Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Poker Rocks

Bob Sweeney: There was a moment... when I used to blame everything and everyone... for all the pain and suffering and vile things that happened to me, that I saw happen to my people. Used to blame everybody. Blamed white people, blamed society, blamed God. I didn't get no answers 'cause I was asking the wrong questions. You have to ask the right questions.
Derek Vinyard: Like what?
Bob Sweeney: Has anything you've done made your life better?
”American History X”

How we all doing folks? I hope our little mutual hobby has been treating you well of late.

So I have been playing poker for 22 years now at an estimate, in some form anyways. I have been playing for money though only the last 18 months nearly. I have seen many other people in the same time frame go from a $100 bank roll to multiple thousands. I have seen others graduate from nano-limit through to the $30-$60 game. I have heard how playing “A-B-C” poker has netted these punters $80,000 since the month before.

And yet here I am, 18 months down the track. I have only just recently become comfortable at a $1/$2 limit table or a $100 NL table. I still consider $5/$10 big money games, I can’t bring myself to spend more than $10 on a SNG or multi-table game – although I have splurged once or twice on a $20 variant, usually without success. I think over the 18 months my grand total cash out is approximately $1,000 Australian. Granted, unlike most I started with a bankroll of $0 that now stands at $862, but that includes a fair amount of bonus whoring in there too.

Even if I add in all the gifts and prizes I’ve pulled out, let’s estimate my total gross profits from poker to be $2,000. That’s just a little over $100 a month after a year and a half. It really does pale in comparison to the guy who claims on 2+2 or another similar Australian poker database that after reading a few books and playing A-B-C poker that they are now crunching $7K a month, doesn’t it? And yes, I know for every one of those claimants that is telling the truth, 10 are slightly exaggerating – but if you look at the raw numbers, it could be implied that I am one of the slow learners. Could this be true?

Me and my ego say it isn’t so.

For starters, you never hear about the guy who lost $5K trying poker in the first month and then quit. Well, it could be argued that if you are the type of person that could loose $5K in a month experimenting with poker then you are the kind of person that will never quit.

I must also confess to not being a fully diligent student of the game. I’ve read a few books, and I’ve read a lot online about different strategies and approaches to the game, but I am not one to devour information book by book and then seek out more, like a zombie craving the next juicy brain to suck the juices out of. Now there’s a nice visual.

I do consider myself a half decent player, my ego also allows that. I have a half decent record in live games – even though my competition are usually the same guys each time. But when we do have a new face at the table, I seem to be able to pick up on body language fairly quickly and have been known to make some pretty big calls with third pair against a bluff. When I watch poker on TV, I’m a veritable expert – but then again, aren’t we all?

So what I am trying to say is, in the grand scheme of things I don’t think I am anything special when it comes to the online poker playing world – in fact, I may be holding back the learning curve even. I’m like most players, I consider myself a better player than I have any right to, and will continue dreaming of days when I am strutting around Vegas with my bracelets (yes, plural), trash talking Hellmuth, check-raising Harmon, and giving Brunson tips on his golf swing. My greatest achievements in poker will be made in a home game somewhere, with only half the players sober enough to remember it ever happening. .

I don’t think I could cope with trying to make a living solely off poker, no matter how good my skills were. I’m just not the type of person, or have the right frame of mind currently, to be able to start from scratch every month and actually earn the money. I like the security of having a guaranteed paycheck that will be the same month to month. Having said that, at my current pay scale it just would not be wise to ever sit down at a table and play $30/$60 holdem. If I had the kind of bank roll to fund such a venture, you could guarantee it would be cashed out in quick fashion. I still get amazed that even now I can sit down with $100 on a computer and play cards.

Let’s sum up – I’m not at the head of the class, I’ve progress little in dollar terms over a year and a half, I’ll never win a World Series bracelet, I’ll never give Doyle Brunson golf tips (another game I suck at, by the way) and if I ever did get good enough to amass a large bankroll it would be cashed out seconds later thus depriving me of the sufficient backing to make any of the aforementioned possible anyway.

And you know what? I’m ok with that.

I love playing poker – I’ve always loved card games. Hell, I started playing poker online for free months before I even knew you could do it for real money. If I wasn’t playing poker, I’d more than likely be playing video games anyway in my spare time.

I love my comfort zone. Every now and then I give it a push – and they are baby steps, I grant you that. I was a bit step for me to go from 50c/$1 to $1/$2, and if it ever happens it will be just as hard to go to $2/$4 (shock, horror). These are tables where your entire stack can be less than what those other internet rookies put out on a single bet, but it doesn’t bother me in the least.

When I first started, I can remember throwing my hands in the air and saluting an imaginary crowd at 3am when I won $27 in a multi table free roll. That feeling was just as good – if not even a little better – than winning nearly ten times that amount 12 months later. I like making a big fuss over a $20 down session, and I can remember times too when I lost my entire bank roll on one hand – that’s how quickly you can loose $5 back in those days!

So this post isn’t really for the majority of the poker bloggers out there, it’s more for those poor souls who catch the poker bug for the first time. Those poor souls who may be still plugging away at penny games and get excited when their stack gets into double figures. This post is for those of us who may be winners, but our hourly win rate is still less than what that 13 year gets flipping burgers at McDonalds.

This post is about being a below average poker player, and loving every minute about it.

I love the camaraderie I get around a table. I love the feeling of dragging in a pot that is only increased by the fact you pushed another across the table the hand before. I love watching a pro put 20 years of experience into one decision, and I say I would have done the exact same thing after thinking about it for 2 seconds. And I love it that every few months a new parcel or envelope comes in the mail to reward me for visiting the world wide web for a few hours a night.

Friends – I love playing poker, so I will.


TripJax said...

I luv play poka, iza nice.

I also love American History X...great movie...

DuggleBogey said...

The stakes at which you play are not an indication of your quality as a poker player. Only an indication of the size of your bankroll.

If you are a good player playing at low levels, that means to me that you have the discipline to play within your bankroll, and that's a good thing.