Monday, August 09, 2004

Hello darkness my old friend

Goldie Wilson: Your wait and see, Mr. Carruthers. I will be mayor. I'll be the most powerful man in Hill Valley. I'm gonna clean up this town.

Lou: [hands him a broom] Good. You can start by sweeping the floor.

From "Back to the Future"

I'm in a surprisingly up-beat mood. Surprisingly because this past week I lost the entire bankroll I had. Upbeat because I can honestly say it wasn't my fault.

Now one of my biggest faults is not taking responsibility for my play or my mistakes, this I know. But my massive $5US ($7.12 AU) bankroll was lost without me making any huge errors. Well, I did make one small one perhaps. I decided that in order to try and make the bankroll grow, I will split it in two so that if I loose out I will still have half to fall back on. Should I have put all my eggs in one basket? Perhaps. As we all know (I can say "we" now, because I have confirmed readers in double digits!) the size of your stack is just as important as how you use it. I was cutting my stack in half - not always a wise idea. It also meant any tournament entries I could win would be paying off less. Anyway, we make these choices and stick by them.

Firstly I was playing on Aloha early Saturday morning. My poker playing habits are very weird (besides starting from a bankroll of $0). Since we are still on dial up, I can't play all the time as it takes the phone away from my girlfriend and flatmate (I know, I'm nearly 24 and shouldn't be still living in share accommodation. But you should see the place, it's awesome and this is the only way we could afford the rent. Besides, at least I don't live with my parents.). It also annoys them a hell of a lot for some reason. So generally the only times I play are late night or early morning. Getting up early on Saturday, I was in fine shape and ready to go for some 9am action.

But this is the weekend. And we live in Parramatta.

Quick geography lesson for anybody living outside of Sydney. Parramatta has a busy little CBD, and is constantly growing. Parramatta is also home of a rather large shopping mall known as Parramatta Westfield's Shopping Town. The place is huge, five stories high spread over 3 blocks and they are building more. At one time it was the biggest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere. Come to think of it, nearly everything in Australia is the "biggest in the southern hemisphere" since that excludes North America and Europe. So anyway, the place is busy. Always. Parking is hell, people are stupid - usual busy shopping centre. For some reason, we have to go there every weekend. Every weekend at least once without fail. Even if all we need is bread and milk, we go to Westfields. Haircut? Westfields. Last weekend we spent a couple of hundred dollars there and hopefully we got everything we needed. Um, no. We had to go back today. This meant leaving my poker session hanging, and I would fold away everything I had.

What did we get? I can't remember. I know the other two got haircuts, but I refused out of protest. Suffice to say, I was in a less-than-happy mood, but still positive because I knew I could play tonight with no distractions.

I should point out that one of my little code words here is "distractions". You can bet London to a brick that when I say "distractions" it means my girlfriend is nagging about something, 99% of the time complaining about me playing poker again. So when I say "distractions", lets just share a knowing smile and move on.

Tonight was going to be a big Saturday night for me. Flatmate was going out with some friends from work to the other side of the city, and my girlfriend was going to a girls night. This leave me home alone for about four hours. This is what kind of poker tragic I am - home alone and no plans for Saturday night? You better bet I'm going to poker it up like a wildman! I was ready willing and able to make the most of my free time. All was well, until my second demon came for another visit.

Again, I was playing the tournaments at Aloha and at Poker Pages, and doing ok in both. There was about 60 or so left in the NL holdem tourny on PP, and I had been doing ok but was now falling behind as the blinds got bigger. I was down to $35,000 (average was among $45K) but confident in my play and read on opponents. Over on Aloha, it was still early days but I had tripled my stack to $1200+ early on and was looking forward to a good session.

Then it happened. I heard this faint little "click", and I knew what it meant. The connection had dropped again. I was already annoyed because I just folded KT pre-flop to a big raise, and saw AQJ come afterwards (eventual winner was a pair of aces), but this tipped me over. I was pissed. I tried to get back in several times, but to no avail. I could connect, but it would go no further. I know only the basics of computers, but when I check my connection spread and it reads "12kps" on a 56K modem, I get annoyed. I don't know if that is how it is supposed to be, but I was willing to accept any reason as to why my connection sucked. After 30 minutes of trying to get back into those rooms, I called it quits. I lay down on the couch, wrapped myself up in a quilt and sulked at my bad fortune. I am now looking at broadband options as we speak.


I have been reading a lot of poker strategies posted online as of late, and I firmly believe that in each and every one you can find something to use, no matter how novice the mind behind the advice. I am reminded of when I was playing basketball back home in Broken Hill. While I was no star by any stretch of the imagination, I was good enough to be playing against and beating most grown men in the town by the age of 15. Big fish - small pond, you know the story. Anyways, there was one guy on our team who was really hopeless. How bad a player was he? He was a really good referee, that's how bad a player he was. I can't remember how he got into our team in the "A" grade, when his whole life he was a mediocre player in "D" grade, I am not making this up. But he was a nice enough guy and when it was our teams turn to umpire one of the lower grades, he was more than willing to do it (which was great for me, because I was one of the worst umpires ever. This is how a sport survives in a little town like Broken Hill.). Anyways, at training one day we were playing a little one-on-one, and when I took a shot over him, I noticed he was watching me and not the ball when it came time to rebound. This gave him really great position to block me out. The fact that I could out reach him from behind anyway because I was 4 inchs taller was irrelevant - he could get in a better position and I knew if I could do that it would be a great advantage. In truth, this is a very basic skill or technique that is learned from an early age, but I did not know it and it took this "D" grade player to teach me. So a long and un-eventful story, but you can see what I mean.

I got some emails and comments on the site congratulating me on my win the other day. I was really nice to receive a little support from other poker enthusiasts, but I feel the need to explain that I know it is pathetic to be making a big fuss over $5 or 23 Bugsy Bonus Points. That's what makes it fun for me, making such a big deal about nothing. Any hey, if it does grow into something big, it sure will be interesting to look back on these humble beginnings. I did read how it is important to set yourself goals and know your limitations. With my recent posts with lists and stuff in my mind, I am now going to define the different levels of poker expertise and keep a track of my current level on the bottom of the site along with my bank roll. I have composed a list of the 10 levels of poker players. Feel free to re-use these as long as you credit me and/or my site. That would just be polite, don't you think?

  1. GREAT WHITE POINTER - The most fearsome of all sharks. In the ocean these sharks are ruthless killers, and can grow to 20 feet in length and beyond. In the world of poker, they are professional, take em down and knock em out player. Pretty much the same. He knows what pot odds, implied odds and card odds mean, and has even wrote a few books on the subject. Owns gold bracelets that they didn't pay for.
  2. WHALE - Made big money in some other discipline, is an average to good player but with enough coin behind them to keep playing the high stakes despite losses. Best friend of the white pointer.
  3. MAKO SHARK - Smaller than the great white, but still a killer. Knows what all the odds are, but hasn't written the book yet.
  4. DOLPHIN - Not really a fish, but likes to play and has modest results. Does not rely on poker for their paycheck, but does profit nicely from it. Playing mostly for fun, but does have some skill
  5. BARRACUDA - Thinks they are a shark, but has a long way to go. Could be very dangerous if they get enough coin behind them, but could just as easily go broke.
  6. PENGUIN - It's a bird, but it's in the water. By all definitions it should not belong here, but it does somehow. The Penguin is usually a good player trying their hand at a game they are unfarmiliar with. For example, the blackjack player trying poker, or a solid Hold'em player giving Omaha a go. Usually just gets swallowed by sharks, but can take out a few fish on the way.
  7. SWORDFISH - Smaller than the barracuda, bigger than the rest of the fish. The swordfish is a student of the game, and very careful about how they play. They learn from their mistakes and put many hours of practice into their game into hopes of winning one big tournament and calling themselves a player some day. For now, they are dangerous to smaller fish, and can even take on a Mako and win - but that is rare.
  8. FISH - If you do not know what a fish is in poker, then there is every chance you are one. The fish is what keeps the other levels above in business. It is what they feed on. They know that a pair is good, but two is better and that's about it. They have seen it on ESPN, watched "Rounders" and they now want in on the big time, God bless 'em. Sound familiar?
  9. PLANKTON - The small non-descriptive floating food that fish feed off. Barely noticeable, only serves the one function of keeping the fish alive.
  10. ALGAE - It's what plankton eat.

I think you know where I sit currently. There is nothing to be wrong about when you are algae. I'm sure somewhere along the line algae can evolve into something a little more meaningful. Oh, and my apologies to any marine biologists out there who may be cringing at the common errors I may have made concerning ocean life. If I did make a few common mistakes that non-marine biologists hate of the general public, rest assured I did it tongue in check so just you and I can share in the joke.

I'm quite happy that this post is done. I have added another poker blog to the links on the side. The new blog (it's funny that I call it a new blog when mine is under 10 posts old. I mean it is new to me that's all, no disrespect) is called Joe's Poker Corner. I think every online player should read his post dated 7.27.2004 called "Perspective". I know I certainly can relate to it. Besides that one, it does provide some great stories about his poker struggle than I enjoyed and so you should too.

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