist: Finish the second bonus, you get three days to play 20x for another $75. No thanks. What a headache.

  • While pursuing this bonus, I was informed through both InternetTexasHoldem.com and Bonuswhores.com [both of which you can click on their links here], and via email of a few bonuses being offered at websites that I have accounts at. 15% up to $75 at Holdem Poker [a Pokerroom skin], 20% up to $100 at Pokerroom, and a massive 100% up to $500 at Ultimate Bet. Final deposit days, are 3/19, 3/22 and 3/21, respectively. On 3/15 [Wednesday], I decided to pull the $500 out of Party [this would leave me with roughly $65 with which to chase the second leg of the Party bonus], so I could take advantage of all these bonuses. Not so fast! Although Party allows deposits to be made through FirePay, they do not, at this time, allow withdrawals via FirePay. Horrendous. My only withdrawal options are snailmail check and iGMPay. I made one withdrawal through iGMPay, and it took 6 days. If it took this long again, I'd miss out on all these bonuses. I had to get creative. I ended up pulling out $500 by shortstacking some of my pokersites. Paradise [$150], PokerPlex [$150], Sun [$100], and UB [$100], were my choices. This gave me the $500 needed. They all cleared by Thursday night. Then I get my $500 from iGMPay on Friday. Uggh, jumped through all those hoops for nothing. Only real downside was that I got tagged for a $3.99 finance charge moving that $500 from iGMPay from my bank account into FirePay. Ah well, nothing i can do about it now.

My reloads

  • Managed to get $500 into Holdem Poker for the $75. I still need about 450 raked hands to clear the original initial deposit bonus of $100. I deposited Thursday, and will be withdrawing today. The $75 reload will be workable after finishing the initial deposit.

  • Will get the rest deposited by their end dates. This will give me almost $2K in pending bonuses, with nearly $1500 of that at UB. I will start concentrating on UB in NL$25 to try to clear as much of this as possible over the coming months. I just hope that recent problems with their updated software gets worked out before I do so.

I played three low buy-in multi-table tournaments yesterday. The first one at Paradise saw me go out in the second hour when my AJs was called by A5o, and he flopped a 5. Ugly result. Of course, in the second tournament, I had A5s, and lost to AT when I got no help. Talk about a double standard. At this point, I didn't want to go to bed, so I played a $3.30 MTT at PokerStars. I logged into Internet Texas Holdem's IRC channel and was surprised by all those who were present at this time. niin, TallPaul, wack, Red Devil, Clever, just to name a few. Here is how this MTT played out:

I started on my first table with $1500 chips. There were 705 participating, and the MTT was due to pay out the top 126 positions. The real money was on the final table, and first was worth a little more than $440. Places 100-126 would pay basically 30 cents higher than the buy-in. I was playing this MTT, because, well quite frankly, I suck at tournaments, and at least at this point, don't want to throw too much money into them. And basically toom's article on ITH about the Internet Player of Year and the buy-in/satellite charts to the bigger events, had me longing to play. I printed that chart out, by the way.

Anyway, the first hour on my first table, I was basically stealing blinds [something I'm not real good at], and I basically doubled up, although I still don't know how, as the only real hand I got was AA, and I won the blinds with it.

Second hour saw me at my second and final table with about $3K. One of the first hands I got was AA. I led out with a standard 4x raise, and got called by the BB. Flop came up three clubs, with me holding none. BB checked, and I went all-in. I was determined tht if he flopped the 118-1 longshot, I'd bow out. He called, and showed 77, one of them a club. I somehow avoided demise and double up to ~$6K. People were dropping like flies. I managed to stay at about $6K for quite some time. In fact I rode it into the money. Howevr, I got AA twice again, both times against a Scandinavian man who both times called my all-in with AK, and both times lost to me.

I was moving up in money, but my chip position was constantly at between $4K and $6K. Then came a pivotal hand, and the only donkey move I did the whole tournament. UtG with AKo, I min-raised $1200 of my $4800. Gal immediately to my left went all-in with her $4600. My AA/AK rival from earlier raised to $8K to isolate. Staring at a naked unsuited AK, I thought about calling but folded. I just could think I had the best hand with the betting patterns. It turned out that the lady had K4o, and my protagonist AKo. He ended up taking the whole tamale. Down to $3600, with blinds at $400/$800, I started looking for opportunities to push. Niin commented on how few opportunities I had. Player were raising in, re-raising and I not only didn't have an opportunity to steal blinds, but never had the chance to be first in. Finally I did, and I pushed in EP with A4s. I was called in two places. I flopped a 4 and somehow it held up against KJ and Q8. That got me throught he blinds, but then the antes and blinds increased, and I was back to needing to push. I did so, once again, in EP with 66. My nemesis once again called all-in with AK. All we saw was that damned Ace come on the flop, initially. But right behind it was a 6! I doubled up. Lasted a few orbits, and once again needing to push, I landed JJ. Went all-in, a big stack called with A4s. He flopped a 4 and finished me off when anotehr 4 landed on the river. I finished in 33rd, good for $6.77. Had a lot of fun. Looking forward to doing it again.

I know I keep promising to update my blog more consistently, and I will try to do so for the 2 or 3 of you that actually read this thing. Good luck at the tables!

Oh, yeah, before I forget. Cal Bears lost to NC State. Hopefully Leon Powe will stay another year. Keeping my fingers crossed!

12 March 2006

The Sunday Roundup

On the Poker Scene:

Playing NL25, I have managed to win $324.06 since last Tuesday. About $103 of that was bonuses cleared at Littlewoods, Paradise and PokerPlex. I managed to lose a little over $50 playing $1/$2 and $.50/$1 limit on Friday and today, while trying to put a dent in the $100 Holdem Poker bonus, and the new Party 15% to $75 bonus. I am finding that I am preferring NL over fixed limit, but there are times when I have to play fixed in order to clear the bonuses faster. I ran into a horrendous patch of hands getting beat by very poor players. I lost a $50 pot on Saturday with my KK, when a complete fish chased down and hit a set of 3s on the river. That was how my day was going...Awful.

I watched the WPT Mirage tournament that I had taped from Wednesday night. This was the first event in their fourth season, and it was quite a good tournament. Ted Forrest's ability to read the other players was simply amazing. I watched him fold hands that I know I couldn't fold in his position. And he really knows how to change gears. I don't think I saw him play a hand until two players were gone. A kid named Gavin won the $1.1M 1st prize, as he was definitely going through most of his nine lives that night. He won some huge pots when he had one foot out the door. But you cannot win a tournament without some degree of luck.

Right after watching the WPT event, they were broadcasting the final table action of the River Belle.info Monte Carlo Millions. This is a big-stake $10,000 buy-in event, with a nice twist. All of the players who are eliminated before the final table play another "Second Chance" tournament, and the winner of this, gets the 7th and final seat of the final table. I don't know if this person gets 10 x the BB, or if that was the way it worked out, but John Juanda managed to play his way onto the table and was the shortstack with 160K chips on 8K/16K blinds. 7th and 6th place both pay $100,000. The only other notable on the final table was Phil Ivey who had more chips than the rest of the table and, of course, knows how to use them. Juanda went out 6th, and the field was pared down to Ivey and two others when the hour finished. I will try to post the result here after I watch that episode.

Gearing Up for March Madness:

I am a College Basketball Fanatic. My team is the Golden Bears of California. They did very well to finish third in the PAC-10, but going into the final two weeks, definitely had their fate in their own hands. A tough loss to Washington sealed their fate, and then they lost an 11 point lead on the last regular season weekend to UCLA at home. They managed to tie it up and get the overtime, but scored but one point in the extra 5 minutes. I knew at this point that they had to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. UCLA and Washington finished 1-2, and their were a lot of knowledgeable people who were saying that Arizona, which finished 4th in the PAC-10, would be in the tourney. Although I have seen some strange things in the NCAA arena, both on the basketball and football sides, I couldn't even concoct a way that the Bears could be shut out of the Big Dance, while allowing Arizona in. Much to their credit, the Golden Bears beat USC for the third time this season, rallied in two overtimes to beat the Oregon Ducks who beat Washington. Down 16 at one point in the first half against the UCLA Bruins, Cal went on a 13-0 run at the end of the first half to go into the lockerroom down only 3. They almost caught the Bruins in the second half, only to wilt under the pressure. I think that 2OT win that finished at almost midnight the night before weighed heavily on the visibly tired Bears. They played gamely enough and got to the finals, and were rewarded with a #7 seed. They have NC State on Friday, a game they can definitely win. It will be dependent on Powe getting support from Ubaka and Midgley. It will also be dependent on Hardin staying out of foul trouble.

There is, however, one thing that really bothers me with regards to the PAC-10 Tournament. That is that since it was reinstated in 2001, every single one of them have been hosted in Los Angeles. Now I understand that the venues are larger down there, but why give the two Southern California schools home field advantage every year? So what if the smaller venues won't generate as much revenue? You can always host them in bigger arenas within the area. Let's think about this.

  • Of course LA has the capacity to host the tournament.

  • Stanford can host in San Francisco, California at the Oakland Coliseum.

  • Arizona has the capacity in Phoenix to host a large crowd. This might infringe on Arizona's homecourt advantage, but Arizona State would at least have an advantage.

  • The Oregon schools can host in Portland.

  • The Washington schools can alternate between Seattle and Spokane, both venue large enough for the tournament.

This way, all the schools could have a part of the advantage without just giving that advantage away to the SoCal schools.

Finally, I think it is about time for the PAC-10 to expand into the PAC-12. I say it is time to bring in Nevada-Reno and UNLV. Both of these programs have outgrown their conferences. The revenue they will bring to the PAC-10, and the revenue brought from the PAC-10 would benefit all parties involved. It will expose both schools to the national spotlight in all collegiate sports activities. It also is a very good fit. Travels times for all schools involved would be minimal.

Well, that's my two cents worth today. I will attempt to keep this blog more up-to-date than I have, but I've been so busy playing poker and living my life, that sometimes I get behind.

Take Care!

07 March 2006

Is It Really This Easy?

Poker Plex: Continuing with NL25, playing mostly three tables simultaneously, I managed to finish the 250 raked hands requirement for my $50 bonus. It took a little more than 40 table hours, meaning around 13.5 hours total. Not bad, especially considering the low NL stakes I was playing for. However, I made an extra $137 on top of the bonus. This is a very good outcome.

I finished just before lunch, and decided to start a new bonus chase after. Littlewoods with it's £25 bonus [around $43], for 200 raked hands sounded as good as any other. I decided on one table, and I would play some NL25 on two other sites while I did this.

Littlewoods: Playing the NL$25 table, I managed to clear the equivalent of £9.64 in US$. I also managed 24.5 raked hands.

Paradise Poker: I started off woeful. But managed to get to almost even, when I hit a huge hand with a gutshot straight that I lucked into, while chasing a K high flush.. Another hand, where I nutted a fullhouse, and suddenly I was way up. I finished up $33.97, which was a veru good session. To add spice to the session, I managed to chase off around 60 raked hands towards my next $10 bonus release. Sweet session.

Holdem Poker: Up and down session. Got off to a wrong start when I chased top pair, no kicker too far and started down. Added $10 to offset the loss, but only managed to get back to within $4.85 down before I finished for the day. I did work off more points towards the $100 bonus, however. I haven't decided whether I want to finish the bonus here at NL25, or run back to $1/$2 fixed limit.

Do you notice a theme here? 90-95% of my poker play involves playing where I have bonuses awaiting me. I have a few sites where I play without a bonus, but by and large, if I am not chasing a bonus, I am playing in a tournament. I will delve into Bodog, Gaming Club or Royal Vegas, sans bonus, but usually only to just play for play's sake, and to keep that software fresh in me.

Bad Quote of the Day: "I knew I was behind going in."

I was dealt my first AA in two days and nearly 1,000 hands. I raised 6xBB, and the quoter called me. Flop came 542. He bet 1xBB, I raised to 20xBB. He called. Turn card was a 6. He bet 1/4 the pot. I called, fearing he had the 3. River was a J. He checked, I checked, he showed 65o. Another player at the table remarked, "Seems the fish calls with anything". To which he made that reply. Unremarkably, he lasted another 10 minutes before going bust. I ended up having to liberate my chips from a stronger player. It happens. It never ceases to amaze me how people approach this game. Oh, yeah, he later mentioned that he could get away from the hand, if he didn't hit the flop. He went out on a K-high.

This brings me to today's title: Is it really this easy? It seems straightforward poker in NL, with few diversions and aggressive play will bring home a lot of money. I finished up $150 today at this low level. It seemed almost effortless. Perhaps I am on a good run? Whatever it is, I will play good solid tight aggressive poker. If I hit a bad run, I think it is easier to rectify in NL. Or maybe switch up and play some fixed limit or possibly Omaha Hi/Lo. But in the interrim, I'm going to take all this easy money out there, and continue to chase bonuses.

05 March 2006

Been a few days / Dropped Quest

I dropped the quest last week. Not because of bad results [I was actually doing quite well[, but I got bored awaiting hands, and my profit margins were going down. Although I was winning around $3-5 daily at $0.01/$0.02 NL, I am used to winning much more at fixed limit. I am convinced that this quest will work, but I don't have the patience for it right now. Perhaps I will restart in the future.

Will Hill: I moved over to fixed limit on Wednesday in an effort to clear their monthly bonus of £25. They are the last Crypto, which allows Americans, that pays £5/hour tmaximumum of 5 hours. I ran absolutely horrid. I lost $75.92, while, after conversion, I made $43.51 in bonus.

PokerPlex: I moved here to start my slog through this monthly bonus. Criteria is 250 raked hands, where you get credit for a hand if it is raked $1, or credit for 4th of a hand if it gets raked $0.25 to $0.99. I decided on NL25 and played for an hour, finishing up $2.50, and making about 5 raked hands total. On Friday, I played 12 table hours [4 hours at 3 tables], winning a little less than $15. Not bad, and I managed to clear another 84 raked hands, putting me at 89 total. Today, playing three tables for 9.7 table hours, I finished up $33, and garnered another 67.5 raked hands. So I stand at 156.5 raked hands. I figure I will play here tomorrow and finish my monthly, then collate my bonus chase info, and see what the overall results are.

UB/PokerStars: I went back to both sites on Thursday, losing a little at each. UB crashed. They have been plagued by a number of problems since their latest updates, but I managed to cash out $800, and got it in two days. I will venture back there in a week, There problems should be sorted out by then.

I am finding NL very rewarding. I cannot believe how easy it is to win money here. I have seen people literally bluff off their whole stacks, or make calls with the worst draws imaginable. I realize that these results at the microlimits of NL don't occur as often at higher limits, but I feel confident that once I progress to those higher buy-ins, that I will be well prepared for the task. I also know that I will never leave my fixed limit roots. Once I start feeling some comfort in NL, I imagine myself giving equal time in both genres.