Friday, April 24, 2009

Dont Stop Believing - Journey

Had another session with Jared, will post a fully thang soon. Lots to look forward to, and I'm foreal about actually applying myself this time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Winning? wat?

Yep, finally winning again for a change. I really forgot what it felt like, and oh god is it sweet.

What did I change? Well for one I took that huge long three day break from poker. This cooled me down, I took a quick look at my game and saw obvious leaks left right and centre (mainly that I was playing like a raging maniac), and fixed them. I'm back down to my usual 6max style, still changing small things for the better, but sticking to a solid lag/tag style. No 30/26/%12 3bet, raising every other flop as a bluff. It just doesn't work unless you're playing completely abc players, which there just aren't that many of at 200nl anymore.

For those running like shit, please heed my advice: take a break. Seriously, if only for a day, take that break. I hated the fact, but not playing poker actually felt good. I know you insist that you're playing your A game still and that there's little to no tilt involved, but believe me, there is. There always is when you're not running well unless you have no pulse.

BalugaWhale's book now has a price and a release date; you can find the info on his site. There's also an option to get it for a certain amount of MGR through one of their rakeback deals. Sounds pretty good, but moving to a new site with different software, no info on the player pool and having to figure out bet pot and all types of other shit is just going to be a pain in the ass. Might not be worth my time.

I've thought for a while about moving to a different site with straight rakeback, and although that deal is enticing, I just don't think it would be worth moving without a rakeback deal worth more than your standard %30. Stars' support, the familiarity, the info I have on the players I know, keeping supernova, I'm just not sure it's worth it.

I'll think about it a bit, but either way I'll be getting the book when it comes out early May.

It's a little surprising that I started running so well before even having a session (since my recent shitty stretch) with Jared. I've got one booked tomorrow and will get my act back together. I'm almost on pace for a 'good' month in terms of number of hands, but could definitely play more. Spring stuff has gotten itself in the way of that for the meantime. I haven't done any mental game exercises at ALL this month, despite setting a goal to do my warmup/warmdown stuff for %75 (was it?) of my sessions. I dunno, I think I just have to take a step back and look at what I'm trying to do with Jared and my mental game, and get it done. I can't keep dropping hundreds on sessions with him only to dick around and not do the stuff he's laying out for me.

Speaking of coaching, I hope he doesn't mind me mentioning it but Icemonkey9 approached me for coaching a while back and until now I wasn't sure I was going to do it. I still don't have much experience coaching one on one, but I think all the posting and videos I've done have convinced Sean I'm good enough to help him out with 6max for a reasonable price, and we're starting soon! I'll be taking a look at his DB, spotting leaks, and preaching to him what I think is a winning 6max style. Should be fun, Sean's a great guy and hopefully we can get some videos of the sessions out for you up and comers.

I think that's about it. I realize I haven't posted a graph or even a hand on this piece of shit blog in ages, so here's this year's madness. I'm sure you can understand why I was getting so frustrated now that I put the swing in perspective huh? :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cooled down?

To recap, March was a disaster, dropping a few grand and tilting worse than I have in a long while, only to nearly break even by the end of the month, lifting my spirits. Then April started with a nice downward ~$4k slope. Since then I took a break, did some fun stuff outside of poker, got back to review my play and get back on the grind. I think I was having a somewhat frustrating break even stint before a few winning sessions brought back some confidence. The biggest difference? I'm tightening up.

One factor in me playing so loose (I think I was 28/24 for a while there, with proportionally high 3bet/4bet numbers) was the HU play on the side. I think I've improved my HU play dramatically lately, and that includes my tilt control during those sessions which was undoubtedly my biggest leak, but it has a side effect of altering my perceived ranges in 6max. I think everyone's making plays when really they simply have hands.

Mr. Paulsson has recently been playing a much tighter >20 vpip style, and honestly I'm starting to think it might be optimal in today's low/mid stakes games. I guess you could swing that argument back and forth, but for now I think my MO should be to drop my game down to somewhere around a 22/20 instead of the approaching 30 vpip style I had.

A big problem with playing tight is that it's an ego thing for me, honestly. I do believe I'm in the 5th percentile at 200nl 6max, and kind of wish more than believe that I can play superduper aggro and run the tables. That of course has it's detrimental side in that I try to play that style, people play back at me or show up with dominating hands in big pots, and I get furious that they 'show up with the top of their range'. Of course I am running like shit lately, but playing so loose is definitely a part of it. While a 19/16 style is definitely exploitable, it very well could be the highest earning style atm. Honestly if you look through the PTR ratings of highest grossing 200nl 6max players this year, most of them are the nits who we 'good' players think we're exploiting! Like 17/14 nits! What the fuck!

Not to mention that with that style they can play a million tables, increasing their hourly wage tenfold or whatever. Fuckers.

Anyways, that's the first thing on my plate: tighten up. Not quite 17/14 or even 20/17, but at least back down to my usual 24/20 or 23/19 or whatever.

Some other stuff on my plate:

I was going to do coaching with BalugaWhale, but looking at the guesstimated price for his new ebook coming out in a few weeks, the courses don't even look worth it to me. The book covers 'everything', is in a format you can constantly refer to and have forever, and is only ~$1000. The course I'm looking at is specific to 'beating aggressive games' (not entirely sure how much content or the variety of content is in there compared to the book), is a one time thing that you can't reread (maybe they record it as a video though?), gives you the advantage of speaking directly to BW himself, but it's almost 2.5x the price of the book. So really you're paying extra to interact with BW and the other students. Not sure the price difference is worth it for me.

The course doesn't start for a while and not all the info is out on the book, it's pricing, etc etc yet, so I'm seeing if I can wait before deciding.

Another thing I need to do is have another session with Jared to get myself even more level-headed and get some goals set out. I simply can NOT afford another blowup like March/early April.

Kind of a scattered post, but that's the way I feel right now.

I almost completely abandoned this month's goals so I could clear my head of poker for a while, and I kind of regret it. Haven't done a bunch of shit on that list, and some of it I think I'll benefit from. If any of you low stakes 6max guys want to start getting some sweats going, let me know.

Cheers guys. I know for some of us cardschatters, poker's been pretty shitty for the last while. Keep your chin up and get through it. Remember those 5k+ months and they'll come back :)

Monday, April 6, 2009

One step forward, two steps back


A couple days ago I was in such a bad mood I really truly was thinking about quitting poker and moving on. The variance is bad, but the stress it was putting on me just added to the problem.

I haven't played since then and although I'm already getting the itch to play again, I think I should keep breaking for a few more days. I'm running like shit, but my tilt is at such a level that the variance is but a fraction of the million bbs I've lost lately. I don't care to look, but I think I'm down 3800 this month alone in about 3 (long) sessions. Not fun.

So just like I always suggest to downswingers in the forums, first and foremost you should take a break because most likely the variance isn't the only thing contributing to your bad run. I know for a fact my tilt is the HUGE overwhelming factor.

A good way to explain my state is with another concept of Jared's which I've mentioned before. I'm too lazy to draw it, but think of a graph with a bell curve. Left to right is your emotional state, top to bottom is your performance level. Imagine dead centre, a '50' on the x axis, is your tilt threshold. You cross that, and it's very hard to come back from it (which coincidentally is why Jared preaches paying close attention to your state relative to this point so that you can't cross it). Usually you have to quit your session. Anywhere in the ~40-50 range is your ideal place to be in. "The Zone".

Now my problem is that instead of starting off somewhere around a '0', gaining more focus as I wake up and warm up my poker brain, I'm still tilted enough from the dark cloud above my head that says I'm down $X in the past day or week or month or whatever, and I start at say a '40'. That would be ideal if I could stay there, but I get upped on the emotional scale so quickly if I lose a make a mistake, get bad beat, or coolered, or whatever, that I much more easily cruise past that '50' mark, the tilt threshold, and there's no turning back. Most of my recent sessions have been marked by constant desk slamming, forhead on keyboard action, "you can't be serious"s, "why does this always happen to me"s, and "why can't I ever run good"s.

So, what's the plan? I think the break will help me forget about all this shit and bring my starting point on the emotional scale back down closer to a zero. Then after that, I most likely have to look over my sessions and see (aside from the tilt) what I've been doing wrong.

Thanks to Fredrik, I'll be talking smart poker once again with him soon, and can hopefully straighten myself out.

I've also got another very lucrative learning experience available to me, but unfortunately it costs $2400. Balugawhale, the coach of all coaches in my mind (you're great too Alan!) does group coaching, and is available for I think the 15th of April. If you haven't watched his DC videos, do so, and you'll understand why I'm willing to drop so much on him.

The course runs over 8 weeks, once session (which is ~1.5hrs) per week, and the group is no more than 8 people deep. It works out to $300/week which sounds a hell of a lot better than $2400 in one plop, but it's still most probably out of my range. I have zero doubt in my mind that this is what I need right now (alongside some more mental game coaching), but considering how much my bankroll has dropped recently I just don't think I can afford it. Really unfortunate :( I suppose I can wait for his next session, but as we all know, coaches increase their rates over time and I just don't know if he'll be worth it for me in a couple months or whatever.

So anyways, I'm making progress in some areas (scheduling my time better, playing WAY more), I'm failing miserably in others (warmup/warmdown, tilt control, quitting). I'll break for a little while longer, but when I come back I have to address those things I'm failing at. Right now, my dog has developed some kind of skin thing just this morning where his face swells up like crazy. It's sad because I can tell he's in some pain, but I can't help but giggle because it's like looking at a fat version of him. teehee. Time to take him to the vet.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A long first day, looking ahead to next week

Had a nice long session yesterday, but unfortunately definitely tilted big time.

At first I hit up Prima for some easy HU action. I 2-table a 50nl (maybe euro, nto sure) who turns out to be a maniac. He's extremely aggro but is very spewy. Early I decide to call down AK in a 3bet pot oop on a 4889ss board and he shows K4. Next, he 3bets into my ATs, I call, peel a KT6 flop and get the money in on an A turn and he shows KQ. I run goot. Last hand before he runs, I 3bet KTs and ship it on a Kxxss flop against his Q5s for a flush draw, I win, easy game. I've played very few hands on Prima, but even their regulars are just horrible, and I mean it.

Next, I decided to 2-table what seemed like a 100nl reg HU, now on stars, and I can probably say he ran me over. I'd like to think I was coolered, ran bad and didn't get my chance to value bet the hell out of him since he was calling down so light, but I think he may have just played better.

For one, he minraised his buttons, even when we got 400bbs deep, which I give him credit for because it made it very tough to adjust to. Building pots was harder, as was 3bet bluffing, the minraising gave him more room to bluff postflop, and it just plain was a pain to deal with. I probably shouldn't play any more minraisers until I really study how to exploit them.

So the stacks got deeper and deeper, and we began the postflop crazybluff war. In other words, he'd raise button, I'd 3bet, he'd call, I'd cbet the flop, he'd bluff raise me. Then occasionally I'd rebluff him. Most of the time he made the last bluff, often committing too much for it to be profitable in my mind, and I was just waiting for a spot to get it in with some kind of equity or made hand, but only got that chance maybe twice in the 1,000 hands I played him. That's the part where I feel unlucky, but no doubt that fact is because I was 3betting so light that my hands were too weak to flop that kind of equity often enough.

Anyways long story short, I started battling back from a lowpoint of like 8 buyins, stacked him a few times to get to ~2BI down, then the biggest hand of the match: 400bbs deep, I open J9s, he 3bets, I call with the intention of flopping a big hand/draw and coaxing another re-re-rebluff out of him, and making some moves unimproved. I flop KQT with a flush draw, the raising war begins, and I get my money in vs AJ. GG, he remembers he has to go to sleep directly after that hand...great timing.

Credit to him, he played very well, and I'm not sure I'll play him again without more HU experience, but it would have been nice to run well. Such is the game of HU I guess. I really can't complain, I spewed in a few spots for probably 2-3 stacks anyways.

On to 200nl 6max and I run pretty bad, dropping like 5 buyins or something before making most of it back.

I think my girlfriend is getting sick of me whining to her over the phone, heheh.

So I played a grand total of 2,700 hands yesterday which is an awesome start to the month in that category, but I both forgot to do my warmup/warmdown, as well as my plan for the week. I'm not sure I'm playing much today, so I won't be able to fix the warmup/warmdown problem, but at least I can set out my week's schedule now:

Today: Play 1-2hrs if possible

Fri: Busy with Oma, but can squeeze in 1hr of HU during the day. Play 2hrs of 6max if you have the time

Sat: Wake up at 10am, walk dog, play 11am-1pm, break for an hour, play 2pm-4pm, go party!

Sun: Wake up at 9am, walk dog, play 10am-12pm, break for an hour, play $5 CC WSOP satty, possibly multitabling cash alongside.

Mon: Busy with Oma, squeeze in 1hr of HU play. Play 2hrs of 6max if you have the time

Tues: Wake up 9am, walk dog, play 2hrs, break 1hr, play 4hrs.

Wed: Same as above, redo next week's schedule.