So I really appreciated all the supportive and helpful comments on my last blog entry, which basically detailed my loss of confidence during 2008 and the fact that I've been doing extremely poorly recently.
As an expression of my gratitude, for all those who support me and believe in me, I've made a $1/2 6-max video. I feel that it's moderately educational, but the production quality of it is definitely sub-par. I'll most likely make a few more videos in the near future as I continue my grind toward recovery.
The video is about 45 minutes long, with after-the-fact commentary. But you will most likely find that my style is quite a bit different from what you typically see in these games. And, actually, this video doesn't touch on many of the spots that I play differently compared to the average competitor. Here's are the links:
Also, I'll give a status report for those who care:
How I'm doing
I'm nearly +25 buyins at $1/2 6-max already. My winrate is solid but not great. I have been playing well but not perfectly by any means. In the beginning I was doing too much cold-4betting and also a little too much leading, and now I think I'm not doing enough 3betting or 4betting but my leading frequencies are quite good.
I've decided that I will continue to play this game until I've reached the +25 buyin goal, and then I'll switch to $1/2 9-max for the same amount of buyins. After I've cashed out the $10k (and therefore have padded my live roll for WSOP cash games), I'll move up to $2/4 and rinse-and-repeat.
What I think of the games
$1/2 is an absolute gold mine. There are dozens of games running at all hours of the day, and there are only perhaps a handful of players who give me any real trouble. If you find yourself barely beating $2/4 and $3/6, I strongly recommend just staying at $1/2 for a long while until you've cashed out so much money that you are able to play $2/4 and $3/6 fearlessly. I honestly believe that most decent players can sustain a winrate at $1/2 that is > 2x their winrate at $2/4. My opinion on that may change as I regain confidence and move on to $2/4 later, but if it does then I'll let you know.
There are easily 5x as many true fish at $1/2 as there are at $3/6. I see a huge amount of 75/40 type spewtards in the $1/2 games, whereas the majority of non-regulars in $3/6 are just nitty and play fine.
Comments on the regulars
No regs in this game really give me any trouble. Notable people who seem to have very tight/solid play are FlareMVP, Pronych, TheDarkJoker, ffguitarguy, LuxuryMaster, and xgiovannix. All of these players seem decent enough that I haven't yet found a way to exploit them too hard. LAG-tards include agstremist, dxu05, Mckittrick19, and Sweet.kr. It was a little rough going at first to figure out dxu05 and agstremist, but it turns out that dxu05 runs far too many big bluffs and agstremist has a lot of trouble finding his fold button on any street, so they're both very easy to exploit.
I can't fairly comment on any of the LPers in these games, because they play extremely differently from their normal styles when I am sitting at their tables. Kapol never cbets, gawdawful never folds, and it's really easy to predict when Big_Rob_48 won't give me credit for a hand. Kapol and Big_Rob seem really good/solid when they're not in pots with me, and gawdawful seems extremely tilty and just plain dumb for playing so many tables. (I like you Kevin, but you're retarded and you need to hear it.)
General tips for playing well in these games
1. People c-bet the flop way too much, and they don't mix up their play on the turn or river nearly enough. Because of this, you should flat call preflop, let them spew on the flop, and then let them turn their hands face-up on the turn and/or river. Proceed accordingly.
2. Adjust your preflop raise sizing due to the presence of extreme fish, which are plentiful here. If a fish is limping in and calling raises a lot, especially if you have a bad image against him, then just raise his limps to $16-20. It's critical that you maximize value against horrible players, and in these games you can really get away with a lot of non-standard stuff.
3. People basically don't ever trap, so calling is almost 100% a weak or medium strength hand. If they are just calling, make them believe.
4. Don't open 4x. Open 3xing will create a smaller pot on the flop, which leaves a lot more room behind for postflop play. Your edge comes from the postflop game, because most people have really good raising/3betting/4betting frequencies preflop. The more betting you leave for the later streets, the more mistakes you'll induce.
5. Don't ever forget: THE FISH ADAPT. Most of your 8+ tabling regulars are gonna play the same no matter what you do (because they are idiots), but there are TONS of fish in these games, and they DO adjust to the way you're playing. If you can't follow your image very closely on every table you play, then you are playing too many tables. Trust me, your winrate will skyrocket if you have a great idea of your image on each table.
Thanks for reading, and good luck at the tables! Hope you enjoyed the video also
Background story (skip this if you know me personally, or if you don't really care about anything but the good stuff)
In 2007, I started the year still in college and playing poker frequently but never taking it very seriously. I was bouncing between $1/2 and $2/4 6-max in January, and managed to successfully make the move up to $2/4 sometime in February. But March was the month of my downfall, as I nearly went completely bust. I was back at $.5/1, and not rolled too well for it either. I'm still unsure how it happened, but it's so far behind me that reflection seems pointless. I'll never be able to go back and understand where I went astray at that time.
By the end of April, though, I had regrouped and was on a steady climb upwards. I began a one-month coaching deal with a prominent mid-to-high stakes player, and we worked together pretty frequently. In return, I gave him a cut of my profits during that month and the two months following. That didn't work out great - I felt like I learned a few very important things about NLH, but overall didn't improve very much. Nonetheless, by May, I was taking shots at $2/4 again. That was also the month I graduated from college (with a BS in biology).
Then, in June, I had a massive breakthrough. I had moved into my uncle's vacation home in Las Vegas, to be around for WSOP. I began playing $1/2 9-max, and fit very well into a style that destroyed the game. I made a cool 75 buy-ins that month, and was on top of the world.
It was then that I realized just how much I love poker. I had a decent job lined up (to begin in August) as a risk analyst, but I called the firm and told them I was turning it down. Even if I had more opportunity for outrageously high pay working in finance, I had to do what I loved. So I kept it up. The rest of the summer went well, including a $70k score in the Sunday Million. WSOP was very fun and educational, and I got to make (or improve) my connections with many great players, most notably Daut, Ket, and Rekrul.
I finished out the year pretty solid. From August through December, I made a little under $80k in cash games. I cashed out over $70k to pay off some enormous student loans I had accrued, pay off the loans my parents took out to help me with college, pad my stock portfolio, take a few (somewhat lavish) vacations, and finally move into a new apartment with my current roommate FrinkX. It was the first time I moved out of my parents' house (after college), so I spent a lot on new furniture and such.
Struggling in 2008
After such a good show in 2007, I've somehow lost the ability to win at all. So far in 2008, I haven't had a single consistent stretch of profits in online cash games. I don't believe I've had an entire week in the black, but if I have, there were only 1 or 2 of them. January was stiff loss of several thousand; February was a moderate loss of a few thousand too. In March, I hardly played online at all, because I was grinding tournaments at the Wynn Classic and playing live cash games for the most part. I did manage to make about $10k in live cash and profit about $5k from tournaments with my staking deal. April was similar to March, except I lost about $5k playing live cash and made about $18k in tournaments.
But the end of April and the beginning of May have been the most disastrous stretch yet. I was down about $9k in online cash during April, and am down another $14k so far in May. Combined with a LOT of EXTREMELY spewy spending so far this year (mostly at strip clubs and night clubs), AND the missing $40k bankroll that I lost in the RedNines/Microgaming scandal, I've barely got a working BR for $5/10 now. I was comfortably rolled for $25/50 less than 6 months ago. More importantly, I have absolutely no confidence. Everything I do is wrong, and every time I feel like I'm playing excellent, my results are worse than ever.
I've been such a consistent loser for so long now that I can't stop asking myself what other career I'll pursue once I go broke. I just took a break for a while, to refresh myself and relax from some serious frustration. So I sat down at some $5/10 and $3/6 6-max tables, confident and feeling good, and surprised in fact to see that the games were abnormally fishy. I thought I made a lot of good plays and got my money in appropriately. But I proceeded to win 8% of showdowns (yes, 8) and lose $5,500 in around 500 hands. And no, I wasn't getting sucked out against. Rather, I was doing things like re-shoving over an absolute maniac squeezer and running into AA, as well as flopping a double-gutter in a 3bet pot against somebody running 55/43 and 3betting every hand, and getting it in against QQ. I thought I was getting into good spots and making reasonable plays, but every single time my money went in, it was horribly wrong.
So, I drove up to LA from San Diego tonight, because I'm going to my BFF Day's college graduation tomorrow (yay!). On the way here, I realized that I just don't see myself ever succeeding in poker anymore. Not because I don't want to, or don't have the passion for it, or don't think I'm smart enough, or don't have the dedication, but simply because I can't picture myself winning. Like winning doesn't make sense to me anymore. So my mind was just wandering during my drive, and I was kinda panicking with myself about what other skills I have, where I can turn for another career choice because total failure in poker seems imminent.
But I could still hear Rekrul berating somebody a long time ago, saying they should be SO grateful simply to have the opportunity to click buttons on a mouse for a living, that they should find a way to make it work no matter what. And I realized, truly, that I can't fail at poker. There is no way that I don't "have what it takes" to succeed, and there is no way that I'm going to let myself down when I've got such a great thing in my hands. Poker life is the easiest, funnest, and most awesome life that I've ever imagined, and I see no better path to which I'd want to dedicate my energies. Somehow, I have to pull through. There has got to be a way through this mess I've made for myself, this mess I've made of myself.
So, I'm going to start over. I briefly played some $1/2 6-max earlier today while I was trying to get my PT3 HUD to work, and it felt outstanding, just because I truly and whole-heartedly believed I had a massive edge in the games. When I played my $5/10 session, I felt confident as well, but I can't deny that I've been unable to shake free of self-doubt in my normal games lately. For my own sake, I need to have some positive results, even if they're not nearly as profitable as I want them to be.
I'm going to get back to $1/2 and move up when I feel it's right, but not before winning 25 buy-ins (at each level). If (pleeeease one TIME) my coach finds time for me, I'll definitely play our sessions at $3/6 or $5/10, and if they go well and I feel I've learned a lot, I'll just stick with it and see how I progress from there. In the meantime, I'll be blogging about my quest for redemption.
SHE TRIED TO VALUETOWN ME BUT I REFUSE TO BE VALUETOWNED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I ESCAPED WITH ZERO DAMAGES. FDSHJFDSAJLKFDAKJLFD SHE WAS 31/ASIAN FEMALE TOO, SOOOOOOO UP MY ALLEY BUT EVEN IN MY DRUNKEN STUPOR I REFUSED TO BE VALUETOWNED BY SOME HOOKER WHO DIDN'T TELL ME SHE WAS A HOOKER UPFRONT. I BOUGHT HER A DRINK BUT ESCAPED FINANCIALLY UNHARMED. I THINK SHE'S ON LIFE TILT NOW. BUT GUESS WHO'S NOT???????? ME!!!!!!! ROFL EAT IT HOOOKER HAHAHAHAHA OWNED